Poland named official CeBIT Partner Country for 2013


Do IT with Poland
Do IT with Poland

I am very proud and happy to participate in preparations to the world’s most important event for the digital economy – CeBIT 2013 – 05 to 09 March, Hannover, Germany. Even more so because Poland has been named CeBIT 2013 official Partner Country.

Continue reading Poland named official CeBIT Partner Country for 2013

Denis Dovgopoliy likes to eat Zur!

So we meet again Denis Dovgopoliy! After all these years you come again to visit my country and eat our Zur.

I met you in 2008 when visiting Ukraine for TMT.Ventures’08 conference and didn’t realize at first that you’ve been coming here since the early 2000’s to consume our nation’s most precious cuisine.

Continue reading Denis Dovgopoliy likes to eat Zur!

Estonian All-Stars at NEVC Tallinn Semi-Final – FREE registration!

NEVC Tallinn Semi-Final

Did it in Warsaw. Been to Prague. Been to Kiev. And Belgrade. Seen some amazing projects. Met some really cool people.

Continue reading Estonian All-Stars at NEVC Tallinn Semi-Final – FREE registration!

Kiev Semi-Final of New Europe Venture Contest – FREE registration!

The last time we had a conference in Kiev it was a blast – the event itself, the afterparty, the people me met… I found some historical parallels between modern VCs and Vikings. And last but not least I managed to have a beer with a global VC!

It’s great to go back, I’m very excited :-) I will try to (video)blog some of it… but you better experience it for yourself :-) After all – it’s FREE to participate…

Capital markets await Ukrainian companies. Success stories and growth strategies for both big and medium companies will be presented on December 1st, 2011 – PwC HQ, Kiev.

Event FREE registration and info: www.nevc.eu

Invitation (ENG) PDF / Invitation (RUS) PDF

Agenda (ENG) PDF / Agenda (RUS) PDF

On behalf of the Warsaw Stock Exchange and New Europe Events we have a great pleasure to invite entrepreneurs from Ukraine interested in raising capital to participate in New Europe Venture Contest Semi-Final on December 1, 2011 in Kiev, Ukraine.

The event will provide its participants with know-how regarding capital sources for both big and medium companies.

During the event Dmytro Babayev of Agroliga and Artem Kuznetsov of Westa will present case studies of listing on the WSE from the perspective of Ukrainian Issuer. Legal challenges preceding listing on the capital market will be the topic of White & Case presentation while Grant Thornton and Legis representatives will talk about the capital market strategy and the role of an authorized advisor.

The tax structuring for successful IPO and getting your company IPO ready will be the subject of PricewaterhouseCoopers presentation.

The day?s agenda will also include a semi-final of the New Europe Venture Contest (NEVC) for the most promising and attractive investment projects in the TMT industry in Central and Eastern Europe.

The contest is a series of pitch events held across 12 Central & Eastern European (CEE) countries. Six semi-finals will be held in 2011 in 6 CEE capitals and will lead to the great finale in the Warsaw Stock Exchange Chamber of Listings in early 2012.

New Europe Venture Contest (NEVC) is organized in partnership with the Warsaw Stock Exchange and Partners across Central & Eastern Europe. The contest targets projects in the TMT sectors:

  • T as technology such as ICT (information and communication technologies), clean technology (clean technology, environmental protection), Biotech (biotechnology, medical technology)
  • M is for Media
  • T for Telecommunications

Contest? semi-finalists will receive as an award advisory services (legal, business, EU funding, marketing) preparing them for the Finals. Best prepared projects chosen in the Finals will have an opportunity to go public on WSE’s NewConnect unregulated market or raise Venture Capital funding.
New Europe Venture Contest Kiev Semi-Final Jury will consist of, among others: Olga Belkova of EastLabs.co, Konstantin Golovynsky of Renaissance Group, Marcin Studniarek of White & Case and Olena Volkova of PwC.

Event free registration and info: www.nevc.eu

About New Europe Events:

New Europe Events (www.tmtevents.eu) specializes in event marketing project management. We manage our clients’ projects across new EU accession countries. Conferences and seminars, press conferences, unusual marketing events – we do it all. Our main product are ‘TMT’ events targeting Internet, IT and telco business community. We welcome all interested parties to participate in shaping of the TMT investment community around our events.

