#SWKE 2016: Three growth impulses

The development of the society can be attributed to trade. Communities which didn’t need to fight for everyday survival but were able to interact with surrounding tribes instead, exchanging goods or know-how, experienced a much faster growth. Famous ancient folks emerged from these communities. The trade and the need to record the harvest, important transactions and home accounting let to evolution of writing, education and to the establishment of institutional schooling.

Later it were the schools that enabled further growth of states and empires through preparing state officials who were needed to manage the state apparatus.

In modern history inventors and innovators created new equipment and technologies that brought more ease and quality into the life and work of people.


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Trade – education – innovation. A modern society of tomorrow needs a combination of these three elements if it wants to continuously flourish. Institutions of middle and higher education are to produce educated and labour ready offspring. On the other hand especially the universities are expected to closely cooperate with the industry and develop new technologies that will help the local economies gain a position in the global marketplace. Sometimes the most important enterprises emerge from the least probable business alliances. All that is needed are the right business plan and commercial thinking.

It’s a good thing that Kosice has one such institution which focuses on research and development and is always ready to help with startup iniciatives and university spin-offs. The Technical University of Kosice founded their own startup centre and every year holds a contest of the student startups. Besides that TUKE is a stable partner of the Startup Weekend Kosice, providing their facilities to the contestants for the fourth time. It will be the third time that we meet in the wonderful space of the university library.

TUKE simply interconnects all three growth aspects in the right way and we are thankful for that.


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#SWKE 2016: The beauty in our lives

Small and medium sized enterprises are the backbones of our economy. They employ the majority of the population, keep the money in circulation, and improve living standards. But is it really enough to keep the citizens satisfied? You probably know the crawling need to buy some nice home decorations, to plant a flowerbed in your fore garden or to go out in the evening and visit some exquisite performance or exhibition. The beauty around us is the famous cherry on top of the cake that makes our lives complete. That’s why it is so important to support culture and art around us.


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In this sense our big appreciation belongs to Creative Industry Košice. Their mission is a heritage of Kosice as European Capital of Culture 2013. Today CIKE tries to help creative people to become true professionals and enable them to further develop the cultural environment of Kosice.

The artists but also entrepreneurs are offered study trips abroad or courses with local and international mentors. They are shown how artist bring new insights into business and how business helps the artists to succeed.

If you feel that you are missing a little expertise or creativity, visit the web pages of Creative Industry (www.cike.sk) and find out what they have in store for you. Surely they will be able to help you strengthen the backbone of your business. Sometimes solutions to seemingly difficult problems are beautifully simple.


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#SWKE 2016: The rule of the environment

Have you ever read motivational books? Just don’t admit it. I know managers who are strongly against it. But I have a few such books under my belt and I realized there is one thought that repeats quite often – the environment can influence us. In the books one could find many examples of drug addicts, poor or miserable people who left their home town, community and family and became happier.

Well, it´s hard to believe these stories, but there is one slightly different thought that I personally have experienced many times: five people you meet the most determine who you are. Now, I don’t mean the door keeper you walk around 4 times a day. Nor is the number 5 important. But think for a moment, who are the people you talk to the most. Who do you go out with? Whom do you ask for advice and why? Did people think that you were brothers with your best pal? My best friend and I were mistaken for twins. 😛


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I believe the people around us are important. Even more important is to belong to a community that will support us. You can´t find one? No problem with that. Have you realized how all around Kosice new hot spots are being created? Creative coffee shops, co-working spaces, regular business meetings. But if you think about starting your own initiative it’s easier said than done.

The first centre to be build for startups was Eastcubator. I was partly involved and to this day I am wondering how the guys managed to launch it successfully. From the beginning it was up and down from enthusiasm to disappointment when looking for the right space, raising money, slightly missing the right timing, looking for new people to join in. But the founders stuck together and supported each other and in fact proved what the Eastcubator would be about even before it was open. It’s about help, support and about a shared space where startups can come, meet and learn from each other and from the community.

I might not believe in American motivational tales of miraculous transformations but I do believe the power of the environment. It’s a good thing we can choose who we want to meet with.


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#SWKE 2016: The social startup

There is no codified definition for a startup. Usually it’s an organization focused on growth – growth of the team, production, sales or profits. And mostly it’s funded by raised capital in several rounds. So much the theory. But what if the goal of a startup is not to generate millions in revenues, but rather to help millions of people?

In the last years a new term is often used – the social startup. Different concepts can be connected to the term. For example a company that produces low cost solar batteries affordable to African families living off grid. Great mission with a downside – the low price won’t bring much in revenues. Another startup created equipment with pheromones that is able to keep the pests away from tea trees and thus increase the production of small traditional farmers. But those couldn’t afford it. So the team members shifted their attention to big “tea houses” and talked them into buying the equipment for the farmers. Now these can produce bio tee which the houses distribute as premium quality products. It’s a win-win for all parties.


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A third option is to start a non-profit organization which will be helping people with the use of technologies. Just like Aktivita zvyšuje úspech does. It was founded by university students who wanted to secure more on-the-job training for their peers. Via a dedicated web platform companies could post internship offers for anybody to answer. But besides the big players like T-Systems or U.S.Steel AZU wanted to address small, often overlooked companies which also have projects to help with and can offer a unique insider look into the real business.

One might oppose that AZU was just a project, but not a startup. Well, let’s take a closer look. 1. Growth – while the original project was aiming at three universities, today AZU can be found in 8 cities and is slowly crossing over to Czech Republic as well.

  1. Scalability – besides internships the web page azu.sk today informs about interesting events focusing on students’ development, publishes projects, job offers and suggestions for thesis focus from companies and the local coordinators regularly organize meetings with students and different mentors and speakers.
  2. Talent – just like any company or startup the non-profits like AZU need all the talent they can get to secure a sustainable and long-term development.
  3. Money – securing grants, sponsorship or non-financial help is a No. 1 topic, because the business model isn’t really working yet. But show me a startup which didn’t face the same problem.

Azu is trying to help the students, make them more active and secure them more experience. From the feed-back it is apparent that the project is good. So let’s hope they won’t meet the fate of many startups which quit because they run out of money or the team breaks up.


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