5 lessons we learned at Tolstoy Startup Camp



    Two weeks ago our stay at the Yandex accelerator - Tolstoy Startup Camp ended. It's a pity.

    I have always been amazed by the property of time in different places to flow in different ways. All the most memorable moments of life remain in the past, new ones arise and again remain in the past, and the more interesting the moment, the faster the river of life drowns it in its waters. If we talk about the part of our life spent in the walls of Yandex, then we can say that the time was especially unfair to her. Fortunately, the human memory is greater than that of the aquarium fish, and in this short article I will try to strain my own to tell you about the most important, in my opinion, discoveries made in this unusual place.


    1. Tolstoy Startup Camp is definitely not what you expected




    Perhaps I do not have too much experience, but I have not yet met a single professional event with such an unusual warm and friendly atmosphere. I never figured out where this atmosphere comes from, but it subjugates everyone who enters it so much that even when someone carries the hell out of your project for years, you don’t want to show any negative emotions, moreover, you sincerely thank this person for a useful comment, even if this person carries unprecedented nonsense. The critic himself carries this nonsense solely out of noble motives. I don’t know how they achieve this, they probably add something to the cookies. :) It works quickly and easily, many acquaintances and friends appear.


    2. Make mistakes faster




    I will not be original if I recall one well-known fact that out of all the great start-up initiatives, no more than two percent of projects survive to an adequate form, and only a few become a business that can feed someone other than you and your cat. Startup in Russia is one of the easiest ways to kill time and get nothing for it. Simple statistics say that a shawarma stall, located in a good location, with a probability of 9 out of 10 will bring more money than your high-tech venture. Therefore, the first thought that novice startups drive into their heads during the acceleration period is that if you cannot be mobile and flexible, then most likely your project is already a corpse.

    I liked one expression that most fully conveys this thought: “Make mistakes faster,” that is, if there are only 2 successful out of a hundred roads that you can follow, then you may have to make mistakes all 98 times, and the faster you do it - the faster you succeed. During the camp, we created dozens of hypotheses and sent them to the landfill with bags.


    3. Do not code! Just do not code!


    To start programming without receiving confirmation of the viability of the idea is how to marry a girl after the first night together. Do not rush to marry your idea, it may turn out to be another bitch, and it’s hurt, falling in love will not work here. This greedy creature can leave you penniless, take the best years of your life from you, and finally go to your competitors by slamming the door. Therefore, forget about writing code at the beginning of the work - it is advisable to leave this pleasure for later. Instead, better create a beautiful landing page, make a presentation, and learn how to communicate with people.




    4. Chat with people


    I can’t help but recall one of the lectures by Ilya Krasinsky, at the beginning of which he simply stated that all of us sitting in the hall, most likely “Zadroty” and something else: “Normal people live outside the window and they don’t give a damn about your ideas technology".

    It made me think, I never considered myself in this context. However, when I counted the number of days off over the past two years and the number of educational institutions in which I studied, a cold sweat broke through me, “but I am a real epic nerd.” This awareness was monstrous, so you live for yourself and do not know that the rest of the world lives on a completely different planet. I advise everyone who reads this article to immediately engage in the same introspection. Most likely, you also feel like an alien, I can even argue for that. After all, if it were different, you probably would not have read the article to this place. :)



    So, the idea that I want to convey is simple - if you are going to do business on this planet, and not on a planet in the Alpha Centauri system, you need to learn how to speak the same language with the two-legged. To do this, there is a technology that is created specifically for people like us, and it is called Customer Development. This technique is one of the most useful knowledge that we acquired in the Yandex accelerator. Unfortunately, I will not be able to reveal its essence in this article in its entirety, but I promise to write one of the following articles about this. I can only say that it is mainly devoted to the construction of hypotheses and their testing, and its main goal is to fully penetrate the thoughts of your client, learn to speak the same language with him and, most importantly, find “pain” - a problem that does not give people peace so much


    5. Analytics is everything


    Every person who at least once in his life happened to analyze the market for a product in Russia can confirm that this is hellish hell. There is practically no information, most of the data available is either ordinary nonsense, or nonsense written with secret intent. For serious analytics, you can spend months and hundreds of thousands of rubles, it is a pity that an ordinary startup can not afford it. Therefore, when we began to draw beautiful graphs and violently analyze, after spending two whole days on this, one of the methodologists almost turned our heads off.



    Understand correctly, no one says that you don’t need to conduct analytics, the fact is that conducting it carefully at the initial stage, you basically just spend a lot of time checking one of the hypotheses and nothing more, since it is likely that after A few turns your product and the market will be completely different.

    The main thing is to maintain the right balance between accuracy and speed and, by the way, advice from personal experience - if you can’t find at least some intelligible market indicators in one day, this means that the market most likely does not exist or it is small and you need to experiment further, only I beg - do not freeze. Being able to count and think fast is the most necessary skill of a startup, because without quick analytics and a competent economy, you are blind kittens on the edge of a cliff.


    In conclusion


    I hope that the discoveries described in this article will help one of you to become smarter and more careful, or at least serve as food for thought. And we thank Yandex for everything that it has done for us, and for the wonderful two months spent.

    Best regards, Generate.club project team .

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