Violetta Shishkina is co-founder & CEO of CADChain B.V. as well as participant in the previous edition of StartupLeap.
Read the interview to find out why she decided to become an entrepreneur and experience a day with her.
Why did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
I am the kind of person who always seizes an opportunity when it presents itself. I never saw myself as someone who will find joy from working in an office in a 9 to 5 job. I love travelling and exploring and learning new things. Back when I was approached with an idea of starting a start-up I was working as a freelancer. That meant that I could easily switch from working for myself to becoming a founder of a start-up. And that’s exactly what I did without thinking twice
What’s the coolest thing about being an entrepreneur?
Being an entrepreneur gives me freedom. As a person I need to know that I’m free to work anywhere that I want and whenever I want. Of course being an entrepreneur also means that you work twice as hard. However if you’re enjoying what you are doing time flies very fast. Every time I meet someone and they ask me what I’m doing, the conversation never gets boring after I tell them that I am running a start-up.
How do you keep up your motivation?
I am honestly enjoying what I’m doing and it always keeps my motivation up by itself. Of course there are days when you have worked too hard and you need a break. I always try to give myself a break even if there is a deadline. Sometimes it’s very frustrating when all your hard work has been done for nothing, for example when an application for funding hasn’t gone through. In moments like this I concentrate on a big picture, for example where my startup is going to be in 5 or 10 years. That future is always bright and thinking about it makes me persevere.
Tell us an interesting moment in your entrepreneur experience.
I think one of the most interesting entrepreneur stories happened to me when I was in Bratislava. One of the organisers of a forum that I was attending told me that I absolutely had to meet this potential investor. Back in the day I was clueless about how to approach investors, but I knew that I had to have a meeting with him. And I started the quest. I managed to get connected to him on LinkedIn and after a couple of days of messaging he told me to come to a cafe where he was having lunch. I rushed to the cafe as fast as I could. He invited me to take a seat at the table where he was having lunch with his girlfriend. I was very excited about managing to actually meet him and I talked about my startup non-stop. I did my best to impress him and I think that worked. However, after I stopped talking he told me that he will definitely consider investing in my start-up once we are at a stage that he’s interested in AND if his girlfriend finds the technology behind it clear. At that very moment I realised that I completely neglected the woman sitting at the table because I couldn’t even think that she was the one who would be making the final decision. I guess if I were a man she could have called me sexist however what I was was just clueless. This happened more than a year ago but it taught me one valuable lesson: don’t rely on your assumptions too much.
How did you solve a problem/crisis as a founder?
I can’t really think of a big problem or a crisis that my startup has had. However, little problems arise every day. I try to take a creative approach to solving them. For example, what do you do when you need developers but you cannot afford local ones and you don’t want to outsource? I thought, why not try participating in Hackathons and finding some people who might be interested in joining the startup. I think for me the key to solving any problem is asking for help, whether it’s consulting with a team member, an external expert or someone from your network. People are usually eager to help, you just need to let them know that you need help.
Describe your typical work week
I usually wake up around 8. I start the day with drinking my coffee and going through LinkedIn. This usually takes about an hour because I end up reading a lot of interesting and relevant articles. Sometimes I immediately run to my computer to write something down. The next thing I remember, it’s already dinner time. If you ask me what day it is today I will have to look at my calendar. I’m usually completely lost in time especially with the recent quarantine. Everyday I have a lot of meetings and talks with my team members. I try to unplug myself from my computer during the weekends however it is not always successful.