Anti-bullying app developer named Czech Republic’s most creative startup

Brno-based entrepreneurs from the startup faceUp will represent the Czech Republic in an international contest

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 16.11.2020 13:00 (updated on 17.11.2020)

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 A developer of an anti-bullying application was named named Czech Republic’s most creative startup in the national round of the Creative Business Cup competition, which took place recently in Brno. A digital design studio and a luxury speaker maker took second and third place.

The grand-prize went to Brno-based startup faceUp for its anonymous reporting system that helps prevent bullying in schools and unethical behavior in workplaces. The company now plans to extend its focus to victims and witnesses of domestic violence.

The company will represent the Czech Republic next year at the global finals of the competition in Copenhagen.

FaceUp co-founder Jan Sláma
FaceUp co-founder Jan Sláma / via CzechInvest

“We started the project as students when we were 17. In the past three years, we have built the idea up into a functional business with turnover on the order of millions [of Czech crowns], expanded our team from three classmates to 30 people, received three investments and expanded abroad. Our products are currently used in the broadest range of countries on three continents,” faceUp co-founder Jan Sláma said.

The mobile and internet application allows users to anonymously report bullying that they encounter. It is intended not only for the victims of bullying at school, but particularly for the so-called silent majority: people who are often aware of bullying but are afraid to share their concerns with a teacher. Thanks to this platform, they can do so anonymously and outside of the school environment.

Creative Business Cup
Finalists in the national round of the Creative Business Cup / CzechInvest

Partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic, during which schools around the world have been shuttered, faceUp is expanding its activities toward companies. This idea began to take shape approximately a year earlier, when the startup, together with CzechInvest, attended the Innovfest Unbound Singapore conference and received feedback on its product from potential customers.

“We launched the corporate platform in the summer. At the moment, the number of companies using our platform is in the single digits, but they have dozens to thousands of employees. We are currently in talks with a number of other companies,” Sláma said.

“Our whole product was created as an application by students for students, which we see as our major advantage. We strive to proceed based on their needs, we meet with children regularly, discuss with them and explain to them what the application can do for them. We’re managing the company ourselves and we have employees, so we’re familiar with the corporate issue,” he added.

Second place winner
Second place winner Ofform3D / via CzechInvest

The startup Ofform3D won second place in the competition. The problem addressed by the project is that a large amount of material is consumed in traditional fashion design. Ofform3D uses digital technology in the fashion industry and provides designers with a service that accelerates the process from the initial design to the final garment.

In addition to 3D visualization of garments and digital fashion shows, it also offers workshops where designers learn how to work in the digital environment. The approach to fashion that is also environmentally friendly and sustainable, and responds very quickly to ongoing changes in customers’ needs and expectations.

“In addition to the prizes, with which we are very pleased, our participation and second-place finish in the competition brought us a number of interesting contacts and inspiration,” Ofform 3D’s Barbora Čihařová said.

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“Though we are still in the early stage with our business, we already have a relatively diverse range of customers. For example, we are handling an order for a supplier from Jordan and overalls for racing drivers. We would definitely like to expand abroad in the future, as we see great potential there,” Čihařová added.

Third place winner Deeptime
Third place winner Deeptime / via CzechInvest

Third place in CzechInvest’s Creative Business Cup went to the startup Deeptime, a developer of luxury speakers for design lovers and music enthusiasts. Last year, the company was the first in the world to introduce to the market an audio system made of silica sand using 3D printing.

“The competition brought us a lot of contacts. We also learned to present ourselves in front of people who move in business circles. I also take it as good training on how to manage nervousness in important negotiations. In addition to the onstage presentation, we were also able to exhibit the product here, and those who were interested could come to us directly,” Deeptime founder Ondřej Chotovinský said.

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The audience’s favorite was CityZen, a manufacture of clothing on which sweat and stains are not visible.

Nine companies made it to the finals: Affini Creative, CityZen, Deeptime, faceUp, Fluidum Té, Forsage, Hayaku, Ofform3D and Petshare.

Creative Business Cup competition
Creative Business Cup competition in Brno / via CzechInvest

All nine finalists presented themselves to a jury via a three-minute pitch and subsequently answered the jury’s questions.

The jury, made up of representatives of CzechInvest, the City of Brno, Microsoft, Nation 1 and the South Moravian Innovation Centre, assessed the startups’ creativity, market potential, business plans and management.

“The City of Brno is proud of the fact that it places emphasis on science, research, innovation and the creative industry, and I therefore think that what was possible to see during the final in Brno can aid the development of the Czech Republic as a whole. In short, innovative and creative people can change the world,” Brno Deputy Mayor Tomáš Koláčný, who served as a member of the expert jury, said.

“The path of business is not easy, especially at a time when we are fighting a pandemic, but the participants in the Creative Business Cup final have a solid start in further developing their business and we are keeping our fingers crossed for them,” he added.

Creative Business Cup
Creative Business Cup competition / via CzechInvest

Markéta Přenosilová, head of CzechInvest’s Startups and Innovative SMEs Division, said creativity is an inexhaustible resource, unlike all of the other resources. “The cultural and creative industries are on the rise in the Czech Republic,” she added.

According to data from Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, these industries’ share in the Czech Republic’s gross value added has grown exponentially over the past six years. According to data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the creative industry accounts for 6.5% of the gross value added of all non-financial enterprises, that is the rate of contribution of producers and sectors to GDP.

The Creative Business Cup Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports startups in the creative industries. Since 2012, it has annually organized the international Creative Business Cup competition, which has the aim of supporting creative startups, putting them in contact with each other and helping them to find investors and conquer foreign markets.

State agency CzechInvest has organized the Czech national round of the competition for the third consecutive year. One of CzechInvest’s primary objectives is to transform the Czech Republic into an innovation leader of Europe. CzechInvest, established in 1992, is a state contributory organization subordinate to the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic.