Hi, my name is Pavel Nosikov. I live in Moscow, Russia. Our country-code top-level domains is .ru. That is an non-evident reason to use it in address of this website.
My way to virtual summits industry is long and could be a base to a set of articles. But I will try to be concise and fit everything into this page.
For a long period I have been a startup guy. My first successful attempt was a concrete tender system. You will find much about it later at the page at “Current business” section. Initially I planned to scale the business abroad but then failed even at our 2nd biggest Saint Petersburg region. Thus we continued operating only in our home Moscow region (that is 1st).
Why do I head towards American market now and didn’t head earlier? I actually did in 2009 right before current business was born – but failed (as well as with previous attempts at Russian markets). That days most Russian working at American market were occupied with reselling, affiliate marketing and doorways. It was a phentermine fever in Russia, so many people were building doorways in hope to get Google traffic on them. I was never attracted to such kind of stuff. Yes, you can say that my current business is also affiliate marketing, just in offline. But there is a mission behind it to save costs on construction materials. It is the mission that draw long-term customers to us and enabled a company to double our revenues and profits 3 years in a row. You got right, 3 years * 2x = 8x.
For a long time it has been a pity that I don’t use my knowledge of English professionally. Research for Moscow suggests that those who speaks English earn more. But anyway I have established a business and for several years had a bigger income than people at ordinary English-requiring jobs. I even was helping my wife with business correnpondence though she was paid to speak and write in English while I am not.
I was earlier exposed to e-mail marketing but only recently got to know its advantages in comparison of building a conventional startup. I was wandering here and there searching for my way in all that email stuff and then stumbled upon virtual summits. I generally got much more enthusiastic about them than about e-mail marketing in general. And that is what drove me to dig into the industry and create this website.
My online activities
I’ve been blogging since 2006. I’ve never considered it as a possible income-driving activity. My largest and most dense articles were about travel. Writing and polishing them was draining, even if in the beginning I was enthusiastic about these exact articles. Since then I’ve already stumbled upon thoughts that as your main activity you should choose not one that you initially like but one that you still can do consistently not depending on your mood, enthusiasm etc. But you should also be good at it. And I could not say I am good at writing articles. I was sharing mine at internet-forums and have not had such a feedback as best authors there. Only once I had somewhat a success – after a dense emotional experience. I even translated that article in English. 8 years have passed and I have not experienced neither such enthusiasm nor such a feedback on my article. Should I have pursued a task to become a better blogger? Bearing in mind that the activity was not pleasant initially – I decided no.
I had realized that there had been no real public interest to my writing despite exposure. But I still support my website with more than 500 entries in it though. After that realization it was a conscious decision to continue supporting just for myself and for my heirs. I see it as a way to make them understand who I was via my writing.
When it comes to photography it is quite the same as to blogging. I made dozens of thousands of pictures that is enough to elaborate a sense to “not shot if it is really not that important”. But editing the pictures I feel as drained as with blogging. I do it as a way to leave my heritage but don’t want to pursue this activity further.
I am an introvert and not really socially engaged, both offline and online. Social media addiction sounds foreign to me as I could easily not visit any social media for days if not weeks. I realize it could be a problem for me when it comes to virtual summits industry. Here it is all about relationships, isn’t it? But I hope I am able to build trust. I hope writing so many details here could help more people find something they can relate to. Time will show if I succeed.
I have a mailing list of about 7,000 subscribers. Should I have earned much money via it? No. Because it is dedicated to an environmental movement against building incinerators in a town inside Moscow called Zelenograd. This is also the reason why I didn’t write about it earlier at the page at “E-mail marketing section”. Because here is no marketing except promotion of our viewpoints.
With Zelenograd’s overall population of 250,000 the citizen/subscriber convertion rate is pretty good. I value relationship with my subscribers and write only when it is necessary, even if it is less than once a year. That made me known and respected among many citizen of the town. Overall this activity was mostly offline, taking part at meeting and other actions as well. Here I am with pictured at a “Day of Wrath” in 2009 with Sergei Udaltsov, a russian opposition politician. You can read about him in Wikipedia. All in all, it was long time ago. Now that problem is generally solved and outdoor meeting legislation is far more strict.
Most my online activity is reading. In various periods of my life it was either mostly business- or personal development-related. I’ve been listening to podcasts since 2006. That early days there was quite nothing of true value to read and listen to in Russian. English became my primary language of self-education. These days there is plenty of choice in Russian but its quality could not be compared to content in English. Thus I mostly stay with English.
