Investing wedding money in the Internet
According to the M.Tank BSPU diploma, I am a teacher of history and English. It is possible to master five specialties for five years, but I got only two. My education was free of charge, and then I had to work for two years at a state-owned enterprise for free education. Somewhere in the 2nd year, I realized that there was absolutely nothing to do at the university.
From the middle of the first year, I began working as a seller in Zhdanovichi, and then got a job at a gas station, where I managed the entire store.
In the middle of the second year, I met a childhood friend whom I had not seen for 10 years. It was 2007-2008 when the crisis began. All companies were in the doldrums, but Yahoo and Google were on fire. He said that we were better to enter the Internet industry. I said: "Yes, Kolya, it is necessary. But how? What is this Internet? Where to go?" He promised to call me.
I got married, my son was born, and Kolya called 7 months after the conversation:
"Do you still have any money from your wedding? Let’s buy you a website and teach you the Internet."
It was a big risk, I trusted almost a stranger and invested $3,000 presented at the wedding.
What was money-making on the Internet 10 years ago like
We bought the first site in Russia. Raman Kravec (co-founder of Myfin.by and other projects–TheHeroes) helped us. Roma is now my partner and ideological inspirer, and with Kolya, we have not been conducting a common business for a long time.
The women’s magazine Qli.ru which was our first site still exists but has not earned anything for a long time. We hold it because it is a three-letter address in the RU-zone. We can sell it, but it’s a kind of memory for us. The site belongs to my ex-wife, sometimes she even posts something.
In those years, Roma and Kolya taught me how to make money on the Internet by buying websites, increasing their traffic through SEO and selling links to them through specialized exchanges. We realized that we can put our fingers on it, but soon Google and Yandex began to tighten their algorithms, and such a model became not very cost-effective. Sites used to drop out of search results so quickly that they did not have time to be recouped.
Then we decided that it was more profitable and faster to take sites for service. You don’t have any risks at all, you earn interest as a broker.
In 2009 or 2010, our president said in one of his speeches that every enterprise and organization should have its website. It was the XXI century, and then the boom started–everyone began to make sites. In this regard, we decided to establish an Anixmedia company to create sites. Kolya left for another more profitable area later, but Roma and I remained.
A bit later Aliaksei Panichau joined us (he is also the co-founder of Myfin.by and other projects–TheHeroes). He was our office neighbor, and we promoted his site selling refrigeration equipment. We told Lesha that it was possible to make good money on passive income from sites by simply installing the code. We managed to monetize traffic through invisible advertising. We made automated links for promotion, which were invisible in the text. Now the era of such links is gone, Google and Yandex are seriously fighting it.
Even a little bit supported site brought us $ 500. Big and developing could bring tens of thousands of dollars. But in general, it was hard to explain to people what was sold on a site and where the money came from.
Myfin.by was the first own project
We wanted to buy two large Russian projects, but in the end, we did not agree either on price or in management. So we decided to try building our site.
We began to research where the most money is and identified two areas in advertising, real estate and banks. But real estate developers still carry money to the bank, so we needed to create a financial site.
We looked at the Russian website banki.ru, which was popular at that time, and copied a lot from it, both good and bad. The site was created by Roma and Lesha. Alex had a Master Degree in Economics, he knew this field much better than us. Roma had more skills in the structure of the site, how everything should look. And I just claimed what they were doing.
We spent a lot of money when creating Myfin.by due to inexperience, something about $ 150 thousand.
Alex was making money on refrigeration equipment, and we were earning on our company activities. We did not attract investors. Although, my father invested for a minimum interest, and we paid back.
Myfin.by has 3 million unique visitors per month
Initially, we registered the domain Minfin.by, but Belarusbank complained to the Ministry of Finance, and the domain was seized without compensation. Roma owned the domain Myfin.by, and we moved very quickly. We even did not have to fix the logo too much.
Myfin has 3 million unique visitors per month now according to any statistics. It is in the Top 5 Gemius sites Belarusians visit. The closest competitor is 6 times smaller than us.
I would not say that Myfin is the media. Our task was to provide retail clients with all the information about banks so that they could fill in an online application for a loan, deposit, etc. It is how the site works now.
The editorial consists of two people: the editor, his deputy who is also a journalist. We also have 5-6 remote writers who work on materials depending on their business and tasks received from the editor-in-chief. Now the editorial office pays for itself. But my main task is to make sure that the editors and I can also earn.
We do not earn on exchange rates
The main flagship product at Myfin is loan selection, loan product selection, and application submission. In the best of times, 11 out of 16 banks cooperated with us so users could really choose the best bank. Now banks enter the project at varying periodicities.
