Estonia Today is (from left to right): Elena Rudi (editor), Sergey Podogov (project coordinator), Catherine Lilleloks (financial director), Dmitry Don (project leader), Sergey Krasiy (photo correspondent)
When eleven years ago, a young Tallinn entrepreneur, Dmitry Don, went to America, he did not even think that his hobby would turn into a business.
What grew out of the site for friends
Being engaged in his business in America, Dmitry Don came up with www.fotki.com with a single purpose – so that you can share photos with friends. With the advent of digital cameras and especially photographing mobile phones, this opportunity has become simple and affordable. And since world globalization scattered Tallinn friends around the world and did not want to lose ties, the Internet has become a universal unifier. Fotki.com appeared in 1998 as a website created at their own expense by Dmitry Don and his wife Catherine Lilleaux in their own apartment in New York. It was a free product, the circle of users was actively growing thanks to acquaintances, familiar acquaintances, and so on. In 2000, when problems began in America’s economy and it became not so easy to find work, it was too expensive to keep a free website, on which more than ten thousand users posted their photos. They announced a paid service, assigning a symbolic price – $ 30 per year, 2.5 per month for being able to upload their photos to this site. With three hundred people who immediately responded, the number of paid subscribers began to grow, new people were needed, an office, more powerful servers, in general, the hobby was rapidly turning into a business, which required very large funds. And since today it doesn’t matter in which country of the world the offices of this or that Internet company are located, and in Estonia it turned out to be cheaper to implement the same thing than in the USA, the “Photos” partially moved to Tallinn.
Today, Fotki.com is one of the leading sites in its field. It is believed that this is one of the few in the world of the Internet of photo sites with unlimited downloads – any number of photos of excellent quality and high resolution. Now “Photos” have millions of users all over the world, who use various services provided by the project: photo hosting, spacious mailbox, photo blog (diary), photo printing, communication on interests.
The site is developing the direction of Media Social Network, where people from different countries do not just communicate, but unite according to their interests, forming certain communities, and even conduct some kind of joint activities.
Visual material for a modern person, maybe even more attractive than a verbal information series. If we look at the number of unique visitors to the site “Photos”, then it is several hundred thousand a day, and if on their geography, then it is literally the whole planet. It is interesting that in terms of the number of visits, the major cities of Lithuania are leading along with New York, Moscow, and London. In Lithuania, the Internet is developing very rapidly – over the past week there were almost half a million visits to the site from Vilnius alone, while from Tallinn there are just over one hundred thousand.
So Tallinn entrepreneur Dmitry Don came up with and created one of the most popular sites in the world. What is not Estonian “Nokia”?
Leaving part of the “Photos” in America, to develop the project Dmitry returned to Estonia and immediately came up with a new local project Estonia Today www.today.ee. Why and why? He explains it this way:
“When I arrived here, I became convinced that the development of information projects was still at a rather weak level. People still just do not understand all the benefits that provide new information technology, all “turned” on the money. In America, people in Internet projects willingly go for a partnership, so far this is not the case. Initially, the idea was to create a live encyclopedia about Estonia, complementing it with various projects relevant to this place and time. An example of this is the direction of coverage of the most important cultural and social events taking place all over the country that already exists on Estonia Today.
Editor Lena Rudi specifies that the project Today.ee was conceived as a “people’s encyclopedia”, where materials about Estonia would be collected in three languages, Estonian, Russian and English, and this is necessary so that people all over the world could get the maximum their information about our country from one source, which is always more convenient. To begin with, we chose a direction interesting for tourists – a catalog of Estonian cities and farms, for which we began to establish contacts with local authorities. However, the technical capabilities of the site that uses the wiki system, which allows publishing any materials and easily editing them, make it possible to involve literally all enthusiasts who are carried away by the new idea for the construction of the project.
The direction of photo reports on local material existed on Today.ee initially, and with the arrival of Lena Rudi and Sergey Podogov, the concept of Estonia Today finally took shape. Lena came up with work experience in Delovye Vedomosti, Sergey spent some time studying and working in Moscow, came back with fresh ideas, in particular, the site was enriched by the possibilities of video reports. At the moment, Estonia Today’s team itself is engaged in photo reports, collaborating with both professional photographers and amateurs, constantly attracting new talents to the project. All summer, the Today.ee team spent at festivals and open events, where they filmed and gained experience in covering such events. Photography is a common hobby, and in the Fotki.com – Estonia Today team, everyone is armed with cameras.
Every photographer from any region of Estonia can offer any number of photos from the event (while social and cultural trends are preferred). All photos can be freely viewed, Estonia Today’s website does not pursue any commercial purpose – moreover, it can always send its photographer or team to an interesting event, so event organizers should only inform them in advance.
Today.ee is in the process of active development, the task is specific – to ensure maximum information content and visibility of the material.
Estonia Today attracts young people who are interested in the most modern form of communication; here, initiative people with interesting ideas and projects are always welcome.
Today, the main “headache” that the author of both projects Dmitry Don is now worried about is how to find the necessary number of highly qualified specialists, first of all programmers. It turns out that this is not just now in Estonia.
Today, the average age of employees of Fotki and Estonia Today companies is just over 25 years.