Thoughts from Princess Anastasia

“Money makes the world go around” is the tones that are playing at Princess Anastasia, the boat I’m taking from Stockholm to St Petersburg via Tallinn, while the show dancers are doing their thing. I am sitting in the bar reflecting over how much the Russian society, after the fall down of the Soviet Union and the communistic system has embraced the capitalism in many ways. Money seems to be burning in the pockets, almost everything is for sale and commercial messages are flowing everywhere. While focus on spending is high, differences in wealth are huge and I believe this is a big part of the bitterness that could be felt from many people in the Russian society, the unfortunate ones feel so much more unfortunate.

Seeing Russian money spending from another perspective, it might not be surprising that money is burning in the pocket a bit more for people who have lost a huge amount of their savings over night in the collapse of the Soviet Union, in the economic crisis in 1998 and partly also in 2009. The quick shift towards a capitalistic view still fascinates me a lot though. The show of the evening at Princess Anastasia was a good one, and the digestion of passengers likewise, young ones, old ones, who doesn’t like a good show?

I made an odd part of the picture sitting and making notes for this text in my calendar. At least for the bartender who suddenly knocks on my shoulder and with a smile on his face asks me:  “Ты из КГБ что ли?” – Are you from the KGB or something?  I explain for him that I just make some notes for my memory and he agrees that these are good things to remember before we go into a discussion on why there are still so much less Swedes than Russians taking this boat even though it offers the opportunity to visit Saint Petersburg without Visa for a short while, Russia is just still further away for most Swedes than it actually is.

The Beginning

Leaving Göteborg without a fixed end date is something I haven’t done before, I am thinking about this fact, but interestingly enough, I don’t feel so different from those times when I have left home for a couple of month – with a clear end date. Even though leaving is a big step, in theory, the way back home is not far at any time, which makes me comfortable with not having that end date fixed. One date is more set though; we will give this project our full focus for a minimum of one year to come.

My first cultural chock came in Stockholm, why are everyone so angry in our capital? I was reprimanded by the bus driver for taking the wrong door at the bus, and had to squeeze through the whole packed bus with my 3 supersized bags in order to get my ticked stamped. Not many minutes later, a taxi driver rolled backwards into the bus, causing no material damage, but a big argument accumulating in a fist fight between the taxi driver and a passenger of the bus. I was almost late to my boat, and updating my facebook status on this interesting little incident it turned out that a dutch friend of mine had been on the same bus, and even taken a photo of me without realizing it when I was just in front of the fistfighters…. what a coincidence 🙂

The Introduction

To make a long story short, we are two young Swedish Entrepreneurs who has taken the rather big and life changing decision to set up a business in Ukraine and hence also spend much of our time here the coming year or so. Building a business from scratch always means challenges’, doing so in a foreign country, changes the nature of these challenges in a way that should result in one or another interesting experience to share.  Adding an interesting twist to the package is me doing this in combination with my one year master thesis at Chalmers School of Entrepreneurship in technology based entrepreneurship. This blog is about my personal observations made during this “field study” in building a life and a business in Ukraine.  Let the story begin…

PS. Don’t miss my colleague Gustav’s blog at DS.