How can I increase my turnover in times of crisis, improve customer satisfaction and advance my business? These were just some of the questions MP alumni from Eastern Europe discussed within the scope of the Business Hacks Festival. The exchange of experiences provided the participants with numerous new insights.
The Business Hacks Festival was made up of online meetings (mini festivals) which were spread over a number of months. More than 150 entrepreneurs from Belarus, Moldova and Ukraine came together in front of their screens to share knowledge and experience, but also to work together on solutions to business challenges. These approaches were collected on an online platform, the digital “Library of Business Hacks”, and served as an entrepreneurial guide for many of them during the pandemic in 2020.
In addition to best practice examples, the sessions also addressed effective teamwork and employee motivation as well as the concrete difficulties of entrepreneurial activities furthermore mistakes were openly discussed. A number of MP alumni presented new approaches to business management and innovative business ideas. Many of them struck out in a new direction in 2020. For example, Ilya Kotov, co-owner of an engineering and consultancy firm, presented the development of a new system for online seminars and added: “We have improved the dialogue with our customers and partners and have even put several ideas into practice that had previously been regarded as technically impracticable.” Iryna Petelytska, founder of the Ukrainian confectionery firm Voldi, said that she had been able to tap into new markets in the EU and also in Azerbaijan and Macedonia during the Corona pandemic. The firm’s chocolate brand was even nominated for the People’s Choice Award 2020. “There will never be an ideal time to establish or expand your business, tap into new markets or introduce a new product to the market.”
During the Business Hacks event it became clear that most of the alumni saw the crisis as a challenge that has encouraged both their professional and personal growth as well as the search for new ideas and solutions. Maryana Rybay and Yur Samets, owners of a sewing workshop, for instance, decided at the beginning of 2020 to make protective equipment for doctors: “This time of uncertainty turned out to be a time of new opportunities for us because we manufactured new products”, the two Ukrainians explained. The MP alumni Valerii Maksyutenko and Vasyl Voloshinov provided information on the business areas in which unusual approaches can be pursued and how risks can be minimised. Olga Tsyukh, Vladyslav Sushko and Kyryl Krasnoselskii presented their joint solutions in the areas of strategy development, diversification of markets, human resources and outsourcing.
In between the individual mini-festivals, networking sessions were held in which the alumni discussed business cases which were on the next mini-festival’s agenda. The participants agreed that such events motivated them to make changes and, at the same time, gave them strength and self-confidence.