Ruslan Kogan: Young, rich and growing two businesses. Fast.

Business in his blood

Kogan Technologies wasn’t Kogan’s first business at the age of 23, it was more like his 15th. His first was at age 12, collecting abandoned golf balls from the local course, washing them, putting them in egg cartons and then selling them to golfers on a Saturday morning. Not surprisingly, he drives a hard bargain, admitting he’s every sales assistant’s worst nightmare. “You always have to remember that something is only worth what someone’s willing to pay. We don’t look at what other people re selling things for, we look rather at what people are actually paying for them.”

There is no way Kogan’s business model is as basic as simply as cutting out the middleman either. It’s all about smart online strategy too. Not having bricks and mortar stores is actually an advantage, not a disadvantage, says Kogan. “It gives us extra, really valuable information. The big retailers make their decisions based on very poor information. Customers walk through a store and there’s no way of looking at where they stopped, what they looked at, how long they looked at it for and whether they decided to eventually buy it or whether they then left or went on to buy something else, and what that was. Using web analytics, we can find out all that information and tailor our site to the needs of our customers. We make all our decisions based on facts.”

AdWords adds up

You can’t really argue with his logic. The same goes for spending so much money on Google AdWords. “It’s great because it’s so targeted,” he says. “It’s perfect. You only pay if someone goes to your site. And you only attract people who are interested in what you have to offer. We never made a conscious decision not to do other kinds of advertising but we just don’t because it’s not relevant.”

If it’s this simple, why isn’t everyone else doing it? Maybe because it isn’t actually that simple and there’s some clever strategy behind it all. “I wish there was some competition. I’d love competition. That would get me out of bed in the morning,” says Kogan. “There’s no one out there who’s a direct competitor.”

Single Kogan says he doesn’t have time for a girlfriend at the moment but admits he wouldn’t mind settling down in the next few years. Right now, he’s too busy working, playing hard and enjoying a lot of international travel. In other ways too, he’s living the life of a successful young entrepreneur. He’s training for his pilot’s license and he just bought a BMW Z4 convertible. But he is, and always has been, a self-confessed geek. So maybe what they say about geek being the new cool is true?