Wonder women of business – female successful start-ups
According to the Boston Consulting Group research conducted on enterprise accelerators, out of 350 investments in start-ups, nearly 3/4 concerned companies run by men. What’s more, these enterprises also received co-financing in the amount higher by half on average than the companies managed by women. It may seem that the technology industry favours businesses run by men. Meanwhile, over a period of 5 years, “female” companies generated revenues 10 percent higher than “male”. Women hold managerial positions, establish their own companies and achieve business successes more and more often.
As shown in the report “Polish business strong thanks to women”, Poland has a leading position in Europe in terms of the number of women in senior positions. 34% of senior positions are held by women – this is a higher result that the European average (27%) and global average (24%). There is also a growing number of start-ups run by women. According to the study “Polish start-ups 2017”, among founders or co-founders of start-ups, women constitute 29% – female representation was 26% a year earlier. Meet Paula, Jagoda, Kasia and Mirosława, participants of MIT Enterprise Forum Poland and the companies they created and developed.
All under control – Paula Rettinger-Wietoszko, Hospicare
Eliza and Paula are the founders of the Hospicare start-up the purpose of which is to improve quality of life for patients with chronic diseases who stay at home, by facilitating communications with their careers and medical team. This original online application collects all information about the patient’s disease – its history, complete medical documentation, and all significant parameters. Additionally, the solution allows for remote consultations and communication will all persons engaged in the process of caring and treatment of the patient.
“My partner Eliza came up with this idea. She was taking care of her daughter who was in the care of a home children hospice for several years”, says Paula. “Normally, such care is provided by numerous people, among others a medical team, carers and teachers, and the entire documentation in paper form is stored in many places. Hence, the idea to create a tool which will collect all the necessary information and allow for remote access to such documentation to each person engaged in the process.”
And this is how the Hospicare application was created. It contains all the necessary information concerning a given patient, e.g. the medication administration schedule, the volume of medications, all the necessary contact details or parameters concerning the patient’s well-being. Thanks to this, patient care becomes much easier and safer. The company was awarded numerous prizes for its solutions, such as Mobile Trend Awards 2016 or the first award in the ABSL Start-up Challenge 2016 conference.
“Our HospiCare project has been a social project from the very beginning, provided for free to home children hospices in Poland. This constituted a challenge. We had no support in creating a commercial project which would allow for the development of the idea, hence the idea for acceleration. MIT Enterprise Forum Poland allowed us to get ready for the real business world”, Paula adds.
So far the company has developed two additional application variants: OncoWay for oncology patients and SanaCare for sanatorium or spa patients. Currently, the company is cooperating with KGHM TFI to implement the latter. Asked for advice for women who commence their path in business, Paula says boldly: “Don’t be afraid, never lose faith and never stop fighting!”.
Instant reading – Jagoda Pieścicka, Nu Delta
Jagoda is the founder of Nu Delta, which developed an algorithm allowing for quick recognition and interpretation of information from paper documents using artificial intelligence. The solution has a very wide range of applications in all data entry processes and allows for the improvement of accounting operations thanks to the automation and elimination of human errors. What is helpful if you start you own business according to the founder of the start-up? Big faith and determination, but also having personality traits useful in the business world.
“I have always felt that my own business and team management constitute a good place for me”, says Jagoda. “From the very beginning of my professional carrier I have been involved in management and I have always felt good fulfilling this role. I also often participated in business meetings as a representative of companies I worked for. I believe that my own business was a natural step in my case, in particular taking into account my professional experience related to accounting.”
According to the founder of Nu Delta the initial business idea was not hers, but she believed in its success, therefore she decided to develop it. She succeeded. After her independent attempts to attract her first customers, Jagoda participated in the second edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Poland, thanks to which she took part in a boot camp in Boston and commenced cooperation with PKO Bank Polski. Additionally, as the first start-up in Poland, the company implemented its solution at BGŻ BNP Paribas. The list of successes also includes one more – building a team Jagoda perceives as a family where people may count on one another in all situations.
“It is not worth being afraid when thinking of establishing your own company when there is a chance to do so. Such an opportunity may not be available again. Even despite some failures, do not give up and believe more in the strength of your project” she adds at the end.
