9 Responses

  1. Kiev sounds as though it might not be the perfect place to do business

  2. Excellent reminder that life is not linear, nor is business!

    I shall share this story with my office colleague who is from the Ukraine working here in Southern California for any of her experiences but in reverse.


    • I don’t see why you should share this with your Ukrainian colleague. Visa was stamped by Russians in some Moscow airport, it was Russian consulate to re-issue it, Russians were asking for “invitation letters” and stuff. Do you have some Russian colleagues by any chance? They may be more suitable to share the story.
      Ukrainians don’t even require a visa if you’re US Citizen to visit.

      As for Ukrainian border guard, you cannot board a plane if you don’t have a visa. This is a common practice. If you’re flying to US, someone will check your passport before you board. If you’re not US Citizen, they will check your visa and ask an address where you will be staying. If you have no visa, you will be denied boarding. This rule applies to virtually every European international airport. Quite contrary to American airports, no one seems to care where you go.

      The only thing worth “sharing” with Ukrainians is so-called “phone law”. But Mr. Dorf may be happy with this particular side of what westerners call “corruption”. You don’t have to wait for two weeks when you can call some big comrade on the phone, very useful, isn’t it?

  3. I’m fairly certain they stamp passports incorrectly on purpose. All you had to do was ask them if there is a VIP service you could pay for “bribe them”.

    When I travel to former soviet states I see these types of issues happen all the time. Customs screw the documents of unsuspecting foreign travelers in hopes of extorting money later on and letting you fly.

  4. Sounds like your in Nairobi Kenya where getting a visa is a one month process. I was surprised no one asked for a tip before giving you a visa. In case your in Africa facing similar problem, just tip all the way except the embassy officials. Make sure you always have $ 300.00 minimum for tip. and bribery The good news is that you can tip as low as $5.OO depending on the urgency of the matter. Always carry loose tipping bills.

  5. Great story and an awesome followup to “Tenacious” http://steveblank.com/2012/07/19/tenacious/

  6. Steve, I went to Seattle to attend the Lean Launchpad event in December.  As soon as I arrived, it was cancelled due to too few attendees.  I set up a meeting with Scott, Kav, and Donald and we briefly went through my business idea.  They were very positive and supportive.  The structure of Lean Launchpad, however, is not going to be available till February.  I want to move forward now. My idea is to provide a communication service between Ultra High Net Worth individuals (people who have a net worth between $30M and $1B) and custom design firms through a web/app.  This is a multi-sided market.  I have a contact who introduced me to two UHNW individuals.  And another contact introduced me to someone who worked with them, but was not an UHNW individual.  This was a beginning, but highly unsatisfying.  I also have interviewed two haute couture houses in Paris. I have developed a business model canvas – several times over.  In order to move forward, I need a way to contact more UHNWi’s.  I am finding when I bring up the target market most people are intimidated.  It is difficult to move forward from there.  In addition, I believe there is a generation difference that is significant. Can you help me?  I am staying in the East Bay area of San Francisco.  I would like to meet with someone who can review my hypotheses, put me in contact with my target market, and mentor/coach/facilitate me along the way. Thank you for your consideration, Jennifer Mitchell 504-450-5862


  7. Hahaha stories like this are very common in that part of thw world. When I was about to move to st. Petesburg in Russia, I had a similar thing… my flight was next day and the physical version of the letter had not arrived yet. Afetr pushing with the consulate it worked :) and a Ukraine, the official deported me with no good reason.. luckily my vsa to russia was a multy entry visa.

    Even though complicated that parr of the world is amazingly cool, its worth the headache.

  8. It’s so common situation here. Great that Bob was so excited by this. Usually you don’t need just to have some money for tipping but even more important – you need the right phone number of a person who will accept payment and solve your problem or will do it for keeping good relationships with caller.

    Btw i had the same situation in China. Local tourist guides know all the ways to go around. They made me new visa two hours after visa issuing department were officially closed. Networking ))

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