Nina Goriaeva (Slovenia/Sustainability, Webdesign) and Marko Vuković (Croatia/Sustainability, Webdesign)

NE Nina Goriaeva and HE Marko Vuković

New Entrepreneur (NE)
Name & surname: Nina Goriaeva
Country: Slovenia
Age: 31
Sector of activity: Sustainable development, Webdesign
Did you already start your business? No.
Name of business: Fabconscious
What is your future business? Global online searching platform for sustainable fashion brands and designers

Host Entrepreneur (HE):
Name & surname: Marko Vuković
Country: Croatia
Sector of activity: Web-design, Programming and Developing
Experience in running a business (in years): 12
Name of business/website: Slobodna domena Zadruga za otvoreni kod i dizajn /
What is your business? A web design cooperative with sustainable development mindset based in Croatia, Zagreb.

Period of exchange: 03/02/2020 – 17/07/2020
Duration of exchange: 5,5 months

Did Nina Goriaeva achieve her goals despite the coronavirus circumstances?

I’m a 7-year experienced lawyer from Russia who decided to quit her job because of an increasing interest in environmental issues. I wanted to connect my professional life with sustainable development, so I became a volunteer in Slovenia, where I was involved in different “green” projects. And there, in Slovenia, I found out about a great opportunity to become a participant in the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs program. By that moment, I already had a business idea and I was searching for options to implement it. I didn’t have any entrepreneurial experience, so I decided that I shouldn’t miss this chance to try out the role of an entrepreneur.

My idea is connected to web-designing. I wanted to build a united online platform for sustainable fashion designers, and I had no idea how I could do that.

I found my host through networking. The director of the Slovenian organization knew him from one conference, where they had met. Marko didn’t know about this program, so we had a small interview first and after that, he registered on the platform, where we “built our relationship”.

So, my journey started in February 2020, when I, a girl who didn’t know anything about web-designing, crossed the threshold of the Slobodna Domena office.

A few words about Slobodna Domena. It is a transparent and democratic organization, a cooperative of free web-designers, developers, creators, and engineers. They implement projects of social entrepreneurship, social economy, cooperatives, fair and solidarity trade and environmental and sustainable development. When I heard about the concept of their business for the first time, I was impressed. For me, these people have absolutely different mindsets, but it is primarily important to them to bring benefits to people and society in general.

We started with the theory. It was a whole new world for me. Wireframes, information architecture, design brief – something absolutely new for my humanitarian brain.

I have marketing skills, so the plan was to involve me in the great project “Hrana za Dobro” – a short supply chain that provides people with fresh and organic products directly from local farmers. The HE built a new application for this project. I wanted to help with the content for their new web page, and with the promotion. I was supposed to meet with people and customers, we planned to make a small offline survey, photo sessions of the products, and we had some more ideas.

Then the coronavirus came and destroyed our game. We had to lock and isolate ourselves. I had to spend more than 2 months sitting at home. I couldn’t realize what we had planned, so I decided to focus on my project only.

I wrote a design brief, I was preparing content for my future website, I tried to use the knowledge I had gained before corona arrived. My HE was always available online and on the phone.

During my project, I stayed in Zagreb and I loved this city a lot. I didn’t have any difficulties with the language, as people in the capital speak English quite well. I even went to one big concert right before everything had to close.

But it still affected some potentially useful and important parts of my stay in Zagreb. I wanted to attend a very great conference, LEAP Summit 2020, that was supposed to be held in March, and where I could have presented my start-up idea. It is postponed until autumn, when my exchange will already be over.

Did I achieve my goals and succeed in this exchange despite the coronavirus circumstances?

My answer is definitely YES. From this project, I expected just one thing – to finish it with a ready website. For a person, who never faced this kind of task, it was a huge expectation.

By the end of the project, I had a prototype for my future business – it’s a working website, which I’m going to test. I understand, that it’s very important to test the idea before implementing it into a business. I need to see in real life if it’s going to work and if I have any potential clients. It’s my HE, who brought to my knowledge the importance of testing any idea on the market.

After this exchange I realized that starting my own business is going to become reality, even though it seemed as something vague and complicated. I’m going to establish my business once the idea is tested and corrected.

This Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange gave me an opportunity to try the role of an entrepreneur without any risks, to learn many new things, to gain new great experience, to live abroad. And despite the difficulties I faced, this exchange was a success. I want to stay in touch with my HE and later become their customer.