'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.”
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