четверг, 17 мая 2012 г.

Dave Rich, Head of Advanced Energy development, about SKOLKOVO Startup Academy

Recently we've talked to Dave Rich, SKOLKOVO Startup Academy mentor, Head of Advanced Energy development. He told us a lot about entrepreneurship generally and a bit about his expectations concerning Startup Academy.

- What contribution do you think SKOLKOVO Start-up Academy could make? I mean the Russian entrepreneurial ecosystem that we try to build.

- I think, probably the greatest contribution is how to do business internationally. Many times I have met Russians with business degrees that don’t understand really how to do business internationally. They diversify words and concepts and they try to apply Russian business models to western countries and it is really scary.

So, it was #1. #2 would be to prepare students to come up with innovative ideas that are going to add more return value. So many of the ideas are “I can make something that already exists for two rubles cheaper than the other guy” and that’s not a long-term business.

- Why did you decide to become a mentor at SKOLKOVO Start-up Academy?

- I really miss working in Russia and I miss the Russian people, I like doing stuff in Russia. And I have a very good friend and colleague who works in the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, Lawrence Wright. And he knows what I love doing, I mean I’m a technology start-up machine. That’s what I do!

- Can you describe your experience in Russia?

- I’ve lived in Russia for almost 4 years. I was the head the commercialization department and the ISTC. I started businesses with Lawrence - every technology, and we looked for Russian technologies, we helped them to find investment money and to start-up companies that deliver products and services to Russia and to countries using Russian technologies. I have a Russian family, my son was born there. You see, I have large experience doing business both in Russia and in western nations and I have experience doing business with Russian companies bringing them over to the West. I have found financing for 3 Russian companies already, it was private commercial money and I helped as the leader for 11 commercialization deals at ISTC and starting up the program.

- And how do you think, entrepreneurs should focus on the world market at once when they starting technology business or should they test their product on the Russian market first and then scale it?

- I would say it depends. There are some things that are better done locally and then scaled, and there are many things that not applicable to the Russian market or that make you lose your place on line if you are only on the Russian market. For instance, if you wanted to do electric vehicles, which is a great thing for a lot of people, it would be very difficult to do that just locally in Russia because most of the major car companies are going to want to bring it outside of Russia and there has to be a large enough commercial space for your technology to become the standard. So, in case like that, you may want to do it in Russia, you may want to start it up in Russia locally, but you would have to consider also the world markets to cooperate with you, if you want to win in a long-term perspective.

- What do you expect from our students and their projects?

- Mostly, they have to possess two things. One is passion for start-ups and the other is business sense not to fall in love with the project, but to be able to look at their projects realistically.

- Could you give any advice to our future students?

- The best advice is to understand why you want to do this. If it’s something you really enjoy you’re probably going to be successful. If you really like doing this stuff eventually you will be successful at it.

- Can you recommend any books for our future entrepreneurs?

- There are a couple of them and probably some of these books are very limited. They give you some concepts but it’s more about what you do with those concepts after you learn them. The concepts themselves are very basic. But there is one book “Crossing the Chasm”. A chasm is a great divide. And the way from an idea of an early start-up commercialization to actually getting there, that’s similar to the chasm crossing.

A full list of of Startup Academy teachers and mentors you can find here. By the way, SKOLKOVO Startup Academy starts on June 1st, so if you hurry up, you can succeed to get in the first intake!

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