Your Audio Guide. The story of one startup

    A resident of the QIWI Universe accelerator , one of the authors of the “Your Audioguide” project , Kirill Shishaev talks about the difficult path from an idea to an application that already brings first profit.


    The beginning

    Each of us sooner or later comes to mind to do telekinesis. Some progress in telekinesis is easy and fast, others slowly and with difficulty.
    Anatoly Glants, “Everyday Life of Modest Pavlovich”

    I think that the idea of ​​starting a business came to the mind of almost everyone. For some, it quickly gave way to more robust endeavors, for someone it left to return after some time, having already gained strength and turned first into desire, and then into the first real actions. I think that I would have been soaring at the level of ideas, watching how others bring them to life. However, in May 2013, Dima, my colleague from one of my past works, thrilled me with a proposal to take part in the “Your Audio Guide” project, which he had been sawing for the last six months. I realized that if I refuse now, I risk never getting started, and without much thought I agreed.

    At that time, the product concept looked like this:
    The service will be an intermediary between suppliers of tourist audio content (guides, museums), consumers (independent tourists, business tourists) and advertisers (cafes, restaurants, shops, museums, exhibitions).

    Fortunately for me and for the project, at that time I still did not know how to evaluate the economy and the market. Otherwise, the story could end without starting.

    Prototype Experiments

    - How do you write together?
    - Very simple, one runs around the editorial offices, and the second guards the manuscript so that acquaintances do not steal.
    I. Ilf and E. Petrov

    So, the initial idea was to make a service where guides and enthusiasts could create audio excursions, and ordinary users would buy them.
    While Dima was making the first version of the application for iOs and CMS for working with content, I phoned tour guides around the world and quickly discovered a number of unpleasant moments. Firstly, most tour guides were not eager to create something. Secondly, most of those who expressed interest in the project were not ready (and could not technically) prepare a high-quality record.

    A significant role was played by the fact that I did not have sales skills. This is partly why our idea of ​​working with museums failed. Without further ado, we hired a man for cold calling to museums, who honestly phoned them all with exhaust like an electric car. Now I understand that it was necessary to do it myself, formulate hypotheses and needs, etc. But what has been done cannot be returned. And we moved on.

    We decided to evaluate how difficult it is to create audio tours on your own. We found enthusiasts who prepared texts for us, hired announcers and got quite a good result. With only one “but”: we realized that with our own funds we can’t do enough content. The production of one excursion cost 15-20 thousand rubles, the payback was estimated for years.

    After that, we came to the current model (which is used by most similar projects): search for partners who already have ready-made content, and work with them on the principle of profit sharing. This allowed us to increase the amount of content by 5 times over the past 3 months!

    New stage

    When at the end of last summer we received the first statistics and began to count, it turned out that we need to buy installations for 2-3 rubles, which can be considered unrealistic. It became clear that something had to be changed. Only now it was not clear what. And then, very on time, we met Yefim Pykov, who became the mentor of our project. With its help, we came to the conclusion that we began to properly count the economy, went into the fields and began to conduct user surveys, learned to formulate and test hypotheses.

    At the end of last year, I left work and began to devote a substantial part of the time to the project. Just after that, we began to actively seek partners, launched the development of the Android version, finally made a website and realized that we needed knowledge and money. I started going to various meetings with investors and applying wherever possible. The first experience was IIDF. It probably took me about 80 hours to prepare the questionnaire, but it was worth it. We tried without fools (like, our market is $ 5 billion, and we will occupy 1% there) to calculate our market, conducted an analysis of competitors, in general, did a lot of what needed to be done this way, but did not reach our hands.

    Then the telephone interviews began. It is very difficult to talk about the project incendiary and quickly answer tricky questions when you are deeply cold. As a result, we got a place in the absentee accelerator. That is, we had access to knowledge, but there was no investment. Summer began, and the financial situation became tense. The payback for the Android version loomed ahead, money from one-time part-time jobs, to put it mildly, was not enough. I wanted to go the traditional way of a startup and sell the car, but I remembered that it was the wife’s car :)

    QIWI Universe

    And then events began to develop rapidly! One Sunday evening a letter came from QIWI Universe, where we applied for that we went to the semifinals, and tomorrow we need to come as a team and tell us about ourselves. The meeting was successful, judging by the fact that it lasted twice as long as the indicated regulations. True, there was a suspicion that some of the semi-finalists simply did not see the letter on time.

    A week later, we received an invitation to the finals. Half a day preparing a pitch with a stopwatch by the mirror, fighting the projector in place, speaking, and ... not a single question after. For the sake of calmness of the nervous system, I decided to interpret this as a good sign and was not mistaken. The very next day we were informed that we had passed!

    Now behind is already half the acceleration. We were able to multiply the project revenue by many times and plan to do it again in the next two months. Received and completed the first order on the B2B market. We strengthened our team and try to generate and test new hypotheses as quickly as possible.


    “You need to run as fast just to stay in place, but to get somewhere, you need to run at least twice as fast!”
    Lewis Carroll, “Alice Through the Looking Glass”

    If you look back, it is amazing how slowly we did everything at the beginning and how we gradually increased speed. At first I thought that this was due solely to the fact that in the beginning we spent less time on the project. But now I understand that when you look back, you just see the point where you were a month or a year ago, forgetting that the path was littered with holes, dead ends and rakes. Moreover, the farther, the more I see that the development of the project is like untwisting a heavy flywheel. At first you spend a lot of energy, but you don’t see any return, and therefore it is very easy to quit the initiative or twist half-power. But if you don’t give up, then gradually you begin to note that all the expended forces begin to bear fruit. In the form of experience, skills, necessary contacts. And you also understand that the most important thing is a team and good support,

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