For further information, please contact Ewa Stepien at +48 607 805 239, email: ewa.stepien@tmtevents.eu

Steve Jobs (1955-2011)

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.

Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who wanna go to heaven don?t wanna die to get there.


Thank you. And RIP.


Rainmaking: Cloud must go on!

Cloud must go on… indeed. The question is who will benefit the most by building facebook-like platform for companies. The game is on and the players do mean business :-)

Two of these players are Oracle in the 90s corner weighing 145 billion and salesforce.com in the 2000s corner weighing 15 billion. In the area of PR and rainmaking salesforce beats Oracle… since I can remember.

Maybe you’ve heard the latest news – Larry cancelled Marc’s keynote during Oracle OpenWorld Conference. So Marc invited people to hear his speech at AME Restaurant at the St. Regis Hotel, San Francisco (as I learned on Salesforce.com fanpage – they really do read it and comment back! Cool).

What a gift from Larry to Marc! As one of the facebook commenters said: keynote at OOW11 – $1 mln USD, publicity regarding the keynote cancellation – priceless. On the other hand – what Oracle were thinking inviting salesforce to OOW11 in the first place? Knowing Marc they should have known he’d turn it into a publicity stunt one way or another.

Latest Q&A session in the restaurant info:

  • Marc is expecting his $1 mln USD back from Oracle (that’s how much his keynote at OOW11 was suppose to cost).
  • Larry was one of the first investors in salesforce.com. Marc doesn’t know if he keeps it but for Larry’s sake hopes he does because it’s supposed to go nowhere but up.
  • Marc: “You can cancel keynotes but you cannot stop innovation
  • Marc: “This decision shines on their brand because a brand is a sum of memories. This decision becomes a part of history of Oracle, history of salesforce, history of the industry. It shows the style of leadership Oracle has – not modern, that’s for sure. Command-and-control, off-with-their-head management. The marketing tactic for Oracle should have been – we’ve listened to the social media, customers, the people, rethought the matter and Marc is back on with his keynote. I suggested that to their CMO. They didn’t think it’s a good idea. And yes, we had to deliver our slides to them prior to the event so they knew exactly what we wanted to say.” Perhaps that’s why they cancelled? 😉
  • Marc: “If I’m going to present at OOW12? It’s up to Larry I guess. Dreamforce is bigger then OOW so we don’t need it anyway.”

BTW I wouldn’t know that if I wasn’t following salesforce facebook fanpage and if I didn’t tune in to live webcast on time. And I’m based in Europe so it’s after hours for me. Dunno what OOW11 was about, I didn’t really follow it. Larry vs. Marc – 0:1.

Back to Marc and Larry story…

As you might know prior to founding salesforce.com, Marc was at Oracle for 13 years in a variety of executive positions in sales, marketing, and product development. At 23, he was named Oracle’s Rookie of the Year and three years later he was promoted to vice president, the company’s youngest person to hold that title. And now he’s seen by Larry as irritant at least and some say – one of the most threatening challengers? Life’s little ironies…

This exchange of pleasantries between the two gentelman has been going on for some time now. Check out the classic Larry rant from 2009 and he’s turnaround in 2010 (still advertising mainframes). The part starting at 1 minut 10 secs is a must see ROTFL.

Anyway – you have to appreciate the way Marc does his rainmaking. He goes around the world evangelizing clients, distributors, developers, media people. He uses techniques that seem from-the-future compared to what others are doing. The fact is salesforce.com is still 10 times smaller then Oracle but with that growth rate – for how long?

Let’s take a look at Marc’s rainmaking techniques:

1. Metaphors based on current events and market data

How to grow your company if you’re creating a market which doesn’t exist and corpo bosses say “we don’t need that consumer mumbo jumbo – it’s neither safe nor effective”? Use colorful metaphors to world changing events or eye-opening market data! Talk to their imagination using processes they understand and cannot deny.

Take Mubarak and north african repressive regimes and compare them to corporate top management not understanding the Social media and the Social Enterprise revolution. Take Arab Spring and predict Corporate Spring!

