Interview with Branislav Jakabovič

Who are you? What do you do? What’s your background?

An optimistic enthusiast excited to connect professional business world and various projects with high aspirations to improve our society. After spending nearly 15 years in consulting and corporations, I co-founded and co-lead LEAF, a Slovak NGO with an aspiration to help develop the future generation of Slovak & CEE leaders.

This particular Startup Weekend is focused on innovation in the field of education. Where do you see the biggest opportunities?  

I am sure that education plays a critical role in the long-term prosperity of our region as well as in the ability of each young person to live a fulfilling and satisfactory life.

On one hand, it continues to struggle with monetization, in part, especially in the CEE region with a tradition of a free school system. Still, I see an increasing number of young people, their parents, or even business entities investing into innovative educational solutions. Besides application development, I see significant opportunities in personality/talent assessment and different online mentoring models.

How difficult was it for you to start LEAF? What has been the biggest lesson?

It has been a challenging, but a very enriching journey. The biggest challenge is to build an organization with strong entrepreneurial drive, yet aligned with LEAF mission and values. I consider particularly inspiring to connect people that come from corporations, start-ups, NGOs, state organizations and education sector and help them develop their strengths.

Diversity can kill all your efforts – but if you find the way to uncover its potential, it moves the entire organization to a new impact level.

In your opinion, how will education change in 10 years?

Despite the fast-changing world, 10 years is not a long period of time for education. I believe that the majority of young people will continue to attend similar schools as we know now, maybe with slightly better technology. However, increasing number of young people will actively search for alternative models (both offline and online) to satisfy their need to grow. Knowledge becomes less important than skills or abilities. At the same time, I expect that a higher number of older people will look for ways to learn (e.g. in digital skills). For me, a big question mark is genetic engineering and its impact on learning attitude.

What is your approach to mentorship? What can participants of Startup Weekend Prague expect from you?

I prefer to ask questions and challenge team’s assumptions in their projects.

I am not the one to indoctrinate what the right solution is, instead, I expect participants to own the mentoring process.

Why do you think that people should join Startup Weekend Prague EDU?

  1. To get inspired (by new innovations in education)
  2. To connect (with potential future mates, partners, or mentors)
  3. To engage (in specific projects that can help them explore their own potential)

If you became a high-school teacher for one day, what would you teach, and why?

Being married to an inspiring teacher, I have deep respect for the teaching profession – and still, do not think I deserve to be one. Building on the focus of our LEAF Academy, one day I would like to find time to help young people grow in areas of ethics and entrepreneurial leadership.

 








Interview with Andrea from Tripinder

Hello Andrea, how is everything? How did you enjoy your summer?

Hey, thank you, I am doing great. I’m still busy working but I’m also enjoying the perfect weather and summer we now have in Prague. I went surfing for a week but now I don’t miss water too much. You can still meet me kayaking and paddle boarding close to the city center though.

Could you tell us why you decided to participate in startupweekend despite having already a lot of work experience? What were your expectations?

I already had an idea in my head before I had heard about startupweekend from my friend. He told me that the best place to put it into practice and test it was an event like yours. First, I just went there to see the process of converting an idea into a real business. When I then saw the people and the atmosphere I decided to pitch my idea.

Today (17.8.) you launched the beta version of your app – tripinder where you have more than 15 trips already. How did you spread the word about it?

As Tripinder is and will always be based on community and cooperation, I first started to spread the word about it among travelers while attending their meetups. Also my friends who liked the idea started to share it among their friends and colleagues.

How difficult was it for you, being someone with no extensive technical skills, to manage launching it?

From the very beginning I knew it will not be easy but I was lucky enough to have found two digital agencies. After we agreed on how MVP should look like I simply chose one. Now we are working as a team talking about the future possibility of an official partnership and project development.

Are there any reasons why people from the corporate environment should attend startupweekend from your point of you?

Of course! What I really appreciate is how open-minded and generous the people I met in the “startup world”, which is quite new to me, are.

In many ways, it changed my thinking and behavior in my everyday working life. I realized the same principles can be used in both regular businesses and startups. As they say, sharing is caring 🙂

Is there anything you would like to add? Feel free to do it 🙂

I hope you all are enjoying this summer with your friends and family and if you are traveling, that’s even better! I really think it makes you richer and it expands your horizons.








Interview with Michael from Kumst.art

Hey Michael, how are the things? I noticed you got your startup – kumst.art on the wheels, where have you been so far and how did you get this idea to host the events?

Hi Martin, I’m doing great. Pretty busy attending all the art vernissages, festivals and also working on Kumšt.art, which is finally up and running.

