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.