3rd July 2016

Richard Lucas

“Bring the boys back home” is the cry of those who want war to end and troops to return to safety. In the context of Brexit, those forced to return to Britain is a group who will be repatriated against their will, but the larger group will be those who never get to leave in the first place because it is too difficult to get a visa.

The world of visa restrictions is one that British people only face now when they go outside Europe.  I go to the US and Canada on the “visa waiver” programme. I still have to fill in a form, answer questions about what I am doing, and leave within three months. Pretty much like the Non EU channel at airports. That is where the Brits will be lining up soon.

The consequences are not just economic, as companies relocate out of Britain. It is much more serious. In the short term the pain of lost opportunity, the long run a much more insular and isolated island.

It is going to be much, much harder for British people to marry foreigners and vice versa when Britain leaves the European Union.

“My girl/boyfriend is a an EU national foreign”  is certain not to generate a visa for a Brit to live in France, Italy, Poland  or other EU countries  for more than three months under the points based visa/immigration system advocated by the Brexit-ers.

As Dr. Helen Fisher – the author of bestselling “Anatomy of Love” – argued at the TED Summit in Banff Canada last week,  young people are delaying their commitment to marry until they are absolutely sure about their partners. Extreme caution is shown. Living together before marriage is the norm in  Europe.   Brits will not be allowed to do this in EU countries, and EU citizens won’t be allowed to do this in the UK.

The idea of a “Year Off/Gap Year/Sabbatical” drifting around Europe, with occasional jobs when the money runs out, is also going to be removed. We British will have to  plan our visits to “the Continent ” as carefully as the Americans or Australians do when they come to Britain/Europe. Spending un-structured time in Europe will no longer be an option.

Tech Entrepreneurs will also have tough choices to make. Most will re locate to more “foreigner friendly” places be it cool friendly and expensive Dublin or cheaper cool and friendly Kraków or Berlin.  If Scotland manages not to be forced out, then Edinburgh and Glasgow have a chance to receive Tech Refugees from England.

The Brexit-ers are deliberately and intentionally proposing policies that will remove freedoms that  British people of all ages have enjoyed in Europe for two generations. What a pathetic achievement. I feel miserable every time I think of all the young people whose life chances have been so much restricted

Banff, Canada 27th June
At the TED Summit yesterday a group of TEDsters and TEDx-ers gathered to discuss the profound shock we feel about Brexit.

One idea suggested by a participant was to lobby our MPs as they will have to face their electorate with the terrible consequences of this fateful move.

If you are reading this and you care about the freedoms, peace and stability of Britain and Europe, and you have a vote in Britain, please write your version of this to your MP. You can find out who it is here

If you know any British person who thinks like me, send them a link to this post

I will never forget you helped me if you do

please

 

Richard

 

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Richard Lucas
Date: 27 June 2016 at 07:43
Subject: please stop us leaving the EU
To: david.warburton.mp@parliament.uk

Dear David
I know you have been reported as being one of the MPs  who was in favour of leaving the European Union.

I implore you to change your mind.

 If there is a vote in the House of Commons in which you are given the opportunity to do anything that could possibly stop it happening – please do so,
If there is a general election and you are a candidate for a party that wants to stay in I will vote for you
You have an  opportunity to stop a national disaster and have a historic responsibility to your country, its people and those of Europe too.  The freedoms of trade and movement that so almost all Britons treasure are at stake. The integrity of the United Kingdom and our security are in the balance.
The rising tide of racism and intolerance in the UK will only get worse as our economic plight worsens.
I realise it is a big political risk to be seen to be defying the will of the majority, but
the majority was tiny,

many people did not vote
and Britain’s and Europe’s liberty, prosperity and security are at stake
Many of those who voted to leave are angry with our and the EU’s political systems. Leaving the EU will not do anything to fix these problems.
I have lived out of Britain for many years, and didn’t get  a vote, but have invested in Britain creating jobs,   I have children whose freedoms are about to be lost and I care about the freedoms that the EU gives all Britons, and Europeans too.
This decision will change the course of history.
Please do the right thing and do what you can to keep us in, as we stand on the precipice of catastrophe.
Yours sincerely.

Richard Lucas

 

 

June 2106
I posted this on the OMGKRK group on Facebook, and thought it was worth sharing.

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If you care about making University Education more entrepreneurial please listen to this interview with Richard Miller of  Olin.
I am re thinking my approach –  Olin is to Universities what the School in the Cloud is to schools. – maybe benchmarking against San Francisco and/or Cambridge is not ambitious enough. …

here is the post I made 20 minutes ago.
Listen to the head of Google Campus Warsawhttp://projectkazimierz.com/rafal-plutecki/ in the latest episode

Several points to note
1  Focus not about brand Warsaw, or Poland instead of Brand Kraków but brand Central Eastern Europe,

2. Also note how Professional Service providers (lawyers, and esp bankers) in Warsaw are way ahead our our Kraków community. minute 19:00 in his response to my observation that we never see bankers and seldom lawyers, or accountants at startup community events. In Warsaw they have been showing up at Google Campus events.

With the honorable exception of Jan Marczyński Legal advisor and partner at JWMS law firm (jwms.pl) who is a regular at Open Coffee Krakówockrk.co/faq and is doing things the western way, offering pro bono advice to startup and Katarzyna Orzeł – who I met at an X Massive event  (companies I am involved in are a client of both law firms ) we are not visited by many professional support services at events like Startup Stage, Hive, Krakspot, and Open Coffee…  (If anyone reading this feels left out and offended, please post a link below, and apologies in advance) come tomorrow (this was posted on Wednesday 15th June) to Open Coffee Krakow and prove me wrong..

3. Rafal Plutecki was a successful entrepreneur, as Brad Feld says here and elsewhere https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zXD5vt0xhyI the Start up Eco system must be led by entrepreneurs so it was a great hire by Google.

4 Hat tip the UMK (City) and UM (county) authorities and KPT – county and town and technology park officials do show up and are very welcome… The fact they join our meetings, rather than expect us to show up in their offices is fundamental to developing soft linkages, (other officials reading this please note)

An example of the government being ahead of the business community. 🙂

5. It’s great for Poland that we have Google Campus in our country. Of course it’s a bit sad for Krakow that we no longer have more events than everyone else put together, but a thriving startup scene in Warsaw and Central Europe is good for us. Capitalism is not a zero sum game.

http://crossweb.pl/wydarzenia/?miasto=warszawa

http://crossweb.pl/wydarzenia/?miasto=krakow
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6. I’m leading on AGH but if there are members of our community who can take responsibility for making sure we reach the new students in other disciplines, (teachers, music, actors, artists, geographers doctors sociologists linguists, farmers etc ) who will arrive in Krakow in Q4) get in touch, It’s criminal that there is so little pro active outreach to promote startups and entrepreneurship in these communities, (and again if I am wrong post a link).

 

Call for action – essentially we need people who can clone what we are going to do in AGH, which is a series of regular networking events similar to Cambridge’s Enterprise Tuesdays where current students interested in enterprise, meet alumni who have gone into business in an informal setting.
http://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/entrepreneur…/…/enterprise-tuesday/
This is a leadership oppportunity – I can’t organise events in every dept of the UJ & PK, but if anyone reading this wants to take responsibilty, let me know and I’ll invite you to a meeting in September where you can find out what you need to do in your depts If you want to help with the AGH project, you are equally welcome. First and Foremost introductions to AGH Alumni who have started businesses of any description and who would be able and willing to join and contribute (time + energy –  not money) to participant focussed events with students)

Richard Lucas 4th June 2016

Until yesterday I haven’t been to a  concentration camp site since I went to the Dachau site in Bavaria in 1984.  That terrible and profound experience cemented my commitment to tolerance and freedom that has stayed with me to this day.

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Ride for the Living 2014-16

Yesterday 3rd June 2016 I was honoured and humbled to have been part of the JCC’s Ride for the Living. See the route here  
and media coverage here  . I went because Jonathan Ornstein asked me a few weeks ago “Why don’t you come on the ride?” (I knew about it from last year’s TEDxKazimierz, and had not thought it was my type of thing)  but found myself saying. “yes – why not” and now I’ve done it. It’s been an very profound and moving experience.    

Before the gates of the Auschwitz museum  at the Opening Ceremony – Jonathan Ornstein stated – calmly and clearly

“My grandparents were murdered here …”

His  message reached seldom touched parts of my soul.  Jonathan and the Jewish Community Centre in Krakow are spearheading a movement to focus on rebuilding Jewish life in Poland.  The realisation that many of the 150 people making the 84 kilometre (55 mile) ride yesterday – were not only making a commitment to life and the future  – but also honouring the memory of murdered relatives hit me at different moments in the day.

An old man, Haim (Chaim?)  participating in the ride  – born in during the war – told me how his  baby brother had died in the forests during his parent’s escape  from a Ghetto in Nazi occupied Poland –  for lack of food and medicine.  His name “Haim” means “life”. His life a testimony that the Nazis failed and lost.

Another participant read out a long list of his relatives who had been murdered. Totally heart-breaking to listen to.

Robert Desmond – whose ride started the whole project off (if you don’t know what the Ride for the Living is watch his TEDxKazimierz talk) told me how he had not lost a single relative to his knowledge in the Holocaust.  For him (and all of us, I think) – the Ride shows that we are defiant and public in our  opposition to intolerance, racism and oppression. He called for those on the Ride to do something positive during the day. I thought “at least I’ll write blog post”. I will also interview him for the ProjectKazimierz.com podcast –  not just to spread the word about this project – but also his tech startup.

