вторник, 27 декабря 2011 г.

Advice on business literature from Helen Edwards

A new selection of business literature from SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager Helen Edwards will help you know better BRIC countries. Read about what is in store for India, why Chinese consumers are worth special attention, what N-11 is and how global energy is forecast to develop.

1. India inside: the emerging innovation challenge to the west
Nirmalya Kumar and Phanish Puranam
Harvard Business Review Press, 2012.
xv, 177 pages
ISBN: 9781422158753

This book asks the question: can India transition from "outsourced and made in India" to "imagined and owned in India". Despite India's success at becoming the back office of the world, there are not yet Indian innovations to match Google, iPods and Viagra. But there is much invisible innovation including R&D centres for multinationals and for outsourcing; process innovation especially the injection of intelligence to how routine operations are carried out; and management innovation in global service delivery. Using comprehensive research into data and interviews with Indian managers, the authors show how these strengths, and the focus on frugal engineering and making affordable products, constitutes very real innovation with much more to come.

2. As China goes so goes the world: how Chinese consumers are transforming everything
Karl Gerth
Hill and Wang, 2010.
vii, 258 pages
ISBN: 9780809034291

At the time of writing Chinese consumer spending was less than half of that of the United States, but already more than Japan and are closing in on the European Union. Chinese consumers are rapidly acquiring western tastes from eating meat in fast food outlets to luxury vacations. This book explores the collective implications of individual consumer choice for China and the rest of the world. Chapters cover the new car culture, wealth and inequality, modern retailing, the rise of brands and the parallel industry of fakes and counterfeits, extreme market such as endangered species and foreign adoptions, and the environmental implications.

вторник, 20 декабря 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO graduated MBA

The original text in Russian is available on Finparty.ru

Last Friday the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO second intake celebrated its graduation party. Andrei Rappoport, President of the School, and Gor Nakhapetyan, managing director of Troika Dialog, saw the graduates off to their freewheeling.

The graduation party started almost half an hour later – unprecedented Friday traffic jams kept several parents back, so they didn’t manage it to the diploma presentation, and some prominent guests arrived later than it was planned as well.

Elegant graduates who had just passed their final examinations were seated in the familiar Singapore auditorium where they were presented with their student IDs by Lee Kuan Yew, Prime Minister of that country. On the other hand the diplomas were presented in a working atmosphere; the School Founding partners were represented by Gor Nakhapetyan only. The graduates await a more festive ceremony in summer.

The opening speech was delivered by Andrei Rappoport, newly appointed President of the School. “SKOLKOVO as a school can only realize itself when you become successful. So, bring all you opportunities to life, be an example for the future students, and we are going to promote ourselves with your help”, declared Rappoport. Lots of shots flashed on a big screen: school weekdays, trips to China, India and the USA and, surely, parties. Frames with Ruben Vardanyan, Ex-President of the School, and Wilfried Vanhonacker, who recently left SKOLKOVO, beloved by everybody, were perceived especially warm.

понедельник, 19 декабря 2011 г.


The student life on the Executive MBA programme is not limited with only educational modules. In the course of studying students gather in groups of interest, create their own clubs and go on different trips.

We have already told you about the rally from Moscow to Vladivostok and the round tables dedicated to various infrastructures, about the trip to Hong Kong aimed at assessment of business opportunities in Asia, etc.

Today we would like to tell you about the first foreign trip of the SKOLKOVO EMBA fifth group that started their studying in November 2011.

Taking the advantage of a break between modules, the students set off to the sunny Alma-Ata. The destination wasn’t chosen by guess – there four representatives of the Republic of Kazakhstan in the group. Yerlan Balgarin, Dastan Abdulgafarov, Yerbol Ismailov and Baurzhan Baymukhanov initiated the so called Alma-Ata module that took place over 8-11 December, 2011.

The EMBA-5 group was represented by 10 students: Konstantin Mashansky, Pavel Zubkov, Grigory Golubnichy, Alexander Zaytsev, Vasily Kuztetsov, Andreas Savvidis, Andrey Shein, Oleg Dyatkevich, Nikolay Lebedovsky, and Andrey Tokarev.

пятница, 16 декабря 2011 г.

Investors Day at SKOLKOVO

The final and the most serious module of the SKOLKOVO MBA programme is the drafting of individual start-up projects by students. The theoretical basis given during the first four months as well as projects in the corporate, state and social spheres were only a kind of preparation and training for the major individual work – creation of their own business.

Within two autumn months the students had to mobilize all their crafts, skills and knowledge and to present a made-up project by December. Entrepreneurial grasp, sconce, new bonds and experience – all these are brought in action with full force in order to present an actual, competitive, demanded and important for the society project.

