Monday, August 18, 2014

Mongolia Brief August 15, 2014 Part V



N.Ulziibat: Nobody will buy products if they don’t include the latest technologies
By B. Dulguun
August 17 (UB Post) The following is an interview with N.Ulziibat, founder and CEO of ThemeTon LLC, about the company and other relevant issues in the IT sector.

ThemeTon sells its own products at Envato Marketplace, the world’s biggest cyber market for digital products including website template, photographs and paintings, music, and films. Some 3,400 companies from every corner of the world trades in this market and just last week, the company had over 4.1 million customers.
CEO N.Ulziibat finished high school of Yesunbulag soum in Govi-Altai Province and entered the School of Computer Science and Management (SCSM) of the Mongolian University of Science and Technology (MUST) to pursue his interests in computers. He graduated as a web designer in 2003 and founded ThemeTon together with some of his university friends in 2008.
You founded ThemeTon shortly after graduating. What sort of demands in the cyber world did you foresee that nudged you to establish a company to address them? Can you share on how you started off?
I was more interested in designing rather than programming when I was studying at the SCSM. This probably directed me towards my current job. I enjoyed imitating photoshop lessons on the internet at the school laboratory. The only opportunity to combine designing and programming was to become a web-designer at the time and I began developing my skills for it. At first, I created websites for clients and surveillance software with my friend, and worked for some time in the domestic market. Due to lack of experience and financial issues, our works didn’t succeed in the market.
Mongolia’s domestic market was too small and IT recognition was poor. We even worked in a basement after establishing the company and went around to companies with our printed prospectus. Some would welcome us and some would chase us away. Then one day, a company director of one of the places we visited said that we reminded him of his younger self when he was starting off and gave us an order worth 80,000 MNT, which gave us a lot of support and encouragement. We mainly did commissions but worked very hard to produce our own products. We understood that we should sell our products to foreign markets.
When did you start selling your own products in foreign markets?
We expanded operations of the company, got experience in producing new products and increased staff members. As this was happening, the National Information Technology Park (NITP) contributed to us greatly in setting foot in foreign markets. By developing ourselves in their incubator, we started marketing considerable amounts of products and entered foreign markets in 2011. ThemeTon entered foreign markets by selling website templates for 12 USD at first. Despite being the first product, over 100 were sold a week. When it made around 1,000 USD, it became one of the market’s top products. We reduced our work commissions and spent more time on products that were sold at the market.
How many products has your company introduced so far? Can you briefly explain what they are?
People frequently ask us what sorts of products we create and if we can show their picture. Basically, we create products with new designs and modern approaches. People who purchase these products, they can function a website by inputting desired photographs and data. Currently, ThemeTon is marketing some ten products. Overall, we made over 20 products but some of the technologies were advanced so their sales were stopped.
What’s the criterion at Evanto Marketplace? Can anyone sell their products there?
Its criterion is high since it’s the biggest market for digital products with over four million users. You’ll realize how famous it is when you consider that some 20 millionaires were born from the market globally. Our products were rejected several times by their inspectors but our team didn’t get discouraged. Instead, we improved product designs. A product made through an order will be used only once but if you enter a decent product into the market, it can be sold to many customers for many years. It’s like getting a dairy cattle if we can sell our products by exceeding Evanto Marketplace’s criterion and standards.
In the last three years, our revenue was around 250,000 USD in total. If a company can get over 70,000 USD a month, they’re promoted to Elite Authors. ThemeTon has fulfilled this requirement. Out of the 3,400 teams in the market, our team is the 120 to 140th regular member. The market has the advantage of being open to everyone.
Mongolia’s universality obstructs our team as well as language barriers. Toys may seem easy to make when made in our own way but if you’re asked to make it according to a certain standard, it’s difficult. Foreign markets only demand standard products.
How many staff does ThemeTon have?