Well, we knew, that we will have to focus not only on online marketing but also on the offline activities, as we wanted to meet the art lovers and artists personally, established connections with them and also got feedback straight away. Our first exhibition was part of Design Piknik, that is the biggest (and probably the only 🙂 ) event of its kind at Vysočina, combining design, food and music festival so it was an ideal opportunity to meet interesting artists and show potential customers what Kumšt is.

Right now we are preparing our first exhibition in Prague so hold tight and follow us for the news about the upcoming events.

What has been the biggest challenges you have to face?

Definitely time. Time is our greatest opponent, as we are all having full-time jobs and Kumšt.art is still a side project. Therefore we have to work in our free time. Sometimes it is also quite difficult to communicate with the artists, but we are providing them 24/7 support and we are also trying to do our best to make our platform as user-friendly and intuitive as possible.

Is the team still the same as it was at startupweekend in Prague?

At the beginning of the startupweekend there was 6 of us, but one of our members had to quit after the first day and later we had to say goodbye to another Kumštýř, so at the moment we are 4 Kumštýř.

What do you want to personally achieve through Kumst.art?

I believe that if you want to achieve something, you have to dream big, that’s why I believe that we can not only help young people to become independent and successful, but also make a revolution in a way art market is perceived by the general public.

We want to show people, that everyone can afford original artwork without having to be an expert, investor or millionaire. We want people to buy art, because they like it, not because someone said it’s good or bad.

How did you come up with the idea? Was it difficult to pitch it and get people during a weekend on board?

The essence of the idea comes back to the time when I was working part time jobs during my studies where I met with some art students. They usually had to do tiring and dull jobs that had nothing to do with art because it was impossible for them to make living by selling their art as no galleries wanted to exhibit artworks of unknown artists and most of them didn’t know how to promote themselves on the internet.

That’s when I get this idea to help these people in a way, that could also change a way general public perceives the art market.

The pitching was a huge adrenalin as I was not used to speaking in front of so many people and I didn’t really prepare any exact speech, so it turned out to be quite an improvisation. But at the end of the day, more important than the form of the pitch was the idea itself, because that was the only thing that most of the people managed to remember after watching 40 pitches in a row.

Is there anything you would like to add? Feel free to do it now 🙂

If the things don’t come as expected and you don’t succeed, don’t give up or break down. Rise above it, don’t take it too seriously. For me the most important thing is to enjoy what I am doing, it doesn’t make sense to be successful at something if you don’t enjoy what you do.

And also important, self-promotional part: don’t forget to check our website www.kumst.art,, follow us on Facebook and Instagram at @umenijeKumst and if you know anyone who might be interested in our Kumšt, tell them about us!

(kumst.art on the wheels)








Interview with Iulian from BookVoyager

Hey Iulian, how are you? How are the things?

I am great! Enjoying last days of summer and working on our startup – BookVoyager.

At BookVoyager we have developed an objective approach toward book recommendations that combines traditional friends and magazines recommendations with an automatic content analysis based on reader’s specific criteria. This allows people to discover books they haven’t heard of and select books according to their own taste. BookVoyager is focusing on providing detailed cross-criteria filtering that the reader selects, making the recommendations more objective. This will save people’s time and will improve the experience of choosing the next book to read.

The last time we had chatted you mentioned you got into the accelerator program Founder Institute Chisinau with the idea you won our startupweekend in Prague. I also know that your team had to split, could you tell us a little bit more about your journey?

I have applied to Founders Institute Chisinau with one of my colleagues in April this year. However, BookVoyager wasn’t the only idea we had in mind. While in the Founders Institute Program, which lasts for 3 months, you have to do research and customer development for at least three ideas, in order to pick the best one that can succeed. This step lasts for one month, after which you have to select a single idea on which to focus.

We had 5 ideas and needed to figure out which one to go with. After thorough research and customer development, we were left with two and decided to go with BookVoyager, as it had more validation, including at Startup Weekend in Prague.

Regarding our team, we had to split, because right after the Startup Weekend I didn’t have the opportunity to work on the idea, as I had to arrange some other work. Besides that, our team probably was the only one that consisted of team members from 3 countries :), which would make it harder to collaborate, especially when in the beginning you need to be closer to each other as there is plenty of strategic planning and product development. But we had a great team with a skillset that helped us win.

We also agreed to meet some time in the future, when some of us will be in the country we reside in. Also, when my colleague and I decided that we will go with BookVoyager, I wrote them and asked if there is no problem if I would go further with it in the Founders Institute program and they were not against it.