During the incredibly well organised day, a heroic team of volunteers and leaders from the JCC: Sebastian Rudol,  Agnieszka Giś and dozens of others supported us.  (apologies for anyone omitted). The well equipped, organised, and professional police kept us safe (Polish style) on the public roads. Many of those spectating as we cycled by smiled or waved (inevitably once in a while an angry driver sped by, dangerously close and fast. Bad driving is a disgrace every day of the year .

Any time I thought of my sore backside, aching knees or sunburned skin, I just reminded myself of the torture, murder and misery of the war,  the broken hearts and minds, left behind afterwards. Even though my pain was real it was also nothing.

I’m neither Jewish nor Polish, though I’ve lived in Kraków, Poland for more than half my life. The Ride for the Living feels  important because it is so aligned with my core values, namely:
1. No matter what has gone before – we are alive now –   What we do now is under our control and is our responsibility. We are going to be remembered for the things that we say and do.
2. We should know the past. I don’t recommend clicking the following links  if you want a happy day, yet it is important to remember the countless lesser know places of terror like Ivano-Frankivsk  here  in Ukraine, That people like SS-Hauptsturmführer Hans Krueger  really existed  and that their crimes against Poles, Jews and others were almost beyond comprehension.  Individual people were responsible for what they did, The millions of deaths were made up of disgusting crimes like these. The Dachau I saw in 1984 was just one hell hole of so many.

3. That it is possible to change the world for the better .  That those in favour of tolerance and freedom, and living a better life now can take action. In the words of 91 year old Professor Wojciech Narębski – here on the TEDxKazimierz stage in 2015 –  “if you are lucky enough to be alive and free, and to have a family – you should appreciate your family, your life and your freedom, and do something worth doing with your life.”  The Ride for the Living raises money for good causes and awareness – both  “never forget” and “celebrate life”.

4. There were smiles and laughter and talk about plans for the future. It is hard to make sense of the atmosphere. At a deeper level, whatever we do  – can be done in a more or less positive way. The Ride for the Living is a terrific example of how to do things right and at scale.

Thank you and respect.

Richard Lucas
I don’t feel I have done full justice to my feelings about yesterday  – This is a start, in the words of my father J R Lucas   “the best is often the enemy of the good”. I hope this is good enough for today.

If you want to know about Jewish life in Poland watch this TEDxWarsaw talk by Rabbi Michael Schudrich (note the subtitles… which I am proud to have contributed as part of the TED Open Translation Project -meaning the talk is available in Hebrew and Korean as well as English). Watch this video to understand why I was inspired to work on Rabbi Michael Schudrich’s talk.    If you  want to know about the JCC watch Jonathan Ornstein‘s TEDxWarsaw talk here

 

As Curator of TEDxKazimierz I know that the process by which we allocate tickets is a source of many questions, much special pleading and miscomprehension. This post explains What we do and why we do it, and gives tips for those who are keen to improve their chances of getting a ticket.
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2015 TEDxKazimierz Team on Stage

I regret the fact that not everyone who wants to attend can come. In an ideal world we would have unlimited capacity but our wonderful venue has limited capacity (about 230 seats in all).

We will have a  live stream, and we upload talks onto the TEDx Channel on Youtube.

The idea of audience curation in general is explained in the TEDx Organiser guidelines.
Because we cannot give tickets to everyone we  allocate tickets according to some rules and on the basis of information provided in the application form.   The form is the vital part of our audience curation process – before filling in the form please read these instructions. here is our FAQ
1. Why do I need to apply ?
The TEDxKazimierz team and our speakers have invested a huge amount of time for free to make a wonderful event. We want precious places at the event to go to people who we believe will contribute the most on the day – and do the most with the experience and ideas we give them.  We want people who commit to being positive and making a contribution, who will spread the word about what we do, use the talks and inspiration in their work and community, and who can persuade us that if they make a promise in their application they will keep it.

Continue reading

May 2016

“Hi Richard,

can we grab a coffee – I love to get your feedback on my business idea to do X in Y –  and show you my awesome product.

I believe it is really great, and is going to be huge.

We urgently need a small investment of $100K due to our first customers being late in deciding to buy/ to keep us going as we get close to going global. It’s a billion dollar market.

We must talk soon, or you’ll miss out. I’ll be able to slot you in next week.

bests
Joe Doe
Co-Interplanetary Awesomeness Officer and Founder
Creepaability-aka-dontknowthefuckwhatthisisallabout.com ”


I get a version of this  kind of note  from time to time.  I have taken the worst bits from different e-mails and messages I receive  to make something truly awful. I hope this post encourages those who write to investors to reflect on their approach. 
This post tells your  what I think and feel, and what I write back (not the same) , and offers some reflections.What I think and feel
0. not again.. 🙁

1. Coffees are for drinking – not grabbing. Grabbing is rude,  and you might spill it.
2. I don’t care what I or you think about your product. I care about the problem it solves, and what customers and potential customers/users think.
3. If you urgently need money, you are bad at planning. Of course businesses, people, and startups can and will run out of cash,  but if you don’t realise this sounds terrible, you are probably not smart enough to be my partner.
4. $100K is not a small amount of money.  I was well paid when I earned $1500 month net in my best paid job (25 years ago). I took so big pay cut when I started my first business I was effectively paying for the privilege of working.   It could have taken me 10 years to save $100K. If you think $100K is a small amount, I don’t really trust you to spend it carefully.
5. Blaming customers for being late sounds like a stupid attitude.  If they haven’t bought anything you should not be calling them customers anyway.6. Money should be for specific actions, not “keeping us going”.

7. Going global makes sense once you have a proven product that clients love. You offer no evidence of that so far.

8. What is the billion dollar market?

9.  Don’t rush me. Giving me the impression I’ll have to adjust to your busy life makes me annoyed before I’ve even met you.

10. Silly job titles repel me.

11. If I invite him/her to Open Coffee Kraków they will probably tell me it’s too early in the morning and I’ll never hear from him/her again. 🙂  That is probably a good outcome.

12. I respect and admire entrepreneurs who hustle  – so I will try (hard) to be nice.


What I write 

Dear Chief Awesomeness Officer,

Thanks very much for approaching me.

Best is to come to Open Coffee Krakow  and we can chat after that if you are in town.

I trust that you are OK with open feedback and if there are things about your idea I don’t like you’ll want me to tell you.
Please confirm.

Do send me a Linkedin invite so you can see more about me and vice versa.

Please answer the questions in this blog post I wrote a few years ago –  so that I can be more helpful to you during the meeting (if we decide to meet).

Tell me how you are going to make money, what you would spend my investment money on, and what you are offering me in return.

It doesn’t matter much what I think  about your idea.
What really matters is:
what clients and potential clients think about your idea.
what pressing problem you think you are solving.
what your costs will be.
how many months you can survive before you run out of money in the worst case scenario.

Good luck and see you next Open Coffee Krakow (if you cannot join in person, we are on Facebook Live).

Richard

Reflections

A lot of inexperienced entrepreneurs have read an article somewhere full of “fake it till you make it” type BS and imagine that a stupid angel can be duped into handing over money. It’s seldom true, and it’s not a great way to approach me. I’ve made lots of mistakes and am not that smart  – but I don’t like being patronised.

It’s important to think and reflect before sharing my feelings. I may be annoyed and angry, but I really want to help entrepreneurs. I’ll try to help the guy learn. Maybe I was like that once.

Getting their Linkedin details enables me to figure out what sort of history they have.  Past actions (and inactions) give a great insights into someone’s potential).

Maybe there are people out there who respond well to crappy messages like the one I am dissing ?  If anyone reading this found an investor this way,  I would love to stand corrected. The beauty of a free society is that there is more than one way of operating.

May 2016

Mateusz Paszkiewicz lecture at Social Media Thursday in Białystok photo Paweł Tadejko-2

Mateusz Paszkiewicz lecture at Social Media Thursday in Białystok

I tracked down Mateusz as a result of my search for Snapchat experts. He made clear that Snapchat is not his “only thing” but this interview is focussed on Snapchat. My questions in bold

Please describe what Snapchat is and is becoming to someone who has not really got the concept yet

Snapchat is a 100% mobile application which is very specific. Content which we publish disappears after it was watched, read or published on MyStory (in 24 h) It’s a place where people communicate mostly by photos and videos, in a very creative ways (filters, special effects, drawings).

You can communicate directly with people (personal message, chat, video/audio call), show your stuff to everybody by publishing content on stories, watching Live Stories from events or different places or consuming high quality content made by Publishers on Discovery (Mashable, BBC, MTV, National Geographic and more).

Snapchat is very innovative, constantly growing and reaching more adults. Bigger players like Facebook are copying some of it features (QR Codes, Slingshot, poke, self-destructing messages in Messenger)

Why do you think it is experiencing such growth, to start with people said it’s for teenagers who want to be somewhere their parents are not. but is this still true?

Most of new platforms have started from youngsters (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, MySpace). Somewhat it’s a natural cycle, young people have time and want to experiment, check new places build their own world far away from parents, teachers and other relatives.

I think that youngsters feel very comfortable with “disappearing content”.

Snapchat also provides very creative tools: you can draw, put emojis and stickers, put some filters, make face change with your buddy or with a person from the photo – isn’t that cool?

