Below, The Startup Magazine provides an essay from Anna Svirelkina, Chief Operating Officer of BlockShow, the global blockchain technology conference. Ms. Svirelkina’s background as an entrepreneur and product manager give her helpful and unique insights of how we create and lead successful startups. Her perspective is another example of the power of shared entrepreneur experiences found in our founders article series.
Startups are not always like they are in the movies, with ping-pong tables, unlimited beer and Razor Scooters. They are learning environments, moving at a lighting speed, trying to accomplish something incredible—often something that hasn’t been done before—from scratch. Having built businesses from the ground up, assembled teams and pioneered new concepts and sold businesses successfully, I’ve learned a few key tactic to making startups successful.
Today, I’m the Chief Operating Officer at BlockShow, the premier global conference for the cryptocurrency and decentralized technology communities founded in 2016 by Addy Crezee. Powered by Cointelegraph, the leading media outlet in the crypto/blockchain industry, the show has grown from its first event with 300 people to its most recent event with over 3,000. How did we do this? Having the right idea at the right time, along with the right people.
The world of cryptocurrency is expanding quickly. There is over $275 billion in circulation right now. BlockShow was the first and only conference of its kind, uniting these industry professionals. We grew quickly. In late 2017 we started to hire people, and by March 2018 we had 30 people. While we grew quickly, it was too fast. According to Inc. Magazine, scaling too quickly is the primary reason new companies fail. We learned that we needed people that thought like entrepreneurs and were able to deliver high-quality results.
When hiring, we always ask ourselves: what makes a good team member? The qualities we look for are simple but indispensible. First, have the ability to communicate! Being in touch with clients, partners and high-profile speakers is a major part of working at a conference company. I called it a person who is self-propelled; a person who has above-average communicative ability. Being creative, responsible and independent are critical when it comes to success in this business. We decided to cultivate the quality of being self-propelled, which is formed by a set of soft skills and personal qualities and skills such as initiative and self-motivation. If something doesn’t work, a problem has arisen or we don’t know what to do, then we actively find out what to do and solve the problem. Being self-propelled is what helps us in work and in life.
Social competences are responsible for successful interaction with people. This includes overall sociability, having competent written and oral speech, the ability to speak in public, emotional intelligence—or the ability to recognize the emotions and motives of other people, and flexibility and acceptance of criticism. Intellectual competences are responsible for continuous professional development for an individual. These competencies include having an analytical mind; the ability to see and solve a problem; having a good memory; and their overall learnability and creativity. Volition—using one’s will—is a competency responsible for achieving goals in work. This involves being result-oriented, being good at time management, having perseverance, stress resistance and the willingness to do routine work.
Leadership competencies are responsible for the successful use of resources to achieve common goals. These include decision-making skills, having responsibility, the ability to form a team, mentoring junior staff and having the ability to resolve conflicts. These are the key competencies that can predict the success of teams, team members and leaders.
Building a creative culture
The conference industry is an incredibly exciting industry but also a tough one. To be at the top of your game, you must be creative, hardworking and persistent. The attendee experience is key. I always imagine, where will the attendees walk in, what will they do, what will be the first thing they see at the conference? We try to anticipate any problems or pain points, and solve them before they happen. For someone who is interested in this industry, I always suggest getting to know the industry first—the major players, the history and the current state of the industry.
BlockShow is not just a workplace but a vibrant community of learning, growth and inspiration. We believe in accomplishing your own goals as well as the company’s. Working for an international business, employees can see the world, meet new people, and learn every aspect of the business. Setting and meeting goals is a priority: each employee has success benchmarks and teammates suggest goals as well. Team members are not afraid to provide and receive feedback, and are often grateful for it. Most of all, we look for people that are mindful—seeing things from a place of wisdom.
Winning startup qualities
While many startups have an intimidating and competitive environment, we believe that people are able to deliver only when they are not afraid to do something. They cannot be afraid to go to their boss with bad news, or try a new approach to a problem. They need to know they will not be punished, even if the outcome isn’t favorable. Being a great team member means not waiting for bosses or some action from the top before acting. If something doesn’t work, a problem has arisen or the next steps are unclear, an effective team member will actively find out what to do and solve the problem.
We believe in taking calculated risks and support the employee’s constant learning and growth. Winning qualities include being self-motivated, focused on the goal and having a high degree of professionalism. Managers should be able to step back and avoid micromanaging staff. As a manager, I’ve learned to let our people work and not interrupt them. Give people the support needed to do their job and defined objectives to meet. Most talented people love a challenge and at the same time want to be appreciated.
Watching people grow and succeed is my favorite part of my job. Startup culture supports a more creative culture than a corporate environment. We are honored to be a part of the emerging world of cryptocurrency and decentralized technology and bringing together the industry’s greatest companies and thought leaders.
By Anna Svirelkina, Chief Operating Officer of BlockShow