Interview with Dmitry Kabanov
Techstars Startup Digest

I learned the language of business but I think about the world as an engineer. I'm running a next-gen media, named VSCE. Apart from it, I speak at tech conferences and consult startups and bigger tech firms on content-marketing.
You have an academic background in engineering. How did you make the jump to working with startups and content? Does your training help you approach your work from a fresh perspective?
In fact, back in 2010, my research supervisor, Roman, recommended “Getting Real,” the book by Jason Fried and David Hansson. After that, he invited me to join his SEO startup. I didn’t like the SEO part of the job, so I decided to focus on building my own expertise in the content creation business. My engineering background helps me to be on the same footing as the founders of tech startups and bigger tech firms that want to storytell and write about their tech in social and platforms that build off of user generated content. As a matter of fact, I still use podcasting as my primary networking vehicle. Back in the day, it allowed me to meet tons of tech industry leaders without having a bio or name in the industry and get my first three big clients for my content marketing agency.
What would be your best advice for a firm thinking of starting their own podcast? What makes a great piece of marketing content in 2018?
I believe that this comeback will be really big for podcasting. And, to win in this wave of new audio shows starting this year or next year, businesses should focus on one strategic pillar and one tactical pillar. First, the strategic one is about projecting their brand values, not products, to the interests of their audiences. This will help them find guest speakers and topics that relate to their brands and be on point with questions that their listeners are looking for answers to. Second, the tactical one is about making more than just audio out of the podcasting process. It’s about redistribution of audio in text transcripts and blog posts. Plus, documenting the process behind the show, filming it, and sharing those short videos in a company’s social media profiles.
How would it differ from content that made the grade 5-6 years ago, when you started your content creation business?
What’s really different today is that there’s no point in podcasting once a month. The pace and the volume of content that goes out in today’s web has grown so much that in order to be noticed by an average listener, you have to be both patient and resourceful to produce useful content on a regular basis: biweekly, once a week, or even daily. That’s quite an issue for tech companies that are sometimes struggling to put all the pieces together and set up their branded show on iTunes, Soundcloud and other platforms.
You run the Techstars Startup Digest for Moscow. What are the most prevalent local trends you’ve picked up on?
I’ve been curating Moscow’s Techstars Startup Digest for six years, and it’s been a super-fruitful experience for me as a local curator. Apart from publishing my weekly digests and networking, I have explored most of the local infrastructure for hosting events for the startup-related audience, and I think one of the most prevalent local trends is the rise of co-working spaces. Today, there are dozens of great spaces that are rather cheap — $230—$250 per month to rent a working desk — and that allow residents to attend local meetups with top industry experts in biz dev, programming, design, and more. So next is probably the co-living trend that is just starting to find its way back into Moscow.
Hi Dmitry! Some people think only of music when they see the letters SXSW – but the brand is also big news for startups. Can you explain a little about your work on the SXSW Accelerator advisory board?
First of all, I’d like to thank you for having me here and thank you also for your patience in detailing specific questions, such as the one about SXSW. It’s a great question, because today “South by” is one of the biggest cultural conglomerates, covering everything at the intersection of tech and pop culture: film and music industries, startups, and more. I myself was invited to join the Accelerator advisory board to judge and review startups applying for the main event and spread the word here in Moscow. In fact, I had to go through 200 submissions in one night and carefully analyze proposed business models and solutions, and check out product prototypes. For me, it was a real pleasure to see startups trying to solve real-world problems and people doing things they love. What’s more important, apart from judging, is that I had a chance to connect people with organizers and even help out one of my friends — Lillian, who’s filming Crypto Rush, a documentary about blockchain — to visit “South by” and meet some of the industry leaders. So it was a real pleasure to judge, open doors, and connect people who are interested in what’s going on at the SXSW festival.
Why have you decided to launch VSCE a next-generation community for startups and the co-work and co-live related gigs?
VSCE stands for Vigorous Storytelling, Culture, and Entrepreneurship. It’s a new type of media that examines the world of business, tech, and everything around us through the lens of leadership, skills, culture, and motivation to succeed in life as an entrepreneur or specialist in your specific area of interest. We plan for this project to be instrumental to the audience. At the moment, we aim it at startup gigs and both the co-work and co-live infrastructure that has gained enormous traction around the globe and is now truly powering the new culture for Next Generation entrepreneurs. To connect with the Next Gen audience and be part of this movement, we decided to try lead it from the standpoint of storytelling and content creation — things that we do best.