If you look on youngsters world it is very dominated by smartphones and this is 100% mobile app, which take whole screen of your mobile device.

And why Snapchat is experiencing such a growth? It’s a hard question because I believe that there are no simple answers. For me Snapchat has put some innovation on the market in terms of mobile (photo/video) app world, go 100% in vertical, experiment with new stuff, 100% mobile. I think it fits well to new generation.

On the other hand demography of Snapchat user is growing so it’s only a matter of time when more and more adults wills start using this app.

The “wake up call” is often discovering that a major rival or competitor is establishing a following on Snapchat. How easy is it to find your competitors and business partners on Snapchat ? What are the simplest rules and tools?

You have to see it outside Snapchat on other social channels because if you don’t know account name of the brand, you won’t find it.

Now is a very good time to bring your brand to Snapchat.. Figure out your communication on that channel, think if your target audience is there. Do you know what kind of stories you want to tell people via Snapchat and would they be valuable for your audience.

If your answer is “yes” then get stuck in: there is a lot to win. Many brands are waiting for “perfect moment” where they will have advanced analytics and some gurus will tell you – okay it’s safe now, you should go there, it’s working! But then you will miss a lot of opportunity to steal a march on your competitors, user engagement and interaction.

Actually people really care about stuff that you are posting, they are looking at stories, adding new accounts, checking it out. But nothing lasts forever, especially user attention. I remember some years ago how many people in Poland liked everything on Facebook, you wrote “I need 300 people to reach 10 000 likes on my page, please help” or how many new people we add to our friends – people use to do that.

If you try do it now, it’s very different. The platform changed, we changed, our level of excitement went down, and we are much more selective. That’s why watching the market for attention, and knowing when to go with something new is important.

What kind of benefits do companies and individuals derive from establishing a good Snapchat presence. What are the challenges when analyzing competitors’ Snapchat presence. How do you go about it?

Snapchat is a platform where you can bond much more deeply with your community than on other channels.

Second, people are spending a lot of their time there. It’s fresh, new, there is still a big field to do something as a first or create your own way/style. The two biggest assets of Snapchat are user engagement and attention – things that marketers are struggling for every day.

I don’t think that Snapchat will dominate other communication channels, but it will be a great one to provide a different way of communication, Closer & more creative and authentic (even if you use mask filters, you can’t prepare your content before).

I think that biggest challenge is to know how many people saw the stories of your competitors. Some big brands making the mistake of chasing numbers by hiring influencers to make stories for them. This makes a spike in interest, but after that nothing happens on their Snapchat channel or it is simply weak, because the marketing team behind it doesn’t have any idea for consistent communication. It’s a huge waste of money unless part of an integrated plan.

Making an impressive Snapchat video is a bit of a challenge for a Snapchat “newbie”. If he or she is not there in a professional capacity, it doesn’t matter so much as it temporary. but if you are a personal brand, or a company, then it’s a stress, a little like Periscope. What are the options ?

Yes, you are right. A lot of marketers or people who are celebrities are afraid of new things, don’t have too much time or are just romantic about their old channels and don’t see need to be at the front.

For a serious brand or personal brand it is good to contact person who is a specialist (like me ) Should they be on Snapchat at all (is their target audience there, or will they be soon), if yes, They should learn the mechanism the DNA of the platform or find someone to teach them.

A lot of people are stressed with live content (Periscope, Facebook Live) and I respect that, it’s not for everybody. With Snapchat you always decide if you want to publish photo, video or drawing after you made it. A disaster does not have to on line.

There are few tips for personal brands:

– contact with somebody who has practical knowledge about Snapchat

– check the most famous Snapchat users, see how they are using this channel

– experiment, see what works for you the most, how you feel with it, do you want to do it

– set your goals and discuss with experienced professionals

Brands:

– contact with somebody who have practical knowledge about Snapchat

– is your target audience on Snapchat ?

– what value you want to provide – fun, education, ‘behind the scenes’ stories. Other…?

– think and decide how Snapchat can be part of your communication strategy

– set your goals and discuss with experienced professionals

– review what resources do you have. Can you sustain regular content?

What are the dangers of an unprofessional Snapchat presence., it is better to have a fewer and higher quality or doing them daily even if not so well ?

That depends if you are a brand or a person. I mean from user perspective Snapchat is a platform which gave you a lot of flexibility, it’s not about perfection (that’s why probably a lot of people like it). It’s about moment in time, people use it to communicate with their friends.

From marketing perspective (brand). It’s not about perfection too, but about value. What interesting content you have for your existing and possibly new audiences. Why somebody should give you 30 seconds of their time to watch your stuff. For example if you are and operator for Formula1 Snapchat be where the action is: on the F1 Championship, make takeovers by top drivers, go to Pit Stop – just create your little show around it. Have a concept, but left a lot of space for flow and creativity.

The biggest mistake for brands is just – being boring, don’t have any concept or leaving your whole communication for few big and expensive shots with influencers. You put them on, make an impact– get many new followers – but then what? Consistent planned communication matters.

You just have to know how to use the energy of an influencer for your brand, not only for stats and numbers of followers. Think about building community around your consistent activity – not just around one show.

Mateusz at Marketing & Technology event in Poznan

How often does someone need to post a Story if they are going to be effective, and how much time does someone needs to devote to making a good Snapchat story?

It depends on what kind of brand are you, what is your target, how much resource you have. Ideally it is every day. For some brands it’s much easier to create content, others need to think more about the concept.

A good Snapchat story is not the most complicated or the one which takes most time.

Is the one that is most interesting for your community. It’s different for each branch, because it’s easier to create a good story from event, backstage, makeover then create a concept for specific day with specific content.

What are the key features of a good Snapchat story, and what mistakes do you see most often.

Good practice:

– idea

– be authentic

– creative – use different tools

– provide value – think about your community and their time

– be consistent

Mistakes

– publishing everything around you without thinking “ I’m going to work…. “ I’m making a coffee . here is my office..” might be interesting once if the theme is … my working day

– making snaps horizontal (if there is no need or idea around it)

– no idea/concept for your activity

Once someone has committed to Snapchat and the content is live, should they start promoting it right away, or wait until they it is achieving their objectives? Once they are ready for promotion, where should they do it?

That depends on the story. If the story will have sense from first or second snap I prefer to start it promoting right away. If you are creating stuff which need a one third, half of full story to make a sense I will create it ASAP and then start promoting it on different channels. It’s all about context for people who will join you and have the first impression.

If someone objects to making Snapchat content at considerable expense and seeing it disappear, what can they do to keep it alive on other channels.

Download it to your mobile as soon it will be ready or make print screens to put it on different channels. It all depends how you want to use it. After that you can upload it on Youtube, Facebook, Instagram or in other places.

How do you expect Snapchat marketing to evolve as Snapchat starts to monetize its traffic.

That depends what kind of features they will make live. But I think that next big steps will be opening advertisement panel for more countries (ads, Discover, more local Live Stories) sponsored filters, graphic effects and creating some cool features for brands to tell stories.

I think that Discover and Live Stories have much more power when they are put in context of specific country (geolocation). More people will care about Discover if they could check information close to where they are or are from. The same with Live Stories. So I see some interesting points in that.

One thing I’m sure of and I think the Snapchat team agree about is that you have to implement advertisement in the smart and not too commercial way. People don’t like attacked with advertising. It’s business of course, so that you have to balance it somehow and be smart.

Check out Mateusz’s web page here 

or his Linkedin Group for Snapchat Business

matpaszkiewicz.com

matpaszkiewicz.com

 

Richard Lucas April 2016

When I was approached by Toptal, a blue chip and highly successful outsourcing firm backed by top VCs to host a post from their blog, I speculated about how Kraków might look through the eyes of their community,

I know about Toptal from listening the the awesome Mixergy.com – a podcast by Andrew Warner where he does insightful interviews with successful entrepreneurs.. Toptal are a regular sponsor of his show. They provide top class developers to entrepreneurs, and solve the recruitment problem. From what I can tell Toptal  competes on quality rather than price.

So talented Toptal Developers and entrepreneurs, what can I tell you about Kraków Poland?  

It’s more than the top outsourcing destination in Europe.

Many global companies have put RnD centres here. If you want to know about investment opportunities, and potential sources of clients, check Krakow Silicon Valley – Why not talk by Ramon Tancinco of Cisco , the OMGKRK portal and its group on Facebook Aspire and Open Coffee Krakow

OMGKRK Facebook April 2016

Although Google for Entrepreneurs has moved a couple of hours north to Warsaw, T-Mobile’s Hub.raum and other co-working centres lead a very dynamic Startup scene, and every startup needs a CTO and development team.

“We did not come here for cheap labour”  said Wojtek Burkot – when Head of Engineering at Google Krakow, “we came for Talent”. With EY Entrepreneur of the Year competition winner, Codewise, Estimote – world leader in iBeacon tech, Brainly – a leader in social learning, and Base leader in Mobile CRM, Kraków is bursting with high profile startups. Azimo – valued in 2015 at US$100 million – is here too. Innovation Nest, led by Piotr Wilam – founder of Onet.pl Poland’s Google/Yahoo hybrid supports the startup community

There area plenty of opportunities, plus Krakow is reckoned to be one of the top places in Europe to live – and visit for tourists which dynamic nightlight, numerous restaurants, lovely old town as well as the booming economy.

