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How to start a start-up

High quality workers are considered to be one of the biggest advantages inside the Slovak start-up community. However, many still repeat the same mistakes over and over again, particularly in marketing or by making overly-complex products. Here is some basic advice from The Slovak Spectator on how to start one’s own innovative business:

High quality workers are considered to be one of the biggest advantages inside the Slovak start-up community. However, many still repeat the same mistakes over and over again, particularly in marketing or by making overly-complex products. Here is some basic advice from The Slovak Spectator on how to start one’s own innovative business:

A start-up begins with an idea that solves some problem or fulfils the needs of a customer. This new firm runs initially on hypotheses; therefore, it is necessary to do market research which would test those hypotheses. In the case of innovative technologies, people should check the patent databases such as Espacenet, according to Bohdan Hemžal of Neulogy business consultancy.

“Check that you have not invented ‘hot water’,” Slovak Business Agency (SBA) spokeswoman Dominika Bizíková told The Slovak Spectator. “Fifteen minutes of Googling is a helpful tool in this area. The second most important tool is 60 minutes of Googling.”

She added that a common mistake is trying to offer complex product while, in general, it is better to enter the market with a simple product and then adjust to market needs.

Another step is to create a business model, set goals and plan to reach them, which both drives the action of the founders and acts as a guide for businesses and contains partially useful information for potential investors. People who are not yet oriented in the market and community should create contacts right at the beginning by participating in various conferences or mentoring events, Hemžal said.

The best way of how to protect inventive technology is to get a patent, but this is also the most financially and time-consuming process. Another way is asking for a utility model which is easier to receive. Software cannot be patented in Europe but is protected by copyright, Hemžal added.

There are several accelerators in Slovakia which can help with starting a business with cheap office space and mentoring. For example, there is the Spot business accelerator, which started in October 2014. Other Slovaks often go to Wayra, which is among the most popular accelerators in the Czech Republic.

Furthermore, there are many venture capital funds in Slovakia which provide start-ups with money as well as advice and a network of useful contacts. Among them are Arca Capital, Enterprise Investors, Fund of Funds, Fund of Innovations and Technologies and so on. Another option is to find an angel investor – a businessperson willing to support start-ups.

“The disadvantage is that [they provide] a lower sum of investment in comparison with funds,” Hemžal told The Slovak Spectator. “On the other hand, relationships and co-operation with angel investors are less formal which leaves more space for businesspeople.”

However, above all, start-up founders should prepare for a long and difficult path where success is not assured. If they are aware of that, further complications should not cause serious problems, according to Peter Gažík of Neulogy.

“The most important step is to start,” said Ivan Debnár, founder of the Spot business accelarator. “Stop contemplating it and start working on the idea.”

For more information about the Slovak business environment please see our Investment Advisory Guide.

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