Wednesday, September 30, 2015

4 benefits from Huge Thing that keep Paying Off

This really was a huge thing for both me personally and Whalla.

Because before Whalla Labs became what it is today – a software development agency with a focus on mobile – there was this other thing called ‘ Whalla’.
But it all started out even earlier.
I joined Huge Thing with an idea wrote down on a piece of paper and a hope someone will help me to make it real. I was solo back then – no team, nor that much of experience.
Here are 4 things about participating in Huge Thing I find most beneficial.
Although, there are many, many more, these 4 keep paying off every day.
They changed my life.
Benefit #1: Motivation

After just a few initial days I soaked in completely. Literally, mentors persuaded me into startups.
At the time, I worked for, a startup and a nice place to work in. But launching a venture of my own, that’s another cup of tea – at first it seemed a little scary, but once I’ve had a few conversations with mentors it changed 180 degrees.
We’ve spent long hours talking about running a company: risks and hard work, and excitement and all the fun parts.
To cut it short, I was so pumped up that I decided to quit my job and take a leap of faith into building a business.
In a week-time I’ve made my mind to change whole course of my life.
I credit this entrepreneurial choice to Huge Thing.
It was totally worth it.
Benefit #2: People and Pivots

My initial idea was to build analytics for offline retail.
It was cool enough to get me into the program, but I wasn’t really capable of building it. At the time, I hadn’t figured it out too well, and I lacked a team to make it all happen.
So, after few weeks I dropped the ball on this one.
This is yet another thing I’ve learned at HT – don’t stick to your idea too much.
If you happen to lose faith in your project or learn that it doesn’t really make sense, just leave it.
This didn’t end my journey, though.
I was lucky to meet Wojtek Hołysz at the time (today he runs a brilliant video marketing agency, Filmpoint).
Wojtek, like everyone else at HT, had an idea, too. This time, it was a mobile app.
I liked it and I was into mobile already, so we teamed up.
Instagram was a big thing back then in 2012 and there still was a lot of hype around social media, experience sharing, being connected and stuff like this.
So we decided to follow the crowd and build something to piggyback on the trends – quite clever, right?
We did some ‘market research’ and it seemed like we got it!
It was supposed to be a photo app for sharing experiences from various events.
That’s how I met a co-founder and pivoted from B2B analytics software to B2C mobile app.
It would be much, much harder without Huge Thing. Maybe I would’ve even passed on entrepreneurship altogether.
Benefit #3: Network

I managed to build a website myself, but to keep progressing on a fast pace we needed more firepower. The developers – lifeblood of every tech business.
But how’d you do that?
Enter networking.
There’s a fair chance that as a startup newbie your network is pretty much nonexistent. And I bet that you have no idea about recruiting or sales, or marketing whatsoever (at least I didn’t).
Here come the mentors. I found them helpful so many times, you wouldn’t believe.
One of the best things about them, aside of their will to help and operational knowledge they share, is their network.
Just ask them to help and out of the sudden you’re getting dozens of intro emails. This is exactly how we recruited three developers to finish the project.
Afterwards, we received massive amount of how-to tips regarding team building, managing software engineering and acquiring our first customers.
Moreover, we learned how to use our network, how to build a team and how to manage processes to actually build and ship your product.
I mean, how cool is that?
You can literally outsource networking with mentors and get them to introduce you to potential co-founders, employees and of course customers.
Plus, one can simply learn ‘from the trenches’ kind of stuff directly from them.
Pretty powerful, isn’t?
Benefit #4: Real Business