Lawrence Wright, SKOLKOVO Start-up Project Director, manages this complicated stage of the studying and helps the students. Understanding the significance of creation of an entrepreneurial ecosystem, where new ideas and projects would be born, brought up and formed, this year Lawrence Wright has established the SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club, an open community that now spreads beyond the School as well. Perhaps you’ve already attended one of the Club’s meetings, haven’t you? In November the final event of this year took place, but starting from the next year the Club will go on with its meetings on the hospitable SKOLKOVO Campus. Follow up the news and join us!

The key event of the start-up module is the Investor Day when teams present their projects directly in front of those who may be interested. On December, 2, representatives of large investment funds and private investors gathered n the Campus in order to express their expert opinion concerning each of them and to name the winners. Among investors were Gor Nakhapetyan and Andrei Vakulenko (Troika Dialog), Phillipe Delpal (Orient Express Bank), Alexey Belyakov (i2BF), Denis Alexandrov (SKOLKOVO Executive MBA graduate, Investment company A1), etc.

понедельник, 12 декабря 2011 г.

What chances do brands take to conquer emerging markets? - an article by Helen Edwards

Here is the translation of the article by Helen Edwards, SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager, published on Slon.ru. The original text in Russian is available here.

What chances do brands take to conquer emerging markets?

Multinational corporations producing foodstuff will not expend by means of developed markets. If your strategy doesn’t include emerging countries, you are already lagging behind. In the October issue of Harvard Business Review Bill Johnson, CEO of Heinz, notes that the interest of emerging markets in the company’s common income will make 20% this year. For instance, a couple of years ago it was less than 5%, under the Heinz calculation, by the year 2015 will exceed 30%. However even in case of global brands you have to adjust them to the tastes, needs and preferences of the locals. Otherwise nobody will buy your cow.

According to Datamonitor more than 20 000 new foodstuffs emerge in the world every year. The majority of them will disappear haven’t even managed to make a statement. Martin Lindstrom, brand expert, notes that the aim of a really successful global brand is to become identic in the whole world and share the same core values. And it does not only concern the same logo for all world countries, a brand must have a global meaning. In his books “Brand Sense“ and “Buyology” Mr Lindstrom highlights that a brand values exactly because of its emotional bonds with people.

It’s generally assumed that the majority of brands strives to influence visual perception. Meanwhile it’s time to focus on sounds, smells, taste and tactual sensations as well. Have you noticed the sound of an opening lid in beer advertisements? And Coca-Cola tries to express via sounds sensations from the first gulp; Pringles is advertised by means of crunching crisps. A try to influence all the five senses at the same time is of great importance because the taste of the same product may vary in different countries. And they may be served differently as well. For instance, in Korea ketchup Heinz is usually used to complement pizza but not fries. And in Papua-New Guinea the Johnson&Johnson baby dust is never applied to children as it is meant for funerals.

пятница, 9 декабря 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club meeting: “Strategy is a dream confined by a deadline”

On November, 30, the fifth, and the final one this year, SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club meeting took place (read about the previous one here). We are glad that every time our Club gathers a large friendly company united by common interests and strivings. We’d like to thank all our guests and speakers for a wonderful evening!

This time two visiting experts performed at the meeting, they are Alexey Komissarov and Alexey Kapterev.

Alexey Komissarov, head of the Department of science, industrial policy and enterprise of Moscow, shared his own experience of creating of a technological business from the ground up, told the guests about mistakes and challenges he had to face on his way from the first laboratory in a small room with secondhand equipment to a large company with revenue more than $50 million that has made a technological breakthrough.

“Strategy is a dream confined by a deadline”

вторник, 6 декабря 2011 г.

The Rapid Ascendency of the Emerging World’s Financial Market - a new SIEMS research

It is clear that the global financial markets have already entered a new era. For most of the past thirty years, their rapid growth was driven by today’s developed world. In the course of less than a decade, however, a new set a players, the emerging market economies, are driving much of the new growth in global financial activity. While the consequences of the global financial crisis will take many years to play themselves out, it is clear that the crisis has greatly quickened the relative ascendency of the emerging world’s financial markets.

We present to your attention a new report of the SKOLKOVO Institute for Emerging Market Studies (SIEMS), which examines a large swath of financial market indicators to assess just how far the emerging economies have increased their financial development and strength over the past decade. This brief review will give key theses, analysis data and SIEMS experts’ conclusions.

The Great Risk Compression

By far the most important development in the emerging financial markets over the past decade has been the massive compression in perceived risk. Emerging markets (EMs) have traditionally been characterized by having much higher levels of financial risk relative to developed economies.

For the first time, some EM market countries are now judged to be less risky borrowers than several western European countries. Some analysts have voiced concern over the scale of the inflows into EM debt securities since the end of the global crisis, viewing the risk premiums as entirely too narrow for economies that are still “emerging”. Others, however, believe that fundamentally, EMs are just a lot less leveraged now and simply have the financial strength to repay their loans.

среда, 30 ноября 2011 г.

