Creating a Startup Scene with Marina Atarova of Dreamstake & HoxTech Angels
“I actually wanted to create my own tech startup right after University.” Marina explained. Without any programming experience or a background in tech, she didn’t know how to do that. Knowing the first step would be to get started in an internet career, the soon-to-be founder got a job in internet marketing.
A move to London proved to be the beginning of Marina’s own venture. As she looked for opportunities among startups in internet marketing, Marina found a partner who shared a similar vision. “The startup scene in London was not very well formed,” Marina observed, “There wasn’t much support for startups. We thought it would be great to have some sort of online platform where startups could hang out and talk to each other.”
This idea came to be Dreamstake. The startup platform connects tech founders with co-founders, team members, mentors and investors to accelerate their success. Dreamstake also facilitates off-line training for beginner entrepreneurs. Marina herself runs the Dreamstake Academy which teaches all aspects of launching a startup from development to funding.
Leading the Way for London Startups
Source: @masterinvestor on Twitter
“The startup ecosystem in London wasn’t great. It wasn’t the same as Silicon Valley.” Marina commented. This was what the Co-founder sought to change with Dreamstake. The platform serves as a tool for startups to help them understand what they need to do in order to be investor-ready.
Marina shared why it’s often a challenge to get started with investors. “Investors are quite discreet people. They’ve got money. They want to have their own exclusive events. That’s why we created HoxTech Angels.” This second venture pairs perfectly with Dreamstake. Through the startup platform, Marina and her partners prepare startups to get funding and introduces these startups to interested Angel Investors with HoxTech Angels.
“Every month we select the 5 best startups from the Dreamstake platform and present them to Angel Investors.” Marina explained. With about 15,000 members on their platform, Marina and her partners have a lot of startups to choose from. By using a profile rating system and offline meetings, the group makes their pick.
HoxTech Angels does Angel Investors a great service by providing them with startups that are educated and prepared for success.
Startups Are a People Business
“It’s really a people business,” Marina said of working with Angel Investors, “It’s not the same as venture capital. It’s really about if Angels believe in the Founder rather than revenues or how unique the idea is.” The HoxTech Angels Co-Founder has an interesting point of view from working with both sides of the startup business.
Marina believes that it’s the human element that’s key to the investor-startup relationship. “It’s the connection between people.” She expounded, “If they actually clique together, than business works. This is really the most difficult element to achieve in any business.”
How does one forge a connection with an investor? Marina said, “There’s no straight-forward answer. There’s a lot of psychology involved.” HoxTech Angels works with investors from all kinds of backgrounds. Numerous Angel Investors come from more traditional industries like investment banking and have little knowledge about how technology startups work. Marina gives these beginner tech investors a lot of guidance through the process of finding the right startup to invest in.
Creating a business around working with cash-strapped startups was a challenge. Marina said, “It was quite difficult in the beginning to understand how to make extra money out of what we’re building. Startups don’t have much money, so you can’t charge them for most things.” This reality can prove to be a major obstacle.
“We’ve tried different business models, so we’ve failed quite a lot of times. Some of it worked some of it didn’t.” The Co-Founder shared. This process of experimenting with business models is something many startups encounter, but businesses rarely deal with working with other startups.
Through her career in tech, Marina has encountered the advantages and disadvantages of being a woman in tech. “Europe is still quite a traditional environment,” Marina commented. Even in sectors that one might think of as female-centric, there are actually more men. Marina listed the Fashion Tech area as an example.
“It’s tough, fighting stereotypes.” Marina said of the male-dominated tech field. “Be really confident. You have to have that. Be yourself and don’t care what anyone thinks about you.” The female Co-Founder said of thriving in technology.
Marina’s final advice was to go for it. “Women are more held back. They think too much. They’re quite careful in their steps. In tech, it’s important to move quickly.” With her experience working with startups, Marina gets a firsthand look into their successes and failures
“Move quickly or die. It doesn’t matter if you fail. Fail quickly. Don’t think, just try.” Marina advised. Marina has clearly followed her own advice with Dreamstake, HoxTech Angels, and a Fashion Tech movement she’s leading in London.
What is your next move?
What is your next move in growing your startup or career? Share with us how you’re going to take action in the comments below.