At first, Beloshapkova wanted to supply this equipment to Russian customers. “But it turned out that their products cost so much money that they didn’t create any savings for the customer,” she says. "Condeco's solution for 200 jobs cost more than $ 200,000. This is a large sum even for an American client, not to mention a Russian one." The existing players really offered either expensive solutions, or were still working on creating the hardware, agrees with her words the executive director of the Praktik coworking network Vladimir Dorofeev.
Then, in the summer of 2018, Beloshapkova decided to create her solution. The demand for an inexpensive device in the United States was higher than in Russia, so she decided to build a company in Boston. Since August 2018, Elena has lived in two countries - in parallel with the registration of the company in Boston, she was thinking over the configuration of desktop devices and the first employees in Russia.
The eponymous company Fresh. Ideas for Offices Beloshapkova registered in Delaware in February 2019. The project itself is called fresh connect. In June of the same year, at the Future Offices conference in Moscow, she presented her prototype based on iBeacon technology. This 3D-printed device needed to be embedded in a table and a software prototype with a basic set of functions (booking a workplace or meeting room, searching for colleagues, analyzing office occupancy). Several tens of thousands of dollars were spent developing the prototype from Beloshapkova's funds, earned from the sale of furniture.
The conference participants loved her idea however, many potential customers were unsure about the need to embed devices into the table. In addition, even a high-quality battery in such devices had to be changed every three years. “These are unnecessary actions that no one wanted to perform,” the entrepreneur sighs.
Beloshapkova, with a team of programmers and engineers, took up the development of a new device, for which neither a battery nor a hole in the table is needed. The team didn't know where to start. Their idea was prompted by a bug that had the first fresh connect prototypes. When the devices were located close, they "interrupted" each other's signals. The team tried to reduce the radius of their interaction to a minimum and realized that the technology for this already existed. “Contactless payment with a mobile phone, for example, worked with NFC,” says Beloshapkova. "We decided to apply this technology to our office devices."
In October 2019, fresh connect presented its second prototype with the same basic software at the Ascent conference in New York. By February 2020, the entire product was finalized - a platform for an employer with access to office analytics and applications for employees. Beloshapkova financed the whole development. By that time, the investment had reached $ 135,000.
In the spring of 2020, the entrepreneur began to carry out pilot projects with companies to which she had previously supplied furniture and look for new clients in Russia and the United States. Demand, she stated, was high: “I had calls from 3 am to 11 am. We communicated with completely different customers - from America, Great Britain, Russia”.