Food Prices: Drivers and Welfare Impacts in Emerging Market Economies - a new SIEMS research

Growing protests against high food prices in both the developing and developed world have elevated food prices to one of the top issues in the international agenda. Global food price increases in recent years have been astronomical. However, if unabated, these price increases threaten to erase much of the gains in poverty reduction that have been achieved in the last decade and reduce the growth rate of the most dynamic emerging market economies.

In their new Research «Food Prices: Drivers and Welfare Impacts in Emerging Market Economies» SIEMS experts offer a preliminary diagnostic of some of the important factors which may have contributed to the immediate crisis. Some of these factors are more immediate and possibly short-term in nature while other factors will impact countries’ food security in the medium- to longer-term.

The Figure below summarizes the content of this article and illustrates a preliminary “anatomy” of the present global food crisis.

Food Price Drivers

Short-term external factors: 

FINANCIAL SPECULATION. There is suggestive evidence that there is indeed a speculative bubble at least in some commodities. It is difficult to reconcile such abrupt volatility and sharp increases in some commodities with changes in fundamentals. The role of index investors has increased substantially, bringing a new class of investor and a new way of investing into commodity markets.

HIGHER OIL PRICES. The higher price of petroleum has helped raise the costs for producing agricultural commodities (namely the costs of fertilizers, some of which are petroleum-based), thus creating add-on effects to the cost of production and productivity.

GOVERNMENT POLICIES. Authorities have responded in a variety of ways to meet the challenges related to the recent increases in food prices. Some of these policies are meant to secure a country’s food stocks and keep domestic prices affordable, including applying taxes on exports, export ceilings or bans.

Medium- to long-term external factors:

RISING AND CHANGING PATTERNS OF FOOD CONSUMPTION. Global demographic changes and changing patterns of income distribution over the next fifty years are expected to lead to an increased general demand for food, as well as different patterns of food consumption. It is predicted that global cereal demand will increase by 75 percent between 2000 and 2050, while global demand for meat is expected to double during that same period. The increase in demand for the latter also implies a concurrent increase in feedstock demand. It is expected that more than three-fourths of this growth in demand for both cereals and meat will be accounted for by developing countries, notably China and India.

вторник, 29 ноября 2011 г.

An article by Pierre Casse: "Manager or leader - feel the difference"

Here is the translation of the article by Pierre Casse, the SKOLKOVO professor, published last week in his personal blog on the Vedomosti Newspaper. The original text in Russian is available here.

The difference between a leader and a manager can be explained in two words: the first inspires, the second directs. The only problem is that leaders are born, and managers are trained. And these two lines can be really seldom found in one person. However if a company lacks both there will be soon no company as well.

Hardly there is an employee who can’t tell you what is being wrongly run at his work and what is to be done for everything to work better. It’s generally assumed that how to cure and to teach people acquire from the very childhood and without any graduation. Thus it’s even more surprising that work of many companies is inefficiently built. And it is good if a manager timely notices a problem.

Having achieved the needed financial results, Jim Adamson, Ex-CEO of NCR (Dundee Scontland), announced, “From now on I’m going to spend 80% of my working time on removal of barriers on my employees’ way so they could run faster”. Jeffrey immelt, CEO of General Electric, has expressed a similar opinion more than once as well, just may be not so vividly. According to Mr Immelt from the moment he occupied his position he had to spend at least one third of his time on communication with employees in order to understand what they would like to have and what is lacking for better work conditions. Such work, sometimes bureaucratic and dull, doesn’t have much in common with the high concept of leadership.

The essence of management is to create an atmosphere, depending on the company’s character, where it would be comfortable for people to work and as easy as possible reach their best results. There are lots of factors that a manager has to consider. How to build the system of the employee-manager interaction, how to launch processes of internal communication and even how to organize the vacation schedule is to be taken care of.

понедельник, 21 ноября 2011 г.

Advice on business literature from Helen Edwards

A new selection of business literature from SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager Helen Edwards - read, discuss and advise the most interesting books!

1. Poor economics: a radical rethinking of the way to fight global poverty
Abhjihit Banerjee and Esther Duflo
PublicAffairs, 2011.
320 pages
ISBN: 978-1586487980

Winner of the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2011, this book reveals the lives of the 850 million people who live on less than a dollar a day. By a process of randomised controlled trials throughout the world, the researchers test the impact of policies designed to help poor people. They found that the billions of dollars spent on government, NGO and charity sponsored programmes can be based on untested assumptions, characterised by ideology, inertia and ignorance. Also the perilous existence endured by the very poor can affect their decision making, so that seemingly beneficial opportunities are not taken up. This book maps out a third way between those in favour of foreign aid and those who believe it does no good.

