Eastcubator just celebrated it’s first year. In man’s life a year is just a fraction but this one gave a lot of good and bad not only to me. Day-to-day we are going head-on against allegations, that there are not appropriate conditions to do global-scale business in eastern Slovakia and that if you want to do business with national or global potential, you need to move your ass to Bratislava, or even further (no hate).
Since Stanley has become extremely initiative, we started blogging – first about ourselves, so you know how and where from did we come to Hviezdoslavova 7 and startups. Actually it is a good idea. Not because we need to advertise our people, but because we all had been doing different stuff until we met in Eastcubator and each of us has different bunch of skills even we among ourselves don’t know about. For example, from previous blog post I have found out aa interesting fact, that Stanley has friends (he mentioned one) :D. Okay, now seriously.
25 years in 7 lines
- I was born in Poprad (that’s where still the best hockey is played)
- I come from Vikartovce (right below the Kráľova hoľa)
- in elementary school I had extra classes of math and physics
- despite my teachers’ and family’s insistence I decided to study economy
- for a while it looked like I was going to move to Czech, but you know it … women
- eventually I dropped my anchor in Košice at faculty of economics of TUKE
- mostly I enjoyed investments and business financing fields
The best thing I stumbled upon at college was boredom
Living at dorms I quickly understood that it’s a great place to gather new friendships, contacts and a lot of experience. Consecutively I joined the dorms administration, I worked in internet café, later in dorms’ bar, then I represented my university at students’ council, which si something like a parliament for students. That’s where I met very skilled people, I had few opportunities to work on interesting projects, effects of which you can notice in Slovakia’s education even today. Most importantly I got to know Peťo Vrábel.
Activity raises success
By the time I met Peťo, he was putting together something like social network between companies and students, so they can contact each other. Students could get practice skills even while studying and companies could educate potential employees by giving them small projects, where they could learn new stuff. Those of you, who met Peťo, know that he is unbreakable practician and when he sets up a goal, ho goes until it is finished. Same happened with is AZU project (from Aktivita Zvyšuje Úspech, translates to Activity Raises Success). It has become a national development project and today it resides in 8 universities of Slovakia. Every year we help hunders of students get inspiration, a connection to practice or to help find a job during or after school. Peťo put me in this project to a post of coordinator for Košice and now, after his leave to other job, I lead the whole project in Slovakia myself.
Via AZU we investigated, how could we help young people to accelerate. We discovered that many of the students already try doing business, so we started to organize workshops for beginning entrepreneurs all over Slovakia. We organized it at schools and real entrepreneurs and mentors from business world lead the lectures. I think it was somewhere around this point in time, where we met Bratislava’s The Spot and got to know Maťo Ftáčnik and Ivan Debnár. Our first meeting with Maťo was at the coffee place in Žilina and it was there, where I got introduced to startups for the first time. You know… I don’t want it to sound like a cliché but it was a different time back then. Startups didn’t pop out of every article on web, media, news, from around the corner or from under your bed. There was not even any government digging in it.
From library to old town hall
Out workshops for beginning entrepreneurs took place at university library at TUKE. We are still runing them there under AZU. Specific group of poeple started asking for IT business, hackathons (I had no idea what it was back then), and for stuff, the school was missing. In November 2013 we put together our first Hackathon in Košice. It was at Tajovského 1, the residence of then unknown and mysterious Eastcubator. It was run by Marek Kuzma (innocentstore.com) and Jožo Kováč (7 segments and Infinario – yes, Jožo doesn’t brag about it much, but he is form Košice). By that time Eascubator was practically abandoned and it was like 15 of us that gathered there for the hackathon. The event consisted of us doing our own tasks, checking facebook, drinking redbull, devoured some sandwiches and leaving to go home. It might look like nonsense, but that small bunch of people, that met there, is the core of Košice’s community and the next yeas have revealed, how strong it really was. The next hackathon was almost the same, maybe one new guys showed up. By the end of that year we started putting together košice’s Startup Weekend, we took over from Maxo (Michal Maxián, today with BatSuite) after a year long inactivity.
In March we successfully managed to put together our first big event, where 68 startupist came in and worked on theirs ideas for the whole weekened. Btw it was there, where Galileo/Petrinec Technology and Chargebrella got recognized for the first time.
It was probably then, that I fell in love with startups. My whole life I was attracted to entrepreneurship and finances and suddenly I stumbled upon concept, where people don’t focus as much on profit as they do on solving a problem. A group of open, young and dedicated dreamers gave my life something, it was missing for a long time. The ambience I experienced there was so strong, I started to ask, how could I get something like this to happen every day…
There was another goal in head of Peťo Vrábel’s head, that he of course pulled through again. We started to go from on space in our city to another, used every contact that could help us and I don’t even know how, but suddenly we found ourselves examining the third floor of Hviezdoslavova 7 (this one sentence covered the time of one year). In May 2015 we started working, with help of comunity we managed to survive both good and bad situations I rather won’t describe, and in October 2015 we finally opened the new Eastcubator to public.
Besides administrative and project writing, that year of Eastcubator gave me also the skills in civil engineering, historical building reconsctrutction, something from computer networks and I also happened to become new coffeemaker guru of Eastcubator. So I got to my desk in left corner of our Open Space.
So what exactly do I do there
Through the whole road from dorms to the table in Eastcubator I got to know very wide network of people, who are still helping us today. My job is to oversee the East, so everything runs as it supposed to, I manage Startup Weekend organizing and I’m scouting for more events, courses, etc…
The huge break in my “professional carreer” was a bachelor degree paper, where I helped one real and pretty big company (cca 3000 emplyees) to analyze their calculated and real expenses and to look for finantial leaks. I realized I enjoy this and started to do it too along with with manging AZU. Here and there a friend needed a business plan for a school or a bank, some were good, some weaker, but all of them taught me something. From doing business plans for projects worth handfull of money, I have made some progress and today I do business plans for projects and companies worth money a regular Slovak man doesn’t make in his whole life.
Entrepreneurship, innovations and startup communities drove me to studying, even though I promised to myself, that nothing will get me back there. So I am going for a PhD now, working on topic about environment for startups and factors that influence, whether people start doing anything in those environments or not.
If you are looking for an investor or you want to shape up you project to presentable form, I think I am able to help you. I don’t want to brag, but lats years gave me a lot of experience and I am willing to sign unders some of the projects I worked on.
The most I enjoy that fact, that after a year, instead of being just a gang of punks spending nights in town hall, we are actually taken seriously in Košice, in western and actually all the Slovakia and here and there even abroad. Last year we managed to go around few countries so we could bring something to the Eastcubator. Most of all I would like to mention Spain (thanks to Creative Industry and Mišo Hladký), Portugal, and as a part of president’s business delegation even Estonia, Finland and Bulgaria. Maybe these are more proofs, that young people can change their cities to a better places, it just needs some work to be done.
Wish us luck.