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.

“These mistakes helped me build a billion-dollar business in the United States”: a story worthy of an emigrant from Ukraine

Ukrainian Mikhail Sapov moved to the USA as a child. There, the guy changed his name to Allan Grant and went to the entrepreneurs. Today he has two successful multimillion-dollar companies: Hired and Talkable. The office of the second works in Ukraine.

Photo: Natalie Kolomiets (for AIN.UA)

His way in business is reminiscent of the plot of the series, in which the loser is mistaken dozens of times, but in the last series breaks the jackpot. Allan lost more than one company, returned half a million dollars of debt, and also looked like a hare in search of clients for a profile conference, the newspaper writes MC Today.

On a sunny afternoon, 20 and his odd years ago, a boy from Nikolaev, Misha Sapov, played football in the courtyard. After another blow past the gate, the ball flew over the fence - right on someone else's garden. "Oh, you capitalist!", - neighbour's grandmother scolded.

Misha did not understand the accusation. “What is a capitalist?” He asked his father. Progressive Sapov Sr., listening Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and another Western music, reassured his son: “There is nothing wrong with this word. Capitalism is when two people exchange valuable things and together benefit. ” Misha remembered the answer forever.

After the collapse of the USSR, Misha's father went into business. He opened a company Allan grant and helped the Ukrainians to open a legal entity abroad. The family instantly had money, his father had an office and a bodyguard. Then the boy began to dream of entrepreneurship.

In 1994, the Sapov family moved to a small town in the state of Georgia in the USA. Sapov Sr. told his son a lot about the bright life in America. But on arrival, Misha saw something else. A small town with two-story houses after Nikolaev seemed like a village.

The family was not going to return to Ukraine. Misha and his father even changed the name to Allan Michael Grant - in honor of the name of the first company of his father (Michael - in honor of his grandfather). In the new world, the word "capitalism" was no longer a curse.

In 7 years, Allan wrote a computer game

Father's business in the outback of Georgia was not shaky or shaky. The family moved to Atlanta - the main city of the state with a population of six million. Grant Sr. left the business and became an engineer. And the younger one came up with a dream: to continue the path of the father in business.

In addition to business, Dad was interested in Allan programming. Back in 80, his father created simple computer games for his son. Sometimes they broke, and the father repaired the code. And then he showed the child how to correct mistakes on his own.

So Allan became acquainted with the programming language BASIC. When Allan was seven years old, he independently wrote a small game - a business simulator.

For fun, Allan wrote games, repaired computers, built websites and experimented a lot. But not always in a good way.
Several times, Allan was expelled from various schools, because he hacked into other people's computers.

The boy finished his secondary education in the alternative school “for the bad”.

“I was a troechnik,” he recalls. - I ignored the homework, but for the control received the highest points.

Photo: Natalie Kolomiets (for AIN.UA)

First Business - Web Development

One day after school, Allan accidentally went to the office near the school. In a cramped room, two guys buried their faces in glowing monitors.

- What are you doing? - asked Allan.

“We make websites,” the guys responded.

“I know how too,” he said.

So Allan joined the team. In 2001, the guys made a website for selling designer gifts. They wrote a business plan, went to the bank for money and received $ 20 thousand.

It was a dot-com boom time, banks kindly lent even inexperienced entrepreneurs. But the product of partners brought only losses. The team was unable to establish operational processes.

20-year-old Allan was tormented by doubts about what to do in the future.

The first option is to finish university, go to Microsoft, gain experience and run your business. The alternative is to start your own business immediately. Internal "awl" pushed to the second scenario.

“I live in a hostel, I don’t need much money,” the entrepreneur weighed the risks.

In the morning after a sleepless night, Allan bought several business books and signed up for business publications. And soon there was an idea - to develop a web designer, which will allow inexperienced users to collect sites from templates and sell them for $ 1000.

Having understood the details, he found a company that deals with similar in Ukraine. His native Nikolaev was indicated in the contacts.

“Wow, this is interesting,” the guy was surprised. It was about the company Template Monster David Brown.

Turned on Template Monster There was a way out for the son of Vasily Glukhovsky's father's friend. He was friends with a designer who worked for Brown. Allan began collecting developers for whom $ 200 was considered a decent salary at the time.

“Once there were ads in the city, where designers were offered two or three times more than everyone else paid. Naturally, everyone ran there, ”recalls David Brown.

He went in search of this generous employer and found out about the American who invented it all.

