– What makes Ostrovok.ru a successful project in your opinion and how do you see its prospects?
– Ostrovok.ru undoubtedly has global competitors such as Booking.com and Expedia.com which are already known in Western countries. However, at present global market players tend to lose to local market players in big developing markets, for example, in India, China or Brazil. This is a good motivation to invest in such kind of project.
Another factor of success is a good team. The best experts of Russian Internet industry work on Ostrovok.ru. The development team is very strong, that's why they create more efficient technologies for users. You can see even now that hotel search and filtering process at Ostrovok.ru is much quicker than in competing companies. This is because global market players make products with the same patterns for each country, while Ostrovok.ru creates a fundamentally better, Russian-market orientated product which takes into account local specifics.
– Was the topic of the project important to you as an investor? Why have you decided to invest particularly in hotel booking?
– I already have experience working in online travel industry and I think this market has big possibilities of global development, especially in such a huge country with big population as Russia. Furthermore, online services market is just starting to develop here.
– Had you met Ostrovok.ru co-founders before you invested in their project? What influenced most your decision to invest the money?
– Ostrovok.ru’s co-founders Sergey FAGUET and Kirill MAKHARINSKY gave a very good account of themselves in Silicon Valley. I also received other successful entrepreneurs’ recommendations, which is very important in this case. Moreover, the guys have Russian roots, thus they will be able to localize the product while making it user-friendly and popular among Russian people. I didn’t doubt my decision to invest in them.
– Had you invested in Russian projects before Ostrovok.ru?
– No, I hadn’t really. However, I’m certainly planning to invest in Russian projects in the future as I think it’s profitable and promising. In fact, such investment is not charity, but making money as in any other business.
– And how do you assess risks on Russian market? How long does it take to recoup your investments in Russian projects?
– Most emerging markets and Russian as well are highly volatile, much more volatile than developed markets. However, this invitingly high volatility is compensated by rapid growth in all branches and spheres of economy. And although Ostrovok’s management have already created considerable shareholder value, thus my investments have not been wasted, but are really tangible, I stick to a long-term investment plan and don’t expect to return my investments and get the profit in the near future. One has to wait in a situation like this.
– The number of Russian Internet users is already higher than in Germany. In terms of the number of consumers, it’s the largest market in Europe – 50.81 million users aged over 15 today and it is still growing. How do you assess the Russian market in terms of it being filled with projects and business models? What other segments of Russian Internet market are not filled yet in your opinion?
– Generally speaking, I think it's consumer conceptions in telecommunications, media and technology, including e-commerce, digital media, online games, analytics and advertising technologies. Thus, the market here is really huge and there are great perspectives for all investors who are interested in it.