Why and how did you start your business?
Three of us founded Plukkido with my sibling and a very good friend of mine. When my child was born and I had to leave my job – what was very difficult for me to do, though it was a good time to get out, because one of our projects just ended – I decided that after the childbirth I would like to make something, what is really mine, because I won’t be able to work as earlier for a while. Although, I was planning then to go back to work after six months.
As a psychologist, I began to work out an idea that would support mothers who are at home with their children, but in the end nothing came out of it because the teamwork did not work out with my friend I joined together. That was a big failure for me. When my second child and the twins of my friend Orsi were born, we were both pretty deep. At that time, we talked a lot about it as a problem and how to solve it. We have developed a design that we thought might be good for others too. Then came the question: is this idea valuable enough to build a business on it? We went through traditional business development steps – we tested, validated the problem and the elaborated solution after developing the idea. We’ve seen, that it works and it’s worth investing to build an instrument on it, that is a child-rearing game. At that time we called it a motivational game. Three of us started to work on it. Balázs, my brother as a graphic artist, Orsi and I as experts. We were pretty dedicated and the problem was very burning. Orsi and Balázs both draw very well. Orsi worked out the figures, which later took a different direction because we used digital technology, although we did not originally wanted it. That’s how we got our printing material that we started with and achieved great success. The product itself was very good, it was a real success story as people took to it just because of the oral tradition. We sold lots of products in the first few months, but then the drive fell back. We had to consider that the business itself and the idea were not enough, even though we have our product. Then I started to learn differnet things. By itself, if someone produces a game it is a very serious procedure. To get along the bureaucratic system to go through various processes so that your product meets everything. We had to build up the business, the brand with a brother who works as corporate identity designer and with a operative graphic company behind my back. I learned how to communicate with the clients. To this day, it is a central issue for us to add value even if you are buying something and even if you do not. It’s important how our marketing can be self-identical.
What do you like about entrepreneurship, being a startupper?
We are not a startup, but we are an innovative business that is proven by our Innovation Award too. In entrepreneurship I love self-reliance and how my own ideas come to life, though there are a lot of difficulties. If things do not go as I would like, it’s throws my drive back. Of course, you should never give up! We know that our latest product, the Útramanó application, will only be really successful in startup environment. For that, of course, we also have to act like a startup, so we need to found a separate company. Since Plukkido itself is not really a startup, but I was close to the Hungarian startup world, many people know us from there, we have good reputation in that medium, and I know how they work, since I got a look into it. We know that it’s only worth starting with Útramanó if we have a scalable solution on this platform from the first minute.
How did they get in touch with your potential investors?
Plukkido received great impetus from this Hungarian community. When I first outlined the concept at the beginning, I did it at one of the events of the Hungarian startup world. Fate has brought me to meet with people who came up to this because they saw that this was something completely new. I think they also noticed us because in our case the commitment was coupled with serious professional knowledge and high level of implementation. They were very supportive of our project, which gave us great drive. From that point on, we took the tasks much more seriously. They were several times surprised to find that we are going to relationship building evenings when we have a finished product that can be sold while others only have ideas. In the start-up world, not at this stage is it usual to get capital. They suggested that I participate in competitions, build relationships that I have done, but because they are not of an IT nature and have a high cost of production, they are not scalable, so we did not get any investment, even though we were in many places. The biggest problem was that we did not have an online version of our game and did not believe that we could quickly expand on the international market. Of course you can not expand with such a marketing budget. Generally they missed in me the manly thinking that belongs to the world of money, that if they look into my eyes, they do not see dollar signs in it. I was looking for potential investors, and I also met a leader of a very large multinational company, just as with lot of others from the Hungarian startup scene, but in interesting ways all of my attempts failed, which have a wide variety of causes. In fact, I became disappointed in this sphere, so I decided to do it from our own power, as we can. The problem with Hungarian venture capital investors is that – and this was said to me by someone who invests his own money beyond public funds – you do not meet with those in the meetings who oppose money. As far as public funds are concerned, nowadays they are investing more seriously in startups and innovative businesses, but you’re negotiating with adminsitrators, not with those who make a substantive decision. My friends who have received venture capital – and now we are not talking about angel investment – they all almost without exception regretted that they accepted. Maybe I can tell one or two who says he’s happy with it. I have been able to accept the money several times of angel investors and private individuals who have known and trusted me, but I know we need a person who not only gives money, but also helps us spend this money smart. For me it is important that the company’s operations are sustainable, more important than to get out and deal with financial plans in most of my time.
