Startup Competition Brings Ideas to Life, Part II
This is part two in a four-part spotlight series on successes in the Delivering Regional Instruction Vital to Entrepreneurial Success (DRIVES) Program, funded by the United States Agency for International Development. The program’s goal is to improve access to high-quality business education for small- and medium-sized enterprises across Belarus. Pyxera Global implements DRIVES in cooperation with international and local partners including the Global Business Schools Network and IPM Business School in Minsk.
Anton Polovinkin’s family has been in the lingerie business for more than 25 years, specializing in manufacturing wireless bras. Increased competition from China forced the family to reorganize its business and shift to sewing products for other companies, until a Swedish company approached them with a proposal to produce lingerie for post-mastectomy women. Impressed with the company’s product line and client-focused approach, Anton was inspired to use his background in lingerie production to develop a company that supports Belarusian women following breast cancer surgery with modern and stylish undergarments that make them feel beautiful and confident.
Driven by his new ambition, Anton conducted market research to determine whether there was a demand for this kind of product. He interviewed over 20 individuals in his target audience and learned the following:
- Patients were fearful of mastectomies for what they would do to their bodies
- After a mastectomy, patients had negative reactions to lingerie because of the change in their bodies
- Women expressed how difficult it was to find beautiful lingerie post-surgery
Anton recognized the added need for research into post-surgical lingerie material, design, and production. He found that many issues with existing products could easily be remedied using an innovative pocket within undergarments to support a breast prosthetic. He initially produced seven pieces of lingerie, with the goal of having a prototype and client feedback that he could use to approach funders.
Through the Best Start-Up Idea Regional Competition in Vitebsk, and with the support of his mentor, Anton learned how to properly pitch his idea of affordable, modern lingerie for women following a mastectomy. He also gained more confidence to pursue his endeavor.
At the final competition in Minsk, Anton’s idea, ‘Madame Comfort,’ won the Best Social Project Award and received a certificate of 10 Million BYR ($2.6K USD) from TiAyti, an online promotion company. With this recognition and validation of his business concept, Anton is equipped to approach venture capitalists and angel investors to fund ‘Madame Comfort.’
This story is made possible by the support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of the Delivering Regional Instruction Vital to Entrepreneurial Success project implemented by Pyxera Global. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of Pyxera Global and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.