Without Borders

The results of the first
training course
In August 2019, BellClub organized the first Entrepreneurs Without Borders training course. We took a group of top Russian business people to Silicon Valley where they enjoyed an intensive week of workshops with Stanford professors and closed-door meetings with successful entrepreneurs and top managers at major companies. Here’s what happened.
Due to COVID-19 we temporary postponed our study trips to the US. We plan to resume our offline program in 2021. If you are interested in participation or have any questions – please let us know.

Those who took part made business contacts at Google and Facebook and met the stars of Russians Are OK! with whom they talked about business and investing

All participants underwent a personal transformation and developed their soft skills under the guidance of Stanford professors who explained the latest ideas in design thinking

Everyone met the legendary philosopher Francis Fukuyama

80% of participants said they would like to take a similar course again

Read about how the group spent a week at Stanford, and you might want to sign up for our next course in February 2020.
What did the program include?

Entrepreneurs Without Borders is not just another tourist trip to Silicon Valley.

From the very beginning, we wanted there must be two major parts to the program: education (focusing on soft skills and business transformation), and personal interactions with those who are already successful in the Valley.

  • The schedule involved a daily workshop or seminar in the morning and one or two meetings in the A workshop in the morning, and one or two meetings in the afternoon
  • Homework and independent work on case studies
  • Daily dinner attended by a guest from Silicon Valley
  • At the end of the program, there was a party in San Francisco with the stars of YouTube show Russians Are OK!
  • How were participants selected?

    The workshop program is designed in a similar way to programs at Stanford, involving intensive teamwork and a high level of openness and honesty from those taking part. This means that, despite the program’s significant price tag, each participant was selected very carefully:

  • Every applicant had to fill out a questionnaire, sign a non-disclosure agreement, do a written task and attend an interview.
  • From over 400 applicants, we selected 15 people of various ages with different, but complementary, professional backgrounds and business experience.
  • Who taught what?
    Design your life
    This program would never have happened if Elizaveta Osetinskaya had not taken courses at the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design, also known as the School of Design Thinking at Stanford University in 2016. Every year, thousands of graduate students come to the d.school to learn how to listen and understand their consumers and analyze not only what they say, but what they don’t say. Students learn how to create simple product prototypes, and turn theory into practice.
    It was this unique experience that we wanted to share with our first study group, making it one of the highlights of the program. We even managed to include one of the d.school’s most unusual courses, Transformative Design, which applies design thinking to our own lives.
    We invited two leading teachers of this technique to speak exclusively to our group:
    Professor Bernard Roth —
    the founder of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design and the author of design thinking program book The Achievement Habit
    Jeremy Utley —
    a consultant to several Fortune 500 companies and many advanced startups

    In several intense classes, they outlined all the main principles of design thinking and explained how they can be applied not only in business, but also in personal development and life more broadly. In one exercise, everyone had to imagine they were a house and give each other secret tasks.

    Strategic Communication
    Business leaders need TED Talk-style public speaking skills, and must know how to make a good elevator pitch and do small talk at networking events. Teaching of these skills is extremely rare in Russian schools.

    For our group, the art of strategic communication was taught by:
    Burt Alper —
    a professional Communications Coach at Stanford Graduate School of Business
    Allison D. Klueger —
    who also teaches at Stanford Graduate School of Business, and was formerly a presenter for ABC, producer at MSNBC and is a four-time Emmy Award nominee.
    Each of our participants took part in the practical part of the presentation and received feedback from the coach and the rest of the group. Classes were challenging, but a useful experience — even for those who regularly speak in public.
    Introduction to Venture Capitalism

    Many successful Russian entrepreneurs ask the questions: how can Russian money go international? How do you choose the companies and founders with whom to invest in Silicon Valley? Why do some funds earn and others not?

    These questions (and more) were answered by:

    Robert Siegel —
    a partner at XSeed Capital Investment Fund and one of the most popular lecturers at the Stanford Graduate School of Business (where he runs a course called The Industrialist’s Dilemma).
    His focus is the transformation of traditional companies in an era of universal digitalization. Drawing on case studies, Robert analyzed investment strategies and explained the inner workings of the Valley’s investment model.
    Our Speakers
    Mikhail Kokorich
    founder of Momentus Space, a serial entrepreneur and former co-owner of Uyuterra and Technosila
    Kokorich became a millionaire aged 22 on the back of several successful businesses including the first Russian company to launch private satellites. At the age of 40 he moved to California where his startup was selected by Y-Combinator, one of the biggest U.S. accelerators.
    Ilya Gelfenbeyn
    head of Google Assistant Investments
    One of the founders of API.AI, a company specializing in speech recognition and natural language technology, Ilya successfully sold to Google in 2016. Now, he works in Google’s investment division where he helps select new projects.
    Dmitry Grishin
    co-founder of Mail.Ru Group and founder of investment fund Grishin Robotics
    Dmitry has had an impressive business career, but he has also proved to be talented investor. He achieved much of his success in Silicon Valley.
    Andrey Doronichev
    VR Director at Google, angel investor
    Thanks to Andrey, you can watch videos on your cell phone: he designed YouTube’s mobile app. Now, in addition to working at Google, he is an active investor, including in educational projects like U Skillz and MEL Science.
    Program participants also met with Francis Fukuyama, a leading political economist, philosopher, and author of ‘The End of History and the Last Man’, and with Nikolay Davydov, founder of Gagarin Capital. The trip ended with dinner and a party attended by Grabr founders Daria Rebenok and Artem Fedyaev.
    Would you like
    to take part?
    We are currently planning future trips and thinking about new programs and new speakers. If you are interested, please submit an application — we will get in touch with more details. The likely date of the next trip is February 2020.