Currently, we have three permanent Mongolian staff members. We worked with many young people who learned from us and became independent later. Now, I’m working with the two permanent staff that experienced all of the company’s hardships and worked with me since the start of ThemeTon. There are also three members from America, Israel, and Switzerland in charge of the after sales-service and customer services consultation. After sales-service is a crucial part of this business. Foreigners who are well-acquainted with official language excel at this job. Foreigners are easy to work with as they complete their tasks within their deadline.
If it’s alright, can you reveal how much salary your team members get each month? What percentage of Envato Marketplace’s sales do you make?
Revenue varies a lot. At the beginning, it was around 700 USD. Now, we get more than 10,000 USD a month. Obviously, salaries are distributed after deducting expenses. Expense includes rent and purchasing fee for templates bought from the internet, which costs three USD for each template. Over 20 templates need to be made in order to produce a product. The market is responsible for marketing our products, and in return, they charge us 30 percent premium.
When selling products on international markets, how reliable is the environment for protecting intellectual property? Do you sell products in Mongolia?
We don’t sell in Mongolia because anyone can get their hands on products made from someone’s hard work and effort. On top of that, digital intellectual property issues aren’t discussed at all. Even if intellectual property theft is discovered, Mongolia doesn’t have the legal environment for charging culprits. In foreign markets, this type of business has expanded and its value is high, meaning it’s very reliable. A customer purchases our product for 40 USD to use it for something. The next time they need it, they have to pay again. This concept is installed in the mentality of foreigners. In Mongolia, Windows XP software are utilized for free even to this day. There are many Mongolians who don’t even know that these programs are worth 100 to 200 USD.
Which country purchases your products most?
America purchases our products most, followed by, European countries, India, Israel and other countries from every corner of the world.
Can you name the most successful product?
Currently, our SquareGrid product, which we launched at Envato Marketplace in April 2012, has been purchased 1,220 times so far. SquareGrid became our most successful product with total sales of approximately 40 million MNT. Comparatively, this is a tiny achievement. There are dozens of opportunities waiting.
For Mongolians, is it possible to find sufficient amount of funds by producing products in a team and having it compete in markets?
It is. Envato Marketplace is a mass market. For example, a member of ThemeForest, who earns the most profit, gets an income of 40,000 USD a week, which is equivalent to 75.3 million MNT. To use this amazing opportunity, Mongolian young people must labor and strive incredibly hard. You don’t have to work for this market; there are so many available jobs if you search through sites like freelancer.com. Even for housewives at home, there are all sorts of work they can do on the internet, including typing texts, doing translations, and organizing documents on [Microsoft] Word and Excel.
Where do you get ideas for your designs?
In general, we get inspirations from foreign design sites. This sector is very competitive. Nobody will buy products if they don’t include the latest technologies and developments.
How many hours do you work a week?
At the moment, we don’t have a permanent schedule. On average, I work five to six hours a day and rest on the weekends. Sometimes, we have a lot of workload and sometimes, we have few. There are times when I need to visit blogs and social media due to work demands.
What are your near-term and long-term goals?
My near-term wish is to work for the biggest IT center, Silicon Valley, in San Francisco, USA. Life of people working in the IT sector just sear there. Billionaires rise from there. Astonishing ideas are developed in Silicon Valley and introduced to our daily lives. It doesn’t matter whether I can find success because my dream can be fulfilled only there. As for future goals, I want to implement a major project. I can’t reveal what sort of a project it is as it’s still a secret.

O.Gundegmaa becomes national champion
By B. Tungalag
August 17 (UB Post) The Mongolian Shooting Sport Federation and Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism are jointly organizing the National Shooting Championship at Technique Sports Center.
Some 170 shooters from 20 organizations are competing in 10 different events. On August 13, champions of the 25 m pistol event were announced. Labor Hero and State Honored Athlete O.Gundegmaa won a gold medal in the women’s division, followed by International Sports Masters U.Ulziinyam and Ts.Munkhzul. The National Shooting Championship will end on August 16.

