Russian Accelerator Programme in St Petersburg: Advising SMEs

With the support of the Russian Government, the Chamber of Commerce in the Leningrad District, Neil Whitehead of Stuff International Design has been giving lectures to, advising and mentoring 50 SMEs (Small and Medium Sized Enterprises) with Russian colleagues ISM (International Strategic Management) in St Petersburg.  “We have been helping these entrepreneurs to develop their business strategies and supporting them to produce effective sales tools.”

Members of the SME programme (photo left): An evening in St Peterburg with the owners of SMEs (Neil is in the blue shirt centre right) after a day’s work relaxing and brainstorming together in the Chamber of Commerce

The main goal of the programme is to mentor the businesses over a nine month period in order to help them to generate more revenue.  Neil and his colleagues meet the companies every two months; the programme started on 30 March 2015, with other meetings in May, July, September, November and December.  In between these events, the mentoring continues via Skype, email and phone.  As the programme evolves we introduce appropriate specialists to guide the businesses on their logistics, sales, methodology, business planning and management skills.

Neil works with the business owners to assess:

- Strategic positioning:  Who are your customers? What is the uniqueness of your brand? What is your vision for their company - today and tomorrow?

- Product line logic:  What potential is there for future product development and within existing product lines?

- Sales vision:  Can we enable multi-product sales by widening the product range? Can we develop Solution Selling rather than Product Selling?  Can we create compelling stories that enable customers to see the total potential to the product/s, rather than perhaps their most limited use?  This approach supports the existing product and its brand, enabling sales growth and offers the opportunity to sell in additional products.

- Brand strategy: Creating a brand strategy – this might require adopting a new product or business name, modifying the logo, finding better brand solutions, improving sales materials to enable sales teams to be more effective and targeted.

Stuff International then provides art direction materials, so that the business owners can take their new vision to local agencies to produce the work.

Below are some examples of the work done and being done with Neil and the SMEs.


Cosmos is a security company, operating in the private home market, previously known under a family name, but it was agreed to change it to Cosmos as it was felt to reflect more effectively the quality services provided by the company.  Having assessed the company and established a potential vision for it the with the owners, Stuff International summarised their conclusions in a draft of a sales tool, or hand-drawn “scamp” that could be developed into a brochure or used as a guideline for creating other sales tools or redesigning their website, which can be done by local agencies.

The scamp shows how Cosmos could highlight its range of three security solutions for homes and how diagrams can help customers see more clearly the range of products and their use, leaving the company to add their words.

3D Photography Business

Neil assessed the company’s main 3D product, which requires special glasses in order to view the images.

He worked with the company to enable it to think more broadly in order to improve potential sales.  They came up with ideas such as using their technology to do more types of 3D printing, perhaps producing sculpture for events, so that they could provide unique 3D solutions for promotions and so be different to all other event organisers.



Noble Fish

The owner of Noble Fish is based in the countryside outside St Peterburg and supplies fresh Sturgeon and Salmon (sometimes live) to local restaurants.  Neil worked with the owner to develop a new name and logo for the company.  Inspiration came from the story that she had a cat who used to go to waterfront to try to catch the Sturgeon and Salmon

The name came from her supplying the King of Fish – Noble Fish.

To encapsulate the new name and brand identity, Stuff International put together a draft sales document aimed at focusing on the hotel and restaurant market. The products were divided into fresh fish (Salmon and Sturgeon) and caviar.  They assessed delivery methods, prices, price lists and packaging and how to seek out new customers in the region. They also discussed creating a range of prepared food and perhaps opening a combined restaurant and fishmonger.

Seasoning company

Two young business owners have developed seasoning for direct application to plated food.  They currently have three recipes for meat, fish and all food.  They have just started selling into Spar and other retailers are lining up.  Neil worked with them to assess their business strategy and branding.