'Siberia Is Actually a Very Holistic Place': How Profi Founder Alina Trigubenko's Background Inspired Her New Startup for 'Soloprenuers'

Molly Wright

Molly Wright is an intern for dot.LA. She previously edited the London School of Economics' student newspaper in the United Kingdom, interned for The Hollywood Reporter and was the blogging editor for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

'Siberia Is Actually a Very Holistic Place': How Profi Founder Alina Trigubenko's Background Inspired Her New Startup for 'Soloprenuers'

Alina Trigubenko’s journey has taken her far and wide—from working at her parents’ restaurant in Siberia at age 9, to producing for one of Russia’s largest TV networks at age 18, to moving to the U.S. and founding her own startup at age 28.

It was one particular experience, however, that triggered a fascination with technology: As a producer for Moscow-based virtual reality project AirPano, she traveled and shot the world from a bird’s eye view.


“We enabled people that didn’t have the financial or physical ability to travel and see the world to see the Eiffel Tower, the Golden Gate Bridge, Iceland and things like this,” Trigubenko told dot.LA. “That was a very enlightening project, because I realized that technology is an amplifier. And that’s when I started thinking, ‘What else would I like to amplify in this world?’”

Coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit, Trigubenko’s freshly kindled interest in technology led her to an industry she always held an appreciation for: “profis,” or professional services providers, ranging from fitness trainers to therapists to consultants. She traces that appreciation back to her Siberian upbringing.

Profi founder and CEO Alina Trigubenko.

Image courtesy of Profi

“I’ve always been a client of coaches, therapists, consultants, trainers—you name it, I’ve probably tried it,” Trigubenko said. “Siberia is actually a very holistic place; it is very much about different types of alternative health and wellness approaches. So that contributed to me being a customer of different kinds of acupuncturists and herbalists early on—over there, you don’t go to a doctor… Growing up in this holistic environment got me to appreciate the work of profis even more.”


In 2018, Trigubenko launched Awarenow, a marketplace for service providers. With the help and direction of Adam Miller—co-founder of Santa Monica-based HR software startup Cornerstone OnDemand—Awarenow evolved into Profi in 2021. (Miller is now Profi’s executive chairman, while Trigubenko is the company’s CEO.)

On Thursday, Los Angeles-based Profi announced a $6 million seed round; the startup’s investors include current and former executives from the likes of Robinhood, McKinsey & Co. and WhatsApp. (Disclosure: dot.LA co-founder and chairman Spencer Rascoff is an investor in Profi.)

Profi is designed to help service providers manage their workflows and automate administrative tasks—processes that can get lost in the day-to-day shuffle, particularly for “solopreneurs” running their own small businesses.

Trigubenko has been on both the client side and the provider side of that equation, and part of her motivation for founding Profi came from her own experiences with how services are exchanged. As a client, she recalled the difficulties of “hav[ing] to source back that thread where my coach mentioned something—what email was it on, what channel was it on, how am I paying?” Then, as an executive coach and mind-body practitioner service provider, she had an “aha!” moment: “I was like, ‘Wow, the struggle on the other side of the market [for providers] is even bigger than for the clients.’”

In a post-pandemic world, the shift toward remote services has provided an avenue for Profi to grow as people are realizing the benefits of digitization.

“Everyone was saying, ‘Why are you doing this? We have the Excel doc.’ Or, ‘I have my piece of paper and pen, and everything’s there and I’m happy—do not try to convince me that I need something else,’” Trigubenko said. “Finally, during COVID, people realized that delivering services in digital ways is sometimes even better. No one is planning on giving up on digital infrastructure for their service delivery.”

As Profi plots its expansion, the startup recently launched a sales team that it’s planning to double in size, and is looking to ramp up its marketing efforts, Trigubenko said. Along with the seed funding, Profi announced the launch of Profi Team, a corporate product designed to help companies manage projects and teams. Plans for more fundraising in the future are also in the works.

For Trigubenko, there’s no better place than Los Angeles to set Profi’s growth story, especially given the city’s burgeoning tech environment. After moving to L.A. from San Francisco seven years ago, she says she initially missed the Bay Area’s bustling tech ecosystem—but not anymore.

