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‘The Future Is Already Here, but It Is Not Evenly Distributed’

On May 27, the Day of Russian Entrepreneurship, HSE University’s Cultural Centre hosted HSE Business Club, an annual student entrepreneurial forum. Three years ago, the HSE Business Club initiative group opened the forum as a platform for entrepreneurs to exchange experiences. Now it is the largest student business forum in the CIS. This year, a record number of 1,900 guests registered for the event.

For student entrepreneurs, the HSE Business Club Forum is a unique chance to hear honest business success stories first-hand, learn about challenges and pitfalls, ask questions, network with like-minded people, and test the strength of their business ideas.

The organisers prepared an eventful programme (in offline and online formats), inviting well-known business professionals and representatives of successful companies to the forum. The following speakers took to the main stage on the day:

 Sergei Ivanov, Co-founder and Executive Director of EFKO

 Roman Maresov, CEO of Yandex Eats

 Maxim Karpov, entrepreneur, investor and managing partner of NLF Group and CMS

 Maxim Nogotkov, founder of Svyaznoy Group

 Dmitry Kibkalo, venture investor, founder of Mosigra and Orbita venture studio

 Radislav Gandapas, business coach and president of the CIS Speakers Association

 Mikhail Voronin, senior partner of the Atlanta business community and founder of Worlds agency

The keynote speaker of the forum was Oskar Hartmann, an international investor and co-founder of such projects as Carprice, CarFix, KupiVIP, and Aktivo.

The forum began with a presentation by Sergei Ivanov on ‘Where Dreams Lead’ dedicated to firm philosophy. ‘I created a company that doesn’t just make money, but does something really useful,’ he said. ‘We have managed to contribute to solving the problem of diabetes. We have managed to feed people in Africa. We have done something to get closer to healthy longevity. The level of ambition is the images and dreams that you set for yourself and with which you measure success or failure.’ Sergei Ivanov talked about what creative entrepreneurship is, how he personally gets inspired by business success, and why being a good businessman today means being indebted to family, society, and the planet.

Roman Maresov, who spoke immediately after him, focused on a narrower topic. In an informal manner, the Yandex Eats CEO spoke about team building. ‘Business school textbooks usually say that the team is the most important thing, but they hardly say what actually needs to be done with the team,’ remarked the speaker. ‘We often hear that business is a sport. Therefore, the team is not a family, but a professional football team. What is the difference? In sports, too, there is a lot of support and all the humanity of a family. But in sports, if you don’t perform, you get replaced. It’s unlikely you can do the same with a sister you don’t like and fought with as a child. And realising this may have been the main change in my mind when I came to Yandex. Generally speaking, in large companies, the most difficult thing about being an executive, especially a CEO, is replacing the people in the team in time.’

Oskar Hartmann
© HSE University

Each of the day’s speakers in the Big Hall of the Cultural Centre had something to say from their own experiences. Oskar Hartmann turned his lecture into an interactive show on the topic ‘The Future Is Already Here, but It’s not Evenly Distributed’ with jokes, stories, and a clear business plan. Oscar concluded his hour-long talk with the following piece of advice: ‘When the wave comes, you should already be on the move. In 2025–2028, a new wave will come and someone will be in the right place at the right time. It will be people who are doing something now, in 2023, amid uncertainty. Your first task is to find a controversial idea. Your second task is to find a team and resources. And be a little crazy so that your grandmother, like mine, will say: “This is not going to end well.” Think long-term. If you try for thirty years, sooner or later you will catch a wave.’

The Small Hall of the Cultural Centre hosted workshops by experts from Russian companies: Skillbox, SBS Consulting, Netology, Yakov & Partners, the founder of the Woman Who Matters forum and the WE University training platform, career consultant Anna Rudakova, as well as entrepreneur and business book author Antonina Lobacheva.

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