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Two people talking about something

An innovative means of communication with customers

Program: Cross EU Women Business Angels (WBA) – support for startups

Elements of magic which we know from the Harry Potter films, such as pictures coming to life on the walls of the Hogwarts school of wizardry, or photos moving in newspapers, become reality thanks to a solution of the Polish firm – Runvido. In order to improve their business skills and obtain investors for their project, the company applied to the program Cross EU WBA. Find out what they learnt and what experience was gained by representatives of start-ups from participation in the PARP (Polish Agency for Entrepreneurial Development) initiative.

A bit of magic in business

The initiators of the project, Grzegorz and Natalia Ciosek, are closely involved in the advertising sector. For years they have run together a family printing company. Thanks to their gained experience, they perceived a gap in the market, connected to the transmission of complicated and difficult to describe advertising content. Inspired by a motif of the J. K. Rowling books, they decided to transfer a bit of the magic to business and to create a mobile application which literally brings traditional marketing to life.
 
The solution proposed by the Runvido application allows one to broaden the content gathered on a standard leaflet with additional information. Using the application, we gain the possibility to make static photos come alive through a smartphone and to display a wider context. How does it work? In the client panel one just has to assign a film to the photo on which it is to be displayed. Press acceptation and that’s all. From then on, after placing our smartphone by a coded photo (visible on the monitor as a large banner or small card) in any place in the world we can watch a film. What is interesting is that thanks to the geo-location function on the same picture (e.g. company logo), we can watch a totally different film or animation in Warsaw than in Poznań. Besides the marketing power that Runvido brings, the start-up concept solves the problem with transmitting information that is difficult to describe and explain, through its brief visualisation – and here it becomes helpful with any training or instructions. What is more – it benefits ecology – now instead of printing many-page catalogues, companies can leave it at 2-4 pages of print, and the rest of the information is shown to their recipients in the film attached to a typical leaflet.
 
In order for the project to gain popularity and reach the awareness of advertising agencies as an innovative means of communication with customers, the company has begun an overview of the market for the purpose of establishing contacts with institutions as well as with foreign entities which could help in its development. In searching for support programs, the start-up decided to test its efforts in an initiative conducted by the Polish Agency for Entrepreneurial Development – Cross EU Women Business Angels. This is a program addressed to businesswomen or female co-founders and managers of start-ups who are looking for mentoring and support in the framework of Business Angels. Meeting a basic condition, Runvido representatives applied to the program and got into the first stage of the program. This involved above all a 10-minute presentation in front of a 5-person jury consisting of representatives of the Black Swan Fund, among others. Three teams qualified for the second stage – including Runvido.

Start-up friendly program

Asking company representatives of the formal aspects of the Cross EU WBA program, we hear that the level of selection to the program is high. Only very well prepared projects qualified for the first stage of the initiative. An additional advantage was the fact that the application form did not have a limit of characters. As Natalia Ciosek, co-founder of the firm, comments: – “We wouldn’t be able to explain the benefits of our solution and our advantages over the competition if we had only 1000 characters at our disposal”. Another important element of the program was the opportunity of direct presentation before investors. Compared to other contests in which Runvido has taken part, the Cross EU WBA program, as one of only a few of this type, allows participants not only to present their project through a form, but also to visualise the developed solution – which in the case of a company such as Runvido is particularly important. 

Mentoring – brightening minds

During the second stage of the program, the team took part in training with a qualified mentor, who shared his knowledge and valuable advice related to preparing the presentation. Under his supervision, the previous presentation of the start-up’s product was largely changed, and also adjusted to the demands and expectations of investors. The pitch deck which Runvido now makes use of contains only two slides from the previous version.
 