What would you like to achieve with BookVoyager? As we all know, sky is the only limit, maybe not anymore 🙂

As any startup, we have grandiose plans :). We have shifted from B2B to B2C, but eventually, we will get back to B2B, as we can bring more value to publishers and bookstores, which inevitably will help people who read books get a better experience and find books they will enjoy much easier. In the end, we want to become the leading provider of relevant book recommendations for online bookstores and publishers who also sell books online.

Do you have any advice for people who are thinking about pitching but they are not sure if their idea is good enough or they are simply afraid? Since you stood up and pitched it. 

If you don’t have experience in pitching – you will definitely be afraid and have emotions, but that is normal. At Startup Weekend you can practice and become better. But you should realize that there will always be people who will like your idea and people who will say it is worthless. And if there are not too many people who dislike it, consider working on it further. But you won’t know for sure which group prevails until you pitch your idea to those people.

Any secrets or learning from the participating in startupweekend you would like to share?

As I am a technical person, naturally I tended to get to the coding part faster, but coding is by far not the most critical part. First of all, define the problem you want to solve and get out to your potential customers, talk to people and find out what their pain points are. Having a great UI with a working backend is cool, but showing the jury how you approach an existing problem and how people you talked with reacting to your solution is way cooler. Talk to participants, to organizers, and to mentors and you will get amazing insights and will make valuable connections.

If there is anyone from abroad and he would like to join our startupweekend, let us please know, since we are able to accommodate you for free – airbnb style 🙂 As well as taking care of you from any station you arrive in. 








Interview with Arturo Guizar organizer of SW EDU in Lyon

Hey Arturo, thanks for your time. So tell us, how was the startupweekend EDU in Lyon from the organizer point of view.

It was awesome, but also very challenging to organize. It is not like other verticals because there is a special attention on communication about what is the ed-tech ecosystem. In a country where the education is public, it is not easy to say that you can create a business. So, we have to take a special attention on how we promote this event.

(Arturo in action!)

Why did you decide to organize this vertical? What were your expectations?

Actually, we met a group of motivated students from different universities that wanted to organize a startupweekend since a while. They were very active organizing other events for their respective universities, but they wanted something more, something that could mix several profiles (students and professionals) to tackle the education issues.

So, we had a meeting with all of them and we expected to boost the ed-tech community in Lyon through the organization of this event.

(It’s a big thanks to organizing team: Tristan, Anthony, Charles, Alex, Julie, Léa, Marilie, Tatiana, Charlotte, Aude and Baptiste because they did the hard work)

What about the projects? Can you share with us the most interesting ones?

I remember one that I really loved because they were addressing a real problem. It is about how students from high school can decide better their future career.

One of the biggest problems in our system is that young students choose their universities depending on what they studied at high schools. Since very early, they have to get specialized in a specific field, e.g. science, art or literature. But, without having the occasion to test or see other professions. And when you have to choose a university, then you choose the one that follows what you have already started. For instance, if you started in science, then, you will probably choose an engineering school. But, the risk of this system is to be disappointed during your first job. Therefore, the number of people converting to other professions is high.

During the SW Edu, a team proposed a service for students (high school and university) interested in trying internships in different jobs and professions. The biggest challenge for them was that they had to validate the fact that there are companies interested in hosting curious students and pay for a service. So, they actually showed some leads interested by the concept, but the business model needed to be reevaluated.

You mentioned in our previous discussion that you focused only on university problems, why? Isn’t it better to have a broad topic so anyone can come and present their idea which is related to ed-tech in general?

The University problems are already big problems: productivity, orientation, knowledge transfer/management are some of them. Moreover, these ed-tech community has a very specific bunch of experts that would not be good for other problems like kinder or college. Before the event, we spent some time talking with other organizers from US and Mexico (that started this vertical) to understand how to propose a good event. Elizabeth Becerril (from SW Mexico) contribute a lot in this because she told us to be careful on how we promote the event. She didn’t make the filter on topics, and she saw a lot of projects that were addressing interesting problems in education but they were not specifically interested in business. So, we did this choice to propose more quality with a good quality of experts.

Are there any ideas/thoughts you would like to share and we forgot to ask you?

I think that the challenging part was the promotion to attract people working in the academic. So, we got this idea of engaging one of the favorite mathematicians in France to support our event. That’s how we visited one of Cedric Villani’s conference about the human brain to present our event and ask for a photo. And it worked!

Merci Arturo!

And this is us with Cedric Villani (Field Medals) showing his support for our event








Interview with Honza Veselý

Who are you? What do you do? What’s your background?

