Fingered startups that don't solve anything
Sometimes it seems that today every self-respecting hipster-computer scientist or humanist-entertainer should have his own startup. A few are desirable. Otherwise, the lads will not understand. Without the prefix co-founder, co-executive, co-creator you are nobody. Better not have an apartment than not have a startup. A homeless person who does not have his own corner, but has his own business - everyone will understand and forgive. They also sign up for students. But to be, like 5-10 years ago, is no longer possible - you will come across as a conservative who is content with little. Boy, where are your dreams? Where are your abbreviations CTO and CEO?
The word “startup,” which harmoniously ranks with pearls such as smoothies, solyushn, cupcake, and coworking, however, took on the same vague and blurry form as “God” and “ Love ”- everyone puts something different in this word. And when two ignoramuses meet and start up discussing startups, their delusion only multiplies. So let's start with the definition that Wiki gives:
Startup (from the English start-up start) is a company with a short history of operating activities. As a rule, such companies were created recently and are in the development or research stage of promising markets.
This definition should be printed in a thicker bundle and always carried with you. When in the next cafe or coworking the next home-grown CTO or CEO pronounces the word “start-up”, you can safely go up to him and whip this bundle over your arrogant red beard. Because a startup is primarily a company. Let even while unprofitable.
In our country, this word is used wherever possible. With or without. Like a nervous tick.
A question that haunts many: why is every second hipster in Kiev a startup, but lives with his parents and eats shawarma? The definition of the word “startup” from the English-speaking Wiki will help shed light on this riddle:
A startup company or a startup is a business
A business , also known as an enterprise or a firm, is an organization involved in the trade of goods, services, or both to consumers
That is, a startup is a business that should be profitable, otherwise why is it needed at all? Given that the vast majority of Ukrainian startups have a very vague idea of profit - “well, we will earn money on advertising” and “try to sell ourselves as soon as possible” - it is not surprising that few of them even go to zero.
A startup that is not built around profitability is the same oxymoron as a non-profit business. So, maybe you should call a spade a spade?
- Oh, do you have a startup?
- No, a volunteer project.
- No, I'm just messing around.
Above, I mentioned selling a startup. For more than 10 years, as many Ukrainian pioneer startups have been creating products and services for the sole purpose of having time to sell. Preferably at the peak. Otherwise, you may not have time and the flimsy design on crutches will fall apart right in the hands of the buyer.
I once had a friend who was doing his startup, when in Ukraine this was not the mainstream yet. Back in 2005, he, of course, did not think about the business itself or about profit. Not. The main thing was to “sound out” and sell out as soon as possible. Preferably for a million.
If you want to put the Ukrainian startups to a dead end, ask him to name three world famous Ukrainian startup .
Most likely, it will be called Petcube , which recently attracted $ 1.1 million in investment. That seems to be all. But a friend suggests that he uses a kind of useful Presentain that helps create interactive presentations (but you haven’t heard anything about him, right?). Another project with an inadequate business model: you can’t buy the application, you can only subscribe to a certain number of presentations, slidecasts and surveys.
Scraped a couple of pieces. But two is not enough. Diving in!
AIN review of a year ago “10 most promising Ukrainian startups” :
- PetCube - Robot Pet Warden
- CheckiO - game for programmers
- Coppertino - player for Mac OS
- Hashtago - a platform for working with hashtags
- Pics.io - Google Docs for Photos
- EnableTalk - “smart” gloves that allow you to talk
- iBlazr - flash for smartphones
- Jeapie - Mobile Marketing Solution
- Pure - Mobile Dating App
- uGift - certificate sales service
A quick look at this list suggests that start-ups in Ukraine are in full view, but in fact the exhaust is zero.
How innovative can these projects be?
Not without a stretch such can only be called Petcube, which won the Europas startup competition in 2014, “smart” EnableTalk gloves and a flash for iBlazr smartphones. Everything else is either trash (like, for example, a game for programmers or hashtags), or approximate versions of what was already there - social accounts and file storages.
We often call projects innovative, although they are not. Take the same “Restaurant of the Future” by Dmitry Kostik, which for some reason is called the “revolutionary project”. Where is revolution if interactive tables have been around the world for more than five years? For example, in London .
