Edith Young is a business-angel, partner in the fund RightVentures and strategic investor in the innovative mobile browsing system Dolphin Browser. Last summer she visited Moscow with David Deghhan, who devised Dolphin’s software. They spoke to RusBase about their impressions of the Russian mobile market, its place on the global scene and future prospects.
Could you start by explaining what brought you to Russia?
We noticed that the number of Russian users installing our browser was growing and therefore decided to come to get a better understanding of the Russian market.
Just six to eight months ago there was not a single member of our company who spoke Russian. In fact, David and I are the first ones to visit Moscow. Now we have begun translating Dolphin Browser into Russian and are speaking with Yandex (one of Russia's largest IT companies) to add our local search box. We have had a great experience so far, and David is so enthusiastic he has started learning Russian.
Did you discuss the data on mobile trafficking in Russia with Yandex?
Not in detail, because we have a range of potential local partners, not just Yandex. We are also collaborating with VKontakte, Odnoklassniki, and Mail.ru. Our goal is to find out more about what is popular in the mobile market in Russia. That is why we believe that the most important thing is to speak to users. We plan to visit phone shops, to observe and understand what people spend money on, how they formulate their choices and how much they are ready to spend. We want to base our strategy on what the users want and need, so that we can create something that will really be beneficial to all. Having already worked in Japan and China for two years, we have learnt a lot about how to approach new markets.
Have you noticed any particular feature of the Russian market?
A main difference is social networks. We integrated our English version with Facebook and that went very well. But in Russia, in order to reach the majority of web users you need to be on VK.com or Odnoklassniki.
It is also worth pointing out that our Chinese browser (which came first) is very different to our English browser. For example, in Chinese urls are often complicated to type, and so we added a functionality that allows them to dictate site addresses.
We aren’t afraid to try new things, and we expect our Russian browser also to be quite different from the ones we have at the moment.
After you have launched Dolphin Browser in Russia, how long do you think it will take for it to become a leading product in the mobile market?
We are hoping one year, and that is with your help of course! (smiles). Innovation is what drives the potential of the Russian market, which in our opinion is on the same level as China. Within the next five years, a new class of people will emerge. These people will use smartphones as their tool to search the web, without having ever had a computer. As they will not simply want search engines, but real recommendations for their searches, we will provide them what they want.
That is, Dolphin Browser does not compete with other browsers, but with other applications, is that right?
Yes, that is correct. Our task is to make searching on the web as fast and effective as possible.
And what about your ambitions?
To be the "main gate" into the internet realm. If you don't know where to read the news, we will show you which ones to read and the same goes for everything else.
We met Edith and David again after their week in Moscow and we asked them about their impressions.
We loved Moscow and met so many intelligent people. You often hear that it is difficult to enter the Russian market, but I disagree. In fact, I believe that, at least conceptually, the US and Russian market are very similar. I am surprised that so many Russian entrepreneurs want to work in the U.S, when they have so many possibilities available for them at home.
Are you happy with the results you obtained this week?
Yes. We spoke to many browser companies about how to establish our brand in Russia and we have made good contacts. We are planning to integrate with VKontakte.
This interview was held in the summer but we didn't get round to publishing it in English at the summer. 4 months, with their Russian version now launched, I asked Edith if she still stands by her claim that it isn't so difficult to launch a project in Russia.
Yes, we still stand by it. It does take a while to find the right person locally, but we are almost there and excited to make an official announcement soon.
And how is David's Russian coming along?
He is still learning and will come back as soon as it's warmer in Moscow!
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