Innovation That Matters

Wise Words with Kirill Gorynya


We caught up with Synqera CEO Kirill Gorynya to find out how he came up with the idea and the challenges involved in bringing it into existence.

Shopping can be a highly emotional experience – some take pleasure from it and treat it as therapy, while others can’t wait to escape the queues. Either way, it’s difficult for marketers to target consumers dependent on their mood, which is why Kirill Gorynya – together with developer Filipp Shubin – founded Synqera, a platform that uses facial recognition to trigger discounts and offers based on their emotion at the point of sale.

Kirill is a graduate of the School of Economics of St. Petersburg State University and has a background in advertising. In 2001, he co-founded i-Free, a company that specialises in mobile and NFC innovation and currently employs more than 750 people. He now juggles his management of that business with his work with Synqera. We caught up with Kirill to find out how he came up with the idea and the challenges involved in bringing it into existence.

1. Where did the idea for Synqera come from?

Being bored at the cash desk of the grocery supermarket one weekend, during my weekly shopping, I thought about how much time we spend at the checkout – more than 40 seconds for each customer. While 40 seconds is enough for a chat with the cashier, this time is too short and specific for traditional advertising to work. The communication at the checkout has to be a) highly targeted in order to be relevant to each particular customer; and b) contain a call to action for purchase, donation or entertainment.

That’s how we started the development of personalised communications on point-of-sale displays. Naturally, we arrived at big data analysis (in order to make the communications truly targeted), and a software platform for personalising customer communications not only at the store checkout, but also store entrance, shelves and even outside the point of sale, via mobile apps, SMS, e-mails and website content.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

About ten years ago I established a mobile content company, which I succeeded in turning to one of the biggest in Russia and known internationally. It still takes up a lot of my time, but my true passion now is innovative technologies: besides Synqera, we’re also developing another project called Wallet – an NFC-contactless wallet in your mobile, which aims to replace credit cards or London’s Oyster card, for example. I never know which country I’ll be in and what project I will be working on next. And I like it!

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Synqera?

Extreme sports are my passion. Nowadays it is mountain biking – I just came back from Guarda lake in Italy a few weeks ago.

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

Be constantly open to new ideas, don’t be afraid to take a risk, stay tuned and desire to change the world for the better.

5. What drove you crazy when building your business?

When it takes longer than you expected to move forward. In hi-tech business, it is common to deal with projects that take years of R&D and a hell of a lot of investment.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

Results I achieve and people surrounding me: my colleagues – it is extremely hard to find people you trust and enjoy working with, but so far I’ve been lucky enough; my partners – thanks to my work I know bright and fantastically intelligent people all over the world.

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Never think this way. I am a happy man, actually.

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

We’re already succeeding in the niche NFC business in Russia, and are now playing on the personalisation field in the international environment. Even Japanese companies historically known for being familiar with hi-tech industry are looking to acquaint themselves with our projects in development. But this is a long way away and there is, actually, no “end” in the development of innovating technologies, as the market and technology itself moves faster and faster. We are constantly hiring talented people and expanding the team of developers to keep going.

9. If you weren’t working on Synqera right now, what would you be doing?

I would be engaged with yet another innovative technology, I guess.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

We are going to open at least three more international offices for Synqera in the next three years. But please don’t tell anybody…

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

It is not enough to have brilliant idea – the main challenge is bringing it into reality. But it’s not gods who make pots, so you need to start moving. And be fast.