I am Nikita Makarov. Now I am working CPO and Co-founder at FooDoo. FooDoo — AI-based Grab & Go solution helps reduce food waste and make high-quality food affordable. The startup reduces food waste by up to 50% compared to the Grab & Go market average. I have been in IT digital product management for over 7 years and in food tech for 5 years.
Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
Every summer of my childhood I spent at our dacha, or country house, playing and having fun with my peers. We didn’t have any electronic devices, so my friends and I were constantly coming up with and inventing new ways of entertaining ourselves. Thanks to these games with my friends, I realized that you can bring to life the craziest ideas only if you are surrounded by proactive people and have a team that trusts and motivates you. When I was around 18 years old, I started university studying law, but in the fourth year, I understood that this was not for me and I left the university. And while this experience was useful to me in the future, I am glad that I decided to follow my interests which at that time was game dev. I got a job as a translator in a studio that was developing games. Game development fascinated me because I permanently communicated with new people, and interacted with different communities. However, game dev is a highly competitive industry, where there is both external market competition between companies and internal competition between specialists of the same team. Thanks to effective cooperation with the community, building relationships, and solving conflicts in the team, which comprises competitive players, it became possible to find an approach to communication and cooperation with any people and build trustworthy relationships with a team, partners and investors. After working in game dev for a while, I was convinced that it is my passion. I was very excited about this work and wanted to continue to advance my skills in this industry while at the same time going forward as an independent product developer.
How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
I came to the idea of entrepreneurship when I got my second job. I worked for a startup that was developing games for Android. The startup did not last, but it gave me tremendous experience. Looking back now I understand that we had a friendly and talented team and many of them have grown professionally. For example, the guy who developed the main elements of our games became a designer for Call of Duty. Our team fondly recalls that interesting time, although everyone had little experience and no one knew how to do it right. I’m glad that I took the bold step of trying a risky and outside-of-the-box job at a startup because it gave me the flexibility and an unconventional outlook on my professional life. After I tried my hand at game development, I got a strong interest to learn more about the specifics of working in the mass market with commercial products. The best way to satisfy my interest was to get a job in a company that delivers such products as a contractor. I became a project developer at several companies. It was fascinating for me to implement ideas, and find ways and solutions to problems so that the project really works effectively and the designs are both correct and beautiful. At some point I realized that this company management system did not suit me, so I got the idea to start my own business. My colleagues and I launched a project that really thrilled me, and I dived into working there. I sought freedom because I dreamed of bringing my ideas to life, becoming the creator of my own unique project that would reflect my vision, and not someone else’s. I believe that absolute freedom does not exist. In any case, it is limited by your position, resources, and norms. Within the framework of clear limitations and resources, you can follow your own path, and you understand how to pursue your goals and achieve them.
What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
I believe that one of the key principles for entrepreneurship is the art of understanding, listening to yourself, and managing your resources. I don’t have a strict daily routine so it’s difficult for me to systematize my life, but I plan to do this in the future. Right now my mind works in such a way that I need to get excited about and be inspired by something and to work at the time that I want. This way I deal with tasks quicker and better and it brings me pleasure. I don’t see much point in sitting down to some task when I’m worn out, instead it will be much more efficient and more enjoyable to do in a proper time. However, it is better to postpone creative tasks, rather than routine ones. Postponing significant tasks is risky for business development because your company will not develop and rise without it. Time management and understanding yourself is about work and life balance – when you listen to yourself, you can organize the process effectively. Networking, building relationships in a team, and mutual motivation are complicated but significant for business success. Therefore a founder must have the skill to listen and understand team members, solve conflicts, and motivate people to work because startups often don’t have a lot of money at first. For the long-term success of the company, it is important to maintain contact with people, in order to build a strong and supportive community of professionals around the company. Additionally, tenacious persistence always pays off. I am still in the process of realizing this lesson, but I am more and more convinced of this with each passing day. I came to this idea after one project failed due to a misallocated budget. It’s normal to make mistakes, and it can even be useful the first time, but the second time ― it’s a serious wake-up call. The most important thing is to answer the question of how you are going to transform the situation at hand. It’s even more interesting not how you go about solving the problem but rather how you on the whole will deal with difficulties. What will you do next time under similar circumstances? This is what matters. Being hardworking and ambitious does not mean spending all your time at work, sacrificing your health and sleep, and trying to do everything perfectly at any cost. After work, it is essential to let yourself live, broaden your horizons, relax and restore your energy. If you do not have enough knowledge, then you should think about spending time on education and gaining experience. In this case, it is better to fail the deal several times, but as a result, gain experience. Thanks to the mistakes made and the lesson learned, sooner or later you will succeed. Therefore, it is useless to sit over the “ideal presentation” for six months and wait for a miracle. It takes courage to step out of your comfort zone to be heard and seen. Tenacious persistence is not a traditional lesson or a means to become a great entrepreneur, but a way to stay sane and motivated.