In Roald Dahl’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, there was a massive search for the golden tickets that would grant their holders a tour of Willy Wonka’s factory. For startups all over the world, a ticket to Y Combinator is just as precious. However, to get in, they have to go through an X-Factor type auditioning process where Paul Graham, the founder of Viaweb, is among the ones telling you whether you have “it”or not. Two local Krakow guys were able to convince Graham that they do have it. Yet, Jakub Krzych and Lukasz Kostka had to try three times to get a chance to take part in the startup summer camp.
Takeaways from the US
Earlier this week, Krzych and Kostka – founders of Polish startup Estimote, hosted a Hive53 Swarm at the Stage in Krakow. The goal: to inspire fellow startups and to encourage them to apply to accelerators such as Y Combinator. “Networking” and “access” seemed to be the buzzwords of the night. Taking part in the programme is like getting into a prestigious university, it allows you access to some of the most influential people in tech and business, said the duo.
Discover the best deals with Estimote
Photo credit: Estimote, Inc.As it is hard for retailers to make their customers aware of recent deals and GPS data basically stops at the front door of any building, Estimote have thought of a solution extend that reach. That’s where their iBeacon takes over. The pebble-sized sensors they have developed are placed on strategic surfaces in retail spaces, while the customer can download an app on their smartphones. As they pass certain sensors, their smartphones deliver the deals of the day or special deals on certain products. At the same time, the retail operator can gather in-store traffic pattern data to help them more effectively plan their store layout.
iBeacon has previously won the Best Hardware Startup Award at TechCrunch Disrupt SF.
A one-on-one with the co-founders
According to Krzych and Kostka, Estimote currently has paying customers in the thousands but specific figures are kept confidentialdue to the competitiveness of the market. Despite their recent accelerator experience, Krzych stressed that “the company is still young and there is much to do.” As for now, they are getting funding from a number of different investors both local ones and such they met at Y Combinator. The company is currently based in Krakow, but also has an office in Silicon Valley.
Comparing the scene between the US and Poland, the co-founders were impressed with the ambition and focus of American startups, stressing that they are very confident in their visions and provide a supportive atmosphere. “I wish that some of these would find their way to Poland,” said Krzych.
The team’s plan is to build a long-term enterprise that will provide the best user experience to their customers. “The Y Combinator is amazing to take part in but it is not a necessary ingredient for success,” said Krzych. Paul Graham told them to “build something that people want to use” and that seems to be crucial for success.