Our guest on this week’s episode of the Mobility Standard podcast is Katie the Russian.
Katie Ananina, better known by her Twitter handle “Katie the Russian”, takes a marketing approach that’s different from almost all other investment migration consultants:
Focusing the entirety of her customer acquisition strategy on Twitter, she finds 100% of her clients through that platform. Addressing an audience almost exclusively composed of relatively young, freedom-loving, government-skeptic crypto-enthusiasts, she’s not afraid to employ verbiage that would mortify her typically more punctilious peers in the investment migration industry. To wit:
We already have FUCK YOU money.
Definitely have FUCK YOU mentality.
Here are FUCK YOU passports:⁰
— Katie The Russian (@KatieTheRussian) November 26, 2019
Her uninhibited and audacious style has allowed the 26-year-old entrepreneur (and former professional sailboat racer who grew up in Chelyabinsk, thousands of miles from the ocean) to quickly build out her company’s customer base and her personal brand: Over the last few months, she’s made appearances on Fox, CNBC, and a host of other mainstream outlets, and has built a Twitter following of more than 35,000, virtually overnight.
When we asked Katie whether she was being provocative on purpose as part of a PR strategy, she indicated she had not even thought of her marketing approach in those terms, let alone that it was different from that of virtually every other industry service provider.
“It’s definitely not some kind of clickbait. It’s just how I see my business.”
Katie says her tech-team continue to attempt to persuade her to invest in non-organic marketing methods like SEO or pay-per-click marketing, but that she resist such calls:
“I don’t want that. I love my audience. I know my audience. I know their pain points, I know their goals, I know their needs. And they trust me because, I believe, I am the most educated on bitcoin-stuff in the migration space. So, when they come to me, I understand their problems. […] So, I want my audience to be the way they are. It’s bitcoiners, it’s people who believe in sovereign individualism, who speak the same language, who are comfortable with each other, who trust each other. I don’t want cold leads.”
Katie also told us her backstory, from growing up in Russia with liberty-minded parents, to joining the Russian national sailing team at the tender age of 11, dropping out of her elite university, experiencing ruble-hyperinflation, having trouble traveling on her Russian passport, to investing in bitcoin, planting flags, buying new citizenships, and eventually helping kindred spirits to do the same.
Many Bitcoin maximalists who have made windfalls from early investments have the lion’s share of their portfolios allocated to cryptocurrencies. Because we are still so early in the transition to the new monetary system, however, these investors are loath to exchange their crypto-holdings for other types of assets – such as alternative citizenships – because they consider the opportunity cost to be too high. To address this common quandary in the crypto-community, Katie offers crypto-collateralized loans to provide liquidity to clients who want to avoid liquidating their crypto assets.
“When [my clients] are trying to figure out whether they should go for the real estate or donation option, for my clients, it’s 95% donations because of the opportunity cost. For them, freezing $250,000 in real estate for five years instead of buying Bitcoin is like ‘what are you talking about?'”
We pointed out that Katie, like Andrew Henderson of Nomad Capitalist, has built a personal brand. Other industry participants typically build the brands of their companies. We discussed some of the pros and cons of building personal brands, such as the ability to gain client trust more rapidly but at the price of losing much of your anonymity.
We also touched El Salvador’s new Bitcoin-denominated residence by investment program, which Katie says she hopes the country will turn into a citizenship by investment program.
Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain.