As you have noticed, I have not had any time to do any blogging in English during the last 3 months. That’s because 2 months ago (although it feels like an eternity) in August we launched Nagi (nagi.ee) – a photo community oriented purely on the Estonian market. Nagi is in some sense similar to being a local version of Flickr and in some sense Orkut. We have photos and albums. There are discussion groups with photo pools and forums. We have friends and user access and rights management based on user groups that you can define. Everything we concentrate on right now is photo oriented, although we have a development roadmap outside that sphere as well, doing other user-generated content services. In a country like Estonia we definitely want to be one of top 5-10 visited sites during next year – we already among top 30-40 after 2 months.
Many people have asked us, why should anyone use a local photo site as opposed to something like Flickr. Many reasons. Localisation does not mean just translation. You also have things like integration with other local services, for example ordering photo prints. Nagi works with 4 local companies in this sphere, while Flickr at best just gives you an error message about being in unspported country. Being in Europe, local is always faster, even with Google’s, Yahoo’s and other shared data centres. But it is also a local feeling, local places, local people being part of the service. Photo services or communities in general in many European countries have shown they need to be local.
During the first 2 months around 3000 users have registered, we have over 20 thousand unique visitors and about 1 million pageviews per week. This weekend we also exceeded a milestone of having 100 thousand photos uploaded. Again, to compare with Flickr or other international services – there are only a few hundred Estonians on each of them, and that is not a community, while our’s already is. Same for things like tagged photos, you can find a lot about local places, nature and people on Nagi, but not in other countries.
We did Nagi as a team of 4 persons: 2 software developers and 1 user interface developer in addition to me. All of us have previously worked on developing what today is known CV-Online / CVO Group, the largest online recruitment company in Central and Eastern Europe. Knowing and trusting each other helps in this phase.
We are bootstrapping for now, using our own finances (mostly for servers, storage, data centre services etc). The biggest investment of course is doing all the work for free. Hopefully we can start generating some advertising revenues soon, to delay external financing as far as possible or not doing it at all for at least our plans in Estonia. Nagi generates some tiny revenues already now from photo prints and pro packages with more disk space, but that is insignificant and probably will be so in a small country also in the future. Still we have big bets put on online advertising market, living and growing off from that. As for talking to angels and VC’s, we do that if someone shares our vision and is interested, as there could be advantages in raising some financing now, but we are not actively going out doing that for now.
Since we expanded CV-Online across the region, everyone is asking if we will do that with Nagi as well. And I am really not sure. Nagi can be very successful and profitable even if it stays only in Estonia, and we want to focus on that only for at least 6 months. After that, nobody knows.