Future in education

Heading into the future at the speed of Elon Musk or the latest developments in education for entrepreneurs from the creators of the Skolkovo workshop.

As part of the annual international technology conference, Web Summit, the editors of iPREMIUM magazine met with Alexei Komarov, Academic Director and Professor, and Vyacheslav Zlobin, moderator and game engineer of the “Shtab” and “Game Library Life Workshop” programs at the Skolkovo Moscow School of Management.

IPREMIUM: Alexey, please tell us in more detail about the workshops you are the director of.

A.K: Our practices are used in programs related to additional education for representatives of small and medium-sized businesses. We created it based on our own technology, which has existed in the Skolkovo business school for over 8 years. Education at Skolkovo costs 1 million 700 thousand rubles and includes 5 modules that last in total 5 months. The program takes place 2 times a year. The current recruitment was closed in 4 months, although the competition is 2 people per seat. We have 75% references, which means, our graduates recommend the program, which is why there is such great demand for it.

IPREMIUM: And most importantly: this program is international. Skolkovo is quoted all over the world, isn’t it?

A.K: In the past, we received accreditation, received by only 2% of business schools in the world. We entered the world ranking, taking 45th position as a business school, and became No. 1 in the ranking of business schools in Eastern Europe. Plus, our program in 2020 received the AFMD international award - the most prestigious in the field of business education. We also received a gold medal in the category “Creating an ecosystem for entrepreneurs around an educational program”.

IPREMIUM: Are there programs in English or are they only for Russian speakers?

A.K: We have several programs at the Skolkovo Business School. In general, they are in Russian, although there are plans to switch to English for both "Game technology" and "Globalshift". We have a blog in English about game models, which involves foreigners.

IPREMIUM: Is the program run both offline and online?

Due to the lockdown, we were forced to go online and it turned out to be successful. Workshop on game technology takes place entirely online, while workshop "Shtab" - 50 to 50.

We brought to the Web Summit the startup called EnSpace (entrepreneur space) – a new online initiative in English. Over 20 years of our experience, we have developed over 200 game models, but now we want to launch 5 themes. The first is for startups. It will help you see how the innovation process works, how business angels and venture funds invest, how strategic investors buy startups. The second theme is all about cryptocurrency and the formation of self-governing organizations within crypto communities. What is it, their structures, which principles are important, and which ones work and ones that do not.

The third theme is the “Platform Business” game. This is for platform providers, those who sell certain products online. And it's not just e-commerce. The game shows how the platform operates, how it makes money, what it builds, and what your strengths and weaknesses are regarding it.

The fourth theme is a conflict within the urban economy between two systems: old, traditional business and new, vertical, digital. How they collide within the urban economy, how the city authorities react to this very conflict and what it means for others.

And the fifth game is a product for managing IT companies. How to make the transition from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0.

IPREMIUM: Could you elaborate for us on Web 2.0 and Web 3.0?

A.K: Web 2.0 is all the applications we have at the moment, like Amazon or Facebook. Web 3.0 is everything related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies. Web 2.0 is a decentralized system, while Web 3.0 is a distributed system with user management. The new Web has a future, but few resources for now. Older systems have a lot of resources, but there is no future.

IPREMIUM: What are the main three benefits of your programs for entrepreneurs?

A.K: The first thing is that with the help of games and other elements, we open up the opportunity to see "your" field. In other words, to understand what business sphere you are a part of. Secondly, thanks to our games and other tools in creating business development projects, we create a time machine. We find ourselves in the future to see what will happen, what will become significant. And the third benefit is that we learn to understand our strengths and weaknesses not in the momentum, especially for the future offline situation.

IPREMIUM: How many entrepreneurs have already contacted you? Are there any established business cases?

