Build a coworking in Crimea. Part One: The Idea

    Hello, Habr! We are a Tomsk company Interweb Lab . We are developing our own Internet projects. But today we would like to tell not about our online direction, but about what is offline.

    Working on long winter evenings in Tomsk, my colleagues and I from time to time thought about temporarily leaving to work in warmer latitudes. Each time we came up against the same problems: far from home, the need to obtain a visa and organize a workplace with high-speed Internet, alien to Russian culture. Gradually, in discussions, an image of the place where we ourselves would like to work and grow professionally formed. Among the most important requirements are a good climate, a Russian-speaking population, beautiful nature, the opportunity to take part in a rich educational and entertainment program.

    We are outside politics, but when Crimea became part of Russia, we thought: no matter how we relate to this, we can’t change anything, but we can use it. In all respects, Crimea is a great place to implement our idea. The problem was that we did not have much resources, and we won’t pull the creation of a full-fledged IT park. The experience of Internet startups saved: we thought, why not approach the idea of ​​creating an IT park as an idea for a startup?

    • First, the formulation of hypotheses, interviews with potential customers, identifying their problems;
    • then creating a prototype that can be shown to people;
    • after that - the creation of MVP in order to evaluate the interest in this topic;
    • and then test the business model and attract further investment.

    So, the team set to work.

    The most difficult step was to determine the code name of the project. After heated and lengthy discussions, the choice fell on the word "Sloboda". After all, since ancient times, a settlement was called the place where people of the same profession and the same views gathered to work together.

    Next, we identified the underlying problem ...
    There is no place in Russia where an active business IT environment, a comfortable climate, accessible infrastructure and modern conditions for work and life would be combined.

    ... and formulated a possible solution
    The construction of an IT-park in Crimea in order to provide comfortable conditions for life and work.

    The hypothesis was as follows: IT companies will be partially or fully ready to move to Crimea if an IT park providing additional services is built there.

    Then the problems were decomposed and the hypotheses of the second level were determined:
    Problems :
    1. Poor climatic and environmental conditions in the current place of residence.
    2. The passivity of the business environment in the current place of residence.
    3. Poor infrastructure in the current place of residence.

    Hypotheses :
    1. Current climatic and environmental conditions do not satisfy our CA.
    2. The current activity of the business environment does not satisfy our target audience.
    3. Current infrastructure does not satisfy our target audience.
    4. Companies will be willing to pay for their specialists to work in Sloboda.

    After that, we started interviewing the target audience of the project: our IT colleagues from different cities, mainly Tomsk and Novosibirsk. Among the respondents were directors of large Tomsk companies and familiar freelancers.

    Have you ever wanted to move?
    Yes - 80 %
    No - 12.5%
    Don't know - 7.5%

    For 2 weeks, we interviewed more than a hundred people. It turned out that the vast majority thought or regularly thought about a possible move, and the answers in most cases are not just “yes”, but “definitely yes”. It was also noted that in the city (on the example of Tomsk) there is a problem of professional growth, in connection with which specialists move to Moscow, St. Petersburg and abroad. It turns out that the city becomes a “transit point”, which is not considered as a final place of residence.

    What does not suit you in your current place?

    Not satisfied:
    • Climate - ( 52 %)
    • Infrastructure, logistics - ( 37 %)
    • Weak development opportunities and low business activity - ( 25 %)
    • Poverty of leisure, shopping - (15%)
    • Search for new sensations - (15%)
    • Lack of personnel - (7%)
    • Political situation, security - (12%)
    • Other - 9 (22%)

    Everything suits - (12%)

    The vast majority of respondents from relocation keeps two factors - business or work in the current place and people (family, parents, friends).

    Where would you rather live in Russia or abroad?
    In Russia - 40%;
    Abroad - 35%.
    Undecided. 25%.

    Conclusions from the interviews
    • Current climatic and environmental conditions do not satisfy our CA: 100% confirmed
    • The current activity of the business environment does not satisfy our target audience: partially confirmed (those who were in California clearly spoke of the need; others did not always)
    • Current infrastructure does not satisfy our target audience: 95% confirmed
    • The need for more comfortable conditions for the life and development of children: identified
    • The need for more comfortable living conditions for parents: identified

    Many were very enthusiastic about this idea and would be ready to move if everything was already ready and working. The fact that many are already considering moving to the Crimea for permanent or temporary residence speaks in favor of our idea: people talk about it, whole teams think, topics are created on forums and in communities.

    The results of the interview confirmed our hypotheses, and it was decided to move on to the next step: creating a prototype . What could be a prototype of a real existing object? We decided to make a business card and present it to our target audience in order to test the reaction of people to our vision of the project.

    The first public presentation of the project took place on May 23 at Tomsk Hackday.

    After we have studied the opinion of the target audience and confirmed its interest, it is time to test our idea in a wider audience. The timeline of the first stage looked something like this:


    In the following posts we will talk about new stages of development, how to drink the largest start-up conference in Russia, and about our adventures in Crimea. Stay tuned and, as they say in our team, all Sloboda !

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