Only a few days left until the application deadline for the SPbU’s Start-Up 2018 is over. Those who took part in the competitions last years but failed to win tell us through how you can benefit from failures, what applications you should choose to set goals, and why you should have an interview with your potential colleagues.

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“Three Ps: Problem, Purchaser, Profit”

If you are to start a business, you should come up with an idea, but unless it satisfies how you can make profit, it won’t do anyone any good. “You should be fully aware of the three musts. First, you must know what problem your project focuses on, second, who is your purchaser, and, third, how you can gain a profit. If you are not confident about whether your business idea is worth pursuing, you’d better do nothing”, - says Iurii Bulavin who is a head of the team “Time Melody” that won the third place in the competition in 2017.

“Come up with an idea”

“Surprisingly, you will have to spend a great deal of time on promoting your start up project: photo sessions, interviews, communicating with the investors, legal matters”, — says Artem Glukharev who was the leader of the team that developed new materials for oxygen pumps. — As a student in natural sciences, I was primarily concerned with how to develop a prototype that works, but the main thing was to show how we could promote and market our idea. What I advise is to come with a ready plan and then market it”.

“Don’t start a company with your friends”

“Do it with the experts who you need to implement the project, — says valentine Ershov who is author of the project “BioEl”. — Don’t be afraid that you don’t know them well. You can more easily delegate the tasks when collaborating with coworkers, rather than friends. The coworkers won’t tell you: “Well, you know I can’t do it.” However, you should be interested in the idea, says Egor Gumin who is the leader of the team “Iontrack” that won the second place and received 500,000 rubles. “Although it is a student competition, you nevertheless should have interviews with those who you are going to work with to gain insight into what motivates them and how they can contribute. By doing so, you can avoid lots of conflicts”, — said Egor Gumin.

“Your team is not forever”

“Even if you are succeeded in building a team of high-calibre experts, not all of them will stay with you up till the end. Of course, you should do everything not to destroy your team, but don’t be afraid of leaving people behind,” – says Iurii Bulavin. Your priority is to think about the project. You can always find someone else.

“Today’s competitors can be your partners tomorrow”

“This competition brings together talented, capable, and ambitious students. Although initially we are all competitors, once the competition is over we can be partners,” — said Iurii Bulavin. In 2016, he persuaded his team-member Iulia Trushina to take part in the competition. His project failed even to win a selection round, while Iulia managed to get to the semi-final. On the one hand, he made a competitor, on the other hand, they joint for the final and won 200,000 rubles.

“Break big tasks into smaller pieces”

Planning is essential. “With working rush on, you are eager to do everything in no time. Prioritizing is important, as are breaking big tasks into small pieces and realistic planning”, — says Sergei Rzhevskii who is a leader of the team “Medprints”.

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow, says a good old tradition among the students. Such strategy can make your project successful. The main thing is step-by-step planning.  

Artem Mikhailov, a leader of the team “Encryptify”

“Use time-management apps”

Project management applications are essential to get your work done. “Bitrix 24” was the first choice in Iurii Bulavin’s team, but later they opted for more convenient and simple “Todoist”. Egor Gumin’s team initially opted for “Trello” followed by “Hacknplan”, a project management tool for game development, which can be easily adapted to startup development.

“Feel successful”

“Lead, inspire and motivate your team, — says Iurii Bulavin. — Initially, your business cards, design, web-site, and publicity can hardly bring you tangible benefits, but definitely will inspire and motivate to win. You will have to prove what image you have created by what you have achieved”.

“Focus on presentation”

“At the final defense of your project, no one will look at the code of your project. The main thing is how to present your project”, — says Egor Gumin. — Think about what to focus on. Abstract things are difficult to understand, bring prototypes and show tests. It will definitely impress the jury”.

“It is not the end result that matters”

“Anyone who is involved in the project should have a clear view of what they are going to achieve and how to get the main prize, — says Iurii Bulavin. — Whatever the results is, you will definitely ask what shall I do next? If the only thing you wanted to achieve was a victory, you would find yourself in a blind alley. I remember how I failed in the selection round in 2016. I thought hard why I had failed. My failures benefited me in a way that I could assess what I had done wrong and therefore adopt a new strategy. A year later, I defended my project as a graduation thesis and today my project is going to enter the market. Bear in mind that your failure is a way how you can identify your weaknesses, while your victory is a step towards other victories”.