Natalia and Grzegorz agree that the opportunity to perceive and analyse the project from an investor’s perspective is an unrepeatable occasion to improve their product and to approach it in a more business-like manner. The Runvido team was aware that their application does not solve an urgent problem – it is more an accessory, an attraction, something new and innovative. Basically something that can be summed up with the words: “I can have it, but I don’t need it”. The advice of the mentor with whom representatives of the start-up cooperated, allowed them to realise that they had created a new means of communication with customers. Indeed they prove that marketing communication does not have to be just a static image with a limited amount of information – it can be enriched through broadening a given context with the use of video. It is actually this aspect of the product that they were advised to emphasize in all presentations. As Natalia comments: – “The mentor’s advice opened our eyes. It totally changed our manner of communication. Currently we are using his tips, putting them into practice and we see that they are effective. When during a presentation we talk about our solution in the context of a new way of communicating with the customer, we see that it makes a big impression on our listeners”.
 
Among the experiences related to the program, Natalia also points out the support from one of the representatives of the Black Swan Fund who was sitting in the program jury. Thanks to her assistance, Runvido gained valuable knowledge on how to answer difficult questions often asked by investors, e.g. “How many co-founders of the start-up should earn money?”, and what answers to avoid. From the above example, potential investors obtain information whether the company is only interested in short-term profit, or in long-term success. This is particularly important from the point of view of representatives of Venture Capital funds or Business Angels. For them, the financial “entrance” into a given project is only a certain part of the investment – another is investment in people and their potential. Additionally, the representative of the Black Swan Fund raised the matter of competition in business – “It made us realise that having competition does not form any obstacle to the development of our concept; it’s nothing that the young start-up should be ashamed of. The fact that there exist competitive solutions in our sector is only evidence of the fact that the product is needed on the market, and there is increasing demand for it. However, if we stubbornly emphasize that our idea has no competition, this may raise fears that either the product is unnecessary, or that we, as the founders, have not sufficiently researched the market” – relates Natalia.
 
Moreover, Natalia and Grzegorz both emphasize that one-to-one training with a mentor is more effective than common workshops with start-ups, where each firm has a different project and different problems to solve. These meetings allowed the start-up to define its development path. As Natalia emphasizes: – “Workshops with the mentor during the second stage of Cross EU WBA were like an award in the contest. Even though we didn’t win the program, we felt that we got something very important, even ground-breaking, from it. Those were such valuable workshops that thanks to them we are prepared for all the next investor meetings and presentations. There are no questions that could surprise us. Mentoring is brightening the mind”.
 
The last stage of the program was the presentation day at the main office of the Black Swan Fund, during which companies had 5 minutes to present their project before Business Angels. After solid preparation by the mentor, Runvido presented a totally changed pitch deck. Only Natalia could take part in the presentation; however in the series of questions – in the technical aspect – she was supported by her husband Grzegorz. Demo day was also an occasion for networking, during which Runvido participated in a meeting with Business Angels of the Black Swan Fund. Fund representatives shared their experience and history, and also pointed out that sometimes it’s worth risking if between the investor and the project one “feels the chemistry” right away. However, they emphasized that one should always get to know the project well and the team with whom one takes on the investment.
 
What came out of the meeting with Business Angels? For one thing, questions to consider. Natalia sums up: – “Each networking meeting or contest is for a start-up an occasion to learn. It’s worth hearing the tough questions, as sooner or later they will come from another investor, so it’s better to be prepared for them. If such questions are asked by the end user – that’s even better”.

The future with broadened reality

Runvido takes part in many contests organized by government agencies as well as private companies. However, they emphasize that participation in the Cross EU WBA program was a step towards better understanding of the project from the perspective of the investor as well as the client. For the creators, many things are obvious; the technology is so well known to them that founders may not be aware of matters unclear for the user. Runvido, though it was not distinguished in the program, remains in the base of the Black Swan Fund and at any time may count on contact with an investor, so leaving a gate open – does not belong to the world of magic, but to a reality in which marketing communication with the customer has no limits.
 
Testimonial on the main page: “Workshops with the mentor during Cross EU WBA were like an award in the contest. Even though we didn’t win the program, we felt that we’re getting something ground-breaking out of it.

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