Founder Tips. Sergey Gribnyak, Singree

    “Founder’s Tips” once again introduces Megamind readers to the stars of the IT market, the founders and managers of their own business.

    Sergey greebn9k Gribnyak comes from Odessa. He founded his company Singree in 2009. Prior to that, he worked in several digital companies, and started the business as a simple freelancer.

    Now the company has 2 offices in Odessa and New York. The main activities: SEO and PPC promotion, website development and mobile applications. PHP Programming, Node.js.

    Sergey entitled his publication as follows: “What I learned in the process of bringing the Ukrainian web studio to the US market.”

    Misconceptions of our specialists about the US market

    Perhaps it’s worth starting with the debunking of some myths that our experts have about the American one. Here are the most common ones:
    We are cheap.
    Undoubtedly, we are cheaper than local specialists. But we must remember that Indians, Chinese, Pakistanis and many others take much less for their work. They have both disadvantages and clear advantages over us.

    We are the best.
    This is also not so. Objectively, when you look at American sites from Ukraine, it seems that "they don’t know anything there, but we really do cool - we’ll come, they will tear us off with our hands." This is not true. To be honest, 95% of Ukrainian companies are not ready to work with a direct client; 80% are not ready to work even with the help of American intermediaries.

    Example 1:
    The application is being configured on ASP.NET for a very large American company (in a dozen advertising companies in the country). They have an outsource team in Ukraine. The level of payment of performers is more than worthy.

    Situation: the application is uploaded to production and something naturally does not work. And it begins: “Turn on this service, turn off this service, turn on this one,” etc.

    Often I had to explain that “there was a server image, there was time for testing, there was a testing protocol, production cannot be done like this. People go there. ”And if it was a large Ukrainian online store (Rosette, Allo or a company like Foxtrot), then people would understand that this should not be so. And when it’s some kind of distant, overseas company, this has to be explained.

    Example 2:
    Another situation. Promoted Resource. Odessa team works. The client addresses them that they call a little. Stimulates in this way to action. What does the team do?

    He writes negative reviews to all his competitors, and he is positive. And all this with a “Russian accent” and from one group of accounts. Yes, the US market is larger, but it is still calculated. Here they can really be imprisoned for this.

    Example 3:
    Setting up the server infrastructure by the Kharkov team. The client did not provide access in advance. Instead of asking, they begin to gain access by resetting passwords to a specific server without studying the infrastructure. They reset it, and a third-party server connected to this server through the same access details, using these details to access the API. Result: the entire infrastructure is falling.

    There are many more examples.

    The best option is to work with "Russian" intermediaries. They are more adapted to our work style. But here, too, have their drawbacks, because the "Russian" intermediaries are quite economical and often prefer to work with Indians and Chinese.

    In general, “Russians” try not to work with “Russians” abroad, Chinese with Chinese, and Indians with Indians. This must be remembered.

    Let's make some intermediate conclusions:
    • We are better on average, but more expensive than Indians, Pakistanis and Chinese (This is not a proven truth. This is a reputation in the market.)
    • We are worse, but cheaper than Europeans
    • We are better than South America in the same price range, however they speak English and we don’t

    Given all this, we need to understand that for competition we must act as firms with average price and average quality.

    When you cannot provide the highest quality or lowest price, you should focus on a specific niche. And there, due to work experience in it, to win the competition.

    This niche may be linguistic or national affiliation, market niche, region, etc. For example: “We promote websites to all Russian dentists in Brooklyn.” Or "We do content marketing for financiers on the east coast."

    Let us return to the typical misconceptions of our specialists about the US market.

    Ukraine is a big player in the IT market

    It seems so only in Ukraine itself. Since IT is one of the few industries that our officials have not yet managed to get to, many people go to work there, and it seems that there are a lot of IT specialists.

    In 2013, about 250,000 specialists worked in IT in Ukraine. Now they are probably a little more due to the retrained, or a little less - due to the migrants and residents of the lost territories.