“I managed to convince him that starting price wars remotely is a road to nowhere,” Brown continues.

Search for money for the first business

With his idea, Allan was preparing for business competitions, where a startup can earn start-up capital for his idea. For the competition needed a team, but the idea did not interest anyone.

“Website development somewhere in Ukraine didn’t sound cool. This is not deep technology, I am the youngest, ”the guy explains.

But things somehow moved. Glukhovsky in Ukraine gathered developers, Allan in the States was looking for money. He did not win in any competition.

“You have an ordinary service business, but you are great,” they answered.

But since the project was already working, Allan kept in the top three finalists. In various places, an entrepreneur scraped up $ 5 thousand. For a full launch and expansion it was enough. So was born the company Webmasters International.

Business idea collapses due to debts

Grant's Nikolaev business picked up speed. The price tag of orders grew with the number of customers in the state - 50 developers. And in 2005, inspired by success, Allan left the university for the company.

Things were going so well that the young guy wondered: why everybody doesn’t do his business, it's so easy! He received a bitter response only two years later.

In 2005 year Webmasters found a gold mine. A large American client ordered a huge project by the company's standards, for which half of the state was sent. But there was a problem - a large client paid with a delay, since he was waiting for money from the investor. As a result, the estimate constantly appeared holes.

Friends advised Allan out. You take an invoice for a client and sell it to a third party. He closes the hole with his money, and then receives money from the client, but with a commission. Allan was supposed to guarantee the financial security of the deal.

What happened next is easy to predict. The loop of deferred invoices tightened its grip over the business. One loan, the second, then the loan to return the loan.

“The investor is slowing down,” the client said.

Allan fell into the trap: if you stop the development, the client just does not get the investment to cover the debts. No salary employees Webmasters go, and everything will collapse.

Then the business was kept on the founder’s credit card.

When Allan understood the error, it was too late. The company was tied to one insolvent client. Half a million dollars hovering in the air. How to return such a sum, the entrepreneur did not understand.

The guy lost the best specialists, but half the team still left. All engaged in small orders, but the problems have not disappeared anywhere.

“We knew how to work with one large, and there are many small ones,” complains Grant.

Another rhythm also affected the quality of work.

Second attempt at business

In 2007, Allan left for San Francisco in search of development. In the local entrepreneurial get-together he did not become his.

Website development in the Valley seemed like a backward hunt for redneck. Then it was fashionable to create viral applications for Facebook. Allan fell for the trend, and began experimenting with the rest of the team.

“The collapse lowered self-esteem,” the boy admits.

But other startups cheered him on: “You still have 25 people left. There are three of us here, and we are working. ”

24-year-old Allan continued to wander through various contests in search of money.

At one of these, he met with Sean Maney. The guy free of charge developed programs for SPA salons and received a percentage of the client’s revenue. He suggested that Allan turn the same, only with hotels. Soon there was a third companion.

“This is already a grocery company, more seriously,” Allan jokes. The future business was called ironic 3L Systems - in honor of the three founding losers who just lost the competition.

In parallel, Allan was making money from websites. So I got money for life and closing debts. He completely resolved the issue with creditors after six years. Adventure continued.

Photo: Natalie Kolomiets (for AIN.UA)

Another failure of a business idea

Partners hoped to finish the product for hotels in a year and believed in success. They met with hoteliers, were interested in demand. But a year has passed, and the product remained raw.

“Other guys in the Valley instantly got rich on investments. And we are cooking for the second year and there is not even a working version, ”Allan worried. He increasingly resembled a loser.

There was no money, he had to wind up a broken headlight with a rope. The girl was indignant: "Find sensible work, go to Facebook».

But Allan was looking for himself in the business. He earned money on sites. No longer $ 80 thousand, as before, but $ 20-25 thousand - enough for bread. It took all the time 3L Systems, which gave no result.

Having spent three years on the project, the “losers” were at a deadlock and dropped the case.
Allan opened another company.

Entrepreneur back to programming. His new idea is a service that compares sales of two variants of one site. The guy wanted to tell friends that he now has a new business.

So another thought was born - a service that structures addresses in the mail and can send a letter to a thousand people in one fell swoop.

The plan was: write to everyone that 3L Systems in the past, here are the new products. People will like the mailing service, they will use it and the viral effect will work. Service Mailytics Allan started cooking in December 2009, and he expected to have already congratulated his friends for Christmas with the help of the developed product.

But Mailytics there was no bright logo. Allan was looking for him on site 99designs.

