From an idea to a business. “Ptashenia. Alternative kids space”

A lot of ideas remain just ideas and are never realized. The same with business: in order to develop your idea into a project and start implementing it, you often need a push. For the graduates of Lviv Business School of UCU Innovations and Entrepreneurship Program, such a push was their business education. LvBS and MSc in Innovations and Entrepreneurship Program present a series of articles about the ideas that became successful businesses thanks to the education, about the growth and the difficulties their authors have faced.

Nothing could make our heroine give up on her dreams. Khrystyna Shabat is a co-founder of Ptashenia Kids Space – a project that became recognizable in Lviv quite quickly. Having graduated from LvBS MSc in Innovations and Entrepreneurship Program, Khrystyna soon managed to realize her project together with her friend Solomiia Boikovych. Their idea was to make Ptashenia Kids Space, not just another private kindergarten, but a comfortable space both for children and their parents, and free of bureaucracy. It was supposed to be a quality environment for children that would foster their intellectual and physical growth; space where you will always feel free and have true friends around you; a space where children are instilled with right values. It was also equally important to create a comfortable environment for parents who would make themselves at home at Ptashenia, and at the same time, they could work or do their own things. And they did it!

In our interview, LvBS graduate Khrystyna Shabat told us about how she realized such an ambitious idea and what obstacles she met on her way.

Flying high starts with small wings
Where did you get this sense of confidence that somewhat conservative Lviv citizens will get interested in a creative educational space and that this idea will actually work?

I passed my project on corporate kindergartens as far back as eighteen months ago. At that time, I was driven by my personal needs – my daughter Solomiika was born in April; because of this I had to miss a module, but I resumed my studies as soon as in May. This is how I got the idea for the project: what should moms who want more do?

I dreamt of creating a kindergarten at every big company of the city. I went to such companies with this bold idea, but … they didn’t share my enthusiasm. Everyone said: yeah, it’s cool, but it’s a big responsibility. But I didn’t get discouraged and decided to do everything on my own. However, it turned out that I had to move to Kyiv for a year, though I knew I would come back. Still, the idea of a kindergarten didn’t leave me in peace and didn’t let me go. As soon as I came back, I secured a partnership with my companion and old friend Solomiia Boikovych, and we actively started implementing this project.

Why did we believe in this? Because in many places moms with kids aren’t welcome, but at our place they are sincerely welcome. And one more thing: according to official data, around 30% of kids in Lviv don’t have a place in kindergarten, so where should they go?


It is easier to achieve your aim when you have a community

Weren’t you afraid of dispersing your energy? Because Ptashenia has declared really bold aims: quality entertainment for kids, and still, moms are not left out – they can work as well as have beauty time.

No, we weren’t afraid. During the day we take care of kids, and after work, we take care of parents. We have started English lessons for moms, and we also have driving lessons as our priority. The interest in these lessons is already booming; not everyone goes on with them; but this is our mission as we see it – to change ‘the mom world’. We want to say: hey moms, even though our children are our whole universe, we also have another world around us, and we have to be powerful and beautiful in it.

Every now and then we have beauty days; on these days we invite lecturers to mix business with pleasure. We also have a growth program for moms called ‘Lean in!’ We were inspired by Sheryl Sandberg and her book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. We wish to lean in and create a community of those who want more. Because it is more difficult when you are alone; and it is easier to achieve your aim when you have a community.

What approaches do you use to make the kids get together under the same roof? These kids come to your place for the first time, and for some of them, it might be the first time they are separated from their mothers.

It’s quite banal. We do everything so that every kid is progressing in a way he or she likes, our teachers only correct this progress. The program is quite intensive: we have English lessons three times a week, a new topic every day, and music, experiments, cooking and a Montessori lesson once a week. But we don’t force children. Of course, some kids cry, but we don’t close the door to their parents, and they can stay at lessons with their kids during the adaptation period. It works. Besides, we hire teachers who are nuts about kids. And this is actually the most important thing. They just love kids as we do. So, with our efforts and God’s help combined, this puzzle is being put together, and we can already see the results. We don’t want to be average, we need to be the best, so we are moving in this direction.

I am sure that the work I do makes sense, otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing it!

Studying at LvBS means extending the boundaries in your own head

Tell us about your work on this project from an idea to its realization. And how did studying at business school help you?

I was realizing this idea strictly according to the project plan. The budget was especially helpful, it was drafted with some help from our teacher Liubomyr Tarnovskyi. It may sound as a utopia, but we created Ptashenia according to the budget from two years ago – and we managed to stay within its limits.

And studying at LvBS is not only a useful tool but it also means extending the boundaries in your own head. It’s understanding that it is useful to work not only for yourself but for someone else as well. I think it’s the most important thing I have learned. I know perfectly well what my mission is, and how I can realize it in the projects that I do. You may ask, “And where is the business here?” You will get everything if your intentions are sincere!