Young Professionals

Entrepreneurship and student’s startup activities

Our contributor this issue is:

Dr Pospelova Tatiana
PhD in Economics; Mentor and Tracker at IIDF Investment Fund; Lecturer, Department of Economics of Innovation, Faculty of Economics, Moscow State University; Executive Director, Triple Helix Association (Russian Chapter)


Statistics shows that only 2-4% of population can be engaged in business and entrepreneurship.  In your opinion, how many people are capable of doing business?

2-4% are more likely those who conduct business.  I think there are actually more entrepreneurially-inclined people, about 10%.  It is just that conditions (legislative base, attraction of investments) for the development of this direction are poorly developed in many countries.  Many of those who have a predisposition or desire are stopped by the associated risks: public opinion (relatives dissuade), fear of losing a stable place of work for the sake of the business that might fail, and lack of knowledge on how to conduct business activity.

What are the popular business niches?

Among my students on the Entrepreneurship Fundamentals course, I have literally seen a boom for several years now in the desire to open coffee houses or bakeries.  Unfortunately, this is often not due to the purpose of earning, but to have a personal space to communicate with friends and acquaintances.  That’s the reason why a lot of coffee houses close very soon after being opened.  In class, I am trying to direct students towards hi-tech.  I tell stories of success and failure of various online services.  However, as practice shows, it is easier for students to work with what they use themselves.

Are there other specific business projects that will be successful? 

First of all, one needs to look for windows of opportunity.  See what exactly is missing in a particular city, and, most importantly, check the demand in advance.  It is necessary to notice the problem and competently find a business solution.  One example is a home appliance repair service project.  The team saw that the market is already occupied in the cities with over a million people, but in the cities with population of up to 500 000 people, this niche is free.  So this team initially organized a service for repairing refrigerators, and then created a portal for training in repair work.  In addition, to those who have graduated, they send out repair requests coming via the platform, providing the students with additional income.

What other niches now hold potential and are simple?

Everything that is connected with improvement of service and convenience.  Transition from offline to online: taxi aggregators, food delivery, discount aggregators of loyalty system, etc.

What exactly do you specialize in?

I specialize in online projects in the field of education.  This trend will continue to develop.  In recent years, a community of Instagram entrepreneurs who bake, embroider, promote something has been formed.  A new generation of buyers has grown up.  They are not afraid to buy online, appreciate products made with love, love their business, and have a more customer-oriented approach.  You will see that these Instagram entrepreneurs will soon open their online schools, which will sell not only the final product, but also the process of its creation.  For example, instead of buying a ready-made cake, one can make it themselves by using an online master class.

Where can one get information about promising niches where it is best to start a business?

I am more into venture investment.  It has its own specifics; those are technological, often high-risk startups in their early stages that require large investments.  A distinctive feature is scalability.
I recommend subscribing to opinion leaders on social networks, many of whom share their experiences in posts.

What is your advice to novice entrepreneurs, who have found a potential problem in the field they do not know much about? 

I was just recently approached by friends who wanted to open a new kind of catering, but did not understand how this market works, and there was a fear of starting.  This is normal; you just need to find an expert in this area and offer collaboration opportunities.

As an example, if one young man came up with an original clock mechanism based on chemical processes. What steps does he need to take?

First, understand where the need is.  Then, identify the target audience.  After identifying the target audience, make a prototype to show to potential customers.  Then begin the path on which many stumble: you need to go and talk to your potential customers.  Build hypotheses, which are then tested by a survey among real people and are the basis for the creation of a unique trade offer, the so-called UTO.  If this is a unique product for a narrow audience, as in the example of the clock, it is likely to be difficult to scale, the number of orders will be limited.  However, it is my conjecture; you need to check it out!

How to attract real investors?  Where to present your idea after conducting the research? 

Nowadays many universities organize business clubs, where practitioners are invited.  If we talk about the funds, they are focused on more serious, science-based developments.

If we talk about venture investment, how much funding is it possible to get from such sources?

This is more of a stereotype about the inaccessibility of investors.  In fact, they are in a continuous search for sensible projects and teams.  It is difficult to get to them, because a large number of raw projects are trying to reach them.  Therefore, a hard barrier has been built.  But if you have a cool idea, investors will compete for the opportunity to partner with you.  Investors keep their fingers on the pulse, monitor new technologies, and the sooner they notice the team doing something useful, the greater the gain will be.  It is necessary to look at the specialization of a particular fund, and the direction of its investment portfolio.

What would investors pay attention to in a startup?

The idea, the team, the spark in the eyes of the founder, along with mature logic, and the competence in a relevant industry.

Well, the final question is whether you have a life credo.

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield!



Published by the Triple Helix Association  –  ISSN 2281-4515


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