ISDEF at A Glance
Commentary On Traveling to RUSSIA
I recently attended the ISDEF conference for
software developers in Moscow, Russia. The conference
was nothing like I had envisioned. If any western
developers have interest in working with Russian
developers in some capacity, they really ought
to consider attending the conference in 2005.
The possibilities and potential in Russia is really
remarkable. And if you have not thought about
this in some way you ought to consider it, as
there are great opportunities waiting to be explored!
The conference attendees were not hobbyist, many
of them were involved in collaborative projects
and multiple businesses. The efforts made to pool
resources was something that western developers
could learn from.
ISDEF Overview - Tuesday
Well the initial plan was to meet David Halls
in New York at JFK and fly from JFK to Moscow,
but after sitting for a few hours on the tarmac
in Salt Lake, David's plane returned to the gate
with mechanical issues. His flight was postponed
until the following day, but not before sending
his luggage to LAX. Best estimates put his bags
in Russia by Saturday (it is now tuesday) :-(
I didn't expect the trip to be problem free, but
I have to admit I'm really glad that my
bags, are not in Los Angeles.
Fortunately for me I found Bill Dickson, Paul,
and Brant all from Digital River were on the same
very cozy flight with me. Just knowing someone
else on the flight was helpful. Did I mention
the flight was cozy? Ok, cozy is an understatement.
Nine hours on a flight in the second to last row
..... with Garfield as the movie de jour was not
a fun trek :-(
ISDEF Overview Wednesday
When I arrived in Russia I was greeted by Alexei
and Roman (thanks guys!). There mission was to
transport me to the Holiday Inn Vinograd about
a 1/2 hour away.
The ride was harrowing, driving in Russia is
like nothing I've ever experienced. Alexei, fortunately
was a very good, but somewhat aggressive driver.
A few days into the trip, it was clear that what
a locals said was true, traffic laws and red lights
were merely suggestions.
After arriving at the hotel I met Serge Petrov
and Alex Katalov from Elcomsoft,
whom I had corresponded with via e-mail, but had
not previously met in person.
It seemed a relatively quiet wednesday, with
most of the early arrivals staying in the lounge
and chatting. For the Americans this meant sharing
travel tales, and struggling to stay awake. One
of the guests from winrar
ran into some difficulties with the police in
Moscow while visiting the Kremllin, apparently
he wanted to meet Putin :-(
I had dinner with Bill Dickson from Simtel and
discussed industry innovations and changes, speculating
on what the future might hold.
ISDEF Overview Thursday
Thursday morning after connecting to the hotel's
wireless network from my room I went to breakfast
and met Misha Dyachkov from Pingram
Marketing. I've known Misha for a number of
years and he was the one who convinced Dave Collins
Promotions and myself to attend the ISDEF
Dave, Misha, myself and some of the Digital River
group took the hotel shuttle (big cars are safer)
to Moscow's City Center to "see" Moscow.
We visited Red Square and St. Basil's Cathedral.
Then we headed back to officially register for
the conference. The hotel shuttle was full of
ISDEF attendees, and I had the opportunity to
meet Vasiliy Tarasov from from Consult
IT Now, as he allowed me to sit on his bag
to make the ride more comfortable. :-)
Thursday evening ISDEF hosted a huge barbecue.
A popular Russian band provided entertainment.
The energy and passion for dancing was unlike
anything I'd ever seen. I had dinner with Mike
Granin and Denis from SoftIdentity.
They are both from Siberia and they managed to
dispell my preconceived stereotypes of life in
Siberia. It was particularly nice to meet Mike
and Denis because SoftIdentity just completed
a new design for our FeedForAll
ISDEF Overview Friday
Amazingly even with the late night discussions
and dancing, breakfast was packed. I met Serge
Sushko from Alchemy
Lab and MyPressRelease.net
. Serge and I have corresponded online for a number
of years, in fact he is a NotePage
integration partner, so it was a real treat to
meet him in person!
With more than 430 software professionals registered
for the ISDEF conference you did not generally
have to look to far for synergistic relationships.
I spent much of the conference milling around
and chatting with developers. While the ISDEF
board had made accommodations to provide realtime
translations in English for foreigners, I found
that networking with the Russian developers more
Surprisingly the language barrier was not a problem.
Most of the developers in attendance spoke english,
or at the very least read English The handful
of times that someone had difficulty understanding
me (or vice versa), I was able to recruit someone
nearby to translate. While my crash course in
Russian proved to be completely useless, it did
add comic relief to the conference. While my pronunciation
of the handful of Russian words that I had learned
on my own usually resulted in bursts of laughter
from the Russians, I found them to be gracious
hosts and truly incredible business people.
