Have you ever heard of Rainbow roses? Or of jewellery tattoos of precious metals, or special stones for whisky to cool drinks? Martmania.ru is a network trading in unusual things, enabling their owners or producers to open an internet store and place their goods in it as in an ordinary catalogue. And for purchasers, correspondingly, it provides access to the catalogue and the opportunity of automatic payment and delivery of the goods, and also offers a selection of goods which might interest them, on the basis of their activity on social networks. After the goods have been sold, Martmania.ru keeps 10% of the cost.
Martmania.ru is an adaptation on the Russian market of the business models of such successful projects as Bonanza (USA) and Dawanda (Germany). The authors of their Russian counterpart are the Novosibirsk entrepreneurs Yevgeny Ivanov and Sophia Goldberg.
“It is much more profitable to work in Novosibirsk than in Moscow”, says Yevgeny Ivanov. “We have reliable personnel here, and the level of wages is much lower. Furthermore, we operate from a base in the technology park of the Novosibirsk academic centre, and it only costs our colleagues 6,000 roubles a month to lease an office. The average wage for staff is 25,000 roubles”.
Since the company is not involved in logistics, it does not require a large number of employees; so far only six people are working on the project. Their task is to develop the service and expand the clientele. It is proposed to introduce the possibility of buying goods by paying a deposit and completing the payment on credit. Yevgeny Ivanov also believes that with time, paid premium accounts, which give the vendor more opportunities, will play a more significant role.
The project started as a prototype in January 2012, and after only two months, it already had more than 600 vendors. The operational version was started in April 2012.
The startup was not without incident. Having received their first investments, Yevgeny and Sophia deposited them in the Cypriot Laiki Bank. This happened right on the eve of the crisis in Cyprus’s banking system, to which this very bank fell victim. Having lost the greater part of their capital, Yevgeny and Sophia did not despair; on the contrary, they redoubled their efforts to move the project forward. A great part in this was played by the app they created in June 2013 for the “Vkontakte” network, which in the very first week, broke records in its sector – 16,000 users with virtually no advertising. In a month, this had risen to 28,000, and the first payments were coming in. Now Yevgeny and Sophia are preparing to create a presence in other popular Russian social networks such as mail.ru and odnoklassniki.ru.
This is a natural progression. Moving forward in the social networks and SMM comprises a most important marketing tool in this sort of business. The project developed successfully. At first, Martmania was receiving about 3-5 calls a week, now it is up to 30 a day. It is not surprising that investors, including Western ones, have supported the project. The search for investors was helped by TexDrive, the business accelerator of Russian technology startups (which itself invested funds in the project at the seeding stage). In particular, it was thanks to TexDrive’s assistance that the company Serendipity Investments joined in the project.