From “smuggling” of cigarettes to the sale of vouchers for study abroad

When I was 17, my parents took 300 thousand rubles to send me to England for English courses. At that time my English was zero two zero. When I came to College, all took the test for distribution in groups, I was able to write only his name and age. The College was called GEOS is a small private school in a quiet area of Brighton, we recommended friends.

All students lived in the British families to immerse themselves in the life and culture. In my class was 14 people, to dinner we went, then walked, drank beer, and talked in English. I had one from Russia, and I consider myself very lucky. After six months of training in Brighton, I went back to Sakhalin from English.

Settled in the only American bar in town — “Bear Pub”. He was in hotel Rubin — they were going all the foreigners of the city. The salary was small — 11 thousand rubles, but the tips were decent. For a change I can earn from 2 to 7 thousand rubles. All the money I set aside because I wanted to go back.

I had 200 thousand rubles for the six-month preparatory course in College St. Giles International. With his help, I could get into University. Managed to accumulate only half, the rest of the money is again given by the parents. While studying, I worked as a bartender near the College.

The place was called King and Queen — a very old and popular pub in Brighton. For work I got about 300 rubles per hour. Once at a lecture I heard Russian speech — it was Russian guys and one of them was from Sakhalin. It turned out that he rents an apartment with another resident of Sakhalin.

In St. Giles International helped me with course selection in University, I was looking for a program where the combination of law with business. I wish my brain worked as a lawyer with a focus on business. Such a course I found in University of Brighton, and gave back the documents.

The University Of Brighton. Six months later, I passed the course and I was invited to the University of Brighton, the programme Law with Business. In England there are no entrance exams, the main criterion for foreigners is the knowledge of the language. At that time I knew English and I was enrolled in the course.

Training cost 450 thousand rubles a year. For my family this is a huge amount, so returning to Sakhalin, I was only thinking about where to get the money. On arrival I got a job as a translator in a foreign company Pacific Rim Constructors. The salary I had 80 thousand rubles, plus I rented this company for my car 20 thousand rubles. A total of 100 thousand rubles — again I was lucky and I was able to pay for the first course and accommodation at University.

Alongside studies, I immediately started saving for next year. Almost half off of “smuggling” cigarettes from Russia. At that time in England a pack of cigarettes cost about 300 rubles. I bought Marlboro Light 200 rubles per unit, and sold for 1700 rubles.

Sold mainly to its neighbors in the removable house and their friends. Finish the first course, flying to Sakhalin, get last years work, the salary is already above — clean 120 thousand rubles. I was promoted to project Manager. Four months later returning to the University on the second course.

My course at University was called the Sandwich — two years of study, practice a year, then another year of training. By the end of the second year, I was selected to work. There were 6 steps.

It took a month. With this company I had a contract for exactly one year. At the end I was offered a contract for three years after University, with a salary of 200 thousand rubles. I refused because of their own business.

While working in London I met my future business partner Maxim Sakhibgareeva. At that time he was working on a project for the production of biofuels in Madagascar. Maxim made me interested in the project and said that the founder Peter Hanratty looking for investment in the project. Maxim and offered him my help in 10% from the raised money.

In 2010, we flew to Madagascar to see with your own eyes. Developed infrastructure, plantation of jatropha (seeds for biofuel production), warehouses, processing plant instilled confidence in us and after a week we returned to London to find an investor. Mostly searched through Internet, made presentations, and landing page, found about 70 contacts. Also went out to potential investors through friends.

We went to the conference on alternative fuels and renewable energy, visited hot spots. For example, we managed to get into a Golf club, a gathering of successful entrepreneurs. We took out a few contacts and sent offer. Speaking with one investor, he recommended three.

As a result, the investor comes from Russia — it was my fathers classmate Maxim, he was in real estate and forest. We have the experience, money and contacts, which got investors from all over England. Maxim conceived the project, which housed the project, which was looking for investment and investors who want to invest.

It was originally a failed project, because we worked only on the appearance of a site without thinking about Analytics, customer oriented, conversion, economy and other. We have invested a total of 350 thousand rubles, and thought that the projects and investors they will come. Naturally, this did not happen.

We started looking for investors manually, but to no avail. We realized that this project we do not pull and do not know how to implement it. It was my first failure. The project was closed.

My friends from Sakhalin was asked to arrange for his daughter to study in England. I have driven across several colleges and found that in addition to helping friends you can earn Commission on the value of the ordered course. This system is practiced in each institution, and the Commission varies from 10% to 25%. Then I thought I found a good deal.

