Interview with Milan Málek of Kooperace.cz, which brings together firms in the area of mechanical engineering and is changing their perspective on production

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The start-up Kooperace.cz is a platform for mechanical-engineering firms which, thanks to the platform, can offer their available machine capacity and connect with those that conversely have a work overload or do not possess a particular machine. This leads to profit for both parties. Though the idea is very simple, it is also very effective. CEO of the platform Milan Málek, further describes the vision: “It is a win-win situation for everyone. Thanks to the maximum utilisation of capacities, the given firm does not suffer a loss and obtains new orders. Our task is fundamental in that we assist with the whole process and untie their hands so that they can concentrate on their core business, i.e. mechanical-engineering production and not on the administrative process. Our target group is huge. There are currently fifty thousand mechanical-engineering firms in the Czech Republic alone.

The platform is advancing thanks also to CzechInvest’s seven-month CzechStarter incubation programme, which put Kooperace.cz in contact with experienced mentors. Participation in the programme not only brought the start-up assistance in the areas of networking and gaining interesting contacts, but primarily led to more accurate targeting of the product, which was necessary for the successful continuation of the platform. The programme ended with the celebratory CzechStarter Pitch Night, where Kooperace.cz won the prize of the public and the jury selected the firm as the best start-up of the evening.

What are the start-up’s plans for the future? Why mechanical engineering? We asked Milan Málek these questions and more in the following interview.

 

1) Milan, your start-up has been in operation for not quite two years. How were the beginnings of Kooperace.cz? Why specifically mechanical engineering?

As usual, the beginnings were not entirely rosy, but actually rather grey. The market was saturated with the platforms of demand portals that not only didn’t fulfil expectations, but directly broke the trust of the majority of people. It required a lot of effort for us to change that image. We bet on personal contact and visited every selected firm. Some were sceptical as to whether we would bring the idea to a conclusion, but we found no one, truly no one, who considered it a bad or impossible idea. And that encouraged us tremendously in our work. The idea of sharing available capacities and easily finding partners addressed a problem that everyone was facing.

My brother Jakub and I have been involved with mechanical engineering since we were kids and we have been focused on it professionally for 19 years, and we’ve tried both managing our own firm and upper management in a multinational company. Therefore, assisting small and medium-sized mechanical-engineering firms was an obvious choice for us.

 

2) Part of the supported activities in the CzechStarter programme consists in support from mentors – experts. Can you tell us what the most valuable advice they gave you was?

I consider the most valuable thing to be the impetus to not stop with Kooperace at the border and to have bigger ambitions. If not global, then at lease on the European scale. We learned to not think only locally and to not be afraid of grand concepts. And, thanks to CzechStarter, we also found our bearings in the field of start-ups and came together with the community of people around them.

 

3) You do not hide the fact that you are seeking an investor. What can you offer to an investor?

We offer the opportunity to be part of the total transformation of the mechanical-engineering market in Europe. In the volume of nearly EUR 600 billion.

 

4) Future plans?

We’re aiming for a complete revolution. Victory in the CzechStarter Pitch Night gave us energy and we plan to take part in several important, interesting events, the first of which is the Startup World Cup and Summit in April, where we will have our own stand. We have the opportunity to present Kooperace.cz to thirty investors in Rotterdam in May. We are a gold partner of the CEEC Research conference, where we will present Kooperace to more than one hundred mechanical-engineering firms. We’re appearing at the PODIM Conference in Maribor…that’s going to be quite a ride!

 

We wish you luck!