Igor Sheludko, FSPro Labs: “As a tracker, I see the evolution of many ideas

    This spring, an ISDEF Spring IT exporter conference will be held in the Rostov South IT Park . We asked the most active conference speakers to talk about what South IT Park is doing and what it does useful for the development of the industry.

    The first to respond was an ISDEF activist from Taganrog Igor Sheludko, head of FSPro Labs , part-time tracker of the South IT Park. Igor is not afraid, unlike many, to share in his cases not only successes, but also to analyze failures. This year, he will talk about the experience of selling desktop B2C products by subscription.

    Organizing Committee: Igor, a few words about you.

    I.Sh: I have been engaged in product development since 2001. These were utilities for home users who wanted to simply protect their data from other computer users. In those days, often at home and at work, several people used the same computer with Windows 95/98. The first products were sold using the shareware model, but very soon the main model became what is now called Freemium. I am doing this business together with Mikhail Karsyan. There were still guys in our team, but over time they preferred to work for large companies. Mikhail often attended ISDEF conferences , starting from the very first. I got involved in 2014. I prefer the format of spring conferences. There are reports and a lot of informal communication. At all the ISDEFs I attended, he performed. And springISDEF Spring 2018 will not be an exception. I will talk about our experience in selling B2C desktop products by subscription - about the problems that have arisen, our solution and, of course, the benefits compared to traditional sales.

    How did you get to know the Southern IT Park?

    I.Sh: I have been interested in the development of the IT entrepreneurs community for a long time. I personally helped a few guys to embark on the path of entrepreneurship. In 2015, Mikhail Filippenko introduced me to the first team of the Southern IT Park - Rostov-minded entrepreneurs who took the time to engage not only in their own business, but also to develop the IT community with the support of the regional administration.

    At the beginning of 2016, I went through the acceleration program of the Southern IT Park with the new team led by Evgeny Poluyanov and Andrey Batrimenko. Also passed the program of correspondence acceleration FRII . Familiarity with the Lean Startup and Customer Development methodologies helped streamline my life experience; I found explanations for our business successes and failures.

    In the summer of 2016, he studied at the school of trackers of the Southern IT Park and from the 3rd set of accelerator I work in a team of trackers. Now we are working with the 6th accelerator set. During this time, I managed to benefit 11 projects as an individual tracker. Group tracking and events allow me to help all projects undergoing acceleration.

    What is an IT community in the South of Russia?

    I.Sh: We have several strong universities that annually graduate new specialists. Many different research institutes have survived here, including those working for the defense industry. On this basis, many private enterprises emerged, known not only in the Russian Federation, but throughout the world. There are both food companies and outsourcing developers of a wide variety of colors and calibers.

    Taganrog jokes that there are more Taganrozh developers registered at Upwork than from the rest of the Southern Federal District. This joke is very true. The number of employees of the 20 largest Taganrog outsourcing companies receiving orders for Upwork exceeds 1000 people. And the guys often have both work and personal accounts.

    As such, a single IT community did not exist several years ago. There were many IT-employees, but everyone was on their own, talking in small circles. Sharavarschik product developers gathered a couple of times a year since 2000. Outsourcers were friends in their own way.

    In this regard, I want to mention Trofim Zhugastrov, who gathered a large community several years ago - IT61 , which publishes news, offers communication on Slack and Telegram, and holds regular meetings.

    With the advent of the Southern IT Park, more and more events are held on its basis - both organized by the Southern IT Park itself, and the communities IT61, GDG Rostov, RND.JS, AgileKitchen, etc. I especially want to note the 47-hour hackathons organized by Alexander Konovalov twice a year. Anniversary - the tenth, was held in November 2017. In April 2018, ISDEF Spring will be held at the South IT Park.

    What role does South IT Park play in supporting startups?

