Czech companies got a boost from Startup World Cup & Summit

While stars like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak grabbed the spotlight, much of the benefit was behind the scenes.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 01.12.2021 16:11:00 (updated on 03.12.2021) Reading time: 5 minutes

The Startup World Cup & Summit brought together startups, international business stars, and local entrepreneurs for two days of meetings and presentations at Azyl78 in Prague’s Holešovice district.

The highlight of the SWCS, held in October, was a speech by Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. Other notable guests were journalist and teacher Esther Wojcicki and software engineer Kyle Corbitt. Wojcicki is responsible for the TRICK method of based on trust, respect, independence, cooperation, and kindness. She also wrote the book “How to Raise Successful People.” Corbitt among other things has created a platform that helps bring together ideal startup co-founders.

Participants in the summit also had a chance to meet with representatives of state agency CzechInvest and the European Space Agency Business Incubation Center Czech Republic. The ESA BIC, which is managed by CzechInvest, focuses on the aerospace industry, an area where the Czech Republic has been making significant contributions.

Startups had the opportunity to exhibit their products at the event and network with fellow entrepreneurs, potential customers, and the public. Several participants shared their experiences from the summit and outlined the help they have received from CzechInvest.

Stratosyst has developed a high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS) a stratospheric drone capable of unpiloted vertical and horizontal flight. “In practice, this makes it possible, for example, for a ship in the middle of the ocean to have connectivity with the rest of the world. The drone is controlled remotely by an operator, and has the advantage that it can be transported in a container and launched practically anywhere,” mechanical engineer Otakar Kuchař said.

The company had a very positive view of its participation in SWSC. “We got a lot of useful contacts and met a lot of interesting people. In addition to general promotion and the benefits ensuing from the promotion of HAPS systems, we received valuable feedback from people in the sector and the broader expert public,” Kuchař said.

The drone uses helium for vertical flight and solar-powered propellers for horizontal movement. Applications include, among other things, observation of the Earth and celestial bodies, telecommunications and navigation support, coordination support for integrated rescue systems, and surveillance.

“Our vision for the future is to develop a stratospheric drone that will be able to fly missions lasting up to several months with a payload of approximately 10 kilograms. We also want to become a supplier of custom stratospheric drones for customers, as well as a provider of services,” Kuchař said.

Stratosyst benefited from help from the ESA BIC Czech Republic. “Mainly, we have gained contacts through our cooperation with the ESA BIC Czech Republic team. We have also learned to work within the standards commonly required in the European Space Agency. Many doors to other opportunities have been opened up to us, as has general networking on the pan-European scale,” Kuchař said.

“For example, we have learned to be patient in refining our technical solutions and harmonizing them with the business model expected by potential investors,” he added.

František Jordán, marketing manager for Czech electronic lock maker Pealock, said that his company gained contacts and more from the SWCS. “The key thing for us was feedback from people from the business world, who had already seen us in the past and came to get more details and to try out the product,” he said.

Pealock manufactures electronic locks with an integrated alarm and motion sensor. The locks can be used for bicycles, skis, scooters, or baby carriages. The device is connected to the owner’s mobile telephone. As soon as it detects unwanted movement, it sends a notification to the owner’s phone and activates an alarm.

“In the next version, which will be available early next year, we are planning the option of setting up both an alarm and flashing, as well as other attributes of the lock. The variable way our lock can be used is one of its advantages. The idea was born four years ago when someone stole [the founder’s] skis in Austria. Development of the product took three years and, as a company, we have been selling it since March 2021,” Jordán said.

Pealock also participated in CzechInvest’s CzechStarter acceleration program, which helped them come up with a more sophisticated business plan for our business. “We originally focused primarily on hardware, but we got feedback from investors that hardware is not very ‘sexy’ and they don’t want to invest in it to such an extent,” Jordán said.

“Therefore, we reconsidered our model and have since shifted our sales vision from B2C to the B2B sector, mainly bike and ski shops. We also see strong potential in insurance companies and fintech in general,” he added. In the future, the company plans to expand to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.

The family-owned agricultural startup Ullmanna, from Opava in the Moravia-Silesia region, has developed a smart weeding machine that uses artificial intelligence and robotics to distinguish cultivated crops from weeds. It enables farmers to cultivate crops in larger areas without increasing the need for human labor, while reducing the use of pesticides in the fields by up to 40 percent. “We are unaware of any competition in the Czech Republic, and we know of maybe two other companies in the world,” founder Martin Ullmann said.

At SWCS, the company spent the whole day meeting with interesting people in the sector. “We handed out a lot of business cards. I was surprised by how many people, both from the general public and from the world of business, i.e. investors and journalists, visited our stand,” Ullmann said.

Ullmanna also participated in the CzechStarter program and used mentoring services for seven months. “We were the only startup from Central and Eastern Europe to receive a Horizon 2020 Agrobofood grant in the amount of CZK 10 million. In 2020, we participated in the CzechInvest Startup Challenge, where we won second place. Now we are going to New York and Silicon Valley with CzechInvest in connection with the CzechMatch acceleration program, where we will probably exhibit at industry conferences and try to make initial approaches to foreign investors,” Ullmann said.

This article was written in association with CzechInvest. To read more about our partner content policies see here.

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