Our newspaper has already written about the establishment in the NTUU"KPI" an innovation environment - the first in Ukraine ecosystem Sikorsky Challenge. Managing partner of the project is a specialist in IT technology, professional, entrepreneur and experienced buisness coach Igor Peer. He is also one of the organizers of Startup School, which is an important component of the Sikorsky Challenge. September 15, he was a guest of the first in the autumn season program "free ticket" on Radio KPI. The conversation was very interesting, so we offer readers its record in a slightly abridged form.
- Good evening, Mr Igor. According to our tradition, at the beginning tell us a little about yourself.
- I was born in Ukraine, Kiev. I have graduated from the Physics and Mathematics Faculty Taras Shevchenko State University of Kyiv. Since 1991 I have been living in Israel. During the last 15 years I am working in the field of IT. Finishing the second stage of the "New York politechnic", I started a business in the field of IT. I participated in the development related to multi-core processors. My recent projects have a connection with the new directions for business on the base of Web 3.
As for my present stay in Kiev and work in the KPI. A little less than a year ago we have started here first Startup School, which is called Sikorsky Challenge. Today the Startup School is part of the first in Ukraine innovation ecosystem Sikorsky Challenge, a innovation cluster that includes Startup School, a business incubator, the festival Sikorsky Challenge, which will take place shortly, several venture capital funds. The main task of the ecosystem - to create a working platform for the development of innovative business based on the KPI.
- Why did you decide to return to Ukraine and to develop this area here? Or Israel does not have such opportunities?
- In Israel, I continue to do my projects. But I was born in Kiev and therefore feel certain obligations and would like to see Ukraine developed in an innovative direction. Especially because here it has a lot of opportunities - smart heads, youth initiative. What is missing, it is the international experience, an understanding of business processes and of where they could go and with what they could go ahead.
- And why Polytech? In Kiev, there are some great universities - Mogilyanka, Shevchenko University. Why did you decide to be based in the KPI?
- It so happened that I was invited here to read a lecture to students from the Israeli cultural center. Then a friendship begun. I am very grateful for this chance, because today I am already fully understanding that the KPI - is one of the mainstays of innovations that can be implemented in Ukraine.
- It seems, that expectations from the first group Startup School are justified? Because you have decided to not only continue, but to expand.
- Yes, very positive results. During the 4 months of training, we have had a very intensive course, which was resulted in the selectetion of seven ideas around which 7 teams were rallied. The developed projects were successfully submitted to the Commission in May 23, 2014.
- Do you think now that Startup School turns into something more important?
- Yes. On the basis of the KPI it was created the innovation ecosystem Sikorsky Challenge, which has three main components. First - this is a three-stage Startup School Sikorsky Challenge. At the first stage the training is carried out on the program of innovative business and development of creative thinking. At this stage, we plan to train in the mode of optional classes approximately 300 students. After the first phase of training the competitive selection will take place, and about 30 students will go through to the 2nd stage of training with the ideas that they have built on the 1st stage. Since that time, we will begin to form teams, develop prototypes and business models. After that, all developed projects will be proposed to venture funds and investors. And those teams that will be chosen by investors for financing, will go get into a business incubator, where it will be constructed a buisness company with its team and buisness model. Development process in the incubator will last a year in which the goal will be to obtain additional investment.
- If we were talking about studying in the Startup School Sikorsky Challenge, let me ask the question: who are the teachers, invited speakers, mentors, supervising the projects?
- I teach some of the subjects, another - KPI coaches who teach at the Institute of Postgraduate Education. Moreover, we start to work with a significant amount of venture capital funds and successful entrepreneurs who understand that we are doing a good thing.
In general, we will have a great team of teachers, coaches, and we will extend it all the time by inviting teachers and mentors from other countries in order to convey the experience that exists in the world today.
- With teachers it is clear. And who do you expect as your audience? What projects would you like to see? In recent years, the word "startup" has increased its meaning. Now in our understanding the startup is referred to any business - from a typical mobile application to development of solar panels, which will allow to turn the power industry.
