social art project more

Ruslan Raspopov

Ruslan 25+

0 – born in Makeevka, a small town near Donetsk
2 – family moved to Donetsk
4 – attended first English lesson and Judo class
5 – went abroad for the first time when father took the family for a vacation. Bargained with a merchant at a market for a water gun.

10 – parents bought me my first PC, opening doors to the brave new world.

12 – lost interest in school, and started to skip a lot of classes between 7th and 9th grade, preferring to spend time at the computer.
Miraculously, passed the exams after 9th grade, and decided to roll into a technical school. I wanted to become a system administrator, and support hundreds of thousands of terminals in some big international company.
19 – graduated from a technical school with honors, and enrolled into the second year of «Computer Networks» course in Donetsk National Technical University without having to pass entry exams.
While writing code on paper, working on computers with 5” floppy drives (not with perfocards at least) and “Turbo” buttons, I got disappointed in Ukrainian higher education. Thought hard about changing my occupation after I learned about a new field on the borders of psychology and physiology – neuroscience.

In spring of 2011, I get a sign from above: having won the university contest in English language, I was chosen to represent the university in the state contest. I failed at passing the spoken part of the contest. 
This forces me to realize that English is a much more important skill for me, which is why I left the university to master the language.
After finishing my first and last year, I dropped out and started my studies for the Cambridge ESOL CAE exam. During the next 9 months, all I did were exercises and movies and series in English. I pass the exam with flying colors – the only one in the group to pass the exam at all – and receive an A grade.
While studying, I found myself deeply interested in bar & spirits culture.
22 – graduated from a bartender school, which, in combination with perfect English, scores me a job in a new Park Inn hotel.
The hotel was built to accommodate foreign guests from France, Italy and England during the Euro-2012 cup in Donetsk.
Having worked in the hotel during and after the Euro-2012 cup, I realize that there is nothing else to be taught, and I resign.
23 – while reading materials on neuroscience, I find out about Richard Feynman and his experiments on sensory deprivation technique. I get excited about opening a floatation center in Donetsk, and prepare a business plan. In parallel, I get an idea for a “all-in-one” solution for fitness, and apply for an acceleration program at Happy Farm accelerator.

24 – move to Kyiv when the frontline of conflict between Ukrainian army and Russian separatist forces is moving closer to Donetsk.
Month after I got settled, I receive an invitation from Happy Farm to participate in a contest in their HQ in Schastlivoe. It was my first public speech in English ever in front of a jury. I did not pass the contest since the project did not have neither a tested business model nor a prototype or a team. I learned a very important lesson from that: communication is key to any successful business.
After the relocation, I subsequently owned a small manicure salon, taught English and managed a bar.

Thanks to one of the students, I got invited to a closed event hosted by Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association, where I meet Happy Farm team. A month after, I receive a job offer, which I accept. I flew to Kazakhstan for 5 months, where I helped organize a startup acceleration program and a big technological conference.
Being the only team member with proficient English knowledge, I was mainly responsible for accompanying foreign mentors and investors, which got me acquainted with a lot of amazing people. I even received a few job offers in US, which I declined – did not want to be just another small fish in the gigantic pond of US market.
Fun fact: I got my USA 10-year tourist visa in Astana, capital of Kazakhstan.

25 – I passed all stages of the selection process and got accepted into UNIT.Factory programming school. However, a week into the process I decide to drop out, as it was extremely hard to juggle 2 remote jobs and studying. Along with constant nagging from fellow students and overall noisiness of the class, it was more than I could handle – I do not like it when I am not allowed to concentrate on my work.
This experience allowed me to take a note on UNIT.City, as I saw the great potential of this endeavor.
Now, together with my business partner we managed to secure an agreement to open a proper, large English community center at UNIT.City, and we will be hosting a series of events on public speaking & presentations in the nearest future.

I am indebted to English language knowledge for everything that happened in my life.