Categories
community building

John Biggs asks “”Honestly how many brits are in Krakow and looking for work?”

November 2016

It’s an honour to be regarded as an authority by Techcrunch’s John Biggs   so rather than just answer in the thread, I am making a blog post. John posted the below in a thread here  by Maciej Serafin who is looking for a native speaker freelancer.

I am an authority on Brits in Krakow...
I am an authority on Brits in Krakow…

Who are the Brits in Kraków?
English teachers….  Kind of obvious.  the local rate $13-17/hour goes quite far here.

People with Polish partners, who prefer it here to where ever they are from

People working for international businesses
Aspire Employment stats
According to Andrew Hallam of Aspire.org.pl – which generated the above slide – about 15% of the staff in the Business Process Outsourcing/Shared Services sector are foreigners which means about 2000, but companies like Cisco have put major research centres here, like their Cyber Warfare/Security/whathaveyou monitoring centre, thanks to the admirable work of the likes of Ramon Tancinco   They are more than 75% foreigner. and have 2000 employees so it adds up.

Academics 
Trustafarians  – like Rastafians but living on trust funds from mummy or whoever..

Adult  Polonia –  people who made their money elsewhere, tried to retire here, but ended up working.

Entrepreneurs  – it’s cheaper to start your business here as an entrepreneur than in major western European countries, Your money goes further.

Freelancer translators –  Your clients can be anywhere

Other freelancers like Jason Sanderson who sound edits  Jason Harbinger’s hit podcast The Art of Charm live in Krakow
Paul Pearson – who does Krakow Startup TV and TEDxKazimierz is a film producer who works locally and internationally.
Many others

Stag Nighters  no comment.  Almost as ashamed of them as of Brexit.

Dodgy Brits with criminal records

In principle you might think you ought to be able to outsource your English language content creation/news gathering to a English language low cost country. I tried  years ago when I was running PMR but wasn’t happy with the results

failed outsourcing attempt

People who get stuck here
They arrive, think it is great, settle in, have a kid or two, get divorced, and then realise they can’t afford to leave

According to Sam Cook of ProjectKazimierz podcast, the “East is the New West”, the land of opportunity. (btw can we interview you for Project Kazimierz John? )

If you mix local and international income., live smart,   – and for sure – content creators can do that  – why not?  you can live better in Kraków than in many places on the same income.

At the same time if you don’t think about what you do, who you work for and how to keep your income higher than your outgoings, you are going to be fucked, possible faster and more nastily here, than in a  high cost country.  You can always vote for some crazy politician who blames immigrants, foreigners and the EU,  promises to make your problems go away…

Brits can come here live and work without a visa – for now. Thanks to Brexit this right is being given up, so if you are reading this in 10-20 years time,  things will be different. There may be British economic refugees here, if we aren’t all fleeing from an even more dangerous neighbour.  A lot of tech businesses will be forced out of the UK by Visa issues, or racism. For sure some of them will end up here in Kraków where they will be welcome no matter what nationality they are.

Brexit Lament

This article reflects my views on Brexit

In the meantime, I would underline that through our thriving Startup Community, and local as well as international investment, (and not just in Kraków), that Poland is very much open for business. Getting working visas is a lot easier than in the UK or USA. The government seems pretty committed to that.  We may have a political problems but they are nothing on the scale that face the UK or maybe the USA, provided we are not invaded in which case all bets are off

Please come to one our Open Coffee Krakow – or Krakow Enterprise Monday events or indeed my the newly launched Cambentrepreneurs first meeting in Edinburgh in two weeks

It doesn’t really matter what nationality you have in my eyes, it’s just about the contribution you make, (and I don;t know how many Brits there are in Kraków)

 

 

 

 

Categories
community building

Help wanted – Media, students, patriots, optimists, risk takers, eco-system members

November 2016

Introduction

I’ve have a lot of meetings recently with a similar agenda

What do I/you do  ? What do I/you want? (unspoken agenda) Do I/you like the idea of doing things  together?

How can we help each other ?

of course, there is the “Get to know, background check, are you/I (?!) creepy, do I risk my reputation by being helpful, making introductions?

helpful_download

 

 

I’m unusually trusting and helpful in my behaviour, even if in the background I have my “is this guy/girl dodgy?/what does he/she really want?” sensors switched on.

Sometimes I fire out invitations and introductions during my meetings, other times I follow up with a letter like this below.

This blog post includes the “copy paste” text I am often writing some versions of to those I just met:

If you want to help – get in touch.  If I can help you, (and you meet my smell tests :-)), and I’ve got the time. I will. Even if I’ve never met you.

Extract of my standard message

Dear <person I’ve just met>

………

You are more than welcome to attend the meetings I am responsible for and make a short 1-2 minute announcement about your project at the meeting.

Open Coffee Krakow 

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-56-58

 

Krakow Enterprise Mondays

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-56-25

 

or the next TEDxKazimierz Monthly Meetup.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-11-55-33

 

 

If you want to talk for longer, let’s discuss.

Do please promote these events – they are all free of charge-  to your community, and people you think would benefit.   If you want introductions to people in my network please just ask.

