What Is the Secret behind a Successful Startup? Startup Evening to be Held at SUSU with Guests from the USA


The SEM School of Business jointly with the Internet Initiatives Development Fund and the Technopark for Informational Technologies for the Chelyabinsk Region invites everyone to a meeting called STARTUP-EVENING: EXPERIENCE OF THE USA AND RUSSIA.

At this evening, you will get a chance to learn from the innovative activities’ experience of the guests from the USA David Reeves and Alexander Strunkin, learn about the work of the International Initiatives Development Fund and the possibilities of the Chelyabinsk IT Park, and also learn about opening and organizing a startup by speaking with innovative businessmen. David Reeves, one of the founders of Limeade and Quickbase companies, and Alexander Strunkin, founder of Deako company and advisor to a number of startups, told us about the coming event and their experience in working with startups.

– David, the topic of your presentation is creating products that people will like. Please, tell us about these products and about peculiarities of their creation?

– David Reeves: Today I’ll share my experiences and speak about how products develop from ideas to creation, how to walk this path correctly. We will speak about how to understand what people need and what they might like, how to make a successful product out of an idea. When you create something totally new that no one thought up before – that’s quite difficult. You have to understand people’s emotions, their thoughts, and combine this with your idea of the world and your idea of where the world is going. This is a mix of different variables, and tomorrow we’ll talk about how to combine them together, in what proportions, to obtain a product that people will like and that they will be ready to purchase.

– You have created products related to health and wellness as well as cloud applications. Tell us, what is unique about these areas and what about them interested you?

– DR: The first product is called Quickbase, this is a cloud application which makes it possible for teams who are spread out in different places to work together and share data. I was interested in this because I had this exact problem. I solved this problem for myself and then decided to share it with others. That’s how this product was created. The second application that I created is Limeade. We were thinking about how to help staff at various companies be better: more healthy, productive, and get tired less. This was the part of life that interested me, so we decided to create such an application. It turned out that employers and employees like the same thing. Both sides have a use for it.

– At Oberlin College you studied history. How did you start working in software development?

– DR: I was always interested in computers, since childhood. When I was younger, I took apart and fixed my parents’ computers. When it came to my education, I wanted to be sure that I could think, read, and write critically. So when I began building my career in business, I understood that these skills are just as important as the technical ones.

– What do you think, is it important for Russia and the USA to share their experiences in high technology? Why?

– DR: Yes. After all, when countries share experiences, both sides develop and become better. USA gained a lot from exchanging knowledge with Russia, especially thanks to people like my friend Alexander, and I hope that the USA also gave Russia something beneficial.

– Alexander, you consult several companies, including the Y Combinator Startup School. Tell us about this experience. What opportunities does such a school offer?

– Alexander Strunkin: I am an advisor for five startups, these are typically startups that are in the early stages of development. There can be many mistakes made at this stage, but if you have taken this path a few times, you can help companies, including in terms of acquaintances and investors. My goal is to correct their course and advise them on how I would behave if I were in their shoes, or offer examples from the experiences of other startups. A few thousand startups from all around the world participated in the Y Combinator Startup School. This is possibly the largest startup event. My goal at this school was to lead 30 startups from all around the world and do group and individual lessons with them. In the end, after 11 weeks, we had to assess their progress. For each of them, I chose KPI and a metric by which to measure their progress. Each company came online, did a presentation, and found investors this way.

– What do you think – what is the secret behind a successful startup?

– AS: I wish someone could know that for sure… I think there is no specific answer to this question. A successful startup means a good team, especially at the first stages, when the first investments are being made in individuals, because you believe that they will not give up, they’ll figure things out, they’ll get things done. There are also many other variables you can’t control at all – for example, time. There is also the biggest variable – luck. Startups are a risky thing. I can’t say that there is a formula for success, but it’s very important to speak to your clients and understand what they want.

– You are also the cofounder of Deako Inc. What does your company do?

– AS: We release smart and attractive light switches. We learned how to make them modular, so this is a unique product in America. You can take a module out and put a new one in. You might ask: why do we need this? There are many houses being built around the world – a few million homes a year in the United States. But home builders do not install smart light switches in these homes. We created a system that solves the issues which prevented them from installing these light switches. Instead of selling on the internet or to private clients, we go to a building company and offer our product to them, since it is economic and technological. Every eighth house in Seattle, the most quickly developing city in America, has these light switches. Our biggest innovation is not in the product itself, but in our business model, which we have changed. The product itself is a smart switch which senses if you are home or not, can wake you up, and can do much more.

– What are you expecting from today’s event?

– AS: I want to be able to do something helpful. The idea began with me finding out that my friend Dave is going to Chelyabinsk. He and I are able to do things that many others cannot. So, I decided: why not share these ideas? The department supported us greatly in this. I really hope that we will help students understand what a startup is better, should they try this for themselves, and what risks there are.


The event will be held at the Sigma Conference Hall on December 14th at 17:00 (78B Lenin Prospect).


Yekaterina Kuznetsova
Event date: 
Thursday, 14 December, 2017 - 17:00
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