Come on over – Toptal visitors. If you are an entrepreneur – it’s a serious place for business as well as a great place to live and work. If you are a freelance developer and want to be somewhere cool, relatively inexpensive and fun while working for global clients, Krakow is awesome from April-October. If you are looking for “cheap developers” it’s the wrong city.
Krakow is great value for money, a good place to find clients, investors, business partners,people and technology, but not cheap.
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by Richard Lucas March 2016

Most of the information in this article comes from an interview with Jenny Chen of WalktheChat  (details below). Thanks to her for sharing her time.

 

WeChat

WeChat is a leading mobile Chinese Social Media platform which combines the features of many of the most popular global social media and e-commerce platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Skype.  As the name suggests –  the basic function is Chat but  users can also have a website, pay a bill, book a taxi, make a phone call (from January 2016 to landlines and mobiles), buy and sell, and play games. The mobile aspect is very important. For many users it is their gateway to the internet. Companies have official Wechat  accounts. Games are big in China, and a lot of their users are gamers. The last time WeChat published figures they had 650 million active monthly users.

WeChat is relevant for both B2C and  B2B businesses. Although it is primarily for the Chinese market, a lot of Chinese users living in other countries use it.  Users can use WeChat Wallet to transfer money among friends without transaction fees.  WeChat charges 0.6% transaction fee for businesses collecting money using WeChat payment.  For more detailed and impressive information about Wechat read here

A Wechat store can be set up for free, and as many users never leave WeChat this is pretty obvious move if you want to reach clients in China.

Five free and popular stores are  YouShop (微店)www.weidian.com/ Youzan (有赞/口袋通) http://youzan.com/ JD.COM (京东微店) Lewaimai 乐外卖 www.lewaimai.com/ and  VD (V店) http://www.vd.cn/ for full analysis of the features of each read an  excellent review here

Foreign brands can struggle to market on WeChat.  Great content is important.  Applying the same marketing strategy as on Facebook and Twitter accounts isn’t going to work.  Promotional content can easily leads users to unfollowing the WeChat account. Content has to be of direct benefit to users to be effective.  There are tremendous challenges to keep content relevant, brands should identify the main influencers among their readers, and give them access to VIP groups,  providing services like package tracking,  loyalty cards, and ordering systems to keep followers engaged and using the site. They should  target readers by gender,  geography and their reading preferences, they should  work on article design, using surveys to make sites more interactive and to better engage users. Sometimes it is better to build a presence on less competitive platforms and then migrate to WeChat later. more detail about this topic here

The Chinese market is one of the biggest in the world and highly competitive. As with other countries consumers appreciate value for money, high quality and keen prices. At the same time expensive wine in top venues in major cities can be over 10K Euro for a bottle. Big spenders still exist, even after the crisis.  For companies whose products are suitable for the Chinese market, a store on WeChat may well be part of their market entry strategy.

WalktheChat helps foreign companies establish their presence on Wechat.  It was was established Thomas Graziani,   a Frenchman living in Beijing, Jenny Chen joined the board shortly after.  WalktheChat has been effective in finding its own clients through content marketing, a high quality blog, a good website, and get found through SEO and Google searches. They also ran viral marketing campaigns on Wechat account which are highly effective. Their services are viewable here www.walkthechat.com

Check out Bohan.pl for more information about doing business in China

 

 

Richard Lucas March 2016

Introduction

Michal Kalina — former Social Media specialist at one of Krakow’s most dynamic seed funds Innovation Nest has been Snapchatting for a while during his travels. Now he’s showing backstage of creating his web&mobile development company Kolektiv.

The growth of Snapchat has been likened to that of Facebook in 2007/8. Gary Vaynerchuk has been really pushing Snapchat as being at a breakthrough moment., and high profile figures like podcaster Johnny Lee Dumas are paying attention as in this 26th February Gary V Show. 

For early adopters of emerging social media platforms, and marketing professionals who believe that there are land grab possibilities to get the best seats before the majority arrive, Snapchat is high on the agenda.  However, a developing a professional and coherent presence on Snapchat without spending a fortune is a challenge. I took the time to talk to Michał about his perspectives

Please describe what Snapchat is and is becoming to someone who has not really got the concept yet

Snapchat is a new wave social media platform for sharing videos and photos via smartphone. In previous years becomes popular among youngsters. Now used by celebrities, newspapers, brands & normal people to tell their everyday story –  often known as vlogging. According to Wikipedia, Snapchat has gone through 7 Billion daily video views in February this year  

Content is given in a more convenient way,  and is richer in emotions, than a tweet or post. It is a place where professionals can show the backstage to their work & brands expand their social engagement on a daily basis.

Why do you think it is experiencing such growth?  To start with people said it’s for teenagers who want to be somewhere their parents are not.. but is this still true?

Well, I think it was an important factor but just in a beginning. Most importantly Snapchat is the first platform that fixed the problem of mobile videos. Facebook, YouTube, not even Instagram have solved this problem. If you have seen a funny YouTube film called ‘Vertical Video Syndrome’ where the main character says ‘Say No to Vertical Videos’, now it’s out-of-date mostly because Snapchat existence. Snapchat means I say ‘Yes’ to vertical videos!

Another reason is that Snapchat democratized video editing. You don’t need to learn any special tool. Just record a video, add text or emoji & upload it. If you do it few times in a row, your film is done & already uploaded, it makes you feel brilliant. It’s fast, live & real. That’s how social media works nowadays – it catches the spirit of the times.

The “wake up call” to getting interested for professionals is discovering that a major rival or competitor is establishing a following on Snapchat. How easy is it to find your competitors and business partners on Snapchat ? What are the simplest rules and tools?

It’s for pioneers right now – that’s why it is the best time to get into this platform. Once it will be easy, that’s already too late. There are some agencies but we’re in early days. Check out:

http://vaynermedia.com/  https://naritiv.com/ http://www.grapestory.co/  It’s not 

What kind of benefits do companies and individuals derive from establishing a good Snapchat presence. What are the challenges when analysing competitors’ Snapchat presence. How do you go about it?

Attention –  In today’s world is extremely hard to get attention. We’re bombarded with content. Even if something is interesting for us, we put it aside to ‘watch later’… which of course we don’t get round to. One thing that’s unique for Snapchat is that users really consume content and give attention to what they’re watching because it expires after 24h. They won’t have a chance to watch it later.

There is no set standard in Snapchat strategies yet. Remember that your competitors are experimenting. If you start to copy their behaviour,  you’ll miss better format ideas that fit  your customers and brand. So follow them, be aware of what they do,  try to learn from  their mistakes, apply the best of their formats, but also experiment a lot with your own style.

Making an impressive Snapchat video is a bit of a challenge for a Snapchat “newbie”. If someone is experimenting as a private individuals it doesn’t matter if they make a bit of a fool of themselves.   It doesn’t matter that much, it is temporary. But …. if you are a personal brand, or a company, then it’s a stress, a little like Periscope. What are the options ?

If you don’t take a risk in this medium, you risk even more, because you are losing a chance. Don’t worry about making impressive videos, make real ones. It’s not Vimeo or YouTube. Snapchat is all about short, somewhat messy content. That is its beauty. Show your audience a real you/your brand and people will like you more and forgive you all mistakes.  If you want to outsource to professionals, we (Richard, Michał and our network of super talented Central European specialists) can probably help.  

For example: During my recent 4 months trip to India I showed the backstage of my trip by making short Snapchat videos. I used them to show the people I met, the challenges and adventures I had along the way etc. People who love  traveling got involved in my Snapchat stories because they could feel with me how it was to be a lonely traveller in exotic country. It’s was a compelling alternative to a travel blog.

For example: If you’re running a gym. Make a daily video with short exercises for today. Give your audience some tips how to make a good workout. Bring them value & you’ll attract your target group.

What are the dangers of an unprofessional Snapchat presence. Is it better to have a fewer and higher quality or be doing them daily? Here’s my warning of  what might  happen in your don’t know what you are doing

Snapchat users are much likely to watch amateur videos than a professional campaign but I don’t mean that as a CEO you should start Snapchatting from tomorrow, making yourself look fooling in front of staff, clients and competitors may not match your brand image.  It takes time to learn.  It’s good to get training before you post your first videos if you have a brand that might be damaged by something unprofessional. If you don’t want to do it yourself,  hire someone who understands the medium and has some demonstrated experience. Otherwise you may well fail, making unnatural, over long content.

How often does someone need to post a Story if they are going to be effective, and how much time does someone needs to devote to making a good Snapchat story?

You don’t necessarily need to do it daily. But at least 3 times a week is recommended. Otherwise your audience won’t get used to the idea that your stories are out there. If viewers like your stories, you’ll want to keep them nurtured, and in the habit of coming back.

There is no good answer for how much time you should spend on making stories. Some of my snaps took me 10 minutes to shoot, others hours of preparation –  2 hours of shooting – like this video I made about murals in Krakow. If your time is valuable it may be cheaper to work with someone so your involvement is minimized.

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Another example this: 10 minutes of shooting, 9 months of preparations

Dangerous_Sneezing

or here

What are the key features of a good Snapchat story, and what mistakes do you see most often.

Be bold. Be short. Be simple. Play with text & visual effects. Use colors.

Don’t talk a lot. I made this mistake many times. I really wanted to explain everything & I recorded 5 videos with my face. That’s boring 🙁 .

Once someone has committed to Snapchat and the content is live, should they start promoting it right away, or wait until they are are it is achieving their objectives? Once they are ready for promotion, where should they do it?