You asked how you can help in our mission to change to perception of enterprise for the better, and bring great ideas to global attention.  Thank you (There are many more people who approve passively, rather fewer who actually offer to help).

If you have any media contacts, with optimistic journalists/vloggers/bloggers who are interested in speeding up Poland’s development and growth rate, please introduce me.

Journalists/Media are really important to us in getting to word out to those who don’t realise how important the cause is. Not everyone realises that our national survival depends on making more of our potential. Journalists are also great sources of contacts for potential topics for TEDxKazimierz talks  They tend to have know what ideas are worth spreading . so introduce me to journalists. or contact them suggesting they ought to take an interest and show up.

Students we struggle with the “Thank God it’s Friday” “Shame the Weekend is over” brainwashing that is propagated from multiple sources in Poland –  as if the ideal state of a happy Pole is resting.  To reach students we need contacts with leaders: from Student Associations, be they based on Faculty, Interest, or part of a global organisation like AIESEC. To reach students we also need contact with positive minded academics, both lecturers and in the administration.  The great support we get from AGH is an example that could be emulated by other Careers Offices.

screen-shot-2016-11-15-at-13-17-47

 

 

Apart from students  – we need entrepreneurs who are patriots and risk takers.  Please introduce me to Entrepreneurs who would be ready to make short presentations and mentor/coach students.    Patriots because  we need people who both care about the country, can set a positive example and realise that unless Poland grows and prospers we are in danger and that we ought to work to make the best of our potential. Risk takers because my projects are new, and they have to trust that working with me will not damage their reputation.

An pro-business eco-system also involves government officials, politicians,  trade and professional associations, training bodies, NGOs, financial institutions, lawyers, accountants, recruiters, consultants and so on. It would be great if they were better represented in our pro enterprise eco-system. If you know the right type of person, please please send them along.    Anyone else you think I ought to know or work with  – just make the introduction.

If you can help with these projects, I will be very appreciative
…..

Categories
community building

“Please post details of my event on your FB Twitter Linkedin etc”

Richard Lucas

September 2016

I sometimes get requested to promote and share details of  events on my Social Media channels.

I am usually more than happy to lend my “social network endorsement” (for what it’s worth)  to people/events who/which look reasonable –  provided it is transparent and people can see what my relationship is with the event.  (If it is in my capacity as a TEDxKazimierz Licencee or any other “official role” I do a bit more due diligence) as I am subject to external rules and need to be concerned  about how far I have a mandate to endorse.

This is what I write back to people asking me to share/and promote.

 

Categories
community building

Questions for Brexiters about deportation and sex slavery – /4

Richard Lucas 28th August 2016

Shining a light on the darker consequences of Brexit.

Once the UK is out of the EU the number of illegal immigrants from the EU in the UK will rise as people who are allowed to visit the UK as tourists overstay their visas.   This is a certainty.

The reasons are obvious and well understood.

Just as Australians and New Zealanders come to Europe on tourist visas,  and overstay while working in the shadow economy, hoping either to make enough money,  and/or find a sponsor or spouse to regularise their status,  Europeans allowed into the UK as tourists will start overstaying.

Even the most hard core Brexiters are not yet arguing that they want UK citizens to get tourist visas to go to Europe.  Therefore tourist visas will not be required of  EU citizens. In all likelihood we will end up with something similar to the USA post Brexit, with landing cards, and longer queues –  but hey, Brexit was all about control of borders.

The number of deportations will rise  as the UK “gets control” of its borders.   Smaller businesses, street traders, farmers and sectors like hospitality which need low cost labour will cut corners. Sometimes they will be caught sometimes not.  As with the “war on drugs” attempting to ban doing business between willing buyers and sellers will fail. Otherwise law abiding people will get familiar with illegality as employers and employees.

Illegal immigrants are much more vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, because it is so hard to get access to police protection when you fear deportation. Employers open to blackmail, and being shopped.

Questions to  Theresa May, Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Liam Fox and the other architects of Brexit.
– What do you think the rising numbers of deportations of working but now illegal Europeans will do to our relations with Europe?
– What will you say to the families of those illegal immigrants in the UK who are trapped in sex slavery ?
– In some countries victims of human trafficking get the right to work and stay if they escape from their tormenters.  Will you offer work permits and residency to those who are being abused in the UK?

Even if my forecasts of deep and lasting slump and stagflation in Britain come to pass there will still be jobs in Britain that foreigners want to do illegally.

The architects of Brexit have lit the fuse of  a very dirty and repellent bomb.

Categories
community building

Bring the boys – and girls – back home

3rd July 2016

Richard Lucas

“Bring the boys back home” is the cry of those who want war to end and troops to return to safety. In the context of Brexit, those forced to return to Britain is a group who will be repatriated against their will, but the larger group will be those who never get to leave in the first place because it is too difficult to get a visa.

The world of visa restrictions is one that British people only face now when they go outside Europe.  I go to the US and Canada on the “visa waiver” programme. I still have to fill in a form, answer questions about what I am doing, and leave within three months. Pretty much like the Non EU channel at airports. That is where the Brits will be lining up soon.

The consequences are not just economic, as companies relocate out of Britain. It is much more serious. In the short term the pain of lost opportunity, the long run a much more insular and isolated island.