A.K: There are already more than 800 graduates on the "Workshop" program, the "Shtab" probably has about 500 graduates. Interestingly, when we first started, we had about 70% of entrepreneurs and 30% of managers in our group. Currently, we have 90 people at our workshop with a 100% inclination towards entrepreneurship. On the one hand, they are top managers, and on the other, they are co-owners or co-founders of businesses.

IPREMIUM: How did you come to the place you are at the moment?

A.K: When I was studying, Skolkovo did not exist. As a student, I found myself in a very interesting project at the Higher School of Economics. It was first called the Center for Corporate Entrepreneurship, and then – the Institute of Corporate Entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs came there and shared their experiences. Some so-called methodologists and games allow you to work with control. I started to learn from them, and it turned out to be very interesting. I saw how cool playful techniques could take you to the next level.

Since December 2003, we, the three initiators, have begun to socialize this technology. After the 2008 crisis, only Vyacheslav remained with us. My wife – my partner – with whom we started all this, came to Skolkovo in 2010 and began to interact with the first lecturer of the Skolkovo Business School, Andrey Evgenievich Volkov. Then I went there with the moderator of the integrated program. Vyacheslav called, and two years later, on February 27, 2013, we played our first game inside the walls of Skolkovo. It was a corporate session for the Federal Grid Company, which has become Rosset now.

In the summer of 2013, Vyacheslav and I already held games at the first Workshop in Skolkovo. We’ll get a cow and milk it every day. When we already had a regular flow, we put the technology on the conveyor. And the next step is to bring it to mobile. Make a mobile application so that this process takes place constantly and the tool becomes available to all entrepreneurs in the world.

We are doing very important work: together with entrepreneurs, we create and structure modern business knowledge, because the figure of an entrepreneur is greatly underestimated not only in Russia but throughout the world. 

Now a startup is being lifted to a certain "pedestal", while experienced and successful entrepreneurs are considered crooks, according to many. At the same time, few people understand what an important mission they perform - they lead us to the future at the expense of their resources. Our mission is to make entrepreneurs understand their important role as main contributors to social transformation.

Entrepreneurs themselves are often under the misconception that their main goal is to make money. And often, in fact, they burn out, because they do not admit to themselves that in fact they are engaged in social transformations.

It's not so difficult to deal with failure as with success. It is important for success to reconstruct small victories and defeats in the past. Within our program, we form an understanding of where your strength lies through different methods of reconstruction and restoration of success. And when entrepreneurs learn about them, they end up feeling motivated and get valuable insights.

IPREMIUM: What about inspiration?

A.K: Inspiration works in mysterious ways. It's so great to see when an exhausted person suddenly starts to fly. Vyacheslav and I organize a workshop, where businessmen work on themselves.

IPREMIUM: Since you organize games, there must be winners. Do they get any rewards?

A.K: We choose the winner by rating after playing several games. Interestingly, in the long run, leaders are constantly changing. We display the change of leaders, show it inside this process, and note it. When we will be conducting games online as events, we plan to reward our winners. In general, we have a big dream - to build an entrepreneurial online gaming championship, where up to 40 thousand participants would compete for glory. The winner of the competition will receive a large investment for their project. This championship will host a hundred of the best entrepreneurs, 10 thousand of whomthem, for example, will be able to get training, investment, or some kind of cash prize.

A.K: I hope that maybe in a year, we will solve several organizational and investment issues.

V.Z: A person needs a space where, let's say, shift thinking takes place to grow and evolve. It is important to understand the scale of your goals. This understanding determines a lot in business and the economy as a whole.

A.K: Let's take Elon Musk. He sets his goals high. On the one hand, he would like to host transplanetary flights. On the other hand, he says he wants to make humanity a multi-planetary species. And this is the point of view on the nearest future, calculated to happen in about 50 years. This is the ultimate level of goal-setting and scale that allows Musk to be the richest in the world. So, to increase the capitalization of yourself in your company, you need to change your own goal-setting scale in all fields. How an entrepreneur can set this scale is the key question we are currently struggling with.

Interview Hi-Tech