Shungite? Sounds mysterious
The founder of Cossi, Grzegorz Sychowski, for years has been involved with the chemical-cosmetics sector and the Kielce Technological Park, in which he developed his first business idea. However, the inspiration for setting up a company was not in his previous activity, but in a cosmic meteorite with unusual properties which fell a few billion years ago in northern Russia – where is found its only source of extraction. The meteorite deposits known as shungite, rich in micro- and macro-elements, contain natural fullerene, on the basis of which the cosmetics are made. The CEO of Cossi emphasizes the range of benefits of cosmetics arising from this basis: – “Fullerene delays aging, but also has anti-cancer properties. It is well suitable for treating cutaneous melanoma and has properties that hinder the development of neuro-degenerative diseases”.
Starting with innovative cosmetics
Work on the cosmetics formulas began a few months before activation of the Starting Platforms, which the Cossi leader found out about thanks to his conducted activity at KTP in Kielce. As he says: – “In 2016 I was informed of the beginning pilot edition of the Starting Platforms. Together with my partner, we decided to set up a company and to apply for the program with the concept of our technology”. The program was especially attractive for a start-up because of the high amount of financing, i.e. up to 800 thousand PLN, which in the case of Cossi meant large support. Thanks to this amount, the team could amortize the high costs of implementation, documentation, research, production, packaging, purchase of raw materials and marketing. From the entrepreneur’s point of view, this was significant as the beginning business needed external support. It was also one of the reasons for the start-up to apply with its concept to the initiative.
The first stage of the program was a 3-month incubation, taking place at the Kielce Technological Park, and for which 40 companies were accepted. It main purpose was to thoroughly prepare the start-ups to obtain the park’s recommendation, necessary in the application for financing. Incubation involved intensive work on the project in cooperation with a guardian-mentor – individual for each team. His task was to identify the project’s needs and to diagnose areas requiring improvement. Based on an interview conducted by the incubation manager, each start-up obtained specialist services – adjusted to the specific characteristics of the sector and firm. In the case of Cossi, they were legal and accounting services, as well as a business plan, which – in spite of problems with the service provider – was carried out and was of high quality.
Additionally, the team took part in workshops in the area of preparing investor presentations and pitching. As the Cossi CEO relates: – “We carried out our own pitches, practised and improved them, and consulted with experts until we felt that the deciding presentation before the panel of PARP (Polish Agency for Entrepreneurial Development) would go perfectly”. The workshops were conducted in the one-to-one formula, so they fully met the needs of the company.
In April 2017, Cossi received the recommendation of the KTP. Presenting their pitch perfected during the workshops, before an expert panel at PARP, the start-up made a step in the direction of financing. Signing the agreement on financing the project took place during the summer and the company received the first instalment at the beginning of September. The financial support accelerated their work and allowed them to start production.
In July 2018 after finishing the project, the company underwent verification with a positive result. As Grzegorz Sychowski sums up: – “By then we had made a whole series of cosmetics and now we are at the stage of organising the sale of our products”. As for plans for the future, the firm plans large-scale promotion of the cosmetics in Poland, through trade fair events, sector meetings and direct marketing. Moreover, Cossi, apart from production of a new series of cosmetics, is involved with B+R work in the area of new cosmetics formulas, cosmetics research and analysis for external clients. The company had a successful beginning in the Starting Platforms and made an effective entrance into the cosmetics market. This would not have happened, though, without the support offered by PARP through the comprehensive incubation process and financing, which provide invaluable acceleration in the development of innovative ideas in Eastern Poland.