Finance, business | Technology & innovation

Business recipe from Mikhail Treyvish: “Bear in mind that there are no immaculate recipes in this world”

16 Jan '15
Oleg Kouzbit, Online News Managing Editor

We’ll meet today in our Bridge column Mikhail Treyvish, the president of the OmniGrade ranking monitoring agency in Moscow. He’s not only ingenious in building his own business concept of a rating agency; Mikhail is also good at sharing his business experience with others. In December in Nizhny Novgorod, in the mid-Volga area, he gave young innovators his master-class as he joined a team of experts to support InnoFest, a regional festival of youth innovation which Lobachevsky UNN, the region’s largest university, held for almost a month for students, postgraduates, young scientists and government officials. The OmniGrade founder genuinely believes that money to back a technology idea could come not only from major funds or Russian angel investors—a class that is only emerging in this country. People—or a crowd, if you will—may decide they want to become your future customers; and the ‘crowd’ may be smart and shrewd enough to not only see their potential benefits from buying into your idea but also support you financially. So, at InnoFest Mr. Treyvish preached the value of crowdsourcing.

We approached Mikhail on the 9th of December, right before his master-class, to talk about his view of university start-ups in Russia’s regions:

You’re focusing today on crowdsourcing for tech innovators. Is this strategy realistic under Russian law and with Russian mentality?

The law doesn’t ban crowdsourcing, to begin with. As for mentality, most nations have some cloaked snags with this. For example, it’s in Switzerland that I felt the most intense resentment towards crowdsourcing. People I met up there talked exactly about mentality and would say that no Swiss would ever publicly disclose business paths his company wanted to follow, not to mention any open discussions of such matters, because he’s used to commercial secrets and wouldn’t share them even with his own wife.

I haven’t heard people talk this way in Russia. But there’s a different problem in Russia: people don’t believe that somebody might do something free of charge. In America or Europe, yes, they believe that there are people who like to help individuals and companies, and then to hopefully enjoy the idea of being a driver of someone’s commercial and marketing success. Here there’s little faith in this kind of stuff. I guess we once felt ‘overfed’ with socialistic ideas and now bet only on doing anything for money. Not all of us, though; there are companies that receive aid from voluntary helpers, which shows that crowdsourcing may begin life in Russia as well.

Your general impression of university start-up teams?

Many great companies in this world were founded by young people of student age. I think that students or college graduates stand a good chance of becoming the founders of outstanding companies—and not only because they are young and their brains work great, but also because their minds are not littered with so many stereotypes as is the case with most mature people. With all the deficiencies start-up teams may have, including an obvious lack of experience, they have an upside, too: they do not yet know the full meaning of the word “unrealistic.”

So, theoretically, some of the companies that are associated with and especially set up by universities may have a bright future. And as usual, many others will die.

Your advice from a business-savvy person to young innovation teams that put together their fledgling businesses in today’s harsh conditions?

I don’t have any universal recipe. In fact, I’m not sure if there is such a recipe in the world which is impeccable enough for one to build a thriving business. This is basically what I would advise them: do bear in mind that there are no immaculate recipes in this world to cover all possible situations.

And also, I would recommend that the teams think a lot. In projects I have seen, there were many ‘raw’ ideas that should have been thought through thoroughly but failed because no one bothered to think them through. I’m not talking about too much detail, which I believe harms business as overly detailed forecasts never come true. I’m talking about the necessity to understand if a start-up moves in the right direction. Like in old fairy tales: you have three paths to strike, and before you choose one, you need to weigh all plusses and minuses.

Such moments do occur often in business. Many people tend to make decisions intuitively—and sometimes mess up as they do. They simply fail to pay attention to what may be hidden pitfalls or, on the contrary, veiled opportunities that can hardly be discerned without a second glance. I have learned it from my own experience. I realized one day that the less time I spent on thinking my decisions through, the more often I blundered. But when I wear my thinking cap long enough, the likelihood of mistake is minimized.
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Locations: Nizhny Novgorod

Tags: Lobachevsky UNN (26) / crowdsourcing (2) / InnoFest (16) / OmniGrade (0) / Mikhail Treyvish (0) /

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