Interview with Victoria Yampolsky
An entrepreneur and an experienced finance & business professional. As the President of The Startup Station
, Yampolsky helps founders evaluate the financial feasibility of their business plan, convert it into a financial model that they can use not only to value their company for a financing round but also to track their progress and to be able to react timely to market feedback. Yampolsky also teach finance classes to early stage startup founders with little or no prior finance experience.
Hello Victoria, would you introduce yourself and the Startup Station?
Hi! My name is Victoria Yampolskyi and I'm the president and founder of The Start-up Station.
The Start-up Station is a comprehensive financial resource for early-stage startup founders.
I created it to empower them, to effectively communicate their vision, in the language that investors can understand, and this language is finance, and so through our course, through our services, through our free resources which include a YouTube channel and a book we help entrepreneurs learn startup related finance and accounting, understand the business drivers of their business model, create a thaw a financial model that properly reflects the fundamentals of their business and produce incredible valuation that they can defend to investors and in the process create a tool that can help them measure the effectiveness of their strategy as they go to market so that they can react to market feedback on a timely basis and increase their chances of success.
Overall this resource is supposed to help entrepreneurs get funded fast.
What attracted you to startup financing and financial modeling of early stage startups?
When I begin advising startups in 2013, I quickly realized that they had a problem because a lot of them had product or technical expertise but didn't really have the business acumen to figure out all of the monetization strategies or how they were going to make money from their venture. So when I initially created The Start-up Station I focused on both aspects of the gap that I've identified which was Strategy and Finance. However, over time, I realized that finance, represented an even bigger need because fewer people had the expertise in the start-up space especially when it came to companies with no financial history, and so a very organically I began helping companies at the very early stage and I developed a lot of knowledge in that space and modeled companies across multiple industries, and then I began teaching entrepreneurs how to do it themselves because obviously, not everybody can afford to hire a consultant, but yet, everybody needs to learn finance in order to get funded in order to build a successful and profitable business.
Which industries have you worked with?
I have worked with multiple industries in seven years that I've had The Start-up Station, they include Retail, Tech, all kinds of Tech, Educational Tech, Retail Tech, Media Tech, Fintech, etc, Manufacturing, Consumer Electronics, Medical Devices, Food, and what I've learned in this process is that the frameworks that you use to model a business are the same across industries and all you need to know is how to ask the right questions.
When you model a product startup, when a company that has a physical product, the reason inventory in a supply chain component that needs to be considered, as opposed to when you're more a Tech startup or a service startup, but with the exception of that difference the process for modeling any company is the same.
How many students have taken your classes so far and do you need to know any finance as a pre-requisite?
The Start-up Station educational arm was launched in 2015 and since then more than a thousand students have taken my classes, mostly in New York City. In September 2018 I have brought my entire curriculum online so that entrepreneurs from all over the world can learn finance and get funded faster.
My curriculum is geared to entrepreneurs with no finance experience and it covers all the concepts that they need to know to create their first financial model and value their company from the beginning. So we covered the topics of Finance, Financial Analysis, Accounting, Financial Modeling, Negotiation, and Startup Financing.
For those entrepreneurs that do have some prior finance knowledge and they're just not sure how to avail your startups, they can take just a subset of classes specifically dedicated to financial modeling of pre-revenue their companies but for everybody else there are the classes that will teach them everything they need to know in order to get funded faster and successfully.
What advice would you give startups looking to get funding fast? How would you compare ICOs with traditional startup financing vehicles?
I recommend that entrepreneurs do the following five things in order to get funded faster.
Number one to have a thorough financial model that represents their company's fundamentals and the credible valuation that they can defend to investors.
Number two a well thought out pitch tech that highlights the long term and near-term revenue potential for a company as well as a clear execution plan of how they're going to get there.
Number three an Executive Summary.
Number four a team that can execute on the plan, and if you don't have such a team, then a board of advisors.
and Number five a great lawyer so that they can put together a good term sheet for you or help you negotiate with investors forth terms that will be beneficial to you.
Now in terms of the ICO as an alternative to traditional startup financing vehicles. I recommend that you only pursue them if you have a blockchain startup and the reason use case for you to launch a coin within your ecosystem, even if you have a blockchain technology, not all blockchain startups should have their own coin. However in this method is, of course, allows startups to raise more money faster from a wider investors base and as long as you comply with all the laws and as long as you have the necessary funds to do it, and as long as you have the reason to do it, it's a perfectly valid vehicle that startups now have in addition to the traditional set of financing vehicles which are equity, safe and convertible debt.