Interview with Vitaly Golomb – future How to Web speaker and Startup Spotlight mentor

Vitaly is a man of many talents: entrepreneur, mentor, designer, blogger and speaker, he specializes in product development, user experience, user acquisition, printing industry, and venture capital. Many startups are currently benefiting from his experience and knowledge at accelerators such as 500 Startups, TechPeaks or Innovation Nest. Vitaly is also an Executive Producer at Europe Venture Summit, so he has a lot of experience both with the US/Canadian and European startup ecosystems, being able to objectively point out their strengths and weaknesses. Here’s a sneak peek into the talk he will deliver at How to Web in a few weeks:

1. Are there any differences in design between Central and Eastern Europe startups and US/Canada based ones?

There is a massive difference in the founders’ level of experience, specialization, and ecosystem of mentors between US/Silicon Valley and the rest of the world. What makes Silicon Valley special is that there are six generations of startup entrepreneurs who help nurture the next generation and the ecosystem of investors, services providers, and talent is complete. Every other ecosystem may have a good level of technical talent but is usually missing quite a bit of the other necessary ingredients for success… including enough large companies who would serve as potential exists for the startups via acquisition. This, and the fact the best startuppers come to Silicon Valley for their shot at the brass ring, is the reason why other regions will be playing catchup for a long time to come. The other problem is that investors in most regions have a private equity mentality focused on short-term revenue deliverables vs. long-term scale (and then revenue) view. Hence why many startups have so much trouble raising initial capital to prove-out their businesses while you hear news of yet another multi-hundred million dollar/euro fund being announced focused on growth. The big advantage CEE has over anywhere in the world, is the depth and volume of technical talent graduating every year from great CS programs. Now it has to be directed towards creating startups vs. going to work for yet another outsourcing shop.

2. In your experienced opinion, should startups start building the product design or the business strategy first? Which should dictate the foundation of a business?

“As far as the customer is concerned, the interface is the product.” Jef Raskin, creator of the Apple Macintosh. In the world of web and mobile apps, the experience wins users and customers. They don’t care what database is used or if it is the latest version of Ruby, etc. So the lean thing to do is to determine what the customer needs, deliver it in the best possible way, and develop whatever backend is required to support it.

3. How can design driven development be applied in an effective manner for startups that focus on ecommerce?

It is actually in some ways easier for ecommerce startups to test design improvements. If they work, more sales are made. Design in this case means good photography, engaging copy, an easy to navigate layout, and an efficient and clear checkout process. In the world of ecommerce, the technology is so available that only design will be the differentiator.

Vitaly will talk about Design Driven Development at How to Web and he’ll also be mentoring some of the Startup Spotlight finalists, so this is your chance to talk business with someone who was already built two successful startups.

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