The Disraptors Summit, which will take place on Tuesday, October 11, 2022, will be the talk of the startup jungle. World-renowned speakers, the most high-profile of which was Its predecessor, the Startup World Cup Summit, was packed with Steve Wozniak. This year brings many changes under the Disraptors banner; it also builds on the success of previous years in many ways.
It is traditionally one of the most significant startup events of the year. It will bring to Prague not only the European Startup Champions League, from which a pan-European winner will emerge at the end of the day, but above all, it will introduce many prominent personalities, with a vast number of exceptional women who are the embodiment of inspiration. Ladies as Holly Branson, daughter of Richard Branson and Chief Visionary of Virgin, Alyssa Carson, 21-year-old future astronaut, and Milena Králíčková, the first woman to head Charles University in the 674 years since its founding, and Erika Piirmets of the Estonian organization e-Estonia, are changing the world.
Behind the scenes of similar conferences is not being revealed often, but we made an exception and interviewed two of the “big guns” of this year’s Disraptors Summit. Katka Syslová, Marketing Director and Tom Cironis, Event Director. Get yourself a coffee and some snack, and enjoy this interview!
1) Tom, Kate, let’s jump right in. Tell us the first Disraptors-related thing you can think of.
Tom: Bucketload of work, not keeping up with deadlines and other stuff. And when I think a bit longer, I can think of a big startup community from V4 countries and famous speakers willing to give us their time, tips, and tricks. That’s what I enjoy the most about it.
Kate: A love of dinosaurs, three kilos of stress, a hectoliter of work, a dash of die-another-day, and finally, a sprinkle of a light heart attack on the main stage. Shake, don’t stir…
2) Disraptors had a rebranding this year, and like an actual raptor, they fear nothing and stand out from the crowd. How are you different?
Kate: Because our raptor has both head and tail, you can play with it. Local startup jungle desperately needed a disraptor.
Tom: Startup World Cup & Summit was the longest name in the history of all startup events in the known and unknown universe, but there wasn’t much we could do about that because of the license.
Over the past year, the opportunity to make a change presented itself, and after a series of negotiations, we got the green light to rename it. And, of course, Kate immediately jumped on that. We combined her love of dinosaurs and Jurassic Park with the word “disruptor” which is very common in our industry and created Disraptors. Kate played with it perfectly, and a great new brand was born. And it’s not only memorable but also pronounceable!
3) How does one prepare for such an event? What do you start with? Tell us about your fuckups and joys.
Kate: It’s like an ancient drama – exposition, collision, crisis, peripeteia, and disaster. With Tom as our Deus Ex Machina. Plus, the catharsis after the action is phenomenal.
Tom: It’s a year-long job; practically, as soon as one year is over, we start working on the next one. Fundraising, sponsors, and arranging with other European startup competitions and speakers take the
longest time. Three to four months before the event itself whole team gets to work. This year our team is supported by Niky, who manages the entire production of the Summit and the accompanying
events. We couldn’t do as much without her and Kate, the team’s driving forces. So Women Power isn’t just about the speakers on the main stage. Our relationships with other organizations across Europe – mainly accelerators, incubators, and investment funds – are handled by Ondra, who also manages the whole SWC competition, including the V4 finals, together with Lucas and Jakub. Lucas is also our contact for the mentors at the Summit. Jakub
communicates with the V4 startups in the competition, helps us select the finalists, and manages the panel discussions. And Kate is in charge of all our communications, along with Vera and Knarik, so if you’ve seen any social media coverage, articles, or ads anywhere, it’s mostly the work of these three.
4) This year’s theme is the power of women. There is a lot of talk about the topic but perhaps little actual action. How do you see it? Please introduce us to your speakers and their stories. How did
you win them over?
Tom: The first one we could confirm was Alyssa Carson, only twenty-one years old, who has been pursuing her dream of becoming an astronaut and setting foot on Mars since she was a little
girl. She has visited every NASA center in the
world. She was certified to enter space in suborbital space at 17, has had a pilot license since she was 18, has taken deep-sea diving courses, became a certified aquanaut, and has completed weightlessness training. She’s now studying astrobiology at the Florida Institute of Technology. At the Summit, we’ll talk about what astronaut training entails, how SpaceX and NASA are different, and how much
support she’s had throughout her training from her father, who raised her all by himself. Another key figure is Milena Králíčková, the first woman to head our oldest and largest university. It is
interesting to note that 508 men have led the university since its foundation in 1348. During her four-year term, Milena Králíčková has set new goals; digitalization and computerization, the
development of research and modern education, the promotion of investment.
And then we have Erika Piirmets, a digital transformation advisor, helping spread Estonia’s digitalization experience to other countries. So that people elsewhere can focus more on the more essential things in life instead of the annoying paperwork. Estonia is a role model if cooperation between the state and the business sector – the held current record for starting a business in 14 minutes. The government organization e-Estonia, which Erika represents, helps with this and
much more. And the most prolonged and most challenging negotiation was with the Branson family, where we pursued Sir Richard Branson for several months. Unfortunately, his busy calendar will not allow him to join us this year. However, we are fortunate that his eldest daughter Holly Branson, also the Chief Purpose and Vision Officer of the Virgin leadership team, has expressed an interest.
Simply put, she sets the direction for the entire consortium of Virgin companies and is the successor to the Virgin CEO chair. She is also the author of a global bestselling book, the chair of the non-profit organization Virgin Unite and the driving force behind the Virgin Start-up Group, which helps startup founders get their businesses off the ground in England and beyond. What I find even more fascinating about her is her love of adventure. She climbed Mt. Blanc, ran several marathons and triathlons, kite surfed across the English Channel, and worked in an orphanage in Nairobi. Furthermore, she is a trained doctor, and before her father lured her to the Virgin group, she worked for several years in a London hospital.
Kate: Holly is our latest big draw. Unless you count our Disraptors pack, which you should. We’re very happy for every visitor who decides to come to an event that kind of jumps out of the established rules of the local startup jungle. If you want a ticket and, like a proper startupist, you want it cheaper, then jump on the discount in the game we created with our IT guru Hugo → game.disraptors.com. We also recommend it for creative procrastination or
instead of counting sheep.
5) You guys are fantastic. I think we can speak for many people who know you and, more importantly, see the results of your work. A big thank you for what you do! Let us know where your the first steps will lead the day after the event :-D.
Kate: I’m planning on changing the community and going to the ZOO to see the animals for a change.
Tom: I’m not gonna lie, for a pint in the pub :-).