Prague's free mentoring program will give small businesses a boost during the pandemic

Prague City Hall has teamed up with Czech experts across industries to create an English-friendly platform for small and medium-sized enterprises.

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston
Published on 18.03.2021 14:01 (updated on 18.03.2021)

Domestic entrepreneurs, managers and other experts joined forces to help revive small and medium-sized enterprises, especially from Prague, within a newly established platform called DoToho! (To It).

Companies with a turnover of CZK 3 million to 300 million and at least three employees can apply for free mentoring help and consultations. It is intended for all companies that are currently struggling, not just those that have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic. Companies can apply online at least until the end of July 2021.

DoToho! was initiated by the Prague business center Opero, founded by former consulting company manager and investor Pavel Přikryl and entrepreneur Pavel Bouška, and the Prague Innovation Institute, led by Bob Kartous.

The program is free thanks to the support from Prague City Hall, the EU-funded Prague Smart Accelerator project, and companies such as Google, Pražská energetika, T-Mobile, and Pražská plynárenská.

Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib is one of the sponsors of the program, which will become part of the Prague innovation strategy. DoToho! responds to the need to support entrepreneurs during the COVID crisis, but also to the need to use this crisis to strengthen qualitative changes in how the companies function, Hřib said.

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“Many Prague entrepreneurs almost overnight fell among the groups hardest hit by the COVID pandemic’s fatal effects. When I walk through the city center, I am offered a sad view of closed places without customers,” Hřib said.

Some of the effects on business are less visible than others. The construction sector, for example, was also heavily hit, according to Hřib.

“I believe that selfless professional help for entrepreneurs within the DoToho! initiative will help businesses to cope with the situation and start their operations again,” Hřib added.

Opero’s Pavel Přikryl said that entrepreneurs have not been not satisfied with the government help offered during a pandemic. “That is why [entrepreneurs] have decided to take an active role to help those who want to use the crisis as an opportunity and who want to work on their company now,” he said.

The project is based on consulting services from professionals and on basic procedures commonly used in the development of startups. “In addition, we are involving experts from several fields to expand the range of information transmitted, and we are adapting its form so that it is best for use in common types of business during the current situation,” Přikryl said.

When companies sign up for the DoToho! Program, they get two months of free mentoring to help them find specific business goals or new business directions. After receiving development recommendations, the companies will have access to dozens of experts who they will be able to address with specific requests for consultations.

“We are creating a broad platform that connects a large number of experts with specific companies and helps them innovate their business models. We want to help companies grow stronger from the current situation,” Prague Innovation Institute’s Kartous said.

Program manager Eliška Pírková said that in addition to consultations, the platform will also offer professional seminars and lectures on topics such as setting up business processes, people management, foreign expansion, digital marketing, brand management, and online sales.

“Based on individual contributions from mentors and experts, an online library will be gradually created, full of inspiration and practical experience from successful entrepreneurs,” Pírková said.

One of the mentors is Antonín Kokeš of game shop Albi and bakery Antonínovo pekařství. “Every business needs to constantly gather new inspiration, experience and knowledge. In the current situation, this is doubly true. I have been learning all my life, from the more experienced, from colleagues, from the competition and from specialists. Thanks to this, I can move my companies forward and at the same time pass on experience to others,” Kokeš said.

Prague City Councilor Vít Šimral, responsible for business support, said the coronavirus pandemic has halted a number of business activities, and as a result, entrepreneurs feel quite insecure. “Prague is not forgetting about them and is creating short-term and long-term forms of support. With this project, we want to help companies revitalize their business and support growth so they can stay on the market despite this critical period,” Šimral said.

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In addition to Pavel Bouška, the project ambassadors include Liftago co-founder Ondřej Krátký, Česko.Digital founder Jakub Nešetřil, Czechitas educational organization founder Dita Formánková (Přikrylová), economist Tomáš Sedláček, and Confederation of Industry and Trade vice president Radek Špicar.

A list of mentors and other participants can be found on the project website.