Andrei Voropaev, TriLan: “At 40, business is just beginning”

    Hello! Today you will find a success story and a tour of the office of the TriLan company .

    Andrey Voropaev, the general director of TriLan, my guest today, modestly calls himself an old man in this business. It is generally accepted that digital is the business of the young. Indeed, the age of most heads of Russian agencies and studios barely reaches thirty years. And they started only by breaking away from the school bench.

    Andrei founded TriLan at a very conscious age, having entrepreneurial experience in other industries behind him. His energy can only be envied. And he completely breaks the stereotype of age by digital standards.

    And I was impressed with one characteristic of Andrey (pay attention when you read the interview). It combines hot young determination (“I want him to become my client, then he will become”) and wise patience that helps to wait for the achievement of these goals. A rare combination of qualities.





    Brief information:

    Positioning: comprehensive Internet marketing
    Brands: MosZarubezhStroy (contract repair and reconstruction of the Kremlin, construction of foreign representative offices in Moscow), Forex Club, Contingent (the oldest furniture manufacturer in Russia), Pronto-Moscow "(From Hand to Hand newspaper), JOB.RU website, Computerra Publishing House, Aeroflot and others.
    Offices: Moscow, Vologda.
    Staff: 97 employees.
    Ratings: 14th place (Runet Rating, web rating studios), 10th place (Runet Rating, SEO companies rating), 10th place (Ruward, Golden Hundred I am a Russian digital), 37th place (“Tagline”, rating of leading digital production in Russia).


    About the company: designer from legal entities in different countries


    - Andrei, tell us what the TriLan company is today?

    - December 15, 2015 we are 15 years old. What have we come to over the years? We are a full-cycle digital agency, or “one-stop shop”, we are no longer seen separately as an SEO company or web studio, namely, as a player in the integrated services market. We carry out separate services - website development, search engine optimization, launch of contextual advertising, as well as a whole range of activities to promote a business on the Internet. Now we have about 94 - 97 employees.

    From the inside, a company is a designer, a set of different legal entities in different countries. In addition to Russia, we have separate legal entities in Ukraine, Montenegro, and Cyprus.

    - Why are there so many foreign legal entities, do you have many international clients? Is the digital market in Montenegro not occupied by local players?

    - Honestly, opening a business there, I made a mistake in the calculations. We hoped to work with local companies, but the calculations did not materialize. The Montenegrin market was absolutely uninteresting. But we were lucky, we quickly reoriented. Now our customers in Montenegro are mainly Russian companies. A few years ago in Montenegro there was a peak demand for real estate. Many Russian businessmen bought housing there and moved for six months to the sun. And we were in a favorable position. We focused on this audience, and it turned out that they are very comfortable working with us - to solve business problems within walking distance from the beach.

    But in a situation with other offices, the advantages are different. When working with international companies, a flexible financial system is a very important factor. It is convenient for someone to pay in dollars, someone in euros. To make it convenient to settle accounts with customers, we opened companies abroad.

    - And how many offices do you have in Russia? Are there any regional offices?

    - Now we have two offices - in Moscow and Vologda. In Vologda sits, as they say, a production team, whose activities we are currently curtailing. Now the Vologda office itself has been liquidated, part of the staff continues to work with us remotely, part of the team has moved to Moscow.

    How did it happen? 5 years ago we opened a regional office. At that time, the web development market in Vologda was empty. As often happens in the regions, those specialists who were interested in web production - typesetting, design, programming - either left the region or worked remotely. There were practically no large companies. We appeared on time and got the people we needed.

    However, in five years the market has changed a lot. Many companies have appeared in our segment, competition for specialists has increased, the average level of salaries has approached Moscow. At the same time, our production capacities also grew, entire departments appeared, and remote management became too expensive.

    As of March 2015 in Vologda, we had 57 people and about 40 employees in Moscow.

    This painful situation has continued since last year. We understood that Vologda became a road for us, but did not know where to leave. We developed two strategic directions: drag all the strong specialists to Moscow or find another suitable region. Our requirements for the region sounded more like an impossible dream: there are many trained IT-personnel, their cost is lower than in Moscow, and a small distance from the capital. Honestly, we ourselves did not believe that such an “IT paradise” could be found.

    And then, quite by accident, I met with one company. We started talking, then we tried to outsource them projects. Now it seems to us optimal such a scheme of work in which we do not fully maintain the remote team, but nevertheless we have economic relations between us and they have a certain degree of freedom. We have excellent managerial experience, and they have a large number of developers and SEO specialists.
    Now, while the terms of the transaction are undergoing the coordination stage, I can say that we see some advantages in associations and alliances, but this process is not easy. Follow our news until we are ready for high-profile statements.