What are the sums of potential funds for potential venture capital investors?
We received offerings from 5 million to 60 million HUF.
Based on what criteria did you choose for potential investors?
Usually on recommendation. Someone who knows me and the investor too, thought that we would fit, so he told me. It was only one case when I contacted someone, but later it turned out that we could not meet his expectations because I could not find a man he was waiting for in our team. Nevertheless, to this day he is a great fan of me. The one I want to maintain a closer relationship with nowadays, it started that I’ve seen a long interview with him. Orsi, who rarely agrees with me rgagrding who we should sit down with to negotiate, now said that we needed this man. If that does not happen, I’m sure I’ll give up the search for a long time. Of course, it’s still a matter of finding out whether the person matches with Plukkido, but I’ve been looking for him because he fits us very much professionally and humanly. As a smart woman, I did not address him, but on a certain platform I raised a professional dilemma and then he commented on it, that’s how we started communicating with each other.
What are the obstacles to entrepreneurship?
When you got an idea and then it becomes a product or brand, objective considerations can not stand in the way of progress. These are always the human obstacles you start working on or not. I do not believe that anything can go in the way of someone if you really want to reach something.
What should a female entrepeneur be careful about if she would like to engage business angels?
This is a topic we do not talk about, but it is known that a woman or a man is negotiating differently.
Did you have any experience when you felt you were treated differently because you were a woman?
I’ve never blamed the other because he treats me as a woman. I think he sees in me the uncertainty regarding the financial world, which if I were a man, would have in me the same way. If someone talks to you from the first moment while watching his phone and talking to three other people, even if you’re standing there at an event, it’s about being a woman. That’s terrible. Then the same man stares at you from the corner during the event. I had such an experience. It was pretty rough. There was also someone who had great experience and, as a general advice, he told me that if I were more open to some things, I would probably be more likely to advance in the Hungarian investor environment. That was the point when I felt like no way!
Have you met potential female investors as well?
Yes, but for example, in such a situation, she said that if in the meeting the male business partner would be present, we would not be there anymore. This lady did not risk her own money altogether, but rather represented an investor. With a woman who tells me that I sit down to negotiate with you, and if I like what you say, then here is my money on my bank account and I give you money on my own decision, I did not meet. There was only one exception whit whom we did not reach beyond a certain level and there was even no specific amount; There would have been a partnership with a former senior executive of a large multinational company who was a fantastic businesswoman with whom I was distrustful. Unfortunately, my distrust is always there.
What would you change to be more effective as entrepreneur?
If you are your own boss, you can be very comfortable, and for example, it occures sometimes that I prefer tasks that are more enjoyable than what I should do for the business. If you do not have a boss for a long time, no one calls your attention to that. I would change that, but I do not know, if I am able to do this alone. The other is financial planning what I do not like, but sometimes when I take the time and energy, I get into the flow state that is typical of me, for example, if I write a professional article on a topic that I’m familar with. Rerarding the financial planning, I still have a lack of knowledge, I should spend more time learning, because we are now starting with a technology thing and this area is constantly changing. If this is not done by others, then I have to.
What do you think is the difference between a female and a male entrepreneur?
