Silicon Valley is a brainwashing - ForumDaily
The article has been automatically translated into English by Google Translate from Russian and has not been edited.
Переклад цього матеріалу українською мовою з російської було автоматично здійснено сервісом Google Translate, без подальшого редагування тексту.
Bu məqalə Google Translate servisi vasitəsi ilə avtomatik olaraq rus dilindən azərbaycan dilinə tərcümə olunmuşdur. Bundan sonra mətn redaktə edilməmişdir.

Silicon Valley is a brainwashing

Founder of the concert service Concertwith.me Vitaly Myshlyaev about the development of his startup and, in particular, about the experience of living and working in Silicon Valley - about local lawyers, taxes, fines, prices and investors. A story about how realistic it is to fulfill the dream of raising a business in the United States publishes vc.ru - a platform for new generation entrepreneurs.

Photo: Shutterstock

“Since 2004, I have been working at the Mann, Ivanov, Ferber publishing house. Then I switched to ecommerce. Then there was a job in an internet marketing agency. Then there was (and still is) LidMashina - another joint project with Igor Mann.

Everything was great with a person: he earned good money, was popular and respected in the market, and was tearing all customers with his skills. But at some point I thought: damn it, but I already know everything, I can do everything, I even wrote a book on internet marketing, I want to stir up a startup!

In short, I'm crazy. It is necessary, I think, to stir up a global, ambitious, for the whole world. And he began to look for a niche. So the idea was born with concerts.

At first, my partner and I thought that now we’re rolling a prototype, we’ll have everyone in the world and move to Europe, raise millions of investments. Six months later, while we were tinkering with the project, it turned out that we did not take into account the 99% of difficulties, and we had to deal with it. We continued to work. So, we thought, we will work on 3 for another month, we will announce ourselves for a couple of start-up contests - and we will all want to go and take us to Berlin.

When I left work, I realized that I needed to pour more money into my project. It's time to sell an apartment, a car, a soul. I still had a share in the campaign. I sold the apartment in an elite village in Ryazan for six months, sold for 3 million rubles. He bought the apartment himself: he earned good money at the agency, for one speech only he received 80 thousand rubles a day at that time. There was still a salary, there were dividends, well, in principle, life was a success, it was possible to score on everything and live on this agency money. But like hemorrhoids.

We continued to tinker in the project, and began to realize that technical skills are not enough, we need to hire more people to finish the structure. Through friends, we found 2 colleagues who are still working with us. In total, 5 people work with us. But nothing took off. Our first year was 200 – 300 traffic per person per day. Everyone asked - well, how are you, you are so cool, you understand everything so much ... And I answered them: well, this is commercial information, all ideas are protected. In general, as Chichvarkin said: the more miserable the company, the greater the corporate secret.

It turned out that I do not know anything at all: all my experience in Russian Internet marketing is garbage. It turned out that I don’t understand anything in development, in global projects, in SEO, in SMM, in analytics, in the behavior of people. I really learned all this again.

At this point, my billionaire friend, who gave 165 thousands of euros, falls on me, at that time it was 7,5 million rubles.

The most important thing that happened in the second year was that they learned to understand SEO, cleaned up a ton of technical errors from the site, and finally began to get some organic traffic.

My co-founder told me: listen, you need to go to America. I ask - why? Why, to whom - it is not clear, I bought a one-way ticket and went. We had to somehow catch on.

At that time (it was January) we had somewhere a 800 person per day. Well, by May it was 100 thousand per month. That is, only in the third year we reached the level of the average blog. Not even good, but average. We even began to pay some commissions, our income from them was about $ 500 per month.

I bought a ticket to New York. I had acquaintances in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco. I came to them and stupidly asked: introduce me to someone. Acquainted with all those who were offered, and found out what and how. Was Vasily Esmanov in the office, for example.

He lived all this time in the hostel: a sweaty, smelly room, everyone there farting, snoring at night. But it's okay for me. I've been homeless for a year and a half. But I can fly a lot around the world. Now I will fly to London for a meeting, then to Barcelona. And I am not attached to anything. But this is not for everyone. I, for example, have no family, no girlfriend. It does not bother me at all.

In short, many more people met, no one said anything of value. In Miami, no one works like that at all, endless parties.