    History: a successful business is the seventh in a row


    - Andrey, are you from Moscow yourself?

    - Yes, I'm a native Muscovite. Born here and raised. My parents are land reclamators, so as a child I traveled to many countries of the eastern direction. And then he graduated from Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Faculty of Computer Science and Management, specialty IU2 Instruments and systems of orientation, stabilization and navigation.

    - How did you get into the digital business? What influenced the decision to engage in this activity?

    - In fact, by the standards of the digital market, I'm already old. I am 43 years old. I did not get into this industry right after graduation, but after a long search for myself. And I started not with web development, as usual, but with SEO.

    Education for me was chosen by parents. They thought that I was a techie. In 1989 - 1990, when I entered the institute, I had an absolutely clear idea of ​​what my future would look like. I was getting ready to go to work for the defense industry, and there was a research institute ahead. We even had a scholarship increased - 70 rubles, when everyone else has 40. It was a subsidy from the Ministry of Defense. But by the end of the university I already had nowhere to work, the system fell apart. The need came to look for opportunities for earnings.

    In my most active age, 20 - 30 years old, I tried many classes. Even before the university, I became interested in programming and in the first year I wrote dissertations for graduates. He assembled computers and sold them, produced a newspaper, worked in a printing and advertising agency, and sold software.

    They say that a successful business is the seventh in a row. And so it happened. The TriLan company became the seventh business that I launched in 2000.



    - Where did you get your first customers from?

    - To answer this question, you need to tell the background. In 1999, I got into a startup where I led a team. From the very beginning, our relations with the owner were not quite transparent. He wanted to develop the first release, show it to major shareholders from England and resell it with a terrible margin. I found out about this much later. In reality, I listened to lectures that we need to work more, because as soon as we raise the product, everything will be very cool.

    After people arrived from London, looked at the product and didn’t buy anything, the owner of this business quickly turned off all activities, left the team, stopped paying. I found myself in a very ugly situation: with uncertainty, a large team in my arms and without money. We tried to promote this product on our own. But nothing came of it. At that moment, several active guys gathered around me, and one of them brought information about a new fashion service - SEO-promotion, which is easy to understand, but it will soon become very popular. We decided to do SEO.

    I rushed to sell and even convinced the first client - a branch of the company in which my brother worked, taking from them a prepayment of as much as $ 150. But by that time, all the startup employees had fled. It turned out that there was no one to deal with this project. Money spent. I myself absolutely did not understand what to do. It was necessary to either give money or provide a service. And I chose the second. Wading through the intricacies of SEO, after a while it dawned on me how it works. I have successfully completed the work.

    I began to tell everyone about what SEO is and why the future lies with it. In meetings with classmates, classmates and friends. I reminded Rodion from the movie “Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears,” which claimed that in a few years there would be nothing left but television.



    - And many clients brought such a promotion?

    - I can’t say that a lot, but there were orders. However, very soon I got cold to the process itself and was interested in it only in terms of regular income. One of the clients called me to a meeting and said: “We pay you $ 300, but not all words are on the top. We decided to motivate you. Now we will pay $ 50 for each top word. " And paid me $ 250. It really hit me. I set a goal to get a lot more money from this client.

    At that moment, I began to create a company. Negotiations, meetings took a lot of time. It was necessary to share powers. I found a partner with whom we entered into a gentleman's agreement that I dedicate it to the mystery of SEO, share technologies, he begins to engage in production, and I sell. However, he does not use his knowledge on the side. Our close bond still exists. Maxim Ryzhov is my partner and co-owner of the company.

    - It turns out that the company has two owners?

    - Now we are majority shareholders, but we still have minority shareholders. But then we still did not feel like owners. I attracted clients, Maxim was engaged in production, finance and accounting, as he is a very scrupulous person. We also had a third friend who was very actively involved in the life of the company.

    At some point, a certain amount accumulated, about $ 600. We could take ourselves $ 200 or invest them in the start of the company. The third comrade refused, saying that he was ready to invest his knowledge, but not money. And he took his part. And Maxim and I left our share and officially became co-owners of the company.

    About sales: we select interesting leads by filters


    - Andrey, tell me, do you manage to delegate the sales process?

    - Historically, for a very long time I actively participated in all sales personally. But then I realized that I needed to build a process where I can participate indirectly. It is impossible to capture all areas of business, even if you have tremendous experience and knowledge.