To sign a contract with an educational institution need to get Reference (feedback from other colleges with whom we have worked), but since we never worked to sign a Treaty cannot. A vicious circle. I decided to go to Brighton, where I still have a great relationship with the Director — he agreed to sign a contract with me and take my student. The program was worth 4 thousand pounds (at that time 200 thousand rubles), our Commission is 20% or 40 thousand rubles.

In addition to the money earned, I got a recommendation from a major College. Thus was born the idea to create a company for sending students abroad. My friend Maxim Sakhibgareeva we registered the company LLC “7 Students”, made a landing and started to promote via social networks. We made notes in different groups “Vkontakte” and Facebook, and asked friends to repost our record.

Then we were engaged only in training in England. List of services and contact form is everything on our site. This month received ten queries, three of them are already our clients. They entered the expensive programs, and we have earned 20 thousand pounds.

We with Maxim were delighted. In my last year of University, I only came in for exams, because I was completely immersed in the work. We built the website, worked with clients, doing promotion and advertising.

Actively promote the site in social networks — publishing in the paid groups, reposts through a friend. Using the ads, we have compiled a database of telephone tutoring and College (5 thousand contacts), offered them a partnership — you are us student, we you a percentage of the profits. The cost of the promotion were small. 5-10 thousand rubles a month on the social network, 30 thousand rubles on the phone.

Our office. In figures. In early 2014, we made the first MVP (Minimum viable product — minimum viable product) project GoandStudy.

We decided to concentrate on language courses abroad. At that time, we had enough proposals to fill the site and start attracting traffic. We were in no hurry to spend money on advertising and first wanted to demonstrate the website, old clients, friends, acquaintances — to collect information and finalize.

As a result, managed to get the feedback and necessary information. What courses are in demand, some wondered, what you pay for and where you would live, someone does not have enough information about College or about our company. We spent three months to resolve defects. In April 2013 I went to Sakhalin to visit his friend in the army.

During the conversation he tells me. “I saw on TV that Putin is helping the development of Internet projects”. I found this story and learned about FRÍA. I wanted to get there.

After registering and going through all the procedures I was invited to Moscow for a three-month acceleration program. Happiness knew no bounds, but I did not wait for the day of departure, received a knee injury on a snowboard. Two months could not walk, of course the trip had to be cancelled. A year later I again applied and again was.

Arrived in Moscow on June 18 2014. A month before that, my fiancée Valeria open the store of lingerie “Parisienne”. This was my second failed project — we havent managed to shake.

So exactly one year later we decide to sell the shop as a ready business. With great difficulty find a buyer, but at the last moment he refuses to buy because of moving to another city. In the end we had to sell off merchandise and close the store. In figures.

Return to FRIA. The program started June 20. Under one roof, worked on 25 projects during the day and at night. Home could not return, there was all.

Kitchen, bedroom, shower, gym, lots of coffee. We begin to actively pump the project, we are taught to analyze the result, to set a goal and achieve it.

Social networks. Contextual advertising (Google and Yandex). We set up the links and advertising campaign so that the user entering the query, got directly to the page with the right course, where there is a description, photos, videos. For example, training in England.

He could only click “Send request”. We have invested around 25 thousand rubles per month in “Direct” and the same in AdWords. The audience is very high quality and the conversion are higher than from social networks.

Partnership. For example, we worked with the app EasyTen (every day of 10 English words). After passing a certain level, was a gift — 10% discount on English courses in the USA and the UK.

When you click on the banner, the user was left contacts, and we have already worked with him directly. Partnership work fine, if all to make competently.

We first began to optimize the website — paid “Yandex” to get to them in the directory. In parallel worked on a unique context. In SEO you have to invest in the early stages, because you have several months to go in the top 10 according to the requests.

In DFII I met with Dmitry Stepanenko, the founder of Hot-Wifi, brought his technology to Sakhalin. Successfully sold the service to 32 institutions. The technology worked for about six months, after which, the facility began to shut down. Basically, not satisfied with the statistics.

Fewer people used the Wi-Fi due to the fact that you need to leave a note on the wall in social networks. Nevertheless, managed to earn almost 600 thousand rubles. October 2015. A year after the end of the program in DFII, we are actively working on the project GoandStudy.

Now we make a batch program, this includes tuition, accommodation, visa, tickets, transfer. Improving navigation, working on a private office, working on a mobile app, plan to enter the markets of Brazil, Italy and Spain. Now the project makes a profit 250-350 thousand rubles a month.

In the future I want to do booking.com for educational courses abroad. Implement the most automated process, to offer the best prices and deals, reviews of other students, direct communication with representatives of colleges and universities.

Source: google.co.uk/blog/startup-agency-one-way-past-founders-can-help-new-ones/

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