Interview with Nataliia Shulga - 5 years after C:F Summit 2012

by C:F Team on 16th March, 2017 at 2:08 PM CEST

March 2017 marks the fifth anniversary of the C:F Summit 2012 that took place in Bled from 15 March until 22 March in 2012. As the C:F Summit 2012 was reaching its conclusion, five grand award contenders teams were preparing for their final presentations and approaching the peak of their excitement. Difficult decision was to be made on who should claim the Grand Award winner title and prize. Then, the judges decided that not one but two teams should win. One of them was Russian team Rush Hot Chilli Brains. Five years later, we take a moment to talk with Nataliia Shulga from the team. 

Nataliia Shulga at the C:F Summit 2013, Maribor, Slovenia. Photo by Miha Matavz & Marko Samec

CF Team: Hi Nataliia, it's been five years since you were one of the Grand Award winners of the CF competitions in 2012. Looking back, we are curious - how did your life change after you and your team were acclaimed the winners? 

Nataliia: After our team won the prize my life dramatically changed. I started to work on Soulful Spice even more than I did it before and such work started right after we were acclaimed as winners. My team members and I came back to our project room and started to draft our project for potential investors. Then we continued to work in the airplane on our way to our hometown, and such pace of work didn’t change for a long time. We all had our full-time jobs, but after a working day or on the weekends we met to discuss our Soulful Spice, and if we didn’t meet, we kept working on our personal tasks connecting with the project but at home. I can honestly say that we have worked full-time for Soulful Spice; we carried out our commitments to Challenge Future community and society and people who believed in us. Soulful Spice as a non-for-profit organization was a part of charity world which had its own rules and ethics, and such philosophy made feel us even more responsible for the results. Moreover to be a recipient of the grant is a responsibility by itself as people all around the world wait for your brilliant results, and you feel it without any words and e-mails, which motivates you to work harder. Of course implementing the project, we made a lot of networks as well as improved our management skills. But the most important thing is that we acquired experience of meeting with failure. As we didn’t have enough investments we couldn’t realize our plans to the full extent but kept on looking for investors. Despite we made good connections with businesses which were ready to collaborate with us, Soulful Spice still couldn’t become sustainable. Finally, when the crisis came, and our grant money was almost spent, which was after 3 years of hard work, we accepted the fact that we need to shut our project. It was sad, but at the same time, such misfortune made us look for new opportunities to apply our knowledge as you can’t live without entrepreneurship and charity if you dine in them once. At least it is the way to feel creative and useful for me.

Nataliia: Drawing with my son Ivan

CF Team: What do you today, five years later?

Nataliia: Today I am a mother of an almost two-year-old child whose name is Ivan. I am on statutory maternity leave right now and have a lot of time to think about entrepreneurship. Child care has influenced a lot at my vision of life. Charity events for kids within Soulful Spice made me see singularity of every child and their necessity to be needed for someone, while motherhood helped to find the ways how to help a kid to develop any talent. My main interest right now is early learning for children of newborn age and older. I’ve learned a lot of information in such field of knowledge and did my own research. On the basis of the results that I had, my husband and I decided to issue our own magazine for children. We’ve designed more than a half of our first issue for now. We go very slow but try hard. At the same time, the magazine is not one sphere of our work. Right now we are also implementing a project in the field of robotechnics, which is also connected with early learning for children. I am helping especially with the marketing part of this project. We are in the very beginning with these two new fields of work, but I hope that we start at the right time and at the right place.

Zorikto Dorzhievs exhibition. Developing colour perception

CF Team: When you look back, what was the most important lesson you learned from the competitions?  

Nataliia: One of the main lessons is that if you need to reach the goal you must work on it regularly. You can work on your idea every day or one day per week – it will be your own pace that you choose. Let it be slow, but let it be. I could never imagine that I can be one of the winners of Challenge Future Main Competition, and it took 2 years to come to such result. But at the same time, I have other goals but my steps to them are so slow that it can take a lifetime. We are all headed to achieving our personal goals, but we need to appreciate the road too and keep going in any circumstances of our life. 

CF Team: Nataliia, it's been a real pleasure and honor to catch up with you. We wish you  best of luck on your new projects and sending your many many warm hugs!

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