It is going to be much, much harder for British people to marry foreigners and vice versa when Britain leaves the European Union.

“My girl/boyfriend is a an EU national foreign”  is certain not to generate a visa for a Brit to live in France, Italy, Poland  or other EU countries  for more than three months under the points based visa/immigration system advocated by the Brexit-ers.

As Dr. Helen Fisher – the author of bestselling “Anatomy of Love” – argued at the TED Summit in Banff Canada last week,  young people are delaying their commitment to marry until they are absolutely sure about their partners. Extreme caution is shown. Living together before marriage is the norm in  Europe.   Brits will not be allowed to do this in EU countries, and EU citizens won’t be allowed to do this in the UK.

The idea of a “Year Off/Gap Year/Sabbatical” drifting around Europe, with occasional jobs when the money runs out, is also going to be removed. We British will have to  plan our visits to “the Continent ” as carefully as the Americans or Australians do when they come to Britain/Europe. Spending un-structured time in Europe will no longer be an option.

Tech Entrepreneurs will also have tough choices to make. Most will re locate to more “foreigner friendly” places be it cool friendly and expensive Dublin or cheaper cool and friendly Kraków or Berlin.  If Scotland manages not to be forced out, then Edinburgh and Glasgow have a chance to receive Tech Refugees from England.

The Brexit-ers are deliberately and intentionally proposing policies that will remove freedoms that  British people of all ages have enjoyed in Europe for two generations. What a pathetic achievement. I feel miserable every time I think of all the young people whose life chances have been so much restricted

Categories
community building

Don’t leave the European Union

Banff, Canada 27th June
At the TED Summit yesterday a group of TEDsters and TEDx-ers gathered to discuss the profound shock we feel about Brexit.

One idea suggested by a participant was to lobby our MPs as they will have to face their electorate with the terrible consequences of this fateful move.

If you are reading this and you care about the freedoms, peace and stability of Britain and Europe, and you have a vote in Britain, please write your version of this to your MP. You can find out who it is here

If you know any British person who thinks like me, send them a link to this post

I will never forget you helped me if you do

please

 

Richard

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Richard Lucas
Date: 27 June 2016 at 07:43
Subject: please stop us leaving the EU
To: david.warburton.mp@parliament.uk

Dear David
I know you have been reported as being one of the MPs  who was in favour of leaving the European Union.

I implore you to change your mind.

 If there is a vote in the House of Commons in which you are given the opportunity to do anything that could possibly stop it happening – please do so,
If there is a general election and you are a candidate for a party that wants to stay in I will vote for you
You have an  opportunity to stop a national disaster and have a historic responsibility to your country, its people and those of Europe too.  The freedoms of trade and movement that so almost all Britons treasure are at stake. The integrity of the United Kingdom and our security are in the balance.
The rising tide of racism and intolerance in the UK will only get worse as our economic plight worsens.
I realise it is a big political risk to be seen to be defying the will of the majority, but
the majority was tiny,

many people did not vote
and Britain’s and Europe’s liberty, prosperity and security are at stake
Many of those who voted to leave are angry with our and the EU’s political systems. Leaving the EU will not do anything to fix these problems.
I have lived out of Britain for many years, and didn’t get  a vote, but have invested in Britain creating jobs,   I have children whose freedoms are about to be lost and I care about the freedoms that the EU gives all Britons, and Europeans too.
This decision will change the course of history.
Please do the right thing and do what you can to keep us in, as we stand on the precipice of catastrophe.
Yours sincerely.

Richard Lucas

 

 

Categories
community building

Google Campus Warsaw interview on Project Kazimierz + call to action

June 2106
I posted this on the OMGKRK group on Facebook, and thought it was worth sharing.

Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 08.16.03
If you care about making University Education more entrepreneurial please listen to this interview with Richard Miller of  Olin.
I am re thinking my approach –  Olin is to Universities what the School in the Cloud is to schools. – maybe benchmarking against San Francisco and/or Cambridge is not ambitious enough. …

here is the post I made 20 minutes ago.
Listen to the head of Google Campus Warsawhttp://projectkazimierz.com/rafal-plutecki/ in the latest episode

Several points to note
1  Focus not about brand Warsaw, or Poland instead of Brand Kraków but brand Central Eastern Europe,

2. Also note how Professional Service providers (lawyers, and esp bankers) in Warsaw are way ahead our our Kraków community. minute 19:00 in his response to my observation that we never see bankers and seldom lawyers, or accountants at startup community events. In Warsaw they have been showing up at Google Campus events.

With the honorable exception of Jan Marczyński Legal advisor and partner at JWMS law firm (jwms.pl) who is a regular at Open Coffee Krakówockrk.co/faq and is doing things the western way, offering pro bono advice to startup and Katarzyna Orzeł – who I met at an X Massive event  (companies I am involved in are a client of both law firms ) we are not visited by many professional support services at events like Startup Stage, Hive, Krakspot, and Open Coffee…  (If anyone reading this feels left out and offended, please post a link below, and apologies in advance) come tomorrow (this was posted on Wednesday 15th June) to Open Coffee Krakow and prove me wrong..

