How to open your web studio and not close after 2 months

This story is about how two guys from Novosibirsk decided to open a website development studio and try to stay afloat.


My name is Roman. The last couple of years I have been working in the field of website development. During this time, he went from a site sales manager to a project manager (a great achievement).

My colleague Dmitry is a hardcore designer with 8 years of experience.

Having worked for the last year and a half at the Novosibirsk web studio, we have opened our own business.

His business is also a studio (a terrible word).
The competitors market in Siberia is crowded, so we decided to anchor to do one service - design.

I will not mind if this blog leads customers, but that is not the purpose of my presence here.

I want to describe the stages of the formation of our small business, demonstrating the ins and outs of the small business, namely:
  • how we will look for customers without a portfolio (90% of the work is the property of employers),
  • how we will conduct projects (Rework and Resource to help us),
  • how we plan to select artists
  • how, ultimately, to reach profitability.

This blog is not for customers, they do not need to know our internal affairs.

Think of it as some kind of reality show.

As always, things will not go according to plan, but so far the plans are just that.

Series 1 - Customer Search

Office, opening IP, Elba, business plan, buying furniture: it took 3 weeks to do it all. May 8, 2015 we went to work in our company.

On word of mouth they found one large project and a couple of small ones.

Large - an adaptive site for the sanatorium: work until October 2015.
Small - the development of corporate sites and prototypes.

The workload is on average 50%.

According to plans with so many customers, we can work without loss until October, limiting ourselves to minimum wages.

To develop professionally and financially, you need to look for customers

Constructed a website. Identified the key problems of the situation:

  • lack of a big name and sensible portfolio (upon request we can show the projects in which we participated, but we can’t upload them on the site);
  • competition in Novosibirsk (453 organizations in 2gis under the heading “site development”);
  • summer - steadily inactive demand for many services;
  • unstable economic situation: according to rumors, many studios are hiding, projects are frozen;
  • there is little demand for site design services (there are no exact statistics, but according to the word statistics of all requests for design and prototypes from a force of 100 targeted to all Yandex).

A little more about positioning yourself in the market

We worked in different studios and saw situations where the need for clients forces the studio to agree to unprofitable projects. 90% of the clients we worked with were only interested in the issue of price.

To keep the order, discounts were made on projects, having only a half-empty brief from the information. As a result, we got a lot of work and not enough money.

We don’t want to work like that. Therefore, the cost of the project is determined only after the development of the prototype. And then the client decides whether to work with us or look for other artists.

So right, fair and financially less risky.

But, unfortunately, there is no such client in Novosibirsk (sad smiley).

We somehow decided that our client could be web studios and various Internet marketing agencies.

Did the following:

  1. Selected 120 studios in Novosibirsk, medium and high price segment
  2. A letter of invitation was sent with a proposal of partnership, assigning each studio a UTM-tag. The essence of the letter: a description of the service and the benefits of cooperation; if you want to know the conditions, reply to the letter
  3. After any response, the CP was sent in a reply letter.

Time spent
1. Search for studios and collect e-mail
5 hours
2. Drafting the first letter and KP
6 hours
3. Mailing of letters (individually, not in batches, with UTM-tags)
5 hours
4. Transitions to the site
5. Requested KP
6. After receiving the KP, consider the option of cooperation
Thus, the cost of 2 full working days of one person led to the prospect of cooperation with 4 studios, if, of course, there are tasks for us.

We rated this as a bad but promising result.

Those who answered “no,” we no longer bothered (9 studios).

Next, we sent out to all uninterested KP studios (95 studios): 10 clicks to the site, not a single answer.

Conclusion: do not demonstrate need: this is written in many books. If you are not interested, then it is not interesting.

So far, this adventure has not led us to projects, but we do not plan to stop.

Our next steps to attract customers:
  1. Get answers from the remaining 80 studios, so we'll continue to spam.
  2. Newsletter to the largest Russian studios (very interesting result)
  3. Improving the proposal (if there are people willing to evaluate its quality, I will be glad to provide)
  4. We don’t plan to launch the direct yet (our site is not quite “selling”)
  5. Active sale to those who, in our opinion, need design services.

I look forward to further reporting on this blog. And I will also write about our developments directly in project management and interface design.

The nature of this post please do not consider advertising.

The end of the first series

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