Recently, some characters of the texts of DK.RU have been cautiously and hesitantly beginning to praise the measures of State support: to some, regional and federal authorities helped to enter new markets, to some - a part of the costs of modernization of production was reimbursed from the budget. Their opponents object: patronage does not work, compensations and subsidies are received only by the elite, public money is toxic, and in case of failure in their mastering of the entrepreneur, at best checks are expected, and at worst — criminal cases.
The General Director of NGO BioMicroGeli Andrey Elagin is sure: whether the support measures are useful or toxic is more dependent on the company's strategy.
At the very beginning, we had nothing but enthusiasm: we wanted to become a "big business" from the ground up — to cooperate with large oil producers around the world, to supply reagents for water treatment to large industrial enterprises and products — to the counters of federal retailers.
If we had immediately began to implement these global projects, receiving funds from them for public funds, we would not be pulled out. No State support will be enough to provide production facilities to the enterprise, equipment for mass production, and most importantly, it will not give the skills to work at a level that the company must work out naturally in the process of gradual development.
Therefore, we systematically began to develop, at our expense, the direction of household chemicals — to produce detergents for the mass consumer, and point to specific tasks to attract support tools. Moreover, just at this stage, the University and Skolkovo technology parks provided us with targeted assistance.
At the same time, we made sure that investments from public funds were relatively small in comparison to own funds and commercial loans, and were attracted exactly when they were needed, and for understandable achievable goals.
For example, in 2014, we received a grant from Skolkovo in the amount of 5 million roubles for the completion of the first stage of laboratory tests, the design of certificates and international patents for our products. It was strategically important and very timely, because, for example, the term of registration of patents abroad is more than two years.
If we had not then bring these developments to working prototypes and existing industrial designs and would not protect them with patents, now we would not be able to move to the international market and represent developments in Europe, the US, the countries of Asia and the CIS. We understood this, but there was not enough profit yet, but the company simply could not get a loan of 5 million roubles for these purposes at that time. Since 2016, our company has overcome the break-even point and began to grow three to five times a year. But we have been gradually expanding all this time - we increased production volumes, strengthened the team, developed a partner network, enlarged the levels and scale of customers from regional retailers to federal networks.
Only now, five to six years after the first attempts to enter industrialists with the technology of liquidating oil spills, we have a real opportunity to implement it thanks to the experience and resources gained in the adjacent direction in the segment of environmentally friendly detergents. Thanks to a temporary change of priorities, we were able to advance in the development of water treatment technology, invest in the necessary laboratory and industrial tests, which made it possible to enter into negotiations with foreign companies.
By the way, we were also helped by the State to enter the international market. In 2014, thanks to the support from RVC, we got to one of the leading innovation forums in Europe - Falling Walls, where we were paid attention to Total, BASF and many others. As a result, we were invited to participate in the largest innovation development program in the European Union Horizon 2020.
But all these would be unachievable, no State support options would help to reach this level if we from the very beginning confused global goals with private tactical tasks and began to seek subsidies for the projects that were unachievable for us at that time.
By the way, this is one of the typical mistakes of start-ups — an orientation that is too early or not at all suitable for the chosen area of activity to work with "cattlemen" in Russia or, especially, abroad. Today, it is a fashionable trend, and the State also supports it, but it must be understood that any trend must be tried based on the original realities. In addition, they are obvious: large customers, especially in foreign markets, have much more stringent requirements to the volumes and terms of product delivery, its certification, interaction with investors, etc. And experience in these areas must be developed gradually, when developing stage after stage.
As support to business, it is not necessary to take money from the State. You can apply, for example, for help in cooperation. Meetings with investors on the platforms of techno parks are a real working tool for attracting financial help. Sometimes, it can be more effective than subsidies. In addition, those who create new products and technologies clearly have a need for testing grounds. Moreover, this may be the place of State support.
For example, to prepare the product for production on the industrial market, we had to look for funds for renting a test pool in France, which was able to simulate oil spills in wind, wave, and other conditions. In Russia, there are none such funds, and investing in the equipment of a private pool is useless for us. If we could go to the State site, a conditional community centre, where there is such a pool, it would allow us to reduce the time for the development of technology and its implementation on the market.