- I would not say "normal mobile app", because, say, Instagram - it is also an application. Startup, I would define as: a business entity that is the idea and the idea of creating a business that can be monetized. It does not matter what it is - a mobile application or a new energy technology. The main thing - to understand that a startup - is a process that turns an idea into a successful business.
- And yet, with what areas venture capital funds are working more likely? Can you tell us a little about the mechanisms of their work. Why do they invest?
- The funds, indeed, have specialities. With regard to venture capital funds, the classic structure of the venture fund is as follows. There are people who want to earn more than you can get from the simple bank interest. "Venture" in translation is the risk. In case of successful investments you can earn a lot of money. But you can lose. Therefore, one of the main activities of venture capital funds is to reduce risk by investing in several projects.
- Do you have projects coming out of the Startup School Sikorsky Challenge and received investments from Ukrainian or foreign funds?
- Several teams trained in our Startup School, have prepared their own projects and are now in the process of negotiations with investors.
I hope that after the end of the festival we will be able to announce a few more projects that have received investment and began to further develop them.
- Returning to the subject of training in Startup School. Do you make the training only in terms of business or learn more, to some technical skills?
- We teach the basics of business and entrepreneurship. But every startup works in a specific technology field, and for its successful development is essential to solve some technological problems. We do not teach for each technology. We provide mentors who can help promote and guide the development of each process. Sometimes guys can come with a good idea and understanding of what can be built on this idea, but they do not have enough opportunities to develop a prototype and to resolve some issues. Due to the fact that the KPI has technically trained specialists of high quality, we can help solve the technological problems of ordinary startups.
- As in the structure of ecosystems Sikorsky Challenge there is no venture capital funds, what do you plan to get from successful projects?
- As a business incubator, we create an infrastructure that allows the idea to be brought at the level of the product. In the learning process, we are finalizing the idea so that it was of interest to investors. If this idea gets investment, we, as the incubator have a percentage of the company, and we will become partners with the owner of the idea and begin to build a company together
- In mid-October, the KPI will host a festival Sikorsky Challenge. What can you recommend to those who could not get to this year's festival?
- After the festival, we are starting a new enrollment in the Startup School. We we accept all - with ideas and without ideas. After all, the examples of successful businesses in humans opens a channel to the subconscious and starts generating ideas. The first phase of training will take place from October 20 to December 20. Classes will be held once a week from 16:00 to 19:00. This nine sessions. They should provide an understanding of innovative business, a startup, as it is built. It is necessary to focus how a company is built on the idea, what are startup stages. It is very important at this time to give the opportunity to express their creativity and to splash out the quality idea.
In the process of working with ideas, we will select the best and around them we will build the entire follow-up work to turn ideas into business.
Accepting applications for the next festival will begin in spring 2015, and the guys have a great opportunity to prepare for it in our Startup School.
- It is definitely cool. And to whom are you waiting for in Startup School? Is there any limit on the universities?
- We build our training on the basis of the KPI, but open to all. Even in the first edition of our school there were students from other schools, and there were graduates who are now working in large companies, as well as private entrepreneurs.
- What do you need to do to get in your Startup School?
- We accept all comers. Even those who have no idea right now, will come to us with a clean slate and create something new. The main thing that was the motivation and desire to learn. During training ideas are born, but they are born in the right direction, because teaching, we say, where to move, how and what steps need to go to the company came from the idea.
- And, finally, our traditional topic - a few words of instruction to the KPI students.
- First of all, do not miss smartmob Sikorsky Challenge on October 16 at 16:00 near the tank. Come on, it will be very interesting and informative.
Secondly, I would like to wish everyone to develop their ideas and do not lose the opportunities that are offered to you. Those interested are invited to Startup School. It really will change your life.
And third, most important, I wish us all peace. I wish Ukraine to join the European environment, and innovation will help us to build a rich and successful country. And that we all played a role in it.