Can you please introduce yourself to our readers and fellow entrepreneurs?
Hello everyone! I’m Dmitry Tsyplakov, serial entrepreneur and digital product manager. At the moment i’m launching a project in real estate in California. Prior to Property Technology, I had managed digital products in Blockchain and Marketplaces.
What is your background?
Thinking back to my childhood, I can say that I was a teenager who could not live without computers, games and Sony Play Station. When I was 10 years old, my parents gave me a console and I became a fan of “Need For Speed”. After school we played for hours with friends and existed in a parallel world that the Electronic Arts team created for us. But I never left the thought that I wanted to make my own game, with my storyline and characters. In the summer, when vacation time began, I asked a family friend who was a programmer how to develop games. He gave me a 600-page textbook and told me to study. It was certainly not what I expected, but I immersed myself in learning. I didn’t understand a lot of things due to my inexperience, but I tried to put everything I did understand into practice right away. At the age of 12, on my birthday, I invited my friends over and showed them my game. I had no material goals at that time, I was captivated by the game world and dreamed of how in the future the whole school would know about me and we would make city competitions. By the way, in the game project I co-founded 6 years later I implemented many of my ideas from my game and I was absolutely happy when Sony signed a contract with us to develop video games. We were the first in Russia to get the license.
What is entrepreneurship for you?
The first word that comes up when I say the word “entrepreneur” is the word “risk”!
Risk is the essence and foundation of the entrepreneur’s life. It is what appears in it first and what never leaves it. In other words, no one ever guarantees anything when you are an entrepreneur. Whether or not you will make a profit is a question whose answer always involves risk.
Even if an entrepreneur gets everything right in terms of business processes, if the market doesn’t like your product, if customers don’t want to buy your product, you won’t make any money!
That’s the irony of the entrepreneurial profession: you can do very right things and still not make any money!
And by the way, you can do everything wrong, but still make money if everyone really needs your idea or your product at that time and place.
Entrepreneurship is a constant risk and a willingness to lose money. So the last thing I would advise anyone who wants to make money to do is start a business. Because the odds of you losing money in your first business are 100%. Not 99%, but 100%!
Therefore, what does an entrepreneur do? He takes risks! And when you do your first business, you have to understand that.
What an entrepreneur visibly does during the day – assembling a team, looking for suppliers, improving his product – it all does not guarantee success and does not guarantee profit. Although, when things are going well, outwardly the lifestyle of an entrepreneur can be appealing.
But it is risk that determines both success and failure, an entity that is very difficult to calculate and very difficult to predict, but has a huge role in business.
What distinguishes a person with an entrepreneurial mindset?
An entrepreneur is not someone who calls himself a businessman and makes money. He has this entrepreneurial mindset. He looks at things outside of the box. He has an inner dissatisfaction with what is going on around him. He wants to do something differently. Creativity is very important to him. You have to be able to combine creativity and entrepreneurship. An entrepreneur is a person who fixes what he is dissatisfied with.
What was the toughest moment you have experienced in your business practice? How did you succeed to get over it and move forward?
My first project, which received a $1 million investment, was also my most dangerous adventure. At one point the launch of the product was temporarily suspended; the investor was just furious about it. Since I was responsible for the team’s results, I was also in charge of all the negotiations. To be honest, the threats were scary at times. But we got through it, the conflict was resolved and since then there is rarely anything that can scare me.
Who is your greatest support when facing hardships in business?
My wife is my best supporter and partner.
What are basic qualities of an entrepreneur?
I would distinguish three basic qualities.
First, the entrepreneur sees opportunities before anyone else and actively moves toward their realization. By understanding the unsolved problems of the consumer, he finds a solution, and through a series of experiments he comes up with the right product or service to solve these problems in a more efficient way relative to existing competitors.
Second, the ability to persuade, to promote his idea. To be an entrepreneur is to be a good marketer. He is able to convince investors, customers, and employees of the attractiveness of his project by speaking to each of these audiences in the language of its “value”.
Third, creating a productive team. The successful entrepreneur objectively evaluates his strengths and weaknesses, and strengthens the team with the missing competences. He knows how to find the right mix of motivation, performance, and compatibility in people and make them into a team that strengthens his project.
Besides business strategy and team selection, what is your role in business?
One of the most important resources in business is the entrepreneur’s personal and own energy! If an entrepreneur does not give the business this energy, if he is not the engine of movement, if he is sluggish, if instead of running the business he is looking for some great top managers who will make him cool and give the business growth for great salaries, then this is complete nonsense.
If the entrepreneur has no energy, if his business is boring him, then his business risks going down. And that energy must be generated through the entrepreneur’s constant personal presence in the business, through his personal involvement and engagement in the business! The people you’ve hired need to see that you’re there for them all the time. That you’re thinking about the business, that you’re suggesting something, that you’re involved in discussions about current problems and plans.
I don’t believe in a business that is successful after the owner created it and stepped aside, but would remain its sole owner and then enjoy life, receiving more and more millions and billions into his account. It doesn’t work that way!
In your opinion, which companies have a chance to become market giants?
The answer will be very short, although the question is very important and could be the subject of a separate interview and even a book. But in short and most importantly, those companies become big when they remember where the money grows from – and the money grows from the customer. And those companies which forget about it, and whose employees think that their salary is paid by the owners, such companies stop, shrink and die.
So, if you want to grow your business, think about how to meet the wishes and requirements of customers. Taking the case of real estate, it might be important for the people in the business to have a good customer relationship management system that can help them lead generation, marketing & cater to the customer’s needs. In such cases, hiring CRM firms that can take up the entire responsibility of the company’s real estate back office can be really helpful. This can be taken as an example of how to create more and more new value for them in your product or service, because that is the only key to growth, the condition for a small company to become average, and the average company to become big.
What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear in general?
When I first started working, I was very afraid of uncertainty. What will happen tomorrow? Will I be able to find investors? Will there be clients? Will I be able to pay rent and salary to team members?
But pretty quickly I realized that tomorrow is planned not even today, but yesterday. There will be clients if I build a clear and effective lead generation system. And what will happen tomorrow, I plan today.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
Everything takes time, so be persistent, courageous and patient. Also keep in mind the mental and emotional health of your team members who work daily for the good of the company.
Dmitry Tsyplakov, Serial Entrepreneur/ Digital Product Manager/ PropTech/ Blockchain