Acceleration for a startup using FlowWow as an example

    Accelerators I’m even afraid to calculate how many of them have already been created in the world, and in Russia there are more and more of them. But our team managed to visit the very first and, in my opinion, the most famous accelerators in the Russian Federation now.

    The first one is our dear and very beloved “pioneer camp” of the first Yandex.Start set (our issue is higher in the photo). It so happened that as many as 3 members of the FlowWow team passed this school. Moreover, it was there that we (Vitalik, Artem and I, Makeev Andrey) met.

    It is not for nothing that we called him the pioneer camp. Each of us went to Moscow that summer with the goal of learning new things, joining a cool team or creating our own, and doing startups. Which we did. Everything turned out as if by itself, we all received an incredible boost of energy and the motivation to work productively, united in excellent teams, created the first MVP products and made the first sales. All this was new to us and very pleased.

    True, from that set (there were about seven teams in total), I know only two projects that are still alive. At the same time, one of them has already made pivot, and the second continues to work hard on his product for two years.

    It would seem that this is not the best result. But another thing is more important - thanks to Yandex, teams appeared. This is much more significant than the appearance of the projects themselves.
    Teams with experience in launching startups then re-assemble, test hypotheses, make new products, and after some time some of them shoot. The Flowwow team gathered just from team members of other projects, although it is difficult for me to say whether our project shot or not.

    Yandex.Start is a place where a person changes a lot, gets smarter, gains experience in the field of start-up startups, understands how to start an IT project, how to test a hypothesis in 1 day and much more. Each camp member knows what it is. I want to say many thanks to everyone who does the Tolstoy Startup Camp , the level of organization is very high. If you want to get startup startup experience, don’t even think about going there or not. You definitely have to go!

    Accelerator IIDF

    I must say right away that I am amazed by people who say that 7% of the business that IIDF takes for investments and an acceleration program is a lot. Often, projects that submit applications to the IIDF have only MVP on hand, and at the same time 0 sales.

    Accelerator IIDF is a very strong team, which with each accelerator is only getting better. This is a really cool community and a good ecosystem of IT entrepreneurs who really help each other in the Acceleration process. And this is a moral kick in the ass, which is so lacking for many entrepreneurs.

    We came to the IIDF Accelerator with the first sales, at that time we made about 100 thousand per month of revenue. Now our turnover is already several million per month. What was there, inside the Accelerator, and what did we get from the IIDF? The fund gave us some money, taking a small stake in the company. Accelerator, on the other hand, gave us, first of all, knowledge, already deeper than before at the camp, and specialized - which we needed in the floral and IT direction of ecommerce. In addition, in IIDF we got connections, networking, cool PR (thanks to Masha Lapuk). We got a kick in the ass from Artem Azevich and Dima Kalayev, knowledge about the pitfalls of the venture capital market and investments from Maxim Shteigervald, in-depth knowledge about metrics from Ilya Krasinsky, an external look at our project from mentor Ilya Kurylev,

    But if we talk about internal feelings. If we evaluate the results, then we can distinguish several things.

    We raised revenue 4 times. However, if we talk about absolute numbers, then initially we had only 100 thousand rubles of revenue per month, and after the Accelerator it became 400 thousand. Very little.

    We refused to work with SEO on the advice of Accelerator experts. The reason for this was that it took time to work with SEO, the result from this work would not be right away. In the Accelerator, they try to focus on those channels that can be quickly tested. He formulated a hypothesis, set a task, realized, checked the result, made conclusions, went further. This is a simplified version of the HADI loop. In the Accelerator, this works fine, but the decision to postpone the work with SEO a bit backfired to us. If we then began to do this, now it would be much more comfortable. We started working with SEO only in December 2014. It is important that you always have to blame yourself, the founder of the business, because no matter what program we participate in, we decide whether to listen to the opinions of others or not. Because this is our business, and we are responsible for it,

    What we were able to do during the acceleration period was to increase conversion and adjust business performance so that we could potentially take off. That is, in the IIDF Accelerator, we were preparing a platform for scaling, and we began to do this. Now we have already entered the markets of Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Armenia. At the time of acceleration, the product was still raw, too, our phone was torn from calls from store representatives who could not figure out the interface, or from customers. Now everything is different, it’s very cool to work and do the routine, while orders come in and the phone is silent. This suggests that we have created a really convenient product: customers can already easily order on their own, without calls, which, of course, makes me happy because I’m just the wildest supporter of maximum automation of everything that is possible to save resources and customer convenience. Unfortunately, not everyone in the flower market is such a proponent of automation and ease of service, so we teach our partners these things and provide them with turnkey solutions for our common customers.

    At the traction rallies in the Accelerator, when we discussed with the trackers and other teams the results of the week and plans for the next week, we gradually
    found out that the flower market is very difficult for an IT startup. We faced a lot of problems, for example, we had to force flower shops to change their behavior pattern. Previously, stores received all orders by e-mail, and in order to cooperate with us, they had to learn to log in to their personal account and check orders there. It was also very difficult for stores to get used to the idea that they should pay us for attracting customers, and not customers - overpay for goods. In fact, we are very proud of what we create. There are so many little things to consider in this market. If suddenly you think that you can easily create a Flowwow clone by simply reducing the commission and it will fly, then it’s better to think again. Now there are a lot of free niches on the IT market, and in my opinion, they are much easier in every way, we took up a very difficult direction. However, since we really plunged into it and did a lot for its development, we cannot retreat. We will bear this cross and develop the market until we achieve the desired effect.

    With regard to acceleration, you can tell a bunch of stories, and it first of all comes to me stories about the community: how people there help each other, make friends after each other, meet each other, try to cheer each other up, and somehow help each other in business development. Not everyone has a cool result at the end, but in the Accelerator they put in you an impulse that can work after. My main thought process began after Acceleration, when all time limits had already disappeared. Freedom of action and community are important to us, so the main value of acceleration for me is people, the ecosystem, and the competitive effect. When you see that someone nearby earns more than you, you want to “make it”. This is a matter of the environment: it must be correct.

    The findings are as follows:

    1. If in doubt, go to the camp or not, don’t even think: if you don’t have a good team, go and don’t think, then you will say thank you. :)
    2. IIDF and 7% is a lot for you? Well then, keep sawing the product and wait until someone else just repeats your idea and conquers the market.
    3. If you go to the IIDF Accelerator: everything that Krasinsky or someone else from the IIDF team says can be correct and useful. But before you follow someone’s advice, think carefully, weigh the pros and cons, listen to your intuition, think again and only then make a decision.
    4. Designate your goal: what does “take off” mean for you? Is it a million dollar or a million rubles revenue? What is success for your team? Write a general goal on a piece of paper in front of you and make this figure materialize, and even better - write a list with all your needs, for example, someone will have a new car or apartment. And these needs should converge with a request for money.

    In the next issue, I will ask Slava, the second co-founder of Flowwow, to write an article on metrics: what is important for us, what we consider and what is not, what metrics should be considered for business development, and especially in ecommerce.

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