3. Rafal Plutecki was a successful entrepreneur, as Brad Feld says here and elsewhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXD5vt0xhyI the Start up Eco system must be led by entrepreneurs so it was a great hire by Google.

4 Hat tip the UMK (City) and UM (county) authorities and KPT – county and town and technology park officials do show up and are very welcome… The fact they join our meetings, rather than expect us to show up in their offices is fundamental to developing soft linkages, (other officials reading this please note)

An example of the government being ahead of the business community. 🙂

5. It’s great for Poland that we have Google Campus in our country. Of course it’s a bit sad for Krakow that we no longer have more events than everyone else put together, but a thriving startup scene in Warsaw and Central Europe is good for us. Capitalism is not a zero sum game.

http://crossweb.pl/wydarzenia/?miasto=warszawa

http://crossweb.pl/wydarzenia/?miasto=krakow
Screen Shot 2016-06-15 at 08.18.26

6. I’m leading on AGH but if there are members of our community who can take responsibility for making sure we reach the new students in other disciplines, (teachers, music, actors, artists, geographers doctors sociologists linguists, farmers etc ) who will arrive in Krakow in Q4) get in touch, It’s criminal that there is so little pro active outreach to promote startups and entrepreneurship in these communities, (and again if I am wrong post a link).

 

Call for action – essentially we need people who can clone what we are going to do in AGH, which is a series of regular networking events similar to Cambridge’s Enterprise Tuesdays where current students interested in enterprise, meet alumni who have gone into business in an informal setting.
http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/entrepreneur…/…/enterprise-tuesday/
This is a leadership oppportunity – I can’t organise events in every dept of the UJ & PK, but if anyone reading this wants to take responsibilty, let me know and I’ll invite you to a meeting in September where you can find out what you need to do in your depts If you want to help with the AGH project, you are equally welcome. First and Foremost introductions to AGH Alumni who have started businesses of any description and who would be able and willing to join and contribute (time + energy –  not money) to participant focussed events with students)

Categories
community building

Marketing on WeChat – an interview with Jenny Chen

by Richard Lucas March 2016

Most of the information in this article comes from an interview with Jenny Chen of WalktheChat (details below). Thanks to her for sharing her time.

WeChat

WeChat is a leading mobile Chinese Social Media platform which combines the features of many of the most popular global social media and e-commerce platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Skype. As the name suggests – the basic function is Chat but users can also have a website, pay a bill, book a taxi, make a phone call (from January 2016 to landlines and mobiles), buy and sell, and play games. The mobile aspect is very important. For many users it is their gateway to the internet. Companies have official Wechat accounts. Games are big in China, and a lot of their users are gamers. The last time WeChat published figures they had 650 million active monthly users.

WeChat is relevant for both B2C and B2B businesses. Although it is primarily for the Chinese market, a lot of Chinese users living in other countries use it. Users can use WeChat Wallet to transfer money among friends without transaction fees. WeChat charges 0.6% transaction fee for businesses collecting money using WeChat payment. For more detailed and impressive information about Wechat read here

A Wechat store can be set up for free, and as many users never leave WeChat this is pretty obvious move if you want to reach clients in China.

Five free and popular stores are YouShop (www.weidian.com/ Youzan (http://youzan.com/ JD.COM (Lewaimai www.lewaimai.com/ and VD ( http://www.vd.cn/ for full analysis of the features of each read an excellent review here

Foreign brands can struggle to market on WeChat. Great content is important. Applying the same marketing strategy as on Facebook and Twitter accounts isn’t going to work. Promotional content can easily leads users to unfollowing the WeChat account. Content has to be of direct benefit to users to be effective. There are tremendous challenges to keep content relevant, brands should identify the main influencers among their readers, and give them access to VIP groups, providing services like package tracking, loyalty cards, and ordering systems to keep followers engaged and using the site. Using these strategies effectively on WeChat can be very beneficial for any company within any industry, for example a tree felling service could look to deploy a tree service leads system along with other marketing techniques, while also operating a WeChat account. This could greatly increase the number of potential customers the business could get. As stated before this can work for many other business types, should the marketing work well in conjunction with each other. If marketing through WeChat, they should target readers by gender, geography, and their reading preferences, they should work on article design, using surveys to make sites more interactive and to better engage users. Sometimes it is better to build a presence on less competitive platforms and then migrate to WeChat later. more detail about this topic here

The Chinese market is one of the biggest in the world and highly competitive. As with other countries consumers appreciate value for money, high quality and keen prices. At the same time expensive wine in top venues in major cities can be over 10K Euro for a bottle. Big spenders still exist, even after the crisis. For companies whose products are suitable for the Chinese market, a store on WeChat may well be part of their market entry strategy.

WalktheChat helps foreign companies establish their presence on Wechat. It was was established Thomas Graziani, a Frenchman living in Beijing, Jenny Chen joined the board shortly after. WalktheChat has been effective in finding its own clients through content marketing, a high quality blog, a good website, and get found through SEO and Google searches. They also ran viral marketing campaigns on Wechat account which are highly effective. Their services are viewable here www.walkthechat.com

Check out Bohan.pl for more information about doing business in China

Categories
community building

Zombie post – a WordPress blog comes back from the Dead

Posted on February 24, 2016

Richard Lucas

Towards the end of February 2015 I migrated this blog onto Richardlucas.com and posted “The Last Post” blog  where I wrote that it would be the last post ever on this blog (unless I changed my mind). Like a Zombie, this blog has come back to life.

zombie

I am not sure if I will post here again, but something is happening that might be of interest to WordPress bloggers. The stats for the old blog on WordPress are solid but not stellar   – around 1000 visitors a month on average. The most popular post by far being Letter to a new business partner  which still get 20-40 views a day.

Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com blog

Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com site
Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com site

I am no technical wizard but it seems surprising that with no new posts since February, traffic on the old site seems to be higher than on the new.

An old Google Hack from my past was a way to show the number of inbound links –  a key concept in Google Page Rank. I don’t know if it still is accurate or significant, but it shows  287 inbound links to the old blog.. link: https://richardhlucas.wordpress.com  used compared to a Stellar 1 to the new  – admitttedly from the  ultra high value late and much lamented Economist’s Eastern Approaches  blog  –

link:www.richardlucas.com  links only to The Economist’s inbound link to my site, whereas

link: https://www.richardlucas.com has over 100,000 (note that E.L – the author of The Economist’s article is TEDxKrakow and TEDxKazimierz speaker, Economist journalist and author –  Edward Lucas, my admirable and brave big brother)

 richardlucasblog

Traffic on the new Richardlucas.com blog 

The question are?

Why is traffic on the old WordPress site higher and and on the new site lower?

Was it a mistake to change?

Is there some means to improve traffic on the new site?

I’m going to post this on both my old blog here  and the new and try to compare the traffic to both, and send a link to this post to my WordPress consultant Rafał.

My business partner Pawel thought that it might be because WordPress does a good job of indexing blogs hosted on its site.

Anyone with other ideas about what may be going on is welcome to get in touch. Whether the Zombie will return to its resting place depends on what I what I find out.

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community building

Building bridges between Jews for Entrepreneurs and the Polish startup scene

by Richard Lucas

February 2016

I’m writing this post on the invitation of Jenny Belotserkovsky – one of the co-founders of Jews For Entrepreneurs.

The route to this blog post started with a Mixergy podcast – where I heard Max Shevakov being interviewed by Andrew Warner on, the home of the upstart entrepreneur. Max was talking about how he had built up and sold his business lending lenses to photographers.(Mixergy is a great resource for bootstrapping entrepreneurs – better than business school – I gladly pay $200 for my subscription and also another $400 as a gift to the founder of a recent investment). Once again for those who don’t know about the incredible resources available from the world of English language podcasting try Googling “x and best Podcasts” where x = something you are into).

I made contact with Max because I have recently invested in Zalamo.com – a software tool for professional photographers. I thought Max could be a good mentor, give us advice about our marketing strategy – when we start going after the US market where he build his business Max was helpful, is ready to review our US marketing plan once it is created. I noticed on his Linkedin profile he was a member of Jews for Entrepreneurs. I hadn’t heard of JFE but I have had several conversations with my friend Jonathan Ornstein – Director of the highly successful Jewish Community Centre in Krakow (where I live) about broadening the connection between the JCC and the thriving Startup scene in Poland. To know more about the great work of the JCC read and/or watch Jonathan’s TEDx talk, or Chief Rabbi Schudrich’s. Hear Jonathan’s TEDxWarsaw talk here , Warsaw Rabbi Schudrich’s here Read about Jonathan and the JCC here

I asked Max for an introduction to JFE which led me to Jenny, who wrote back full of interest and support. Jenny encouraged me with her response “It’s our goal to connect Jewish startup communities worldwide and we are excited to hear about the resurgence of Jewish life and startup innovation in Poland. It would be great to showcase Poland’s innovation with our network. We recently launched a renovated site for JFE Network. We would be thrilled to add Polish-Jewish startups to our startup vault and share with our community and investor network in Silicon Valley, New York, and Israel. Every Tuesday, we send out a weekly email with new startups, jobs, and blog posts from tech experts in our community. We can send an upcoming email campaign (9.6k people) featuring Polish innovation. We can showcase Polish startups and feature blog posts from innovators and thought leaders in the Polish community.”

This was just the response I wanted. I asked Startup Poland (I’m on the Advisory Board) for examples of Jewish Israeli Polish entrepreneurship in Poland. The most prominent fund is Giza Polish Ventures which has many investments in startups. There is a good overview of the Polish startup scene on the Startup Poland web site and an American website called Google is excellent at providing lots of links and articles Passive aggressive Richard often refers people to this website as a starting point, but I don’t think now is the time.

Poland is a country with strong regional hubs. Cities like Gda?sk, Katowice, Lublin , Poznan, Rzeszow Szczecin, Wroc?aw as well as Krakow where I live and the capital Warsaw have startup activity. Berlin is just over the border too and Polish/German relations are better than would be believable a few years ago. Cheap flights and visa free travel (thanks to the European Union) to Europe and modernized airports mean that getting to London, Paris, Cambridge, Dublin, Milan and most other major European cities is very straightforward.