2. Willful blindness: why we ignore the obvious at our peril
Margaret Heffernan
Simon & Schuster, 2011.
391 pages
ISBN: 9781847377708

Also shortlisted for the FT Goldman Sachs Business Book of the Year 2011, Margaret Heffernan looks into the concept of wilful blindness, defined as that which you could and should have known, but deliberately determine not to see. The book explores such concepts as "just following orders" and "out of sight out of mind" where people play their part in activities while shielding themselves from acknowledging their full impact. Systems also have much to answer for by dissipating information and reducing individual responsibility and by maintaining competitive corporate cultures which provoke conformity.

3. The rare find: spotting exceptional talent before everyone else
George Anders
Portfolio Penguin, 2011.
276 pages
ISBN: 9780670920945

Instead of asking if a candidate or employee is good enough, this book explores how to identify those people with spectacular potential. Despite availability of ever more data, when it comes to spotting the stirrings of genius, conventional selection processes often miss the very people able to make the most impact. The author discusses the jagged resume, talent that whispers and talent that shouts, using stories from the performance industries - sport, the arts and entertainment- , the high stakes business of finance and IT and public service - the military, teaching, government and medicine. Examples include the Facebook puzzle page where computer programmers can submit their solutions to problems, through which Facebook has recruited some extraordinary talent which would never have passed standard hiring routes.

четверг, 17 ноября 2011 г.

11/11/11 at SKOLKOVO: secrets of getting to know people

On 11.11.11 an event in an unusual form took place at SKOLKOVO. Our guests has a chance to meet 11 SKOLKOVO MBA representatives “face-to-face” sticking to the speed dating rules. Each had just 11 minutes to tell about himself, to win the companion’s favour, to ask for advice or to get answers to his questions.

At 11.11 AM sharply the event started, and for more than two hours our guests were wandering between the tables to meet the SKOLKOVO experts. The event ran extremely actively; there were even cases of competition for a place at this or that business-school representative’s table. As a result everybody was delighted and after the end of the official part had an opportunity to continue discussion with the most interesting companion over a coffee. And our 11th guest received a souvenir – a book from the SKOLKOVO series.

We also engaged ourselves in the form of brief meetings and held a rapid quiz of the SKOLKOVO representatives. Find out opinions of our experts on how it’s better to proceed during the first meeting and what should be avoided, and discover the secrets of entering the SKOLKOVO MBA programme.

1. How should one introduce himself, proceed and what should he talk about you in order to impress you?

Lawrence Wright, SKOLKOVO start-up projects director, he also leads SKOLKOVO entrepreneurial eco-system:
«I suppose the key secret is to inspire the companion. One should focus on his own vision. People just can’t remember much information, that is why one should speak clearly about the project concept, explain why it’s important and offer a couple of others short points that are easy to keep in mind».

Tatiana Scherban, SKOLKOVO Director of Career Development and Admission department:
«People are my key occupation; I work with people, that is why each person is interesting for me».

Nadezhda Kuznetsova, in charge of Students’ Individual and Career development:

«Presence of personality makes the strongest impression. If a person is vivid, interested, if he has his own opinion, it will be always fascinating to talk to him. If a person speaks so or has such questions that show that he has an outlook, has dreams, that he differs from others, he will be always welcomed at SKOLKOVO».

Stepan Kolesnechenko, SKOLKOVO MBA student of the third intake:
«People who have already achieved something, who clearly understand what they need, make the strongest impression on me. The point is that many don’t have a strong opinion why they are here, what they want and what the result is going to be. No dream, no dear purpose. For sure, in the process new ideas come, some drive appears. However if a person enters a business-school and invests a significant sum of money, he should understand why he does it, why it is interesting for him. He should have the entrepreneurial spirit inside, his eyes should glow. And I suppose that the future of SKOLKOVO is based on people who have this drive, who understand that they invest money on this stage, but they are already living another life, in some other condition where this money doesn’t play any role».

Irina Linnik, SKOLKOVO MBA Alumni, graduated 2010, co-founder of "Knopka Zhizni":
«People buy you as a personality but not the words you speak out. That is why it is the worst variant when people try to adjust to the companion. Be yourself, be self-confident, don’t spell out everything that crosses your mind but try to deliver the information that could be interesting for the companion. If you came to find something out, you should listen more than talk».

среда, 9 ноября 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club meeting: “A good entrepreneur with a bad idea is more likely to succeed than a bad entrepreneur with a good idea”

On October, 26, another meeting of SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club took place (read here about the September meeting). The number of our guests rises, and this time we were happy to welcome more than 100 people united by the idea of enterprise! We would like to thank all our guests and speakers for a wonderful evening, especially Lawrence Wright, founder and moderator of the Club who every time finds and invites interesting people ready to share their experience.

For the first time the meeting started with a first film performance, namely, a documentary about history of Alaska, various cultures mixed there and Russian culture in particular. The film is made in a modern way with a good spirit; it inspires and leaves a lot to think about. After the show Elena Golubeva, director of the film, told everybody how the film had been created and how that work had pulled together her team. She also mentioned that she had plans to launch the film on TV.

After that, traditionally, performances of the speakers started.

