15 March 2018

Barbara Piasek – CEO of Wolves Summit (EYIF interview)

The European Young Innovators Forum supports young entrepreneurs, innovators and ecosystem builders across Europe and through our blog we aim to make their voices heard and connect them to our community.

To this extent, we are delighted to have invited Mrs. Barbara Piasek – CEO of Wolves Summit, to tell us more about the event, what they are aiming to accomplish, and about the startup and investment ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe.

Apart from managing Wolves Summit, Barbara is also the CEO of See Bloggers – the the biggest festival for internet creators in Poland with 28 mln online reach, and Sales Gates a brand dedicated to sales education. She has more than 10 year of management experience, working with companies like BMW Poland, RWE, Orange.

Mrs. Piasek is the author of a book „The Sales Gate. Effective techniques and methods of increasing effective sales” and co-author of “Startup Manual” a comprehensive source of knowledge about all aspects of startup functioning. She has been recently named a Women Entrepreneurship Ambassador received from the Polish Network of Women Entrepreneurship Ambassadors.

1. Wolves Summit is already at its 7th edition. How has the Polish investment ecosystem changed during this time? Have attitudes or the types of companies changed?

“Startup financing from the EU started in 2008. Along with further European financing rounds, it created the opportunity to accelerate the startup market in Poland. At the beginning there were some mistakes made, but we quickly drew lessons. There are more and more good projects and their number is increasing.

We’re also seeing more experience on the market, both when it comes to funding projects as well as founders’ knowledge on how to develop their startup projects. It’s only a matter of time until founders come back to the market with financing they’ll get for their first projects. This time in an investor role.”

The challenge awaiting us now is the fact that there is more financing on the market than projects.

2.What would you say are the main lessons that Polish startups still need to learn?

“We are still missing some soft skills like pitching or sales. Instead, Poles often focus too much on the product, not on sales and better traction earlier. Most investors are looking for traction and too many companies focus only on products. Not all of them understand, how beneficial it is to have mentors helping with getting great connections and how much they can help with their own experience.

Another issue is that Poles should be thinking about having a global reach quicker. Poland is quite a large country with 40 mln citizens, and startups don’t always think globally, but rather they tend to stay on the domestic market.”

3. How do you see Warsaw as a location to start a tech company? Which advantages does this location offer?

“We are in a very convenient location. We have all the infrastructure, including coworking spaces, investors, regional HQs of large corporations, high-quality developers. Warsaw is also well-connected logistically. Hence an international crowd showing up thanks to conferences like Wolves Summit. It’s already the number one event for startups, investors, and corporations in CEE.”

4. For readers that are not so familiar with the Central and Eastern European startup scene: which young companies would you recommend to watch closely?

“Central and Eastern Europe is greatly underestimated. And the truth is, we have the knowledge and experience to create and successfully develop startups. I would recommend paying more attention to hardware startups, such as Visio VR or Nestmedic.

We are organizing a separate event, Wolves Hardware & R&D, so that hardware startups, investors, and corporations can meet and network.”

5. One of our priorities for this year at EYIF is to support women in entrepreneurship. To this extent, what are the main the challenges that female entrepreneurs face in Poland and what do you think is the next step for them

“From a cultural perspective, Poland luckily treats women rather equally. Despite the low pay gap, women rarely found companies, which is seen in the statistics. As for challenges, definitely more education and work on self-confidence may be key to the proportion change.”

6.Which are your biggest learnings as the CEO and co-founder of Wolves Summit so far?

“You can easily see that throughout the years, Poland has developed and attracts better startup projects. Poland is becoming a more attractive place for startups not only thanks to the amount of capital, but also because of its highly-skilled software developers too.”

7.What are the challenges ahead for this year’s edition at Wolves Summit?

“We’re always challenging ourselves and this year is no different. It includes attracting even better investors, new ones, too. Reaching a greater number of startups and building strong relations along with promoting the Wolves Gate Matchmaking platform. We are known for very well designed matchmaking during conference and this is why we decided to provide this experience all the year through online matchmaking.”

8.Lastly, what advice would you have our community of young innovators?

“Treat soft skills as just as important as knowledge about the product and market. Keep learning and focus on sales and people management skills. Often you don’t need a complete product to start selling. When you have cashflow from sales, you can save the shares for a moment, when you actually need funding for quick company scaling. Sales skills will also help you attract the right employees to the company, which is key to grow scale.”

 

About Wolves Summit

Wolves Summit is one of the most important CEE startup events, held every year in Warsaw, Poland. Startups can access the events for free.

The 7th edition of the event is focusing on inspiring, educating, and networking. Thanks to their highly-rated app for scheduling meetings, participants from the previous editions could arrange 14303 1:1 meetings before the conference began!

When getting your ticket, insert code WS7EYIF15 and get an additional 15% discount obtained exclusively for our community!

Keep an eye on us since more great interviews are coming up! If you want to be the first to know about them, subscribe to our newsletter, here!

See you there!

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