“Artificial Intelligence Will Become An Integral Part Of Financial Eco-System” with Oleg Shchegolev CEO Semrush
I had the pleasure of interviewing Oleg Shchegolev, SEMrush CEO and co-founder. SEMrush is a leading digital marketing suite that enables users to be front-runners in their industries and it is trusted by more than 2,000,000 marketing professionals worldwide and 4,000+ partner agencies. SEMrush also works on a great number of studies exploring digital marketing aspects of different industries, including fintech.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
When I was a third year student, my groupmate introduced me to the IT industry. He showed me what search engines are and explained some basic SEO principles which were functioning back then. I realized this is my thing right away. We released the SEOquake tool, which was one of the most popular free tools for SEO specialists at the time. In 2007, when we faced another round of quick developments in search engine technologies, we had to figure out what sites were getting quicker and better results. That’s how the early prototype of today’s SEMrush emerged. We designed this tool for ourselves and didn’t expect it to become an industry-leading digital marketing company.
Today SEMrush has turned into that exactly — the leading all-in-one marketing suite that encompasses most areas of digital marketing from SEO to SMM and copywriting. By the way, just recently we celebrated our 10-year anniversary. The years truly go by as quickly as a wink!
What do you think makes your company stand out during these disruptive times? Can you share a story?
Our organizational structure was completely flat until recently, when we introduced a few leads and managers. Besides, we stick to agile that helps us managing the processes. We have always been trying to grant our employees as much freedom as they need to be creative because there’s no chance to be inventive under a yoke. We only hire people who are 100% excited about what they do and who are ready to embrace new approaches to their work. We have no KPIs or deadlines. Instead, we are boosting our efficacy by being transparent and mutually committed. Basically, people are what makes SEMrush stand out during these truly disruptive times.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Don’t consider your employees as people who work for you, consider them as your colleagues instead, or as people whom you can learn something from. This is something they’ll most definitely value and this will contribute to a benevolent atmosphere in your company. Gone are the times when strict subordination yielded best results. With millennials and generation Z, your main focus should be people or your business won’t last long.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards, who helped you get to where you are? Can you share a story or an example?
I don’t know, maybe that’s just me, but I can’t say that there is a person who really inspired me or helped me out. Sure, there are some people that I have learned from, but it’s not like I’ve had a mentor of some kind. I do watch educational videos and webinars, read business books, but all that’s going to be purely theoretical knowledge if you don’t transform it into some real-life experience. My point is, it’s best to be your own only mentor because I believe you can only learn when you live something through.
Can you share what you believe will be the “Top 5 Fintech and Banking Trends Over The Next 3 Years” (Please share a story or example for each.)
- A growing number of fintech companies (that might later end up being acquired by major banks). The number of fintech startups is growing daly, indeed. However, traditional banks are waking up to fintech, too, and are likely to start acquiring fintech startups.
- The rising importance of automation. Customers are growing accustomed to instant e-transactions, which will take the place of any traditional operations through brick-and-mortar banks. Purchases, payments, money transfers, account balance replenishment — everything will be possible in a couple of clicks.
- Artificial intelligence will become an integral part of the fintech industry. Many banks have already been using AI technologies by implementing quite elaborate chatbots that provide guidance to users. Robo advisors can also be helpful when it comes to managing your expenses or setting saving goals.
- Blockchain and cryptocurrencies. People seem to be either overly enthusiastic or too skeptical about cryptocurrencies, but, in reality, more and more transactions will be carried out with the help of cryptocurrencies with blockchain being the underlying mechanism.
An increase in the number of data-driven fintech studies. In particular, here at SEMrush we recently released a study that sheds light on the digital marketing aspects of fintech, and it is useful both for fintech and digital marketing specialists. For this study, we collected and analyzed data for the global and domestic fintech digital ecosystems, focusing on seven countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
Don’t stick to the “cargo cult” mentality, that is, don’t try to recreate successful outcomes by replicating things that are not relevant to you, your personal beliefs and your business. Mindless mimicking won’t work. Lots of businessmen get inspired by some business workshops and lectures and think they are destined to become a millionaire overnight by taking over and adapting some other businesses’/peoples’ models/practices. But no, life is tougher than glossy magazines and motivational business advice. Build a business that will be benchmarked instead of aligning yourself with others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I believe that access to knowledge would bring the most good.That’s why it’s important to make knowledge as universal as possible. Remember: “He who owns information owns the world”. Despite the internet making access to knowledge bases more ubiquitous, there is still so much more to explore and so many people who are eager to learn but aren’t able to do so.