Inna Bogdanova – CEO & Founder at Aplic platform Inc.

By on , in Interviews, North America

I think we need to show women the opportunity to create in tech, to express themselves and their personality in tech. This might be more attractive to women rather than a perspective to spend 8 hours a day sitting at the computer and code.

Inna Bogdanova is a female entrepreneur by nature since she was 14 years old. She founded her first company at the age of 24. Her two companies are related to education consulting, immigration and business travel.

In 2016 she founded a wellness app and platform for women called DIVAFIT and in 2018 she founded Aplic platform Inc. – Canadian Edtech startup – a next generation marketplace network, which connects students with universities, scholarship opportunities, mentors, service providers and employers.

In a Nutshell: Tell us a bit about your job and what role technology plays in it?

I am the Founder and CEO of Aplic.io – an Edtech platform, which connects students with universities, scholarships, mentors, service and funding providers all over the globe. I’ve been in the technology space for 5 years now, it is my second startup. 

Where did your professional journey start and how did you get to where you are now?

I grew up in the center of Siberia, in Novosibirsk, Russia and my family moved there from Chechnya, when the war started, because it was very unsafe for ethnic Russians to be in that region and my parents wanted me and my sister to live. I think all that has influenced me the most. 

I am a very creative and entrepreneurial person, my first entrepreneurial experience was at the age of 14 and I was able to support myself for 2 years and help my parents. When I was 14 there were very tough times in Russia when people were in the survival situation for 10 years before Putin came. 

Then I moved to Moscow by myself at the age of 19 and I was very lucky to be fluent in English and have a high quality post-secondary education, which was still available in Russia at that time. My first job was in the British Petroleum company. 

But, I think my professional journey started at the Canadian Embassy in Moscow. As locally engaged staff I was working in the visa and immigration department. It was my best job ever, I was 20 years old when I started this job. Then I worked at the Australian Embassy in Moscow as immigration officer assistant. But after 3 years doing that I realised that there is nowhere to grow inside this position and I didn’t want to stack on the same job for 25-30 years as most of the locally engaged staff did because of the salary and benefits. 

These jobs were my jumpstart for my future career as an entrepreneur. After 1 year of working in a big company after embassies, I’ve realised that I don’t want to be in the corporate world either and I’ve quit my job and started my first official business – a visa consulting company, which is still in operation in Russia and now also helps people to study in Canada, the USA, UK and Australia. 

After almost 10 years in this business I’ve got bored 🙂 And as I was always interested in technology, I’ve learned how to code when I was in high school and then my company’s first website I’ve coded myself – it was in 2008, and I also was into fitness and wellness so in 2016 I’ve founded a startup called Divafit – a wellness app for women with personalised menu and fitness training. I did almost everything except coding: prototyping, tech concept, idea execution, business development etc. and it was the most exciting thing for me in that time.

In 2 years it became small for me as I’ve always dreamt about a global company which serves millions of people and that’s when Aplic.io was born. With Divafit I’ve realised that I love to create products that can help people achieving their goals and I wanted also to share my experience and knowledge in the study abroad and immigration space since I know all the problems from every side: students, parents, universities and agents.

Because I wanted aplic.io to be a global solution I founded this company in Canada and moved to Canada to work on my startup.

What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career?

There was a lot. I would say the biggest ones were: the evolution of commerce, design and marketing tools. When I started my career, it was 15 years ago, we barely had a designed website, everything was slow and under the price of the spaceship. Now we can create MVPs to test ideas or online stores without any coding and design skills. Marketing became fast, cheap and creative – you can do anything in Canva now, for example. 

Commerce has got the greatest transformation thanks to technology, I would say.

When you think about ‘women’ and ‘technology’ what comes to your mind first?

Melanie Perkins, Founder of Canva, Payal Kadakia, co-founder of ClassPass and Reshma Saujani, Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code. These women are my role models, especially Melanie Perkins. 

We always hear there are not enough women working in Tech. What needs to happen to change that, which steps should be done to achieve gender equality in tech? 

I think it is a little bit untrue. There are a lot of women in tech, but they do not necessarily code or found startups. So we need to distinguish if we want more women who found tech companies or we want to have more women who are engineers, software developers etc. 

I think it really depends on the personality. Women like to try new things, women want to “be in the flow”, women are more creative and a lot of women do not see creativity in tech. So, I think we need to show women the opportunity to create in tech, to express themselves and their personality in tech. This might be more attractive to women rather than a perspective to spend 8 hours a day sitting at the computer and code – this is not for everyone and wouldn’t excite me, for example, if I was looking at tech from this perspective. 

You don’t have to code to be able to create a tech product and a tech startup, although you have to have a product and a business vision, understanding how technology works, UX/UI knowledge and general understanding of technologies.

You don’t have to code to be able to create a tech product and a tech startup, although you have to have a product and a business vision, understanding how technology works, UX/UI knowledge and general understanding of technologies used to develop certain products so that you can speak with software developers on the same language and understand them as well in order to explain what you want to create and find the right technical co-founder or to hire a developer. It doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to get to know all that when you are passionate about what you are creating and then comes the experience.

Which was the best decision in your career? 

Every decision I make is the best one for the specific moment of time even though the outcome can be different than I expect.

Tough question. I am choosing to think that every decision I make is the best one for the specific moment of time even though the outcome can be different than I expect. Usually it leads to the experience which levels up me as a professional and a person. 

If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your 14-year-old self?

I actually very often “come back” to my 14-year-old self as a “resource center” for everything I do.

Oh, at 14 years old I was soooo brave, creative, passionate about my future with big global dreams, so I would say “Keep up, you got it” – I actually very often “come back” to my 14-year-old self as a “resource center” for everything I do.

Inna Bogdanova is a female entrepreneur by nature since she was 14 years old. She founded her first company at the age of 24. Her two companies are related to education consulting, immigration and business travel.

In 2016 she founded a wellness app and platform for women called DIVAFIT and in 2018 she founded Aplic platform Inc. – Canadian Edtech startup – a next generation marketplace network, which connects students with universities, scholarship opportunities, mentors, service providers and employers.

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