    For comparison: the market of IT-specialists in Guangzhou, China is about 150,000 people, and this is only one, and far from the largest, city in China. Therefore, do not have illusions. We are bigger than Belarus, but smaller than Europe and South America (the same Brazil). About China and India, there’s nothing to even say.

    There is no competition in the SEO market

    In the CIS, the SEO market is designed in such a way that there are large companies that everyone sees and everyone knows and that do "everything for everyone." In the US, such companies are not visible. And, at first glance, the market looks like our 7-8 years ago looked. This is actually not the case.

    When we added our company to directories such as Yelp and Google, we began to receive 5-15 calls per day from different companies that offer SEO services. It lasted for 2 months.

    Apparently, a parser was working for them, which is just a parser of updates. They called blindly and they were absolutely not confused by the fact that we ourselves offer SEO services. And yet, I think that when you register, for example, a clinic, the number of calls and letters increases at least twice. And even more.

    There are also a huge number of niche companies that process customers only from specific niches. In general, there is a strong suspicion that large companies are positioning themselves as a network of small ones, but it has not yet been possible to verify this for certain.

    The price of company services ranged from $ 100 - one-time or 2 months with a guarantee. In fact, on cheap packages they do nothing and do not guarantee, but it sounds like something.

    Because of this, when we tried to work with inexpensive packages for small businesses, we had to convince ourselves that we were working. The distrust was very great.

    Features of customer interaction

    Well, now it’s worth talking about some features of interaction with American customers. There is a big difference with “ours”.

    Promotion packages for $ 100-200 and sites from 300
    They have been on the market for a long time. Many people know about such opportunities, but try not to use them. There is a choice here. Americans understand that when you buy cheap, you buy low-quality. Therefore, positioning in terms of cheapness does not work very well.

    Customers do not like package offers.
    It is clear that they are easier to sell and offer. But they are not loved. Everyone knows about template sites here too, but they don’t like to order them. The same thing happens with SEO batch offers. No trust.

    Customers do not like “experts in everything”
    Here it is necessary to clarify that in fact it is very convenient for them to work with those who have “all in one bottle”, but it is difficult to overcome the barrier of trust. The client’s first thought: “Do you really know how to do all this and quality?”

    In general, it is customary to order from different specialists, according to their specializations. In the same way, specializing in one thing, it is much easier to position oneself in the market. We do not do this, because in our case, everything is more complicated.

    A huge level of distrust in foreign companies
    I suspect that because of the packages "website for $ 300 and SEO for $ 100 one-time with a guarantee." Of course, this is not only done by foreigners, but this still does not increase trust in our brother. Generally, to outsource a huge level of mistrust. As long as you do not have an office with the Americans in it, who "still work," very often you have to face suspicion.

    This is due to the fact that there are rumors on the market about Indian companies that sell their services for $ 5-7 an hour, but one employee has 5-10 computers in it and such “work lasts forever and is cheaper to order from local”.

    Customers love a lot of attention.

    Americans generally speak much more than Russians and Europeans. Their letters are also longer. This is such a politeness. Therefore, when you work with them, you need to be prepared for the fact that a lot of attention will have to be paid specifically to communication.

    Customers love it when you have experience promoting the same businesses as theirs.

    For example, industry companies have assembled niche lead generation systems. They themselves immediately offer a niche package (texts, videos, niche directories (sometimes their own), etc.). They know the specifics and know what services bring the main profit. Conclusion: study the niche of your customers.

    Telephone marketing and newsletters do not work.
    Methods of attraction through telephone calls and newsletters do not work. That is, once in a lifetime, of course, a stick shoots, but nonetheless. Americans are too accustomed to phone calls and newsletters and do not pay any attention to them.

    Commercial offers read
    Commercial ones are really large and complete, they are read in a different way than in many of our companies - “diagonally”. A team is assembled that makes a decision, reads and analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the proposal. The process of team decision making is present not only in large business. Small and medium-sized businesses use all the techniques that are described in management textbooks and which are used somewhere and not somewhere.

