OPW - Oct 26 - I ran into Michael O’Sullivan at iDate Moscow. He runs Sites Instantly, a little white label upstart based out of Russia. Here’s his story. - Mark Brooks
How was Sites Instantly started?
It was started in 2002 by a colleague of mine, Tobias Heaton Armstrong. He saw a gap in the market for white label software and he recruited our current development team which is based in Russia.
What’s your background?
Primarily I’m a technical computer engineer by trade but I’ve always ended up in a sales environment.
What do people typically earn in the part of Russia your team are based in?
Developer costs are probably 60% of what you would pay in the UK so it’s not cheap as chips but price determines quality. Russian mentality is very good for understanding technical tasks; if you get the right guys who have a bit of imagination you can do some great things.
How many people do you have there?
We have 7 people working in Russia, almost an ideal size for software development. If it’s any bigger you run into problems like no-one knows what someone else is doing. Cupid has 100-200 developers and that is a real management challenge.
What sets Sites Instantly apart?
Two things...We’ve spent a lot of time on ease of use. You can create the site in 2 minutes. We try to make it easy for people to roll out sites, people who are not technically minded. We find our features work well in casual and niche markets. The other good thing is that we are small tight team so with our top web masters we are able to do things that some bigger players can’t purely by nature. Once the supertanker gets going its very hard to custom features for someone.
Magic question: what do you pay out?
50%. I agree that 50% is fair to everybody; nobody is motivated more or less that way for your success.
What markets do you convert in? What markets are you beyond critical mass in?
I would definitely say UK is our biggest market; it’s probably about 70% of our paying members. Continental Europe after that and USA is about 5-10%
Can you disclose revenues?
Yes, it’s all public information after all! It’s about £70,000 per month, obviously that is split between our white label partners.
So you’re pushing 1 million pounds a year in revenue. What are your goals for 2012-2013? Where will you be in 2013?
We want to earn significantly more in the next couple of years. We have a bunch of initiatives to help us grow revenue. The UK is a lucrative market for us so we want to grow there. We have members on a management team who are based in Shanghai and we are waiting on reports of how we can crack the Chinese market.