We did it! We’ve built and launched ‘Whalla’ the photo app!
But again…
The market wasn’t as much enthusiastic about our idea, as we were. The app didn’t make much money and we’ve learned that mobile business is not that easy the hard way.
It was pretty much a failure.
After that I didn’t gave up on building apps.
I put all this experience and work we did at Huge Thing to create what now is Whalla Labs.
Thanks to connections I made there and lessons I learned, we were able to get in touch with LubimyCzytać.pl and start working with them.
And from then on, we kept doing even better.
Today I work with a great team of 25 dedicated and awesome people. We did lots of web and mobile projects for brands from Poland and from abroad such as Qpony, Microsoft, Agora and Wirtualna Polska.
The time I spent with Huge Thing and what it taught me, and connections I made there, are something valuable and worth spreading.
I can’t stress it enough: Huge Thing was a life changer for me.
It’s a gift that keeps on giving. No book can teach you this stuff.
Piotr Biegun, CEO Whalla Labs
Huge Thing is a 3 week (6th to 23rd October) pre-acclereation program in Poznan, Poland. This year they are in cooperation with 500 Startups and is implemented under the patronage of  the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development

Thank you for reading another post for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons below and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  And if you like the content you have read, and are looking for a content writer for your team please go to for details. See you next time!
Original version of the post can be found here.

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Last yard: Closing the Sale

Paul Chen

Polish businesses has spent a large amount of money on marketing by placing adverts on billboards and different websites. They have taken advantage of many website advert tricks. However, they aren’t growing and making more money? What could the problem be? You might call them the DeSean Jackson of business.

On September 15, 2008, the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles were on their own 39 yard line, there were 7:54 left in the 2nd quarter. Donovan McNabb threw up a long range pass to DeSean Jackson. Jackson catches the ball and trots into the endzone, but no touchdown. Why? Video replay said that he spiked the ball on the 1 yard line for a turnover.  The Eagles goes on to lose the game 41-37.

Similarly, on September 6, 2011 Polish National Men’s Team was playing against Die Mannschaft of Germany. With the score tied 1-1 going into the last minute of play. The hosts thought they had won the game when in the 89th minute Kuba  Błaszczykowski converted a penalty given for a foul by Wiese on Brozek, but Cacau popped up with a last-second equalizer as he powered a cross from Muller from close range to earn a draw for Germany.

What do these two have in common? They celebrated too early. How does it apply to Polish businesses, or businesses in general? Imagine your business did everything perfectly, got the right content marketing strategy. You got good amount of foot traffic to your stores or web-stores. Then you hired an apathetic prick to man your cash tills or the check-out process of your e-shop is a bitch because your back-end can’t handle the traffic.

Bad service results in over $300 Billion of lost revenue worldwide.  

This last step can often trip up businesses who employ even the most sophisticated sales strategies. Bad customer service is very costly. consider these:

  • It is 6-7 times more expensive to gain a new customer than it is to keep an existing one (White House Office of Consumer Affairs)
  • 78% of consumers have abandoned a transaction due to bad customer service experiences (American Express Survey 2011).
  • Unhappy customers are highly unlikely to be repeat customers as 89% of customers report having stopped doing business with companies because of bad customer service (RightNow Customer Experience Impact Report 2011)
  • People are twice as likely to talk about bad customer service experiences than they are to talk about good experiences (2012 Global Customer Service Barometer)
  • Bad service results in over $300 Billion of lost revenue worldwide.  
How to solve it?

If you run an e-shop you better have sufficient infrastructure on front end and back end to handle the traffic. Your UX has to be super friendly and intuitive. And security should be your top priority. Most Polish e-shops have come a long way in this aspect. And I am happy to shop here.
That said, it is the brick and mortar ones that involve actual people that is the most difficult to improve.
You can’t stress the importance the of culture enough
It doesn’t matter whether you are running a restaurant or a supermarket, everybody’s main goal is to make sure the customer spends his money, has a good time, and feels better coming out of the store. American businesses have this down to an art. Walmart has a greeter to welcome you to the store. The Gap always has an employee standing at the entrance “folding” shirts to ask you if you need help. This does 3 things: make the customer feel welcome, let the customer feel safe because there are people who want to help, and tell the customer that he is being watched so don’t try anything funny. With bright displays and well organized stores, they know how to make you put merchandise into your carts. At a recent visit to a Target in Los Angeles, an employee offered me an empty cart when he saw that my hands were full. It’s these little things as well.

