Could a background that includes construction, engineering, and hazardous chemicals be a better foundation for a successful startup than one that follows the norms we’ve chosen to accept in tech? And how can that alternate educational path lead to a better chance for innovation?
Let’s face it. When we think of the startup industry, it is natural to imagine a sea of apps developed according to the Silicon Valley blueprint by University graduates with similar education paths. We imagine a world packed with founders and workers putting in 14-hour days, striving to “fail fast” (and all your other cliche phrases).
Meet Margarita Valigun, a driven and accomplished professional who has built a diverse career in the field of construction. Margarita’s journey began in 2007 when she started working as a design engineer for New Technologies LLC. There, she was responsible for the development of medical equipment that used magnetic radiation to treat bronchial asthma. Her hard work and dedication led to the creation of a device that received medical certification, sparking a rocket-speed career that many may take decades to achieve.
That early success led to Margarita starting her own company in 2009, Khimira LLC, which focused on the import, repacking, and sales of chemical reagents and laboratory equipment. Additionally, the company provided services for designing and equipping laboratories, which allowed Margarita to utilize her expertise in the field of applied physics and mathematics. The business was a success and grew rapidly, allowing Margarita to start another company, Ventakhim LLC, in 2012.
Created for the design and construction of hazardous industrial facilities, Ventakhim LLC was later re-profiled into the construction of suburban real estate. Margarita supervised three teams of 14 people who built houses and created all the technical and design documentation for construction. She also received attestation from Rostekhnadzor, a license for designing technically hazardous facilities, and was a member of the National Agency for Low-Rise and Cottage Construction.
In 2016, Margarita founded Profkrepezh LLC, which focused on the development and promotion of specialized construction fasteners. Her expertise in this area led to collaborations with numerous companies involved in the installation of stretch ceilings. She designed and created several profiles for ceiling installation, leading to a patent application, two articles on ceiling installation technology, and a letter of thanks from a Chinese organization for creating specialized harpoon fasteners for them.
Margarita’s success continued with the founding of Nova Ceiling Design in 2022. The company specializes in the installation of stretch ceilings and has already started operations in Florida, with plans to expand across the US.
Throughout her career, Margarita has achieved significant financial success and gained recognition from leading experts in the construction field. Her diverse skillset, including design and development, 3D modeling, building a business from scratch, and the ability to create and manage teams, has led to her numerous successes.
Margarita’s education has also played a critical role in her success. Her master’s degree in applied physics and mathematics, as well as her additional coursework in economics and accounting, has allowed her to develop a wide range of skills. Additionally, her professional retraining in industrial and civil construction, as well as courses in customs and attestation exam preparation, has further expanded her expertise.
Not Your Average Startup Founder
The average education and early career path of a startup founder are diverse, but there are some common patterns. Typically, startup founders have an undergraduate degree in a field related to their startup, such as computer science, engineering, business, or marketing. Some may have advanced degrees, such as an MBA or a master’s in a relevant technical field.
In terms of early career, many startup founders gain experience working in their field before launching their own company. This experience can come in the form of internships, entry-level jobs, or more senior positions. Some may also work for larger companies in their industry to gain valuable experience and build their network.
Many startup founders also have a strong entrepreneurial spirit, often appearing in their early careers. They may have started small businesses, taken on freelance work, or been involved in projects that demonstrate their ability to create and execute ideas. Sometimes, startup founders may have even started a side hustle while still in school or working full-time.
Another common thread among startup founders is a willingness to take risks and learn from failure. This often involves taking on challenging projects, pursuing non-traditional career paths, or even starting a business that ultimately fails. In these cases, the experience gained from failure can be just as valuable as success.
Overall, a startup founder’s education and early career path vary widely. Still, most have a strong foundation in their field and have gained experience and skills that set them up for success in launching and growing their own company.
Different Paths Lead to Unique, Life-Saving Opportunities
Stretch ceilings have traditionally been known for their aesthetic appeal and ability to transform any living space. However, Margarita’s unique journey and outside-the-norm route to entrepreneurship gave her a different perspective that led to a significant opportunity to help those in need and open up new markets. She was inspired and attracted to the idea that when combined with quick-to-construct frames, these innovative ceiling solutions can become an essential tool in emergency response and disaster relief efforts.
When disaster strikes, one of the most pressing needs is to provide emergency shelter to those affected. Traditional building materials like plaster and drywall can take weeks or even months to install, leaving those affected without a proper roof over their heads. However, stretch ceilings can be quickly and easily installed in combination with rapid-deployment frames, providing temporary accommodation that is both practical and durable.
Rapid-deployment frames can be pre-fabricated, making them easy to transport and assemble on-site. They are made of lightweight and durable materials, such as aluminum or steel, and can be designed to be easily assembled without the need for heavy machinery or specialized tools. The combination of stretch ceilings and rapid-deployment frames provides a versatile solution for disaster relief efforts, including natural disasters, conflicts, and refugee crises.
The benefits of stretch ceilings for disaster relief are numerous. First and foremost, the installation process is quick and easy, reducing the time it takes to provide shelter to those in need. In contrast to traditional building materials, stretch ceilings can be installed in a matter of hours, rather than days or weeks. This means that emergency accommodation can be deployed rapidly and efficiently, providing immediate relief to those affected by a disaster.
Stretch ceilings are also lightweight and easy to transport, making them an ideal solution for remote or hard-to-reach locations. The flexible PVC material is also highly durable, resistant to moisture, and easy to clean, providing a clean and safe living space. They can be customized to fit any space, and the variety of colors and finishes available means that they can be tailored to the specific needs of each emergency.
One example of how stretch ceilings have been used in emergency response is the earthquake that hit Haiti in 2010. In the aftermath of the disaster, thousands of people were left without homes and shelter. Rapid-deployment frames and stretch ceilings were used to provide temporary accommodation, allowing people to have a safe and secure place to live while they waited for more permanent housing solutions.
Another example is the use of stretch ceilings in refugee camps. In recent years, the global refugee crisis has created a pressing need for emergency shelter. Stretch films (membranes), combined with rapid-deployment frames, have been used to provide temporary accommodation in refugee camps around the world. They are durable, easy to clean, and offer a level of privacy and security to those in need.
Stretch ceilings can also be used to create temporary health facilities in emergencies. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, stretch ceilings have been used to create pop-up testing centers, hospitals, and quarantine areas. The durable and hygienic properties of stretch ceilings make them an ideal solution for healthcare facilities in emergencies.
The benefits of stretch ceilings in emergency response are not limited to their practical application. They can also have a significant positive impact on the mental health and well-being of those affected by disasters. In times of crisis, people need to feel safe and secure. The use of stretch ceilings and rapid-deployment frames can help to create a sense of normalcy and stability, providing a small sense of comfort to those who have lost so much.
Thanks to her background, education, drive, and ability to think about problems without the constraints associated with those that have trodden a similar path to the development of their businesses and solutions, Margarita has created a whole new route to success.
While her products are bought and used for all their traditional needs, her unique viewpoint has led to a significant opportunity to use her stretch ceiling solutions to provide a versatile and practical solution for emergency shelters and healthcare facilities.