    Recently I was asked to comment on an article by Pavel Trubetskov “Where can a young studio get adequate clients?” , And I said the same thing: you can’t try to do everything yourself. It is important to understand what you are good at, and for the rest, hire people who are more experienced than you in the necessary competencies.

    So I started looking for the right people. By the way, I always had a clear idea of ​​what kind of specialist I needed, and already knew these people in person by working in other projects. I never engaged in aggressive hunting, but I always kept them in sight. If the direct approach “I want you to work with us” did not pass, I took a wait-and-see attitude and looked for a suitable moment when the employee was already psychologically ready to change his job. One way or another, this person turned out to be my employee. This happened to my brother, whom I persuaded for three years to go to me. He currently leads production and sales of web development.



    We share sales in SEO, contextual advertising, Internet marketing and sales in web development.

    I can describe my technology for working with the sales department in three steps.

    Step 1. The correct selection of people. You need to find those who want to sell and who have this talent. Patiently wait for them, and then give them the opportunity to realize themselves and make money.

    Step 2. The correct transfer of knowledge. Mentoring, product training.

    Step 3. The ability to let people go on time. Sales people burn out very quickly, their priorities change, they like to move from company to company. In addition, someone catches a star fever and begins to hack, and someone can do much more, but he has to constantly withdraw himself from the comfort zone, and he is at the limit of possibilities. Therefore, you need to understand correctly when a person needs to be released further.

    - How many people do you have in the sales department?

    - Our sales team consists of 5 people. But they do not process all leads, but only those that got into our CRM. We have filters at the entrance, by which we select interesting leads. Those that pass these filters wind up in CRM.

    - And what is this filter by which you filter out customers?

    “It's a bit of a checklist.” Cheat sheet with points, which is evaluated by the incoming application. For example, a letter came from corporate mail or not, whether a tender is being arranged, etc. If the application scores 100 points, it falls into the CRM.

    - And who does the assessment? Individual lead evaluator?

    - This is a quality manager. We have such a position. We regularly interview our customers and those who have not become them for satisfaction with the quality of service. Even if for some reason the client did not work with us, the quality manager puts him in the category of contacts and after a certain time asks to evaluate the work with us: the manager who talked with him and our offer. In parallel, the task of this specialist is the initial processing of incoming applications.

    - Now you are talking about applications from the mail site. And how are the leads evaluated by phone? Is it difficult to get through your filters? And why is such a strict customer dropout system needed, are you not losing it?

    - By the way, the easiest way to go through all the filters is to simply call and explain in detail what you want. (Smiles.) In fact, these filters are needed in order to determine the adequacy of the client.

    Although in the development of the agency it is important to reach a level when you choose who you will work with. All players will confirm that there are a lot of untrained people in our market who have to spend huge efforts on, wasting time proving the need and cost of services. Also, we are not ready to go to Tmutarakan to sell the project.

    But this does not mean at all that we work only with large metropolitan businesses and their experienced brand managers. We proceed from how comfortable the relationship between us and the client is and whether we are able to develop mutually beneficial. We have very diverse clients, from large brands to small entrepreneurs.



    Even if the client does not have money yet, but he wants to come, get acquainted and consult, I do not refuse. I’m ready to give a moment of attention and always demand such an attitude towards clients from accounts and sales. I really welcome when customers come to our office. And I don’t understand why it has now become fashionable to call contractors to tenders at tenders. Most companies know how to make good sites, but apart from the person who comes to present the project, there may not be anyone in the company. If other employees are commonplace freelancers, it will be difficult to work with such a company.

    I always invite to our office, show the specialists with whom to work, and through my openness I prove why you can rely on us.



    - How is your salesperson motivation system built?

    - The motivation system differs depending on the products. If we talk about web development, the manager receives a percentage of the project’s profit. If we talk about the sale of a comprehensive service, the manager is motivated by the percentage of the first payments.

    So it was before. Now we are gradually abandoning this system. It often turns out that the manager wants to earn as much as possible, the payment goes through, and then the project turns out to be unprofitable or even unprofitable. We are moving to a system in which the manager receives a percentage of further payments. Moreover, the percentage depends on how long we work with the client. New customer - 3%. And if we have been working with him for a year - 20%.



    - You have a unit - a tendering department. Why did you put this function in a separate structure?

    - Work with tenders is different from traditional sales. There are tenders, and there are many when the application is sent to the first twenty ratings. These are false tenders; they do not fall into the tender department. Now it is a fashionable topic to organize such tenders. Why think when you can send out a task to everyone. Let them think for me how to solve it cheaper and more efficiently. And then I will choose. Just do not take into account the organizers of such competitions that they will receive a hellish amount of answers from web studios, which will be even more difficult to understand.

