Having made a name and money on Internet technologies, our countryman agreed to share the secrets of his success.
A native of Pärnu and the creator of the rate.ee website, Andrei Korobeinik is a solid person. He invented the most popular Internet portal in Estonia, which made him a millionaire. What started the project that made our countryman a famous person not only in the field of information technology, but also in the professional business environment as a whole?
Estonian language betting
– Imagine, an Internet appears in a small town, and a person gets the opportunity to communicate with the world. The quality of life changes dramatically: you have a lot of friends with whom you can talk about anything — music, for example, which no one in your city listens to. You communicate with “yours” – and rightly so.
Andrei found his first minded at school competitions.
– I grew up in Pärnu, I studied the Internet and computers mainly from books. But regularly participated in national competitions in mathematics and computer science. They are usually attended by children united by a common interest, from all cities of Estonia, live together for several days.
The circle of like-minded people played a role after graduation, when Andrei chose between psychology and mathematics. Short fluctuations ended in a victory for physics over the lyrics.
– It was easier with math – all friends went to Tartu. And the university is the opportunity to communicate. So I tried to go where the most interesting people were. I also learned Estonian there.
Andrei has been talking to university friends so far.
– True, it scattered us – one in London, another in Calgary, another one – in America. Everyone who was engaged in science – left. But still we try, as before, to discuss ideas together.
Then, in the small room of the university hostel, they talked day and night long.
Lines from biography
Born on November 5, 1980 in Pärnu. Star sign: Scorpio.
He studied at the Pärnu Russian gymnasium.
In 1998 he entered the Faculty of Mathematics of the University of Tartu.
Since 1999 he has been working in the field of web programming.
2001 – Technical Director at dot.com-companies (online casino).
May 2002 – launches internet project rate.ee.
In 2005, the turnover of rate.ee was 6.2 million kroons, and the profit was 4.9 million kroons.
In April 2006, 51% of Rate Solutions (rate.ee operator) was sold to EMT for more than 39 million kroons.
– It was an interesting time – the new Internet was just being born. Old forums lost relevance, new ones were just being formed – projects of Internet portals for communication began to appear in Sweden, in Russia. In general, the idea of a similar portal for Estonia was in the air. Initially the idea was non-commercial. In 2002, there were no commercial Internet projects in Estonia. The network boom then went into decline, the turnover, including advertising, was zero. There was nothing to sell. Therefore, the original goal was to attract as many users as possible. And they can already be used in different ways, based on the effect of mass. Or not to use it, because if the development of network technologies in Estonia remained at the level of 2002, it would not be necessary to dream of e-commerce. There would be a lot of users, but they would not bring money.
The task – the maximum number of users – defined the Estonian form of the site. But why not duplicate the site in Russian?
– Technically, this is not difficult, but … There are about 20% of Russians on the Estonian Internet, and about 8% on rate.ee. Therefore, if rate.ee existed in the Russian version, it would have at best 50 thousand users. That’s why we do not do the site in Russian. Time takes as much, and the effect is lower. Again, the discomfort of visitors. Today, on rate.ee you can choose anyone for communication – this will not be the case on a bilingual website. Russian site should be opened in Russia.
Users and Marketing
Today, the rate.ee portal is used by every fourth resident of Estonia. The core of registered users is young people aged 15-25.
– This is easily explained: the site remains those whose peers predominate. And we have the most active youth on the Internet – unlike Russia, where there is no mass Internet access in schools and libraries, but he is at work – that’s why adults sit on sites there.
What the client comes for, and, accordingly, what can attract or repel him, Andrei has studied very well – both in theory and in practice.
– I read a lot of books on this subject, especially American authors. It’s nice when a situation develops in business or in life, and you are ready for it.
Literally “on the fingers” Andrew explains why many social advertising techniques do not work.
– It is necessary to understand how young people live, so that advertising does not cause internal rejection. Direct advertising “No to drugs!” Does not work. In order to work, you need to create a negative image – not to prohibit, but to show that if you do this, it means that life has failed.
By the same considerations, Korobeinik is guided by refusing to place advertisements on alcohol, cigarettes, and casinos on rate.ee.
– Not that it was officially banned. Just such advertising creates a negative image site. But we have a lot of social advertising – safe traffic, etc.
The website rate.ee is a valuable tool for parents and teachers who are interested in what their children live. The most popular forms of communication are letters to each other, comments on photos and diaries. rate.ee today owns about 90% of the “blog” market in Estonia.
– Every year this phenomenon is becoming more widespread: today there are about forty thousand. And if earlier they were more like an editor column, today “blogs” are becoming similar to regular diaries. It’s just one of the new ways to express yourself. Why does the user stay with us? Because his friends are here. Therefore, in this business it is difficult to conquer the market in which the site is already established. Even if you have a better concept. What is the use of the function if there is no user? Who will change the site if all friends remain on the old? Therefore, the site just slowly “matures” with the audience.
Future internet projects
– The future of the Internet is behind such sites as rate.ee. The main trend today is that the content is created by the user, not the editor, as before. In place of concepts of the past, like Delfi, come such as ours. We have no editors, but more content. There are foreign sites – they have not reached us yet – where news or links to news are published and readers, by voting, determine which news should be placed, for example, on the first page. These are technologies of the future – they can be made with very small technical expenses, practically without people. For example, the Wikipedia online encyclopedia is richer than Britannica. I think that projects from the past will die – slowly, but guaranteed.
How many sites like rate.ee live? There are no general rules. Yahoo !, for example, is still alive, and Altavista is no longer on the map. We are four years old, and today among the target group (15-26 years old), 90 percent use the site – someone is more active, someone is more passive. I think if you do not make major mistakes, then it will be very difficult to lose such a market.
– And, of course, much depends on the degree of development of network technologies. The fact that today Estonia is called an Internet country is largely due to Mart Laar. Unfortunately, everything that has been done in terms of the development of the Internet in Estonia has been done long ago, during his reign. Internet in schools, in banks – everything you remember. It’s a pity. Estonia is a small country, in it any initiatives, any big project can be implemented in a year.
Now, after four years have passed since the first photo was placed on the site, 51 % of the project rate.ee was sold to EMT. And what will its founder do?
– For a few years I will work with rate.ee, and then… I don’t know yet… I think there will always be good ideas that need to be implemented – and not necessarily in the Internet sphere.
But in Pärnu, he will probably come, as before – to his mother, brother, and just to walk around the city.
– I like Pärnu, as, indeed, both Tartu and Tallinn…