I was experimenting with Snapchat since June 2015 & didn’t promote my content. I think my opinion is clear. I learnt how to use it & now I’m ready to promote my stories. If you have a professional social media team they will have multiple channles across which to promote your Snapchat. (Instagram, mailing list, Facebook, Twitter etc etc)

If someone objects to making Snapchat content at considerable expense and seeing it disappear, what can they do to keep it alive on other channels.

Well. You can make a collage with other materials. It is possible to upload your Snapchat content onto Youtube and Facebook if you know what you are doing.  Adidas did this with Karlie Kloss.

Or you can just simply upload your Snaps on YouTube & promote them. Here are some of mine.

Crazy pilgrims in India

https://youtu.be/POr5NiRAiow

The Highest Building on Earth & Me

https://youtu.be/CNw_AdXdCvM

The Best Drummer & Me On Stage

https://youtu.be/StWAZD-GhzM

How do you expect Snapchat marketing to evolve as Snapchat starts to monetize its traffic.

As a brand there will be even more ways to get attention but it will cost you money & effort Evan Spiegel(Snapchat CEO) told Bloomberg  They will put a lot of effort to make their ads as good as regular content if not  better. So don’t expect to put a low quality banner on Snapchat in the near future. It won’t work.

Remember. Be simple & authenic. That’s what matters on Snapchat.

You can reach me on Snapchat @MichalKalina or add here

Take photo with your Snapchat profile & see what happens.

Thanks a lot Michał

snapcode-blog

From my point of view – I’m 100% convinced of the value, and am assembling a team of people who know about Snapchat

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I am a Newbie. Do follow me but don’t expect Michał’s level of professionalism.

Posted on February 24, 2016

Richard Lucas

Towards the end of February 2015 I migrated this blog onto Richardlucas.com and posted “The Last Post” blog  where I wrote that it would be the last post ever on this blog (unless I changed my mind). Like a Zombie, this blog has come back to life.

zombie

I am not sure if I will post here again, but something is happening that might be of interest to WordPress bloggers. The stats for the old blog on WordPress are solid but not stellar   – around 1000 visitors a month on average. The most popular post by far being Letter to a new business partner  which still get 20-40 views a day.

Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com blog

Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com site

Traffic on the old richardhlucas.wordpress.com site

I am no technical wizard but it seems surprising that with no new posts since February, traffic on the old site seems to be higher than on the new.

An old Google Hack from my past was a way to show the number of inbound links –  a key concept in Google Page Rank. I don’t know if it still is accurate or significant, but it shows  287 inbound links to the old blog.. link: https://richardhlucas.wordpress.com  used compared to a Stellar 1 to the new  – admitttedly from the  ultra high value late and much lamented Economist’s Eastern Approaches  blog  –

link:www.richardlucas.com  links only to The Economist’s inbound link to my site, whereas

link: http://www.richardlucas.com has over 100,000 (note that E.L – the author of The Economist’s article is TEDxKrakow and TEDxKazimierz speaker, Economist journalist and author –  Edward Lucas, my admirable and brave big brother)

 richardlucasblog

Traffic on the new Richardlucas.com blog 

The question are?

Why is traffic on the old WordPress site higher and and on the new site lower?

Was it a mistake to change?

Is there some means to improve traffic on the new site?

I’m going to post this on both my old blog here  and the new and try to compare the traffic to both, and send a link to this post to my WordPress consultant Rafał.

My business partner Pawel thought that it might be because WordPress does a good job of indexing blogs hosted on its site.

Anyone with other ideas about what may be going on is welcome to get in touch. Whether the Zombie will return to its resting place depends on what I what I find out.

by Richard Lucas

February 2016

I’m writing this post on the invitation of Jenny Belotserkovsky – one of the co-founders of Jews For Entrepreneurs.

The route to this blog post started with a Mixergy podcast  – where I heard Max Shevakov being interviewed by Andrew Warner on, the home of the upstart entrepreneur.  Max was talking about how he had built up and sold his business lending lenses to photographers.(Mixergy is a great resource for bootstrapping entrepreneurs – better than business school –  I gladly pay  $200 for my subscription and also another $400 as a gift to the founder of a recent investment). Once again for those who don’t know about the incredible resources available from the world of English language podcasting   try Googling “x and best Podcasts” where x = something you are into).

I made contact with Max because I have recently invested in Zalamo.com – a software tool for professional photographers. I thought Max could be a good mentor, give us advice about our marketing strategy – when we start going after the US market where he build his business   Max was helpful, is ready to review our US marketing plan once it is created.  I noticed on his Linkedin profile he was a member of Jews for Entrepreneurs. I hadn’t heard of JFE but I have had several conversations with my friend Jonathan Ornstein – Director of the highly successful Jewish Community Centre in Krakow (where I live) about broadening the connection between the JCC and the thriving  Startup scene in Poland.   To know more about the great work of the JCC read and/or watch Jonathan’s TEDx talk, or Chief Rabbi Schudrich’s.   Hear Jonathan’s TEDxWarsaw talk here , Warsaw Rabbi Schudrich’s here  Read about Jonathan and the JCC here

I asked Max for an introduction to JFE which led me to Jenny, who wrote back full of interest and support. Jenny encouraged me with her response “It’s our goal to connect Jewish startup communities worldwide and we are excited to hear about the resurgence of Jewish life and startup innovation in Poland. It would be great to showcase Poland’s innovation with our network. We recently launched a renovated site for JFE Network.  We would be thrilled to add Polish-Jewish startups to our startup vault and share with our community and investor network in Silicon Valley, New York, and Israel.  Every Tuesday, we send out a weekly email with new startups, jobs, and blog posts from tech experts in our community. We can send an upcoming email campaign (9.6k people) featuring Polish innovation. We can showcase Polish startups and feature blog posts from innovators and thought leaders in the Polish community.”

This was just the response I wanted. I asked Startup Poland   (I’m on the Advisory Board) for examples of Jewish Israeli Polish entrepreneurship in Poland. The most prominent fund is Giza Polish Ventures which has many investments in startups. There is a good overview of the Polish startup scene on the Startup Poland web site and an American website called Google is excellent at providing lots of links and articles Passive aggressive Richard often refers people to this website as a starting point, but I don’t think now is the time.

Poland is a country with strong regional hubs. Cities like Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin , Poznan, Rzeszow Szczecin, Wrocław as well as Kraków where I live and the capital Warsaw have startup activity. Berlin is just over the border too and Polish/German relations are better than would be believable a few years ago. Cheap flights and visa free travel (thanks to the European Union) to Europe and modernized airports mean that getting to London, Paris, Cambridge, Dublin, Milan and most other major European cities is very straightforward.

I’m biased towards Krakow – we have several world class startups here in Kraków – Estimote* world leader in Beacons, Base world leader in mobile first CRM, Brainly – a world leader in social learning. Integer Group is the world leader in final mile drop off pick up logistic and is active in 20 plus countries, Meble.pl is doing to furniture what Dell did to PC manufacturing. There are any number of smaller companies also doing interesting things.

Campus Warsaw has  opened  in 2015. This has put the Warsaw startup scene on steroids. It’s got off to a fantastic start. Previously Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow (GEK) did a great job. Hub.Raum in Kraków owned by T-Mobile. and Colab*.pl (a co-working space owned by members of the Startup community including me) have stepped forward to fill the gap left when Google departed. There is still a fan club for GEK here

The Krakow Startup community chose the hashtag and brand #OMGKRK ! Find links here omgkrk.com and here

There is an  excellent events listing site called Crossweb.pl . I won’t name any specific events for fear of annoying those in charge of the events  I omit.

TED and TEDx are active in Poland. Progressive, internationalist, open-minded people are involved. See their listings here I moderate a TEDx Fans group on Facebook here   I’m the Curator of TEDxKazimierz and a huge fan of the whole movement in Poland and worldwide.

The other community event I am closely connected to is Open Coffee Krakow which works very well indeed – low budget, high impact, useful and productive. Our Linkedin group is here Another group Silicon Valley Network is here  Finally my podcast Project Kazimierz showcases success and interesting initiatives usually connected to Poland.

JFE are going to link back to this blog post in their newsletter, and I encourage anyone interested in networking with them to sign up for their newsletter here

What’s next

In terms of possible outcomes and next steps – I hope this initiative triggers mutually beneficial contacts. Not just at the level of investments, but startups doing business, licensing technologies, buying selling each other’s products and services, outsourcing opportunities and pure research. Please leave a comment or let me know if it does. It’s good to keep track of the impact of actions. Perhaps JFE can visit Poland – members are warmly invited if they are thinking abut it do. Or maybe host a mission of Polish startups to the US. For sure there are people here who would welcome you. People do business with people, and personal contacts can be enriching. Maybe something with the JCC.

I’m not Jewish, Israeli or Polish (though I’ve spent most of my adult life in Poland)**. I am deeply internationalist in outlook and believe that flourishing businesses that create wealth, jobs and pay their taxes are the bedrock of free societies. We need all the prosperity and growth we can in these difficult times to pay for the many pressing challenges that face us.

If anyone reading this wants to get in touch, I cannot guarantee personal help but will do my best to get you in front of the right people. Readers are welcome to make contact via Linkedin

* I’m a shareholder in these ventures.
** since writing this article I’ve applied for and been granted Polish citizenship, for which I am profoundly grateful.