Mongolia’s first metal festival to rock at UB Palace
By B. Tungalag
August 17 (UB Post) Mongolia’s first ever international metal festival Noise Metal Fest 2014 is about to take place at the UB Palace, Ulaanbaatar on August 23.
Mongolian metal rock bands Aysiin Salkhi, Nisvanis, Bulsara, Metronome, Motorway, Silent Scream, Aadar, Shugam, Purgatory and Destroyers will participate in the festival. Canadian band Mongol, which plays music in folk death metal genre, and Inner Mongolian band Nine Treasures, will take part in the festival.  Two members of Mongol arrived in Mongolia on August 11.
The following is a brief interview with members of Mongol, guitarist Thomas Quiring and solo guitarist Luke Barry.
Have you ever visited Mongolia before? How do you feel?
Luke: It’s my first visit to Mongolia. I like Mongolia. We received a very friendly welcome. I decided to come to Mongolia when we received an invitation to participate in Noise Metal Fest 2014. Thomas and I came here before the other members. We want to know about Mongolian culture.
Thomas: The land of Mongolia is so vast. I am very happy that we came to the homeland of Chinggis Khaan. We hope we can make many good memories in Mongolia.
What about the other members? When will they arrive?
Thomas: Our band has six members; drummer Kenton Barry, keyboardist Dayton Barry, bass guitarist Josh Blackburn and singer Brandon Knott.
Luke: They will come here on August 15.
Did you guys travel around the countryside?
Luke: We haven’t gone to the countryside yet. We went to Chinggis Square, Bogd Khaan Palace Museum and the National Garden Park.
Thomas: Yesterday we went to Urgoo Cinema and watched a film. We are planning to go to the countryside after other members arrive.
Why did you name your band Mongol?
Luke: Our band was established in 2009, but with a different name. We have been playing folk death metal since 2010. Then we changed the name of our band. We chose Mongol after thinking for a long time. We know about the history and conquests of Chinggis Khaan. We know about his empire. That is why we named ourselves Mongol.
How many albums have you released so far?
Luke: Our band has two albums currently. Our first album was released in 2012 and it was titled “The Altan Urag”. Second album was released this year with the name“Chosen by Tengri”.
How have you come to learn about Noise Metal Fest 2014?
Thomas: I heard that this kind of festival hasn’t been organized here. The organizers of the festival decided to invite bands from abroad and contacted to us. We accepted the invitation.
Why did you choose to play rock?
Thomas: Such a hard question. It is very hard to explain. Just fell in love with it.
Luke: It’s very nice to show people what I can do and I think live music, especially rock, music can express emotions.
Will you be visit Mongolia again?
Luke: Maybe. We are interested in Playtime festival. If we have a chance to participate in Playtime, we will come back here.

’108 Faces of Mongolia’ shares a rare history
By L. Nandintsetseg
August 17 (UB Post) The “108 Faces of Mongolia” exhibition opened at Zanabazar Fine Art Museum on August 13 and is on view through the end of this month.
The exhibition features selections from the private photo archive of Czechoslovakian archaeologist Lumir Jisl, and is supported by the History Institute of the Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the Czech Embassy. Lumir Jisl took many historical and rare photos while he was working in Mongolia between 1957 and 1963.
Lumir Jisl was born on April 18, 1921. He studied Mongolian, Tibetan, and Japanese cultural history. Books he wrote about Mongolia have been translated to German and English. His film “Way to Tibet” was awarded at the Venice Film Festival.
A Mongolian-Czechoslovakian joint expedition led by Lumir Jisl found the fossilized head of Turkic General Kul Tigin.  In addition to the research in Mongolia, Lumir Jisl took some nice shots of the Mongolian lifestyle at that time.
Only 108 of 2,000 photographs are displayed in this exhibition. Most of the photos are related to religion. Head of the Ministry of Culture, Sport and Tourism Ts.Oyungerel, representatives from the Czech Embassy in Mongolia, Ya.Vatsek PhD and scientists from Charles University of Prague attended the opening reception.
