Expat Entrepreneuer: Starting an internet business in Moscow
English expat and founder of online 'Children in Moscow' advises fellow expat entrepreneurs on running a business in Moscow.
English expat and founder of 'Children in Moscow' advises fellow expat entrepreneurs to do your research, find helpful translators, and at least try to start up your dream business in Moscow.
Name: Founder of Children in Moscow
City of residence: London/Moscow
Name of company: Children in Moscow (www.childreninmoscow.ru)
Date of company launch: 2008
1. Can you give us a brief description of your business and how it is going?
Children in Moscow is a comprehensive online guide providing information in English and Russian for expatriates and Russians living in and visiting Moscow with children.
I started to compile information in 2003 and launched our website in 2008 following a far greater demand than emailing allowed. Registration was initially required to access the website and, during the first ten months of opening, the number of registered users stood at over 1,200. The website is now openly available without registration and currently attracts over 100 unique users a day, so it seems to be going quite well.
2. What do you like about doing business in Moscow?
Running a website is relatively straightforward and allows me to be my own boss, which is the best part of doing business anywhere.
3. What do you find most frustrating about doing business in Moscow?
Sometimes finding updated information can be frustrating. The aim of the website is to provide information as accurately as possible for our users, especially for those who don’t speak or read Russian but who want to get out and explore Moscow with their families. Sometimes even making calls to check a shop’s opening hours or details about a restaurant’s Sunday Brunch can be harder work than necessary.
Some companies are also very skeptical about the website when we let them know they’ve been added to it. Given that all the entries are listed for free (apart from those that want to take out banner advertising), this seems to be quite a unique concept for many companies in Moscow.
4. What hurdles did you encounter when setting up?
As my Russian isn’t efficient enough, I couldn’t have set up the website without the help of my husband (who dealt with the web designers) and the various people who have helped with translations.
I’m able to translate from Russian to English but there was a lot of information that needed to be translated from English to Russian since we wanted to set up the website in both languages.
5. How has the economic crisis affected your business?
It hasn’t at all. We did have to remove a few listings when companies closed down, but with Moscow being such a dynamic city, there are always more to add than remove.
6. What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs setting up business in Moscow?
My advice to any entrepreneur would be to do your research. If you don’t try you’ll never know if it works. We receive feedback occasionally, and it’s good to know that our website has achieved our aim to help people make the most of Moscow with their families.
7. How does running a business in Moscow compare to running a business in other countries that you have lived in?
It’s basically no different.
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