The company BayRu simultaneously solves a number of problems that Russians face. First – if the buyer does not speak English, but wants to buy goods in the United States. Second – if the seller will not deliver goods to Russia (this is still very common). The third problem is buying big-ticket items (in all probability the seller will not deliver them to Russia). Fourth – a credit card issued by a Russian bank may not be accepted by the seller (many online retailers accept cards issued only by banks in the country where the seller resides). Fifth – convenience and savings: the customer wants to buy glasses from eBay, a Kindle for reading books from Amazon, and something else in a third online store. At BayRu it is possible to consolidate all three (or more) purchases in one package, thus saving on shipping and avoiding having to deal with a number of different vendors.
“I interrupted my education to see what might happen with the business,» says Anton. The business was BayRu. And what gave the student the idea for it was a request from a childhood friend in St. Petersburg to bring a rare spare part for an American automobile. And this had to wait until the next university vacation.«I wanted to advise my friends not to wait for my trips home, but just buy things on eBay, and I searched the Internet to find such a service. And it was then I found out that there wasn't one. As I studied Computer Science,» says Anton, «the technology had already become second nature to me. I saw an opportunity for myself – what was needed was to integrate the eBay catalog for Russians.»
Back in 2007 Anton's idea was viewed pretty coolly, not to say negatively, by his family. The first question they asked was how can you build a business in Russia when you are living in Chicago? His older brother was the one who took longest to come round to the idea. Gene GERMAN had a successful business career, helping to develop software for the Internet company Orbitz, and he was CIO of the hotel complex Hyatt. He knew how risky start-up investments were. And having been initially the main critic of his younger brother's idea, but then being convinced of its prospects, he took over the development of the technological process and oversaw the issues of finance, accounting and strategic development.The first investors in BayRu were the GERMAN family and one of their friends. And initially the brothers underestimated the costs. «To be successful and to grow quickly requires a lot of money,» says Anton. But initially it was assumed that BayRu would be a personal shopping or concierge service, and those are pretty expensive services. «We worked very closely with each customer,» says Anton, «we hunted down collectable products for them and provided a Casting service. It wasn't that we didn't have many customers, but we were not growing exponentially. We had customers who put in orders for tens of thousands of dollars, but we didn’t break into the mass market.»
From 2007 to 2010, the number of employees in BayRu, led by Anton GERMAN, grew to 25, and the number of registered users reached 70,000. And in 2011, after Aaron BLOCK joined the company as an investor and president, the number of customers increased to 150,000. (Learn more about this in the next article).