Don’t be afraid if you don’t understand something. When I came into the industry, I hardly understood the technology. But the more I dove into it, the more I fell in love with it. This industry gives equal opportunities regardless your gender, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Inna Bodganova, an entrepreneur launching Aplic.io, a blockchain-based platform to streamline the college/university search process for students and connect admissions offices with target students. Once students have matriculated at a higher educational institution, they can upload documents showing proof of skills, so that job recruiters can use the system to find the best talent across borders. The system also assists with the visa process. A native of Russia, Inna comes to Aplic with experience as an entrepreneur, working in the visa section of the Canadian Embassy in Moscow, and as an admissions consultant for international students. These days, Inna is based in Vancouver, as is Aplic.io.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story of how you decided to pursue this career path? What lessons can others learn from your story?
I was always interested in technology that stands to have impact on society as a whole, specifically one that keeps such information pertaining to students such as track records and application activities. Several years ago, that seemed out of reach; however, the advent of blockchain technology has gone beyond my wildest expectations.
I can speak about the lessons I have learned personally and hope that others can learn from my experiences.
The first lesson is that you should never be afraid of pushing your boundaries. In my case, I made the move into blockchain after more than a decade in international student counselling and coordination of a group of certified visa counselors. Given its secure recordkeeping function, blockchain seemed a natural fit for a platform that would require accessibility of records, application activities, and personal documents.
Second, as a passionate creator, I feel compelled to create something that stands to have a positive, long-lasting impact on society. I feel I’m a natural entrepreneur. I started my first business when I was 14. Since Aplic’s inception, I dreamt of finding a technology-based solution to make the higher education and recruitment process that much more comfortable. The advent of blockchain technology has made that dream come true.
Third, base your technology products on real-life data. At Aplic, my colleagues and I really value the opportunity to put into practice how and where we can improve the application and recruiting processes.
Can you tell me about the most interesting projects you are working on now?
My main project right now is Aplic.io. We are an early-stage startup, building a global competency validation and education discovery platform. We aim to help students across the globe identify the higher educational program that is best suited for them, find scholarships or financial aid, and secure employment while they are students. By the time they graduate, students will have a proven track record of verified credentials, diplomas, certificates, academic achievements, skills and work history. It’s a next-generation verified CV, but specifically for new students and graduates.
I am very excited about what we are creating and we are pushing to go live with the beta version of this project by February 2019.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Since I started my first company, I was surrounded by really strong women who inspired me and supported me. We all became quite successful in our own ways. I am glad that I was in this environment of empowerment both then and now. These days, many of my friends are entrepreneurs. We encourage each other, share our successes, and refer each other to one another’s businesses whenever possible. I’m very lucky to have this support.
In addition, my husband has played a massive role in my transition to tech. He always supports my ideas and vision. He is the biggest believer in me and my projects.
What are the 5 things that most excite you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- Great impact for humans in almost every possible way
- It gives much greater transparency and security
- There is a potential for a free market in which everyone could benefit
- The shift of value from the money itself to the impact, time, effort, data, information or expertise/knowledge
- Access to almost everything on a global scale
What are the 5 things worry you about blockchain and crypto? Why?
- People don’t really understand blockchain technology and benefits of crypto
- Scam projects harm the reputation of crypto and blockchain
- Overall, implementation has been slow and with limited accessibility
- We still yet too far from massive use of the blockchain and crypto
- Regulatory gaps
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Can you share a story?
I am so excited about what I am doing now. Before, I was able to help a few thousand people achieve their goals in terms of education, career paths and immigration. By going live with Aplic, I will be able to help millions of young people achieve their educational goals, find their dream career and access global opportunities.
As you know there are not that many women in your industry. Can you share 3 things that you would you advise to other women in the blockchain space to thrive?
My advice is, don’t be afraid if you don’t understand something. When I came into the industry, I hardly understood the technology. But the more I dove into it, the more I fell in love with it. This industry gives equal opportunities regardless your gender, so don’t be afraid to ask for advice.
You don’t have to be a code geek to create something outstanding. If you have a vision, test it with other people, and find a tech professional who will help you build it. Of course, I wasn’t born that way. I don’t really have a tech background, although at the age of 15 I began to learn how to code. Today, though, I have a deep understanding of the technology itself and I can build the concept based on my vision with a help of professionals.
If you dream about creating an impact for society on a global scale, this is the industry you want to be in NOW since it’s growing and you can learn as it develops.
My three pieces of advice would thus be: Communicate. Be brave. Keep learning.
Can you advise what is needed to engage more women into the blockchain industry?
I think once we have more role models of successful women in the industry, more women will be engaged. A woman in the blockchain industry who inspires me is Crystal Rose Pierce, co-founder of Sensay.
Also, there should be more possibilities for investment access to fund and support women-led startups and more events where successful women share their knowledge and inspire other women in tech.
What is your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share a story of how that had relevance to your own life?
“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” -Rosalynn Carter
It might sound strange, but I have an intuition about what people can achieve and who they can become. At one event I came across a girl who seemed kind of lost and was trying to find her path. We talked and she told me about her life. She was working in a rather large corporation but wasn’t happy at all. I asked her what makes her happy. Turns out, it was jewelry design. I said that she should try to start her own business or at least level up her design skills. The next day, we met and I helped her establish a business plan. Now she has a thriving career as a jewelry designer. She travels often and is living her dream life. I am so proud of her and that she was brave enough to chase her dream.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start 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’m devoted to environmental protection. My heart beats for what is happening to our world, and I am so sad seeing what plastic pollution does to our oceans, flora, and fauna. I think being more conscious about our Earth will make people healthier and happier since we all are interconnected with the planet.
How can our readers follow you on social media?