In Los Angeles, I met a guy, Shaun Ellis, who runs a popular blog. growthhackers.comHe also coined this term. It was May, we just started to grow traffic, and we just then optimized our social networks: we made groups, where we poured automatic recordings about concerts - traffic also went from them.

And Sean Ellis liked our project engineer, he wrote a letter to be interviewed. Posted by Marvin Liao, this is the director of the 500 Startups accelerator. So I went to Silicon Valley. The first time I saw her. This is a huge area between San Francisco and San Jose: a bunch of villages, without borders, such a long sausage.

I began to prepare for the interview: to read what was being asked what was to be told. I had a 3 job interview. I passed them all, and I was told - come on, bring the team, you will start to go through acceleration together. Well, cool, cool. All arrived, we rented a house for four on the edge of San José. It was a town house, for $ 3 600 per month, and this type is very cheap. Good Deal, Good Deal - everyone said. 270 thousand rubles for three by Russian standards. And it gud dil! And in San Francisco is even more expensive. For the 4 of the month in the Valley, we spent just a ton of money.

***

In fact, there is no magic there. We were given an office, 2 tables in a healthy open space, where there were still 40 teams from all over the world. There was even a startup from Kenya. We went there every day. Not to Kenya, I mean, but to the Valley. All the training, all the lectures that were there were like “do targeted campaigns on Facebook: for girls, for boys”, “do A / V tests”, “put counters and analytics on websites”.

In the Valley, we received $ 100 thousand for 5% in the company. These were our third investments. By the end of the training, our money began to run out, and we received these $ 100 thousands. At the same time, they say they give $ 125 thousand, but only $ 100 thousand reach, the rest of the “service fi” is such a big commission. For office, food, meals 2 times a week.

At the end of the lecture I scored a walk. There are still days there when cool guys come - from Amazon, from PayPal, from Facebook, you sign up for them, and they have half an hour on you. And here you come, you start to tell something, but they stupidly sit at you looking with the expression “and what?”, Or simply otmazyvayutsya - but I do not know how to advertise to you, this is not my area of ​​responsibility. Or they can listen to you and say: in general, everything is cool, unreal, awesome, call me back - never.

This is just American politeness. In Russia, everything is smeared in the face. In the Valley, all are polite, everyone is smiling. That's why those who go to the Valley for a short time - for a week, two - they come back so happy and charged - in Russia, they say, my project was all slandered, and in the Valley they told me that I was a superstar.

Or else they can say: awesome, everything is very cool, the only thing that needs to be corrected is this, this, this - in short, to redo everything completely and redo it from scratch.

Yes, anything can happen to you there, yes, there are all brains, yes, there are a lot of cool dudes, but this is all fake. The real and the biggest plus is where you can be inspired and feel better: I’m no worse than those dudes from the Valley, I’m on a par with them.

Yes, they gave us money, they gave us an office, everything around is sociable, funny, friendly, a lot of meetings, parties, but there are a lot of flaws and depressing things. There is unreal dear life, just beyond the limits. If you earn $ 5 thousand there, it's like 150 thousand in Moscow. That is not the biggest money. I have, for example, a friend rents a one-room small apartment for $ 4 thousand. The prices are unbelievable!

The first months in the Valley I was engaged in fundraising. This is when you go to investors, meet, talk about your project, listen to failures, listen to delusions, nobody delves into your project, startups have a surplus, they give you very little time.

***

In Russia, many complain that it is difficult to start with their business: they didn’t have time to sneak up, they already levied taxes, and in the States everything is perfect and easy to start: while you lean, no one touches or rapes you. Not really. In Russia, you can open 25 of different IP, LLC, register a printer as a share capital, pay everyone in envelopes. There is no it. There I learned something new every week: about the new tax, new fines for new violations. And in each state everything is different.

There are a lot of problems: if you have partners, and they have a share less than 20%, and they are foreigners, but they stayed in America less than such and such time, then they should do that, and if you don’t do it with 31 on 32 day, then there will be such and such.

All foreign dudes who open offices in America - all polls fall on some kind of fines.

For example, a lawyer came to the familiar French guys and immediately said that you are definitely doing something wrong. He understood 2 of the month in the account, and they got to $ 20 thousand fine. And this is still normal. Here you do not succeed so that you take and just work, without delving into all this legal shit. There it is necessary to delve into everything, submit some forms.