I’ve been in contact with a lot of female entrepreneurs in connection with the Moments365 project. In my view, the biggest difference is that women have no idea what to do with money. It’s not important for them to get rich quick from their business, but they like to do something, they have money from it and they are fine with that. Mostly, these businesses are succesful – of course, there are single mothers who runs a business, which is an amazing thing in itself – but in most of the cases a female entrepeneur can not maintain a family alone. I see many examples of this, and I’m a bit part of that myself, though Plukkido produced a pretty good return last year. In a man’s business, it is much earlier a topic, that he has to make money, as he can not do it as a family head. This is characteristic for my environment. Businesses that grow and expand, and from the outside point of view, Plukkido looks like this, there are some kind of economic studies in the background. In case of several women’s businesses, these are missing. In case of those who are able to grow big, usually there are economists in the background. A successful female business needs to have more economic attitude than an average male business. It is not accidentally an issue, that more female entrepeneurs should get investments.
Are you participating in any startupper community?
There are Facebook groups that work as a forum. In these you can learn a lot, you can get to know many people and have the opportunity to have a direct contact, but of course the members disparage each other often. There was a time when we were sitting together a lot thinking together, working together on common projects or just talking, but after a while I saw no productive benefit in that. There are plenty of meetups on a wide variety of topics. There is also a lot to learn in these, in addition, for free or for minimal entry. Investors themselves are trying to make themselves heard too, so they organize a lot of events. There is surely no lack of information.
What difference do you see between female and male business angels or investors?
A woman is trying to figure out more what kind of value we create. I do not have experience enough to to make a more serious survey. Being a psychologist, it is possible that it can be seen in my aura, that I negotiate with a woman differently than with a man. It may be just my own stereotypes. In our case, for example, it is common knowledge that the world of children is more interesting for a woman than for a man.
What would help you become more successful in your business?
Economic planning, preliminary outline of processes, continuous analysis of our own activities, deduction of conclusions. I should delegate tasks to engage more in business development.
What would make easier to engage business angels or investors as an entrepreneur?
This is the same what would make us more successful. When I was negotiating, there was always a lengthy preparation for a negotiation, which meant that our team was dealing with nothing else. And if the meeting turned out to be pointless, it was disappointing. You have to put it together in your head, what the money will be spent on you are asking for. The problem with an innovative business is that they are not going on a beaten path – there is no data or statistics that you can start from, which would approach your business approximately. With clear lines and goals and if necessary, letting some things go it is easier to attract capital. It requires a more rational, harder attitude, this should be felt on me as mostly I’m the head of this business, though obviously they see the team behind me. All this I have to believe too, because I can not, for example, throw around with numbers and I can not see its meaning.
Do you know startuppers, innovative businesses that you think of as an example to follow?
Very good question. I can say no example. Let’s say LEGO? J I do not see into it. I can not say an example from Hungary to whom I would say wow, this is how I would like to do it! I think it’s not always the money, the big investment that makes something good.
Are there any innovative businesses or startups that you think deserve the most support?
Not the umpteenth photo applications or similar things. I think it should be invested in those projects, that are dealing with socially important topics and also find a solution to them. Kids are very trapped by the digital world and the screens. This is a serious problem, and although I encounter a lot of opposition, I also feel it on me and see it in the world. That is why we work among other things, and I feel that we are in our place. The goals I have outlined, are the same which I think should be supported and these are solutions for social issues, which are primarily IT solutions. But the world is going to the direction, that almost everything is decided in the online space and they really have a lot of problems for lot of things that I have no problem with.
Would the angel investor you are negotiating with support Plukkido with a similar amount of magnitude than we talked about earlier?
Yes, it is a sum under 100 Million HUF.
Is the Útramanó application developed for other places too?
We could serve the Hungarian market much faster, a segment of it, even on a location basis, but we do not do it because we want to develop a product that can be scaled on an international level. But I feel that I will be able to do this only if this development will produce by-products, which serve to a certain extent the Hungarian market too. To get this investment or to sit down whith us for one more negotiation, we have to outline the concept of product development that less affects that someone is listening to a tale on a given route from Budapest to Vienna via the application. My original idea is a scalable solution for a global market too, but that’s a lot more work. We are facing a task, about which the investor said that that we are not the first, but not the hundredth ones, who wants to make it, but no one succeded by now. We are currently here. It is really very difficult to cross the belief system that we will be the ones, who succeed.