In 2011, a friend and I wanted to launch a date bunker and what came of it

I had a friend Oleg.
Once upon a time we worked on the same project in different departments. He searched for commercial objects for a retail chain of stores, and I was engaged in the IT infrastructure for the same network. Later he was hunted into another network, but the friendship remained.

A couple of years before our history

The organizations in which Oleg and I worked faced similar challenges.
Make your information system inaccessible to physical influence from competitors and inspection bodies that are not clean on the hands.

As is often the case, similar thoughts enter the heads of different people at the same time. So it happened with us.
We assumed that other companies also have a demand for similar services. We conceived the concept of creating a data bunker, impregnable as a bank vault.

The roles were assigned at the start. We started planning and working out.
The initial agreement implied that we would participate in equal shares financially, as well as attract funds from partners or investors.

I had the experience of miscalculating such a project from the client side. It remained to calculate the cost, risks, to understand the profitability and feasibility of the business.
Our potential competitors offered data centers abroad – we presented our competitive advantage as a local, but secure service. The topic is new, the prospects are huge. So it seemed to us.

There was little left to do: start up and convince customers to entrust the most valuable (their information) to us.

Our first victories

At the preparatory stage, we reached oral agreements with two potential clients.
Received a preliminary agreement on the location of the bunker.
We were burning with the idea, the excitement went off scale.

Meeting with the equipment supplier

In my life, fateful meetings happened and this was one of them.

Roman previously participated in tenders for the supply of equipment for the company for which I worked. Cooperation did not take place, but we still have friendly relations and personal sympathies.

On that day, I was literally in a hurry to part with money and purchase the first equipment for our brainchild.

The novel is a delicate but systemic person. I asked a few formal questions about the appointment of iron, asked for TK. I had it, like the answers to the first questions.

The further course of the meeting was fundamentally different from my usual “seller-buyer” scenarios.
Roman asked questions that changed everything.
I asked about the sources of customer acquisition, break-even point, competitive advantage.

At the same time he said: “It is not a problem for me to sell you equipment. I don’t like it when good people lose money. “

According to our business model, with capacity utilization at 60% and the absence of force majeure, zero would be 1.5 years.

Further, Roman clarified how quickly we plan to reach such a volume.
“We already have agreements for 10% of the load,” I blurted out as a pioneer.

The conversation was more like a coach session than a conversation with an equipment salesman.
And each question raised even more new questions in me.

I couldn’t sleep that night

I counted over and over. All calculations showed that with the expected growth dynamics for 3-6 months before reaching breakeven, we need to make a significant upgrade of the equipment, expand the network bandwidth, and increase the serving staff.
New and new miscalculations caused more and more questions.

Barely waiting for morning, I called my partner. To my fears, Oleg also shared a dream in which the dam burst and our bunker was in the flooded area.
Prophetic dream or coincidence?
We agreed to meet and discuss everything again.

Our date bunker turned out to be impregnable for us in the first place

In the end, after 8 weeks, we had 2 verbal clients, a hypothetical bin location, an equipment supplier, and open questions.

An unexpected decision

We make a decision to collect a pool of clients using other people’s facilities. Work through all the pitfalls and, if successful, launch your product and transfer all your own there. That was the idea.

We agreed with a provider from our list of competitors and started.
We didn’t have contracts, we didn’t have contracts. Just a nodding acquaintance, a conditional agency agreement and our commissions if successful.

First clients

Those two potential clients from our hot list, after long meetings and negotiations, did not become our real consumers of services. Like other companies we found through general connections and referrals.

After 2 months, I knew everything about hosting and data centers, thanks to the objections we faced. And what I learned was fundamentally different from our hypotheses and expectations. The two-month race took off my rose-colored glasses and shattered all my illusions.

To be honest, it’s still a mystery to me how guys survive in this business. I think it’s easier to work in a factory in 2 shifts!

And yet, after 8 weeks of work in a 24/7 format, we have two small clients connected in one day. A month later, another one and then another.

Harsh reality

The commission that we received after another 1.5 months did not even come close to covering the entertainment expenses.
But there was an obvious plus. We saw the interior, tasks, start-up and maintenance costs.
We realized that under no circumstances would we become involved in the day-to-day management of such a business. In addition, the entrance threshold turned out to be simply cosmic.

I thank God for the fateful meetings, for Roman, who then asked me the right questions. I am still sure that it was a guardian angel who did not let me lose my money and the money of partners, as well as several years of my life.


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