    These tenders are usually arranged by large companies and government organizations. In such tenders there are rules, conditions and a lot of preparatory work.

    If you carefully monitor life in the company, then effective solutions come by themselves. All sellers did not like and did not want to work with tenders. They understood that there was a lot of trouble in them, and the result was unpredictable. For this type of people, excitement should be daily. At the same time, there is a type of neat people who can prepare a project for a long time, and if it shoots, then they are charged with energy for six months - a year.



    Now we have only one specialist in tenders, before there were two. In their motivation, for a very long time I insisted on giving bonuses for the won contests. It was not very effective. The solution was suggested to me by one applicant, whom I interviewed. He had very extensive experience in participating in construction tenders. It is difficult to immediately understand which tenders are honest and which are custom-made. Therefore, he motivated employees to hit the short lists. That is, you need to get into 5 short lists per quarter. It is almost impossible for a specialist to influence the results of a tender, but he can get into the short list of the best. For the company, such a result is useful in that in the future tender, the possibility of victory increases many times.

    It often happens that marketers work with a procurement service that sets stringent conditions for winners, and we have not fully indicated the necessary information. And if the marketing department wants to work with us, they liked us, then the next time they ask us to clarify the necessary points in order to win this tender.



    - How many applications do you process monthly?

    - 100 - 120 per month.

    - What CRM do you use?

    - For sales we use amoCRM. This is a very good system, I recommend it to everyone. I am able to customize and will gladly share this experience.

    There is a good sales funnel, it is integrated with IP-telephony and 1C. If payment comes, then the information from 1C goes to CRM and the transaction status automatically changes. We see all the calls there and can listen to them. For each transaction, I can understand when and how the manager talked with the client, what the result was. You can clearly see at what stage most dumps are.

    The main point of any CRM - manager should conduct it regularly. If you need to motivate a manager to work with CRM, then this is already 50% failure. AmoCRM is convenient in that it has the lowest entry threshold, a very simple interface. And there is no excess in terms of sales functionality for teams, as in Bitrix24 or Salesforce.

    About Project Management: The Golden Triangle


    - And how many projects do you have at the same time?

    - Definitely difficult to answer. Projects are different. For example, now we have a very diverse multivitrin project at the presale stage. For each storefront, you need to choose the people who will fill it, and manage these people. It turns out that this task is at the junction of development and personnel management. If we receive this project, then 60% of employees will be involved in it.

    - Do you use some kind of automated system in project management?

    - We conduct projects at Bitrix24. Development uses the YouTrack ticket system, tasks are hung there, you can see their status and the interaction of employees among themselves.

    We also have our own Wiki, where people upload cases, write about what they did, what didn’t, why, what tasks were solved. There are different levels for different developers. And this is one of the important components of our mentoring system, because the Wiki contains information about what the developer should know and be able to.

    We actively use the Slack communicator. It is incredibly convenient, so it has become so popular among developers and startups. There is a full-fledged search for any correspondence, all communications are recorded, and they can be found in the file storage. To draw the attention of a project participant, just mention it. I participate in many projects, it is impossible to read correspondence on each of them, Skype is torn from a million messages. This is very distracting. But when I receive a notification from Slack, I know for sure that my reaction is required directly. There are guest accesses in Slack, customers can be invited to individual projects if they are ready and want to delve into the process. This interaction brings the client very close to the team.

    I believe that Slack and amoCRM are a musthave in the development company.

    - From our conversation about sales, it turns out that the seller is engaged in post-sale, not your account. Do you have any accounts?

    - We have every component of the “golden triangle”: sales, PM and account manager. Sales does a tedious presale job. He can arrange a meeting with the team or go to the company of the client. This works very well on sales.

    Next is the work of the project manager. His competence includes the coordination of deadlines, changes in the terms of reference. He also interacts with the team, is a link between specialists from different departments.

    What is the role of an account? In this system, the client has the role of a cash cow. Sales sold and fled, the project manager defends the interests of the company. And an account is needed so that the client does not feel that they are using it. The account is on the client’s side, builds friendly relations with it, and finds compromise solutions. Despite all the difficulties, this is a very useful position. At the level of natural instincts, the client feels that he has an ally.



    - Andrei, I know that you are one of the few companies that has a certificate of quality management. What are the benefits of this certificate?