But back to our sheep.
Why goat button accordion?
PetCube is, in fact, another useless gadget. What if a person appreciates the private life of a cat more than his own peace of mind? Do you really need a laser pointer with a camera, if in the evening you still see your pet? And if you leave for a few days or weeks, you will still give it to your friend. The PetCube will not take out the tray and the whiskas will not unpack. In fact, this is another expensive swell ($ 199), which is useful only to a blonde who does not need to work, but who wants to play laser with her cat, sitting on a manicure. Needless to say, such syusyukany only spoil him more?
iBlazr - why does the phone need a separate flash? Self-respecting photographers shoot on professional photo equipment, where everything is there. At worst, the same phone has a flash. But let's say I don’t understand something and be this gadget. How often do we use flash? When are we going to the club? “Honey, please take iBlazr so that the club photos come out brighter.” So yes, an important thing.
EnableTalk is perhaps the only startup worthy of attention, because it (surprise!) Is trying to solve the real, and not far-fetched problem of "no one to play with the cat", "without flash my Instagram photos are not the same." No wonder he won first place at the Microsoft Imagine Cup. Here is only one trouble - it was already in 2012, but there was no funding. For some reason, no one wants to invest in the development of gloves that could be useful to people with disabilities.
There is such a category of startups that you will not name otherwise than spam. A striking example is TshirtAbout.Me - a service that allows you to order a T-shirt with an image of your Facebook profile. The fact that the idea of a T-shirt, which "allows you to instantly present yourself to the interlocutor," completely sucked out of the finger, we will not even talk. It's obvious. Another thing is interesting: the startup was planning to sell 10 thousand t-shirts in the first 6 months. And in 2 years - 1 million T-shirts in the global market. That is, even if you imagine that with one T-shirt there would be at least $ 1 profit, the author of the idea expected at least $ 1 million in income. And although for two years now the startup’s FB-strategy has not been updated, the hope of steaming it at least for 30 thousand dollars remains.
TshirtAbout.Me planned to produce 1369 T-shirts per day, while the company was more solid, but more modest - United Pixelworkers, talking about its know-how in football printing, considered printing and sending 1000 T-shirts a month a good achievement . Whereas TshirtAbout.Me during their entire existence sold no more than a thousand T-shirts. The difference is obvious.
These very successful guys, who nevertheless closed after a few years , managed to share the bitter truth that “Don’t think you're going to get rich selling t-shirts. This is a labor of love. "
All these startups leave behind Internet junk, which is stored on different sites and in the cache of search engines, confusing those people who are looking for real startups, and not a parody of them.
Speaking of parodies, a rare example of an honest startup:
Thousands of them!
According to the managing partner of AVentures Capital Evgeny Sysoev, at the moment there are about 2,000 Ukrainian startups. The same figure is confirmed by the head of the supervisory board of the Association of International Investors (UVCA) Andrei Kolodyuk.
At Y Combinator, every tenth startup is successful . Of the 10 thousand applicants, about 500 pass the competition, and about 50 projects are already firing from them. A thousand startups have already passed through our Microsoft BizSpark. And where is it all? At least one percent, at least someone, at least statistically had to shoot something. Zero. One gets the impression that most startups are sawn in order to light up, add a line on Linkedin, flatter pride, but nothing more.
A spoon of honey
There are more or less useful startups that solve real problems. For example Preply , which allows you to search for tutors. But for now, he does not buzz as close as loudly as Duolingo or Chinesepod , which was written about in CNN, NBC, The Economist, NY Times, Financial Times, The Guardian. And this is unlikely to happen.
Or LUN - real estate search service. But, again, there is nothing radically new and innovative in it. There are dozens of such real estate search sites. There is no need to talk about the international market either.
Perhaps Tinkov was right when he determined the main problem: “Startups drink smoothies, poke on tablets and don’t think about profit . ”
Thousands of unknown Ukrainian startups are bent over a couple of months after launch. On the one hand, this, of course, is better than nothing. On the other - what is the meaning of this endless attack on the rake? When a startup’s success is determined not by its profitability or real benefits, but by its original name, stylish design and “unusual” presentation.
