I was happy to hear that we finally launched the LEADER’S SPEECH chapter of the About Smart Cities portal when my colleagues came to get from me our business launch story. I wish to the chapter lot of innovative thinking listeners and here is the story of Smart City Enterprise.
My working career started in the arts when I performed with my rock band. It was a bohemian lifestyle that I loved. Sleeping during the day and playing at night.
Unfortunately, or thankfully, I got into financial difficulties caused by the great floods in Prague in 2002. So I had to find a job. While looking for a job, I managed to get a job at Conrad, specifically as a warehouseman.
After less than half a year, I became deputy warehouse manager, thanks to the fact that the company was implementing a warehouse management system, and I already had a very good understanding of how computers work and how IT technology works in general. Thanks to my father, I have had a good relationship with IT since I was a child because he guided me to computers, networks, software, and hardware.
The fascination of managing people
After some time, I decided to change my job, and I moved to a global company Fujitsu Siemens, again as a warehouse representative. At that time, Siemens implemented biometric systems for the Police of the Czech Republic and maintained government social security administration systems, and I took care of the logistical part of the work. Thanks to this job, I get involved in project management processes. It fascinated me. Firstly, the management, organization of follow-ups of a huge volume of parallel actions, but even more fascinated me the psychology of managing people. My bohemian mind started to change from a chaotic approach into a self-organized one.
After some time, I got an offer from the company Strom Telecom, later Sitronics, and later nVision, which was developing software for mobile operators. I accepted the job offer and became project coordinator. During this period, I developed my management skills. I studied project management, and supply chain management and deeply dived into the psychology of management itself.
Long international experience road
All that software machinery that includes processes and people began to make sense to me, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. At the same time, the project department started to build up, where I found my niche as a project/process manager, which kicked me further out into the world. First, to the Russian Federation and Ukraine to attend to small projects, then to Pakistan, where I’ve been part of the “SWAT team” that has been built to solve a problem in the implementation of the billing part of the huge project where I was in charge of the processes in the project and at the same time acted as an assistant to the leader of our team.
Then I went to the Russian Federation again for a few months, where we prepared African projects, after which I went to Uganda, later moved to Congo, where we had the main task of implementing a mobile operator in the local market, where I led the project for about a year, and we set up the technical support processes for the local mobile operator. So, generally, I spent about ten hectic years traveling and managing.
The turning point
The big turning point came a few years later, with my trip to India to lead the technical support of the Russian-Indian team. It was a matter of endless ongoing troubleshooting of technical problems. Thousands of them, including an enormous volume of calls and escalations, and solving them was a big strain on the psyche. So India taught me o lot about the inner part of myself. One of the interesting things was the situation on arrival to the project when I found out that the Russian part of the team couldn’t speak English and had to learn Russian, which took me about six months. And that was just the beginning of the surprising and dramatic situation that India prepared for me.
After this difficult period, I decided to quit my job for “someone” and set up my own business, so I opened LANAST Consulting in the Czech Republic. My vision was to offer IT consulting services to small and middle-sized businesses. But as it often happens, “Man means God changes” right after opening my company, I was invited to an interview at PPF Group (the biggest Czech holding), where I passed a lengthy six-round interview and was hired as CIO for a multinational bank. So began my next journey to Kazakhstan, where they were setting up and digitizing the bank. I was also somehow coordinating Lanast projects alongside my work, but to be honest, in a very bad quality. After a 3-year contract with a 1-year extension, I had offers to move on, but I said that I had spent enough energy on corporate life and decided to focus on my own business.
A restart from corporate to entrepreneurship
Returning to LANAST Consulting, I felt that the company’s focus is the same as I did during the past 15 years, so it became the right time to open a new project – a new company. Starting Smart City Enterprise was not just a business for me. The idea of developing smart cities has a deeper meaning for me. My first thought about the “Smart City” term came when I traveled first time from India to Singapore for the F1 Grand Prix. Then, I realized how clean, technological, organized, and full of green and nature the city can be. Since then, I’ve had this idea stacked in my head.
Initially, I saw urban development as just technological development to make everything under monitoring, things faster, and help set up security. We have been working on Smart Cities for years with the idea that Smart Cities are about IoT, ICT communication, and technology to finally realized that Smart Cities are actually about people. Over time, I came to understand that the concept of a Smart City is first and only about people and that the most important thing is not to make everything faster, but it’s about learning how to set up technology optimally to help the people. It’s about raising people’s standard of quality living, with all the pillars like security, development, ecology, healthcare, and education.
The first fail
Smart City Enterprise was founded with a vision of networking, through which we can connect innovative management of cities with solutions from innovative companies around the world to help build and grow smart cities.
