ALEX GARASHCHENKO

Art & Entertainment Panel

My family moved to the U.S. when I was 5 years old. My parents were both practicing attorneys in Ukraine. They left everything that they knew behind to start a new life in the U.S. so that I could have a brighter future. My parents are the greatest, positive example of guts and grit in my life.

I grew up just outside of Philadelphia and took the first chance I had to move into the city, attending Temple University. In the summer of 2009 I spent a couple of months at UCLA in the Entertainment and Media Management Institute of the Anderson School of Business. That summer, I met many successful entrepreneurs in the entertainment and tech industry. It was their stories and my surroundings that inspired my first “go-for- it on my own” initiative.

When I returned to Temple University my friend came to me with an idea for what would become the Doodle Notebook. We worked on the Doodle Notebook idea for approximately a year and a half (from my junior year at Temple, through graduation) and had raised $15,000 in initial seed money to fund our cool idea, but were not able to hit the number of needed sales to launch the notebook in the targeted Fall semester. We lost a number of our team members to corporate job offers.

Doodle took a right-hook on the chin in round one and had to take a moment to recover. Devastated, out of money, and with my parents on my back about “finding a real job” to use the degree that they just invested in, I decided to close the business. This was the hardest time in my life. It seemed that everything I knew and had invested in was now gone. I took a month or so to regroup and decided to follow my parents’ advice and go into corporate.

After about a year into the the job, I realized that this was not for me and started to plan my next step. I considered services I could provide that people would pay me for. I had learned search engine optimization (SEO) and helped my friend to get on the first page of the most searched phrases (keywords) in his industry. I let my friends and family know that I would now be offering this service under Doodle, LLC, which I still had open from Doodle Notebooks and was able to build a base of client and grow through referrals. One of my SEO leads asked for a new website, a project I took on without the slightest idea of what I was doing, and that was the start of Doodle Applications.

Doodle has since dropped SEO services to focus on web, application, and business automation development. This move has allowed me to be more creative and help others bring their visions to life - I love the process.

Once Doodle stabilized, I was able to take part in a second venture, Trainer Hall. Trainer Hall is a coworking space for health and wellness leaders. We opened our first location in February of 2015 (Northern Liberties) and are planning to open the second location in the fall of 2017 (Center City).

I imagine a world in which our individual energy is mostly harnessed and not wasted, a world in which the vast majority of us are able to devote our time and focus to the things that inspire us to wake up in the morning, be passionate in our work and feel fulfilled at the end of the day. And everything I do, whether it's developing digital automations, building websites or providing a space for entrepreneurs to develop is devoted to empowering that vision.