N.Ulziibat: Nobody will buy products if they don’t include the latest technologies

The following is an interview with N.Ulziibat, founder and CEO of ThemeTon LLC, about the company and other relevant issues in the IT sector.

ThemeTon sells its own products at Envato Marketplace, the world’s biggest cyber market for digital products including website template, photographs and paintings, music, and films. Some 3,400 companies from every corner of the world trades in this market and just last week, the company had over 4.1 million customers.

CEO N.Ulziibat finished high school of Yesunbulag soum in Govi-Altai Province and entered the School of Computer Science and Management (SCSM) of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) to pursue his interests in computers. He graduated as a web designer in 2003 and founded ThemeTon together with some of his university friends in 2008.

You founded ThemeTon shortly after graduating. What sort of demands in the cyber world did you foresee that nudged you to establish a company to address them? Can you share on how you started off?

I was more interested in designing rather than programming when I was studying at the SCSM. This probably directed me towards my current job. I enjoyed imitating photoshop lessons on the internet at the school laboratory. The only opportunity to combine designing and programming was to become a web-designer at the time and I began developing my skills for it. At first, I created websites for clients and surveillance software with my friend, and worked for some time in the domestic market. Due to lack of experience and financial issues, our works didn’t succeed in the market.

Mongolia’s domestic market was too small and IT recognition was poor. We even worked in a basement after establishing the company and went around to companies with our printed prospectus. Some would welcome us and some would chase us away. Then one day, a company director of one of the places we visited said that we reminded him of his younger self when he was starting off and gave us an order worth 80,000 MNT, which gave us a lot of support and encouragement. We mainly did commissions but worked very hard to produce our own products. We understood that we should sell our products to foreign markets.

When did you start selling your own products in foreign markets?

We expanded operations of the company, got experience in producing new products and increased staff members. As this was happening, the National Information Technology Park (NITP) contributed to us greatly in setting foot in foreign markets. By developing ourselves in their incubator, we started marketing considerable amounts of products and entered foreign markets in 2011. ThemeTon entered foreign markets by selling website templates for 12 USD at first. Despite being the first product, over 100 were sold a week. When it made around 1,000 USD, it became one of the market’s top products. We reduced our work commissions and spent more time on products that were sold at the market.

How many products has your company introduced so far? Can you briefly explain what they are?

People frequently ask us what sorts of products we create and if we can show their picture. Basically, we create products with new designs and modern approaches. People who purchase these products, they can function a website by inputting desired photographs and data. Currently, ThemeTon is marketing some ten products. Overall, we made over 20 products but some of the technologies were advanced so their sales were stopped.

What’s the criterion at Evanto Marketplace? Can anyone sell their products there?

Its criterion is high since it’s the biggest market for digital products with over four million users. You’ll realize how famous it is when you consider that some 20 millionaires were born from the market globally. Our products were rejected several times by their inspectors but our team didn’t get discouraged. Instead, we improved product designs. A product made through an order will be used only once but if you enter a decent product into the market, it can be sold to many customers for many years. It’s like getting a dairy cattle if we can sell our products by exceeding Evanto Marketplace’s criterion and standards.

In the last three years, our revenue was around 250,000 USD in total. If a company can get over 70,000 USD a month, they’re promoted to Elite Authors. ThemeTon has fulfilled this requirement. Out of the 3,400 teams in the market, our team is the 120 to 140th regular member. The market has the advantage of being open to everyone.

Mongolia’s universality obstructs our team as well as language barriers. Toys may seem easy to make when made in our own way but if you’re asked to make it according to a certain standard, it’s difficult. Foreign markets only demand standard products.

How many staff does ThemeTon have?

Currently, we have three permanent Mongolian staff members. We worked with many young people who learned from us and became independent later. Now, I’m working with the two permanent staff that experienced all of the company’s hardships and worked with me since the start of ThemeTon. There are also three members from America, Israel, and Switzerland in charge of the after sales-service and customer services consultation. After sales-service is a crucial part of this business. Foreigners who are well-acquainted with official language excel at this job. Foreigners are easy to work with as they complete their tasks within their deadline.

If it’s alright, can you reveal how much salary your team members get each month? What percentage of Envato Marketplace’s sales do you make?

Revenue varies a lot. At the beginning, it was around 700 USD. Now, we get more than 10,000 USD a month. Obviously, salaries are distributed after deducting expenses. Expense includes rent and purchasing fee for templates bought from the internet, which costs three USD for each template. Over 20 templates need to be made in order to produce a product. The market is responsible for marketing our products, and in return, they charge us 30 percent premium.

When selling products on international markets, how reliable is the environment for protecting intellectual property? Do you sell products in Mongolia?

We don’t sell in Mongolia because anyone can get their hands on products made from someone’s hard work and effort. On top of that, digital intellectual property issues aren’t discussed at all. Even if intellectual property theft is discovered, Mongolia doesn’t have the legal environment for charging culprits. In foreign markets, this type of business has expanded and its value is high, meaning it’s very reliable. A customer purchases our product for 40 USD to use it for something. The next time they need it, they have to pay again. This concept is installed in the mentality of foreigners. In Mongolia, Windows XP software are utilized for free even to this day. There are many Mongolians who don’t even know that these programs are worth 100 to 200 USD.

Which country purchases your products most?

America purchases our products most, followed by, European countries, India, Israel and other countries from every corner of the world.

Can you name the most successful product?

Currently, our SquareGrid product, which we launched at Envato Marketplace in April 2012, has been purchased 1,220 times so far. SquareGrid became our most successful product with total sales of approximately 40 million MNT. Comparatively, this is a tiny achievement. There are dozens of opportunities waiting.

For Mongolians, is it possible to find sufficient amount of funds by producing products in a team and having it compete in markets?

It is. Envato Marketplace is a mass market. For example, a member of ThemeForest, who earns the most profit, gets an income of 40,000 USD a week, which is equivalent to 75.3 million MNT. To use this amazing opportunity, Mongolian young people must labor and strive incredibly hard. You don’t have to work for this market; there are so many available jobs if you search through sites like freelancer.com. Even for housewives at home, there are all sorts of work they can do on the internet, including typing texts, doing translations, and organizing documents on [Microsoft] Word and Excel.

Where do you get ideas for your designs?

In general, we get inspirations from foreign design sites. This sector is very competitive. Nobody will buy products if they don’t include the latest technologies and developments.

How many hours do you work a week?

At the moment, we don’t have a permanent schedule. On average, I work five to six hours a day and rest on the weekends. Sometimes, we have a lot of workload and sometimes, we have few. There are times when I need to visit blogs and social media due to work demands.

What are your near-term and long-term goals?

My near-term wish is to work for the biggest IT center, Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, USA. Life of people working in the IT sector just sear there. Billionaires rise from there. Astonishing ideas are developed in Silicon Valley and introduced to our daily lives. It doesn’t matter whether I can find success because my dream can be fulfilled only there. As for future goals, I want to implement a major project. I can’t reveal what sort of a project it is as it’s still a secret.

Source:  Unuudur http://mongolnews.mn/w/54023


Trans. by B.DULGUUN

Short URL: http://ubpost.mongolnews.mn/?p=11379

Posted by on Aug 17 2014. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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