A bit more background and lifestyle
My profession as of university diploma is informatic-economist. I studied at economic facullty while my graduation thesis was mostly technical. Could I call myself a humanities person? Definitely no. But neither am I fully technician. I could become a coder but after communicating with coders in childhood I didn’t want to pursue this way and become like them. Maybe it was a mistake but I anyway am technically savvy to a certain degree. I am in internet business since 2005 when I worked at web design and SEO agency. Because of that I can deal with hosting, HTML code, CSS, htacess settings and even simple PHP scripts myself. To set up this site I made amandments to server settings via SSH though it normally is beyond my comfort zone.
My interest in travel and an ability to work from any point of the world (not 100% but mostly true) poses a question about nomadic lifestyle that is so fashionable nowadays. For several reasons I have never been really nomadic. One of them: I really prefer travel by vacations being totally relaxed and unplugged from external communication rather than travel and work simultaneously like a nomad.
For a certain period I wanted to relocate and even lived a trial month in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. At the end I decided that living in Malaysia was not for me. Even more of that – that relocaton was not for me and that just visiting interesting places as a tourist (with a bit aspiration to get local experience) is enough. With political and economic situation in Russia getting tough many people migrated from the country. I am not very optiimistic about future in Russia but to the moment our family is still here.
Malaysian experience also revealed that in nomadic conditions I work worse. Does it mean that my work is not as meaningful as travel and I should consider changing the area? Yes, that is a tough question for me that is not solved. I tried to find my way in travel and other areas that I am passionate about. But to the moment I failed. When done on a daily basis it is either draining (blogging, photography) or repetitive (tour guiding) that is not as attractive for me in long term.
For now I have an offline service business. I am not a native English speaker and when I first saw the phrase “brick-and-mortar business” it sounded very similar to what we do. Because are in concrete-and-mortar industry. English version of our website is shut down but you can browse it via Web archive. I should not be proud of using Putin’s picture at the website. Taking part at opposition activities at the same time when the website was launched is somewhat a hypocricy. But in a convervative industry in conservative Russia it became a decent branding (that site with Putin? Oh, yeah, I remember). You can drop me a line at admin (at) m350 (dot) ru. Is it strange to have this address for a business owner? I delegated all really business-related communication and this address is one that I have not used for years. I am not bothered by it as there is nothing to reply to.
Actually our work could be called offline affiliate business – we refer customers to concrete plants and get our a commission of 2-5% of a deal if they buy something. Why so little figure? Every sum of a deal consists mostly of costs of raw materials. Because of that tiny percentage we have never counted the amount of total revenue we brought our partners. Though it was about $1M in best months. Sounds pretty good for marketing? Only outside the industry – people refer to volumes (in cubic meters, as we are in Russia) rather than financials in it.
It is a bootstrapped starup, we were first doing that type of business in our offline industry. It was a success – as I have arleady written, we grew 2x 3 years in a row. Aside from our core activity we were trying to bring order and set non-technical standards in our chaotic industry. It is not a coincidence that here at this site I also try to bring picture of virtual summits industry in general.
Working on daily basis with dozen of plants we have better picture of real problems and tendencies in the industry like nobody else. This is a video of my Q&A session at Concrete Plants Annual Gathering (sorry, it is in Russian).
We also set an award for Best Concrete Plants in Moscow region and held ceremonies in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
Why we cancelled the tradition? There were 2 main reasons:
- through years we came to a conclusion that there is no good concrete plants (at least in our region) – there are OK plants, bad plants and ones that we had not cooperated enough with to conclude,
- it did not enhance our relationships with our partners (as we initially had supposed). We had made initial steps from our side but quite didn’t experience rensonse. Exclusions were rare.
We were doing well and in my most successful month my income was about $15,000. Considering that I could not work and have vacations when I wanted it was extremely pleasant. All this “my income is generated even when I not work!” has been my reality for years.
But since then 3 main things happened:
- our local currency has fallen about 2x while most products are imported and thus grew in cost,
- our industry is experiencing huge crisis (as well as Russian economy in general),
- the competition because of that has become extremely fierce and strict, companies started dumping. Our industry is one of the most convenient for cheating: every deal is worth hundreds or thousands of bucks while you NO WAY CAN check both the quality AND the quantity of the mix.
A somewhat minor thing is that cheating gives competitive advantage in SEO. If you add hundreds fake offices to your website – search engines will show you for local quiries (that hold majority in our industry). Theoretically we could do that, but do we really need to lie and cheat to earn money? We decided that no. It made us less competitive but more consistent in following critical principles.
Getting new clients in competition with cheaters has become extremely tough. Even in good times anyone who is not a producer was by default seen as cheater. Our industry-building company as well. Because there always were plenty of them. And now when even good old companies start cheating to survive competition has become even more tough.
Our old clients have less construction. Payability of money has dramaticaly decreased. Something should have been changed. To get rid of social capital in the industry and to start from scratch in 35 is tough. But when getting abroad it could not be other way.