You might say, “After this experience with a clear vision, it is a guarantee of success.” Well, not at all. Nothing moved in the direction that I imagined and planned. After the legal establishment of Smart City Enterprise as a company, we slowly started to get off the ground. Or, at least we thought so. We bought domains, developed a product portfolio, and pretty impressive websites. We gave the company o lot of time and all the energy. Moreover, many startup owners know how costly it is to build up a company from scratch, even with motivated volunteers working for the future equity share.
Nevertheless, we were full of optimism, hope, and unhealthy ambitions, untimely waiting to see who would notice us. We imagined how great we are, how perfect our service is, and how much money we make. But, unfortunately, as usual, the god’s opinion was different from ours. Customers’ interest was at the freezing point. Nobody cared about us, and nobody got interested in us. A really sad story. Two years of our effort finished with a total fail.
The second fail
As a next step, we decided to promote the company using social networks. Again, the motivation bit grew up, and thanks to a lot of communication, posts, attendance in discussion forums, and similar publishing on social networks, we have reached about 150 daily visits to our websites. And the business result? What do you think? Nothing. The business was stagnant, funds became lower and lower, and from the perspective of revenue – one big, demotivating zero.
The third fail
Then we decided another way. We tried to take advantage of the cryptocurrency craziness that led the token market, into which we invested a tremendous amount of time to create the Smart City Token and refactored the business model. We spent another significant amount of money, energy, and optimism. Result? We were labeled a scam, me, as a CEO, got called a liar, and my career was labeled as fictional.
Loss of the support
Over time, we ran out of money, even fell into debt, lost all motivation, lost family support, and raised the biggest problem – a broken ego. Do you know? When you have a successful long period of life, with a lot of money, securities, and assurance of prosperity by being part of a sustainable corporation, you easily feel that you are undestroyable, and everything you start will become another level of your success. Well, at this time, you come to think about life from a different perspective. Either you can hang off your hope and return to the system, or you have to re-think every aspect of your life.
At one point, somewhere between waves of depression and meditation, I realized that I couldn’t let go of the Smart City Enterprise idea. That time I thought of a major step. I started making phone calls to all my former business colleagues whose achievements and a professional journey I respected and asked them to critique my “company” hardly. I asked to blame the company, blame products, and employees’ qualities. Thanks to this exercise, I found a new sense of purpose, and I understood how the market works.
People don’t care how great your project is
The fundamental change was in the ego. When you create something of that you are proud, you unconsciously feel the need to talk about it. You want to show the customer what a great thing you offer them. But you know what? People absolutely don’t care how great your project or product is. People only care about their own – either personal or professional problems. So if you want to sell something, you have to solve their problem. That was one of the critical keys.
So we started again to redesign the website, change the company’s concept, and recruit new employees, especially experienced professionals from the business sphere. As a result, we gradually started to win new contracts and important projects, and the company turned prosperous, even still in negative P&L.
Smart City Enterprise today
Many things happened after this business/ego restart period, mainly related to the personal and emotional involvement with the company. I will not go deeper here. If you are interesting more in it, we can have a call or write a direct message to me. But, today, I can say that Smart City Enterprise is a professional, successful, and growing company. What I consider to be one of our greatest achievements is that our initial vision has become a reality, and we offer a full scope of services in the area of tendering; thanks to our crawling programs, we have a daily updated list of public tenders from all over the world, as well as lists and often contacts of all the innovative companies in the world. We categorize these lists by industry and segment to make connections between them.
At Smart City Enterprise, we have expanded our list of services over time, and today, in addition to tendering, we offer digital marketing, sales, pre-sales, lead generation, product development, and market research services. Smart City Enterprise’s clientele is literally from all over the world, and we have no problem working with a company from any country. We are currently targeting the Asian market. This year, we are starting to operate in Europe as we aim to be active and automated in Europe, Russian-speaking countries, and India by 2027.
Moreover, we extended work on a content portal, the About Smart Cities (link: www.aboutsmartcities.com), where people can dive deeper into a world of “Smart Cities,” studying new technologies, ecology, safety in the city, and innovative startups. This site’s content is also focused on decentralized solutions and quantum technologies, and I find it very important to mention the “Academy of Wellbeing,” where we are looking at a sociological view of the human being in the city itself. We also still own www.lanast.com, where we offer management consulting services for companies and entrepreneurs. Our new project is a non-profitable organization where we developed a methodology and want to deal with children’s mental health. We teach children correct breathing, explaining to them the ecology and world ecosystem and a non-commercial view of the world based on talent and education rather than the commercial behavior of people. Our organization is trying to set up a proper mindset and peace of mind. This is how our company moves in the B2B, B2G, and G2C sphere and helps build more SMART cities.