Anna Filippova

Founder and CSO of KidsWay, a service for escorting and driving children around to school or activities
"If my strategy had been to wait until someone paid attention and noticed me, if I hadn’t made an effort to stand out and be recognized, I don’t think we’d be running now at this pace."

Anna Filippova launched the startup KidsWay: the idea is that busy parents can call a nanny driver to escort and chauffeur their child around for pick-ups and drop-offs to or from school, an interest class, or the pool. In the past, Anna was a TV presenter.

"The business of safely getting children to where they need to be," is how Anna Filippova used to describe her company when she was starting out, in 2016.

Anna was given the inDriver Award for creating a business that fulfills an important mission for all parents.

Anna Filippova's Principles

Getting credit and recognition, openly talking about the ups and downs — that’s what drives me in my own business. I’m inspired by people’s reactions as well as by their support and praise. I have an achievement-oriented personality, I am constantly comparing my accomplishments against other people’s: who has attracted investment and how much of it, who has a higher volume of business and a larger client base. Besides, I really like to get attention, but you need achievements to get in the spotlight (I’m joking, of course).

I am energized by the opportunity to make things easier for people. Our parent-clients say thank you for the opportunity to not have to get up at 5:30 a.m. and not have to drive around town all day with their child.

There were 116 entries for the Aurora Tech Award, which is a great result considering that not many people knew about the award. I was sent the link by an acquaintance. Five years ago, there would not have been so many top-notch female IT entrepreneurs, their number has significantly increased in the last three years. The contestants for the award included some very worthy and promising young women! It’s a great honor to be among the top three winners.

Anna Filippova's Principles
65 million
rubles — the company's turnover in 2021
employees on staff
>400 thousand
trips made over the company's time in business
nanny drivers

All awards are important. Especially when it comes to entrepreneurs — they don’t get much support at all. It is important to promote the idea that business is creating the future that will come when oil and gas run out.

The wave of support for female IT entrepreneurs is crucial so that women don’t forget about themselves. Even if they have a family, children, and a home. Women entrepreneurs should not waste their energy thinking about what their relatives, husbands, or girlfriends will say. These kinds of conversations and thoughts undermine their confidence with the result that female company founders find themselves in the most precarious position from the very outset. That’s why it is essential to showcase the success of women in business.

About discrimination

I was always seen as a good-looking woman, that is, I was treated with an air of slight condescension. I hosted a finance and political talk show on television. 90 percent of the speakers were male. No-one said to my face that I was a dumb blonde, but this attitude could be seen in numerous gestures. A typical situation would look like this: when I came over to the guest speakers before going on air to say hi and have a coffee, they treated me like a pretty lady in a red dress, using a pet name to address me. After a tough broadcast with my razor-sharp questions about politics and finance, they would change their tone and addressed me formally by my full name. There was a huge difference in attitude before and after the event.

I was the only lady CEO among the members of 33 teams included in the startup accelerator of the Internet Initiatives Development Fund (IIDF) in 2016. Our team had to show we were able to keep up with the best of them.

"He won’t discuss this with a woman," was a phrase I sometimes heard when I needed to set up a meeting with a potential business partner. I was advised to send in a man from my team as a stand-in for myself. I answered that either they talk with me or the meeting is off. If he’s not interested, then no partnership will work. This hasn’t happened now for the last three years.

About child care business and the prize

Any kid-focused business in Russia involves active mothers who manage their family’s activities. In Moscow and St. Petersburg, some children may need pick-ups and drop-offs to get to 4 or 5 places during the day with their nanny driver: school, swimming pool, English or ballet class. The children live a full life and absorb a lot of knowledge. But in the suburban areas near Moscow the picture is different and there is no great demand for nanny driver jobs.

Over the past five years, our competitors have tried every trick in the book: changed a letter in the brand name, completely copied the site. Four or five companies entered the market this way, but they all went belly up after 2-3 months. At first I was mad, but then I realized that this was helping to get the market going. Everyone thinks that this business of driving kids around is a walk in the park, enjoyable and lucrative. But logistically it is a huge challenge. In actual fact, we created the profession of nanny drivers from scratch. Currently, we do have a major competitor in the United States; but there are no comparable players in Europe.

In the summer of 2021, I left the day-to-day operational management of the company and breathed freely again. Now I’m considering a relocation. I’m planning to pivot my startup, change the business model, and enter the global market. Now we are working to create an investment-attractive company without too complicated an operational process. I came to this decision during my burnout period in mid-2021. I wrote a Facebook post inviting people to talk with me about relocation. Three weeks later, that post snowballed into an event involving investors and a discussion about effective strategies for entering foreign markets.

We will use the prize money to change the company’s business model and fund technology development. The plan is to make a super app for finding and booking nanny drivers. We have the tech specification ready and are all set to launch a new product. Of course, we won’t be able to cover all the costs, but we can get started with the launch.