“Nobody Can Prepare You For Entrepreneurship. Get Ready For The Rollercoaster And Be Patient On The Ride.”; Interview with Elena Agaragimova, Co-Founder at Bessern

Photo edit by SuperCharger Ventures

This is part of the EdTech Female Founder (#EFF) interview series brought to you by SuperCharger Ventures.

What inspired you to start your EdTech Founder journey?

Part of the inspiration was being in jobs that did not fulfill me and really drained me. And, as naïve as it may sound — I used to think “This cannot be it!” “I don’t want to do the work that I don’t enjoy nor find purpose in.” I refused to believe that we should work just for money. There are many ways to earn an income but more importantly it was essential for me to do something I enjoy because otherwise what is the point? My mental wellbeing and overall quality of life was suffering when I was doing jobs I didn’t believe in or find joy in. I don’t mean to love 100% of what I do — but I think aiming 85% is a fair aim.

I’ve also always been an advocate for education. I personally was working in higher education for a big part of my professional career prior to starting this venture and saw the possibilities that education offers to people but also what it lacks and felt we could do better as a society and so I started to identify gaps that exist in education space — which is lack of self-management /personal development opportunities, gaps between what they teach in schools and universities vs what the real world of work requires — that inspired me to join forces with Ivan (my co-founder) to create a platform that helps people actually be at their best of their capabilities with the right knowledge and mental resources to be fulfilled in what they do — one of key elements to do this is to understand the role of the brain on motivation, knowledge acquisition and mindset — that’s the approach we followed whatever we do needs to have a scientific evidence.

When it comes to the corporate world, we spend most of our time at work, where employees struggle with their mental health: 65% suffer from extreme stress, they lack of motivation and show up at work without being fully productive. The traditional training solutions are ineffective as they are not made to help people build their resilience and have an optimal mindset in times of change. This is another gap we have identified in the world of learning and development & have decided to create a solution to help people thrive at work. All in all, everything we do is with a mission to help people learn and create an individualized journeys for their future instead of following some pre-set cookie cutter approach to learning and career growth.

Describe your company in one sentence.

At Bessern, we help people in corporations to be more resilient and equipped with the skills that matters to thrive and be at their best at work — using brain science and predictive technology.

What should an aspiring EdTech founder know before initiating their startup journey?

Things take time. You will fail. Get used to it. Reflect, learn, and keep going. Focus on daily, incremental improvements. Progress over perfection.

Lastly, be able to challenge your idea — what pays is solving problems for people — move out of your slides and talk to them!

What has been the most difficult moment as a founder and how did you overcome it?

All of it was difficult. I think creating something from scratch is just hard but equally, if not more, rewarding. Any challenge that comes your way you overcome by reflecting, having difficult conversations with your co-founder, learning and trying again and again and again until you get it right. We have done that a few times, particularly during 2020 when the world has practically stopped, and we had to reinvent how we do things & introduce new products for the new world of work. To put it short — all challenges we experienced have been highly compensated by the satisfaction of continuous learning (out of mistakes and successes) — each time we get better and we get it right more often.

What can the EdTech industry do to improve the gender gap?

Recent years has certainly shown an improvement in this space but still so many women are not encouraged to pursue STEM field and often due to lack of inspiration and societal formatting that makes them believe that this is not for them. All of this effects the presence of women in tech fields. When we use the right approach in EdTech, working not only in making knowledge accessible but providing also a process to believe that you can (growth mindset), to build the mental strength to overcome any challenge (resilience) and keep you focused on reaching your goals — that’s the major contribution that ed-tech can have. It is not only about accessibility — it is about empowering humans to take the lead on their lives.

Can you tell us about a role model of yours?

This may sound cliché but I would have to say my Mom. Watching her overcome every challenge life has thrown to her and still maintain optimism and enthusiasm and humor through it all must be one of the best examples she could have set for me and those around her. Just as entrepreneurship, life is a rollercoaster and you got to hold on — and I think watching her is what made me as resilient as I am today — after all we watch by observing so watching her overcome every challenge the way that she did was the best observation a kid could receive.

Can you tell us an example of when you had to pivot?

We started by exploring directly a B2C model — which ended up being more complex than expected: high cost of customer acquisition and high churn rate. We noticed that our offer needed to be more focused in the area of wellbeing in the workplace to have a clear value proposition — this is when we went into a full B2B model for corporations — our mission resonated more with their specific challenges. So far, this has been the right move for us and we are growing in this space.

What will you consider as success in 5 years from now?

By 2023, we would like to impact 1 million people globally with our products and services. In 5 years’ time, we want to triple that number and watch people and organizations thrive and share our methodology with others. We have become obsessed with our mission: mental health has worsened during covid and it affects mainly younger generations and women — our ambition is to help them get back the control of their psychological resources to be at their best at work.

Looking back, what advice would you have liked to have received before starting your company?

Nobody can prepare you for entrepreneurship. Get ready for the rollercoaster and be patient on the ride. As an entrepreneur you can only learn by experimenting and striving continuously to acquire new skills.

Anything else You’d like to share?

If you have an itch to do something, don’t be afraid to take the leap — strategically but take the leap. Life is too short to do things you don’t enjoy — and also too long to do something that doesn’t support your purpose and mission in life.

To know more about Elena Agaragimova or Bessern, visit their company site:

https://www.bessern.co/

Or you can follow their social media accounts:

Twitter: @elenaagaragi @BessernOfficial

LinkedIn: @Bessern

Instagram: @elenaagaragimova

To nominate someone to be part of the EdTech Female Founders list, visit:

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