I’m biased towards Krakow – we have several world class startups here in Krakow – Estimote* world leader in Beacons, Base world leader in mobile first CRM, Brainly – a world leader in social learning. Integer Group is the world leader in final mile drop off pick up logistic and is active in 20 plus countries, Meble.pl is doing to furniture what Dell did to PC manufacturing. There are any number of smaller companies also doing interesting things.

Campus Warsaw has opened in 2015. This has put the Warsaw startup scene on steroids. It’s got off to a fantastic start. Previously Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow (GEK) did a great job. Hub.Raum in Krakow owned by T-Mobile. and Colab*.pl (a co-working space owned by members of the Startup community including me) have stepped forward to fill the gap left when Google departed. There is still a fan club for GEK here

The Krakow Startup community chose the hashtag and brand #OMGKRK ! Find links here omgkrk.com and here

There is an excellent events listing site called Crossweb.pl . I won’t name any specific events for fear of annoying those in charge of the events I omit.

TED and TEDx are active in Poland. Progressive, internationalist, open-minded people are involved. See their listings here I moderate a TEDx Fans group on Facebook here I’m the Curator of TEDxKazimierz and a huge fan of the whole movement in Poland and worldwide.

The other community event I am closely connected to is Open Coffee Krakow which works very well indeed – low budget, high impact, useful and productive. Our Linkedin group is here Another group Silicon Valley Network is here Finally my podcast Project Kazimierz showcases success and interesting initiatives usually connected to Poland.

JFE are going to link back to this blog post in their newsletter, and I encourage anyone interested in networking with them to sign up for their newsletter here

What’s next

In terms of possible outcomes and next steps – I hope this initiative triggers mutually beneficial contacts. Not just at the level of investments, but startups doing business, licensing technologies, buying selling each other’s products and services, outsourcing opportunities and pure research. Please leave a comment or let me know if it does. It’s good to keep track of the impact of actions. Perhaps JFE can visit Poland – members are warmly invited if they are thinking abut it do. Or maybe host a mission of Polish startups to the US. For sure there are people here who would welcome you. People do business with people, and personal contacts can be enriching. Maybe something with the JCC.

I’m not Jewish, Israeli or Polish (though I’ve spent most of my adult life in Poland)**. I am deeply internationalist in outlook and believe that flourishing businesses that create wealth, jobs and pay their taxes are the bedrock of free societies. We need all the prosperity and growth we can in these difficult times to pay for the many pressing challenges that face us.

If anyone reading this wants to get in touch, I cannot guarantee personal help but will do my best to get you in front of the right people. Readers are welcome to make contact via Linkedin

* I’m a shareholder in these ventures.
** since writing this article I’ve applied for and been granted Polish citizenship, for which I am profoundly grateful.

 

Categories
community building

Co founders/entrepreneurs/partners wanted

February 2016

I just created a new Google form to recruit business partners, following a conversation with my friend, business and squash partner Pawel Nowak.   Will it work ? I don’t know. Below is the introduction  you will  read if you click on it.. to read the questions as well, you need to go to the form itself

Feedback welcome

Co founders/entrepreneurs/partners for Richard Lucas

Why this form?I realised in February 2016 that I don’t have a good co-founder recruitment process. I’m known as an angel investor, and entrepreneur. I don’t often get people approaching me wanting to be a co-founder. I am ready to contribute time money experience and contacts to new ventures I am involved in, so this form is designed to encourage people who want to be my partner or co founder get in touch.

if you don’t know who I am check me out here
https://www.richardlucas.com/about-2
https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardhlucas
(if you are an Eddie Izzard fan take the opportunity to re-watch the Death Star Canteen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma3a7hqZer4

It is extremely difficult to profile a co-founder. If I look at the people I am in business with they vary tremendously. And as in attraction, love and relationships just because I might want to be in business with someone, doesn’t mean that they will regard me as being a suitable partner.

You are likely to have at least some of the below characteristics.

• high levels of motivation and energy
• excellent/reasonable/acceptable interpersonal skills,
• creativity
• self confidence,flexibility, tolerance, open mindedness. I’m internationalist in outlook. Patriotism is fine, nationalism and intolerance absolutely not.
• a willingness to “get your hands dirty”. To do work needed rather than just describe it.
• ability to communicate in English, other languages a plus.
• willingness to learn, to start solving a problem by spending an hour or two on Google before wanting to hire an expert.
• A willingness to try and take on new challenges.
• Generosity.
• High expectations of yourself and other people.
• Good communication skills
• Toughness -the ability to take hard decisions
• Curiosity about the way the world works
• Good at Time management, self organisation and getting things done
• intolerance of waste, interest in getting things done well as effeciently and quickly as possible
• Ambitious. a desire to build work on something great. it doesn’t have to be a project with the scale of of Space X or Tesla (though why not?) but if we are doing a shoe repair business, let’s aim to make it the best run, most efficient and profitable in Europe.
• Profit orientated. A business that is not aiming to make a higher rate of profit than the average, as much if not more than the best companies is not interesting. Being cheaper than the competition may be a strategy, if our costs are lower. but if we are better then we should be able to prove it by charging more. If you for example – want to start a bar, and you don’t know how much bars like the one you want to set are making, you have not done you homework. The profitability of businesses can be found out, if you don’t know how, ask me.
• be able to code, or manage developers. It doesn’t mean that we won’t pay for development, but a technical co founder can bring the ability to spend money wisely.

