Friday, February 12, 2016

Startup Europe Week invaded Krakow - the Aftermath

Paul Chen

Well, that was fun! Last Friday evening, Startup Europe Week had their conference in Krakow. It was organized by myself and Paulina Galińska and the crew from Kraków Miastem Startupów.
I can honestly say that it was a success. It was also a great learning experience. Here are my post-event reflections.

I felt that the video intro from the European Commission was quite a good introduction on the rationale behind the organization. The point of the event is to educate entrepreneurs and people who are thinking of becoming one about the resources available to them locally. Luckily, Krakow and Malopolska was just named one of the European Region of Entrepreneurship 2016. Then the following organizations made short presentations about their program.

Krakow City Hall - Filip Jarmakowski - Municipal
MaloPolska Region - Elżbieta Sztorc, Bartłomiej Gąciarz - Regional
Krakowski Park Technologiczny - Małgorzata Popławska - Incubator/VC
Klaster Life Science - Kazimierz Murzyn - Biotech
KIC InnoEnergy - Anna Czerwińska - Energy
Hub:raum - Łukasz Cieśla - Corporate VC/accelerator/incubator
InnoVenture - Marcin Bielówka - Semi-private VC
Klaster Cleantech - Janusz Kahl
Innovation Nest - Krzysztof Kobyłecki - VC

After these presenters did a panel discussion about "Effective forms and practices to support entrepreneurship". Attendees reported that the panelists were quite truthful and thoughtful in their responses to questions. That was a departure of the superficial answers that you usually get from individuals in their positions.

Panel of Startup Resources

After a short break, we were presented a discussion with panel of startups put together by ProIdea, the people who brought you Bitspiration Festival every year. The theme was "Success stories - Lessons learned."

We had a range of well established startup like the beacon producer; XTRF, a project management tool for translation agencies; and an up and comer like Crafinity, startup who works with artificial intelligence.  

The language of the event was Polish. It was my decision as an organizer to do that, even though I personally, believe that every startup event should be in English. The reason behind that decision was to encourage more people to attend. Sometimes when people see that the event will be in English, those who aren’t as proficient might be discouraged.

People had warned me about having a startup event on Friday evening. However, I was resolute. This time slot is a barometer to show where people’s priorities were. Business or pleasure? I am happy to say because the room was packed from beginning to the very end, it showed the attendees enthusiasm for entrepreneurship.

I felt the event had the right spectrum of people presenting. It covered a wide variety, from regular run of the mill VC to corporate to municipal and from IoT, SaaS, Energy, to Biotech. Many entrepreneurs probably never knew that we had a cleantech klaster near Krakow which can be quite important due to the city’s fight against smog.

As an organizer, I simply must express my gratitude to the city of Krakow for letting us use their grand conference room for the event. It added so much class and elegance to the atmosphere. I felt it made for a uniquely great atmosphere, much better than some corporate or hotel conference room. It was a wonderful gesture showing that the startup community is indeed important to the city. I hope this is the start of a series of communication between them.

One of the things I would change is to charge a nominal fee for the event. Because the event was free, people ordered tickets and didn’t show up. This closed people who were serious about going to the event out. By charging a nominal fee like 2 Euros, it could prompt people to keep to their commitments.

I understand that it was the first iteration, so in the spirit of lean startup model, it wouldn’t be perfect. I would like to advise that the announcement and the granting of licenses to organize the event or events be issued like 3 months in advance. This way, it would give organizers time to make more partnerships and gain sponsorships to help organize refreshments and other promotional schemes.

Other than that, I had a lot of fun organizing this event. I would be honored to be able to do it again next time. If you were at the event and would like to tell me how I could have done better, please comment below. Please no trolls. The community had a very positive response to the event. They asked me when will there be a next one.

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