Kirill Chekanov was 14 when he started his first company in hometown Moscow. He set himself up as a human resoures unit, connecting student workers with startups. Through that, the high-schooler got to know the Russian capital’s startup scene, which led him to his next idea and his new company: Hippflow.
Hippflow is a social network for startups and investors. The idea is that startups can post their milestones, achievements, goals, and product release information to the network so that their followers – specifically, investors – can easily get a sense of what they’re up to. Hippflow presents the information in a highly visual way and lays out the key moments in a horizontal timeline at the top of each startup’s profile page.
Chekanov, who is now 18 and just out of high school, heads up team of six, and the company has just raised money from private investors. While he won’t disclose the funding round, he says the company received a valuation of $1 million, which is chump change by Silicon Valley standards but not bad for a Russian teenager. The company launched the latest version of its website two weeks ago, and it has about 140 startups and entrepreneurs as members. Hippflow is free to use, and Chekanov plans to monetize it by opening it up to startup-oriented service providers for advertising.
While AngelList provides a similar database of startup and investor information, Chekanov sees Hippflow as a communications tool, kind of like Twitter for investors. (It can’t go without saying, though, that Hippflow’s logo is uncomfortably similar to AngelList’s.) His team of three developers has even developed a soon-to-be-released Google Glass app for the network, which will provide Glass-wearers updates about startups as they post new developments. Just who the hell would want such updates while they walk the dog is beyond us. But, hey, each to their own.
The very idea behind Hippflow is interesting but problematic. The company will likely have trouble convincing startups to document the investor details they usually share in public, but it might find some favor as a way to visually document a startup’s life progress. It’s like measuring your kid’s height against the wall and noting each new uptick with a pencil mark on the paint.
In the meantime, Chekanov has applied to universities, but seems reluctant to go. When he floated the idea of not going to university so he could concentrate on his business, his parents were none too happy. “That was a black day in the family,” he says.
Still, he’s considering Peter Thiel’s advice to drop out before he even starts. “I do think about dropping out, because business takes really a lot of time and to do it effectively, you have to devote all your time to business,” he says.
He is, after all, already hooked. “When you start doing business, you can’t stop doing it.”