• common sense.

Money. It’s great to know if you have got some savings. All too often the mind set of technology start up-ers is conditioned by years of grants and competitions. They want to rewards of their own business without ever experiencing the financial risk of failure. Of course someone who has 2 kids and 10,000 złoty in savings, is not in a position to put in significant amounts of cash, but on the other hand, to be in that position at all,  shows they know how to manage their money. it’s a plus. And I know they will work like crazy to succeed.Many of the successful entrepreneurs I know started with their savings, or money borrowed from friends or family who expected their investment to be spent carefully. Many ventures which started with “easy money” from me or others have ended up with the founder and me losing time and money. The ability to learn fast and think is more important than previous experience, People with motivation and commitment tend to pick up experience as they go through life. If you have no experience of anything what have you been doing between the age of 3 and now?

Categories
community building

Ghana Code Club… an idea worth spreading

Richard Lucas January 2016

Every now and again I come across ideas and projects so worthwhile that I make contact with the people behind them.

BBC Radio has been running a series “100 Women” and there were impressive broadcasts from Ghana and Uganda.

through which I heard of Ernestina Appiah here Founder of Ghana Code Club and Rasheeda Yehuza of Tech Needs Girls

Rasheeda Yehuza www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p038dxr9
Rasheeda Yehuza
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p038dxr9

both episodes are musts – listen to Rasheeda here

Interesting things have happened as a result of me approaching people I hear on podcasts, see on line, read about in articles. Often I see myself as doing what Derek Sivers recommends in his famous TED talk as an under rated form of leadership, helping others who are doing great things.

Derek Sivers'

So I contacted both Tina and Rasheeda offering help, not just because I believe in so doing, but also because I want others to do likewise..

Tina send me a ton of information about what she is doing Ghana Code Club designs step by step project guide for kids using scratch, HTML+CSS and Python. Most of the schools i volunteer in do not have access to internet nor projectors, (We’re working with the Parent Teacher Association in fixing these) until then, there’s no other option but to print out the project guidelines. Each project normally has an average of 15 pages, including challenges for the kid to try out before the next session.We’re using scratch to build a PAINT BOX for example this week, and this project has at least 18 pages, please find attached. There are not less than 100 kids in the first school that need a copy each of the guide, so your money will help print out projects for at least 150 kids, and we shall inscribe your name and logo on our websites as our supporting partner. We shall also establish good relationship with you as gestures like yours is a great honor to us. We’re continually seeking for funding each week for print outs alone until the schools we volunteer in get projectors and internet connectivity, getting the materials to the kids remain a challenge to us. But as we all know, education for kids around the world is very important, which is why various resources such as song education videos and various books can make all the difference in building knowldge in many industries. The more kids learn at a young age, the better it will be for their future. Every kid should have the right to learn in a safe environment.

Another area we need help in is getting our training centre together making it possible for the less privileged children to be taught for free. In Ghana, most government schools where the less privileged children are have no access to computer labs that are functioning. This remains a headache to some of us who are willing to help. Having our own computer lab can go a long way. We’ll need funding for rent, Computers, air conditioners, internet service, furniture, projectors setting these up. If this can be achieved, the sky is the limit. We are also looking for funding to get our back office together on our website where we can pack training materials including video for volunteers. So you see …. immediate funding and future funds will go a very long way.

(I sent money with Azimo.com – Marek Wawro the CTO lives in Kraków, and helps mentor startups for free. The transfer when very smoothly 🙂 I also asked Tina for some pictures that might encourage others and show what could be done with my support but but was not expected what I received a few days ago

Thank you messages

Ghana Code Club showing printed hand outs

Ghana Code Club showing printed projects

BBC World Service show presented by Bola Mosuro

Thanks on Twitter

I also asked her for a project description/report. This is what Tina sent

REPORT ON GHANA CODE CLUB AS AT JANUARY 2016 by Ernestina Appiah

Ghana Code Club is a digital fun club that is designed to be led by volunteers or ICT teachers in elementary schools all over Ghana, led by trained volunteers or ICT teachers. The club begins after regular classes are over for 2hours or less once in a week.

We initiated such a program because currently, there is little or no digital making activities in elementary schools in Ghana, meanwhile the world is revolving with technology. It is our aim that as children goes through the coding projects and challenges that come along with the project, kids’ interest in technology will grow causing them to participate and patronise other digital making in the future so that we can have a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs and critical thinkers. From creating websites, to being able to Generate ER Diagram, it is important for these kids to understand what coding and the process of web development is all about, especially as the use of technology is becoming more frequent. Although this club is held in schools all over Ghana, there are other ways of teaching other children worldwide how to code. One way other people could learn is by looking at websites, like afterhoursprogramming.com, to see if they can learn from the online bootcamps they have to teach people to code. Coding is an impressive skill to have, especially nowadays with the increase in online businesses.