Create the phrase ‘social divide’ for disconnect between consumer communications tools and corporate ones – divide between socially savvy customers and employees and the employers that lag behind. Tell corpo bosses that “You either use our product or you’re going down! Your own people will take you down like the Arabs did with Mubarak.” A bit of a stretch? Maybe, but gets the message across. Particularly when you entice some spontaneous riots of working people demanding SFDC, like yesterday.

Also – compare yourself to Facebook dominating in the consumer space. Show the world how “Facebook is eating the web” like the monster-success that it is – another metaphor. Not really true everywhere in the world, not completely true since we’re going off web to mobile and so on. But the analogy is there and it’s working for your benefit.

Oh, and use trendy keywords a lot – mobile, social, collaboration and of course cloud. Higher level of trust. Don’t forget democracy :) cause it’s good for everything…. And people are demanding it… as seen in evidence at hand!

2. Good slides and presentation team

While you’re throwing metaphors at people back them up with good infographics to fire up the crowd’s imagination.

Social divide? There you go:

Facebook eating Web? Here it is:

Make sure you have your people playing the right presentations on high-tech presentation equipment – image is everything. Also present your historical growth data in a time series from zero in the prehistoric era to 2015 (*forcast) so it looks like a hockey stick. A little of 3D chart magic doesn’t hurt to make the growth seem even more impressive. Also have your off-the-bench energetic marketing excecutive to explain the product details so you don’t have to. You’re a visionary, not a marketing person!

3. Allies and enemies as reference points

While creating a new balance of power you have to surround yourself with significant allies and even more significant opposition.

The dream-team combination of friends and villains would be:

Apple, Google, Facebook – sexy and powerful
Microsoft, Oracle, SAP – not so much

Invite your allies’ CIOs to presentations, invite your allied CEOs to keynote and to discussion panels to build your own business off their success. Mock your opposition as old fashioned and irrelevant in the brave new world you’re creating. Once the story catches up it becomes a self-perpetuating, self-fulfilling prophecy.

4. Conservative client’s testimonials

Case studies of well known and reputable clients are the key to propaganda success. The more conservative the client the better. Like Burberry – old British brand which has a strong, independent CEO who isn’t afraid of speaking her mind honestly even at Dreamforce (what do you mean we’re not your only option?).

Sometimes you have to make your point with European brands not so known in the US – like KLM. Just add an industry (airlines) and market cap (24 billion). Maybe US airlines will get a hint.

Don’t forget to let your clients show their vision and business, let them explain how salesforce fits their goals and helps them grow and fulfill end-customers’ expectations. They’re successful and you’re just helping.

5. Excitement and attitude

No matter what (when forgot something, misplaced slidechanger, made the audience laught at you) – always keep on talking with confidence and passion. This is marketing gddmitt! It’s not accounting! You don’t have to be right every time, just speak really loud.

You might be exaggerating from time to time but it’s a choice you made to get your message across.

In case of any PR fail like insulting someone important (like Larry – bad for business!) – bring your mother to a restaurant press conference the next day to show how sensitive you really are and make a joke on promising to be good in the future. Make the promise to your mother, you wouldn’t lie to your mother, would you?

6. This is America, gddmit! They took’urrrr jobs!

It’s always good mention the need to revitalize US-based manufacturing. “We can have the best military in the world but not manufacturing? I don’t get that!” From time to time it’s good to make fun of Europeans (their boring Safe Harbor stuff – oh, wait, people in Europe watching this? it’s not boring, it’s a public company stuff, right? no, it isn’t).


Hats off for Marc. He can make the rain come down.

And it’s all planned, rehearsed, adjusted,  rehearsed again and executed well enough to get the job done. But looks easy and natural. That’s how it’s done. They don’t teach that in business school.

2011 New Year’s Resolutions

Pic attribution goes to http://www.flickr.com/photos/themaddy/5298867897/

2010 is almost over… I don’t know about you but I’m happy to be still around and kicking. So happy New Year 2011!