The reasons for the failure of Ukrainian startups
1) 70 years of a scoop, with all its “charms” like genocides, famines and dispossession of a working, thinking, initiative population. Slave mentality, fear, the habit of working through the sleeves - all this does not pass without a trace.
2) A well-fed life and unwillingness to take risks. A developer who gets 10 times more than a mere mortal is not interested in launching a profitable startup. What for? 1-2k greens will not make the weather. That is, there is no incentive. Now, if, as it happens in developed countries like the UK, a programmer would get as much as a policeman (in our opinion 3k hryvnia), then the conversation would be different. Then there would be an incentive. Today, the main motive of the Ukrainian startup is vanity and / or interest. When profits are in second place, there is no need for a person to take risks.
3) Professional features. Developers are for the most part closed-off silent loners who prefer to while away evenings at the computer. While entrepreneurship requires pumped-up communication skills with non-programmers, business acumen, and the ability to spin. Speaking of grasping, it was with the talented programmer Bill Gates and the non-programmer Steve Jobs. Yes, and Larry Alisson, like Zuckerberg, although he was not a programming giant, but he had something that our startups lack. Entrepreneurial vein?
4) Pseudostatus. When a startup is created not in order to solve real problems, but in order for the next startup to the left of the surname to have the prefix CEO, CTO or variations of “co-”. They say that “co-” can even be given for a birthday. “Dear Zina! On this significant day, I regret the title of cofounder of my project to you! ”
It seems that most Ukrainian startups are focused on three types of activities:
My teacher abroad, a former KGB officer, loved to say, "He who lives by other people's labor, he lives by another's mind." Looking at hundreds of clones of Western startups, I begin to understand the meaning of this phrase. But “living” is said very strongly, because even a fully inclined start-up shoots like a shotgun hanging on the wall once a year. We laughed together at the Chinese, who copy everything from clothes to telephones, but for some reason we don’t laugh at domestic clones of groups and message boards. Why are we better than the Chinese?
Boil it as soon as possible
This is well said Tinkoff: "Lit investors, loot prosrali raised a new round - and so on ad infinitum" . Imagine a mother who immediately after a day nursery tries to fuse her child into another family. What will we say about her? And yet, almost every Ukrainian startup, even before the beta launch of his project, is trying to fuse it with someone. But if the project is so beautiful and profitable, why not leave it to yourself? It smacks of a rich man in the style who rose by writing the book How to Get Rich. Created a profitable startup to sell it; gave birth to a child to give him away.
So until we change our mentality and begin to consider a startup as a business that solves real problems, and not just as fun for pumping FWM, our country will be famous only for outsourcing. Do we need the glory of India?
Let's say our noname startups found investors. Once they wrote about their project, after which the project was worked out for someone. All. Nothing more is heard of these people. This is a feature of Ukrainian startups. In the west, differently. Take the same Dropbox - its creator Drew Houston and five years later continues to work on it. Or take, for example, Evan Williams, who was at the forefront of Twitter. When he decided to leave his post of CEO in 2010, he announced that he remained with the company to “be fully focused on the production strategy”. That is, even dumping, he stayed. Because beloved children are not abandoned.
If the parent abandons his child, as was the case with Instagram creator Kevin Systr, then he pays for it by observing the fivefold growth of his project in a strange family. On the other hand, he at least profitably sold his brainchild to Facebook, which cannot be said about our non-startups.
How to get out of the situation
Firstly, you should stop calling everything a startup. Secondly, if you really want to make a startup, you should first learn entrepreneurship. For example, sell a cat or put up a tent on the market. Thirdly, you should reflash the definition of the word “startup” in your head. No, this is not a site written on my knees that magically brings a million. This is primarily a business whose task is to make a profit and scale, or at least bring benefits. Fourthly, it is time to stop looking at peers with the prefixes co-, CEO and CTO. If you really want a title for yourself, then there is always a CFO (Chief Fun Officer).
Perhaps, after such a “flashing” our startups will begin to move from smoothies to fruits, from tablets to computers and from form to content.