Double fast and furious. The first success story of Russian crowdinvesting

    Good morning, Habr! And we have news for you.

    The collective investment platform VCStart was launched in September, a month earlier announcing its existence to habrozhitelami. Come, we told young entrepreneurs, place your startups with us. Welcome, we called investors, invest your money in the projects you like.

    “Nothing will work out for you,” the skeptics answered us, nodding to the previous fakaps in this field of activity, “there has been no Crowdinvesting in Russia!” “This is understandable,” “Of course,” - we agreed dejectedly, continuing to do our job. “Until there are success stories, no one will believe in crowdinvesting,” summarized eminent experts in the world of venture capital and constructively-minded habracritics. It was impossible not to agree with this, butWe continued to work on the platform and attracting micro-investors and start-ups to it. For, if you do nothing, success stories themselves will certainly never appear.

    But despite the skepticism of most active commentators, start-ups and investors came in, maybe not as massly as we would like, but since then several hundred projects have been posted on the platform and more than 5,000 users have registered, and many of them have already made their first investment.

    We peered intently at upcoming startups, looking forward to our first Success story. Potential leaders became visible almost immediately - several projects noticeably broke away from the rest in the very first weeks after the launch with the number of backers and the amounts collected at the first stage.

    And now, the first real result has appeared! The logistics service Gruzopoisk, which attracted investments of $ 150 thousand on our platform in exchange for a total 10 percent share, found (thanks to us) a general investor who invested the entire amount sought in it. And it looks like the effect will be double acting. Since in connection with this event the management of Gruzopoisk Search revised the size of the alienated share, reducing the target amount for micro-investments on VCStart to $ 60 thousand. Of these, $ 21,310 has been raised in a month and a half, that is, more than a third.

    Someone will say, here it is - greed. But everything is explained more simply - respect for your audience and certain obligations to it. “What does the audience have to do with investors?”, A logical question arises. Despite the fact that in the case of “Cargo Search” it is in many ways the same thing.

    “Cargo Search”, as the name implies, helps contractors in the road freight market find each other. It helps very effectively - the day of many cargo owners and carriers begins with notifications from the service about new offers.

    The project has existed for almost two years, and all this time it has been deliberately developing, increasing the target audience in its market segment. The service is free for users, convenient functionality and accessibility attract up to 200 new users daily. By the beginning of the round of financing on our platform, more than 18 thousand people regularly used Cargo Search, on the whole, over 80 thousand users were registered on it.

    The idea of ​​converting the target user into an investor was prompted by the active feedback to the authors of the project - it turned out that many regular customers - brokers, cargo owners and carriers, were not averse to participating in the service that they use every day, and financially.

    “Gruzopoisk” will not always be free, just around the corner the transition to a model of paid access to advanced information. The "Light" rate for free use will remain, but professionals do not need a "light". And, according to research, more than 90% of active users are morally willing to pay monthly for a PRO account.

    Investments in the service, in addition to the results in the near future (since it is working and potentially profitable), give Gruzopoisk Investors certain preferences. Investments from $ 30 (minimum deposit threshold on VCStart) give a month of premium access, more than $ 300 - a year of free use. That is, in fact, such a scheme minimizes the element of venture for user-investors - regular users will pay this money for the account in any case. (By the way, the founders of other startups on our platform should take note of such a system of encouraging investors, since it can significantly accelerate progress towards the target amount).

    That’s why Gruzopoisk won the support of the largest group of investors on our platform (more than 60 people). And also because it is scaled on its own, without waiting for the arrival of "big uncles."

    The service was created entirely by three co-founders with experience working together on other projects. But it’s better to let his CEO tell you about it in detail:

    Sergey Eroshenkov, CEO of Gruzopoisk, a web developer with 9 years of experience (layout, design, marketing). He participated in the development of b2b platforms, social networks, online stores, corporate portals. 8 years of experience in logistics.

    Sergey, the first question is traditional. How was the idea born, under the influence of something or whom, how did you assess the prospects of this particular market?

    - The initial idea was born a very long time ago, more than 10 years ago, I had no idea about web development at that time and was superficially versed in computers. My father, a trucker, asked me to search for goods on the Internet. At that time, it was possible to search normally only on one site -, but even then it was obvious that working on it was inconvenient, difficult and expensive. I wanted to do something more “human”, probably this was the impetus for studying web-technologies, then I also thought that making such a service was easy. Over time, the development dragged on, worked for several years in various projects. I returned to the idea of ​​a service for freight carriers in 2012, at the same time I proposed to sell it to my friend Alexei Kozlov. In May 2012, we began actively writing code. Later, another developer joined us - Andrey Yarysh.

    - The first clients, who are they, where did they come from, how quickly did you reach a more or less serious level? In the description of the project on our platform, do you mention that everything was done without any advertising? Then where do all these people come from - SEO on their own?

    - Even before writing the first lines of code, we came to the conclusion that it just won’t work and break into the market, preparation is needed, so the first thing we did was to generate several thousand static pages for freight routes that the search engines liked, added to these pages form “We’ll start soon, leave your email” and within six months we collected about 4000 leads. When the site was launched publicly in December 2012, they made a newsletter and received more than 1,500 registrations in 3 days. The start was hot.

    - Currently, the project is not monetized at all, as I understand it? Prior to the release of the commercial version, it was focused only on the development of a loyal clientele?

    - So far, to work at Cargo Search it is enough to register, the site is free. The costs of developing and maintaining the project are feasible, as the entire team consists of developers. A loyal clientele already exists and there are really many, but I don’t want to rush things, it was decided to develop all the important functionality before entering paid accounts.

