Interview with Jakub Hladík, an old hand in the field of start-ups and business

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Jakub Hladík had an interesting start to his career. Exactly ten years ago, at the age of 21, he started doing business with his first idea, that of the “virtual operator”. Tariffs were expensive at that time and he decided to set up a cheaper way to call his friends and then friends of their friends. Thanks to this, he came close to business terms and conditions comparable to those of corporations with tens of thousands of employees. As time passed, more offers of cooperation rolled in, leading to the establishment of his first firm, BASE GANG, which started in 20 m2 garage and an investment of CZK 50,000 borrowed from his family.

Offers began to accumulate and Jakub Hladík’s portfolio of activities continues to expand, starting with comprehensive services for public and private events, through an aircraft repair facility to cooperation with Tomáš Hovorka in the company Luxiom.

What exactly does Jakub Hladík do? What does he most enjoy? What is he currently planning? What is he most proud of? This time, we spoke not only about all of that, but also about his planned Kickstarter campaign with Luxiom.

Q1: You have a long and interesting history. It is difficult for a young person just out of school to start doing business, and you managed to do it ten years ago. How do you see your beginnings in the garage with a loan from your family?

I see the biggest obstacle to doing business in human complacency and the unwillingness to try something at the cost of momentary sacrifice of one’s pleasures, material things, time and oneself. Due to the fact that I started doing business as a student who didn’t have anything and practically didn’t have to do anything other than study, I didn’t have much to lose. At that time, the choice was clear for me, since I didn’t have far to fall. When a person gets used to a certain monthly standard, it’s much harder to make that decision. Now, with the passage of time, I’m very glad that I didn’t become an employee somewhere, I didn’t make a regular ten thousand-crown rent payment, car payment, telephone and other not so existentially important expenditures. However, in my opinion, when starting a business, it is important to reinvest everything in the firm, whether it’s the first money you earn or all of your free time, so that business plan takes off and a certain inertia comes into play.

Q2: You are active in several firms. Tell us a little bit about them.

My first firm was Base Gang, which provides facilities for shooting films and commercials. It primarily involves ensuring operation and rental of tents, vehicles and other event equipment.

Then fate led me to a project involving the establishment of a maintenance centre for Cessna and Piper aircraft, where I primarily contributed to obtaining new maintenance facilities.

As time passed, I began to seek self-realisation in the form of start-up companies and investments in them. That’s how I came to CzechInvest’s CzechEkoSystem programme, which was the predecessor of the Czechstarter programme, where I became a mentor to three firms, in which I also invested.

Q3: In the foreseeable future, you are planning a Kickstarter campaign for the company Luxiom, which manufactures unique, tailor-made lighting solutions. When do you want to launch the campaign?

Yes, one of the firms that I encountered in the previous project for support start-ups is Luxiom, in which the successful designer Tomáš Hovorka is involved. We are currently working on preparing a crowdfunding campaign so that we can get feedback on the American market. For me, this is an immensely enriching experience and I can’t wait for the campaign’s results. So far, we are in talks with partners in the US and Japan, so I believe that feedback from Kickstarter will escalate the whole process and ensure better negotiating conditions for us.

Q4: Can you tell us the most common “mistake” you encounter among start-ups? Is it financing, bad ideas, a bad business plan?

As a member of the idea board at the company GISTinUP, I have encountered a full range of start-ups that were seeking an investor or other form of assistance. However, I can’t say that it mostly involved any single fatal “mistake”, though I would rather avoid that word. I would rather say one of the aspects you mention was missing in the case of rejected projects. Nevertheless, that’s not anything that can’t be worked on together and then get an investment. I can say that meeting with more than six start-ups a day was demanding, but it was mostly interesting and enriching. I can say that meeting with more than six start-ups a day was demanding, but it was mostly very interesting and enriching. To see the unbelievable enthusiasm, the drive, that I view as one of the basic keys to success, was unbelievably energising for me. Not to mention the overlaps that I saw in potential cooperation.

Q5: To conclude, please tell us what you are most proud of. And what are your plans for the immediate future.

It’s hard to say 😊. I guess I’m most proud of my friends, who despite my unavailability always remained friends and supported me, even though I couldn’t give them the support they deserved because of my workload.

Besides acquiring foreign partners for Luxiom, I am also a mentor for Czechstarter, so we’ll see what kind of interesting projects come my way and where fate will take me.

Thank you very much and we wish you much success and a successful Kickstarter campaign.