Maria Rioumine is the CEO and co-founder of Agora Systems, a platform that allows electrical contractors to eliminate procurement inefficacies using technology. The platform was built exclusively for electrical contractors after Rioumine and her former colleague Ryan Gibson noticed that in most construction projects, 40% is material, and the rest is labor costs. Agora Systems has become an official partner offering material procurement software to Independent Electrical Contractors Florida West Coast Chapter. As she continues to disrupt the construction industry, let's tell you more about her.
1. How She Decided to Move to the US
Rioumine went to the US at first for the Burning Man festival, but she still had time to kill, so her friend suggested they visit Joe Lonsdale, an investor, and entrepreneur who lived in Woodside. The female entrepreneur decided it was okay, so the next day, the two friends traveled to Woodside, and it took only an hour of talking with the investor for him to propose to Rioumine that she should move to the US so they could work together.
2. Why She Agreed to Work with Lonsdale
It takes courage to leave your comfort zone and start afresh, yet that is what Rioumine did when Lonsdale asked her to move permanently to the US. She worked at Goldman Sachs in London during the proposal, but she was ready to quit the full-time job. According to GBx Global, Lonsdale impressed her with his optimism. He kept referencing a Jewish expression, "Tikkun Olam," which means that you should leave the world better than you found it. Since he offered her a job as his Chief of Staff and wanted to disrupt the traditional industries, the saying she had grown up hearing finally made sense.
3. She Wanted to Be an Astronaut
Children have wild dreams they hope to fulfill when they grow older; there is a time when everyone wanted to be a neurosurgeon after "Gifted Hands" by Ben Carson was released. Rioumine wanted to be an astronaut but has not achieved that dream yet. She has ventured into real estate and the tech industries instead but given how determined the young CEO is, she still could achieve her aspirations.
4. She was President of the Oxford Student Union
Rioumine was the president of the esteemed Oxford Student union. The position usually demands extensive campaigns and well-put manifestos to convince other students that you should be their voice. Therefore attaining such a position should tell you of the CEO's convincing power and how well she articulates her thoughts and plans.
5. She Has Been on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 List
At 28 years old, Rioumine made it to the coveted list, and even her co-founder Gibson was on the list. The two were chosen in the Enterprise Technology category. Usually, one must be 29 or younger to be eligible, as the list suggests. The acceptance rate is 5%, making competition very intense, and in the US and Canada list, 20 categories are considered while the Europe list comprises only ten categories. For Rioumine and her co-founder to be considered, they both needed to be under 30 years old. However, even if her co-founder had aged out during the nomination phase, Rioumine would still be eligible.
6. She Believes in Empowering the Youth
For most people who venture into politics, it is usually about gaining power and recognition. However, when Rioumine was elected as the Oxford Student Union president, she was determined to make the youth view politics differently. Therefore, according to The Korea Times, she and the union's treasurer invited Won Hyung-Joon, the executive director of the Lindenbaum Music Festival, to the university. The article said he was the third South Korean guest invited to speak at the Oxford Union. His speech entailed teaching the students how music facilitates better communication skills and instills empathy.
7. She Despises Corruption
Upon becoming the Oxford Student union president, Rioumine made it her mission to clean up the voting process. According to Oxford Student, the ballot system had been compromised; therefore, she said there would be no preferential treatment for friends of the committee members and the president. She also encouraged participation during the debates by offering drinks as a reward. To further make the process transparent, the student union president then said those interested were open to sending emails detailing their interest for them to be considered for the after-debate drink reception.
8. Who Shaped Her Entrepreneurial Journey?
Rioumine feels she was meant to be a leader, but it took a little push from the people she met while in college. Her interest in philosophy started in high school, so she decided to give philosophy, politics, and economics a try when she joined Oxford University. Perhaps it is her knowledge of politics that eventually led to her winning the student union's presidency. However, utilizing her economics knowledge was inspired by the guests she invited to the union debates, who told her she could start solving problems from where she was instead of waiting for decades.
9. Her Company was Featured Among Those to Watch Out for in the San Francisco Bay Area
Being recognized as a company to watch out for is no mean feat, yet Rioumine and her co-founder have built Agora to such great heights. According to Builtin SF, Agora was listed among the firms to watch for in 2020. It hailed the co-founders for being young entrepreneurs who have managed to achieve so much.
10. She Moved to the UK to Learn English
If you are born in America, speaking English is automatic, but that is not the case for people in other countries with different national languages. For instance, in Russia, where Rioumine was born, the official language is Russian. However, she did not even get to interact with it because she was raised in Israel, where the national language is Hebrew. The entrepreneur, therefore, had to go to the UK to learn English, which came in handy as she found employment in London and the US.
Written by Allen Lee
Read more posts by Allen Lee