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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Do you sell to China, Africa and Russia?


I just looked at my map of visitor locations.

And I have almost 0 purchases from russia, china and africa.

These countries dont buy software?

Is there a list of good countries to include and bad ones to exclude from adwords list?
Saturday, September 20, 2008
It depends on what kind of software you sell and at what price.

Putting piracy and unfair use aside, is there a demand for your product at those locations?

If there is a demand, do prospects expect a localized product? Most Russian _developers_ would not mind using an English product. We have bought a few fairly expensive tools and components that do not have a Russian version. But those Russian _consumers_ who can afford paid software would prefer a fully localized product and  would also expect you to provide support in Russian.

Are there competing products available on those markets?

For instance, sales of antivirus software, especially Kaspersky, have been growing quite fast in Russia in recent years. OTOH we are a Russian company (s/w development tools vendor), but have had only a handful of sales to Russia since 2000. We only offer an English version, though. :)
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I am from Egypt and i can simply tell you unfortunately no one here buy the software.

Simply for two reasons:

1- we are a poor country! most of the profit is directed to food and may be the education.

2- Our Currency is over estimated ! , we are a very cheap country ( for example here in Egypt you can get big mac for US$1.83, Coca can for 0.36 dollar, a cinema ticket for US$5 )

here in Egypt with US$400 you can live in a very good standards.

so telling me to buy a windows microsoft license for $200 is like telling you to buy the license for $1000

So exclude Africa & any poor country from your Adsence and please give us an excuse !!
Saturday, September 20, 2008
China is (at least until the piracy culture there changes) probably not likely to generate any sales for most ISVs. South Africa aside, Africa is in such a state that I'd be surprised if any ISV made many sales there either.

That said, we have had sales in Russia and the surrounding states (Ukraine etc.), as well as less obvious (to an ISV, at any case) locations such as South Korea and Tasmania.

Bear in mind that if you are selling B2C localisation will be extremely important - and consumers in particular in developing countries are not likely to be able to pay the sort of prices western ISVs need to charge to cover their costs. Partnering with a local company who can market directly in the target language may help there, of course - that way you can offer differential pricing directly to the target region.
Anna-Jayne Metcalfe Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We have made some sales to Russia and Ukraine. In most cases orders were placed and paid by their US or European headquarters but the product is used by offshore development teams.

Zero sales to China or Africa.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I remember a story, a US company selled stand-alone game in China, the revenue of 1 year is only 8000RMB (1200USD).

mISV? i think it just waste your time.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We sell a $25 product available for both macs and PCs. We have sales in:

DR Congo
Ivory Coast
South Africa

Plus lots in China and esp. Russia. Granted, we do not sell lots into Africa, but there is a market, albeit the wealthy, elite class. Of course nobody making $3/day is buying software.
US expat
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I cant speak for the rest of Africa per se (I'm Nigerian)
but it might surprise you to know that a lot of Nigerians can afford $50 on software and they aren't necessarily affluent.
There are 3 major barriers;

1. Infrastructure: internet access isn't cheap or reliable (although its gotten a lot better in the last 2 years or so).

2. Credit cards: i go thru a hassle most times when i buy using my credit card (I've had someone request that i send them a copy of my drivers license to verify my identity over a $25 purchase)

3. Currency / Marginal utility:
$25 == NGN 3000 (I can do a lot with NGN 3000!)
so most people wont bother buying some utility at that price except it has significant marginal utility.


Consequently most people can't be bothered, but some have friends/family living abroad make the purchase on their behalf.
Akinmayowa Akinyemi Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
We've sold to almost every country in Africa, and many, many licenses in both Russia and China, so I think a lot of it has to do with the niche you cater to.
Jamroom Brian Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
@Jamroom Brian
Would you be willing to share with us the percentage of people who buy licenses that also purchase add-ons?  I think your company has really developed this business model to its full extent, and I am curious how successful it has been for you.
RGlasel Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
I'm running a mISV in China. I guess I know a little about this market.

I'm selling a B2B application. Revenue from China only accounts for less 1% of the total revenue, even less than much smaller area, e.g. Hong Kong.

Unlike many other developing countries, currently Chinese people have much stronger purchase power. The housing price in major cities are comparable to the US housing price, and average cities residents can still afford them. However, most people still think licensed software is too pricey, when they can buy a $1 pirate CD that has Windows and office software. Although most of us don't hesitate to spend $100 USD having a nice dinner with friends.

For the B2B market, actually there're tons of local small software firms. The competition is fierce. I once tried hiring some sales guys to try to break into local market. But sales mostly is determined by connections and bribery instead of product quality. I don't like this way of business practice and the sales was not good enough so I dismissed the sales team. There are some successful software firms, but many of them have strong government connections so that they can get lucrative government contracts.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
There's a difference between which countries you can sell to and which countries are worth advertising in. If you do try to advertise to developing and undeveloped regions, I would definitely put them in a separate campaign and bid as low as possible.

