Escaping the void


Tim Koroteev, Founder of TEDxAUBG: “I am amazed how the team is still raising the bar and keeping the spirit of the club.”

Tim Koroteev

TEDxAUBG aims to inspire, stimulate creativity, and tell stories that have been forgotten, or never told before. Our first story is very special because it helped us remember our history. Today, we are presenting to you an interview with Tim Koroteev, the founder of TEDxAUBG. Tim graduated with a Major in Business Administration with outstanding achievement in Marketing, and a Minor in Economics. He has worked as Head of Marketing at Transmetrics and is currently a Director, Marketing at Inspire Planner, a leading project management software for Salesforce. During our interview, we talk about the hard work he had to do in order to establish our club and build its reputation as the most professional club on campus.

The stage is a rambling semicircle arranged around a single spot, highlighted by several projectors. The red-colored sofa behind the illuminated area looks like a safe spot that the person under the projectors can use to take a rest if he gets tired. The speaker on the stage is an elegantly-dressed man, in his mid-forties, whose genuine smile shows that he is comfortable with being in the center of attention. He turns to his audience: “Okay, I would like to ask a favor — I want you to clap as loud as you can, and scream, and shout.” Welcome to the second conference of TEDxAUBG! The year is 2012, and we are seeing the scene through the eyes of one of the spectators. In fact, he is not an ordinary AUBG student who has been selected to see the conference. He is rather responsible for creating the event… and the whole student club from scratch.

His name is Tim Koroteev, and these first seconds at the beginning of the conference are among the most precious moments that he still cherishes. “Commencing our second-year TEDxAUBG event, and seeing how much better and more professionally we’ve made it in all the different areas in such a short period of time is one of my favorite club memories,” Tim says.

In fact, TEDxAUBG was not at all planned to be a club, but rather an event of AUBG’s Student Government (SG) initiatives. Back then, Tim was a Vice President of SG and he wanted to improve and popularize SG as a brand in order to take it to the next level. “I was imagining this to be a major event that could compete in terms of popularity and engagement with the AUBG Olympics, More Honors, and the Musical performances. I envisioned something that would not be just entertaining for the students but would enrich the minds and broaden the audience’s horizons.”

For this purpose, Tim dedicated his winter break to researching different events that could possibly help him fulfill his ambitious goal. By chance, he came across a TED video on YouTube, and an idea was born. “I spent the rest of that winter break researching the format, going through the guidelines, reading anything I could find about organizing a TEDx event including how to apply for a license, how to avoid some common mistakes and apply best practices.”

The first TEDx event was organized by eight AUBG students, six of whom were in SG. There were no departments, and the team had a total of 3 months to deliver a high-quality event. “We were pioneers in this field,” Tim says, then adding that this made their task of finding speakers and sponsors much harder. In the end, the never-before-seen TEDxAUBG conference on the university campus became a reality. Tim remembers that the hustle around the event included major video recording issues and adding last-minute decorations by “bringing whatever the team could find in their rooms or in the AUBG Library.” The TEDxAUBG team was, for sure, recognizable. “Our team T-shirts turned out to be funny soccer T-shirts with the TEDxAUBG logo on them. That’s because those were the only plain white T-shirts available in Blagoevgrad when we had to print them right before the event.”

Nevertheless, the event started changing the university atmosphere even before it took place. In Tim’s opinion, the first obvious signal were the numerous applications that the team received for the audience, way more than they were allowed to have as per license. “Another important moment was, I would say, right after the end of the first conference when our speakers as well as people from the audience just started approaching us and sharing their feedback, key takeaways, and impressions. They were so impressed by what they have seen, heard, and experienced. And many wanted to join the club the following year,” he adds. Just a year later, TEDxAUBG became a student club with 18 members and 6 departments — Speakers, Logistics, PR, Sponsorship, Design, and IT. And from then on, everything is history.

Tim shares that the club has had a tremendous impact on his professional development. He had to manage TEDxAUBG as a very complex and long-term project. In order to establish the club, he had to raise funds and manage budgets, and learn how to work with lots of people and multiple partners to overcome numerous issues along the way. “I still believe that TEDxAUBG was the closest experience to the real work environment that happened to me during my AUBG years.”

Tim is proud of how the club manages to gather a team of passionate, intelligent, and ambitious young people. He says that this results in the high standards of the event itself. “Every time when I attend the conference, I am amazed how the team, despite any high expectations, is still raising the bar and keeping the spirit of the club.”

When asked what are the most important things the club gives to its members, the founder talks about teamwork, time management, and being proud of creating something meaningful, yet, there is one thing that seems the most important: “I believe that one of the most valuable things that TEDxAUBG can give you is a community of incredible people, where you are likely to make friends for life.”

Tim, who organized the first conferences and created the club with the support of the person who later became his partner in life, for sure knows what he is talking about. “I am extremely grateful to our entire initial team, but I want to say special thanks to Lucy. She fully supported and motivated me from the very beginning when I just came up with the idea of building our own TEDx event,” he shares.

Tim is interested to see how TEDxAUBG will surprise its audience in the upcoming times. “Even when you think that the last event that you attended was outstanding, the TEDxAUBG team still finds a way to surprise you and make it even more extraordinary year after year.”

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