Founder and CEO at NGO Startup KyivFounder at SDG RELAY.
Founder and CEO NGO Startup Kyiv, Founder SDG RELAY. Cand Soc in Organisational innovation and Entrepreneurship from Copenhagen Business School. Independent Innovation and Business Development Consultant. Startup Mentor. Official Country Partner of University Startup World Cup in Ukraine since 2016
1. How did you get started as an entrepreneur? What made you decide to launch your own business?
I started testing my ideas in a very safe, knowledge-based environment. It just made much more sense to me to write Business School projects about my own business ideas, any time it was possible, and then testing them with friends in real life.
2. Did you have any doubts when abandoning your corporate job to pursue your entrepreneurial dreams? If yes, then how did you manage to overcome them and make the leap?
On the other hand, aside from my studies, I always had a part-time job in several global companies with vast opportunities to apply and test the latest academic knowledge in corporate settings.
3. Let's get back to the very start of your entrepreneurial journey. How did you come up with your business idea? What inspired you and influenced you the most?
On the first day of my Candidate Education all of the students were asked to introduce themselves and tell if they were up for an intrapreneurial or entrepreneurial path in their future career. I could see the opportunities in either way. And I still do, but in practice, I found it extremely difficult to find a job out there that could incorporate all the elements of that what I could call the dream job.
First of all, I wanted to use my education just as it is - meaning being able to work directly with innovation and entrepreneurship. Secondly, I really wanted to utilise my cultural background - meaning being able to play a bridging function between my home country Ukraine, Denmark, and the rest of the world. Last but not least is to help others become successful thus making a difference in the world.And what do you do when you can not find 'have it all' scenario in one job description after another? While the amount of experience, both corporate, entrepreneurial, and volunteering begins to bring very first but promising results. Right, you begin to go entrepreneurial.
4. What are your biggest lessons learned in business so far?
It is essential to know yourself, your values, strong and weak sides, the rest will join you if you work smart, hard, and long enough.
5. Since our initiative is all about digitalization, could you share the digital tools you use in your company?
Well, I need to say I still did not pay a dollar for the great digital tools out there, and in general, the choice will depend on your target audience. But it is incredible how far you can go with a quality presentation made in CANVA, the camera on your phone and a standard application package on your computer. Bootstrap and keep it simple as long as you can.
6. Why did you decide to support the Digital Women 2020 initiative?
In general, I think we need to support each other as much as we can. To support others is always rewarding for both sides. Luckily in Entrepreneurship, you can make quite a significant impact just by sharing your knowledge and network.
7. How has entrepreneurship changed your lifestyle, influenced your way of thinking, and shaped your life-goals?
We can revert to this question in a couple of years, for now, I just can not feel much more myself.
8. In your opinion, what keeps women from starting businesses? And on the contrary, what helps women succeed in entrepreneurship?
Throughout my candidate thesis, I was investigating a slightly similar question.And I can share with you that there are roughly saying two main factors that stimulate entrepreneurship. And the good news is, they are gender-neutral, meaning work for both men and women and are geographically disattached.So, both men and women, no matter where in the world they find themselves, can speed up the process of jumping into entrepreneurship if they have enough knowledge and/or experience on entrepreneurship.
Both men and women, no matter where in the world they find themselves, can speed up the process of jumping into entrepreneurship if they have enough knowledge and/or experience on entrepreneurship.
The second factor of entrepreneurial success is the maturity level of the ecosystem. Merely saying the density of the organizations and individuals who specialize in helping entrepreneurs to succeed. One of my dreams is to publish my candidate thesis, with all the findings that hopefully can help entrepreneurs on their way to success.
9. What core principles and values you are using to navigate in your professional life?
Pay it forward - just love that one!And, the principle that I found my way to, though my Candidate thesis is - Protect your Bottom Line. So every time I need to make the decision, for instance - should I be involved in one or another endeavor or not, I estimate not the scale of the gain but rather the scale of the loss, and if I can afford it - I will do it.
10. What achievements are you most proud of?
Most of all, I am proud of the people and organizations achievements, with whom I was lucky enough to interact in one or another way.
I will never forget that moment when Dmitriy Biduk, the founder of FoodBioPack - first Ukrainian biodegradable plastic, wrote to me, in the middle of the night, telling that he just won half a million Ukrainian Hryvnia at the Carlsberg Ukraine Hackathon for the further development of his technology. Just after returning from Denmark where he received the Sustainability Award at the University Startup World Cup.
It gives you wings, and you simply cannot stop to keep on giving more.
Therefore I have designed a crowdfunding campaign called SDG RELAY, which is launched on Biggggidea.com now. With the main point - If my volunteering work can have an impact - can you imagine what we can do together, just by the engagement to the extent we can afford?
11. What book(s) are you reading now? What are the must-read books for every woman giving entrepreneurship a shot?
For the last five years, I was reading literally saying thousands of books, children's books, for the quality time with my two sons :)
For myself, I enjoy scanning various global reports getting an overview of the tendencies in the world, and keeping myself updated in my field of expertise. My annual favorite is the Global Innovation Index, just to mention one. Sometimes I grab a biography. For example about the modern women in modern politics in the book "What doesn't kill you..." about Helle Thorning-Schmidt the first female Prime Minister of Denmark, the Social Democrat by the way, or "Losing My Virginity" by Richard Branson that can serve as a 'feel good' inspiration for entrepreneurs. But in most cases, it is not what you read, but your critical opinion about what you read makes all of a difference. And once you are aware of global values, it is quite simple to be after all.
But in most cases, it is not what you read, but your critical opinion about what you read makes all of a difference. And once you are aware of global values, it is quite simple to be after all.
12. One piece of advice for early-stage entrepreneurs?
Just do something entrepreneurial!