Again in Los Angeles, at a Ralph’s supermarket and a Walgreens pharmacy, the cashier knew that some of the items in my cart was on sale if you had a club card, so they scanned their own card so I can get the discount. I left those establishment feeling like I had just gotten some wonderful deals. However, if you think about it from a broad perspective, by scanning their own club card, they insure that I would actually buy the product and feel good doing so. Sure, they lost a few dimes and nickels worth of revenue, but they gained a happy customer. A happy customer is more likely to open his wallets even wider.
At a Zara in Prague, I had bought a nice shirt for my ex and had asked for a nicer paper bag to present it to her, the cashier said “no”. That shocked me. So I just put my card back in my pocket and left the store without paying.  My expat friends often joke that the Polish Customer Service is an oxymoron. These days, I will just leave the merchandise on the belt and leave if the cashier is snippy with me. And it’s happened quite often. Just because I had come to the cashiers with merchandise, doesn’t mean I necessarily have to pay.

You can have the best products, the most kick-ass marketing campaign, and the most flashy ads, but in a free market, a sale is not a sale until you put your money in the shop keeper’s hands. To think otherwise is to think like DeSean Jackson.

Thank you for reading another post done for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons below and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  And if you like the content you have read, and are looking for a content writer for your team please go to for details. See you next time!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Vice-President Ansip speaks about Europe's startup ecosystem

Ladies and gentlemen
Thank you for inviting me to the launch of this mapping project, which I am sure will give a significant boost to Europe's startup community.
Dynamic mapping will give a unique insight into emerging startup ecosystems, providing detailed information and regular updates of their basic characteristics.
The initial focus will be on 10 major European hubs: Berlin, Brussels, Bucharest, Helsinki, London, Madrid, Manchester, Munich, Paris and Stockholm. There will be another 10 hubs mapped this year.
Some of this information has never been put together or analysed in such a way before. The new mapping tool will show the geographic distribution of startups together with their financial data, for example.
Perhaps more importantly, it will provide service and customer-related data, along with the factors which led to the venture's set-up and success – or failure.
Startups themselves should find the mapping useful as they seek to link together in networks, join ecosystems across Europe and find partners and investors.

It will also help us – policymakers and regulators – to know exactly how to help, in the best and most appropriate ways that startups really need.
They are, after all, vital to Europe's economy and job market.
Nobody creates more jobs than startups and other young companies; they provide around 50% of all jobs created.
As I have said before, I think startups could be given an easier beginning and helped more to bridge the gap from lab to market – to scale up and expand beyond national borders.
This is why we have the Startup Europe programme, of which this mapping tool will be a new and important part.
I believe in the policy approach that the programme takes: do not interfere with business decisions; rather; give support to better connecting startup communities to join up forces, ideas, talent and funding. All this across Europe, linking younger and smaller communities up with larger and more established ones. Dynamic EU innovation 'hubs of hubs', of a sort.
As a whole, the programme aims to strengthen the business environment for web and ICT entrepreneurs and make it easier for their ideas and business to start and grow.

This is also a main objective of our project to build a Digital Single Market for Europe, which is designed to support startups to the fullest possible extent.
We are already working on how to simplify and modernise the EU's rules for online and digital cross-border purchases, for example.
Doing this will help e-commerce startups because it will become easier for them to comply with laws across the EU.
In turn, that means they will be able to expand across national borders more quickly and offer their services to more customers.
We are also working to explore ways to attract more venture capital as part of the Single Market Strategy and the Capital Markets Union, which focuses on improving access to financing for all businesses across Europe and investment projects – startups in particular.
The mapping tool being launched today will be another instrument that can help Europe's startups and help to build the foundation for our digital future.

