302: Olga Oleinikova (Ashley Talks ASH19)
- 13:00 In your career of studying people, what are some things people in business should know and try to apply in their daily life? -- Consider whether you're dealing with customers on the one hand, or members of your team on the other. With customers, follow them. Don't develop solutions that don't respond to a need. Get inside their behavior and don't make them do something they don't want to do. With your team, always listen. Be open and receptive to what you see.
- 24:50 Let's talk about social media. What is your favorite social network and what do you think is the future of social media? -- Today social media is like a shopping mall. Younger people don't watch TV, but they are all on social. This means social media is the most effective way to reach your target audience. The problem for most companies is turning social media interest into sales. In terms of platforms, Facebook and Instagram are the two highest drivers of converting interest into sales.
- 59:00 How does one get on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 list? -- The key is focusing on what matters to you. Do your own thing and find your own path. If you have a path, people will see it and come on-board. Receiving this award brought us a lot of new clients. We received a lot of media and promotion from it as well. It was also a big validation.
- 00:05 Welcome Olga Oleinikova, co-founder and CEO of Persollo, to Ashley Talks with host Ashley Galina Dudarenok.
- 01:15 What is your story? -- Started current and first business in 2015. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine; moved to Australia in 2012. Came to Sydney to do a PhD in Political Science. The academic journey became a bit boring so decided to switch paths and pursue this business idea.
- 04:15 How was the transition jumping into business? -- As a person, was always entrepreneurial. Always had a mindset for raising money. The area is different, clearly; but in the end it's just about people. Picked Australia for the sense of adventure; no real connections there. Still linked back home quite a bit as most of Persollo's development team is in Ukraine.
- 08:55 Have you always been an over-achiever? -- Thirsty for new adventures; just want to enjoy life. Things just happened and there's a lot of luck involved...and hard work.
- 18:05 You work with people from two very different cultures, Australia and Ukraine. What are the differences you see in how people work? -- Never did business in Ukraine, so keep that in mind. In Australia, people seem more willing to invest in new ideas and products.
- 20:00 Do you find it's easy to do business in Australia? -- Yes, very much. My story is one of being female, being a migrant, and being young. This is an intersection of many challenges but still it's possible to do well. As a woman, there is a lot of support from other women in business. There are networks to provide help and encouragement.
- 30:00 Is it cost-effective for brands to work with social media influencers? -- It depends. It's certainly less expensive to work with influencers than to do traditional media buys and produce advertisement. Another benefit from influencers is they provide a distribution channel. Finally, they give reviews. But again the problem remains one of turning media dollars into sales. For us at Persollo, we have our influencers include the platform in all their posts.
- 34:14 So talking about Persollo, how exactly does it work? -- Say you're browsing on Instagram and you see a dress you like. You would click on the image and then receive a pop-up with product information and where you can provide your payment details. With one-click you're basically at the checkout.
- 36:00 How do you see the world coming to this integrated retail model with social media and shopping combined? When might we expect this from major platforms like Facebook and Instagram? -- We see some of this already. Instagram recently just rolled out their shopping price tags, but it still requires retailers to have their own brand pages where people go to transact. There still are big concerns with security and privacy. This is where Persollo is different. We offer platform independence.
- 40:40 So then what is your business model at Persollo? -- Currently we offer three plans: starter, expert, and business. These have different features depending on a user's needs.
- 45:20 If right now you had a billion US dollars, what would you create? What would you build? -- Of course invest in Persollo. More seriously, would like to see an investment in AI. Things like image recognition. AI and blockchain are exciting technologies. These things are in our minds.
- 48:00 What advice would you give to entrepreneurs just beginning their journeys? -- Each day choose one thing to empower yourself. Pick one thing maybe you're scared to do and do it once per day. Get yourself out of your comfort zone and unlocking potential you didn't know you had.
- 50:00 How is your fundraising going? -- We just closed our seed round about a year ago. We have about five main investors on-board now. Raising money right now is challenging but it is possible, if you have a solid team and solid product. The Australian angel investment market is pretty small, but it is there and they will support you. Now we are looking for funding in Asia in places like Hong Kong and Singapore. Our cash burn rate now is quite low, we've been able to bootstrap a lot of things and already we're starting to see profit.
- 53:45 How would you encourage more women to get into business? -- Don't think about fact you are a woman. Focus on your business and growing yourself as a human being. Many people are scared of failure, but this is a part of the process. In the beginning there were dark moments for us. Early on our CTO decided to pursue other things and this left us as a group of non-technical people trying to design a technical platform. Luckily we found someone else to work with us.
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