What matters to us?
With our angel investor Javier Vazquez
Building a startup is tough we all know that, but every day we meet people who are courageous enough to follow their dreams no matter the enormously big risk of failure. What makes a great startup? First of all it's the team. I believe that if each team member treats the startup as his own child, it adds just a slight chance the startup will survive and fights its way to success.
Our journey takes roots in Siberia, lies its path to Ukraine and keeps going through Europe across the Atlantic to the United States - the nursery for most unusual ideas to be raised. It started from a small group of enthusiasts and were gracefully supported by a fresh blood of business people injected to the team whose limit is not a sky, whose limits are none because they just can't talk about dreams having limits in their own minds.
"My whole emphasis is that whatsoever is, is right. There is no other right. There is nowhere to go. This is the only life there is, the only dance there is. Only then you can be spontaneous, really spontaneous." - Osho.
Lull before the storm.. Preparing for the event in Central Park
Tech Crunch 2015 in NY was the first stop on the route. Show me the entrepreneur who's building a startup and has never dreamt about pitching on the main stage at Tech Crunch. I'd say he's a liar! Dirty liar! There could be any reason, but it doesn't deal with his wish to go there. Anyway, we hit Tech Crunch Disrupt at the beginning of May and as we saw this before, people went crazy about the idea of having immersive realistic and virtual reality-like dreams.
Of course, there were those experienced, who can read between the lines when hear such phrases as "40 Hz sleep", "lucid dreaming", "Ursula Voss" and you don't have to explain how electrical stimulation induces dreams, they could tell it better anyway! Being a native speaker is definitely a plus. We caught up all they were saying instantly and improved our language and presentation skills as we go! The best thing which can justify our sleepless nights is hearing people share with you the anticipation of the product and idea.
Luciding team: Nikita, Maryna, Anna, Michael
We, entrepreneurs, can't live without a challenge, so when our team learned about the pepper pitch, where you first thoroughly chew and swallow a chilly, then have to survive 2 minutes of pitch, it was just right thing to enrol. Check out Nikita and Michael's pepper pitch.
Early stage chilly eaters!
Two days we're wandering around startup booths and came up to people in the hall. That's how we met Pavel Durov (CEO at Telegram and founder of VK.com), whose brother is a lucid dreamer, by the way. We talked to him at least for 30 minutes and exchanged contacts in the end!
We all work far from each other and mostly communicate through Telegram, thanks to Pavel, whose first question was about his product. I realized how vital it is to collect the feedback from your users as in the end we work only for them. Your users will decide if your startup will live or fade away.
Michael's at the 500 Startups office in the downtown of San Francisco
Our angel investor Javier Vazquez came from Uruguay to support us and arranged us a pitch for Dave McClure (CEO at 500 Startups). Later when we were in San Francisco and stopped by at the 500 Startups for a meeting with another friend of Javier - Zafer we saw Dave again and could listen to some cool stories of people who went through the acceleration program.
But let's get back to our Tech Crunch show. I got to know a very great person - Bill Robinson from Huffington Post who expressed his interest to our idea and supported me before pitching the Tech Crunch Radio. I got 60 seconds to tell about Luciding in front of 3 people and the rest of American audience. It took about 30 seconds for me to breath out my pitch and get to the QA session. As a truly disruptive project Luciding caused lots of discussions.
Debut on the radio! On the Tech Crunch radio! It's insane!
Later Bill wrote on his Twitter that they were a bit sharky to the Ukrainian lady, but I found all questions very interesting and I was happy they spiced up this show a bit!
Finally some activity on Twitter =)
Michael Skrychevsky was pitching on the Tech Crunch TV right after me in the middle of the startup alley. Check it out (starting from 2:40). He had 3 minutes to tell about Luciding in front of the cameras and tv hosts, one of them, by the way, took part in the radio show and later we heard that he liked us.
Michael played his part just perfect
No matter all these cool things happened to us, the feedback from people who stopped by our booth is most important! Sometimes we all got involved pitching 3 people at a time, even our designer Anna, who rocked!
