GeniCore - the most prosperous start-up in Poland. ”pod prąd team” talked to us about the opportunities and problems of Polish technological start-up projects.
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Start-up is not a school of business
With the winner of the „Orły Innowacji” [the Innovation Leaders] competition, GeniCore, we discussed the opportunities and problems of the start-ups in technology sector in Poland. The company’s expertise includes state-of-the-art technologies that may be used both in space technology, as well as for mining drills or ceramics processing.
How did GeniCore emerge?
Damian Mątewski: Marcin and I have known each other since the University. We studied together at the Faculty of Material Engineering at the Warsaw University of Technology. Marcin, as a PhD at that Faculty, developed more interesting devices, while I entered the world of business immediately after graduation and dealt with the current issued from the business point of view.
The company was incorporated in 2012, we started the company’s operations in 2013. We Focus mainly on the product development within the scope of material engineering, mostly with respect to sintering technologies. We already have a ready-made product on the market, a PPC (Pulse Plasma Compaction) equipment. We are currently developing a new technology, the so-called U_FAST Upgraded Field Assisted Sintering Technology since the beginning of this year.
What are your devices used for?
Damian Mątewski: The materials we develop may be used to manufacture tools for processing solid ceramics, in drilling and driving, or for wood processing. They are not as hard as polycrystalline diamond, but they are more resistant to chipping and of an improved impact stress. We would like to use that devices in the oil and mining industries, for drilling heads. Poland is one of the World leaders in the mining equipment manufacturing.
There is also a large and growing market we are drawing our attention at, namely the market of components for the aviation, space and motor vehicle sectors. Recently, those divisions increase their demand on light and durable CFRP (Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer) that require proper tools for processing; GeniCore provides innovative solutions for those sectors.
Aren’t you afraid that your competitors may be faster?
Damian Mątewski: The industry market of the U_FAST devices is emerging. So far, that technology was used by research and scientific institutes. Now, when the scientific basis for such technology is grounded, when multiple publications have been published and the parameters of the materials produces have been measures, the technology has become interesting for the industry. Additionally, the PPC technology has no market equivalent, what makes it our advantage, hence, we have outrivaled our competitors several years ahead.
Marcin Rosiński: I am glad that there are companies competitive to ours. This means, that the market expenditure has been incurred. GeniCore is currently present on that market. Our product has already been appreciated by Japanese company, despite the fact that our greatest competitor, the Fuji company, is seated there. Asia is now the greatest market for our, providing the greatest opportunities.
What problems did you face as a start-up?
Damian Mątewski: One of the worst issues for the start-ups in Poland is the disadvantageous tax system here. It makes the development of many companies difficult, many small companies may even be „killed” by it.
Also gaining funds to finance the technological projects is difficult. The Polish seed market is emerging. The investors are cautious and are afraid to take the risk inevitable in investing in a start-up. The Polish venture capital companies do not understand the market of innovation hardware technology too well, making the task of convincing them to invest in a project even more difficult.
Have you asked for funds abroad?
Damian Mątewski: Yes, we have, mostly in the Western countries, e.g. in the United States, where the approach to the state-of-the-art technologies is different. The risk is much more acceptable there. Unfortunately, their requirements are also more stringent, the initial preparatory charges required to have a fund take a closer look at a company and its products are much higher. Those charges amount to several dozen thousands of US dollars. This may become an effective obstacle for a start-up.
What is necessary to incorporate a successful start-up?
Marcin Rosiński: First of all you have to believe absolutely that what you want to do makes sense and that you are the best persons in the World to do that. Of course this requires a lot of passion, enthusiasm and hard work, because often your „nights are too short” to perform all the tasks you have.
Second of all you need a good team, believing in the possible great development, in the case of a start-up. A start-up at the beginning of its route is unable to remunerate the team members properly.
As an ex-member of the scientific world I would like to tell the other scholars that if they decide to incorporate a start-up, they must look for some businessman that will also believe in their ideas. A start-up is not a good place to learn the world of business. At that point such lessons may be very harsh.