I wish you all a great day of startup link-up – here in Brussels, and in the other nine participating cities. More cities will join in, I am sure.
Thank you.
Andrus Ansip, 24 September 2015

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Krakow VC Innovation Nest’s new investment valued at 20 Million PLN

Paul Chen

International Coupons SA, owner of, the largest rebate code provider in Poland, the fund has received investment from Innovation Nest and others at an approximate valuation of 20 million zł.
Founded in 2010, it is one of the few Polish startups, which was profitable since the beginning of the operation. The company's founders introduced attractive revenue model for customers and the company quickly became influential, which led to a further, independent development.

In 2013, because of its success,, using its own funds formed International Coupons. At the moment, it is composed of several services with discount vouchers worldwide. In the spring they entered into several key markets in South America, Asia and Africa - explains Szymon Dobosz, CEO of International Coupons.
For several months the company has also developed a mobile application, that provides the latest promotions and discount codes unique to the largest stores and most popular restaurant chains in the country. The founders of the International Coupons ultimately want to create a comprehensive tool to save across all internet platforms, stores, restaurants and entertainment venues - With further international expansion and the rapid development of mobile applications, we require considerable financial costs, we decided to find an investment partner that would not only support us financially, but just as importantly, will help us with implementation - continues Dobosz.

According to estimates by the service in the last 12 months with discount codes benefited about 20% of Polish Internet users. This purchase of goods and services worth nearly 200 million zł. International Coupons are present in 18 countries. The Management Board (Szymon Dobosz - CEO, Bartholomew Tyranowski - CTO) stated that the new investments will be spent on development in these areas that require sizeable capital and whose return on investment is long-term. It is mainly the development of mobile applications and in foreign markets.

Thank you for reading another one of my posts done for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons below and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  And if you like the content you have read, and are looking for a content writer for your team please go to for details. See you next time!

Monday, September 21, 2015

ŻytniaGate - Brands trying to be clever, what could go wrong?

by Beata Young & Kamila Stepniowska

Using a picture of a dying national hero to advertise vodka? Sure, why not!
(Picture in question. Source Newsweek Polska)Newsweek zytnia

Attempting to bring humour to social media has had disastrous consequences for a Polish agency and their vodka client…

Many Poles grew up with the mixed vision of both empty shelves during communism and the spirit bottle with characteristic rye emblem. No celebration could be considered complete without a vodka called Żytnia. Even under Communism, Poles knew how to party: provincial weddings often expanded to a week of constant, vodka-fuelled, celebration.
Amidst growth in nostalgia and retro fashion, many brands, startups or celebrities seek to attract attention with a vintage logo, perhaps posting a pinup girl or other arresting image for good measure. In a supply saturated market of (often self-proclaimed) social media ‘gurus,’ lower cost services are widely offered as agencies compete for market share
When it comes to managing campaign risk, what might be an “oops” moment for, say, a small restaurant, should never happen with a bigger brand. Risk management is vital in brand reputation. Unfortunately for one high profile distiller, the recent #ŻytniaGate incident has been voted the biggest failure yet in Polish social media. Given that the campaign proved wrong due to multiple, easily avoidable, factors, this is hardly surprising.

Don’t mess up with national heroes

The story begins back in 1982 in the south-eastern city of Lublin when then Communist Poland was under martial law.
On August 31st, Krzysztof Raczkowiak was an innocent spectator at a peace rally organized by the underground opposition Solidarity Movement. The event commemorated the second anniversary of the 1980 Gdańsk Agreement, an accord where Lech Wałęsa had led a strike which achieved embryonic improvements in citizens’ rights.
The peaceful demonstration was confronted by the notorious ZOMO riot police. Two people were killed with many more wounded. A third man died a week later from his injuries. The confrontation was captured by the spectating Krzysztof Raczkowiak who had his camera to hand but had initially been too scared to take photographs. Urged by a participant to record ZOMO brutality, he raised his lens with incredible results. His most candid image showing the body of fatally injured Michał Adamowicz being carried by four protesters, became a powerful symbol of government brutality.
Back in the modern digital era: for reasons which remain unclear, the Żytnia facebook fanpage manager foolishly chose to deploy this iconic image of a barbaric totalitarian state at war with its own citizens, as a perfect illustration for a rather ribald back story.

