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"Selfie mirrors": reflect and strike
Why does the inventor of the mirror from Khabarovsk pretend that the product is American
His зеркало A 36-year-old engineer and entrepreneur from Khabarovsk came up with a morning routine. Dmitry Bogdanchikov shaved, looking at himself in the mirror, and Youtube in his smartphone at the same time. Drops fell on the screen, and a "light bulb" flashed in my head: you need to combine! Russian fairy tales with their mirrors helped to form the business idea. It took 2 years to develop Selfie Mirror with cases for b1,5b and ordinary people. Applications include hands-free selfies, smart home control and video monitoring, built-in professional lighting, sound system and video blogging. At first, Dmitry Bogdanchikov and the company positioned Selfie Mirror as an American project. Nothing on the website, in social networks, telephones for communication and even the packaging of the prototype product did not give out Russians from Khabarovsk. Why?
- Dmitriy, why did you pretend to be Americans?
- It was a marketing strategy. We planned to work in the American market, because they mimicked to their company, so that they would take us for their own. There were heavy relations between Russia and the United States, and they did not treat the start-ups from Russia very well. We also went out to Indiegogo's Indoor field, and did everything to seem like a company from the USA. We pirilsya in foreign media, and then this news was translated into Russian. News came out on Mail.ru, supposedly the Americans invented a smart mirror. Meanwhile, the "native American" Dmitry Bogdanchikov was sitting in his pajamas in Khabarovsk behind a computer.
- Main feature Selfie mirrors - in free hands?
- Yes, to make beautiful pictures, you no longer need a smartphone, self-flip. You can stand in front of a mirror, take a cool pose, it will take a picture of you and immediately send pictures to your phone.
- What markets are you targeting?
- Our main niche is hotels. Now we write special software for them so that we can be friends with the software that is used in management vocalysis, and the client could make orders in the restaurant, at the reception, call with the help of a housekeeper's mirror, a maid, order a taxi and so on. All this will be integrated into the mirror software. We look to where the hotel networks are developed - to the countries of the Asia-Pacific region, Europe and North America. There are a lot of hotel networks in Thailand, Hong Kong, Malaysia, South Korea, Japan. On China, the question is still open. Russia is secondary. Our next step is to test the market, most likely it will be the Asian market, because it was from there that there were big requests. It is better to work immediately with a large hotel network, where tens and hundreds of hotels, do wholesale deliveries. In any case, the usual mirror is in every room of most hotels in the world, and, replacing it with ours, the hotel business will be able to additionally monetize the residence of customers. Our mirror can be a piece of the interior plus a certain functionality.
- Light my mirror, tell me ... Can you really talk with him?
- Talk to the mirror, call my mom on Skype from the number, there is no problem with this. Now it's possible to control the voice, but you need to sew all kinds of scripts into the system. A person can ask the mirror for different things.
- When do you think to start mass production?
- Now we have a factory version of the mirror, the final, beautiful, neat. This is a serial prototype, 5 pieces. We do it in Chinese Shenzhen, where 90% of electronics world is going. The same Apple is being developed in California, and the assembly is being made at the Foxconn plant in China. In Russia, in the Far East, plants would have to be built from scratch, and the cost of production would jump to the skies. In addition, the necessary electronics - photo and video cameras, full HD screen, touchpad, computer and chips - Russia does not produce. It's easier to make a product where all components are made, where logistics and assembly are cheap. We know where to produce, how to collect, it remains to refine the software, which will manage all this business, and start the first sales. This will all be real for a year.
- Are not you afraid that the Chinese will "take away" technology?
- There are fears. The Chinese can reverse engineer and copy our mirror technically, with this in general there are no problems. 10 Iphone as it came out, so all new Chinese models got a "monobloc". But the strength of all modern IT projects, where there is a joint of hardware and software, is in the software. Soft "lick" difficult, because the software is patented, and without it it will be a simple mirror with android. Now we are in the process of registering the product. In any case, there is a notion of the priority law of the one who first applied. We have accumulated a great PR-baggage, we can be found on the Internet, sites and domains are promoted, but while the company does not produce products, it costs a little.
- Who wrote the software for you?
- Programmers from St. Petersburg. At first they were freelancers, then joined the team and now they are developing projects for our tasks.
- Do you have rivals in the "mirror" market?
- There is one major competitor. He has a similar concept, but the technical implementation is different. This is not a mirror, they use a smartphone with their software. A person entering the hotel takes this smartphone and uses it through all the applications. By the way, we will have a tablet, accessible via Wi-Fi, added to our mirror, so that the client is not attached to the mirror, could navigate the number and order something, call via Skype.