Currently, my focus lies on helping young people to find their place in the world of work via Alliance for YOUth, which I’m coordinating in the Czech Republic, and IBM Smarter University. The magnitude of disengagement in our society is overwhelming and we need a strong team effort to overcome it.

During the last few years, I was also leading teams of extraordinary people who brought to life brands like Vodafone Foundation Laboratory, EduFórum (networking events connecting innovative minds in education) and Inovátoři.cz (projects focused on eliminating waste of time, money, energy and creative potential of innovators).

I’m sharing parental leave with my wife because I don’t want to miss the single chance to see my kids growing up. And yes, it’s by far the most hardcore personal development program I’ve ever attended.

This particular Startup Weekend is focused on innovation in the field of education. Where do you see the biggest opportunities?  

New technology brings access to education for everyone around the world, which is absolutely fantastic.

But the real opportunity I see is that we will have time to actually care about more than a just scalable delivery of information and good learning techniques. And that is getting back to basics like “why are we learning this” or “what is the vision of the educational system” etc. But on a whole new level with incredible technological support.

In your opinion, how will education change in 10 years?

I hope that it will be even more democratic and accessible anywhere to everyone. And it will be much more fun to learn. But I’m also sure that these new challenges we’re facing, like fake news, will be even worse, much harder to tackle, and we have to be ready for that.

What is your approach to mentorship? What can participants of Startup Weekend Prague expect from you?

I can help to see the risks and to think about their mitigation. And I really like connecting the right people.

Why do you think that people should join Startup Weekend Prague EDU?

Because education is an incredibly important topic. And this kind of events can create solutions for the problems we’re facing. You’d better have a good excuse if you’re not coming!

If you became a high-school teacher for one day, what would you teach and why?

Nothing. I would create a blank space for the kids to be with themselves without the overwhelming fight for their attention. And by that, I don’t mean just social media but everybody, including teachers. I believe kids actually need less and not more of anything.

What has been the biggest lesson in your life so far?

I found my ikigai.








Intro to organising team of Startup Weekend Prague

Let’s take a look at people who are responsible for bringing this event to Prague after 5 years. At the end, you can expect one pic from their meetings.

For each organizer we have the same set of questions:

  1. Introduce yourself in one sentence.
  2. Why did you decide to organize the event?
  3. Why should attendees spend their weekend at SWPrague and not elsewhere?

Martin Andrle

  1. I love to create platforms for people, which defines me as a designer.
  2. I experienced the event from almost any point of view. After the success of this event in Oulu, I decided to bring it back to Prague. 
  3. It is a great opportunity to learn lean methods how to validate your initial business idea, meet like-minded people and create life-term relationships. One day, maybe, start your own business. I personally saw a couple of very successful stories which started their journey at Startup Weekend.

Zuzana Maderová

  1. Creating and nourishing human relations to bring more empathy into this world.
  2. I like forming a space powered by the right knowledge where young people can grow personally and professionally.
  3. To not miss an event where self-driven people, innovative concepts, and experienced mentors meet as these elements are the proper conditions to turn your ideas into reality.

Lukáš Hudeček

  1. I am a founder known for giving birth to one of the oldest seed Accelerator in Europe called StartupYard and running event and workspace for entrepreneurs Node5.
  2. Weekend hackathons are one of the best possible ways to give a taste of hardship of startup life.
  3. Because there’s 98% probability that your attendance at SWPrague will positively affect your personal and professional life forever.

Jan Antonín Kolář

  1. I build projects in a pursue to find hidden value.
  2. I attended in 2012 the first StartupWeekend in Prague. This experience inspired me to start community living called Techsquat and start a project in a field of transportation. I consider StartupWeekend as a great way to build and lead stuff from others. And I like Martin Andrle.
  3. Making a right decision in life is about perspectives, StartupWeekend provides a good one.

Ricardo Andres Monagas Medina

  1. Helping tech startups to make their ideas come true.
  1. I like the idea to motivate aspiring entrepreneurs to challenge themselves and kickstart one project in 54 hours. I want to build this experience in Prague since it’s a city which has given me a lot of opportunities in these 3 past years. Furthermore, I’ve already participated in two Startup Weekends (Caracas and Berlin) and now, I want to participate in another role as an organizer.
  1. It’s the place you want to be: expand your network with like minded people, meet your next co-founders, validate your idea and enjoy a great time. Definitely a good way to spend one weekend.







Interview with Inside Salesman: Michal Vojta

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 michal@salesdock.cz.

Good luck!

