Olga Yurovski is a self-described non-traditional tech founder. First, she’s a woman. Second, she’s a solo founder. Third, she doesn’t have a technical background.
But perhaps it’s those things that give her the cutting edge to stand out in the packed crowd of tech startups, as she’s the CEO of Shopperations, a “planning and collaboration platform for retail and brand marketers.”
“My story is that you don’t have to be a technical founder in order to deliver technical products,” she said. “You need to understand the user, the pain of the industry.”
Yurovski’s industry experience started in Ukraine. There she worked in marketing for Procter & Gamble. Eventually, she made her way to the United States and settled at Conagra Brands. Yurovski discovered a “pain” in the shopper marketing industry when she was working as a consumer packaged goods marketer.
She found she couldn’t fully manage her budget and promotional plans. There wasn’t a one-stop shop where she could access data and fully understand the return on investment for the campaigns she was running. There was also a strong need to collaborate with the other departments, but there weren’t any tools to make the process easier. All communication, collaboration and teamwork relied on outdated methods, such as conference calls, emails and offline documents.
“My story is that you don’t have to be a technical founder in order to deliver technical products.”
There had to be some type of system out there, but she couldn’t find any, so she reached out to her colleagues across the industry. As it turns out, they were having the same issues. Yurovski decided to take matters into her own hands.
Shopperations started in 2014 as a solution to these many “pains.” Yurovski hired a designer, who helped build a prototype. She tested the prototype on clients, and development continued. It was with the help of the Cincinnati tech community that she finally got the final piece of the puzzle.
In 2015, an Imagining Grant from CincyTech helped Yurovski build a team of UX designers and developers from her hometown of Dnipro, Ukraine. She said she was very grateful for the grant, as it helped the team deploy the product on real-life customers and work out any issues. The product went live in 2016.
Shopperations continues to grow. In 2017, they tripled their clients. Yurovski also got honored for her tenacity and innovation. She was nominated for and won a 2017 P2PI Women of Excellence Awards in Innovation, beating out nominees from companies like Coca-Cola and Costa Del Mar.
“We got the most nominations,” she said. “A lot of my clients were very happy to nominate me, because this is something they wholeheartedly acknowledge and recommend.”
Shopperations was also accepted into the UpTech 6 accelerator program in 2017, which ends in February 2018. The six-month program helps startups by investing with $50,000 in capital, providing mentorship, helping with legal and accounting, and providing weekly advising sessions. There are milestones that need to be reached during the program, and at the end the goal is to be “investable” as a business.
The program is also having a positive effect on her entrepreneurial mindset.
“It is helping me get out of my head,” she said, as until recently, Yurovski worked from home. The daily interaction with colleagues of the corporate world was no longer there, and her team is located around the world. As UpTech provides free office space during the program, she can be around other entrepreneurs who have “crazy ideas” that they are working to bring to life, a move that she said was making her feel normal again.