“I was so missing those tech conversations—I was like, ‘Well I really love L.A., but what’s missing is this tech hunger for optimization, for breakthroughs,” she said. “Pretty recently, I keep hearing all about tech. When you’re at a restaurant or brunch, it’s a lot of tech conversations, and that makes me very happy.”

mollywright@dot.la

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Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Genies Wants To Help Creators Build ‘Avatar Ecosystems’

When avatar startup Genies raised $150 million in April, the company released an unusual message to the public: “Farewell.”

The Marina del Rey-based unicorn, which makes cartoon-like avatars for celebrities and aims to “build an avatar for every single person on Earth,” didn’t go under. Rather, Genies announced it would stay quiet for a while to focus on building avatar-creation products.

Genies representatives told dot.LA that the firm is now seeking more creators to try its creation tools for 3D avatars, digital fashion items and virtual experiences. On Thursday, the startup launched a three-week program called DIY Collective, which will mentor and financially support up-and-coming creatives.

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Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

Christian Hetrick

Christian Hetrick is dot.LA's Entertainment Tech Reporter. He was formerly a business reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer and reported on New Jersey politics for the Observer and the Press of Atlantic City.

Here's What To Expect At LA Tech Week

LA Tech Week—a weeklong showcase of the region’s growing startup ecosystem—is coming this August.

The seven-day series of events, from Aug. 15 through Aug. 21, is a chance for the Los Angeles startup community to network, share insights and pitch themselves to investors. It comes a year after hundreds of people gathered for a similar event that allowed the L.A. tech community—often in the shadow of Silicon Valley—to flex its muscles.

From fireside chats with prominent founders to a panel on aerospace, here are some highlights from the roughly 30 events happening during LA Tech Week, including one hosted by dot.LA.

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PCH Driven: Director Jason Wise Talks Wine, Documentaries, and His New Indie Streaming Service SOMMTV

Jamie Williams
­Jamie Williams is the host of the “PCH Driven” podcast, a show about Southern California entrepreneurs, innovators and its driven leaders on their road to success. The series celebrates and reveals the wonders of the human spirit and explores the motivations behind what drives us.
Jason Wise holding wine glass
Image courtesy of Jason Wise

Jason Wise may still consider himself a little kid, but the 33-year-old filmmaker is building an IMDB page that rivals colleagues twice his age.

As the director behind SOMM, SOMM2, SOMM3, and the upcoming SOMM4, Wise has made a career producing award-winning documentary films that peer deep into the wine industry in Southern California and around the world.

On this episode of the PCH Driven podcast, he talks about life growing up in Cleveland as a horrible student, filmmaking, Los Angeles and his latest entrepreneurial endeavor: A streaming service called SOMMTV that features–what else?–documentaries about wine.

The conversation covers some serious ground, but the themes of wine and film work to anchor the discussion, and Wise dispenses bits of sage filmmaking advice.

“With a documentary you can just start filming right now,” he says. “That’s how SOMM came about. I got tossed into that world during the frustration of trying to make a different film, and I just started filming it, because no one could stop me because I was paying for it myself. That’s the thing with docs,” or “The good thing about SOMM is that you can explain it in one sentence: ‘The hardest test in the world is about wine, and you’ve never heard about it.’”

…Or at least maybe you hadn’t before he made his first film. Now with three SOMM documentaries under his belt, Wise is nearing completion of “SOMM4: Cup of Salvation,” which examines the history of wine’s relationship with religion. Wise says it’s “a wild film,” that spans multiple countries, the Vatican and even an active warzone. As he puts it, the idea is to show that “wine is about every subject,” rather than “every subject is about wine.”

For Wise, the transition to launching his own streaming service came out of his frustration with existing platforms holding too much power over the value of the content he produces.

“Do we want Netflix to tell us what our projects are worth or do we want the audience to do that?” he asks.

But unlike giants in the space, SOMMTV has adopted a gradual approach of just adding small bits of content as they develop. Without the need to license 500 or 1,000 hours of programming, Wise has been able to basically bootstrap SOMMTV and provide short form content and other more experimental offerings that typically get passed over by the Hulus and Disneys of the world.

So far, he says, the experiment is working, and now Wise is looking to raise some serious capital to keep up with the voracious appetites of his subscribers.

“Send those VCs my way,” Wise jokes.

Subscribe to PCH Driven on Apple, Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart, Google or wherever you get your podcasts.

dot.LA reporter David Shultz contributed to this report.

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