(Update) This story has moved: https://www.gregkogan.com/journal/russia-trans-siberian-railway-dear-kristina/

The question “do you speak english” doesn’t usually confuse me. It’s not that I failed to understand your Russian accent, you just caught me at a bad time and a strange place.

Though I don’t fault you for that. You couldn’t have known I spent the night sleeping in the airport on a hard wooden bench, that I flew in the night before on a regional airline spun off Aeroflot with a two-star safety rating whose passengers were comprised of a Russian ballerina troupe, Asian tourists, and me.

Nor could you have known I…

If you want enterprise customers, then users are just half your audience. The other half are buyers — executives with budget authority. Many startups focus on the users and forget about the buyers, then struggle to sell.

Free trials, free and low-cost tiers, and open-sourcing are for making users want your product. Popularity is a benefit to buyers, because it will accelerate adoption, but it’s not enough, nor is it necessary. Buyers need to be convinced that your product will solve their most important business needs — their desired outcomes — such as lowering overhead or meeting compliance requirements. …

(Update) This story has moved: https://www.gregkogan.com/journal/russia-trans-siberian-railway-yekaterinburg/

This is the third part in a series about my journey across Russia on the Trans-Siberian railway, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok, in the summer of 2018. This part covers my short but eventful stay in Yekaterinburg.


Traveling with a smartphone is easy. If you’re ever in the slightest doubt about which direction to go, a live map with your position is a tap away. No more wandering, wondering, or feeling a sense of accomplishment when you reach your destination at last. Of course you reached it, you have Google Maps!

It was with…

(Update) This story has moved: https://www.gregkogan.com/journal/russia-trans-siberian-railway-moscow/

This is the second part of a series about my trip across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway in the summer of 2018. I’ll cover the overnight ride from St Petersburg to Moscow, the 16 hours I spent in the Russian capital, and the two-day ride from Moscow to Yekaterinburg.

The route of my trip along the Trans-Siberian Railway, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok.

After a few days in St Petersburg I boarded the overnight train to Moscow. The sleeper train “Red Arrow” departs at 11:55pm. …

(Update) This story has moved: https://www.gregkogan.com/journal/russia-trans-siberian-railway-st-petersburg/

In early summer of 2018 I traveled across Russia on the Trans-Siberian Railway, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok. This is the story of that 2.5-week trip told in several parts, documented for the benefit of myself, friends and family wondering why I disappeared, and anyone considering a similar trip.

The route of my trip along the Trans-Siberian Railroad, from St Petersburg to Vladivostok.

Enough has been written about planning a Trans-Siberian Railway trip, so I’ll skip all that and ask you to trust me that everything was done in an entirely legal and sensible manner.

Of all my preparation, the most useful and relevant thing was taking lessons…

Cartoon by Greg Kogan, published in Harvard Business Review.

“I should do something about that,” I thought. A client’s Google Analytics account was missing data for the past 15 days, and I just noticed it first thing in the morning…

I decided it’s worth sparing a few minutes to identify the scope of the issue — what data is missing and how much — then plan to fix it at an appropriate time…

Some minutes later I learned that 15 days of data was missing, limited to the marketing site and not the blog or app. …

Athletic coaches in team sports have long figured out that a team needs an overarching system that guides their strategy, practice, games, player selection, coaching hires, and everything else. Coaches often commit to a single system and build the franchise around it. The Patriots (of American football) have their 3–4 defense and FC Barcelona (the other football) have their famous tiki-taka system with its trademark quick and frequent passes.

Here are three stories from software startups that inadvertently advertised to a very different audience than expected, followed by easy steps to check if you’re making a similar costly mistake, and tips for avoiding it in the future.

Selling a Data Science Platform to Snake Charmers

In 2015, Domino Data Lab was still a young data science platform startup with a team of ~10. After getting some traction in the market, it was time spend on marketing

So, like many companies (including their competitors), they started advertising on Google AdWords for keywords related to data science: python, julia, machine learning, and so on…

(Originally posted on the B2B startup growth blog.)

Why are consultants “paid to tell you what you already know?” Why are some otherwise intelligent people bad at expressing their ideas? Why do some websites have so little information on them?

The answer is clarity. The ability to convey a message or idea in a direct, clear, and precise manner, with nothing extra, is immensely valuable and underrated. In this post I explain why I think so, why it pays to seek clarity, and how to achieve it.

Why Clarity is Underrated

It’s easy to miss. Since clarity draws attention to the message, and not…

I used to dread setting up email automation and email campaigns.

Why? Because before a single sales or marketing email could be sent, it needed a design.

In my attempt to sidestep this time-consuming process, I learned that plain emails not only save time but work better.

Why Design is a Barrier to Emails

If you ever had to go through the hair-pulling process of designing emails, then you understand. If you haven’t, here’s why it’s such pain:

  1. Email tools/clients are inconsistent in how they render HTML and CSS. A designed email might look great in Gmail, broken in Outlook, and unreadable in Apple Mail.
  2. Half of…

Greg Kogan

Growth Consultant to B2B Software Startups

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store