Entrepreneur at the helm: Andrey Chirikov

Entrepreneur at the helm: Andrey Chirikov

ItBoat publishes a series of interviews with Skolkovo Sailing Team members
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Andrey Chirikov is an entrepreneur, investor and EMBA graduate of «Skolkovo»Moscow School of Management. After leaving a large corporation, Andrey entered Skolkovo, got the missing knowledge there, found new friends, invested in start-up projects and found a new hobby - sailing.

How did you get into the Skolkovo team?

I'm a graduate of the School of Management. I studied at the Executive MBA course, and it was in the 7th group, where the main squad of the Skolkovo Sailing Team was formed: Yura Mitin, Ruslan Mukhametzyanov, Matveev Sasha, Sergey Mulyar, Evgeny Zorin, Sergey Popper, Maxim... I didn't go to study with them immediately. I had other yacht trips, including those combined with diving.

I was invited to the team from the very beginning, and I said «Yes, of course you were. I'm with you! But I'll join you later. You need to learn a lot more, to gain experience».

But when they began to move seven-mile steps, I thought: «That's the speed and spirit! I will not have time now!»And I joined quickly and now we're learning sports yachting and competing together.

What is your experience in sailing?

If we talk about the skipper's experience, I have a small one. He drove several times in Montenegro, in Sochi on Beneteau. But in other positions experience is enough. Mostly raced as a schoolboy or pitman, also was on the grotto and stack. Last year I competed in Monaco for the J70 just in the position of pitman and carried a gennaker. We raced in the same crew as Skolkovo Sailing Team member Zhenya Semykina. In Portsmouth, there was one of the most difficult regattas.

I know how to sail a boat because of my cruising experience, not racing. And now I've been able to sail in a race, too. The recent Melges 20 regatta in Monaco gave me a unique chance to gain experience of sailing a boat in a difficult regatta situation. Here you need to know how to act in a critical situation, how to manage a boat at the start, when there are a lot of boats and we need to get in a good position, how to get down, how to use our rights and many other details. What I have read and listened to in the theory of racing tactics has now been put into practice.

Where did you get your passion for sailing from?

As a child I went with my brother to a school for young Nakhimovs in the Central House of Pioneers in Moscow. Even then I was drawn to the sea.

The first time I raised my own sail in the White Sea. I think I was, like, nine years old.

I went out in a small bay, a small boat was leaking and I dug out water with a bucket. But it was more of a children's game than a sport.

What other sports do you do besides sailing?

Snowboarding heli-ski, for example. It's a kind of freeride where you get lifted by helicopter and landed in the mountains on wild and uncharted slopes. We fly around the world and choose untouched corners of the mountains. I also play tennis myself and hold tournaments in our tennis club, other hobbies - diving, rallying on classic cars, football, although now I play less and less because of injuries.

What's the most important thing about sailing?

Strategy. You need to follow your chosen line, react quickly to changing situations and be as focused on your task as possible. In addition, you see very clearly how much your mistake can change the balance of power in the race.
It is very important, however, as in many sports, to have a cohesive team.

If there is a team that feels you and listens to you, and you support each other, you can achieve a lot. One in the field and at sea is not a warrior.

Such skills must help in business, too?

Very much! I have many directions in business. I do not act alone anywhere. There's always either a partner or a team. It's hard in business without the talent of guys who help. And I always keep in touch with the team. We're both friends, and we work.

What's the opposite? Are there any skills that have migrated from sailing to your business?

I believe that business and sailing have much in common.

Purposefulness is very important. If you start throwing, change your strategy every day, you lose as a result.

For example, wind setting can instantly affect the sail and the boat will lose speed. If you start to panic and change course, looking for the right direction, then be in trouble. And if you show a little patience and patience, you stay on course, then the wind increases again, and you take yours and win. In business, you have to do the same thing. Such analogies help me not to panic too much, especially in these difficult times.

What role does business education play now, in difficult times, as you put it?

Definitive, I'd say. My training at Skolkovo coincided with a new stage in my life: I moved from a large corporation and started my own business. I had management experience, experience in sales, but I had no experience in forming a long-term strategy, building a company or business. And I wanted not only to start a new business, but also to develop my own existing projects.

It was very interesting to learn. I acquired a lot of knowledge in corporate finance, began to understand accounting, in general, on all the topics that I did not deal with while working in a large corporation. And the first thing I had to learn was how to draw up a business strategy. Here, the Skolkovo education helped me a lot.
Moreover, acquaintances acquired at Skolkovo became business contacts for me. We hold on to each other, help each other. I have invested in five projects related to Skolkovo, many of which have become international and are developing. Skolkovo is a turning point in my life.

And what kind of projects are you working on now?

I have two ongoing projects. One of them is the ship-ownership company Saturn Shipping. My partner and I have invested in the construction of tankers. Now, several of them have been bought out by major state-owned companies. My other business is a terminal in Murmansk, from where we exported oil products. But I am more involved in investment projects now.

For example, one of the projects came to me from Startup Village Skolkovo. I helped the kids make pitches and fate led me to an interesting project - online education for parents to raise children from 0 to 6 years, BabyStep TV. The idea was to shoot educational videos. Each one-minute clip gives one piece of advice related to the education of children from 0 to 6 years old at each moment of child's development. I was interested in this project because I have three children myself. I am interested in children's education and I myself am very fond of messing with children. My partner is also a father with many children. We thought and decided to invest quite a big sum in Baby Step and now the project has become international: the clips are filmed in the USA, and our main market in which we are now moving is China. The project has won many prizes in startup competitions and is now available in 13 languages. I'm working on a strategy for this project. I also have a few projects related to agriculture.

Skolkovo Sailing Team is a sailing team of Skolkovo»business «school graduates. The team was formed in 2013, and in 2014 won silver in the regatta among the world's leading RSM MBA Regatta business schools.

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