A few weeks ago, Jiří Kobelka was still living his “ordinary” business life with his start-up Tatum Blockchain, which provides companies with a platform for rapid development of blockchain applications. However, the situation unexpectedly changed and the coronavirus impacted all of our lives. And it changed the life of Jiří Kobelka, who describes his situation from the beginning: “On our street, there is a very nice lady who bakes bread. When the epidemic came, she brought bread and sewn masks to me and my family. That was a nice gesture. When I then saw the wave of solidarity spread through the Czech Republic, it inspired me and my colleagues to also contribute something. We thought about how to do that. After all, we are a technology start-up and we don’t know how to sew masks. When the nationwide quarantine was declared, I talked to Česká spořitelna, which mentioned the problem that companies would lose revenues and financing to keep their operations going and many of them would have problems even after reopening, which has now been confirmed. It may be open, but with the extreme restrictions and fear among the population, it will be a long time before businesses get past this…” And an idea was born. Tatum Blockchain provided the necessary technology for the Zachransvoufirmu.cz project and Česká spořitelna helped to create a payment gateway. They worked sixteen hours a day and the foundation of the platform was ready within three days. The platform makes it possible for ordinary people to help, for example, their favourite hair stylist, pub or fitness centre by buying a voucher that they pay for immediately but use later. Thanks to this, a company can better cope with the impacts of COVID-19. Companies can register on the website free of charge and the money immediately goes into their accounts.
In the subsequent weeks, the project was supported by more than 30 volunteers from the ranks of experts in their respective fields and their journey also led to the Hack the Crisis virtual hackathon, which is coordinated by CzechInvest and other partners under the motto #Bojujemespolecne (#Wefighttogether). The Podpoříme.cz project backed by Jaroslav Textoris of Scenario s.r.o. was introduced in the course of the hackathon. The projects decided to join forces and now operate on a single website, zachransvoufirmu.cz. They are currently applying for aid within the Czech Rise Up – Smart Solutions Against COVID-19 programme and takeover of the website’s operation by the Czech Fintech Association is also on the table.
The hackathon’s participants will receive an angel mentor, who will work with them on the further development of their projects. In the event that a particular project succeeds in the assessment by the jury, the so-called expert board, it can commence cooperation with selected mentors and specialists in the given field, and can also gain easier access to financing. Assistance is being provided by scientists from Czech universities such as the Czech Technical University, the Technical University of Ostrava and Jan Evangelista Purkyně University, as well as prominent businesspeople such as Martin Rozhoň, founder of VIVANTIS and investor in start-ups, Petr Mandík, co-founder of Happyend, Dalibor Kačmář of Microsoft, Petr Šmíd of Google and Karel Obluk, chairman of the Business Angel Association. More than 100 mentors are already involved in the hackathon and their number continues to rise. Areas covered by the event include, for example, legal consulting, marketing and PR, business development and digitalisation of healthcare. You can learn more about the selection of mentors HERE.