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28 November 2014

"Tsinoferr": "It is a pity that in our country ecological materials are left out of attention"

The "Tsinoferr" project – anticorrosive materials for the protection of steel structures and equipment. Once upon a time the founders decided to create a technology that would not only help to renovate metal surfaces, but also would be absolutely environmentally friendly. Alexander Mikhailov, a co-founder of the project, explained why it is sometimes better to slightly change the world than to turn it over.

Konstantin Tushentsov, a co-founder of our project, once stumbled upon the idea of development of environmentally friendly anti-corrosion coating. Four years ago we managed to bring his idea to life by founding our company. The core project team currently includes four people – apart from us with Konstantin who is responsible for sales of our product, it also includes Andrey Kutuzov, who graduated from the Institute of Steel and Alloys and who is engaged in development of our coating, and Anton Volgin responsible for production of the material.

We wanted to create a technology that would be better and cheaper than the American and European analogues available on the market. We decided not to resell foreign products, even if they are of good quality, but to organize our own production of environmentally friendly coating. I think we succeeded.

We do not intend to turn the world – we want to make it a little better. We produce anticorrosive materials, not space satellites or lasers. But the result of our work can be seen by everyone. The streets are full of rusty surfaces – people are so used to them that they no longer notice this. And we dream to make our living environment a little more pleasant.

We get to know about the GenerationS rather unexpectedly. Being residents of "Strogino" techno park of Moscow, we suddenly received an invitation to participate in the contest. Having reviewed the prospects, we decided to accept the invitation. The contest included the track "clean technologies", and as our coating, among its other advantages, is totally environmentally friendly, we thought that it will perfectly comply with Cleantech projects.

The field of our work is really close to the ecology. Sometimes we even feel pity about the fact that in our country people often do not pay attention to the environmental friendliness of the material used, and in fact the ecological friendliness of our technology could become a competitive advantage. Our clients can pay attention to this point only after 28 other aspects, and the reaction is always the same: "Ah, the product is also environmentally friendly? Well, great!" But we hoped that participation in GenerationS might change this situation.

At the very beginning of the competition we kept calm, but when our project was included into top 40 of projects the stress began to increase. I felt it during the first open session when speaking in front of experts. At this point the experts began to give us contradictory recommendations, and it "triggerred" our excitement. At that time we realized that a proper presentation of the project is not just a speech about it, but a very serious event with its own laws, and we understood that we need to very well prepare for this.

The main thing that the acceleration program gave us – a new understanding of our own project. This is the major value of the accelerator. And of course, the experts were very helpful - it was nice. GenerationS is not just a competition, but a training which has led to real benefits for the business.

It was very interesting to talk with other participants of the competition. On the one hand, we were competitors, on the other – like-minded people. I did not consider other projects as competitive in terms of winning the competition: we all perceived our relationship as a companionship. I was not even upset about the fact that we did not win: I was sincerely happy for the projects – prize winners.

A great merit of the organizers is that all the prises did not go to one winner. All the projects-participants got a lot due to the competition. For example, the projects of our track went on training in Finland after the final. Training that was held there and communication between the teams were very helpful for emotional recharge of the project. I think all start-ups face the problem, that when you invest many efforts into a project, and the return is still "over the horizon", it is difficult to keep a high level of performance.

Three venture capital funds offered us to start negotiations on cooperation. Among those who have shown interest are North Energy Innovations and "RVC Civil technology". Moreover, now we are in process of submission of application to the "Skolkovo" for the title of a resident of the Fund. After participation in GenerationS two clusters invited us to join their teams. In addition, the project has attracted the interest of the IDC of Moscow and who promised to assist in introduction of our products into the municipal economy.

We plan to receive investments in the next year. We have powerful production facilities and we are confident of success. We are planning to invest the money in the certification process.

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