Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Krakow Incubator revolutionizing Startup Meetups

By Paul Chen

In many incubator and accelerator programs and some VC's, once a startup gets up to a certain level where they have raised millions of dollars in funding and/ or have acquired a large amount of customers and are earning revenue, the incubator and accelerator starts to phase out their involvement. Once in a while, it is encouraging to see a VC continue to develop their startups professionally even after that point. Piotr Wilam, the founder of Innovation Nest said that this meetup was organized to give startups a chance to connect with each other. They don't usually have a chance to talk and exchange ideas.

He would like to keep it as an invite only meetup inorder to connect the right type of people and to make the time spent more effective. Ideally, Mr. Wilam would like to hold a meet up every other month. And in the next meetups, he would like to invite startups and mentors for other parts of Poland as well as Europe.

On Friday October 3, 2014 Innovation Nest decided to take a startup meetup to the next level. They organized a whole day event where there were mentoring sessions, keynote speeches and a series of mini-conferences. Innovation Nest invited just about all their portfolio startups to this meetup.

The main topic of the Meetup was „How to get your first 1000 paying customers”. Unless you are a social startup, your main goal is to make money. It is obvious that getting paying customers is a lot more difficult than getting customers when you have a freemium product. Answering this question is essential to the survival of every startup.

The day started with a intense session of speed mentoring. The mentoring staff included senior members of Goldenline (Polish version of Linkedin), Grzegorz Blazewicz (CEO of SalesMango), Giancarlo Maniaci (co-founder of Tapit), Zack Onisko (Chief Growth Officer at Creative Market), Ela Madej (founder of Applicake), Monika Chodakowska (Head of Sales at Codility), and Dimitar Stanimiroff (EMEA Managing Director of Stack Overflow). All of the partners of Innovation Nest were also on deck as mentors. Each startup were given chances to talk with multiple mentors about sales and growth.

Zack Onisko then gave a keynote on growth hacking. He gave the startups insights on how to engage customers and build a following. He advised that SEO's are important and providing engaging content can help you connect with your customers. Monika Chodakowska talked about how Codility became the first platform where employers can test how good a candidate can code with a test. She said to nail your product, meaning know what you are selling inside and out. She also advocates for a constant stream of communication with your customers. Last Dimitar Stanimiroff talked about Proving product value, understanding your pitch, and scaling the organization. He also suggested that you should run your sales process by using Scrum.

One of the most interesting parts of the day was the Open SpaceTechnology sessions. It was as the organizer called it, a longer coffee break. The cool thing is that there were topics like Content Marketing, Freemiums, using Social Media, and how to keep your costomer coming back for more. The positive points of this approach is that you can join the discussion that interest you and that you can switch discussions when you want. Sometimes, the best way for a startup to solve a problem is to consult other startups. This was a wonderful opportunity to do so and to share some ideas and to understand that there are other startups that are going through the same growing pains as you.

When asked about their feeling about the day's event, they were generally quite positive in their feedback. They would be eager to do it again in the future. Zack and Dimitar were both very surprised by the talent and the maturity of the startup community here in Krakow. Zack observes that the startups are trying to solve the same problems that his colleagues are trying to solve in Silicon Valley.

The participating startups were:

UXPin – UX software design
Enteye – Connecting you to the cloud
Children's University – Educational ogranization aimed at kids
Sigmapoint – Backend for mobile
POSbistro – Point of sales software
Rublon – 2 factor authentication for web apps
Clime – Sensors for homes
Notatek – Notes for university courses
Landingi – Landing page design
Sher.ly – Micro-cloud service
TurboTlumaczenia – Fast translation service
Triangly – Personal branding platform
Gardenmate – Creating your dream garden
PressPad – Online access to periodicals
Trawell – Management of travel groups for travel agents
Pirx3D – 3d Printing
Edrone – Social CRM for e-commerce

If you are interested in joining future meetups you can contact Chris at Innovation Nest here.

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