Kendrick White, Executive director of Marchmont Capital Partners in Nijniy Novgorod, shared his experience in management of Russian companies and venture investment. . Kendrick supposes that there are lots of ideas in Russia that cost more than gas and oil, but if no venture specialists to cooperate with scientists are found, these ideas will be left dying in laboratories. At the end of the day scientists can’t work alone – they should interact with the outer world.

“There are lots of talented, genius people in Russia. However the science is totally separated from business-processes nowadays. This is the core problem”.

In order to solve this problem Kendrick proposes to organize a group of specialists in each Russian city which will help scientists to promote their ideas. However the issue of trust and communication is still left as people, incubators and companies almost don’t communicate with each other.

After all Mr White recommended several books, the whole list may be found on the SKOLKOVO Library page.

One of the brightest quotation by Mr Kendrick White:
“Driving force of progress, economy, innovations, everything is individual motivation”.

среда, 2 ноября 2011 г.

Anna Puzey, SKOLKOVO: “Studying turned out to be harder than work”

Former marketing director for Arbat Capital, and now a student of the third intake of SKOLKOVO MBA programme, is sharing her impressions after two months of studies.

8 weeks have passed since I started my SKOLKOVO studies. Since then I have heard 6 courses, solved around 60 cases and passed 10 exams; two times a week we have met businessmen of Dmitry Grishin’s level (Mail.ru Group); I had a picture with Medvedev (my mom is pleased now); and I learned some basics of Chinese (the Russian part of our group is studying Chinese).

The only thing is that it all turned out a bit different than I expected. That’s why I will try to dispel some myths here again, this time about MBAs, basing on my SKOLKOVO experience, and also to give some advice to those who are choosing a programme for themselves now.

Studying turned out to be harder than work

When I was preparing to my GMAT exam, I thought that scoring 710 at it is the hardest thing about the whole MBA idea. As one of my classmates at pre-MBA courses told, “The thing is to get yourself into it, and then we’ll see”. Well, I’m afraid to disappoint some of you who are not really ready to stick to some intellectual labor – but here is the picture of my study materials for two weeks. Actually, all the first months at SKOLKOVO are pretty intense; this is done to prepare the students for corporate projects (all in all we are to pass through 6 projects).

понедельник, 31 октября 2011 г.

An interview with Alexander Osterwalder: "Recession is the best time to try out new stuff"

In October Alexander Osterwalder, the author of bestseller Business Model Generation, held a workshop for SKOLKOVO students. Alex has given a short interview to us. You can read the text or view a video version (below).

If you are interested in this topic, you can also read his last year's interview, where Alex Osterwalder told about his approach to teaching business models.

- Your book has come out in Russian. What would you like to say to your Russian readers before they open your book?

- Enjoy it! Play around with business models, try out things and particularly try to do things differently. Go beyond what already exists, don’t just copy. I think great businesses are those that go beyond copying, they try out new stuff.

- What do you think of the SKOLKOVO students? Have you noticed anything interesting?

- What I like in the MBA students, for example, is that they like to push back. They don’t just take things, they are critical and I think it’s very good to ask questions. And when it comes to the EMBA, it’s very interesting how curious they are learning new things and trying new things. And the projects I was able to work on, they were putting a lot of energy into them.

среда, 26 октября 2011 г.

"The Political dimension of doing good"- a new SIEMS research

Corporate social responsibility (CSR) is conventionally defined as the social involvement, responsiveness and accountability of companies in addition to their core profit activities and beyond the requirements of the law. And the question is how these and those companies build relations through CSR.

The state has instrumental reasons to promote CSR policies, which could be conducive to competing with other countries for foreign direct investment, enhancing the domestic companies’ international competitiveness, as well as maintaining social stability. Depending on strength of pressure that the companies were under, a nature of relations between business and the state has been changing from period to period.

In a new SIEMS research report "The Political dimension of doing good: managing the state through CSR in Russia and China" you will find management strategies for relations of Russian and Chinese companies with the state through CSR. In this brief review we will give key statements, analytical results and SIEMS experts’ conclusions.

The political dimension of this process in China and Russia is particularly important. States in China and Russia control crucial resources for the business, used to intervene in the business operation and maintain a regulatory system full of uncertainty. In this context CSR could be a useful tool for companies to access political resources and reduce political risks.

Below we give different ways of using CSR to meet demands on managing relations with the state, and show how CSR active Chinese and Russian companies gain state resources through CSR.

вторник, 25 октября 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO students at the MIT start-up lab

Alexey Kushner, current SKOLKOVO MBA student, is sharing his impressions about an unusual weekend of September 16-18, which he spent at the MIT start-up laboratory.

In the end of their corporate module in the United States, SKOLKOVO students had a chance to take part in an unusual event named “MIT t=0” where participants are supposed to develop a business idea during a weekend. This event is held mostly for the new students of MIT in order to show them some success start-ups created by the graduates of various programmes (Master’s, PhD, MBA, Executive MBA). Everyone has an opportunity to work at the start-up laboratory for two intense days, supported by experts from various industries.