- How many pre-orders do you have and are there any big names?
- Initially, we collected pre-orders for $ 700 thousand, but since we faced a serious technical problem and could not start production on time, we had to return some of the money. The second part is an agreement of intent, this money remained. One of the major customers is a hotel from Macau, who planned to order 1000 pieces at once. The cosmetic companies Estee Lauder, L'Oreal, Sephora were interested in, they wanted to install these mirrors in their salons. We are in touch with them, if we release them, we will make the delivery. Another prestigious tennis tournament Roland Garros wanted to hang our Selfie mirrors in their dressing rooms. Guy Kawasaki, one of the first Apple and Macintosh developers, once re-posted us on Twitter, praised us, later he joined our team and ordered one mirror for his home.
- How much will a SELFI-mirror with installation and maintenance cost?
- Primary monetization is the sale of the device itself. So far we are reaching $ 700 apiece. It will pay off quickly because Selfie Mirror will increase the average check per hotel client. Plus, the guest will use a smart mirror to purchase various goods and services. Then there will be monetization of software and services, which may be paid.
- How much is already invested in the project?
- On the mirror, we attracted about 7 million rubles. Developments are expensive, and when you do it from scratch and without experience, mistakes are inevitable. In such projects, they are worth serious money, because the detail is not the one made, and you have to finish it. I myself am not an engineer, although there is a higher technical education. This type of people, as I call arsonists, visionaries, I just see a trend where you can move. Ideas arise, I realize them with the help of technologies available in the market or in general to a person.
- Have you tried to contact a large world brand with a mirror?
- We must be specialized for them, plus the whole team must be physically in the west! And this is the main obstacle why Russian companies cannot receive investments. If our team were in the states, they would have started long ago, they have it easier. Although Selfie Mirror, based on our first investor's company, even has an office in Los Angeles, California, it does little without a finished product.
- The person creating the gadgets of the future, complains of the distance?
- I wrote in large venture capital funds, they say: ok, come, we'll see! And this is without guarantee. Such things are initially decided personally, not by Skype or mail. The investor needs a product and a team, for this, and his product and team need to be transported to the states and live there. This is a big financial cost, but we do not have any money, everything is invested in the development of the project. Therefore, we go to exhibitions, when there is an opportunity, and there we communicate with investors.
- Do government programs and profile ministries help?
- I can cite as an example the third startup in which I participated - the cloud telephony Hotlead. There is help in communication with foreign partners, invitations to exhibitions. If we did not become residents of Skolkovo, and we are the only residents in the IT cluster in Khabarovsk, it would be difficult. The FriI business accelerator, which I finished, also helps. I wrote applications to the ASI, in the fund for the promotion of innovations named after Bortnik, we received 2 million rubles in 2016 for our second project - exobayk. It is very difficult to fill out applications, it's hard to report back then, a whole story. We do not have full-fledged programs in Russia yet, where you could be picked up as an innovator.
Either my startups will start to develop, I will be engaged in them full time, or I will spit on everything, organize another startup, or go to work for hire. Most likely we will have to move: to Moscow, St. Petersburg, or the whole team abroad. The point is not that we are not patriots, we just have the opportunity to realize dreams, ideas, and it makes no difference to us where to do it geographically. We will work for the economy of another country, what can you do. A success story from Khabarovsk is TAU Tracker, which develops a system for virtual and augmented reality. Now the guys are already in Skolkovo.
- Do inventors have points of attraction in the Far East?
- Now the Technopark "Russian" has been created under the FEFU, I am a representative of this technopark in Khabarovsk. There was at least some opportunity to land start-ups in the Far East so that they would not leave. But, again, to land them, you need to attract investment. And this is again Moscow, and then as a scorched field. There is "Innopolis" in Kazan, but this is more an educational topic.
I hope Russian will be an excellent gateway to Asia. It would be an ideal exit point: from Vladivostok to fly for 2-3 hours anywhere in the Asia-Pacific region, one time zone, or plus or minus 1-2 hours, it is easy to communicate. It is difficult to communicate with Asia while in Moscow. And Asia is the future. By 2020, according to the forecast, there will be about 3 billion middle class, this is a solvent population that can consume goods and services. At this time in the United States, the middle class will be 400 million at best, in Europe - about 700 million. China will become the first economy in the world, overtaking the United States, it is a matter of time. China is now in first place in the world in the number of patent applications. Anyone looking for a perspective needs to look to Asia.
Photo courtesy of Dmitry Bogdanchikov.