 

February 2016

I just created a new Google form to recruit business partners, following a conversation with my friend, business and squash partner Pawel Nowak.   Will it work ? I don’t know. Below is the introduction  you will  read if you click on it.. to read the questions as well, you need to go to the form itself

Feedback welcome

Co founders/entrepreneurs/partners for Richard Lucas

Why this form?I realised in February 2016 that I don’t have a good co-founder recruitment process. I’m known as an angel investor, and entrepreneur. I don’t often get people approaching me wanting to be a co-founder. I am ready to contribute time money experience and contacts to new ventures I am involved in, so this form is designed to encourage people who want to be my partner or co founder get in touch.

if you don’t know who I am check me out here
http://richardlucas.com/about-2
https://www.linkedin.com/in/richardhlucas
(if you are an Eddie Izzard fan take the opportunity to re-watch the Death Star Canteen https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ma3a7hqZer4

It is extremely difficult to profile a co-founder. If I look at the people I am in business with they vary tremendously. And as in attraction, love and relationships just because I might want to be in business with someone, doesn’t mean that they will regard me as being a suitable partner.

You are likely to have at least some of the below characteristics.

• high levels of motivation and energy
• excellent/reasonable/acceptable interpersonal skills,
• creativity
• self confidence,flexibility, tolerance, open mindedness. I’m internationalist in outlook. Patriotism is fine, nationalism and intolerance absolutely not.
• a willingness to “get your hands dirty”. To do work needed rather than just describe it.
• ability to communicate in English, other languages a plus.
• willingness to learn, to start solving a problem by spending an hour or two on Google before wanting to hire an expert.
• A willingness to try and take on new challenges.
• Generosity.
• High expectations of yourself and other people.
• Good communication skills
• Toughness -the ability to take hard decisions
• Curiosity about the way the world works
• Good at Time management, self organisation and getting things done
• intolerance of waste, interest in getting things done well as effeciently and quickly as possible
• Ambitious. a desire to build work on something great. it doesn’t have to be a project with the scale of of Space X or Tesla (though why not?) but if we are doing a shoe repair business, let’s aim to make it the best run, most efficient and profitable in Europe.
• Profit orientated. A business that is not aiming to make a higher rate of profit than the average, as much if not more than the best companies is not interesting. Being cheaper than the competition may be a strategy, if our costs are lower. but if we are better then we should be able to prove it by charging more. If you for example – want to start a bar, and you don’t know how much bars like the one you want to set are making, you have not done you homework. The profitability of businesses can be found out, if you don’t know how, ask me.
• be able to code, or manage developers. It doesn’t mean that we won’t pay for development, but a technical co founder can bring the ability to spend money wisely.

• common sense.

Money. It’s great to know if you have got some savings. All too often the mind set of technology start up-ers is conditioned by years of grants and competitions. They want to rewards of their own business without ever experiencing the financial risk of failure. Of course someone who has 2 kids and 10,000 złoty in savings, is not in a position to put in significant amounts of cash, but on the other hand, to be in that position at all,  shows they know how to manage their money. it’s a plus. And I know they will work like crazy to succeed.Many of the successful entrepreneurs I know started with their savings, or money borrowed from friends or family who expected their investment to be spent carefully. Many ventures which started with “easy money” from me or others have ended up with the founder and me losing time and money. The ability to learn fast and think is more important than previous experience, People with motivation and commitment tend to pick up experience as they go through life. If you have no experience of anything what have you been doing between the age of 3 and now?

Richard Lucas January 2016

Every now and again I come across ideas and projects so worthwhile that I make contact with the people behind them.

BBC Radio has been running a series  “100 Women” and there were impressive broadcasts from Ghana and Uganda.

through which I heard of  Ernestina Appiah here  Founder of Ghana Code Club   and Rasheeda Yehuza of Tech Needs Girls

Rasheeda Yehuza www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p038dxr9

Rasheeda Yehuza 
www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p038dxr9

both episodes are musts – listen to Rasheeda here 

Interesting things have happened as a result of me approaching people I hear on podcasts, see on line, read about in articles. Often I see myself as  doing what Derek Sivers recommends in his famous TED talk as an under rated form of leadership, helping others who are doing great things.

Derek Sivers' "First Follower" TED talk

So I contacted both Tina and Rasheeda offering help, not just because I believe in so doing, but also because I want others to do likewise..

Tina send me a ton of information about what she is doing Ghana Code Club designs step by step project guide for kids using scratch, HTML+CSS and Python. Most of the schools i volunteer in do not have access to internet nor projectors, (We’re working with the Parent Teacher Association in fixing these) until then, there’s no other option but to print out the project guidelines. Each project normally has an average of 15 pages, including challenges for the kid to try out before the next session.We’re using scratch to build a PAINT BOX for example this week, and this project has at least 18 pages, please find attached. There are not less than 100 kids in the first school that need a copy each of the guide, so your money will help print out projects for at least 150 kids, and we shall inscribe your name and logo on our websites as our supporting partner. We shall also establish good relationship with you as gestures like yours is a great honor to us. We’re continually seeking for  funding each week for print outs alone until the schools we volunteer in get projectors and internet connectivity, getting the materials to the kids remain a challenge to us. Another area we need help in is getting our training centre together making it possible for the less privileged children to be taught for free. In Ghana, most government schools where the less privileged children are have no access to computer labs that are functioning. This remains a headache to some of us who are willing to help. Having our own computer lab can go a long way. We’ll need funding for rent, Computers, air conditioners, internet service, furniture, projectors setting these up. If this can be achieved, the sky is the limit. We are also looking for funding to get our back office together on our website where we can pack training materials including video for volunteers. So you see ….  immediate funding and future funds will go a very long way.

(I sent money with Azimo.com –  Marek Wawro the CTO lives in Kraków, and helps mentor startups for free. The transfer when very smoothly 🙂  I also asked Tina for some pictures that might encourage others and show what could be done with my support but  but was not expected what I received a few days ago

Thank you messages

Ghana Code Club showing printed hand outs

Ghana Code Club showing printed projects

BBC World Service show presented by Bola Mosuro

Thanks on Twitter

I also asked her for a project description/report. This is what Tina sent

REPORT ON GHANA CODE CLUB AS AT JANUARY 2016 by Ernestina Appiah

Ghana Code Club is a digital fun club that is designed to be led by volunteers or ICT teachers in elementary schools all over Ghana, led by trained volunteers or ICT teachers. The club begins after regular classes are over for 2hours or less once in a week.

We initiated such a program because currently, there is little or no digital making activities in elementary schools in Ghana, meanwhile the world is revolving with technology. It is our aim that as children goes through the coding projects and challenges that come along with the project, kids’ interest in technology will grow causing them to participate and patronize other digital making in the future so that we can have a lot of innovators, entrepreneurs and critical thinkers.

The Ghana Code Club began in August last year during the summer vacation school at the Hillview Montessori School in Accra, where I, (the founder) volunteered to teach myself using Scratch programming software. 80 kids between the ages of 8-14 started but after the regular school resumed, the number of kids tripled to over 240 forcing us to split the class into groups. Currently, there are 2 computer labs at the Hillview Montessori School. One has a sitting capacity of 30 and the other has 60. And so each week, we have 3 sessions. I supervise groups 1 and 2 with 2 other volunteers and group 3 is supervised by the ICT teachers who are happy to share in our vision and have been trained to become volunteers of the code club.

On other days, we visit 4 other schools where we are repeating the same procedure as we do at the Hillview School. Unfortunately the other schools do not have more than 40 computers and so we are forced to limit the number of kids who are willing to join the club.

As of January 2016,

  • Hillview Montessori School has 257 members with 5 volunteers including 2 ICT teachers
  • Gospel International has 70 members- 3 volunteers including 1 ICT teacher
  • Liver Rose International has 83 members-3 Volunteers including ICT teacher
  • Rising Sun Montessori school has 60 members- 4 Volunteers including 2 ICT teachers
  • University Primary has 80 members 3 volunteers including 2 ICT teachers 

Curriculum

We have designed projects in Scratch, HTML+CSS and Python languages. We start with the basics of scratch language where kids are thought to explore to obtain the basic principles in programming.

Challenges

Currently out of all the 5 schools we visit, only one school, University Primary, Legon that has necessary infrastructure to make learning  easy in place. We have quite a challenge with power outages in the country until January 2016, when power cuts have slowed down a bit. When power cuts off, we need to close our session and the kids may need to take their step by step project printouts home to continue without our supervision.

There is no internet in 4 out of the 5 schools. But we are fortunate that the languages we have chosen have offline options. But to share the finished project on the internet is a challenge. Sometimes, we the volunteers end up using our own internet modems and airtime to enable the kids share their creativity online

We also have a big challenge when it comes to screening videos that can empower the kids even more. This is because 4 out of the 5 schools do not have projectors. This makes supervision so tedious considering the number of children involved in each session. Anytime we start a new project, we hold our laptop and move about showing the kids how their finished project should look like.

Laptop instead of projector

Laptop instead of projector

 Since there are no projectors to project the instructions, we end up printing project guide to serve all these children which is so expensive. At the moment, Ghana Code Club does not have any source of funding from any organization. We rely on our pockets and some little donations from family and friends to keep on. Parents are not supporting us yet because the school authorities have not agreed to the demand of the code club to seek for donations from the parents. The authorities of one of the schools have asked that we hold on to the close of the month January, 2016 where a PTA meeting will be held and parents informed formally about the Ghana Code Club activities. 3 of the other schools support once in a while with the printing using their own resources

OUR NEEDS

  • Ghana Code Club requests for support to be launched out formally once our back office is ready to serve as training resources for volunteers. We need funds for storing the resources including video tutorials. We intend to invite technology institutions and the minister of education in Ghana to help us outdoor this initiative into all elementary schools in Ghana..
  • We need funds to be supporting our day to day runnings. Transportation, airtime, electricity bills, Project guides and volunteer meet-ups.
  • We need a projector with accessories, Printers and photocopiers and one laptop.
  • We also want to establish our own computer lab where other activities can take place. Some children from the government schools where there are non functional computer labs can attend our sessions on weekends. We can train others who are willing to pay to ease our day to day expenditure.