Surprisingly I was not overly nervous about my
presentation on Relationship Marketing. I had
my speech written out, which made the translation
go a little smoother than some of the other English
speaking presenters. I could explain an entire
slide without interruption, and then Misha would
translate for me. I think the lack of nerves was
ultimately because I knew that Misha would make
me sound OK (and he did) interjecting editorial
comments and humor along the way. :-) Nikolay
and Chad from eSellerate
were also both on hand to assist with presentation
material if the need arose (thanks guys).
Friday evening Digital River hosted a reception
with games and competitions for attendees, similar
to the four corner theme at the Shareware
Industry Conference (without the sumo wrestling).
I met up with Alexander Gorlach from MAPIlabs.
We've worked with Alexander, in the past and it
was a pleasure to meet him in person. We discussed
possible ways we might work together in the future.
ISDEF Overview Saturday
Saturday resulted in more networking, although
the late nights were beginning to show on some
faces, the resilience of the attendees was really
quite remarkable. I spoke with Michael Popov from
a popular russian computer publication. I also
had the opportunity to discuss some of the contrasting
cultural differences with Mykola Rudenko from
Software. Mykola is from Kiev in the Ukraine,
and for those westerners that don't know the Ukraine
is not Russia. A point Mykola quickly
pointed out. ;-)
One of the sessions on venture capital ran late,
so dinner was somewhat staggered. I sat with Tatianna
Software who has a palm application that translates
russian to English! No more heavy dictionary for
For those Americans interested in going
next year, but concerned about the security. The
security leaving Moscow was *really* extensive,
I went through 7 security checks and every single
bag on the flight was hand searched.
There is enormous potential in the Russian market.
I hope to see more Russians this summer at the
Shareware Industry Conference and more foreigners
at ISDEF in 2005. Bridging the east and the west
will benefit both groups of developers. There
are significant opportunities for exchanges and
PPT Presentations from ISDEF Sessions
All of these sessions are in English. Russian
presentations will be placed on the ISDEF website.
Search Engine Optimizations (Dave Collins)
Website as a Sales Tool (Dave Collins) **
this is a great one!!!
A Global Solution for a
Global Economy (Brant Pallazza)
Networking & Partnering (Sharon Housley)
Marketing Today (Brant Pallazza)
Incentives (David Halls)
Powerpoints (Some in Russian)
Marketing Conference Photos
ISDEF Blog Views
The following are blogs that posted daily views
of the ISDEF conference -
Marketing Resource (Sharon Housley)
Promotions (Dave Collins)
Dervishes (Henk Devos)
TOP 10 THINGS I LEARNED AT ISDEF
1.) There are few hobbyist in the Russian shareware
community, whether its the barrier to entry or
the low cost of living in rural regions of Russia
most Russian software companies have multiple
2.) The business networking occurs all day and
all night in Russia their is no distinction between
business time and pleasure time.
3.) There are major industry changes underway
in the area of registration services.
4.) The Russian community is very viral, and
they strongly rely on each other for advice and
5.) Relationship networking is key to growing
into a variety of market segments. The best relationships
are mutually beneficial. Partnering and networking
is hot, more and more sites and developers are
joining together to provide a value ad. Find ways
to help each other.
6.) The software market really is global. US developers
tend to be US centric and do not see the market
potential in other regions or the possibility
of partnering to reach those markets. Russians
understand the benefits of reaching out of their
circle and are eager to find others who will help
them do this.
7.) While there are significant cultural differences
between the US and Russia the underlying desire
for business success is the same. The Russian
developers were very open sharing ideas and information.
8.) Very few Russian developer's target specific
audiences (or verticals) with their software.
This is still an untapped market.
9.) Russian's were very honest and direct with
their opinions, it was refreshing to cut through
the niceties and get honest critical feedback
10.) It is safer to fly than to drive in Moscow.
Announcements at ISDEF
SWREG - Probably the most surprising
was the announcement that Steve Lee is stepping
down as CEO of SWREG. Get the full story about
DaveTalks - Dave Collins has announced
a new look and format for his software article
FeedForAll beta Announced - We
announced the beta release of FeedForAll and RSS
creation tool. http://www.feedforall.com
RSS4U - Mike Grannin announced
a new project related to RSS. A free online newsreader.
Thanks to the ISDEF board for presenting a great,
professional conference and welcoming the westerners
into your world. Also a very special thank you
to Misha for encouraging me to attend the conference
and ensuring that I was properly introduced to
everyone at the conference!
As I understand it the ISDEF conference in 2005
will likely be held again at the Holiday Inn Vinograd,
the hotel was very nice and were able to accomodate
the needs of the conference. If you are a westerner
contemplating attending please feel free to e-mail
me with any questions related to the conference
or travel. I will help you in anyway that I can.
About the Author -
Sharon Housley manages marketing for the NotePage
and FeedForAll http://www.feedforall.com
product lines. Other sites by Sharon can be found
, and http://www.small-business-software.net