    I.Sh: The main areas of support are accelerator and investment sessions. The accelerator of the South IT Park works with projects starting from the idea stage. The foundations of modern entrepreneurship are not taught in universities, so one of the most difficult stages in the life of a novice entrepreneur is to learn how to test ideas with minimal losses. This is supported by the Lean Startup and Customer Development methodologies, which the Southern IT Park accelerator team is well versed in.

    Is it hard to get into the accelerator?

    I.Sh: To get into the accelerator, you must fill out a volume application through the FRII Pre- Accelerator website. Then the applications are reviewed by our friendly team and the most promising projects are invited to start intensive training, which takes place over several days.

    At the starting training, the founders listen to lectures on the most basic topics, do homework, which are then discussed in small groups with trackers, and also participate in business games. After that, looking at the founders of the projects live, we discuss who should be invited to the accelerator. Projects are distributed between trackers and work begins in weekly cycles. Project traction consists of two main events - group tracking takes place on Saturdays, at which the project founders publicly report on their successes for the week and set goals for the next week. In the middle of the week - usually on Wednesdays, trackers conduct individual tracking with projects, during which tasks can be adjusted.

    What takes the most time?

    I.Sh: Usually the first month is spent on finding the target audience and confirming the problems. The second month is spent on developing a value proposition and first sales. Then comes the turn of modeling the economy, developing MVP, testing channels and confirming the convergence of the economic model. By the middle of acceleration, a third of projects fall off because they discover that their proposed product has no demand and they could not come up with anything new. Investment sessions in previous years were held twice a year and were the end of the acceleration program. This year April 12-13 will be held South Demo Day - a large event, which is planned to be done annually.

    Why did you come to South IT Park as a tracker?

    I.Sh: I have long wanted to help beginning IT entrepreneurs on a regular basis. Our guys have great potential, but they lack knowledge and mentors. Personally, working as a tracker gives me the opportunity to share experience and help youth. I would love to work at a university, but the curriculum does not pay enough attention to the development of entrepreneurial skills. For over 6 months now, I have been negotiating the participation of SFedU students in the project training program. Negotiations continue in the “once every 2 months, met, talked and nothing more” mode. Very strong bureaucracy.

    Unlike educational institutions, South IT Park is a very progressive and fast organization, largely thanks to its leaders. The efficiency, foresight and intelligence of Andrei Batrimenko amazes me. It’s very nice to see how your useful suggestions are immediately embedded in the workflow, and for unsuccessful offers you get motivated feedback. I believe that many processes in the accelerator of the South IT Park, thanks to the efforts of Andrei, are much better built than in the Accelerator of the IIDF.

    How can working as a tracker of your own product development help? Results? What happened and failed?

    I.Sh: Working as a tracker, I see the evolution of many ideas. Of course, ideas are often repeated, but nevertheless observation from a close distance allows you to gain experience in various directions much faster than independent attempts to implement something. As a tracker, I also accelerate as an expert.

    Now I am well versed in how to check the prospects of almost any idea in 1-2 weeks. I began to better understand how different promotion channels work. I can assess the prospects of the project and predict its future by talking with the team for 15 minutes.
    I hope to find projects that will be useful in their further development, I will become part of the team, I will help to grow multiple times. Also, I do not exclude my development in the direction of investment analytics.

    What does South IT Park offer in terms of startup support?

    I.Sh: South IT-park provides excellent opportunities for the development of business ideas, and those guys who carefully listen to the recommendations and work intensively achieve success. Unfortunately, we cannot force everyone to work intensively - this is a personal matter for everyone. And not all people are able to listen, draw the right conclusions from communicating with experts. The desire to believe in your idea, contrary to the facts, is inherent in many people and passes only with experience.

    I do not see the disadvantages of the IT park. The existing problems are rather the problems of our country and society. I would like to see more young entrepreneurs, because we work far from the limit and could accelerate twice as many projects. If there were more projects, we could choose stronger teams for acceleration. The low popularity of entrepreneurship is more a consequence of the education system.

    Promising projects receive, with the help of South IT Park, advisory assistance from regional and federal experts, support from the regional administration, and assistance in obtaining grants and investments.

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