Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Why Krakow should stop trying to be the next Silicon anything : An Open letter

Panie i Panowie,

Silicon Valley is a once in a millenium type of occurance.  It started with being one of the original nodes of Arpanet (grandfather of the internet).  Then it was the place where much of defense research as well was high tech research was done.  It is the place of Stanford and Berkley, the educational anchor from where many wonderful tech companies' founders graduated.  One of the great thing about the area is wonderful year-round weather and the healthy Pacific breeze filling your lungs with hope and inspiration.  It is one of those examples where success breeds more success.  Such patterns of development are not likely to occure in other places.  So why bother?

Recently, there have been a lot of chest thumping and screaming about 'hello world, Poland has a startup scene too!'  I was also guilty of this.  However, at some point it can be seen as the annoying kid in the back of the classroom screaming at the top of his lungs, 'me, me, me!'
The truth is, people out there already know about the startup community in Poland and Krakow.  They don't know the specifics.  I will continue to promote the community and inform others about things that is happening here.  But, guys, rest assured that they know that we exist due to works by myself, Bitspiration, John Biggs from TechCrunch and others.  

The only question that I get from reading all this chest thumping is:

"What the fuck do you want?"

Do you want recognition, a pat on the back, or a cookie for having a couple of startups that have done well?  Intelcilinc, Estimote, Duckie Deck, Kontakt.io, Get Base, and UXPin are indeed some wonderful examples of what Poland is capable of.  And we in the community should be happy about their contribution and the example that they are serving to the younger up and comer.

A good advert has a call to action clause.  What is ours?  We want people to notice us? DONE! We want them to visit us? DONE! We want them to teach us things? DONE! What else do we want?  What do we have to offer them?
And it doesn't matter where your news comes from.  Things happening in Warsaw is applicable to Krakow.  Things happening in Poznan is appicable to people in Gdansk.  In a startup ecosystem as small as Poland's, everyone counts.  You cannot afford to have this village mentality.  Divided we fall.  So OMGKRK = TECHWAWA = NEWWROCLAW.   

We have problems in the community that needs to be addressed.  No one is starting this conversation.   We need more young talented students to take a chance and work for startups or initiating startups.  We cannot allow our talent to bleed away to other countries or the soul sucking international BPO's.   We need more people to come in from the outside to liven things up and inject fresh new ideas into the community.  The community has gotten stale.  We need some governmental support because as a community we cannot do it alone.  No body is starting these types of conversation.  

Polish companies gripe about why aren't they growing like their western counterparts.  Well, RTV Euro AGD is one great example.  The prices aren't competitive, customer service sucks, policies are not customer-oriented (mostly to protect the stores' margins and ass) and they will not go the extra mile.  And we gotta pay for the bags.  The same goes for others like Play and Netia.  And they will chase you out of the store if you linger just after closing hours.  In the US, we stay open until the last customer leaves willingly.  We need to treat customers better.  And as customers, how much more bending do you want to do?  You need to speak up. 

If we want people to notice us, we need to grow as a community.  We need to welcome others, rich and poor, white and colored.    Never underestimate people without a techincal background.  Jack Ma of Alibaba has no idea how the internet works, but he had a vision and ended up owning the world's biggest e-commerce websites.  This place has potential, but it has no place for the status quo.     Maybe one day, some community might say, we want to be the next Krakow.

Z poważaniem, 

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1 comment:

  1. I like this marketing metaphor that the Polish community gained attention and it's time for a call to action towards us. And I like the idea of city communities to cooperate.