The next mentor, Michal, comes from the Czech Republic, where he returned after gaining a masters in the Netherlands. He is currently working on starting his own company. In this post, Michal discusses how he became interested in entrepreneurship and the importance of sales.
Who are you? What do you do? What’s your background?
I’m an entrepreneur, a sales professional and a sports enthusiast. During my studies of economics in Prague, I started to work for 3M where I became passionate about two things – sales and innovations. This motivated me to move to the Netherlands to study Strategic Innovation Management and work in sales for a Dutch startup. This role got me excited about the tech world and is what made me decide to start my own company.
My co-founder and I saw that startups tend to struggle with sales, so we started SALESDOCk, where we outsource sales for B2B tech startups.
You have a foreign experience, particularly from the Netherlands. What are the main learning points from these experiences?
One of the main learning points I took away from my experience is to invest in sales. I have seen many startups fail because they did not invest in sales.
Most startups focus heavily on product development and marketing, but don’t want to truly invest in sales. Rather than hiring an experienced and skilled sales team, they simply find talkative people, don’t pay them a fixed salary, “give them the product” and tell them “go sell it”. This doesn’t work.
You have to be prepared to invest into sales even though it’s risky money with an uncertain ROI.
What kind of mentorship can participants expect from you at Startup Weekend Prague?
Participants will be tasked to sell their idea/product/service to someone, somehow. If not to customers, then to investors, partners or/and distributors. My role will be to help with certain decisions, like who to target and how to do it.
I have co-built more than a dozen sales processes for startups, so the likelihood that I have experience in participants’ intended markets and channels is high. These decisions are crucial, even in the idea stage of startups — the sales model can shape the product design or even the value proposition.
Why would you suggest people in Prague to join to the next Startup Weekend?
My experience with a Startup Weekend in the Netherlands was the beginning of my entrepreneurial journey. I had a crappy idea, but other participants encouraged me to go up and pitch it anyway. Although it didn’t work out in the end, I learned a lot and knew entrepreneurship was a path I wanted to pursue. The sooner you start to get involved, the sooner you can begin your own journey.
Startup Weekend is a great (and inexpensive) opportunity to enter the startup world, to get inspired and finally START.
What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself based on your experiences?
I believe that with all things in life, the key to progress is consistency.
I still have to work on it, but the younger me, oh boy, that guy was a jumper. It’s very tempting to do whatever is shiny at the moment and believe me, you‘re going to see many interesting ideas, areas and people in this world. But if you keep jumping from one thing to another, you won’t develop a deep understanding on one topic. You will always leave when facing the first problem, without solving it. I would tell myself to quickly choose a field, habits and people and then stick with it for a while before moving on.
I like to meet new people and help, so if you, at any stage of your idea, need to discuss whether your product is viable and sellable or just network with me, shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.