Talk about your idea(s) as often as possible so that you have the opportunity to discuss it publicly and get feedback from as many people as possible.
Alexey Ermakov graduated from the Bauman Moscow State Technical University in 2010, with a major in Computer Complexes and Communication Systems. In 2014, he received a graduate degree (magna cum laude) from Moscow State Lomonosov University majoring in Strategic Management.
In 2008, he started his career at the Information Security Department of MTS (Mobile TeleSystems), the largest world-class telecom provider in Russia with over 102.4 million subscribers, where he handled the development of various antifraud and cybersecurity systems — at first independently, then as the head of a self-established team of programmers. In addition, he developed advanced analytical solutions to manage the subscriber database, develop targeted advertising, and manage the quality of telecom services among other tasks, all at a time when truly taking advantage of these technologies and the data generated and collected was still effectively fresh and new, thus helping MTS break new ground in customer management and satisfaction.
Alongside managing software development, he was in charge of the in-house cross-functional interaction between business units and of training in the application of Big Data technologies.
Ermakov was also instrumental in setting up Big Data technology expertise within the MTS Group.
This also entailed the development of systems for the collection and analysis of subscriber data traffic, analysis of geolocation of subscribers, analysis of the quality of data transmission services and other solutions, which are still in operation by MTS today and constitute the computational nucleus of multiple marketing products.
In early 2014, Ermakov was invited to lead technology development and take the position of Director of Big Data Strategy and Development at JSFC Sistema – a world-class financial powerhouse.
Under Ermakov’s guidance, organizational and technological mechanisms were developed for interaction between JSFC’s companies, within the framework of projects aimed at data monetization and data exchange, whose functions included tracking down promising technologies, prototyping solutions, testing econometric models and implementing business cases in the event of a successful launch of MVP.
Alongside those activities, he was responsible for the technical audit of startups. At Ermakov’s initiative, backed by JSFC Sistema, a new business was set up in India, to provide services related to monetization of the telecom operator’s data.
In 2017, Ermakov founded his own startup called Data Integral, based on his knowhow and a uniquely designed technology he developed for network traffic administration on mobile devices. Sberbank Telecom became the company’s first commercial client.
This technology was dubbed PayReverse and has proven so successful that it has been integrated into mobile platforms by two further eminent world-class market players – TNT, one of the five most-popular TV channels in Russia, and Beeline, Russia’s second largest mobile carrier. The projects were implemented using the PayReverse white-label platform that allows companies to deploy a branded rewards service with offers from leading e-commerce players in extremely short timeframes, and without any significant costs involved.
Today, PayReverse is integrated with local and global ad networks running on the CPA (cost per action) model. Advertisers give a portion of the costs they spend on attracting customers as cashback rewards, with the number of offers constantly growing as the platform’s popularity with end-users and merchants explodes exponentially. The developed platform offers major advertisers a radically new communication channel and AI-based advertising inventory that grants direct access with fully personalized messaging to a very large audience, and is deservedly attracting world-wide attention.
In 2019, Alexey Ermakov is world-class entrepreneur, founder, CEO and technological visionary, and while his executive achievements now span over a decade of success, his journey has truly only just begun, with the best still yet to come.
Where did the idea for Aximetria and PayReverse come from?
During all of my life, I have shown an interest in engineering, and the ability to create new, original solutions that can change the world for the better. So, first in a large IT company (mobile operator), I was developing anti-fraud systems and GEO-analytical services, and then I created several of my own solutions.
The first startup that I created – PayReverse, a white-label cashback service offers a unique service that allows each smartphone user to actually monetize his or her own advertising traffic. With the help of PayReverse, users while searching on Google for something particular, receive offers for goods and services, which enable them to save up to 30% of the cost.
I came up with the idea for my second startup Aximetria when I ran into difficulties of opening an account in a foreign bank and then pay huge commissions. So, Aximetria is a response to the injustice that banks and financial companies dictate to us when ordinary people need financial services.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
It is difficult to talk about one day torn out of life and say that it was an ordinary day, but that one was unusual. Day after day, you strive to achieve victory of your idea and accomplish its realization into life. Because I’m CEO at two companies, I am simultaneously engaged into two projects, and often have to switch back and forth between one process and another.
Nevertheless, I always define 2-3 highly prioritized tasks, the implementation of which is most important for my projects and which require a long implementation time (2-3 months). I think about these tasks all the time, even in my sleep! Then, of course, there are many tasks connected to your products and these go on and on, one task after another for one to three weeks.
