"It’s important to show your idea and how your business is scalable” Anastasia Volkova gives her tips for applying to the CSF fund.

31st March 2016

Anastasia Volkova

For Anastasia Volkova, making the move to Ireland brought her closer to her target consumers for the Russian language learning app, Survival Russian. An experienced language teacher, Anastasia is now based in Cork as the team continue to develop their business. An innovative offer to the market, the app gives users a thorough grounding in Russian over ten lessons, to equip students with the necessary grasp of the language to travel in Russia. Read on for Anastasia’s advice on why you should apply for the Competitive Start Fund for International Entrepreneurs with Enterprise Ireland today.

Take time to perfect your application

This is a really amazing opportunity to reach out to a leading investment body. My advice is to take the application process seriously and to approach it properly. This isn’t a pitching competition. With Enterprise Ireland, your initial application is your business plan. To properly complete this, you need to research your market and the potential of your business thoroughly. You should go through all the advantages and disadvantages for your product, and look at your competitors in this space and their revenue. It’s important to show your idea and how your business is scalable. The figures you have in the application will be what you’re working from for 6 months, so it’s important to put the time into getting it together.

Perfect your pitch

Oftentimes, people think they can come up with something to say on the spot. But when you’re talking at a conference or at a networking event, you don’t want to hesitate if someone asks you to describe your business. Instead, I think you should have 3-4 sentences to explain what your business is about. I’m not ashamed to say I’ve learned my speech. I’ve 3 different ways of describing what we do and I am able to call on that straight away.

When it comes to pitching, it’s a type of performance. Your job in the room is to tell your story, and to be able to make people smile or laugh during the presentation. Pitching is a way of engaging and impressing people. It’s your business plan that will convince people to invest. Your pitch is your chance to catch their attention.

Make the move

When we were researching programmes, we really wanted the chance to get closer to our potential customers. The Enterprise Ireland programme was the only one we came across that offered the chance to relocate. For us, it’s been a great opportunity to do that as it’s allowed us to get closer to our target market of people who don’t speak Russian as their first language.  I’m based in Cork now and it’s brilliant to have start-ups spread throughout the country, not just in Dublin. I feel very comfortable here in Cork and there are so many opportunities to network and meet other people.

Join a supportive community

We have a mentor in Dublin and we travel up for other networking events as well. We’ve met a lot of other HPSUs (High Potential Start-Ups) at events like the Investor Day with Enterprise Ireland and there is a real sense of community here. There’s no rivalry. The perceptions of start-ups are very different here in Ireland. When you say you’re a start-up entrepreneur to anyone, they are really interested and positive about it. Here, you’re taken seriously as an entrepreneur. There isn’t a perception that a start-up is not a serious business.

Get inspiration from your daily job

I think the future of start-ups will see a lot of people develop products and ideas that are inspired by the industry they come from. For instance, on the investor day we attended I met a musician who made an app to help drummers record their music. In my case, I’m a teacher who has developed a language learning app to help people get by in Russia. I think in the future, ideas will come from people doing their day jobs and realising that they need something to help them with their daily tasks, and discovering that it doesn’t exist.

Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund for Female Entrepreneurs? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here 

Interested in applying for the Competitive Start Fund for International Entrepreneurs? Find out if you’re eligible and how to apply here.