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Early-stage startups most appreciate CzechInvest’s assistance with contracts, business planning and contact with investors

We asked Pealock, Ullmann and Stratosyst about their participation in the Startup World Cup & Summit and about other issues

13.10.2021
Early-stage startups most appreciate CzechInvest’s assistance with contracts, business planning and contact with investors

This year’s Startup World Cup & Summit (SWCS) was a great success. Panel discussions, a startup competition and an interview with Steve Wozniak to close the event were just a few of the day’s highlights. However, it was also a great opportunity for startup companies to meet interesting guests from the domestic scene, present their products to the world and to encounter other challenges.

In the Azyl78 tent at the exhibition grounds in Prague’s Holešovice district, interested parties could also meet with representatives of CzechInvest and the ESA BIC Czech Republic partner incubator. Startups that are being incubated at both institutions had the opportunity to exhibit their products at the event. And we asked them which services startups appreciate the most.

Pealock│ František Jordán│ marketing manager │

What kind of innovation is your company developing?
F: In the Czech Republic, we manufacture the Pealock electronic lock for sports equipment, which has an integrated alarm and motion sensor. It can be used to lock up a bicycle, skis, a scooter or a pram, for example. The device is connected to the owner’s mobile telephone and as soon as it detects unwanted movement, it sends a notification to the phone, calls the and activates an alarm. But not necessarily. 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 Marek’s (the founder) skis in Austria. Development of the product took three years and, as a company, we have been selling it since March 2021.

How has CzechInvest helped you?
F: We participated in the CzechStarter acceleration programme, which helped us come up with a business model, which is to say a more sophisticated 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. 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. In the future, we plan to expand to the DACH markets (ed. note: German-speaking European countries).
In the course of the consultations that were part of the CzechStarter programme, we worked with attorneys from JŠK LAW on resolving all legal issues and formulating sample contracts for clients.
Of no less importance, we also received an investment from Průša Research and Nation 1, which helped us significantly with kick-starting our business.  
 
What did you get from SWCS?
F: We gained contacts to interesting people, as well as valuable feedback on our product from end-customers. 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.
 
Ullmanna │Martin Ullmann│founder│

What kind of innovation is your company developing?
M: We are a family-owned agricultural startup from Opava. My father-in-law and I invented a smart weeding machine that uses artificial intelligence and robotics to distinguish cultivated crops from weeds. It thus enables farmers to cultivate crops on larger areas without increasing the need for human labour, while reducing the use of pesticides in the fields by up to 40%. We are unaware of any competition in the Czech Republic, and we know of maybe two other companies in the world.

How has CzechInvest helped you?
We participated in the CzechStarter programme, in which we 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 programme, where we will probably exhibit at industry conferences and try to make initial approaches to foreign investors.

What did you get from SWCS?
We spent the whole day meeting with interesting people in the sector and 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.
 
Stratosyst Otakar Kuchařmechanical engineer

What kind of innovation is your company developing?
O: Our product is a HAPS, i.e. a high altitude pseudo-satellite or stratospheric drone with the possibility of autonomous (unpiloted) flight in both the vertical and horizontal axis. 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.

This involves systems that are lighter than air, where helium is the lifting gas. Helium provides the necessary lift and is thus used for vertical flight. Horizontal movement is provided by solar-powered propulsion propellers, for which the system is equipped with a photovoltaic power plant, a battery for energy storage and energy-flow control.

There are both military and civilian applications for the stratospheric drone. While defence involves intelligence gathering, the civilian applications include, among other things, observation of the Earth and of near and distant space and celestial bodies, support in telecommunications and navigation, and support for coordination of the integrated rescue system.

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 ten kilograms. We also want to become a supplier of custom stratospheric drones for customers, as well as a provider of services resulting from the capability of stratospheric flight. Rather than purchasing and operating a drone themselves, some customers choose a stratospheric parabolic flight service for testing their new products, for example. Of no less importance, the company will also provide aftercare, training and maintenance services.

How have you been assisted by the ESA BIC Czech Republic space incubator, which is managed by CzechInvest?
O: 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.
For example, we have learned to be patient in refining our technical solutions and harmonising them with the business model expected by potential investors.

What did you get from SWCS?
O:We have a very positive view of our participation in the event. 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.