So here are Alexey’s impressions:

“On Friday night we started with 22 ideas presented by their holders in speeches of 30 seconds each. There were ideas for various spheres, but half of them were devoted to IT. One of IT projects was called “Stop developing web sites abroad!” and proposed creating a web-developing company where local computer students could work. Every idea-holder has a opportunity to communicate with people presented and create a team of different specialists, supporters, friends and those who want to have an extreme weekend.

Only 11 teams could make it till Saturday’s morning, most of them being IT projects. In the beginning of the day the teams presented three questions to audience, each. It is surprising but almost every question had someone to answer it with ready decisions and suggestions. While the teams were presenting, there were personal connections born and interesting networks organized. That was a terrific creative process!
In the evening we heard some expert speeches which gave us some good thoughts and useful information. It turned out that during the last month in Boston’s ecosystem there were very 20 companies which successfully raised funds, 19 were bought, two applied for IPO and one was listed.

Later this night there were several 5-minute presentations of successful start-ups by MIT graduates. And that was impressive! For instance, the OnChip Power company is working at commercialization of mini voltage transformer and has already attracted some venture funding. Another company, Ubiquitous Energy, which is working on sun batteries which can be printed on paper with a special printer, is developing on its own funds in order to increase its capitalization before attracting external investors.

пятница, 21 октября 2011 г.

Coupons and discounts: business digging its own pit - an article by Helen Edwards

Here is the translation of the article by Helen Edwards, SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager, published on Slon.ru. The original text in Russian is available here.

Coupons and discounts:
business digging its own pit

If you are willing to get a large discount for a product or service – ask your friends how, as they probably have already discovered the world of coupons. Popularity Sites as Groupon or Biglion become more and more popular. But are they really that efficient for sellers and buyers? And which coupons are worth buying? Finally, will the growth of coupons in the social media continue in the future or is it just a fad with which people are already getting disillusioned?

There is nothing new about coupons. In USA paper coupons have been around for over 100 years, mostly offering discounts on groceries. Highest usage of coupons in the US was during the recession of the 1990s where coupon redemption reached 7.7 billion US dollars in 1992. But, as the economy recovered and as some stores began to focus on everyday low prices, by 2006 redemption was down to 2.6 billion dollars.

Now coupon use is on the rise again although not yet at the level of 1992. We see the rise of the fashionable use of coupons for services amongst a new demographic of younger and more affluent consumers, as well as the rise of popularity of specialized TV shows that help save money and plan family budget. Such TV shows have appeared on the Russian screens as well; the participants of “Couponomania” show (that is running on one of the channels and rapidly getting its viewers) manage to lower the prices from, say, $2000 to several cents. It may seem that such a fashion is advantageous both for the sellers and the buyers, as the products are rapidly sold and the customer may return and become a regular client. But actually producers may dig their own pit when taking part in this coupon fashion.

понедельник, 17 октября 2011 г.

Advice on business literature from Helen Edwards

A new selection of business literature by Helen Edwards dealing with what you can learn from great visioner leader Steve Jobs, what your personal MBA is, the way you can get the best from your people and other new topics! Read the books and be on the top.

Jay Elliot and William L. Simon
Vanguard Press, 2011
xiv, 242 pages
ISBN: 9781593156640

Steve Jobs is probably the best example of a leader who could run even the largest organization as if it were in start-up mode. This book, written by a former senior executive at Apple, describes the day to day experience of working closely with Steve Jobs. Jobs' relentless product focus, obsession with detail, ability to imagine the future and charismatic presence are illustrated by anecdotes covering the period from the early days of the Mac to his stepping down as CEO at Apple shortly before his death. The last chapter "On becoming Stevian" describes how other business leaders can learn from Steve Jobs and create product focused and inspirational environments in their own companies.

Josh Kaufman
Portfolio Penquin, 2011.
xii, 402 pages
ISBN: 9780670919512

This book introduces 266 basic business concepts with the objective of demystifying business. Business is defined as creating value, which other people want or need, at a price they are willing to pay, which meets the purchaser's requirements and generates sufficient revenue for the owners. The author reinforces Warren Buffett's advice to "beware of geeks bearing formulas" and instead focuses on the mental models needed to make things happen in business.

пятница, 14 октября 2011 г.

Internet as a reason of financial crisis - an article by Helen Edwards

Here is the translation of the article by Helen Edwards, SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager, published on Slon.ru. The original text in Russian is available here.

Internet as a reason of financial crisis

Internet has significantly changed us: our everyday web surfing is influencing the way we think, and we rapidly loose our ability to concentrate on the information. There is a term “pancake people” describing people who have spread their attention as they connect with the vast network of information accessed by a touch of a button, and these are the majority of modern progressive people.

