The Advantages and Finer Points of Doing Business from Siberia. Vladislav Marchenko's Insights from the Gorod IT Conference.

On September 6, Telebreeze Executive Director Vladislav Marchenko spoke at the Gorod IT Conference round table, which discussed the question: can a global business be built out of Siberia? Participants analyzed the ways businesses are currently built from the Russian "heartland", the advantages of growing out of Siberia, as well as the difficulties of doing so and how to overcome them.

The speakers identified the time difference and culture gaps with clients as the main problem facing the Siberian business community.

Discussion participants ultimately concluded that the B2B and B2C sectors don't have a lot of daylight between them when it comes to building a global-scale business. In fact, Tomsk has success stories from local companies in both sectors.

The speakers pointed to opening remote offices as one way of developing a business out of Siberia. This approach comes with increased costs associated with maintaining the office in the local market. Siberian companies both with and without a remote office have experienced success and it's not a foregone conclusion that having a physical local presence is a 'must'. While, it's possible to close deals worth thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars from Russia, it's still more desirable to meet in person. High-value deals are next to impossible to close without meeting in person, so it makes sense that being closer to the client makes meeting in person easier. After holding a few personal meetings, it becomes clearer whether or not opening a remote office is right for your business.

Ultimately, the speakers concluded that:
  1. Operating from Siberia is possible and necessary. It's especially effective at the outset because it allows businesses to reduce development and resource costs.
  2. Developing business from Russia's "heartland" is a necessary step before considering to have a physical presence in the local market: sales/sales + technical support/sales + technical support + developers.
  3. Companies operating in the local market have to keep up communication with the head office in Russia, making two different time zones an unavoidable reality.
  4. Where a business is built makes little difference at the end fo the day. Businesses face the same problems whether they're built in the capital or the periphery. The only difference is how much it will cost to resolve those issues. For example, if you open a startup in California, outside investments are a necessity because attracting employees costs money that the company's funds alone can't cover. "From a cost perspective, working from Siberia is easier," Marchenko says.
  5. As for resources and staffing, every place has its own nuances, but solutions can be found for all of them. Skilled employees can be found anywhere. The only difference is that it'll be a little more difficult and expensive in one place and easier and cheaper in another. But this isn't a critical difference.

"Business can be done from anywhere in the world, no matter where you live. You only need the desire and perseverance. Everything else will fall in place!"