    - About competitors. It is clear that, first of all, we are talking about stronger ones or more evenly. What specific competitive advantages can you name in comparison with Avtotransinfo, for example? What can you say about, and others, who today are the first to crawl out in issuing search engines for a targeted request? As I understand it, the last two are now actively investing in advertising.

    - AutoTransInfo is the oldest, strongest and most important competitor, they formed this market in Russia. This resource is aimed at logisticians and transport brokers, carriers were forced to use it for lack of alternatives. Unlike, in Cargo Search the user does not regularly request new applications, and the filter system notifies you of new publications. This approach is especially important for carriers who cannot spend much time at the computer. Also, given the high mobility of our audience, we initially developed the Cargo Search adaptive for various mobile devices; AutoTransInfo cannot boast of mobility. Flagma is a bulletin board, as well as Avito. Partially copies ATI (in a truncated form). and Lucky Everyone - these are good and strong projects, but they work in a different field - b2c, etc.

    - Do you need investments primarily for what? Does the development of mobile applications for major platforms, an advertising campaign to expand the customer base, or something else fall into their target spending? What is meant by geographic scaling - are you interested in entering a neighboring European market?

    - Can I answer this question simply - YES?

    - Please describe some features that you plan to introduce in order to justify users accustomed to free services switching to a paid model.

    - We work in a difficult market, so it is very important for us to try to provide the most reliable information about users and potential partners. The first thing that will be developed before the introduction of paid accounts is a rating of companies with customer reviews, black and white lists of companies, cargo insurance together with insurance companies. After that, active work will be carried out to improve accessibility to information and deeper automation of processes for users.

    -What do you think about the crowdfunding model of financing, its effectiveness?

    - Honestly, I found out about this quite recently, and since I did not know anything before, I was skeptical about crowdfunding and crowdfunding. By posting our project on VCStart, we saw this more as an experiment. But the result - one hackneyed expression is very suitable here, literally, exceeded all expectations. We received not only investments, but also a new member of the team represented by the main investor, who will have his own important role in the project. Currently, he is already actively involved in developing a product promotion strategy.

    - Sergey, perhaps the main question is, since it interests all investors without exception, both already invested and potential. It is clear that a startup is an enterprise, by definition, with a high degree of risk. But your project is significantly different from most hosted on our platform - I would say you have a higher start. Can you somehow predict the timing of dividends for micro-investors?

    - Over the next 5 months we will include monetization, after which within 2 months we expect to reach self-sufficiency. In another six months, we are planning the first payment of dividends.

    - That is, in total it turns out a year?

    - Yes, a year.

    Well, compared to other startups, the prospects are simply bright. And Sergey’s calm confidence for some reason does not raise doubts, and the project itself is associated with a powerful and hardy tractor, hundreds of which, receiving orders at Gruzopoisk, are plying through the vast Russian expanses. My opinion is shared by the new member of the team, investor Oleg Zakharchenko , who told how he came to such a decision and why, in fact, Gruzopoisk:

    “According to statistics, in the USA it turns out to build a successful business for a person who before that fails on average 5 times. And I liked the idea of ​​building a business from scratch from childhood. And now, by the age of 30, having received an education in the field of business management, tempered his practice in a consulting company, having filled a few cones, I began to look for a project where I could fully use the accumulated experience. The project, in my opinion, had to meet several criteria: firstly, it was supposed to bring people benefits. For everyone, this concept is subjective. But for me, this was the main point - the benefits should be not only online, but also in real life. Secondly, it had to have the potential for scaling.

    Last year, I watched two world-famous companies develop: Airbnb and Uber. This example of international expansion makes me admire every time to observe the development of their business. But starting a startup in the field of rental housing or ordering a taxi today is complete madness. The market is fully saturated with various services and will not notice another player. Thirdly, the project should have already formed a team to achieve its goals. I am not even saying that it would be good to formulate goals as well. At least for six months.

    When I met the guys who created, I immediately realized that the project meets all my criteria. And the point here is not in the amount of financing, but in my contribution, as a specialist, who I can contribute to this project. And this is the same case when you understand that you are ready to sell your home and invest the proceeds in a team of 3 people who create a second eBay or Amazon in their free time.

    Yes, the competition in the field of freight transportation is high, both in Russia and around the world. But weren't there smartphones before the first iPhone in the world? The main question is not whether there are analogues and what these analogues can be copied in your project, but what you can do personally so that the company you work for can reach the level of Google. Someone will say that the goal is too ambitious or, even worse, that these young people will not be able to achieve such heights. And I'm sure that we all do something for the first time, but the most important thing is how we do it. I am sure that will be a successful project. And perhaps there are many more potentially successful projects that meet my criteria. But, unfortunately, there are many examples in history when first-class ideas remained only on paper. I will be happy to take part in such projects. Maybe I would even be glad to participate in them for free as a mentor, as it has become fashionable to say now. But perhaps some time should pass. The next year and a half I would like to devote my attention and time to creating a market leader in b2b freight transportation, both in Russia and abroad, together with the team. ”

    You can get acquainted with the Gruzopoisk project on our VCStart platform . Let me remind you that at the moment the amount of investment is $ 21,310. Less than two-thirds of the way remains before the goal of the round of financing.

    Only registered users can participate in the survey. Please come in.

    Does this startup have the prospect of paying dividends in a year?

    • 37.2% Yes 85
    • 29.8% Yes, but later 68
    • 16.6% No, much later. 38
    • 16.2% No, the project will not fire. 37

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