My New Year’s resolutions are typical : spend more time with FFF, stay fit, get better organized, enjoy the little things that life’s made of.  Gotta plan it well and then execute accordingly. Sounds tough enough. Let’s start by getting drunk tonight with the rest of the world and then watch the re-runs on YouTube or Facebook!

Click to zoom in...

BTW what are your New Year’s resolutions?

Gametrade.eu – beta testing for the UK market starting soon

Gametrade - games tradein, trade, swap, exchange, wymiana gier

As you know pre-owned (used) games trading between users as well as games trade-in (old game for gift coupon) is a big money saver for the consumer and a growing market (Walmart, Best Buy, Toys R Us, Amazon, Tesco, Asda, on-line platforms).

Since I’m focused on Europe and Central Europe in particular I’m glad to tell you that there’s an interesting start-up called Gametrade which is an on-line platform for users trading games between them. It’s legal and it’s already a success in Poland (50.000 PS3/Xbox/PC games exchanged between users, 8 million page views/month, 32 thousand registered users in the first year and growing). Gametrade at present generates revenues mostly by micro-payments from on-line userbase and as far as I know there are some cool pre-paid features for game retailers in the making. As far as I know business-model-wise it’s looking pretty nice. Gametrade is backed by two VC funds – Luxebmurg-based Xevin Investments and local EU-funded incubator InQbe (IQ Partners capital group).

After a successful roll-out in Poland Gametrade is currently developing a project code-named Gametrade EU (http://Gametrade.eu) and is planning to launch beta-test version of its services for the UK market pretty soon. AFAIK other markets will follow – German, French, Russian, Ukrainian. As far as I’ve heard some talks with expansion partners for the UK site and other markets are under way. Do you think it could work? Let me know by commenting below! :-)

Video game market is growing dramatically, particularly pre-owned segment. According to publicly-traded US-based Game Trading Technologies, Inc. (OTCBB: GMTD):

  • Over 3.4 billion units of software product exists and hundreds of millions of
  • hardware units have been sold since 2000 which constitutes the market opportunity
  • New release titles continue to sell between $50 to $60, while pre-owned titles
  • represent a compelling value proposition for the consumer
  • Pre-owned segment represents a tremendous value proposition for customers

Facts & Figures accumulated by Game Trading Technologies:

  • Analysts estimate the U.S. and European console software market to be $17 billion in
  • 2009, growing to $20 billion in 2010 and will grow at a 9% CAGR from 2009 to 2011
  • The pre-owned segment has been growing even faster and is more profitable than new release titles
  • In the U.S., Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Target have approximately 50% market share of
  • new game sales, while GameStop (GME) has ~25% and Amazon around 3%
  • Specialty retailers such as GME have developed a competitive advantage over the mass merchants due to their ability to offer a large number of pre-owned games to consumers AND by their ability to let consumers sell or trade their older games to finance the purchase of a new release
  • In 2009 approximately 3.4 billion units of software have been sold for all platforms in the U.S. and Europe since 2000 that would constitute the ?pre-owned? market of console software titles. This number will rise to 3.9 billion units by th end of 2010

I like Gametrade for clean, strictly on-line business model. It’s a platform just like eBay. Still it can be used by traditional retailers as a tool for reselling used games, getting rid of overpriced stock, promoting loyalty and building local communitites around stores.

Do you think a Central European start-up can make it regionally? Hope so or I’ll close this blog down 😉

TMT.Ventures’10 Warsaw – VC rivalry on the rise

28th of May 2010 will be another special day at the Warsaw Stock Exchange HQ as TMT.Ventures’10 conference takes place once again.

After last year’s financial crisis imperceptibly entered the year 2010 and the new decade started. It surprised us immediately with successive eruptions and shocks reminding that the future is unpredictable. History is far from the end. The less we know the more valuable seem all well educated guesses and predictions. We will discuss such predictions for the next decade in the new technology, new media and telecommunications industry (TMT). Join invited market analysts, consultants and experienced entrepreneurs on May 28th, 2010.

What we know for sure is that hundreds of millions of euros from the EU will continue to drive Polish and Central European TMT industry. The only question is in what direction and with what effect. It is easy to foresee the growing role of the National Capital Fund (KFK), which in the years 2010-11 is planning to set up further investment funds targeting TMT projects. During the conference on the May 28th we will discuss the future of such funds, their model of cooperation or competition and the role of KFK.