The huge volumes of information now available encourages us to skim over this content - often at a speeded up pace and while doing other things at the same time, sending emails, updating our status on Facebook and Twitter, phoning, texting, watching TV. But what is this doing to our brains? Is the quality or work affected?

Research in neuroscience shows that the brain is amazingly plastic. Our brains are able to reprogram themselves on the fly, changing the way they function. The way we access information affects the very way we think. But is this for the better? A famous article “Is Google making us stupid?” by Nicholas Carr complains that continued use of the Internet affects concentration and the ability to focus on long texts. Internet has much more information than any library in the world, but it is very much dissipated in wider and wider circles, and thus further exacerbating the difficulty of putting the pieces together.

In his new book, Shine: Using Brain Science to Get the Best from your People, Edward Hallowell describes how the volumes of data now available can overwhelm and suffocate the brain. Excessive busyness, fragmented tasks and data overload lead people to fail simply because they are working too hard. Working ever harder becomes like bailing a sinking boat rather than plugging the leak.

среда, 5 октября 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs’ Club Meeting: «Ideas are worth nothing. Implementation is everything».

This Wednesday we held the new meeting of SKOLKOVO Entrepreneurs' Club. More than 100 participants gathered at our Campus. We thank you all for coming and hope to see you again!
E-club meetings are open, and we invite everyone who is interested in entrepreneurship and would like to listen to unique speakers, network with colleagues, and discuss important issues.
 For the Wednesday meeting we have invited three special experts: David Yang, Fadi Bishara, and Dr.Martyn Nunuparov.
David Yang – one of Russia's most well known IT entrepreneurs, – has shared the ABBY success story. It was especially interesting to learn about the first years of the company’s history, which were the hardest, as for any start-up. According to David Yang, their success factor is their team. He also told us about the company’s philosophy, and stressed how hard it is to be consistent with the one – from the very beginning to prosperity, and not to fall for volatile trends: “People do not need product, they need result”, which may be interpreted into the ABBY language as the following: people don’t need vocabularies –  they need translation, and you should always remember the clients’ interests when creating new product.
Bottle neck in business is not in product, or not even in technology, but in sales - channels, customers etc” – David Yang.
Fadi Bishara, the founder of Blackbox, and the creator of Startup Genome Compass, has shared his sound experience of working with the Silicon Valley start-ups. One of the most vivid words from his speech are the following: “Ideas are worth nothing. Execution is everything!”
We have discussed not only the success stories, but also some failures. Fadi Bishara said that failures are very important for entrepreneurs, as they can teach you a lot.
«There is only one key secret to Silicon Valley success. We start working with entrepreneurs by giving them permissoin to fail. Failure is OK in Silicon Valley».
Following David, Fadi also told that one of the key factors for the company’s success are people, and to be more specific, the founders, or the core team. They represent the company’s heart, they are inspired, they are not like paid workers, they think not about money, but about impact.
Fadi Bishara’s speech has really impressed and inspired everybody. We thank Fadi for his participantion and hope to see him at some of our next meetings!
Dr.Martyn Nunuparov is not only an entrepreneur, but also an inventor who is very successful at commoditizing his inventions. He told us about his company, Qmodule, and their unique licensed products, and invited everybody to cooperate.
Dmitry Kazachkov, SKOLKOVO EMBA student and CEO/Co-founder 1C RARUS, gave the final speech for the meeting. He presented his new project, a ready-to-go system for restaurant food delivery/reservation that unites the supplies of various restaurants at a single web-page.
Afterwards we had a great time communicating and networking.
We are looking forward to see you at our next meeting of the Club, which will be held during this month. Follow our updates!
SKOLKOVO E-club’s moderator and inspirer is Lawrence Wright, SKOLKOVO start-up projects director.

пятница, 23 сентября 2011 г.

Anna Puzey, SKOLKOVO: “If the school believes in you, you want to believe in the school”

A former Marketing Director for “Arbat Capital” and now a student of the third intake of SKOLKOVO MBA programme, Anna Puzey, dispels the myths surrounding the business school.

My life has slightly changed a month ago. I put my work on hold and moved from my appartment in the city centre to the suburbs. But no, that is not because of financial crisis hit; I just entered the SKOLKOVO business school.

And there it came from everybody around:
- Where have you been enrolled? Is that the “nano-banano” thing?
- How much is the tuition fee? Are you crazy?
- Give me that money now! You’re never going to work them back. I would understand if it was Harvard or Stanford, but this…

Well, in this column (which is going to be a regular one) I am trying to figure out what is true and what is false about SKOLKOVO.

So here are the five myths about SKOLKOVO:

Myth №1. Everybody can get in; you just need to have enough money. (You don’t need to pass the GMAT.)

