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‘If You Want to Create a Start-Up, This Minor Will Definitely Be Helpful’

‘If You Want to Create a Start-Up, This Minor Will Definitely Be Helpful’

© iStock

On March 22, the enrolment period begins for the ‘Start-Up from Scratch’ minor, which is offered by the HSE Department of Innovation Management. The minor introduces students to different fields of entrepreneurship and guides them through the entire start-up process: from the development of an idea to entering the market with a product and attracting investors. 24 start-ups have made it to the stage of making their first sales. Below, HSE News Service talks about the most interesting student projects.

WasteLess

Third-year students Ekaterina Strukova and Julia Konovalova of the Bachelor’s programme in Fashion (of the Apparel Design profile) launched the WasteLess project. ‘We sew unique tote bags from our client’s used clothes. This is a way to preserve their precious clothes and the memories connected with them,’ said the students about their start-up idea.

© Wasteless / Instagram

Initially, they focused on the fact that the start-up is eco-friendly. ‘Today, many products are eco-friendly – it is a common, high-demand area,’ Ekaterina said. ‘But our project is unique, because the idea – re-sewing – is not something you encounter often, and we made this aspect our main focus.’ In addition, according to Ekaterina and Julia, re-sewing helps make the start-up economical: less costs are spent on fabrics and materials.

The students have already sold their first eco-friendly tote bag, and today, WasteLess is at the MVP (minimum viable product) stage. Katya and Julia are also planning on contacting bloggers and offering them a barter system, which may lead to more sales.

Ekaterina Strukova
Photo courtesy of Ekaterina Strukova

‘I believe the “Start-Up from Scratch” minor, which is where WasteLess began, was useful, particularly when the classes were held in person (it’s hard for me to really master material online). If you want to create a start-up, the minor will definitely be helpful,’ Ekaterina said of the course.

ExploRussia

A project dedicated to pleasant travel to regions around Moscow was conceived and created by third-year students Musa Abutalibov (Business Administration), Anastasia Nikulina, and Anastasia Rykhlik (both students of Sociology).

© ExploRussia / Instagram

The students admit that at first, they were going to do a project related to indoor plants, but later they decided to try out other areas. Besides, when people found themselves locked down in the pandemic, they started dreaming about taking short trips more.

‘We realized that all of us have traveled a lot around regions that are not far from Moscow, and we have very diverse expertise from our travels,’ said Anastasia Rykhlik, head of the ExploRussia project. ‘Nastia knows about lots of cultural and historical attractions; Musa is into unusual locations and anomalies; and I love art. Together, we complement each other, and that’s why our tours may surprise even the pickiest travelers.’

Advertising on Instagram brought ExploRussia their first ‘real’ clients, not from friends and family, but from people who came across them online and became interested in the project idea, the students say.

Anastasia Rykhlik
Photo courtesy of Anastasia Rykhlik

‘This is a really cool new experience,’ Anastasia said. ‘That’s why I am sure the minor is useful. Even if you don’t have a clear innovative idea for a start-up. We are taught about the entire process of product creation: from coming up with the idea to its rescaling.’ The minor also teaches students how to manage the finances of their enterprise and handle the legal aspects. Additionally, a lot of attention is paid to issues related to leadership.’

If you want to develop as a businessperson, if you are interested in how it all works, you will get a lot out of the course. In fact, you will gain skills that will be useful in any field.

Crystal Custom

Another student project that is aimed at helping clients not only express their individuality but care for the environment is Crystal Custom. Its authors are second-year students Maria Trubnikova (Philology) and Katerina Gruzdeva (Design).

Maria Trubnikova
Photo courtesy of Maria Trubnikova

‘I’ve always loved the idea of unique clothes, which also reflect my individuality,’ Maria Trubnikova said, ‘In addition, shortly before the start of the minor I got into graffiti: this is how I came up with an idea that customization would be really cool-looking and trendy on jackets, shirts, and dresses.’ In the minor, Maria met Katerina. It turned out that Katerina already had experience with clothing customization, and as a designer, liked the idea a lot. This is how the girls decided to launch the joint project.

Today, the students’ start-up is at the development stage: they keep trying new formats of audience contact and are choosing the right concept for their brand profile. Meanwhile, Maria and Katerina have already managed to do some sales. ‘Of course, we haven’t reached the peak of our project’s development yet. The good is yet to come,’ Maria believes.

We’re going try new techniques of dyeing and customization: embroidery, patches, and raised prints. I would also like to do more eco-conscious pieces and start working with disposed clothes and redesigning them. Today, people buy lots of new clothes and don’t know they can give their old things a new life.

Maria also adds that when she was enrolling in the minor, she couldn’t even imagine that it would be so detailed and useful: ‘I’m particularly happy that during the course, we meet and work with professionals, which means that the minor name is not empty words. The teachers really push us to build our own businesses from scratch, but of course, nothing will happen without motivation and willingness on your end.’

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