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10. Maelle Gavet

CEO of Ozon Holdings, How To Win Over (Very) Skeptical Russian Customers

For French-born Maelle Gavet, adapting to life as CEO of Russian e-commerce site Ozon—which is vying to be the nation's Amazon—involved some serious culture shock. She's recovered nicely:

1% E-commerce's share of the Russian retail market

"When online business first appeared, a lot of operations would take your order and then disappear," says Gavet. Every single buyer gets a call from Ozon after placing an order, to build trust.

80% Ozon customers who pay in cash

Rather than fight the trend, Gavet facilitated it by building a nationwide pickup system. At 2,000 facilities, customers can inspect their deliveries before paying.

$100 million Ozon's latest round of funding

Investors respect Gavet's strategy to ease people into e-commerce: Revenue jumped 84% to $303 million in 2011. Once a client makes multiple orders, an Ozon rep makes sure that everything's gone well and asks if they'd like to continue the calls, or if they're comfortable forgoing them.

Timeline

1999

Enrolls at École Normale Supérieure after being accepted on the second try and preparing for the selective exam for three years

  • 2001

    Drops out of Normal Supérieure's prestigious program after realizing it wasn't right for her

  • 2001

    Starts an event-catering company; cleaning crew goes on strike, citing negligence

  • 2003

    Joins Boston Consulting Group

  • 2009

    Visits a small Russian online retailer called Ozon on a 4-week BCG project; Ozon offers her a job the next January

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