One of the cool products that we are currently planning to develop is deposits. Previously, the service did not meet the expectations of users, and we changed this section, made a normal calculator that takes into account all the nuances.
In fact, we have two products that we bet on. There are also exchange rates, but here we are competing with other resources for users. Exchange rates bring about 60% of the traffic, but how to make money from this traffic is still a question. We started, attracted many users, and accustomed them to our ecosystem with the help of this section.
Myfin.by contains the best exchange rates in Belarus in terms of relevance and completeness of the information.
268 cities and villages of Belarus are represented on our site. I wonder if there is a geographer who knows all these settlements. And here is a big problem for large Belarusian portals: 80% of the traffic comes from Minsk and the rest 20% comes from the regions. But if to consider the population, it should be vice versa.
We saw the huge potential of the regions initially: people are the same, salaries are also almost the same. You can work with them. We aimed to capture the regions, including Minsk.
It doesn’t matter if a person takes the loan in Minsk or Baranavichy because he pays the same, he carries the same money.
If you look at the division by regions, you’ll see that 55-60% of traffic comes from Minsk, and the rest is regions. It makes sense. I do not understand why other portals do not go to the regions. They had attempted, but unsuccessful. In general, our bet on SEO and the regions paid itself off, and we increased traffic quickly.
Bitcoins and Myfin
In July, bitcoin grew to $12 thousand, and our traffic increased sharply thanks to the bitcoin exchange rate on the site. We are in the first places on this request in many countries of Europe.
Bitcoin monetization is a separate product that needs to be dealt with and have the expertise. We do not have this expertise, and we do not see any prospects to make money here. We will not do our exchanger. Now we have passed this section to our partner Alexander, if he comes up with how to monetize it all, then it will be good. We are not greedy.
What budget is needed to develop and promote a site to the TOP
There are lots of options from zero to a huge amount of money. The budget is secondary now, as there are many ways to move forward for free. If you make a quality product, it will promote itself for free.
It is not you who shall generate traffic to the product, but it is the product should generate traffic to you.
It is difficult for pensioners as I recently been called (I’m 31 now) to rebuild this paradigm, but we are trying. Roman as one of the founders works on it. Yes, you need to create a product that people will follow, not vice versa. We used to lead traffic to our product and thought it was the coolest. And now everything must be done differently. I know examples when people made great websites, but forgot about marketing and closed very soon.
Do what others do not, and you will be written about. So much for the free promotion.
What does Myfin earn on?
We have loans, deposits, and display advertising. We send an application to banks as part of lead generation for loans. We receive an average of 8 BYN for every confirmed loan. If you can give large volumes, then the price rises, because you need to make more marketing efforts.
The formula for working with banks is very complicated. The bank needs to be explained. We can make 3000 applications in a day for them, but will their call center stand at least a tenth?
It’s hard to work with banks so far. Often they have a marketer for whom lead generation is one of the channels. But it requires a whole department that will deal only with this issue. In the best months, we generated 20-25 thousand applications only on organic traffic. We can increase this figure to 30 thousand if we launch contextual advertising, for example.
But today the lending market has dropped because for banks it is unprofitable to attract deposits at 12,99% and issue loans at 15%. And you still need to maintain this entire system for the difference of 2%. It’s not worth it, it’s better to give money for storage to the National Bank.
There’s another story with deposits–people don’t need an application there. A person does not want to pass over his money, this is banks who are looking looking for him, not vice versa. Therefore, there is a media-catalog monetization system where places in listing and banner advertising are sold. Desktop CPI is 1000 3 BYN, mobile is 6 BYN.
A person simply chooses a bank for himself, looks at deposits, yet then he must go to the bank. It is difficult to track the conversion in this case.
There is an option: the bank gives an increased rate for a deposit online in general or made through our website. Or there may be a bonus like a mug or a bottle of champagne, for example. A person needs the motivation to leave an application, and the motivation to record that he discovered this deposit through us.
He will spazz everyone in the branch, but he will say that he had come through Myfin where he was promised a mug. It does not depend on the deposit size, even if the deposit is $1 million.
But no one bank work with us in this way, unfortunately. There were attempts when banks made an increased rate online. That’s when we generated leads, 50-70% of users reached the bank.
Entering the Russian market with Myfin copies
Bankiros.ru and Mainfin.ru are our Russian twin projects. These are financial marketplaces, and to some extent, these are copies of the Belarusian Myfin. Bankiros today is the third financial project in RuNet.
