When and how was the idea to create a start-up studio conceived?
We had played with this idea for a while. The demand for an innovation center came from a few successful Slovak IT companies a couple of years ago. We needed to outsource innovations into a more dynamic environment with different characteristics. We knew little then about the final form into which this idea would gradually transform.
I would assume leading such a volatile and unforeseeable organization is a challenging task?
It is not as unforeseeable as it might seem due to its nature. A reliable and experienced team is the crucial cornerstone. We employ managerial talent as well as professional domain specialists. We are able to create a unique fertile environment for innovations by cooperating with graduates, students and communities as well. Networking is key, too – media, investors, partners, events, fellow start-up owners and many more.
You are able to observe many start-ups in your role of CEO. What is your impression of Slovak start-ups?
Slovakia has a solid and active start-up community compared to our western neighbors. However this is still only the beginning. Many start-up owners are highly motivated hard-workers who come in terms with the dynamics of this environment. If they combine this with a good idea, an investment is almost guaranteed. This is excellent news for all those who are preparing to take the leap and start their own project. On the other hand not everything is blue skies and smooth sailing. Launching a product for sale and crossing borders seem to be major pain points. Just think of how many start-ups were in green on paper during planning and product development, yet they failed their numbers when sales opened. Expansion into foreign markets often follows a similar scenario, only a few succeed. Start-ups need to get more international, gain necessary experience and tackle many imperfections.
Where are LAUNCHER and its start-ups heading next?
We are turning into an organization that creates young innovative communities by combining start-up principles and real business world experience. LAUNCHER is planning to increase its regional presence. Soon enough our services range in project financing will be significantly broadened. Numbers of experts supporting start-ups grow each month. We also develop our ability to outsource innovations and spin-outs of larger companies and we intensify our cooperation with universities. Our start-ups are clearly heading crossborder into new markets. We would like them to be independent companies soon, legally and operationally as well as economically. We only create an environment where they do not have to be afraid to risk, so they can focus purely on their business idea.
What is the added value that makes start-ups choose your studio?
Our team includes professionals from areas such as IT development, consulting, marketing, investment, market analysis, law, accounting and many more. These experts are not only mentors, but often also start-up owners themselves. When you work with us, we are providing the funding together with access to a specific network. We complete you team if necessary, you have free access to support services and offices. Those who build known Slovak IT companies now belong to our investors. We offer all this to our start-up owners so they can indirectly benefit from over 25 years of experience.