Here are the facts only: in order to be admitted you need to pass 5 steps. I don’t know haw many people were in my round on the first stage, but only six of them got to the fourth one. There were five of us from Russia: an employee of a large bank, an entrepreneur, a venture investor, a graduate from one of the European schools and myself, plus a Peru citizen (an engineer, start-upper and business owner of 30 or so). As a result only I and this Peru guy were accepted (though I really don’t look like a millioner’s daughter).

понедельник, 19 сентября 2011 г.

Review of SKOLKOVO's 5th Anniversary - 5 years is just the beginning!

On September 17, SKOLKOVO Business School Celebrated its 5th Anniversary.

The celebration event was divided into two parts: an official part (more interesting to the press) and an open programme (Open Doors Day) for all comers.

Traditionally the International Advisory Board of SKOLKOVO business school held a meeting on that day. At the end of the meeting the third group of SKOLKOVO MBA students received student ID cards.

Once the meeting was over, Ruben Vardanian met journalists to make an important statement: he handed the post of SKOLKOVO President to another founding partner - Andrey Rappoport.

Ruben Vardanian, who has been President of SKOLKOVO since its inception, will remain on the Coordination Council and head its Committee on International Cooperation and Strategic Partnerships.

среда, 14 сентября 2011 г.

Advice on business literature from Helen Edwards

A new selection of business literature by Helen Edwards. Which book is of most interest to you? We'll be glad to know your opinion. You have something to advise? Leave it below in the comments.

Steve Blank
Cafepress, 2010.
288 pages
ISBN: 0976470748

Silicon Valley technology entrepreneur and university professor, Steve Blank collects up his blog posts in this book.  With entries like "I've just met four great startups in the last three days" Steve shares his ideas about what it take to succeed as an entrepreneur.  He describes his rough induction into marketing - being thrown out of the building by the CEO until he got some facts and understood the market; his success at getting his companies benchmarks accepted as the industry standard and the importance of admitting  mistakes and ask for help.  The blogs also discuss start up culture, raising money, customer development, team building and of course his "secret history of Silicon Valley" presented to the CIA.

Harrison Monarth
McGraw Hill, 2010.
256 pages
ISBN: 9780071632874

Executive presence is a personal image which inspires respect.  It is cultivated by self awareness, communication skills and managing perceptions. Everyone has a brand created by an amalgamation of the impressions they make on others but it is desirable to replace this "random" brand with a crafted one.  This book describes how to pitch ideas, read people, manage conflict, convince others and increase one's reputation, in person and online.  Practical suggestions include a seven day plan for improving one's Social IQ by focusing on a key aspect each day.  Awareness of how people filter information, by their biases and previous experiences and of basic neurolinguistic techniques is critical for effective communication and obtaining buy-in. 

Gary Vaynerchuk
Harper Business, 2011.
xvi, 240 pages
ISBN: 9780061914188

Customer service provides a key way for any company, large or small, established or a start-up to stand apart from the competition.  Gary Vaynerchuk describes how to use social media to interact with customers and build brand loyalty.  The book contains examples of companies who use social media well but also of missed opportunities, for example failing to follow up an expensive TV campaign with social media initiatives, so losing the opportunity to "extend the conversation" and keep hold of customer interest.  

четверг, 8 сентября 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO prize contest

SKOLKOVO 5th Anniversary is coming; on September 17th we are opening our Campus doors for everyone to join the celebration. During upcoming week we will have an online contest devoted to the event. Anyone can take part in the contest and win the prize – regardless of your region.

If you follow our blog and other web platforms’ updates, you probably know well that we have many prominent experts and guests from all over the world speaking at our programmes. Well, if you are attentive enough, you may remember some of the speakers’ quotes that we publish for you. Do you remember who talked about business modeling; negotiations; team work? This is what our contest questions will be about.

During the week we are going to give you the quotes of the speakers, experts and professors who visited SKOLKOVO business school this year, and you will have to guess who the author is. By the way, all these quotes can be found at our web platforms – as parts of interviews or videos or as separate citations.

The contest will be held independently on all our web platforms: Facebook, Twitter, our main blog - blog.skolkovo.ru, VKontakte, and on the page of our library. Subscribe to them in order to see the questions first.

We’ll define the winners by the speed of their right answers. Also, we will definitely reward those who are the most active participants.

SKOLKOVO prizes – our limited edition souvenirs and books – will be held out at our Campus on September 17th. If the winner can’t come to receive he prize, we will send it by mail.

High Five! SKOLKOVO Fifth Anniversary.

This year we celebrate the 5th Anniversary of the SKOLKOVO business school. We are happy to invite you to visit our Campus on September 17th and take part in celebrations. We will do our best to make this day interesting and special for all our guests. At the Open Doors Day you will enjoy lectures and roundtables led by SKOLKOVO professors, captivating master classes, noteworthy campus tour, an unforgettable floral performance, aerostat flight, and much more! Please find all the details and register at our web-site.

During upcoming week we will have an online contest devoted to the event. Anyone can take part in the contest and win the prize – regardless of your region. Please, join!