Interview in the framework of the project “Завтра_2037” held Kirill Demchenko (16, Dnipro), FrontEnd-developer, historian. Winner etapa II all-Ukrainian competition-defense of scientific research works of students-members of the SAS on the history of Ukraine, co-developer of Android application for virtual tours INTEREX.
As the project began Preply?In 2013, I and my two colleagues decided to create an online platform for finding Tutors. This was my third attempt of launching a startup. The first two have become failures. Preply over the first two years we only worked together. Everything from product to marketing themselves did. Eventually I realized that it was time to move on to the next stage and applied to Techstars Berlin. After Techstars has attracted a Seed round of $1.3 million on product development. We were very lucky with the investors, they are awesome. Now preparing a new office in Berlin.
You said that the first two attempts were a failure. What was it?The first project FindGuru I decided to create in Ukraine, after unsuccessfully trying to find a suitable course for learning Chinese language. This attempt was unsuccessful. It was difficult to attract sellers and buyers. Then there was a product on the selection of online Tutors for SAT and ACT ran Boston, where we unsuccessfully left $180 thousand In 2013, returned to Kiev and made a third attempt, this time successful.
What is the project?Our main focus is training. It is important that students and Tutors find each other. But more importantly, the Tutors helped students to learn and achieve life goals. Now we have gathered a lot of interesting stories about how the product has helped our users.
What steps have you done to dry the idea, though ingenious, come to a working product?It is an evolutionary process. First do one, then make adjustments — changing the market and even the idea.
At first we had just a page where people could request a selection of a tutor, and we assumed the obligation to find it. And detailed requirements to the tutor, we learned by phone, and also on the phone to find the right teacher. Today, this service is called fashionable Concierge MVP. And then we just therefore collected the necessary information to build your product.
But the international market as a way out? Participated in competitions or broken “hussar”?”Hussar” — sounds nice. No, we are exactly the same as in Kiev, made little steps, attracted new customers, communicate with them, understand their differences from Ukrainian users and adapt the product to their needs.
Your market is quite competitive. What do you do to keep the position and development?
In our market there are players from Europe, USA and China. The competition is really big. But we are not afraid of her, and act — analyze what your competitors are doing, try to understand why they do it, and adjust yourself. I believe that if the product solves the customer’s problem better than anyone else, so he will be the best. This focusareas.
How do you attract investors?We are a private company so when there is a need to attract additional capital, the first step is the assessment of the company and allocation of additional shares. And then begins the concrete work to attract investors to your business. We meet interested people and present company. If an investor was interested in our business, and we are interested in it — signed contract and is a bargain. It’s a partnership.
Your investors are mostly from Ukraine or from abroad?For the most part, foreign investors, Ukrainian little.
What is this gradation? With the lack of capital or the interest?The issue is not the availability of capital, but the people who understand this business. In our country this industry is very young and few people who are good at it.The entrepreneur is always focused on maximizing the success of your company and strives to attract the most successful investor who knows about your niche and could be the best investor for your business.
What difficulties are there in Ukraine for the development of IT business?In my opinion, the main difficulty lies in the culture. Ukrainian IT-companies is difficult to develop. To build an international business, you need to attract the world’s best experts and specialists. But, unfortunately, it is almost impossible even in Kiev, not to mention other cities.
Of course, Kiev and Ukraine is an interesting story that can attract people from abroad. But there is a huge language problem — very few people in Ukraine speak foreign language. Our country can not yet be called international. And if we want to have a lot of successful international technology businesses, we must become an international hub and, of course, to speak English.We have everything to develop the technology, except for one international component. Therefore, today most of the startups starting to work in Ukraine, later open an office abroad. Without this step to compete globally is not yet possible.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to run your startup?The first and most important thing is to start working and not give up. First, define your customer and learn everything you can. Form a portrait of his client. For example, a portrait formed a we — male, 35 years old, has a wife and children, building a career and striving to earn more money to get the promotion he needs to learn English, and for that he needed lessons with a native speaker.Thoroughly deal with the needs of the people for whom you plan to do the product, find out the maximum detail, and then develop. But try to keep the product’s simplicity for the user. People will not understand the complex products or the applications they need simplicity.Will deal with users who do a product, and then pick your team. Clients product team. The sequence of this.
But what about investing?I believe that the investment is not needed until you can move yourself. During this time, you really learn a lot, and then will be able to attract investors higher quality and better for yourself and for your business conditions.
How to create a project team?In my opinion, the team should consist of three people: a technician who knows how to program, the designer is responsible for product and marketing professional to communicate with customers. This is the perfect team of co-founders of a startup. Although clients need to communicate everything.
Where can I find partners for a startup?I know cases when the team was assembled on startup weekend. They are often held in different cities, including in Kiev. You can look at the hackathons. But remember that the first time you have it is unlikely that it will succeed. Read the book The Grid Book. It is about how successful entrepreneurs are not those who are smarter than everyone, and those who do not give up.
And another tip — think of a short story, a speech with presentation of your project. Your task is to come up with the text in 30 seconds tell you about all the benefits and prospects of your idea and interest of the listener. But remember that for each type of listener should be its own story. If you say with IT, he’ll know your professional slang. But to communicate with someone from another sphere use everyday words and do not take the special terms, otherwise no result. Always look for a personal approach to each client, partner, investor…
Interviews conducted in the framework of the project “Завтра_2037”, where talented children of Ukraine share their incredible inventions and achievements. At the event, you will hear a concentrate of insight for marketers, HR professionals, progressive teachers, parents, and anyone who actively thinks about tomorrow. And all this — from futurists, visionaries of the future — today’s teenagers.