Historian and Professor from the Central Asia Institute of Charles University, Veronika Kapishovskaya was interviewed about the rare collection of photographs.
How did you come across these rare and historical photos? 
Lumir Jisl wrote a few books about Mongolian culture and Buddhism. To get information about his research, I met his two daughters. We decided to exhibit his collection.
How did you choose the 108 photos on exhibit? Will the remaining photos be displayed later?
We chose the best qualified photos. His daughters would be able to display their father’s complete archive.
Lumir Jisl wrote this note after his first visit to Mongolia in 1958: “My aim is done, and it’s time to return home. But it feels like everything was a miracle. Gifts from friends, photos, the fresh smell of wormwood assures me that it’s not a miracle. Green valley, blue sky, golden sands, amiable nation… Oh, my beloved Mongolia. I’m not satisfied even though my dreams came true. How deeply I love you, Mongolia. You will be always on my mind.”
The “108 Faces of Mongolia” exhibition will open in Prague next month.
Source: Unuudur

More torment for drivers in Ulaanbaatar
By B. Dulguun
August 17 (UB Post) Life in the capital city is becoming more and more problematic and one of the main causes is traffic congestion.
The Mayor of Ulaanbaatar, E.Bat-Uul, frequently mentions that expenses for people living in capital cities are higher and advised residents to be more frugal in accordance with world standards. The mayor is quick to impose his views onto others, and lately, he’s been peddling ideas for one of Ulaanbaatar’s urgent issues: traffic congestion. His first idea was to restrict cars by their number plates, and started implementing traffic regulations.
Statistics on paper indicate that traffic congestion has decreased by some 30 percent, but who knows how effective it is in reality. People have already adapted to this change, implemented for some time, as if it’s normal. The mayor’s statement, “When road projects are finished and congestion decreases, number plate restrictions will be cancelled,” is probably impossible now. Destruction of this restriction is long forgotten as the next operation to “torment” cars is ready to begin.
The next resolution to torment cars was discussed by the District Council and drew closer to approval, as the number of vehicles is soaring along with population growth. In the draft resolution, roads are to become toll ways, meaning a fee (or toll) will be assessed for passage. Specifically, passage from the western crossroad of Ulaanbaatar to the 13th district intersection, from Geser Church (near the 3rd and 4th khoroos) to the western intersection of Sansar Tunnel, and forward from J.Sambuu Street, Youth Avenue, and Beijing Street to Peace Avenue, are subjects in the frameworks of the resolution. Passenger cars will pay 50,000 MNT, while vehicles with up to 1.5 ton carrying capacity will pay 40,000 MNT a month. Drivers who don’t pay will not be able to drive on these roads from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
As written in the presentation by the Transportation Authority, people’s purchasing power has enhanced, resulting in an increase in the amount of cars on roads, which has made cars driving through downtown “undefeatable.” They evaluated that traffic decreased by limiting number plates issued in the country.  According to statistics from the capital city’s police department, the number of vehicles in Ulaanbaatar increased by 191.88 in 2012 and by 116.24 in 2013.
In line with constructing toll ways, the city’s public transportation network and planning will be reviewed, an electronic payment system will be introduced, and monthly tickets will be developed, as mentioned during the presentation. The Transportation Authority calculates that the number of passengers will increase as the public transportation network and planning is upgraded, within the framework of this project intended to keep people from entering the city, behind the guise of introducing a new system. Particularly, to improve the city’s transportation sector (which never had a remarkable reputation), people are encouraged to travel on only buses, instead of driving cars. This will secure funds and enable the sector to them more effectively.
Drivers didn’t purchase their cars with the city administration’s money. Roads in the city were built with the people’s paid taxes, so why should they pay more money to use them?