Well, that is, yes - it’s easy to open up like this - you pay a lawyer $ 2,5 thousands, and he turns you on to some LLC-shku. But this is only the beginning. And $ 2,5 thousands - it's still cheap. In California, generally the largest Sales tax (sales tax). One more of our familiar startups, for example, received a fine for opening a virtual office in California, and sitting somewhere else - and paying taxes in state 2. This is a nexus tax. It is important not to get on it.

In short, Sales tax is a nightmare. If you buy Apple equipment, which, by the way, is also very expensive here, otherwise everyone says a cheap one, and niche, when you buy it, the price tag is not the final price. To it must still add tax. And even if you buy on the Internet, you also pay extra. You never know the final price: for food, coffee, equipment: everywhere there are some fees, some taxes, some deductions for the fight against terrorism. America is a real country of capitalism, you have to pay for everything here.

God forbid, you still get to the hospital - this is the end. I got a tooth there somehow. I go to the clinic site nearby, the widget pops up: if you fill out the coupon right now, you will receive a discount of $ 1 thousand at the first appointment. I am - damn, how much is the reception then? And I went to treat myself to a tooth in Ryazan for 6 thousand rubles. Even with the road back and forth came cheaper.

Communication costs $ 60 per month for which you receive 2 gigabytes of mobile Internet and unlimited calls within the country. We have issued a family fare and paid only $ 120 per month for four. And in Russia you pay 500 rubles a month - and you for the eyes.

All these are myths about the Valley. Living here is expensive, there are very few useful tips on the project. What the type teaches you about is a lot of useless. Party-goers just walk around and teach you life and business.

We watched the movie “Social Network” about Facebook, when Timberlake fished out 5 or 7% of the company from the young Zuckerberg and said - take the out of the name? And then the voiceover commented - that was, in fact, all that this partner gave useful to the project. And such dudes in the Valley with their valuable advice - just darkness! We were offered to do theaters instead of concerts, sell guitars, sell concerts in Vietnam - and shit like that.

The valley is a brainwashing. A lot of activities, movement around you. You can attend 3 conferences a day, 3 meetings, meetings and anything. You open the list of parties in California on the topic of startups - and there is an ocean of offers for every day.

Free beer in the office of large offices, riding on a yacht, sniffing cocaine, joint runs for gay startups, white runs, black runs, push ups for Hindus. And you look at it and think - yes, here they live, this is life, this is what I understand. Which of them at the same time raised some money.

For example, from our set of 40 companies - one raised $ 7,5 million, and another one - $ 2,5 million, the rest - failure or some crumbs. Raising $ 50 – 100 thousand in the valley is not a problem. But this can be done in Russia. And again, there, if you want money, even this $ 100 thousand, you will not have, as in Russia - we sat eating porridge with my friend, he liked my project, we shook hands, and he gave me a few million . There, in order to receive money, you need to have accountants, lawyers, constantly be on your guard so that you will not be deceived.

There are a lot of stories that no one likes to tell about the Valley, how investors tear up startups there. For example, the guys received $ 1 million investment, later they sold the company for $ 10 million, but it turned out that there was some point in the agreement with the investor that if they sell the project for $ 10 million or less, then the investor gets his money with x10. The investor eventually took all $ 10 million. And all because these dudes did not pay $ 10 or there $ 20 thousands for the lawyer to read their contract. They themselves decided to read everything, and it seemed to them that everything was okay.

Legal services are very expensive here, but everyone says: never save on the services of lawyers. You inadvertently sent a letter to the wrong one, and you were charged a fine for spamming $ 3 thousands of times! For one letter! Tell it to some Russian marketer - he will die with laughter.

And you will not be able to throw someone there just like that at the money, not pay for the work. For example, we signed a contract with some concert partners, and under the contract we gave them full access to our bank account so that they themselves could go and take money from there for their work.

In America, everyone pays taxes. Everything. Who does not pay - that smear on time. All transactions are read. The American system sees everything. She tracks people so cool that when you fly out of America you don’t go through passport control. They already know everything.