Increasing competition between CEE investment funds is one of the most interesting trends of the next decade. During the conference we will discuss implications for funds and entrepreneurs, who should benefit from this development. Let’s hope to see some Central European start-ups on the front pages of The Financial Times or Time Magazine.

In the meantime let’s meet on 28th of May during TMT.Ventures’10 Warsaw: http://www.tmtevents.eu/

Special Guest:
Andrea Cockerton | Founder, Mudhut

Andrea is founder of Mudhut, the Cambridge-based venture market consultancy that has worked alongside almost 300 entrepreneurs on pitching for venture funding and for business critical commercial deals. Previously a director of the Great Eastern Investment Forum, one of the leading business angel networks in the UK, and prior to that one of the original management team behind Virtual Business Network, some of Andrea’s recent projects include recurring projects with Microsoft on the global Imagine Cup competition, pitch workshops for around 50 entrepreneurs as part of Running the Gauntlet, working closely with various fast growing SMEs in sectors including telecoms, games, biotech and the events industry on both commercial & investor pitches, working with a UK university on a pitch to Richard Branson for project funding, and helping three young entrepreneurs pitch directly to Bill Gates in Seattle. Andrea is a frequent public speaker on the subject of investor pitches and communicating business critical information under pressure.

Special Guest:
Marek Borzestowski | Serial Entrepreneur, Co-founder of Wirtualna Polska (FT Group)

Marek Borzestowski is the co-founder of the successful first horizontal portal in Poland “Wirtualna Polska” (www.wp.pl). This company was backed by Intel Capital as its first capital investment in Poland, accurately predicting the potential of search systems and the mass popularity of the Internet. Wirtualna Polska is currently within the France Telecom group. Among Marek’s main interests is a passion for intelligent information technologies and their application in everyday life. He co-founded Inteliwise which is a company delivering avatars for on-line customer care and support in SaaS model. Marek is a graduate of Gda??sk University of Technology and European Business Management School in Great Britain, Marek participated in the projects of the Nuclear Research Institute in Karlsruhe in Germany.

Special Guest:
Marcin Strza??kowski | CEO, InteliWISE (Polish tech-company based in California)

Marcin Strza??kowski is the CEO of Inteliwise – a polish SaaS company based in California and listed on the NewConnect public market in Warsaw. Inteliwise provides its customers with personalized avatars for on-line customer care and support. He previously created NetMania, the biggest interactive game on the Polish Internet. From 2000-2004, he held managerial positions at Wirtualna Polska S.A. which was the first Polish horizontal portal. In 2005, he became the Marketing Director at Crowley Data, Poland, responsible for the company’s marketing and communication strategy. Key achievements include: a 58% to 91% increase in brand recognition and growth in the number of users by 400% as a result of creating and implementing a new promotion and advertising strategy; an increase in the level of sales to retail customers to $1 million within 2 years; reduction in costs of operating customer service tasks by 80%. He graduated from Warsaw School of Economics and Institut Francais de Gestion (MBA).

Check out other special guests: http://www.tmtevents.pl/conference-tmt_ventures_2010_warsaw-3.html

Workaround for WordPress 2.9.1 database error: [MySQL server has gone away]

WordPress is a very useful and widely supported publishing tool but sometimes I think I’ll go totally bald or grey because of it. Especially when I realize my blog has been down for several hours.



In case you’re having a WordPress blank page problem caused by ‘MySQL server has gone away’ – there is a solution that should work: http://robsnotebook.com/wordpress-mysql-gone-away

Since Rob stopped updating the page I attempted to use his solution for WordPress 2.9.1 and here’s my wp-db.php file for you to download and try using: http://www.smart-up.eu/img/wp-db.php.txt

Just remember to backup first in order to fallback to your original wp-db.php file if something goes wrong.

I hate to meddle with someone else’s code but what can you do. Sometimes you have to be a man, right?

Keep me posted if it works for you and I’ll let you know if I have any more of these unpleasant ‘MySQL server has gone away’ episodes.