Currently, the company focuses on the development of reading technology to adjust it to the needs of customers from various sectors also on foreign markets. The closest goal is to cooperate with insurance companies to create an algorithm to read insurance policies.
More than one business – Katarzyna Sawicz, Innovalab and AliaTechnics
Kasia thought about starting her own business when she was completing her PhD studies during which she was interested in utilitarian research, allowing for the use of science in industry. Working on her PhD dissertation, she came across a problem with forgery of original materials reported by one of the companies. She decided to try to solve it. In this way, an idea for her own business appeared, and experience gained in business later supported another venture.
“I applied to participate in a competition for PhD students for the best business plan in which I used the case of marking original materials and I presented my idea for a solution. I managed to get the first prize which strongly empowered me”, says Katarzyna.
The idea for chemical marking of plastic materials which ensures protection against unfair competition guaranteed her victory in several competitions for start-ups. Thanks to her victory in one of the competitions, she got a chance to go to the Silicon Valley and present her idea, which allowed her to be included in the final thirteen. After several years of operations with Innovalab she decided to participate in the second edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Poland. She also participated in the next edition, however with a different solution – AliaTechnics start-up.
“I met Wojtek Okraszewski who is the main originator of the project. I had a chance to see his works and implementations in the field of magnetism and porous sinters. I saw great potential in them and having certain experience in business, I decided to support these ideas from the business perspective”, she admits.
AliaTechnics is involved in developing and delivering solutions based on magnetic technology using non-contact interactions with a product or machine, using a properly shaped magnetic field and porous sinters. The first technology allows, among others, for the improvement of the efficiency of industrial machines used, for example, in the mining sector, enabling the reduction of operating costs related to their maintenance.
Currently, the company is implementing its own invention in the form of a controlled magnetic hybrid brake. The uniqueness of the solution, which may be used for example in the production of cables and other unfinished materials, involves control and optimization of the production process and guarantees repeatable quality of the final product parameters.
The right parameters, i.e. science for business – Mirosława El Fray, Poltiss
Mirosława El Fray is a titular professor at the West Pomeranian University of Technology Szczecin where she also fulfils a function of the head of the Institute of Polymers, Didactic and Research Nanotechnology Centre and the head of the Department of Functional Materials and Biomaterials. She also gives classes in the United States and in Germany, and for several years – she has been running her own business. Poltiss has an exclusive license for the original solution in the form of an innovative material developed in cooperation with Dr Jędrzej Skrobot, PhD (West Pomeranian University of Technology Szczecin), and the technology is protected with two Polish and American patents. Currently, patent proceedings are being conducted at the European level.
“Numerous professors abroad, apart from their scientific careers, try their strengths in business, starting their own companies. In Poland such an approach has only started to develop, and we still have a long way to go”, says Mirosława. “Convinced by my partner, who promised to support the project from the business side, I decided to undertake the challenge and translate scientific ideas into the market reality.”
The idea involved creation of a new polymer material thanks to which hernia treatment can be non-invasive, and the material itself resorbs into the patient’s body after some time. The technology allows for the elimination of side effects which may occur in the case of currently used materials. Despite this extraordinary solution, the beginnings in business were not the easiest.
“The idea and development of a new technology is one thing. In the case of solutions based on delivery of new materials for medical applications, the validation process takes a long time. It is associated with pre-clinical trials and then clinical trials which not only confirm validity of their application, but also guarantee that the implemented solution is safe for future patients. Investors are not always able to understand it”, Mirosława admits.
Poltiss managed to attract an investor thanks to whom they can commence another cycle of works towards commercialization of the technology. This is one of numerous successes the founder of the company is proud of. Among the reasons for her pride, she also lists her participation in the first edition of MIT Enterprise Forum Poland during which she was included among the finalists participating in the workshops in Boston.
“Truth be told, each small step in the development of the company was a great success for me. It was associated with a lot of effort and time committed that is often lacking due to the multitude of obligations”, highlights Mirosława. “Therefore, it is important that people who think of starting their own business have the right “parameters”. Thanks to such parameters and support of your friends and family, many ideas can bloom and succeed.”