    - In fact, I would not say that this certificate has practical benefits. But since we got it once, we continue to confirm our level. Recently, we have refused the certificate of a Russian company. Corruption is developed in Russia, and such a piece of paper can be easily obtained for money. Therefore, we switched to the certification of the German company DEKRA.

    On personnel management: a mentoring system and the transfer of experience.


    - You often mentioned in the interview process that you have a well-developed system of transferring experience. Tell us about her.

    - We have a separate document called “Mentoring”. It spells out the main provisions for mentoring in the company. If a new employee is accepted into the company, a mentor will be attached to him. His work is evaluated according to a separate method and awarded according to the results.

    In addition, we have developed many internal documents related to website development, SEO promotion, contextual advertising automation, mobile application development. This is the background that we have been saving for years.

    The accumulated documented experience allows us to solve many problems. If a problem occurs, the employee must first study this experience, and only then offer his solution, protect it. And if it helped, then also fix it for future generations.



    - Where do you train your employees?

    - Mostly inside. Together with an HR specialist, we are developing a regulation on a training center that we plan to launch.

    We have a long course for project managers and project management accounts. This course is available to everyone, where we teach our specialists. We opened this course for employees of other companies not in order to earn money, but in order to attract strong professionals from other companies to train our specialists. Usually, due to competition in our market, they are difficult to lure to themselves. And as part of an external school, we manage to attract very competent lecturers.

    Recently, I myself hit in teaching. Together with partners, we created the School of Web Studio Management (SHUVS). This training is for web studio owners and top managers, where we share experiences, cases and make it clear that everything is possible. The more competent managers we have, the more structural the market.

    - And what is the ShUVS project interesting for you personally?

    - I have been running the company for 15 years, it’s time to master some other area. In most professions, oddly enough, competence decreases with age. The only lesson where she grows is teaching. Technologies are developing very fast, my four-year-old son is playing better in tanchiki than me. Moreover, I can’t reach his skill level. I want to share interesting experiences. I’m probably one of those people who believe that the more you give to the Universe, the more it returns to you.

    - Do you work on developing a corporate culture?

    - For many years I thought that corporate culture should be dealt with. We held corporate parties, team buildings. Now I have come to the conclusion that you should not get involved in this. Employees, as hired people, come to the company to work and earn money. You can build a culture as much as you like, but if an employee is offered a higher salary elsewhere, he will leave. And when you put a lot of soul into employees, you are very worried about their departure.



    I am of the opinion that it is necessary to create comfortable conditions for work and training. It's enough. Artificially imposing a culture is practically useless. And you need to understand that if you take on this burden, you will have to bear it yourself always, no one will pick it up.

    - You have an interesting feature in your company. The cabinets and rooms you have are named in the old Russian manner. Where did it come from, and who was the initiator?

    - When we stopped by the new office, we removed the empty open space and built partitions there. The result was a rather gloomy look. A lot of glass and concrete. I wanted to bring some Russian flavor. We have three meeting rooms, two large and one small. The association with the three heroes was born instantly. So the names appeared: Alyosha Popovich, Dobrynya Nikitich and Ilya Muromets.

    I shared with the staff, and they quickly picked up the idea and came up with the rest of the names. The big open space where the sales and accounts are sitting is called the Horde. What is the ideology of the horde? These are people who run, consume resources and run away. The horde is adjacent to Kievan Rus - production. These are brains - analysts and developers. They are quiet there.

    There is a server - Tugarin Snake. The office where the financiers are sitting is the Nightingale the Robber. We call our dining room Uslada.



    - Andrei, finally, what can you advise a young web studio on market promotion?

    - Our business can be compared with construction. It seems to everyone that there is enormous competition in the market of repair and construction services. But ask any decent team if they feel it, and they will answer - no. If you make at least one project within the stipulated time and budget, without jambs, the client will be satisfied and word of mouth will provide you with a large stream of orders.

    So it is with us. If you just make good projects, then in many ways this is enough for customers to come to you.

    But I would also recommend the owner of the web studio to spend their own efforts and remind potential customers about themselves and what you can do. I have several cases when for several years I tried to persuade clients, but they refused. From an active role, when I offered them various options for cooperation, I went into a passive one, only keeping in touch. My longest presale for such contracts is 10 years. Once I decided that they will become my clients and we will do the work for them, and it happened.

    Literally today there was another such case when I once again congratulated a person on Skype on his birthday, and he started a conversation about cooperation. Networking works.

    This was the success story of Andrei Voropaev, CEO of TriLan. I will be happy to hear your comments and answer any questions.

    I’m Mariya Azizova, Simtech Development Business Idea Blog Editor

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