One of them I got from a well-known businessman when I asked him about advice for women who want to achieve significant results in business. He told me that he would have recommended always to keep a distance and never have any relationship in a workplace, don’t mix work and personal life.
As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Evelina Lavrova.
Evelina has about 15 years of experience in Business Development and Marketing. She has been working at tech startups since 2012. Currently, Evelina is a CMO of Waves World and an Ambassador of Impulse4Women. She was a speaker at London Fintech Week 2019, Revision 2018, CV Labs, Blockchainers by The University of Manchester, etc.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I used to work in the real estate industry, but wanted to start an international career so I moved into the tech startup space. I launched Gett (Lyft partner) in 2012. Then I promoted Pay-Me (Square competitor) and was named Commercial Department Employee 2015 and I helped growing Waves Protocol — blockchain ecosystem: DEX, wallet, smart contracts (Top 20 based on Coinmarketcap in 2016–2018). In 2017 I was named Top 10 Females in Crypto 2017 by Core Magazine.
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
Actually, when you are working on a new technology or product which is going to change the traditional market, industry, and the world in general, that’s already disruptive. I just help to spread information about it, to attract attention, and to educate the first users. The key thing is to explain it very simply.
I had such an experience twice. The first time it was Gett, a mobile app for ordering a taxi. It was changed the traditional taxi industry. Now we use it daily / weekly / monthly and can’t imagine our life without this app.
Second when I used to work at Waves, blockchain ecosystem: decentralized exchange, crypto wallet, token launcher, smart contracts, and other products. In the beginning it was a small community of early adopters, but in 2017 it became mainstream: Bitcoin price was growing very fast, tier-1 media outlets started to cover topics about blockchain and cryptocurrency, it attracted the attention of professionals from traditional financial institutions and top banks, investors, developers, and founders. Recently PayPal allowed customers to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrency from their accounts. It took a few years when big companies started to adopt cryptocurrency. I’m sure more news like this will come in the future. Personally, I bought air tickets for one European airline and paid by bitcoin.
Every time when I promote a new startup I try new hacks and features in my work. The current trend is live-streaming and short loop videos like Reels on Instagram or TikTok and other online tools.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I have just moved to Moscow, Russia in 2007 and I was looking for a job. I found a vacancy, dialed a number and went to the wrong company. Then I asked if they had any open positions in Marketing and I got a positive answer. This is how I found my first job in Moscow. Sometimes the mistake turns you to the right destination.
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I haven’t had a mentor yet and I would love to find him or her, but some people believed, supported and guided me during my way. It was Waves community which supported me more than team members. I got the opportunity to join a company whose founders I found between community members. We have never met in person, just chatted on Telegram, but they believed in me and I got a chance to join them, change my life and to move in the US.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Sure, this has happened with blockchain. It can radically change many industries such as international payments, notary business, logistics and many others, but huge players like corporations interfere with the progress. They don’t want to lose control. The best way to send international payment now is Bitcoin, much cheaper and faster than other transfers.
When disruptive is not good? When it attracts fraudsters and scammers. How it was in 2017 when about 90–95% of startups which crowdfunded money via ICO were fake and scam. Then we could read the news that founder disappeared with money, bought an expensive house and car or didn’t build the product at all, etc.
Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
- One of them I got from a well-known businessman when I asked him about advice for women who want to achieve significant results in business. He told me that he would have recommended always to keep a distance and never have any relationship in a workplace, don’t mix work and personal life.
- Another one I heard from a very famous singer / actress / model. When she just started her career, nobody believed in her. She always heard: “You couldn’t sing, you couldn’t act, you couldn’t model…” But she has decided to continue to do it and became very successful in the music, movie and fashion industries. So keep doing!
- One day I shared my goal with my former colleague. No one in the team supported me except of him. I tried and tried again then I got it, he wrote to me: “I have never seen such a determined person”. I realized I was going in the right direction. Focus and follow your dream!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
I would like to move into VC space and join a VC fund as a PR Partner. I can build the fund’s brand which can help to attract new startups and support portfolio companies.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
Underestimation. I very often have been in such situations. People just do not believe that you can make it. They say that you don’t have the right education, work experience or skills. Sometimes men even don’t fit well, but they are very self-confident. Another case when companies pay women less money than men. I had experience when founder didn’t want to pay me additional $500 for the 1st month compensation, while the company raised $16M of investments.
Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?
I would recommend books: Zero to One by Peter Thiel, Delivery Happiness by Tony Hsieh, Marc Andreessen’s Guide to Startups and Guide to Hiring, The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers by Ben Horowitz, a16z’s podcast and others.
I was listening to the interview of Tatiana Kvitka, a pioneer of Russian tech startups in Silicon Valley where she recommended reading a book The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz. It’s really useful. It should be a table book of all startup founders.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would motivate more women to fight for equal rights. It’s pretty common in the US, but not, for example, in Russia. Russian women don’t do that. It’s a historical fact: Russian women had more rights in the last century than American who needed to fight for their rights: vote, leader positions in politics and business, equal pay, etc. And they are continuing to do it now. I think we just need to show Russian women the difference than they can compare. Without it they don’t understand that they can get much more benefits.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
The most unsuitable people become the most suitable. One day the co-founder of an IT company where I used to work in the beginning of my career told me: “You were the worst sales manager”. He always wanted to see an ideal Head of Sales in this position, but we couldn’t find him or her during a long time. I wasn’t fit at all. But a few months later I made 80% of a company’s sales then he changed his opinion about me.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!