In 2019 the smartshelf was born thanks to two innovative minds, Yaroslav Parkhisenko and Mykyta Holubakha. The pair met at a Demium AllStartup Weekend, where they founded Recoshelf. The idea is to help supermarkets overcome low-stock losses and sell more by installing weight sensors and cameras on retailers’ shelves (welcome the smartshelf). Recoshelf software can then collect precise and up-to-the-minute data that could ultimately increase sales by up to 6%. So how did Yaroslav and Mykyta come up with such a solution and why did they seek help from Demium to get it off the ground? We caught up with Yaroslav to find out.
1. What were the Recoshelf team doing before joining the Demium incubator?
Well I started a company in the smart homes area, but I didn’t succeed. I did that for two years before I joined Demium. One guy ran his own business for seven years and another guy was starting his masters degree in computer science whilst creating software for an external company and he was very involved in our creative process. At Demium I didn’t just meet other entrepreneurs, I met investors, financial people and upper level management.
2. Why did you decide to start your company with Demium?
I understood that I needed more expertise. That I didn’t just need money to succeed, but technical and sales marketing knowledge.
3. What was your favourite part of the AllStartup Weekend experience?
The whole process, it was fantastic. It was very fast and so interesting. I met lots of different people and learnt a lot. I think it’s the balance of positive stress that brings out the best qualities in people and produces results.
4. What is it about your co-founders that made you want to form a startup with them?
They’re so clever and talented. They have tech, managerial and marketing skills, which is a great mix. For the past year I’ve enjoyed talking to them every day, we’ve become a family. Before lockdown we would meet at each other’s houses, drink tea in the morning and get to know each other’s talents. I believe all of us were looking for partners who share the same values. This is key, because if you don’t have the same values, you’re likely to fail.
5. Have you had to pivot your product since incubation?
We’ve changed a few times. In the ideation phase we changed twice and now we’re happy with what we have in this pre-seed stage. We did all the usual things startups do when pivoting: researching global trends, the competition and doing interviews. It wasn’t too hard a process, but because it’s B2B it’s hard to find contacts in top management positions.
6. What is the biggest challenge and success you’ve faced so far?
The biggest challenge was to provide the product that customers expected with limited resources, time and understanding of how it would be actually used. The biggest success was our test in Auchan, a multinational, multibillion-dollar supermarket chain.
7. What’s been the most rewarding part of your startup journey?
People. I’ve met such lovely experts, who have helped me build and expand this company.
8. Where do you hope to be in a year’s time?
Hopefully we’ll have much larger capitalisation, say five or six million. And we want to be successfully installed in Poland and the Baltic countries.
9. How has Demium helped you on your journey?
Demium taught me skills, like customer development, that I didn’t have before. I started with the online workshops and training sessions, then I purchased books to learn more. Overall, the greatest skill that Demium has taught me is product management. After all, if you don’t have a product, you have nothing to sell, and if you can’t find a market fit, you can’t do anything. For me this was an eye-opener.
10. What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
I talk to entrepreneurs every day and what I’ve noticed is that they all get stuck at one time or another. If you’re in that situation, if you’ve failed, definitely go to Demium. It will change your life and your business for better. People should be more intrigued than scared. Of course, it’s not for everyone, but business ownership is not for everyone and Demium selects people that have the qualities to succeed in setting up their own business. If you’re not ready for challenges and risks, don’t try to start your own corporation. But remember that the risks will decrease so long as you have the right people by your side. This is the spirit of Demium. They won’t let you fall.