Deputy Mayor of the Capital City N.Gantumur stated, “The quantity of cars increased as roads improved and widened. Many drivers drive aimlessly near the city center. There’s evidence from the Traffic Police and Road Authority reporting that 30 to 40 percent of all cars wander aimlessly. Cars driving in congested areas must be taxed,” and added that traffic congestion will be cut by some 30 percent. He didn’t explain on what basis this would occur, he said “wanders aimlessly” and pointed fingers at the people providing taxi services when inquired about who these “aimless wanderers” were. Instead of giving concrete proof and evidence of expected outcomes from research, these authorities couldn’t devise a better method, other than direct supervision, patrols, and filling their pockets with the little cash left in people’s wallets.
Research proves that 14 to 30 percent of air pollution is caused by cars. Although their idea to reduce traffic congestion and air pollution, as well as improve the public transportation sector is correct, their solution to punish drivers and collect fees is not quite right. There are many urgent projects including expediting road traffic by sorting out pedestrian streets and traffic lights that are placed a few steps away from one another, and eliminating more critical factors polluting the air. Tormenting cars is definitely not the best method. Foreign countries do have practices of assessing fees for passage on main streets and roads of their capital cities. Mongolia can’t walk at the same pace as other countries by adopting this standard. Roads in foreign countries aren’t tortuous, narrow or wrecked like Mongolia’s.

Khaan Deli
By Michelle Borok
August 17 (UB Post) Sometimes, as an expat or traveler, the things you miss most from abroad are the creature comforts. The simplicity of popping into a neighborhood diner for a hot cup of coffee and a hearty breakfast that you know. Khaan Deli provides that taste of home in an unpretentious, just as open to locals, no frills, down to the basics setting.
The menu, in English and Mongolian, for breakfast and lunch items is written in chalk with plenty of room to include special items, a regular occurrence. The standard menu offers plenty, but Khaan Deli keeps things interesting with dessert and lunch specials not found in other American restaurants in UB, like chocolate sheet cake, pecan pie, falafel, and picture perfect apple pies. They advertise the specials on their Facebook page.
Khaan Deli isn’t looking to break new culinary ground with experimental dishes, but they are working steadily to do their best at American style staples with what’s available in the UB marketplace. When menu items are tested, the bar is set for authentic American flavors.
Breakfast selections are available as a la carte items or as full plate combos with classics like pancakes, eggs (any way you want them), and Southern style biscuits and gravy. The biscuits and gravy are a generous scoop of creamy, meaty, white gravy on top of a buttery hot biscuit. While I like mine with a sprinkle of green onion on top, the seasoning in Khaan Deli’s in-house sausage meat brings plenty of flavor to the plate. The bacon served with breakfasts is the bacon next to impossible to find in UB restaurants: crispy, well-cured, and just like your American mom used to make.
The breakfast menu is available until 11:30, with consideration to make it an all-day offering.
Lunch offers a regular line up of classic diner sandwiches (on bagels, biscuits or rolls), burgers, and hot dogs, including the “Coney” chili dog. Deli style salads are offered on a regular basis in the deli case, if you don’t fill up on the fries that come with your burger, or if you’re looking for a healthier alternative for a side. A soft serve machine provides regular offerings of sundaes, cones and malts in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
Khaan Deli’s biscuits and bagels are made in-house each day and can sometimes be purchased as take home bakery items. The deli also offers ground and seasoned meats (including a spicy chorizo), cured hams, bacon, corned beef, and Western cuts of chicken and beef. A whiteboard lets customers know what’s in stock and what’s available to order.
The deli is a family business and opening hours sometimes change, but notice is always given in advance of changes to the regular schedule. Seating is limited, but delivery (with a minimum order) and carry out is an option. There are plans to open a second location closer to the city center, but for now, a trip to Khan Uul is worth it for a taste of comfort.
Average dining cost per person: 1,200-12,000 MNT
Location: Khan Uul district , 1 khoroo, Bldg 17, Apt 1
Phone: 89463354
Join the UB Foodies group on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ubfoodies/.
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