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16 August

Interview with Maria Petchenko, co-founder of Peroni, for Forbes magazine, 08/02/2017. Read on

How to launch a successful project without falling into the trap of forgeries and attacks of ill-wishers

In 2013, we launched a new product on the market – honey soufflé. Consumers asked a million questions, and the networks did not even understand which department to put it in, so it was possible to sell only through tastings. There was no competition, as well as sales. After about six months or a year, the situation began to change dramatically – the number of those who “tried it – liked it – told their friends – bought more” increased and the product began to be successfully sold in stores.

Analogs began to appear immediately: someone copied everything one to one, someone took only the name and idea and improved it a little, someone went further and include creativity. Now, after 4 years, there are so many analogues that consumers get confused, and having tried low-quality analogues, they are disappointed in the product. What you need to do to protect yourself and your idea from complete dissolution and disappearance?

Protect all smart and visual designs as much as possible

Find a trusted patent attorney and register your trademark, visual identity, technology, design. For example, we have registered our packaging and have now officially filed a claim for very similar analogues. Yes, in Russia and all over the world it is difficult to defend their rights, even the Louboutins could not everywhere patent the red sole of the shoes. But nevertheless, this will create an additional barrier, and if it does not bring large capital, then at least it will scare off completely unscrupulous competitors.

Work through all the points of contact

The theater begins with a hanger, and contact with a company can begin with a business card, letter, contract template, manager’s call – everything is important, and there are no trifles. An expensive jacket differs from a cheap one primarily in the quality of the lining and seams where no one sees it. From inconspicuous little things, the brand image is formed. This often does not require material costs, but only attention. For example, you can attach a personalized postcard with thanks for the order, personally signed by the director, into the package. Then the order becomes not just a package, but something personal. There is a very good book by Igor Mann on this topic, Points of Contact.

Trust is the most valuable currency

Nowadays few people believe in advertising; a new currency is being used – “trust” in the product and the company. Whoever has confidence is on horseback. When choosing a hotel for travel, we first of all look at reviews. We trust people, so it doesn’t make sense to spend tons of money on glossy magazine pages and TV ads, especially if you’re a startup. Invest in word of mouth, reviews on popular sites – otzovik, irecommend,, reviews on various thematic sites. And these should be really honest reviews – you have a good product. You just need to give people the opportunity to share their impressions of it. Trust is important not only for consumers, but also for partners. If your reputation is clean, you have perfect contracts with suppliers and networks – this is a huge competitive advantage. People are working everywhere, and your first priority is to establish friendly and trusting relationships with them. For example, we got to GUM, Tsvetnoy, Komus without a penny of investments only because we found a common language with the buyers and are still friends. And the excellent manager of the glass factory provides us with an exclusive for gold wire for cans and transparent silicone.

Confirm the quality by all available means

Most people pay attention to regalia and awards. Participate in competitions, exhibitions, awards. Do research, get certificates, diplomas.

Engage influencers

In every segment of the market there are those who are trusted and want to be like. You need to try to establish contact with them and captivate them with your idea. They can be stars, bloggers, scientists, writers. And do not think that they are inhabitants of heaven and will not condescend to communicate with you. We even treated the Prince of Kent with honey-soufflé, and he promised to give it to his cousin, Queen Elizabeth II. And the most wonderful story happened to us with the culinary studio of Julia Vysotskaya – we met 4 years ago by chance with the studio manager in the elevator – we helped carry heavy bags, got into conversation and this is how our joint project began.

Even if they copy you, they are always one step behind

Many people copy only the shell, but they don’t understand how and why it was done. But you understand and can develop your idea further. Introduce new items, additional services or goods, offer complex solutions. For example, the history of the iPhone is indicative – while competitors were copying external attributes, Apple went ahead with leaps and bounds, releasing more and more new chips, updates, additions. But, as soon as he stopped offering super-new items, competitors began to catch up and even overtake. Advice for those who are not the first in the market – even if you enter an existing market – you can easily apply all the same points and break out into the leaders or occupy your own niche.


If your segment is already busy or saturated, you don’t have to strive to embrace the immensity and compete with monsters – you can choose your niche and become the best in it. As Jack Trout said, “differentiate or die.” You probably remember the success of CheapTrip – in the crowded travel agency market, they successfully occupied the niche of the cheapest tours and were insanely popular. But don’t overdo it – you need to consider the size of the market. Raw-food eco-kosher bread is certainly great, but there will be about 10 consumers in Moscow.

If you cannot win – unite!

Sometimes it’s easier for competitors to unite and make a profitable collaboration than to fight to the last, drawing all the juices out of each other. We believe that unification now is an upward and very healthy trend. Borders are blurring and the world is becoming multipolar. It’s not for nothing that Yandex.Taxi and Uber have teamed up. Finally, I would like to remind you of the tale about the lion and the antelope. Somewhere in Africa, an antelope wakes up every morning. She knows that she must run faster than the fastest lion from the neighboring pride, otherwise she will be eaten. Somewhere in Africa, a lion wakes up every morning. He knows that he needs to run faster than the slowest antelope in a nearby herd, otherwise he will die of hunger. It doesn’t matter who you are – an antelope or a lion. The sun has risen – we must run!

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