High Technologies Park Business Incubator. From idea to business!
A business incubator is a company creating favorable environment for small venture startup and early-stage companies that implement innovative scientific and technical ideas. This is done by providing such firms with physical, informational, consulting and other services necessary for their survival and growth.
High Technologies Park Business Incubator is a unique organization in whatever light we view it. Firstly, it is the only cluster-focused incubator in Belarus which purpose is the development of startup companies in high-tech industry. Secondly, it may even seem unbelievable how much community-focused it is! And the last but not the least, it is an awesome atmosphere and remarkable people who really love their job! And, taking the cue from their boss, they always leave the door open.
Head of the business incubator Yuri Sudarev is eager to answer any questions no matter how tight his schedule is. Having such a sound experience in science, technology and innovations he definitely knows what he is talking about.
One of the priority tasks is the advance of the high-tech industry
‘We decided to create a business incubator in order to help smart and talented young people achieve their full potential. We want young entrepreneurs to have a special place where they can come to represent their ideas, meet other keen people and create something completely new. With the support of our incubator startup teams may gain valuable knowledge, find investors and what is the most important experience the informal environment of like-minded enthusiastic, persistent and creative entrepreneurs.’ This is how Yuri Sudarev describes the project mission. ‘Belarusian IT professionals have the potential worthy of everyone’s respect: there are lots of prospective ideas and ambitious people who are not only able to generate a concept but also turn it into reality. Hi-Tech Park was established for the advancement and support of high-tech industry as well as for brain drain prevention. Business incubator is the next step underway towards the completed startup ecosystem.’
Business incubator is a special environment aimed at fostering innovative and unique projects. This is a startup space (‘startup company’ or ‘startup’ means ‘the process initiation’). However, not every entrepreneur can be called a startupper. Opening of a family barbershop or working in retail business has nothing to do with business incubators. Startup projects are about rapid development, growth-orientation and uniqueness of the product. The competition is incredibly tough! Moreover, a startup company always faces various risks. ‘According to the statistics, only one of ten startup companies survives,’ specifies Yuri Sudarev. That is why it is hard to underestimate the importance of innovators support.
If a company succeeds to qualify and become a resident of the business incubator, it will never be left unsupported!
Business incubator has several focus areas. First of all is one of the biggest coworkings in the CIS (‘co-working’ means a style of work that involves a shared working environment) where anyone can learn something new, communicate and start working on projects. Second, the coworking cooperates with top ranked Belarusian universities i.e. the students are able to embody their ideas in startup projects or use gained knowledge in practice (as part of their term projects, contests or hackathons, for instance). Finally, the coworking is about business the incubation itself.
High Technologies Park Business Incubator provides young enterprises with ongoing front rank assistance and support that cover such areas as mentoring, expert support, assistance in getting the investment, education necessary for business development and of course the creation of like-minded people community. ‘Imagine that you are trying to start up a new business. How to do it right? There are no ready answers available. But you have a mentor who has already travelled a long way so he or she definitely knows where you should choose between right or left turn. For this reason, expert support is vital,’ explains Mr. Sudarev. Obviously, one of the biggest problems of startup teams is lack of both business education and experience of survival in harsh competitive environment. Within the incubator one may always expect friendly advice, meet people holding the same views or even future partners as well as establish connection and forge relationship with high end segment experts.
Educational part is worth special mention. The Business incubator provides free five-month course which program has nothing in common with widely used advanced training. The point is that High Technologies Park Business Incubator is an international venture. Each month it holds various IT-related events such as seminars, workshops or speeches of well-known experts. Successful businessmen share their experience along with representatives of consulting and legal companies. ’These are not common lectures,’ smiles Yuri Sudarev. ’We invite top managers, CEOs, founders and co-founders. All these people have already set up lots of high-tech products, passed this way and now they are willing to tell us about the bottlenecks they encountered, how they settled particular issues and how to avoid such issues in future. They give us an opportunity to attend live training events as the trainees are interested in current situation rather than the events of the past days.’
According to the law, the term of residence within the Business incubator is three years. When it comes to High Technologies Park Business Incubator, the three-year term is divided into three one-year periods. According to preliminary estimates, intense work within such term is quite enough. Nevertheless, each case will be considered individually. ’Someone might need more or less time,’ says Yuri Sudarev. ’A startup may not be considered a typical or predictable project. One day everything may be all right, while the other day the environment changes and the company has to adjust. By the way, this is the reason why startuppers have to be extremely flexible. Sometimes we have to get the entire project revised. Anyway, it is just a usual workflow and never a tragedy.’
When asked about what it takes to succeed (except flexibility and ability to quickly adapt to the constantly changing market conditions) Mr. Sudarev answers quite simply, ’You need to do what you like. Put your heart to the project rather than pursue immediate profit. Calculations are just numbers.’ Someone enters the market with a unique product while others (for example, Apalon, the HTP resident) create such iPhone applications as calculators or alarm clocks and occupy top positions in the Apple App Store.
There is an idea – what’s next?
Start-up companies need to represent and justify their projects i.e. objectives and ways to achieve them within one-year period. Taking into account specific features of most startup teams, it is pointless to ask them provide economic or accounting calculations. Instead, the project prospects and the potential of the team will be assessed.
The Board engaged in the assessment of the submitted projects consists of experienced businessmen and experts. ’The final decision is made jointly on the basis of personal experience and confidence of its members. If you fail at first stage, it is not a big deal! We usually do not split up with such companies. Instead, we continue the cooperation in many ways.’ sums up Yuri Sudarev. Among other things, the business incubator leases office space at a very low rate!
The Business incubator is a huge startup venture itself!
The coworking space decorated as a loft calls up thoughts of San Francisco and the first coworking spaces located in large industrial buildings with minimal decor. One may hole up in a red public-call box to make a call (especially during workshops!). The Café resembles Western Europe, London, the Walk of Fame and has bikes over the bar. There is a corner of Korean culture which has even accessories for the tea ceremony. The Business incubator has been successfully cooperating with the Korean Republic. Besides, they have already held some events (including cultural) and Belarusian-Korean Information Centre has been founded as well.
’My intension was to bring here some pleasant memories,’ says Yuri Sudarev. ’And to create a unique informal environment which would promote business and personal relationships. After all, in fact, our business incubator is a great startup itself. Our team consists of self-motivated people who are doing their thing. They all are aimed at success!’
Modern life is a fast thing. Opportunities pop up all the time and you only have to be able to notice them. ’I do not believe that everything has already been invented. You can always find a market niche. When there’s a will there’s a way.’ All that is left to do is to agree with Mr. Sudarev’s words and continue watching out for the success of the Business incubator and its residents because the success is not long in coming.