“I wanted the most awesome logo that the best specialists will take,” the guy says.

Instead of simply putting his offer on the platform, he found a loophole in the site. And with the help of Mailytics sent a personalized letter to the top rated designers. For $ 200, he received hundreds of bright logos. But now the guy did not know which is the best.

Allan again cheated with the site code and invited those designers to vote for the best option. Spam worked, and in the end he got what he wanted. But it was already February. "Nothing. I am presenting now, ”the entrepreneur thought confidently.

But in the morning the guy was waiting for a big disappointment. Online TechCrunch published a text about the CRM-system from personal contacts. They had support Y-Combinator and founder gmail Paul Buckhayta.

Allan's plans failed: “Now I can't launch the product. They'll think that I copied. ” The entrepreneur understood that he needed partners in order to control his excessive perfectionism.

Grant finds new partners

In San Francisco, then held events to find partners. There, Allan met Jeff and Nori. They also programmed and developed the business. The guys decided to test each other in the team.

The joint test task on the 12 watch ended with a prototype. After three years of effort in 3L Systems It seemed to Allan that he was in the perfect team.

Partners did not like the idea Mailytics, and they decided to invent something new. The guys rented a house in the Berkeley campus for three months and decided to plow there until a business was born.

All three worked daily until late at night, then slept for a long time. To dispel thoughts - rode bicycles. “Jeff often cooked tasty meat,” recalls Allan.

Business ideas boiled over the fountain. Every week they finished a new prototype. But between them there was no complete agreement. What liked two - annoyed the third. The result was the service of referral programs for online stores.

The model worked like this: a person buys goods for $ 100, the next 24 hours his friend can buy the same product for $ 90. If the purchase passes, the first one gets $ 10.

The test at the kosher food store was impressive. People were interested, shared in social networks, satisfied stores asked for the product tomorrow. So the company was born Talkable with which the founders in 2011 got into Y-Combinator. “Finally everything will change,” Allan rejoiced.

Talkable attracted a million investments

Work was in full swing. Under development, the partners were looking for $ 1 million, but collected only a quarter of the amount. AT Y-Combinator They were given advice: to make a list of all the investors you know.

“Cross out only those who gave the money. Ignore - not scary, tell them about all the news of the company. " The list includes more than a hundred names.

Money was dripping at $ 25-50 thousand. In exchange, investors received shares. As a result, for the year the team reached a million. After posting a list of news about it, other investors instantly pulled up and provided another $ 300 thousand.

“The usual startups had an 2-3 investor, and we had 30,” Allan jokes.

Meanwhile, the agreement in the team did not appear. Jeff did not believe that it would be possible to collect investments, and constantly dramatized. Nori kept positive, but was too thrifty and did not want to spend the collected money on the development of the company.

Allan also thirsted for growth and again went on an adventure. He bought a ticket to a large retail conference. Nori, who was against extra spending, had just left town. It was impossible to miss the chance, and to attract the attention of people, Allan dressed up in a suit of a hare.

“People laughed, but they were getting to know each other,” he explains. Focus worked Talkable Got into customers a major retailer. And in order to learn more about the company, Allan regularly called a friend who had access to a profile edition. TechCrunch.

Now journalists prepared the text about Talkableand here the founders realized it. In anticipation of a record number of visitors, Allan and partners decided to improve the design of their site. There was little time to develop, and the guys quickly copied the site of one CRM company.

The altercation with the world IT star

The next day brought fame to Allan. After publication Talkable covered with orders, customers liked the idea. It was Friday, and friends celebrated a holiday in a bar. In the middle of the party, Allan was called by Jeff.

“Listen, David Hansson tweeted you (DHH is the big star of the IT world). He writes bad things, ”protruded a friend. He was the creator of that CRM company and also the author of the programming language. Ruby on Railson which he worked Talkable. Seeing the copied site, David did not become silent: “You are thieves, you stole my design. Say that you have collected money, but you steal little things. ”

Allan remained calm. After several bottles of beer, he replied to Hansson in Twitter: “Chill out, man, we're a little startup.” And he went home to sleep.

In the morning the mailbox of the guy was tearing up the letters. Media came up with headlines like "A young start-up brash to Hansson and he says chill out." Allan understood the degree of intensity and publicly apologized. But the story is not over.

On Sunday morning, a new surprise awaited him on the Internet. One of the DJs the guys listened to at Berkeley’s house said that his song was used without permission in the video Talkable.