These projects are completely our as we have neither partners or investors nor funds. We have three founders, these are the same people who founded Myfin.by.
Now, these projects in Russia grows well. If you have traffic, then you can very easily start working with a bank through a network of CPA affiliate programs. This is such an intermediary that aggregates all affiliate programs of banks and sites that want to pour lead traffic to banks.
Loan applications in Russia are more expensive. In Belarus, it costs $ 4, and in Russia, it is $ 6 because there are oil, diamonds, gold. Display advertising is the same, Belarusian CPI is cheaper than Russian.
In Russia, the debt burden of the population is higher, because the population has a more loyal approach to loans and living on credit. This is not a shame. There is almost a national idea to take out a loan and not give it back or take a loan to pay off your previous loan.
But for Belarusians bank loan is the last thing that they will apply for.
If you compare Myfin and Bankiros, then Myfin has twice as much traffic, but in conditions of low lead generation in Belarus, Bankiros earns more than 4 times. There are more banks and variability.
We have twin projects in Russia because we tested one SEO theory. There are a lot of cities in Russia. There are 2048 cities with a population of more than 10 thousand, but there are also lots of cities with less population. Therefore, Mainfin is built on folders: Mainfin.ru/credits/moskva. And Bankiros is built on subdomains: moskva.bankiros.ru/credits. But we do not yet know which is better. Bankiros began to grow very quickly due to Yandex, which loves subdomains but skidded due to Google. Now it’s not clear at all because both are growing.
We are invited to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Western Europe. We are adaptable to such options.
Earlier there was an opinion that it is easier to do business for a flunkey than for a professor. The professor will figure out all the risks and will not enter the business, and the loser does not know how to count. 3 his businesses failed and 5 works, so he is still a successful businessman. And now we have all been taught to count. But we never managed to count so that everything was fine.
We entered the largest market in the CIS, the Russian one. If we go further, we will need even a bigger market. The European market is more interesting due to the amount of money, people spend more there, and the GDP is bigger. We think that going to Poland or Ukraine, will cost the same, but the Polish market is 5 times bigger than the Ukrainian one. So why should we go to Ukraine then? And it is not clear if we could become No. 1 in Ukraine or Kazakhstan quickly because there are already large players.
Our long-cherished dream Domovita.by
Domovita is a project that we dreamed about in 2011 and launched only in 2015. A lot of effort has been put into it, but it has not fully revealed its potential yet. We hope that it will resonate soon.
My co-founders do not share my opinion but I am very proud of this project. It may not be so successful in terms of investments return, but in fact, it is a project that works on its own. This does not work with financial projects so we constantly participate in management, decision making, etc.
At Domovita, we simply act as investors, viewing the report once a month.
Two years later, our real estate project reached self-sufficiency, and now it’s even making a little money. But we invested a lot of money and effort. With Bankiros and Myfin the situation is different: they came to self-sufficiency and they immediately began to return what was invested in them.
We probably made a classic mistake during the development and to do the impossible. Initially, we made 35 filters and it was really difficult. Then we noticed that people use only four, and we left 5 of 35. It was necessary to first release a simple product, and only then to add something as needed.
We started drawing a steamboat, but it turned out that a small boat was enough for people.
We also underestimated our competitor Realt.by. But later they thanked us because when we entered the market Realt.by also changed for the better. Plus everyone managed to raise checks for placement and advertising.
How much Myfin, Bankiros, and Mainfin cost
We have never had investors. But when the fashion for major Internet transactions has appeared in Russia again investors start to writing to us. We start talking and showing our business model, they say:
“So you don’t need money.” And we reply: “Yes, we don’t.”
It is almost impossible to buy a large stake in the project to receive dividends, it will take a very long time to be paid off. And we do not want to buy for reselling, so we really have nothing to invest in. Spending money on marketing or advertising to increase recognition is not very suitable for our business model.
Now we estimate Mainfin at $ 1-1.5 million, Bankiros at $ 3 million, Myfin at $ 1.7-2.5 million.
A couple of years ago when we valued Myfin at $ 3.5 million, and there was a buyer who was ready to give us $ 1.7 million for half the share. But we refused for some reason, I don’t even remember why. Now I understand that I had to agree, we would all benefit from that purchase.
A tip for beginners
If you want your business to succeed, do not count on investments. You will become bored when you attract investors, and your share will eventually decrease up to 1%. You will also spend a lot of time looking for investments. It’s better to do your product and run it. Never forget that copying is also good but in a particular market.
If you invest in a product and do something cool, then the investment will find you.