вторник, 24 апреля 2012 г.

SKOLKOVO graduates: Alexander Khrenkov, SKOLKOVO EMBA

Any school is famous for its graduates. That is why we start a series of interviews with the SKOLKOVO MBA and EMBA graduates. And today Alexander Khrenkov, co-founder of Naturage, Executive MBA graduate, has shared his story with us.
- Alexander, how have you come up with the project idea?

- The idea concerning my own business-project arose while I was studying at the SKOLKOVO business-school at the Executive MBA programme. Mostly my further direction development in business was influenced by Subi Rangan, professor of the strategy module. He is one of the world strategy gurus and professor at INSEAD, one of the most famous business-schools in the world. I remember Mr. Subi saying that in modern Russia as well as in all BRICS countries almost nobody thinks about creation of global innovative companies. At that, everybody gets that nowadays we live in the global world, and one has to compete with large transnational companies almost in all economic branches.

In order to be able not only to compete with global companies in its own country, but also to have a chance to become a transnational company, such a company has to possess definite competitive advantages. So, I have considered what other advantages Russia has apart from hydrocarbons. One of them is, undoubtedly, the high level of the Russian scientists’ elaborations.

My first higher education I have obtained in the legendary Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. That is why everything connected with scientists is not alien to me. And, still having studied at the business school, I decided to start communicating with scientist groups from different higher education institutions and research institutes around the country in order to assess what their ideas could be brought to life in the form of the innovative company creation. During less than a year I have managed to communicate with several dozens of scientist groups. At last I have made my choice in favour of a scientist group from MSU under the guidance of a DPhil who offered a method of creation of brand new drinks, the so called functional natural drinks.

- And why exactly drinks, was it the life dream or the barest necessity that you had sensed every day? Why have you chosen exactly that?

- I got the understanding that in order to create a global company a quite capacious market should be chosen, a market the products that my company is going to produce. Moreover, I stick to the healthy way of life what comprises healthy food and drinks. Unfortunately, at the moment shop shelves are full of drinks with synthetic additives that negatively influence the human health.
I found really good the concept of functional drinks creation offered by the MSU scientists; such drinks do not only taste pleasantly, but contribute to the human health as well. I consider it to be really modern and right.

- What differences does your product have in comparison with its analogues?

As I have already mentioned, functional drinks differ greatly from the majority of drinks offered on the market; they include active ingredients that favourably contribute to the human health strengthening. Scientists have proved that due to the modern unfavourable ecology, consumption of poor food and drinks and because of lots of other reasons peculiar fractions - free radicals - percolate in the human organism. Circulating within the organism, they cause the so called «oxidant stress» that is the reason for a number of serious diseases.

Among them are cardiovascular diseases (heart attacks, strokes, atherosclerosis, etc.), cancer diseases and accelerated aging. Powerful anti-oxidants can neutralize free radicals. The most powerful natural anti-oxidant is the extract of the Siberian larch. Lately the issue has been how to extract that very anti-oxidant from the wood. The MSU scientists with whom I am elaborating that project have managed to extract and to purify that substance to such an extant that it may be used in drinks. Testing of the anti-oxidant received in one of the most respectable world laboratories has demonstrated record anti-oxidant activity indexes of that substance.

- What complications are connected with the project implementation?

Exactly as in case of any other start-up project my colleagues and I have to handle lots of interdependent tasks at the same time; they are: drinks formulation creation, their testing, search for distributers and sales channels, product marketing and promotion, mobilization of finance for the project development, etc.

One of the most challenging issues in Russia is mobilization of finance, as the venture money market is not well developed.

- What was the SKOLKOVO business-school’s role in the project implementation?

In case the objective is to create a global innovative company, there is no better place in Russia than the SKOLKOVO business-school. Before entering the SKOLKOVO business-school I have spent all my professional life working in the IT industry. So the innovative company creation in another sphere demanded new contacts and acquaintances. The business-school helps to solve that problem fast and efficient. People from different branches study and lecture here, including many representatives of the FMCG sphere. Numerous top-managers of Russian and international companies - potential partners for my business - appear in front of students as visiting speakers. Undoubtedly, the knowledge concerning the start-up creation that I received during my studying at the business-school has helped as well. The corresponding disciplines were lectured by leading world professors. Moreover, the so called incubator for those students and graduates who would like to launch their start-ups was created at the business-school. Recently, my project has become its resident.

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