    As I said above, the strategy pursued by companies with an average price and average quality often leads to the following: positioning yourself - niche proposals with a narrow specialization.

    I do not want to offend anyone. There are companies that give quality above average. But we are not talking about particular cases, but about statistics.

    To be honest, working directly with clients without a serious base (office, employees) is difficult here. Creating such a base, even if you have money, takes a lot of time.

    Another conclusion that suggests itself is to go through Upwork (oDesk) and Elance. There are companies that have risen dramatically with these services. These companies can be easily found on Google.

    If you are a freelancer, continue to work remotely. Arriving, you are unlikely to receive more than what you already get at home. You will not have the right to work, and no one wants to hire you informally - it’s inconvenient (and illegal) in terms of taxation. There is a prospect, but you will have to go through a difficult emigrant path until the moment you get a work permit and can get an American salary. This path takes at least several years. With an American salary, you will receive American taxes and American costs, which, too, frankly, are very high. I do not dissuade. It may be worth it, but are you ready to give up and rebuild everything? It will take a long time until you succeed ... if you succeed. Frustrated and returning, too, enough.

    In the case of a web studio, you need to have money for registration and registration, hiring employees, office infrastructure and promotion / advertising. This is all very expensive compared to similar costs in our country.

    Features of the work in terms of the process of service delivery

    Now we will touch on some important points regarding what are the features of the provision of services in the United States. Only personal experience.

    Knowledge of the language
    What we are taught at school is not at all the English that people in these countries speak. In addition, native speakers are also different. American English is different from British and Indian. Not just pronunciation. At the beginning, everyone pays little attention to the question of language like “This is not difficult. We'll figure it out. ” But when it comes to the matter, it turns out that language plays a big role, and its ignorance turns into a problem. This is especially so when you are working with a “white” business for ordinary people. There cannot be a broken tongue, as in black and gray niches.

    Links are expensive and hard to get
    This is also a fact. Sape is still working. I have seen sites that are promoted by sape links and are successful. True, in not very competitive niches, and it works worse. Everything else is many times (sometimes tens or hundreds of times) more expensive. Moreover, there is no such assortment as ours at Sape in the USA. That is, all this of course is done, but it takes much more time and effort than for Runet.

    Partially proceeds from the previous one, because when you work in a specific niche, you already have established connections with webmasters, with sites. Your copywriters and posters already know what and where to write, where to publish, etc.

    Google works differently
    It's true. That is, of course, there are common patterns, and, of course, that all this is about texts, link building and behavioral, but still different. You can talk about this for a long time and, perhaps, we will post something about it on the blog or make a report, but there is a difference and it is tangible.

    In the TOP there are much more sites that few quality links look at. That is, what Matt Cutts talked about a couple of years ago that “one high-quality link will play a greater role than 10 low-quality links, even if they are not spam,” is now working. I think this is due to the fact that the so-called “niche trust” is much more developed in the USA and other Western countries.

    Also, in different niches there are different patterns by which quality sites are determined. For example, for clinics this is one thing, for travel or lawyers another. This again speaks in favor of focusing on a specific niche, rather than "we are doing everything for everyone."

    Vulnerabilities and real attacks

    Botnets and DDOS attacks, which most people in their homeland know only theoretically, are used here. Especially in black and gray niches. In ordinary niches, I would not say that this greatly affects, but it is important to understand that security needs to be paid much more attention than is usual with us.

    For example, when we reached the top for the “replica watches” keywords, we started to get very DDOS. We were not ready for this from the very beginning, and this greatly interfered. This interfered later, but we were ready more and learned to work in such conditions.

    Protecting Competitors from Scanning and Parsing
    Your competitors are aware of vulnerabilities and attacks. Therefore, parsing their sites for analysis is also more difficult. Done, but harder.

    In conclusion, I want to say that I am glad that SEO is less and less “a Joomla site + Sape links”, and more and more thoughtful, detailed work, focused on a specific niche with specific tasks. This makes both the market for SEO companies and the market for providers of advanced services more professional.

    Thanks for attention!
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