Introduce Yourself and tell us about Sarafan Technology?
Hi, my name is Andrey Korkhov. I`m a COO of Sarafan Technology Inc. We are developers of Artificial Intelligence engine Sarafan.AI. identifies items in any visual or textual content published on World Wide Web and matches them to similar-looking products from online stores.
Thanks to Sarafan users can save all their favorite products in one cart and come back to it at any time. Sarafan.AI provides the user with a variety of purchasing options, up to date discounts and campaigns. Should the items the user chose to run out of stock, Sarafan.AI will ensure to deliver the most similar items elsewhere.
What led to your interest in starting Sarafan Technology
At the start of 2010 artificial intelligence became a buzz word any people started wondering how it could work in a variety of industries. By that point, neural networks were developed to the extent that they could recognize signatures, voices and faces. Product recognition at that point was still quite a niche.
What is your startups unique selling point?
With Sarafan technology everyone is a winner: retailers have a unique possibility to advertise their products with the help of inspiring content, publishers can turn a website into a special marketplace and monetize their content. For users, Sarafan is a tool to collect shopping ideas and buy favorite products at a fair price.
What sacrifices have you made to become a successful entrepreneur?
There is such an old anecdote: I started a business and began to sleep like a baby – I wake up every half hour and cry. It seems to be a joke, but in fact, it is a reality for all those who seriously begin their business and go into it. Until the project starts to bring serious income and there is no well-coordinated team, you can forget about the weekend, rest and long sleeping.
Now I freely form my schedule, but it still remains irregular and completely depends on the business. Our team operates in two cities: St. Petersburg and New York. The time difference is eight hours. To connect with everyone, I start working at six in the morning, being in New York. And in Russia, I finish the working day at one in the morning, so as not to lose New York.
It is the same thing with the days off: no time management will insure against force majeure situations. I can spend a weekend to solve urgent tasks. It`s normal for me, but I always reserve the time for my family.
How are you marketing your business?
We promote Sarafan using 3 marketing channels:
- Events – We visit the most important events related to our industry: conferences, exhibitions, and pitch contests. The most recent events are Science Fest where our COO Ksenia Shirokova was a speaker and Global Media Forum in Bonn where we joined the top five best media startups in Europe.
- Media – We publish press releases and share our experience in business media as contributors.
- Social networks, blogs – We have company profiles on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, where we share the latest news of our project. We also publish the expert articles on marketing in our Medium blog and post videos about our company on our YouTube channel.
What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Make sure that your project offers a truly innovative and not previously proposed solution to the problem. This will ensure its competitiveness in the market and make it as attractive as possible for investors investing in startups. You must be able to answer the question: how does your approach differ from all others, what is its uniqueness?
What is your favourite business book?
My favorite business book is “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Restoring the Character Ethic” of Stephen R. Covey. The book really helped me to deal with myself, to set my personal goals and to synchronize them with the plan of my business. I managed to find a balance between my family and my business. When you have this balance, you can reach any goal.
What do you like best about being an entrepreneur?
What I like best is the freedom to choose your own journey. An entrepreneur is like a captain of a big ship in an immense ocean. And only he decides in which direction his ship will go – to India or to America.
What have been your most satisfying moments in business?
I remember perfectly this moment. It was the moment when I understood that I could delegate any tasks to my new team. I was sure that these people are more competent than me. It was so exciting to know that I had created so powerful team. Our people are our greatest asset.
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