And, by the way, about the American visa, citizenship. Here is not so simple. My friend sold the company here for $ 3 million and 50% paid taxes, since he is American. If it were not for the American - would have paid much less. So clever dudes in America, on the contrary, refuse from citizenship, and do not aspire to get it by all means.

There is one bike about a tailor, in which all clients and orders were only from America, but he told everyone: I come here to take measurements: I came, took measurements and left, I was here I do not work and America should not pay anything. Here is the legislation: take measurements and negotiate - please, and sew costumes - necks or pay a lot of taxes.

I found for myself the optimal scheme: to go here, when it is necessary, to meet, to conduct negotiations, but in no case to live and work constantly.

I am given entry for six months and each time they indicate the date to which I must dump. On business for half a year is quite enough. And besides, I, frankly, just finished this Valley: from all the gaps, projects, start-ups, investors. Everybody is crazy about these start-ups, this is a huge bubble, no one even talks to others.

The conclusion is this: I went to fundraising for several months, this is a very humiliating exercise, by the way, I went to investors and advisors, and I realized that I could not do this anymore. They all need some very strong arguments, the so-called success signals. Or you should be in a powerful trend. For example, stuffing drones with marijuana and selling it for bitcoins would be a trend. Then you would be interesting. Either you should already have cool traffic, you should already have a millionth visitor, millions of downloads - then they might notice you too. And the third option, when luck is possible - you have a good old business: you sell something, you can show the investor your profit-loss and say: here is my business, put a dollar in me, you will get two.

I realized that I could not do all this, and returned to the product. And only when I plunged into it again, I signed a bunch of contracts with ticket collectors, became a full-fledged ticket operator in America, I can sell tickets to cool concerts of Rihanna and others, solve the problems of people, my customers. And we had the first transactions, so only since October have we become a business. The first month we had on $ 1 a thousand sales, with a margin of around 15%.

Sometimes we got on some kind of tax there, a tax here, currency conversions, a commission for it, a commission for something - we had some sales in minus. But now is the 4 month, when it is very hard for us, but the beginning of something to turn out. Here is a daily transaction history: $ 3 thousands per day, $ 2 thousands, $ 2 700 per day, yesterday was $ 4 000 sales. We have 14 thousands of users per day, half a million per month. We started buying little by little advertising in Google networks, on Facebook, the artists themselves began to come to us, some problems with copyright began to appear due to the fact that we use someone else's pictures.

By the way, there is a myth that in America they are constantly being sued for content theft. Actually, no: if a complaint fell to you and you quickly changed the picture - everything, you were left behind, there would be no trial. The main thing is to respond quickly.

January 24 was 3 of the year to our project, and just recently we started to get something.

I looked at the whole nightmare in the Valley, and decided that it would be better to live within our means, not to listen to someone left, how to live correctly, not to set the main goal of a startup to quickly raise money. I will understand the product and, perhaps, continue to attract investments, but not to speak and ask investors for money. This is generally a game: you communicate with the investor, but you can’t show him that you need his money. Everyone comes and such: uncle-uncle, give me money, otherwise I will die; and you come - and I don’t need the money, I myself can.

In domestic terms, there is a lot of interesting things in the United States, but not everything is so simple: it's good there, but it's bad here. In addition, in business everything can be done remotely: this is a delusional plan, if you think that you need to be in Europe or America with the whole team. The business world of capitalism is very simple: if you are profitable to each other, they will communicate with you via Google Translate, tolerate your English and everything else. Many still like to live in America, until they become tax residents there.

There is no magic in either the States or the Valley. I even had a performance in this Valley, about which everyone dreams - like 5 minutes of glory: you go into a huge hall, there really is a 500 person of intelligent people, everyone listens to you. But this means nothing, nothing at all. I met with the director of Intel Capital - so what? And that's all. Does not mean anything.

But who really cool to be in the Valley, well, except for lawyers, of course, so it is a plumber. Once we had everything in the toilet, we called a plumber, and for 40 minutes of work, he took $ 140. 140 dollars!

Original article published on the site vc.ru and reprinted with permission of the publisher.

See also:

Russian has created a startup in the US worth $ 1,5 billion

Silicon Valley Business Etiquette: 9 Important Rules

The American lived for half a year in a car to save money on startup startup

Startup Our people personal experience life in the USA
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