A unique system to select and integrate startups in new technology businesses has been developed at the TechnoSpark venture-building company (Moscow), the CEO and the TechnoSpark shareholder, Denis Kovalevich, said to TASS.
“One of the most important components in our technology of building multiple companies is organizing a constant influx of new people into startups. We are talking about very specific personnel. As a part of the program created at TechnoSpark, that we have called “Business Debut”, we recruit young people without experience who intend to devote their lives to entrepreneurship in technology. And we get them involved in our new companies’ activities. In our vocabulary, we call them venture-builders, they are not managers, but they are the people who build the company from scratch,” Kovalevich said.
According to him, the network of venture construction companies of Russia that was built in partnership with the RUSNANO’s Fund for Infrastructure and Educational Programs (FIEP) produces 100 to 150 new companies annually and all of them require venture-builders.
“These specialists are not managers who are only able to work in companies that are already established with known products and a clear business model. Venture-builders build a business right from the start, they create the first product sample, carry out the first work on the market, arrange the first preliminary contracts for this product and so on,” the entrepreneur said.
Work of a venture-builder
By the time a venture-builder starts working, TechnoSpark makes a decision to create a new startup, identifies its business objective, creates a legal entity and gets the start-up investments going.
“We will invest one million rubles for ten months in each of the new companies as a part of the Business Debut program. From this sum of money, budding venture-builders receive their starting salary of twenty-five thousand rubles in regional areas and thirty-five thousand rubles in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The rest of the investment goes towards creating the first product,” Kovalevich said.
According to him, the venture-builder in the startup is focused on one thing only — creating the first product sample as fast as possible and performing the first market operations. At the end of ten months, it will become clear which ones of young entrepreneurs have achieved results and can continue working in the startup but on more favorable terms for the venture-builder, with up to a 10 percent share in the startup.
The TechnoSpark CEO noted that the Troitsk venture-building company is currently building over a hundred of startups simultaneously and creates a dozen of new ones each year. Hundreds of new engineers and budding venture-builders who are hired through a special game-based method join the company’s work on an annual basis.
“We have developed a five-level business game called “Build a company. Sell the company.”’ It lasts for ten hours and during this time the participants go through the typical journey of forming a new industry. This involves everything from engineering inventions to company formation, cooperation and minimum labor division, making the first deals, etc. The whole game is played online, in the interfaces of a special program. But at the same time, the players work with their hands, build engineering structures, produce them and sell them to each other,” Kovalevich explained.
Based on results of the game, we gain several key insights. “First of all, whether a particular player can work intensively for ten hours together. At this stage, approximately 50 percent of the participants are filtered out. Secondly, whether the player is capable to become a good entrepreneur. And thirdly, we see how the remaining players define entrepreneurship, as productive activities or fraudulent schemes. In the end, as a result of the business game, on average we recruit from five to ten people to our companies,” Kovalevich said.
The creators of the game “Build a company. Sell the company.” plan to hold it on May 31 in Skolkovo as a part of the Startup Village, then it will be held in St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Troitsk; in July it will be held on the Russky Island in Russia’s Far East; in September, in Saransk and Ulyanovsk, then in Kazan and Zelenograd.