GFRANQ is Russia’s version of Instagram—it’s an instant photo editing/storing/sharing/feeding service, that, after only 3 months already has 120,000 registered users happily snapping, uploading and editing their Russian shots.
We caught up with Founder Artem Orlov to talk about first round investment from famed Russian angel Igor Ryabenkiy (over a cup of coffee), trusting the people around you 178%, and how his Scotch Terrier makes the office very “Happy”.
How long have you been involved with the Internet?
Very long, like 12 years or so. I was at grade 8 (13 or 14 years old) when I got my first PC. In a month, I discovered the Internet, which was extremely slow and expensive at that time. My first steps were ridiculous. I wanted to create a web site for my “cool rock band.” My dudes and I had a guitar and a few pans with which we produced “music.” When I made the website, I needed to display it on the Internet. So, I found some creepy prog, it was like “Publish files on the Internet.” I clicked “send files” and waited for 2 days while my “website” was uploading to somewhere. After this epic failure, I realized that things were not so simple. By the way, my first PC was cool – it had 20 Gb of hard disk memory – a huge number for the 90’s! Also, it had a CRT monitor.
What time do you usually start work each day? Do you have an office or work at home?
I am trying to be disciplined and wake up early. Considering I usually finish my working day after midnight, being disciplined gets complicated–10 or 11 a.m., not later. Now, I am working at home and I feel comfortable about it. However, I think an office is not a bad idea… Perhaps, GFRANQ will move into an office soon. The flipside of this office stuff is the lack of freedom.
When do your best ideas come to you? In bed in the morning? During dinner? After working for 16 hours? While out jogging? On your third beer?
In the morning, mostly. Or at brainstorms. Sometimes, ideas come like inspiration – with no reason.
Yep, a scotch terrier. Her name is Happy and she makes our working day fun.
We want to know about where you spend your day! What’s on your desk right now?
Working and listening to music. By the way, I don’t have a desk right now. I have my laptop on my lap (strange coincidence, a notebook on the right, a pen on the left. Cookies are nearby.
A lot of people have big ideas. What gave you the confidence to actually put your life on hold and realize yours?
I am motivated because I know I’m able to do what I’m doing, I am interested in the field we are developing (photography) and it can give me a lot in future. Of course, it takes all my time but it’s worth it. And I want to build something huge – otherwise, it’s not interesting. Think big–It’s a must for startups. As for the ideas, there are many and have always been. Some of them failed, some are waiting for their time. Once, my friend and I were working on a huge project for a year but it turned to be so big and complicated that Russian investors said “Wow. What’s this? Who will understand it?” It was ctrlrpg.com – a social network for MMORPG heroes. It’s laid up now. In America the situation might be different, but here, people are afraid of difficult architecture and deep technology for games. Maybe later.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs struggling to get their business off the ground?
Advice… I feel like a 100-year-old guru. I guess you have to burn about your project–go crazy about it. Develop your project with those who you 178% trust and who [are] also burning, or who are as crazy as you. You have to understand that work will take most of your time. Don’t polish your project – just launch it and learn on the users’ feedback. And just accept that you have to fail several times before you create a Bomb!
Who has been your biggest cheerleader throughout this process?
My wife Vlada and myself. My friends. We are all like I stated above…
Where can our readers reach out to you?
Thanks Artem! If you want to take beautiful Russian photos (though, there are looking to go global), definitely check out the site. It’s lovely, simple and gives me a weird craving for a White Russian.