Of course I want to help, and others to do so as well. I informed contacts in Google and Astia about what they are doing, and  I introduced Tina to Emmanuel Leslie Addae Curator of TEDxAccra –  with whom I made contact having figured out that her story and project might be worthy of a TEDx talk. They have yet to meet. Perhaps more publicity and introductions can help Ghana Code Club find deeper pockets than mine and encourage other people to do similar projects in other schools, towns and countries.

Rasheeda Yehuza’s project ” Tech Needs Girls” is also looking for partnerships. she wrote “Tech Needs Girls would be excited to explore a collaboration! A donation would really help propel our activities as we scale country-wide, and an introduction to the Polish coding community will be fantastic.”   I haven’t found a partner for her yet. but am looking around.

Not everything is making progress. I heard about the mDex smart phone clip for TB and Sickle Cell detection at Afri Gal technologies and tried to connect them to Peek Vision,   which has a high profile project for diagnosing eye disorders at low cost also with a smart phone clip one.  I thought that the UK project would be a good source of advice and mentoring., So far Afri Gal Tech haven’t taken up on this offer. but who know what may happen. Their project is really impressive sounding, and I yet believe I may be able to help

Conclusions

The idea worth spreading in the above experience is that it is worth trying There is nothing to stop anyone reaching out to anyone anywhere. Google and Twitter make it so easy, and finding out what you can do to help.  It’s my belief rather than a proven fact that my approaches in these cases was the right one. I know that it is too early to tell. If the only benefit is that  of my donation, then the gift without any associated PR could be enough.    The test of whether it  was worth going my public with introductions and posts like this will be whether over the next few months, other positive things happen as a result.    This story at the time of writing-  24th January 2016 – is a work in progress.  I’ll update in a few months. The fact that some offers of help have not led to anything is important to note as well. If you don’t try to do anything you won’t fail, but of course  you can’t succeed either.. As J. K. Rowling says in her wonderful Harvard Commencement talk a life lived without risk of risk of failure is hardly worth living at all.

Richard Lucas   March 2017

Introduction

Wedding photography is a business like any other. The rewards go to those who are focussed,  professional and work hard. Much the information in this article is based on listening an impressive podcast “For Wedding Photographers by Louis Torres. The great thing about Louis is that he is a real live breathing walking talking practicioner. He bases his advice on his own hard work and experience.

http://louistorres.com

Many of my Polish readers are not so aware of the wonderful world of English language podcasting (there just aren’t enough listeners in non-global languages but English language podcasting is full of gems).

The Podcast on iTunes.

Louis has been a photographer for 26 years and can charge US$4000-6000 for a wedding package, although is ready to reduce the cost by scaling back the package.  You have to listen to the podcast to understand how much effort he puts in to doing his job well.  There are 300 episodes with more than 80 hours of content since 2009. Louis tell photographers that they must not be lazy,  should do their own research. He is tough and blunt, which makes each short episode all the more useful. For those who are serious about being successful – there will be valuable lessons.

If someone already regards themselves as a full fledged professional, then this podcast can even be a check list. It will be reassuring to hear someone at the top of the game in a far off rich country is doing the same things as they are.  I am sure everyone will learn something.  Louis argues that anyone can and will become an expert at finding anything they’d like to learn by doing research using Google and that the difference between an amateur and a professional photographer is the way he or she markets themselves.

Some of his recommendations are just common sense and obvious, but important.
– don’t just be punctual, be early. Get to your venue an hour before you are due. Park, and wait, walk in exactly when you are expected. You can read a book, even listen to his podcast.  It leaves you time for a flat tyre, transport delays.
–  don’t charge for a wedding – if you are first timer.   “only”  $500-1000 is way too much to charge if you are inexperienced.
His advice for those who are getting started: Do you homework, research, prepare, practice, get the right equipment, and then do weddings for free for family, friends or people who don’t have a budget, Do your best,  but don’t promise to be something you are not. Build your portfolio so that you can base first paid offers on experience and references.
Here are some of his tips and ideas if you are already photographing weddings.
Focus on your relationship with the happy couple. Of course they want someone professional, but also friendly, nice, respectful and funny.  This starts from way before the wedding, from first contact, maybe at Bridal Shows, to discussions and feedback about the plan for the day, to the day itself, post wedding communications and delivery of photos in whatever format has been agreed.  The photographer’s experience should lead to advising clients to take the right decisions. They don’t have the experience,   the photographer does.
Get those shots done. On the day, the couple may want the photographer to wait and not take photos at particular moments,  but Louis advises that the photographer should  take the photos anyway. The situation you want to record may never arise again, a key family person may be missing, leave early, No one will remember that you were told to wait. Get the shots when you can.
Show some photos on the day itself During the wedding,  use meal breaks to process and post some photos on social media like Facebook pages. Have a stand and a big monitor/screen where you can show some of the photos in an elegant slideshow. Bring more down to the party in the evening.  The couple, their family and  guests will love to see the photos right away, will be impressed by your speed and professionalism.  Each wedding may have couples who are engaged, who are very likely to ask you for a business card. You will pick up more clients.
There are numerous other episodes covering issues like how important it is to focus, time management,  tools for processing, editing and distributing photos, contracts, deposit payments.  I have no doubt that if I had time to listen to more I would know much more. You can learn about important industry events, his recommended vendors of complementary products and technology tools., If you want to learn about wedding photography  this podcast is a great place to start. You get the wisdom and experience of a successful straight talking American professional.

http://louistorres.com/forweddingphotographers/why

As Simon Sinek TED talks fan knows, the most important question is  Why.  Louis takes the time to answer that too.

There are  lessons in this podcast and hopefully this blog post –  for a listener who knows nothing about photography, and doesn’t want to be a wedding photographer too.

For everyone –  work hard, push and educate yourself, learn how to sell what you do, be friendly and nice to your clients. –  heck iTunes for podcasts about the areas you want to learn about. It won’t be a waste of time, and a hat tip to the remarkable Louis Torres
Richard Lucas January 2016
What I don’t know, why it matters, and the importance of knowing the right questions to ask
I spent a serious amount of time looking for answers to questions that are relevant to the businesses I am involved in, or researching business projects. If I find what I am looking for, I forward it on with a few comments to the person to whom it is relevant. Other times, I can’t find what I am looking for, which means an unsolved problem.
My search for answers is also inefficient because along the way I find out facts,  issues, problems and ideas that are new to me,  meaning that I distract myself with my own curiosity, and often have new business ideas.
My process involves Google (and learning how to search Google well is a skill – that – like others – can be improved), Googling people I hear on the radio,  all kinds of social media,  Linkedin, Youtube, Slideshares, Investor  information sections of listed companies, Trade Associations, Event speaker, attendee and exhibitor lists, this list is long.
When I cannot find what I am looking for I sense an opportunity. If what I want to know is valuable, the value of knowing it may be high (or perhaps worthless:-))
Years ago, a startup magazine called Proseed published a column where I acted as a kind of “Agony Aunt” to entrepreneurs.   I am not so arrogant – I hope-  as to share my “wisdom” about everything I read.  If I don’t have something to say it is better to stay quiet.   Derek Sivers shares his notes about the books he has read and recommends on his excellent blog – but he is successful with some excellent and hugely popular TED talks behind him, not to mention his business success with CD Baby which he sold for US$20 million.

I am however going to flip it round. I am planning to start posting questions I don’t know the answer to, and to explain why these are important.

If some contacts me and can help, then maybe they can be a business partner, or potentially work for me finding the solution.

Why bother? why does this matter?
The gap between being ignorant, a generalist and a specialist is important to understand.
To be a successful entrepreneur – I recommend the advice of my father J. R. Lucas – who said to me when I was a teenager – “don’t be a specialist – if you need a specialist you can always find one” and that once you have a specialist skill you may well end up working using the skill in which you specialise for the rest of your life, because that will be the best rewarded in the short run.  This is not a bad outcome if this is what you want to do, but is not for anyone who doesn’t love their job.
My father’s advice is not great for anyone who has not worked out a way of generating income for themselves. Anyone who has never held down a professional salary should read  So Good They Can’t Ignore You  which sets out the opposing case for getting really good at something rather than following just your passion. The book is well summarised by Derek Sivers here .  If you are able to bring in more than enough money, without having a specific skill – this means you may never need to get one.  You may have the “what it takes” to be an entrepreneur. The ability to persuade people to buy things from you when you don’t know what you are talking about is worth having.
(thought the wherewithal to sell things you are not a specialist in, while showing an impressive ability to be convincing,  may involve taking risks of major problems).
While there are reasons not to be a specialist, I am not arguing for, or celebrating ignorance.  You should aim to be a generalist, to know enough to ask the right questions, to tell if someone is BS-ing  you, and to be able to tell a specialist what you want and why.  A version of the 80/20 Pareto rule applies –  that you can learn 80% of what matters quickly, the remain 20% may be for the specialist. Read the Wikipedia entry, watch a TED talk or two, read The Economist. listen to a podcast, watch the most popular slideshares, skim the top ten entries on Google, and within an hour you will know much more than most, and maybe enough to find a specialist.  Maybe then you can hire or find the specialist.
I regularly listen to the Digital Marketing Podcast from Target Internet for its clear language, sensible advice, easy to understand and recently I heard this episode about Programmatic Advertising.  (Once when I wrote to Daniel Rowles – the CEO and founder – and he wrote back immediately with helpful advice, a great way to make him a potential partner in the future. I am researching B2B marketing using Adsense type marketing. This podcast enabled me to search intelligently, finding list like this  with specialist firms, and making me confident to post here on Facebook.
European B2B Startup Group on FacebookThe post shows that as well as needing a specialist I know enough not to be ripped off and to deter digital marketing agencies that don’t know what they are talking about. I’d heard of Real Time Bidding RTB before, but not SSP,  DSP and various another acronyms.
The conclusion – > Don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know ad hoy are not a specialist but not before you have spent an hour or two turning yourself into a generalist.  And here is another great podcast from Daniel about how to keep your digital skills up in the world of specialists. Effectively he is advising listeners to be generalists.
And if you know how to help organise our RTB on line research, get in touch.

