Female startup day a success in Russia

 In Accelerator, Entrepreneurship, Startup

Great ideas flow from female-led startups in St. Petersburg, Russia! Through a productive international partnership between Stella LabsSumIT business accelerator,ITMO University, and the American Councils for International Education, about 30 female business owners and startup founders converged this weekend (Oct 15 and 16, 2016), to take their ideas, work ON THEM, validate their market potential and make the steps to create thriving businesses. The format consisted of networking over coffee/tea and cookies, masterclasses for deeper knowledge of business trends and startup tips, deep dive time to work on pitch decks, a pitch prep lab, and then the experience of pitching to real angel investors and VCs in Russia and from the US. The coveted prizes were to win an accelerator spot in the SumIT tech business accelerator and longer mentoring hours with myself, a US angel investor and startup expert.

The energy was palpable. The hope invigorating. The progress on projects that were from ideation to revenue generating was promising. Discussions about markets, customer acquisition costs, crowdfunding, life time value of clients, value propositions, business model canvases, equity financing, and pitching, all gave valuable resources to the female startups in attendance. The masterclasses gave rigor to the topics being dived into by every startup. Relevance between educational goals of equipping these female founders and experiential activities of encouraging women to launch their ideas created a room full of wonder and a feeling of “I can do this, I got this!”

“A rising tide lifts all boats”

A monumentally successful Russian business woman, Taisiya Kudashkina, CEO & Founder of websarafan.ru, gave a motivational speech about being a female tech startup

leader and then went into detail about sales funnels and business models! Fantastic information for empowering these budding female startup founders and giving them practical advise to manage customer acquisition and retention. Her podcast is herd by millions and helps Russian business people really understand how to become competitive in the world market. She is a dynamic speaker, who elicits discussion, fabulous facts about business growth, and is a firecracker in growing her own business.

The top 3 startups who won startup books and mentoring hours from me, were brilliant ideas that are game changers for moms, small businesses & startups, and adventure-seeking people.

  1. Mamadoma, an online platform for moms to become social media campaign managers through a sequential educational training for promoting Russian companies aimed at the female consumer, pitched with baby on her hip, fully understanding the communicating her market potential, her revenues to date and her partnerships with Russian baby companies. She comes from Siberia and is currently in a Tartastan incubator/accelerator gaining more business knowledge.
  2. Agile A is an IT platform company that connects highly trained and qualified IT professionals in Russia with startups and small businesses in the US and worldwide. She calls her solution “outstaffing” because unlike outsourcing the startup and IT professional are in constant contact project managing between each other for optimal and “agile” successful completion of projects.
  3. Pride LX is an idea to create an online platform or app where people sign up for real-life quests to escape their everyday realities. She has done many mommy theater camps and has been employing theater people, artists and dancers to help with these camps and other events. It would be a platform to employ these creative souls to make a quest come to life for someone who wants to “play” a real game. It’s like pokemon go in real life.
  4. BONUS. Holograms on chocolate is a new technology of printing holograms on chocolates that was introduced in 2012, but now a new way has been invented by a female founder in St. Petersburg who has worked her entire life decorating marzipan. Her mother and father have been working on developing a traveling marzipan museum for years, but they have also been experimenting in chocolate decorations. Very interesting. They were invited to be part of the tech business accelerator, sumIT, at ITMO university.

The other 6 startups had amazing ideas that are bound to make a difference in the world and infiltrate their markets. They were:

  1. Mariposa Animation – animation studio for children’s cartoons
  2. Joy.Photo.Go.jpg – social enterprise connecting millenials, travel and photography
  3. Self Legal Help – online platform connecting businesses/consumers with young russian lawyers eager to help.
  4. MARK – professional development service
  5. Digital Advertising – video displays of advertising around cities
  6. Gloss fen Bar – beauty salon

The amazing judges were both supportive and constructively giving advise for growth. Thank you to all my new international colleagues, leading venture firms and startup programs in and around St. Petersburg! Oxana Evseeva is the CFO of KSB Trans Oil, Alex Sem is the Chairman of a prestigious startup accelerator in St. Petersburg, SOBA, Sergey Petrenko is a leader & investment consultant at INGRIA, a business incubator in St. Petersburg, the director the SumIT, and myself. Asking pertinent clarifying questions and giving comments on market potential and business models is how startups gain knowledge and experience from pitch competitions. Excellent job!

Women in St. Petersburg are thirsty for resources, mentorship, advice, and a way to launch their passion-filled business ideas found it during the female startup weekend at the sumIT business accelerator at ITMO University in collaboration with Stella Labs. I am honored to have had Russian startup leaders, Elena Stefanovich and Ekaterina Egoshina, through the American Councils exchange programs, to visit Stella Labs and Hera Hub in San Diego over the last year to enable them to experience a true community of like-minded business women on a unified collective goal to help each other thrive in their marketplaces. They have been able to successfully take our accelerator model and replicate it for their community, the thriving creative innovation ecosystem in St. Petersburg. Job well done!

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