B2B or Beer2Beer, that is the question…

Image

Frankly, I’m having mixed feelings after Grow Up Start Up event that took place on 19-20 June in Warsaw, Poland. I’m not gonna talk about the things I didn’t like though. I’ll focus on the positive outcome instead. Because THERE ARE a couple of excellent take aways for me after these 2 days.

First of all, contacts! I truly believe I found myself in the right place at the right time. We decided with a colleague of mine to skip a discussion panel and go for a beer. There, we figured out how our visions of running our own start-ups are similar. Suddenly, a bunch of people joined us at the table and we continued our inspiring conversations in a bigger group (have a look at the photo above, it speaks for itself ;)). What I noticed was the fact that they were all open-minded people who go for such events from time to time and who know what networking really is. Yep, most probably that’s why it was incredibly easy for all of us to communicate so well and take advantage of that opportunity. Continue reading

Go Creative!

Image

It’s time I told you about my latest big adventure. Big in a sense that it enriched my professional life.

A couple of months ago I applied for a business contest. It was a local initiative supporting new creative businesses. Together with other 21 wonderful entrepreneurs and their teams we made it through to the last stage after a very careful selection. Several weeks of trainings, workshops and integration events were offered to us as a preincubation process.

The trainings included such aspects as social media, e-commerce, marketing, finance, accountancy, business model canvas, creative solutions, effective presentations, among others.

To my surprise, the group turned out to be extremely friendly and not competitive at all. Moreover, we started to help each other by sharing useful information one may need to run their specific business.

I created a closed group on Facebook where we could easily communicate during those weeks of intensive preparations. Let’s only hope we do stay in touch for longer than that 😉

It’s worth mentioning that we had a pleasure to work with very experienced trainers, many of them being actually entrepreneurs themselves.

What I found extremely insteresting was the fact that the best feedback on our businesses we were getting was coming from… the members of our group! I was happy to see people sharing their opinions, ideas and best practices amongst the group. And we still do. This is something priceless indeed. What’s more, two girls surprised us with their decision about joining forces. They both had a similar idea for apparel design. What a great example of combining strong assets! With a competition! 🙂 In my humble opinion, they do match and have all the complimentary skills to build a strong brand. I wish them best of luck. Great story, isn’t it? 🙂

So when the workshops finally finished, it was high time to work on our business models. I remember how sad I felt because I knew something was coming to an end. It was an end to a great chapter of my professional life where we had loads of fun with the group. So now is the time to start serious hard work on the projects. No excuses! Time to act.

Working on my business model helped me realize all the gaps and what was still missing in my plan. Good business exercise, I have to say.

I spent a lot of time thinking on it and planning the strategy. It’s not easy when you are doing something for the first time 😉 But I love to learn new things so it was a great opportunity for me to grow.

After we sent our business models for evaluation, there was one more task to be performed: a creative presentation.

I spent 3 days designing the slide deck, preparing infographics, reasearching data and adequate images, and practicing my speech. No special effects though (such as people jumping around or kids playing with my product – these were applied by my competition ;)).

I did very well in the morning while pitching in front of the jury but I didn’t expect to be chosen as one of the 5 finalists at the end. The reason being my project was very much different from all the others (I’m building an online social platform while others are doing more tangible business, such as carpets, bags, apparel or coffins – yes, you heard me :)).

So when we all gathered in the evening for the final Elevator Pitch contest where 5 finalists were supposed to picth in front of the jury and various guests and my name was announced I almost fainted. Seriously, I didn’t see that one coming… I was totally lost, till the point I forgot how to start my presentation. All the folks were laughing… I can imagine my confused face 😉

But I made it. I pitched and said everything I wanted to say. 3 minutes is not much to present the whole idea of your project nevertheless if you focus on the main aspects you’re able to explain what it’s all about.

I got the 4th place. Which is absolutely AWESOME. The jury said everything was well thought and planned but the project is in its early phase (agreed!).

It made me really happy and gave a boost to continue my work. I know that thanks to hard work and patience I will be successful one day. It is just the beginning of my start-up journey. As a reward, I got Waterman pens (see the picture above), 8 business English classes and accountancy services for 2 months.

I’d like to tell you one thing. I got my prize earlier than that: it was the knowledge gained during the workshops and trainings, contacts and relationships I managed to build throughout all these weeks. This is something I value more than anything else. And this is the main reason why I wanted to take part in this competition.

Thanks to everyone who made this experience so special. Big thanks to the organizers and the creative group. And a very special thanks to my brother who works with me on the project! You guys rock! 🙂

Also, something special to share with you… a trailer of my project. Feel free to share any feedback you’ve got. Thanks! 🙂

22 ideas on how to ruin your training…

training

I have just run away from the worst classroom training ever.

Dear Trainers, if you really want to kill your audience, here’s a bunch of hints on how to do it effectively (randomly selected):

  1. Do not present yourself / act as if everyone knew who you are.
  2. Keep acting as if you knew it all, in the end you, as a trainer, are the expert in all the possible areas.
  3. Absolutely forget about presenting the agenda of the training, why would you bother spending 1 minute out of available 6 hours on informing your audience about the plan.
  4. Keep joking each time the participants take active part in the discussion, laugh at their comments and ideas.
  5. Make numerous breaks, especially when they are least expected (like this, you will make sure your audience is nicely distracted – well done indeed).
  6. Keep bringing up out-of-topic remarks. Completely unrelated items. Chauvinist jokes are highly appreciated. And yes, your private life will surely interest the audience. Especially your relations with this poor mother-in-law.
  7. Choose your favorite participant. The one and only. Address all your questions and comments towards that person. That’s what we call engaging your audience. Or not.
  8. Keep using your awesome favorite word in each awesome sentence you pronounce. That’s really awesome. And you are awesome, too!
  9. Show us your heavy slide deck dripping with looong definitions.
  10. Do not forget to pick the ugliest font ever and make sure it’s hard to be read.
  11. Keep in mind this rule: the MORE the MERRIER! More info, more fonts, more colors, more pictures, more logos…
  12. Read your slides out loud. Back to your audience 🙂
  13. GREAT! Now you just have to forget what you have put on your slides. A good thing to try is to explain that the deck has been prepared by your colleague. Oh, and you can mention that you received it only last night.
  14. You are welcome to paste links into your presentation that do not work offline (did I mention: do not check whether all your equipment works prior to the training?).
  15. Or… open the link on youtube and let the participants wait till the buffering is over. Up to 10 minutes would be actually cool!
  16. Deliver the training while seated. Stability is the key.
  17. Or… walk around the room and let your audience follow you from one corner to another. The best idea would be to walk in circles and scrape the carpet with your shoes giving that annoying noise. It helps to focus on what you’re saying!
  18. Speak quickly! Ignore the audience who do not get what you’re talking about. Time is ticking away and there are so many things to be covered…
  19. Do not use your emotional intelligence.
  20. Forget about being flexible. Do not adjust to changes while you see the need.
  21. Use monotonous voice. There’s no better way to make these people fall asleep. Especially after lunch time.
  22. Expect everyone to be 100% attentive 5 minutes before the end of the workshop / training.

SUCCESS GUARANTEED!!! 🙂

And you? What is your worst experience ever? Wanna share?