Campus Community 2021 Recap

A group of young cheerful business people with laptop sitting in an office, talking.

Another year has come to its end and we have to say it was full of excitement! Regardless of a difficult global situation our community members achieved multiple goals, expanded their businesses and even started the new ones. And so did we!

So, are you ready to meet some of the shining stars of the year 2021?

The first member we would like to mention to you is Olga Marekova. Oli established her first startup at the age of 23. As surprising as it is, she found the co-founders of her company on a job portal and since the moment they met it was a perfect match. 

After winning the Car Pitch, which is part of the Forbes 30 under 30 event, many people know her as “the one in the red dress”, always smiling, starting her own business and being part of international events. But, what we wanted to know is what were the highlights of 2021 for her startup called APA?

“I have to admit it was a journey. I had an idea, which turned out to be the beginning of something bigger I could barely imagine before. Thanks to Perry talents and their startup program I realized that my idea is feasible and I started to believe in it even more. I am a young woman in the business world but I can still say I turned my ideas into a reality. In other words, into a startup called Aviation Passenger Advice (APA). So have a look into it and let me know what you think!”

Who is next?

Do you know there is a revolutionary company that recreates the medical education system globally and is based in Slovakia? If your answer is no, then read below.

Iveta Hlinkova is Chief Academic Officer at “EDU a Degree Smarter“, licensed under the Maltese Education Act. EDU aims to substantially increase the quality and accessibility of education by using digital learning platforms. Iveta had an amazing speech at the Reflect Festival in Cyprus this year. 

In her view: “education for the future needs to be focused on teaching practical knowledge and wisdom application. A successful educational model includes student-centred, collaborative, self-regulated, and practical learning.”

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With its first bachelor programme graduates in 2021, EDU has proved that a well-developed hybrid form of higher education, a combination of digital learning and early medical practice, leads to excellent learning outcomes for students.

Have you ever realized how hard it can be to experience growth in your company?

How will it influence the internal processes that used to work before? Vestberry could talk about it for probably a week, but we asked them to highlight the best and the worst moments.

As Tomas Gliviak revealed, “Vestberry team grew from 10 to 30 people during 2021. We also achieved growth in our revenue and gained new clients. Even though it seemed that implementation of Atomico will result in a need to visit a psychiatrist, in the end we survived without any harm. It is thanks to the Campus community that a lot of interesting people found out about us and we even opened a new office for them, broke the wall and spread the jungle. What is still in front of us is implementing new processes, learning how to not get lost in the Slack channels or how to set our calendars properly. We have realized that a whiteboard isn’t enough for planning sessions anymore. Without setting these new rules and habits we would have gotten lost months ago. However, nothing is ideal and when we do get into trouble, we can still find ourselves drinking coffee at the bar. Remember to come and have a chat with us next year, we are the ones with black on black hoodies. :)”

Lockdown, constantly changing restrictions & pandemic spikes. How can these things go together with building an infrastructure of a food delivery system and an on-demand taxi service?

As Marek Ruman, Courier Operations Manager at Bolt revealed: “our company managed the situation and successfully launched Bolt Food in three more cities, Banska Bystrica, Zilina and Nitra. Moreover, we introduced a new product, Bolt Market, to the public and thanks to sharing one platform for both food and groceries delivery our customer base grew instantly.”

If we move even further, can you imagine how difficult it can be to organize an event?

What do we mean is a face-to-face international public event during a global pandemic? While keeping everyone safe? It was nearly impossible. 

But still, the Reflect Festival team managed to make it happen. It was incredible but Kristina Priecelova and our Cyprian partners Stylianos Lambrou and Anna Ioannidou ensured that our yearly attendees’ count reached 3k, same as last year.

As Kristina said: “the event world is always unpredictable, but with Covid, we had to amp up our resilience towards the uncertain to the highest levels. On the bright side, we’ve learned a lot about improvising, focusing on the essential and being creative as well as agile. Despite, or perhaps because of all the difficulties, we have delivered a multi-setting festival that quenched the post-covid thirst for togetherness and collaborative learning. In the end, Covid nudged us towards a new direction – Reflect moved to the streets, squares and beaches to increase safety. We feel that the city is where the festival will continue to grow and thrive.”

After all of this, there are members of Campus Cowork who are seemingly untouched by the circumstances.

They grow as if nothing had happened but more realistically, the switch towards digital technologies helped them to secure their businesses.

Do you know Tomas Palkovic? He is a co-founder of platform focused on connecting teachers with students directly for better classroom management and answering questions about education.

As Tomas summed up: “We got really lucky that the pandemic influenced our business in a rather good way. We have noticed there was an increased interest in tutoring. During the entire year we have been focusing on our product and technology and as a result we managed to push it forward and modernize. For me personally, the ability to work from a pleasant environment accompanied by nice people is a crucial thing and I am grateful for having the ability to work from Campus.” 

And what about virtual try-on software solutions?

Theoretically this had to be the best period of their business so far. Just imagine, no one is able to go to the store, but all consumers’ needs stay intact. So, how will you get a product that fits unless you visit a store and try it on? Well, yeah, we have AR and smart softwares to use.

The question is, did the expectations meet reality? 

“April 2020 was the first time when we realized the positive impact of the pandemic on our business. We have been continually growing by 6% since then. Even before Covid-19 outbreak we expected that the need for our service would become inevitable sooner or later. However, the pandemic accelerated the changes in people’s mindsets and our product turned into a must-have solution at least 2 or 3 years earlier than predicted. At the moment, you will not find a single fashion or beauty e-commerce company that isn’t considering some form of AR. The ability to offer our service even to smaller companies became our main competitive advantage in 2021. As a result we grew much faster than our main competitors in terms of the amount of money acquired.” explained Ondrej Bagin, founder of the Virtooal.

To sum up, the mission of Campus Cowork and our partner project Zero Gravity Capital has always been to support entrepreneurs and young ambitious people. We are proud to say that nothing has changed in this during the past twelve months and therefore we can say that the year 2021 was full of emerging startups that we supported. 

But, as Vit Hanus said: “pandemic year taught us to be even more digital while stressing the importance of creativity and innovations to overcome the hurdles from newly arising challenges. And at the end, that is what innovative businesses as well as Venture Capital are about. Therefore we would like your businesses in 2022 to stay pragmatic, focused, flexible and take today’s challenges as a new opportunity to grow further.”

To be honest, after reading this, we truly cannot wait for what the future holds. We are so glad that our community grows together, that our members support each other and that in the end, we all can witness how the future of business emerges in our premises. 

See you all next year in Campus Cowork and make the business world in Slovakia great again… and again. 🙂

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