The Ghana Code Club began in August last year during the summer vacation school at the Hillview Montessori School in Accra, where I, (the founder) volunteered to teach myself using Scratch programming software. 80 kids between the ages of 8-14 started but after the regular school resumed, the number of kids tripled to over 240 forcing us to split the class into groups. Currently, there are 2 computer labs at the Hillview Montessori School. One has a sitting capacity of 30 and the other has 60. And so each week, we have 3 sessions. I supervise groups 1 and 2 with 2 other volunteers and group 3 is supervised by the ICT teachers who are happy to share in our vision and have been trained to become volunteers of the code club.

On other days, we visit 4 other schools where we are repeating the same procedure as we do at the Hillview School. Unfortunately the other schools do not have more than 40 computers and so we are forced to limit the number of kids who are willing to join the club.

As of January 2016,

  • Hillview Montessori School has 257 members with 5 volunteers including 2 ICT teachers
  • Gospel International has 70 members- 3 volunteers including 1 ICT teacher
  • Liver Rose International has 83 members-3 Volunteers including ICT teacher
  • Rising Sun Montessori school has 60 members- 4 Volunteers including 2 ICT teachers
  • University Primary has 80 members 3 volunteers including 2 ICT teachers

Curriculum

We have designed projects in Scratch, HTML+CSS and Python languages. We start with the basics of scratch language where kids are thought to explore to obtain the basic principles in programming.

Challenges

Currently out of all the 5 schools we visit, only one school, University Primary, Legon that has necessary infrastructure to make learning easy in place. We have quite a challenge with power outages in the country until January 2016, when power cuts have slowed down a bit. When power cuts off, we need to close our session and the kids may need to take their step by step project printouts home to continue without our supervision.

There is no internet in 4 out of the 5 schools. But we are fortunate that the languages we have chosen have offline options. But to share the finished project on the internet is a challenge. Sometimes, we the volunteers end up using our own internet modems and airtime to enable the kids share their creativity online

We also have a big challenge when it comes to screening videos that can empower the kids even more. This is because 4 out of the 5 schools do not have projectors. This makes supervision so tedious considering the number of children involved in each session. Anytime we start a new project, we hold our laptop and move about showing the kids how their finished project should look like.

Laptop instead of projector
Laptop instead of projector

Since there are no projectors to project the instructions, we end up printing project guide to serve all these children which is so expensive. At the moment, Ghana Code Club does not have any source of funding from any organization. We rely on our pockets and some little donations from family and friends to keep on. Parents are not supporting us yet because the school authorities have not agreed to the demand of the code club to seek for donations from the parents. The authorities of one of the schools have asked that we hold on to the close of the month January, 2016 where a PTA meeting will be held and parents informed formally about the Ghana Code Club activities. 3 of the other schools support once in a while with the printing using their own resources

OUR NEEDS

  • Ghana Code Club requests for support to be launched out formally once our back office is ready to serve as training resources for volunteers. We need funds for storing the resources including video tutorials. We intend to invite technology institutions and the minister of education in Ghana to help us outdoor this initiative into all elementary schools in Ghana..
  • We need funds to be supporting our day to day runnings. Transportation, airtime, electricity bills, Project guides and volunteer meet-ups.
  • We need a projector with accessories, Printers and photocopiers and one laptop.
  • We also want to establish our own computer lab where other activities can take place. Some children from the government schools where there are non functional computer labs can attend our sessions on weekends. We can train others who are willing to pay to ease our day to day expenditure.

Of course I want to help, and others to do so as well. I informed contacts in Google and Astia about what they are doing, and I introduced Tina to Emmanuel Leslie Addae Curator of TEDxAccra – with whom I made contact having figured out that her story and project might be worthy of a TEDx talk. They have yet to meet. Perhaps more publicity and introductions can help Ghana Code Club find deeper pockets than mine and encourage other people to do similar projects in other schools, towns and countries.

Rasheeda Yehuza’s project ” Tech Needs Girls” is also looking for partnerships. she wrote “Tech Needs Girls would be excited to explore a collaboration! A donation would really help propel our activities as we scale country-wide, and an introduction to the Polish coding community will be fantastic.” I haven’t found a partner for her yet. but am looking around.

Not everything is making progress. I heard about the mDex smart phone clip for TB and Sickle Cell detection at Afri Gal technologies and tried to connect them to Peek Vision, which has a high profile project for diagnosing eye disorders at low cost also with a smart phone clip one. I thought that the UK project would be a good source of advice and mentoring., So far Afri Gal Tech haven’t taken up on this offer. but who know what may happen. Their project is really impressive sounding, and I yet believe I may be able to help

Conclusions

The idea worth spreading in the above experience is that it is worth trying There is nothing to stop anyone reaching out to anyone anywhere. Google and Twitter make it so easy, and finding out what you can do to help. It’s my belief rather than a proven fact that my approaches in these cases was the right one. I know that it is too early to tell. If the only benefit is that of my donation, then the gift without any associated PR could be enough. The test of whether it was worth going my public with introductions and posts like this will be whether over the next few months, other positive things happen as a result. This story at the time of writing- 24th January 2016 – is a work in progress. I’ll update in a few months. The fact that some offers of help have not led to anything is important to note as well. If you don’t try to do anything you won’t fail, but of course you can’t succeed either.. As J. K. Rowling says in her wonderful Harvard Commencement talk a life lived without risk of risk of failure is hardly worth living at all.