The second mistake guys could not forgive. “These people do not respect intellectual property,” recalls Allan lines from the media.

The guy got the desired fame. Over the weekend about Talkable 30 material came out, but all negative. “We just decided to hire developers,” recalls Allan. But they did not want to go to a company that had a falling out with the creator Ruby on Rails.

After that, Nori left the company. And Jeff's wife became pregnant, and he returned to his family in Seattle. Allan was left alone again and with the reputation of a petty thief.

Photo: Natalie Kolomiets (for AIN.UA)

Allan returns to Ukraine

Allan did not give up and was looking for developers for Talkable. He again remembered Ukraine and found Bogdan Gusev here - one of the best, in his opinion, specialists in the language Ruby on Rails. Gusev did not care about a quarrel with Hansson.

In parallel, at a conference in the United States, Allan met the founder of the 99designs platform, Mat Mickiewicz. “Hi, I'm the guy who hacked your site,” Allan admitted.

In response, Mat thanked Allan for finding the weaknesses of the site that he used. So the guys became friends.

In 2012, friends spoke at a conference in San Francisco, where they met the legend of the Valley of Doug Fairstein. Allan complained that he could not find a team of cool developers.

During the discussion in the bar, an idea arose - to create a platform Hired, where employers make an offer to IT-specialists.

Unlike freelance exchanges, the platform had to provide the employee full-time. If the parties have agreed, the platform receives 15% of the annual salary of the employee - half the rate of recruiters.

Immediately figured out a business model, how to achieve an estimate of $ 100 million. To do this, you need to employ 500 programmers a year. Two years later, Allana’s new company exceeded its plan, employing 550 people. The pace of business was raised by multipliers, and in 2014, the company was already valued at $ 200 million.

20 June Hired received another investment - $ 30 million. Together, Allan’s project raised $ 130 million for development, and the asset’s market value reaches a billion. Hired became the leader in its segment. "We went on the traditional way of a startup in the Valley: spend a lot of money, grow unprofitable, but very quickly," says Allan.

The guy set up management, hired a director, and from the beginning of 2018, he focused again on Talkablewho by then had become a leader in the segment of viral marketing.

Talkable collected $ 3,5 million investment

Allan's black bar is finally over. Why did you get a successful business with this attempt? “The right idea, strategy and the right people are near. I’ve scooped up the experience for these projects in all 10 years, ”he says.

And emphasizes: “There is a blessing in disguise.” The scandal with the design blocked access to the developers, had to be cunning, look for options, and so I came up with Hired».

By the way, Allan met David Hansson a year after the conflict. He came to apologize, but he did not even remember him. “I quarrel with someone every day,” David joked.

In 2017, Allan took a break. The entrepreneur spent the whole year traveling and visited 30 in various places. Taking a breath, he jumped into the pool of business again.

Now the entrepreneur is again focused on Talkablewhose office works in Ukraine. Total investment in the project reached $ 3,5 million. Last year, Allan spent two months at home, this year he plans to stay even longer.

Today Allan is 35 years old. Much has changed since the day when he was first called a capitalist: the country, business, partners. One thing remained the same - the desire to create.

Read also on ForumDaily:

Ours in the USA: how did the family from Russia manage to care about immigration in the construction business

How an Azerbaijani from love turned out to be in America, he left everything and started from scratch

Our in America: How to realize your dream and build a multi-million dollar business in the USA

Our people business in the USA history of success
Subscribe to ForumDaily on Google News

Let's face the crisis together and support each other

Thank you for staying with us and trusting! Over the past 5 years, we have received a lot of grateful feedback from readers, whom our materials have helped to arrange life after moving to the United States. We have big plans, we do not want to stop or slow down the pace of work. Even now…

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected our income, and in order to stay afloat, we have to ask YOU for support. We will be grateful for any amount and will make every effort to continue to publish news and a lot of useful information just as quickly.

Thank you for being with us!

Always yours, ForumDaily!

Security of contributions is guaranteed by the use of the highly secure Stripe system.

Do you want more important and interesting news about life in the USA and immigration to America? Subscribe to our page in Facebook. Choose the "Display Priority" option and read us first. Also, don't forget to subscribe to our РєР ° РЅР ° Р »РІ Telegram - there are many interesting things. And join thousands of readers ForumDaily Woman и ForumDaily New York - there you will find a lot of interesting and positive information. 

1132 requests in 2,283 seconds.