Даниил Мишин: Не могу понять людей, которые не стартанули
Член общественной организации «Опора России» Даниил Мишин называет себя серийным предпринимателем, готовится к запуску интернет-стартапа и нового гостиничного проекта
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Kommersant | English Translation

Daniel Mishin: I cannot understand people who did not start

19 years old, owner of Bear Hostels network

Daniel Mishin, a member of the Russian Support NGO, calls himself a serial entrepreneur, prepares to launch an Internet start-up and a new hotel project

Special project: "Russia up to 30". "Snob" gathered ten very dissimilar people, with different biographies, views, aspirations and plans for life. What unites them, perhaps, is a sense of inner freedom, which opens the most incredible prospects for them, as well as the fact that they all are under thirty. They are the new, post-Soviet generation, which now asserts itself.

“Enough, enough, e-nough! Stop looking for an excuse,” he says almost in a tongue twister, and continues on, not stopping, even to take a breath of air.  “If I read in newspapers how terrible business in Russia is, or listen to talk about corruption, I would never start doing something of my own. Everyone, remember, everyone in this room can start, find an idea and start their own business. Everyone! I just didn’t talk about it!”

Exhale-inhale. He pauses and, smiling, looks around the audience. Here the girls are sitting near the window, they are definitely fascinated by him. Shaggy students sit in the back rows buried in phones playing something - why did they come then? - These definitely will not start. But the heavily muscled man in the front row is clearly sceptical.

Daniel Mishin, a nineteen-year-old “rocket man”, “Young Entrepreneur of the Year”, “Reliance of Russia”, founder of the largest Moscow hostel network, a lively talker with a slight blush in his cheeks, travels around Russia with speeches about business and success. He likes his example of “motivating young people to create their own business.”

The end of November 2011, Novosibirsk. The "young hotelier" came to Siberia to meet with students from one of the local universities. The program says that the topic of the meeting is “Everything about the hotel business”, but Dan does not like boring language and immediately says that he will talk about something else. That "the impossible is possible." In general, he will tell his story.

This story may seem fictional, but people fall in love with it instantly - and enthusiastically, without edits or doubt , retell it to others. Its plot is well known in narrow circles: Daniel was born and raised in Sevastopol. From childhood, the boy was known for being entrepreneurial. He would chop trees with friends outside the city and begin to sell them before the New Year, or he would contract the yard boys to distribute flyers of the deputy’s campaign, or he would generate other business - he started earning pocket money from the age of eight. 

On one occasion, he and his parents decided to go to Europe on a budget. In Berlin, they missed the train and went to sleep at an unknown hostel - at first they were afraid (of being robbed), but in the end everything turned out well. The hostel "made an impression with its international atmosphere and friendliness", and when Dan returned to Sevastopol, he decided to raid the piggy bank and equip a hostel in his city with the money. The family had an empty one-bedroom apartment in the city centre, inherited from his Grandmother. His parents did not object – that’s where it all began: a friend of an Englishman living in Sevastopol - “thirty years old, a rather boring and unlucky type” - introduced Dan to the Norwegian Robert Hansen, the owner of the hostel in Kiev. He taught the boy the basics of the hotel business and began to deliver customers for a commission. Mishin was then eleven years old.

Everything that happened to him in life seemed completely natural to him. Few eleven-year-olds tried to organize their own business - but in general this is a fairly simple thing for children to comprehend.

“In the Sevastopol hostels I did not have any staff, I didn’t rely on my parents either and always did everything myself: I cleaned, washed my clothes, met guests and worked in the summer on vacation.”

At sixteen he graduated from High School and, at the insistence of his parents, entered university, a Sevastopol branch of a Moscow academy. His major was chosen at random - a lawyer, "it sounded good." In November, he went to Moscow to visit his elder brother, a Bank Manager, but he stayed here - “turned on his personal charm” and managed to agree on a study transfer from Sevastopol to Moscow. He studied for six months and in the evenings worked as an Assistant Lawyer in one small company.

“There is a view that it is impossible to do business in Moscow, that they will make it a nightmare, deceive you and even kill you. I, too, was scared to think about entrepreneurship. And in general, I was no longer sure that I should be a businessman, it seemed that I could become a good lawyer.”

But he quickly tired of the lecture routine and, having overcome his fears, dared to think about opening a hostel in Moscow - the need for hostels here was much higher than in Sevastopol. All in all, he had about a million rubles brought from Sevastopol. An apartment was found quickly, 4ya Tverskaya-Yamskaya, five minutes from the Mayakovskaya metro station, one hundred and twenty meters away. They made cheap repairs, bought the simplest furniture, entered into a pair of partnership agreements with regional sites and booking companies. Olympia Hostel was launched in February 2009, and on the first day of its operation, three guests moved in.

In the spring of 2009, the hostel, to Dan's surprise, began to generate income. Then he opened the second one - Olympia-2. And then he was introduced him to the right people - and so Dan had an investor bank, which became the controlling shareholder of his business.

“I did what no one did in the low-budget accommodation market,” Dan affirms. “I attracted bankers and investments in this business. And now I have money for development, but my competitors don’t. It is important for me that the bank assumes some of the risks, and doesn’t just loan me money.”

And there were risks. When Mishin presented his project, the sewerage system leaked into the first hostel, and in the second there was a fight and the Police were called. What made the bankers continue the conversation with him is a mystery; he himself does not know the answer. But as soon as he received the first tranche of investments, he realised that he had started big.

Started, started, started!

“And I can’t understand people who haven’t started”, - Dan says to the students, putting an end to the biographical part of his story.

In the meantime, the heavily muscled man in the front row said:

“Yes, I’ll tell you, he tells lies. Tells lies for twenty minutes without even blushing.”

Daniel sharply looked at him and asked:

“What's your name?”

“Well, Vanya, what is it? You carry on.” 

“No, Vanya, can you come here?” asked Daniel.

Big Vanya grinned awkwardly and looked around - now everyone in the audience was looking at him. “Please, Vanya, come here.”

Vanya got up, grinned again and, after taking a couple of steps, went up to Mishin.

“You know, Vanya”, said Mishin, after a tense pause. “I think you're a loser”.

“What?” asked Vanya, thinking that he had misheard. No one in the audience even laughed, everyone froze in anticipation.

“When I asked you to go on stage, I had a high chance of getting punched in the face. But, I repeat, you are a loser, because you devalue the process.” Mishin again entered the usual pace of speech. “I did not come here to tell you how cool I am. I’m here for you, so that you stop showing off and take a forward step”. For some reason, these words, full of pathos, suddenly sounded convincing and meaningful. And then Mishin began to throw rapid questions at Vanya like a machine gun:

“Look, how much do you earn now a month?” 

“Well, like, twenty”.

“Are you satisfied?”

“Nah, but what is it?”

“And what do you want to be?”

“Well, I don’t know, it would be possible to stir up some business, it would be possible.”

“And how old are you?”

“Well, twenty-four, but what is that?”

“Why haven't you started yet?”

“So many problems. Corruption, lawlessness”, Vanya began to recall. “Everyone is holding on, and there are no ideas, and there is no money ...”

About twenty minutes later Vanya burst into tears. The young entrepreneur forced him to speak out and explain why he did not believe in himself for twenty minutes. It was a cross between professional training and a psychoanalysis session. And recently it turned out that now Vanya is also an entrepreneur - he sells wholesale markers and emails Mishin's with reports. Margin, however, is still small, but the main thing is to start.

And things did not progress with the girls that evening.

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