“The Hangover”

Adding insult to injury, having apparently appropriated the photo from a Google search, the hapless media manager created a campaign related to stag party movie “The Hangover” (in Polish: “Kac Vegas”). The resulting caption included the juvenile subtitle “The Hangover? Screenplay written by Żytnia”.
The outcry was understandably swift and brutal. The photographer himself and The Institute of National Remembrance were amongst a multitude who expressed disdain and even outright disgust at the twisting of an historic national tragedy.
Żytnia parent company Polmos Bielsko-Biała promptly cancelled the social media agency’s contract in a rather slapdash fashion as the backlash spread rapidly across not merely social media but the country as a whole.
Clearly, tobacco and alcohol companies have to be particularly careful when promoting their products to prevent accusations of promoting substance abuse.

Is the lesson learned?

Indeed this campaign serves as a useful case study of what _not_ to do in these circumstances. Photos need to be researched for their historical perspective (after Google, sites like “Tin Eye” can be a great help). It also may have helped in this case if the social media agency staff had paid attention to school history classes! This photo, sits in the Polish psyche in the same way, for example, certain iconic images of Vietnam are recalled by Americans.
Besides, even a perfectly ‘harmless’ image of men carrying a comatose body might be a touch ‘edgy’ for those worried about public drunkenness. From a management perspective, it is difficult to discern what oversights were coherently delivered before this campaign was placed live… with fairly catastrophic results for the brand and its agents.
Moreover, the significance of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has grown in recent years. On the eve of the 2016 enforcement of an EU directive requiring companies to disclose their CSR practices (or lack thereof) in a management report, there is clearly work to be done amongst many dynamic businesses who are trying to make their voices heard amidst a sea of competition online – startups and traditional sectors alike. A crisp, amusing message can garner a lot of publicity. However, a campaign which exposes the company’s ignorance of history and human suffering while cavalier about the effects of overindulgence will result in a massive own goal.

Better the conversion rate is not enough
Is this semi-upskirt seductive enough for you? 

Worse still, the modern internet means the aftermath of the campaign will be clear for all to ‘Google’ for years to come. Companies, especially in emerging markets, need to improve their management ethics while competing for customers’ attention. A cohesive brand / reputation management process makes strategic sense too.
Meanwhile Żytnia-gate continues to fester. On some corners of the internet, there are allegations the vodka company posted their tasteless caption intentionally ahead of the Lublin event anniversary as part of some rather twisted campaign. At least there is one silver lining – this fiasco has raised awareness, reminding consumers of the evils of past human rights abuses under the totalitarian Communist government, in an era long before social media.
Traditionally a picture has been worth a thousand words. Now images are the agents of a few hundred likes, many retweets, pins and shares of all sorts – the more, the merrier, or rather, the better the conversion rate.
However the peril of a hasty social media ‘guru’ lazily grasping the “Ctrl C” keys raises issues of taste, tact and indeed copyright permission all being over-ridden in the quest for a few ‘likes.’
Despite its traditional clarity in distillation, sometimes vodka can leave a lingering aftertaste.
Thank you for reading another one of my posts done for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons below and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  And if you like the content you have read, and are looking for a content writer for your team please go to for details. See you next time!
Beata Young is a serial entrepreneur and Co-Founder of the Polish grassroots startup group “Mission ToRun.” Her portfolio includes community crowdfunding platform “HanzaTrade” nominated for ecommerce debut of the year (Ekomersy 2014) and the “Manufaktura Hanza” coffee / foodstuff brand.
Kamila Stepniowska COO & Partner at Linque Solutions, Advisor at She’s Coding , public speaker. COO atGeek Girls Carrots (GGC) (May 2012 – June 2015). She established, facilitated or developed GGC chapters in New York, Berlin, Seattle, Łódź, Warsaw, London, and Tokyo.