September 10, morning, TechnoSpark conference hall. ‘Good afternoon! My name is Elizaveta Samoilova. I represent O Gene company, which provides biological corrosion diagnostics services for oil industry,’ the girl starts her speech. She is noticeably nervous, as she presents her report the first out of the seven senior students, who have come a week ago from Tomsk and Tyumen to Troitsk to try on the role of techpreneurs.
Just like her colleagues from Tomsk and Tyumen universities, Elizaveta had a stroke of luck. She was one of the winners of the business game series organised by TechnoSpark all around Russia. Build a company. Sell the company—you should remember this. It took place in Troitsk twice. The universities of the two Siberian cities turned out to be the most lenient to let their students try their hand in real business. As a matter of fact, they let them study by correspondence and come to the university twice a year to take the tests and exams. In addition, they continue paying the scholarship and provide some additional money for accommodation rent in Troitsk. This money was enough for Elizaveta and her friend to rent a flat in a new house on Gorodskaya Street. Moreover, in TechnoSpark they get a salary of young employees. All seven winners of Siberian series of the business game took up the training in TechnoSpark.
‘I have been considering the idea of my own business and entrepreneurship,’ Elizaveta explaines. ‘But it is a difficult thing to realize on your own. So it is a sheer luck that TechnoSpark cooperates with our university, as now we have a startup site, where we can learn what is the best way to start and how it all works.’
A week to get an insight
Indeed, the start point was defined by TechnoSpark. A four-year student of the Geology and Geography school will become a part of the company engaged in the heating systems defurring; a biology student will work on the services of analysing sports fields natural grass diseases; a fifth-year student of foreign language school will launch brain concussion sensor for Hockey players; would-be bioengineer will be engaged in the business of yeast growth for beer manufacturers; an economist and sociologist will make composite hockey sticks; a historian will plunge into a promotion design. While Elizaveta, being a geologist, found herself in the services for oil producers.
‘The game was a diagnostics instrument,’ Vladimir Berlizev, TEN.Education Project Manager, explains.‘We saw the guys’ competencies, our data base proposed suitable business hypotheses and the artificial intelligence allocated the startups.’
It has been a week since the allocation. ‘This was the time to learn about the work and meet the colleagues,’ Elizaveta shares. ‘O Gene company employs several laboratory assistants, receptionists, product engineers…’ However, Ms. Samoilova did not have a chance to work with the laboratory equipment. ‘I don’t think I will have an opportunity to do this, my tasks here are not engineering, they are all management,’ she sais.
‘About 70% of corrosion losses are caused by biological corrosion,’ Ms. Samoilova continues her speech. ‘Annualy, this leads to losses worth several billions. And this can be decreased by timely detection, identification and precaution…’
The agenda includes seven reports, ten minutes each with the discussions. ‘My plans and tasks for the year: to create the company site, to prepare a grant proposal, to visit the Oil and Gas Forum and Open Innovations Forum in Skolkovo Innovation Center,’ Elizaveta sais. ‘Are you going to do something in the business subject matter?’ TechnoSpark Director General Denis Kovalevich asks. ‘Do you plan to approach the matter by making a grant proposal? A startup never starts with a grant!’ He comes to the whiteboard and draws several arrows. ‘I suggest you put an end on this and work on two lines. The first—restoration of the technological product, the second—technological analytics. You need to understand who and how makes it in Russia and in the world now. Until we know this, we can’t approach the market.’
…The discussion was long and tough, but Elizaveta was ready for that. It is what the TechnoSpark business game teaches—to sustain the hit and act in unpredictable situations.‘Yes, we are to work a lot and get to know how oil services operate,’ Ms. Samoilova answers. She and her colleagues have a whole year to get into the matter. And then, if it all goes well, she will stay at TechnoSpark: ‘Troitsk is on the level of a large Siberian city. It is clean and cosy, has a comfortable transport infrastructure and all you may need for life. We hope to continue working here after the end of our training.’
Source: The Gorodskoy Ritm Newspaper
Author: Vladimir Milovidov
Photo: by author
Date: September 19, 2019