Anna has everything under control
We also spent a great time making a short movie about us and our product by Thomas Peisel who's filmmaker, author and a lucid dreamer! You can check out his work here
Working with Thomas at his Dream Lab in the Downtown of Manhattan
Thanks to this experience our team finally spent some time together outside of the internet. I was flying 10 hours non-stop from Kiev to New-York with Anna, spent all day long with Nikita at Seed Forum New York and lived for 3 weeks side by side with Michael in San Francisco.
We had to leave Tech Crunch and our fellow team members earlier to catch our plane to San Francisco and show up at Seed Forum in the morning.
Nikita and Anna didn't waste any minute of their precious time left in NY and hit the Artemy Lebedev's office and iLovation conference!
The design studio of Lebedev is famous in Russian-speaking countries.
We pitch before breakfast
I will pitch you if I have to, do I have to? - Michael Skrychevskiy
My trip to New York and San Francisco was supported by Seed Forum and Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the collaboration with the Founder and President of SeedForum Mr. Steinar Hoel Korsmo, which helps European startups. We had a chance to broaden our network with top New York capitalists whose addresses were nothing but Park Avenue on each business card. Who knew that this experience of pitching in front of those people could be so exciting! I couldn't even imagine the level of organization of the event! Any startup would be lucky to be chosen to go to Seed Forum.
One lady came up to Nikita and told us that we do a very important job and this might help her granddaughter to couple with a sleeping disorder and just signed us a check for our device. We decided to keep it as a reminder of our mission.
Nikita's always in his thoughts about the mission
We also attended Seed Forum in San Francisco with Michael this time and were happy to meet Norway consuls at their residence in San Francisco. The evening was just lovely and people were so friendly that it was such a pleasure to talk to everybody and I never had a feeling that I had to do it, it was something that I so much enjoyed!
With Jack in his sunny office in Los Gatos
Being at Tech Crunch we met our 3rd angel investor Jack Levin, who was 21st Google employee, worked and studied with Sergey Brinn. I can't imagine a person who fits our team better. Jack has been practicing conscious sleep for a long time. We learned that later, having our breakfast in a nice French cafe where Jack deeply amazed us with the way he controls his dreams and how he perceives the world. I realized that he's such a mind-controlling freak in a good way and he's just an awesome person!
Never say never, say "Whatever"!
At Igor Shoifot's!
Before this trip, I couldn't imagine that the fact that we're Ukrainians could benefit us. Wherever we went and met Ukrainians or Russians we instantly became friends and they made intros to other people they knew who might be helpful and tried to help in any other way. It's like you're one big family that gathered for holidays and you accidentally swang by to the party. Compared to Americans who come to Silicon Valley as well and try to make their way to success, we had an advantage because of the Ukrainian network and network of our investors.
With a cool sporty guy Russ from Odessa
Fellow Russian-speaking entrepreneurs from Robo!
Alex Neskin from Petcube
More people trying out our device and share it on Twitter!
At Meetup event in Hyatt in San Francisco
At Meetup event in Santa Clara for the future of medicare
Dreams come true with Luciding!
Lucky for us we got to the states! We collected so much feedback we learned so many different opinions, so we could shape up our business plan and clearly see the road we're going! I'm under a huge impression after meeting with the professional entrepreneurs and very grateful to them.
We did tons of meetings! We were one of the luckiest guys from Ukraine who were invited to Y-Combinator for the interview! Maybe this time we didn't pass, but now we know what to do and can share the experience with the other.
Mike right before the interview
Should I say that people from Y-Combinator are just awesomely great? I guess you know it without us! Mike and Nikita shared the roof with other entrepreneurs and exchanged the experience with alumni of Y-Combinator.
Nikita and Mike in Stanford with an impressive engineer and our friend Kelly
Loved Indiegogo office in the Downtown of San Francisco
Found him and pitched him! Now Leonardo DiCaprio knows that "Inception" became real!
Trying out different wearables for the mind control like Muse at Wearable World Congress
Mike is dreaming about sharing lucid dreaming experience with everyone in the world!
Found something interesting in the hotel. Sweet dreams!
I'm pitching to the empty chairs, but I need to see people's eyes!
Next to the famous Apple Store on 5th Avenue in NY!
We all deserve some rest in the end!