FWIW, I've found South Africa to be a healthy market.
Nicholas Hebb Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
@RGlasel -

For the most part we sell mostly our packages - most of our customers just want everything, want it installed, and want it to work ;)  However, we do have a fairly large base of web/tech savvy webmasters that will purchase a core license and then the add-ons as their site grows, and they don't need any services since they are familiar with installing scripts on web servers.

However, more then 70% of our customers that only purchase a core license end up purchasing at least 1 add-on, so it works pretty well, but having multiple licenses and add-ons does present a challenge - some of our customers become confused on what they want, and so it's a constant work in progress for us to try and make things as intuitive and understandable as possible.

Hope this helps!
Jamroom Brian Send private email
Saturday, September 20, 2008
> And I have almost 0 purchases from russia, china and
> africa.

> These countries dont buy software?

You do realize the Africa is NOT a country don't you?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
To the OP:

What kind of software are you selling ?

$1000 application ?
$10 "rearrange your desktop icons" tool ?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
There is a huge barrier for selling to China, which is most Chinese consumers do not have foreign currency credit cards. If you understand Chinese, you may try the following e-commerce platforms:


I believe there is a market in China, however I have not tried it yet.
Robert Lee Send private email
Sunday, September 21, 2008
To sell to Russia you must have localized version, localized website and localized adwords and better also marketing not only on google but on russian national search engine: yandex.ru
Sunday, September 21, 2008
>>You do realize the Africa is NOT a country don't you?

Thanks for contributing to the conversation, Ass.
Anony Send private email
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I sell my software worldwide in dozens and dozens of countries and I have never made a sale to China, Africa or Russia. I do sell in Japan, Korea, Vietnam, Phillipines. But never China. Sell to Estonia, Poland, Ukraine, but never Russia.

I get visitors from those countries though and sometimes I wonder if I shouldn't just block all their ip ranges.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Wait though, I did once get a customer inquiry from a guy in Tanzania. He required a lot of technical info. I took about an hour to write a reply and sent it - and it bounced.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
> I took about an hour to write a reply and sent it - and it bounced.

Does this mean you should have an automated "We've received your email and will reply shortly" to test for real email addresses ?
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Scott: Why block IPs that don't abuse you? Those visitors may be residents of countries to which you do sell, temporarily staying in a country to which you don't sell, they can get a job in another country in the future, and so on.

There are also proxies to circumvent such blocks. I use the-cloak.com on a regular basis to find out which ads are displayed to US visitors searching for our keywords on Google.

Then, no service can 100% reliably tell you to which country the given IP belongs. We have two gateways connected to two different ISPs (for sort of redundancy), and one of the popular geo-IP services says one of those IPs is in Kazakhstan, whereas we are several hundred miles away from the Russia-Kazakhstan border.

All that being said, I had to block some IP in China(?) recently after it sort of DoSed our server with hundreds of timing out requests.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Monday, September 22, 2008
>Scott: Why block IPs that don't abuse you?

Not a good enough reason, but they scramble your stats. You see a huge jump in google-analytics, and you don't understand why the sales remained exactly the same. Then you find that your url was put on a chinese blog.

On-topic, from the list in the title, in Russia I had 2 customers, but they were working in a large international bank.
hanzo Send private email
Monday, September 22, 2008
It would be hard for me to get sales from those countries as they are blocked at the IP level.
Grown fat with decadence
Monday, September 22, 2008
Hanzo: it should be very easy to filter out those hits in Google Analytics or whatever visitor tracking software you use. You could also put together some PHP or server-side include that would only serve the tracking code to IPs supposedly belonging to "non-zero-profit" countries. But there is no point in blocking IPs that do no harm to your site. You may throw the baby out with the bath water. For instance, we have had a number of sales to Hong Kong, one of our big ticket enterprise customers is a Hong Kong financial company - are you sure you won't block Hong Kong IPs together with Chinese?
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Monday, September 22, 2008
"Does this mean you should have an automated "We've received your email and will reply shortly" to test for real email addresses ?"

Perhaps, but I don't like the idea of auto-responding to spam since that just confirms the address as valid.

All the requests have to be read anyway by a human. Staff reads it and ones they can't answer, a small number, I get to handle.
Monday, September 22, 2008
I'd say these are among the better countries to run ads through:

India can be good in some cases, though watch your volume/cost
The Netherlands
Mexico can be good in some cases, though watch your volume/cost

- Dan
Dan C Engel Send private email
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I sell a few licenses per year to African countries, but none to Russia or China, with the exception of Hong Kong.  The wealthier classes in Africa, and European and Americans in Africa, are willing to pay for software licenses.  Though, I still don't see enough sales to Africa to display my AdWords campaigns there.  For AdWords, I stick to the U.S., Canada, Western Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and several of the Carribean island nations.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
By the way, Russia is one of the few countries where Google is less popular than the national search engines. So Google AdWords simply does not reach most potential customers in Russia. 

The top search engine in Russia is Yandex ( http://www.yandex.ru ), which by the way has a program similar to AdWords. I personally would use Yandex for any non-trivial Russian search query.

IIRC the only other such country in Europe is Czech Republic, and Google was trying to purchase their top search engine earlier this year.
Dmitry Leskov Send private email
Thursday, September 25, 2008

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