 








Interview with Entrepreneur and Technical Lead – Michal Kacerik

Another mentor is coming from the country well-known for their halušky, tatranský čaj, and beautiful mountains. At least one of these three things he fell in love with. Michal is incredibly humble and talented person. Read it!

Who are you? What do you do? What’s your background?

A passionate entrepreneur and team lead with a technical background, sense for product and marketing, also an active supporter of the Slovak startup eco-system, and to compensate all the workload he is also a mountaineering instructor, traveler and a geek full of energy.

He spent several years living in Austria, then traveled the world a bit as a digital nomad and is living now in Bratislava. Besides, he loves to write about himself in 3rd person and irony.

You currently work as a CTO at SaferPass and you co-founded BeeSafe. I bet you went through so many up and downs that armed you with awesome stories, but more importantly for our audience. “How the hack you can manage to do so many things?” Tell us your secret power 🙂

Yeah, it is a rollercoaster, I usually do not get bored that is for sure! 🙂 Mountains and sport help me a ton to keep myself from “running circles” and to recharge my batteries. I’m trying not to waste time with unimportant stuff and surrounding myself with the right people, so we can support each other.

What kind of help could get the participants from you at the Startup Weekend Prague?

After winning 2 Startup weekends and mentoring several ones, the most important thing was to focus on the right tasks, because you have only around 50 hours, but if you use them right you can achieve a lot! With the right direction, I can help you for sure, except that I’m good with validation, marketing, the technical part of the project and what to include inside the presentation.

Why would you suggest our audience in Prague to join the next Startup Weekend?

You will meet awesome people who might change the world one day, or maybe you will, who knows 🙂 The mentors will help you a lot. You will learn how to validate an idea, and based on that to move forward either with your current project or with one in the future.

What advice would you give to the younger version of yourself based on your current experiences?

That is a tough one, I’m very thankful for my life and all the chances I have taken, and one can always do better. But this is rather a philosophical discussion over a beer 🙂

Anything you want to add 🙂

You can achieve a lot, just stop talking, looking for excuses and start! 😉 Do not forget to install https://saferpass.net to protect your online accounts. And if you think I can help you somehow, just connect me. via Facebook or LinkedIn








Prizes at the Startup Weekend Prague 2017

Node5 Co-Working Space

The Startup Weekend is coming closer and we are really excited for all the knowledge and experiences you will get during the event. Also, you should be excited for the interesting prizes that you can receive. Take a look at the list below.

Everyone can be looking for the following prizes:

 

1. Central European Startup Guide: Get to know about the Startup Scene, fundraising and employee equity in the Central Europe based on the experiences of Andrej Kiska Jr. of Credo Ventures.

2. Creative Tim and ThemeIsle Web Templates: Make your landing pages or websites easily with the templates that we will provide you during the event. There is no coincidence that template you will have the chance to use is called Get Shit Done from Creative Tim and any other which would fit your idea from ThemeIsle.

3. Node5 5-Day Passes: All the participants that finish the StartupWeekend will receive a 5-day Pass to work in Node5 Co-Working Space, the only condition is that it has to be used until July 2017.

4. Discount Coupons from Martinus: It is up to you which book you want to buy, but here is a little advice from Martin Andrle – SW list.

5. Culcharge Handy USB.

 

The winners can expect following prizes:

 

1. Node5 Co-Working Space: Run your project from a great co-working space. Here are the details:

a. 2 months Flexi Resident to the first place.

b. 2 months Flexi Resident to a selected team based on the decision of the judges.

2. Consultation Hours with 2Fresh and mentors from ESA BIC Prague: Receive incredible knowledge and feedback for the progress of your startups with a team of Design Experts and mentors of the Space Program in Prague. The prize consists:

a. First Place: 6 hours of 2FRESH mentoring & 6 hours of ESA BIC mentoring.

b. Second Place: 4 hours of 2FRESH mentoring & 4 hours of ESA BIC mentoring.

c. Third Place: 2 hours of 2FRESH mentoring & 2 hours of ESA BIC mentoring.

3. Books from Martinus: Buy any books from the Martinus library. This prize will offer you 75 EUR of credit for your team.

4. Access to Zeerat Analytical Tool: Record the activity of your website’s users with the goal to understand the behavior and improve your sales. The prize has:

a. 600 EUR of credit for the platform usage in the first place.

b. 120 EUR of credit for the platform usage in the second and third place.

Let us know if you have any other prize ideas and we can try to get them for you :). We hope that you will all enjoy the benefits of being part of the Startup Weekend.

Feel free to invite your friends and start the path and make your ideas come true. See you!.