I won’t analyse other than to note that
– he has a BIG vision
– he is aiming for 500 million monthly users.
he loves his job

thanks to Michał for the interview, and  my Project Kazimierz Podcast co host Sam Cook

Richard

A Quora question here  provoked this Sunday morning article.

Richard.
Q What does the startup community need from Campus Warsaw? 

Great question.
1. Support, attend  and partner with regular monthly or more frequent monthly events and meetups across Poland (not just Warsaw)  –  with satellite events/monthly meetup like Open Coffee Krakow OpenCoffeeKRK (that used to take place in Google For Entrepreneurs Krakow ) and events Hive  KrakSpot    Startup Stage and those posted on #OMGKRK – Kraków’s startup community and Crossweb – wszystkie Barcampy, spotkania i konferencje

2.  Co-operate with existing pro- startup and enterprise organisations like AIP and Fundacja Startup Poland

3  Support pro-entrepreneurship movements like Global Entrepreneurship Week.

4. Invite and encourage government officials from all Ministries to attend existing events (not just do their own). Use Google’s pulling power to get officials involved and engaged. It can and does work. In the South Poland region, for example the country authority runs this  as its contribution to Global Entrepreneurship Week.

5. Encourage low/no cost initiatives – like Open Coffee Krakow movement – throwing money at events makes them happen even if there is no community buy in.

6. Co-operate and support social entrepreneurship like the  TEDx movement TEDx | Event Listing | TED.com

7.   Support development of curriculum based events (finance, marketing, coding) through encouraging meetups on themes or thematic groups like Krakow Unity 3D Meetup Group
8. Support enterprise education in schools , especially at pre-school and primary school level before it its too late
Strona główna – Fundacja Młodzieżowej Przedsiębiorczości
Przedsiębiorcy z naszej szkoły (not just Gymnasium and Liceums)

9 lobby for, and support liberal work and entrepreneur visa regime in Poland for non-Schengen professionals and entrepreneurs. Show that Poland is more open to non-EU  talent than countries like the UK and USA.

10. Invite organisations that could be part of the entrepreneurship support ecosystem:

law firms,
IP Agents,
accountants,
banks,
VCs,
chambers of commerce,
trade associations,
business schools,
universities,
political parties,
government bodies
Charities
NGOs
 to identify people responsible for dealing with startups, and invite them to workshops to present  what they are doing to help enterprise. (It may shame them into action if,  as may often be the case, they were doing nothing before Google asked them to present).

11. Keep promoting enterprise among minorities and  socially excluded groups, including prisons like Last Mile, in refugee camps, and support diversity.

Highlight Polish success stories like Applicake, Azimo, Base, Brainly, Estimote. (no regional bias 🙂 of course)

12. be interviewed on projectkazimierz.com   🙂

13. encourage angel investors

14. Encourage Polish doctors not automatically to ask every patient how many days off work they want no matter what issue  the patient has,

15 Encourage journalists to stop promoting anti-work culture,  saying “szkoda ze weekend się skonczy” and “”na szczęście już piątek.”

Richard

Richard Lucas August 2015

When Google for Entrepreneurs announced that it was leaving Kraków and opening its Campus in  Warsaw many people in Kraków Startup Commmnity were a bit disappointed. However, it is better that Google Campus  in in Poland than elsewhere, and as  Dawid Ostrowski of Google Developers Relations pointed out Krakow has a lot of lessons to share in terms of building a dynamic startup community. Borys Musielak is one of the leading lights of the Warsaw Startup Community, on the board of Startup Poland  and the founder of Reaktor .   I saw that their birthday party was full/sold out. See the comments here  and thought that it was appropriate to wish Reaktor and the Warsaw startup community all the best, happy birthday, (and let’s gently compete to see who has the first Polish Unicorn – go Go Azimo 🙂 Go Base, Go Brainly… (I think Integer and Comarch may be their already 🙂

For the benefit of those who are thinking about how to do large scale and positive events in Warsaw, I am sharing how the first X-Massive party came into being in 2013.

Community building is a process and doesn’t happen overnight.

It is very important to make your events welcoming and positive for the new comer, who doesn’t know anyone, have any contacts and is wondering if entrepreneurship and the startup community is a  place where they will feel welcome.

See Open Coffee Krakow and Hive values.  my post on Community Building, based also on my experiences in the TED and TEDx community and Global Entrepreneurship Week initiatives.

#OMGKRK stands for positivity,  optimism sharing and support. Go Warsaw Sto Lat Reaktor.

Richard  Lucas

We appreciate what Google For Entrepreneurs did here, and are thinking about doing a Google For Entrepreneurs Krakow (fan club) meet up in September October to which of course you are all will be invited. (This idea is inspired by TED-ster Clay Shirky and his story of Josh Groban and the Grobanites, Read more here ). If anyone reading this wants to help or get involved, drop me a note on Linkedin or Facebook.

This is the comment thread that kicked off the party, It took a few hours to get 90% of the Krakow community on board.

23 November 2013 · End of year startup community “un-party” with TEDxWarsaw Salon/Couchsurfing style icebreakers

Last year with MSFBCC I organised the below party for the startup community.

If you are interested in helping do something amazing this year, come to a planning meeting Wed 27th evening at 19 @ Nowa Prowincja Bracka 3-5. send me a note if you are coming.

See More

Together with Małopolskie Studenckie Forum Business Centre Club – the most active pro business student community in our region, Hive are proud to invite you to our Christmas party Tuesday, 18…
HIVE53.COM
Richard Lucas
July 2015
Open Coffee Kraków  is on the move -> this time to Colab our next meeting is on 16th July at Colab  ul. Romanowicza 4
as usual at 08:00 sharp
Open Coffee Krakow
It’s been a journey since we started.   www.ockrk.co/OpenCoffeeKRK/1
Since Marta’s announcement at a Hive meeting late 2012/early 2013 about her idea of a  Brad Feld inspired Kraków version of Open Coffee, and her feeling that a morning “un-meeting” made sense, Open Coffee Kraków has boomed, shrunk, split and re formed. At one stage – this child of Ela Madej and Piotr Nedzyński’s Hive53.com  was larger than Hive itself.
The spirit of a “participant led, un meeting, where the focus is not on speakers but positivity, support, open-ness and inclusiveness”  is alive and well. Personally,
I’ve much enjoyed telling people about
 – our strict rules concerning commercial promotion “”we are in favour”
– that Kraków stands for internationalism, trade and open-ness
–  making people  clap and applaud each other, (and government officials when they come)
– playing mood bending Mrs Mills Stripe piano as our theme music at 07:30. I still am determined to lead a Honky Tonk Winifred Atwell piano revival in Krakow.. ,, anyone who wants to help make this happen – get in touch.
– I loved writing the FAQ including not very subtle passive aggressive Q&A like those here. 8 8. You ought to do A B and C  and this  Why don’t you do X  and this one  here 
 I know that there are people who for OCKRK has changed their jobs and lives.
This is not the place to thank our coders Aliaksei, , faithful regular attendees and volunteers like Łukasz, photographers like Andrzej or bloggers like Wojtek, our generous sponsors and partners like those listed here and above all Marta for making it happen.
Since our first meeting in Dynia on Krupnicza, Open Coffee Kraków has evolved, grown, got smaller, and  spread.   We moved to Charlotte on Pl Szczepański, had many happy months  at Google for Entrepreneurs Kraków supported by Dawid  Paulina and Wojtek, and in recent months been in Kraków’s “diplomatic quarter” at Ambasada Krakowian on Stolarska.
One of our spin offs  Open Coffee Colab, under Kamil’s able leadership has grown to be bigger than our recent meetings on Stolarska, and after discussions with Marta and Kamil we decided for now to merge the events and have one event every two weeks in Colab.
Action item
The spirit is intact, the power is with us we still want and look for support. engagement and involvement.  Please give Kamil, Marta and myself the maximum support  –  and keep the spirit of Kraków and OMG alive.
Richard
PS  
Following discussions at Bispiration I’m thinking for doing an Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow (fans)  meetup in September. which if successful may turn into a regular event  – to help support and celebrate the fact that Google Campus is coming to Poland. Watch this space.