Technically, you have to work in a variety of development and planning environments, and of course on top of everything there are many email and calls to address. There are also things that are systematically left behind, unfortunately, because you just do not have enough time for them.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Everything that surrounds us is created by humans, which means that if you want to create something, then you can start doing it yourself with your own hands to materialize it, to “feel” the idea. Much can be understood already in the first steps of the process – whether you want to devote yourself to this, and if you want to inspire other people with your idea.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Today we live in a very dynamic society. We have many opportunities, whoever you are, you can find a way to make yourself known. Of course, among technological trends, I would like to note the development of self-driving cars and technologies based on the blockchain, in particular cryptocurrency services, which I do. Cryptocurrencies open up incredible opportunities for the development of society, and it’s not only about the ability to perform calculations without the participation of banks, but also the competition that arises in the financial technology industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Natural observation is my innate quality, which, together with the ability to generalize and highlight what’s most important, allow me to be productive. I also like to study and constantly develop myself. These are the qualities that allow me to be an entrepreneur.
What advice would you give your younger self?
The best advice for my younger self would be to create a team of like-minded people and this does not mean just people who simply “support” you in everything. It is about creating a certain chemistry in your team, which ultimately makes you stronger together.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It seems that an entrepreneur often faces the fact that others do not agree with him or her, therefore all the time one has to defend his position. Nevertheless, I believe that people can do everything if they believe in themselves and if they have at least one more person who believes in you (the more such people you have, the easier and faster it is to achieve greater results).
Generally, entrepreneurs are doomed to constant disbelief in almost everything they do. There is an excellent quote from Mahatma Gandhi on this: “At first they don’t notice you, then they laugh at you, then they fight with you, and then you win.”
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The world is always much wider than it seems to us. These words need to be understood very literally. If you think that you know everything about something and everyone is equally aware of what you are doing, you are mistaken. Every time you need to build your communication, if not from scratch, then at least with very basic principles and ideas. At the same time, you should talk about your idea(s) as often as possible so that you have the opportunity to discuss it publicly and get feedback from as many people as possible. This helps not only to improve your presentation and performance skills, but also to understand what’s the average person knows about it and from where you need to start to explain your ideas.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
For high-tech startups, it is important to clearly understand which market you are going to work in and whose money you want to get a share of. Having determined these perspectives, you need to find a kind of maximum of the function to achieve the desired result, at the lowest cost. I’m talking about selling your product. On the other hand, you need to very accurately and subtly feel the needs of your client in the current point in time, and use them to your advantage. It is difficult to determine any one universal strategy for business growth, and the more parameters are in a business, the more difficult this formula becomes.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I don’t think I ever had big failures. Nevertheless, there was a situation when it seemed to me that in order to achieve quick results and recognition on the market, it’s enough just to loudly declare myself and the business will grow on its own. At the time, I was able to make an interesting model of SberData Bank. The idea was that users put data about themselves in a service, like they put their money in a bank, and then receive regular income from this. Technically, it was a hybrid ad blocker that replaced the original advertising on the Internet with its own and directed sales proceeds from the latter to users. I managed to get to the front pages of the top media and I was noticed by the largest bank of the country, but at the time it was not enough to compete with current market participants, so had to abandon this idea. Nevertheless, the positive results and conclusions drawn from my mistakes, I was able to implement and use again in my next project, i.e. in PayReverse.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
You need to be flexible and ready for rapid changes. In some cases, a business can gain a significant competitive advantage, simply because it has started to use a given technology at the right time. For example, with payments, you need to look for ways to integrate modern means of accepting payments on the market as early as possible (but, of course, not at the expense of your core business, so that its performance does not loose from this). Users love it when the service becomes more convenient for them and cheaper.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
For me, money is not the goal in itself. Money is a good, simple, understandable dimension of your recognition in society. I personally love it when I can make others happier due to the opportunities that I have, so I like to make gifts. The last $100 was spent on gifts to people who are dear to me. To make others happy is a cool feeling.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Messengers are seen as one of the most effective means of communication. They do not distract from current work – you write and respond when there is a suitable time for you. Much has to be written by hand during a personal discussion, then these ideas and solutions are digitized and turned into a product.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Nassim Nicholas Taleb “SKIN IN THE GAME HIDDEN ASYMMETRIES IN DAILY LIFE”. This book is easy read and it helps with self-identification and assessment of whether you are doing enough to succeed.
What is your favorite quote?
The position of a leader requires constant development, which is ahead of the average level and therefore not all decisions seem obvious to an outsider.
- Conclusions drawn from mistakes should be used for the next project and creating something even better than before.
- For high-tech startups, it is important to clearly understand which market you are going to work in and whose money you want to get a share of. It’s necessary to very accurately and subtly feel the needs of your client in the current point in time, and use them to your advantage.
- Talk about your idea(s) as often as possible so that you have the opportunity to discuss it publicly and get feedback from as many people as possible.
- A good book to read for self-identification and assessment of whether you are doing enough to succeed is Nassim Nicholas Taleb “SKIN IN THE GAME. HIDDEN ASYMMETRIES IN DAILY LIFE”.
- Messengers are today’s most effective means of communication because they do not distract from current work and let you respond whenever suitable for you.
- The ability to create new, original solutions that can change the world for the better is the main driver for creating your own solutions and services.
- Defining and prioritizing 2-3 highly important tasks is a must.