Apart from a week of 1:1’s elaborating on investor deck content and strategies on entering the market, this week’s main focus was finding methods to get more hands-on experience. In the coming weeks, we will schedule consulting sessions specifically focusing on hands-on work regarding topics such as sales and marketing, that is necessary for proper scaling of our startups in the US market.
For this week’s blog post, we handed the microphone to our team members, asking them to share with us updates regarding their work within the program as well as their entrepreneurship and leadership experience. Adam Olejniczak, the co-founder of Cabture shared a very detailed analysis of his experience. “Extrovertic, self-confident, adventurous, likable, stubborn, bold. These are, in my opinion, the character traits that allow me being successful in business. People usually ask me how I can work and live with continuous uncertainty about tomorrow. And I always ask back: how could I live without it?” Adam was born to be an entrepreneur indeed, as he immediately “cabtures”(!), the attention of every room he walks into. It is no surprise that he is a co-founder of a major startup at such a young age. “I believe that you cannot create a successful business without a good network and outstanding networking skills. Building a company is extremely hard. It takes time; a lot of time. You will go through highs and lows. You will need all types of skill sets and connections to make it successful. And you will have to run for it like a crazy.”
When asked to delve into the specifics of his experience in the US so far Adam was honest: “I arrived in the US with very ambitious goals, but I did not know anyone here. The first three days I was dying of jet lag, and on the fourth day I signed up for a pitch contest in Palo Alto.” We wondered how poorly this seemingly negative first couple of days would have affected someone who was perhaps not as ambitious as Adam. Yet, Adam persevered and had a very strong first pitch. “I was sincere: ‘Guys, I have a great business case: we are successfully helping customers in Europe; we have global ambition, but I have been in the States for four days now, and I do not know anyone here. If you know someone who could be of value, or if you want to hang out, hit me up’. The audience took this honesty extremely well. Adam left that day with 20+ business cards, multiple follow-up meetings, an invitation for four other pitch nights, and an investment interest. “People who I met there made quality introductions between their friends and me: another pile of great connections. Thus, in the first month, I attended 15+ pitch competitions, and the results were excellent.”
When asked where the startup is today in the US, Adam is quick to respond: “The network that I created allowed me to have more than 40 angels in my investment lead list. It gave me introductions to founders and managing directors of multiple large VCs in the area, CEOs of a few target companies, numerous new business opportunities, and more.” Adam concluded with a recommendation to people following in his footsteps: “What do you do if you do not have the network that you need? You are getting out there, showing up wherever and whenever you can, start talking to strangers and ask them to help you. ‘Ask, and you shall be given’, works fine for me!”
Following our talk with Adam, we met with our team members in Teleporter asking them to fill us in about their week. They were excited to share their experience in Silicon Valley Virtual Reality(SVVR) event. They reflected on the event as an amazing opportunity to meet significant people from the VR industry.
On Thursday, we attended a mentoring event hosted by TÜSİAD. TÜSİAD is the Turkish Industry and Business Association, working voluntarily and independently as a leading NGO dedicated to the promotion of public welfare through private enterprise. Our MD Çiğdem Toraman worked as a team captain in this event along with one of our startups, Buck.ai, enlisted as one of the companies accepted to the mentorship program. The mentorship program, named the TUSIAD Silicon Valley Network Initiative, enlisted seven companies in the Bay Area and works to bring them together with incredible mentors such as Alexander Levy, the entrepreneur in residence at Silicon Valley Bank. We were excited to hear extremely valuable insights from people working at the top of their field and keep extending our network around the globe.
Following this mentoring event, we had the opportunity to talk to Utku Kaynar, the CEO of Buck.ai on updates from his journey in the US. Apart from being selected as one of the startups for TUSIAD’s Mentor Network, Utku also attended a mentoring event at WeWork Golden Gate. “We’ve encountered some perspectives on our product and value proposition that we’ve not considered before; it was very eye-opening. Being with people who are able to frame the problem dramatically different than you do with prior knowledge and experience on the domain is invaluable. We work on forecasting and conversational AI, and the main discussion point was to focus selectively.” When asked about what is to come for Buck.ai in the following months Utku said that they would continue having sessions with the mentor panel on the product. “It feels good to be a part of a diaspora, considering there are many entrepreneurs and potential mentors/advisors in the Valley coming from Turkey” Utku says.
In our conversation with Kuan Intelligence, they shared that they started to conduct research on how to get a US Money Service Business Licence for Money Transfers and Remittance companies, and have started to engage with a consultant in the US for this matter. “We are now engaging channel partners more and more and started our product review for our clients from China.” When asked where Kuan is today after this progress, we were excited to learn that “Kuan Inc. can now help US e-commerce exporters collect overseas payment from the EU and Hong Kong with the knowledge to develop their commercial channels”.
According to Kuan Intelligence team members, the highlights of the week were the 1:1 sessions conducted with by Maren Lesche. Maren is an international Startup & communications expert, as well as an enlightening speaker & moderator. She is the founder of Startup Color in Berlin, a company powered by “startup experts” offering innovation tours, startup consulting, event management, matchmaking and PR services. We were thrilled to have Maren join us in our office in Palo Alto.
Eze Carlsson updated us on Wisboo by sharing that they surpassed a grand total of 300 academies created on the platform. They were excited to finally launch their product in the US as well as preparing for the launch of their self-service product. They are also growing within the company with their recent hires of a marketing growth specialist and a Colombia country manager.
After gaining more insight into the individual progress our teams are making, we are getting even more confident in the program’s success. It’s only a matter of time before the prospects we expect to become reality.