From whom do insights come?
Przemysław Szleter, Founder and CEO of DAC.digital, is a member of the Forbes Technology Council, an exclusive community for top-tier technology executives. In this role, he will share insights on DeepTech, Emerging Technologies, and Research and Development on the Forbes website. With over two decades of experience, Przemek has been instrumental in advancing emerging technologies and establishing DAC.digital as a leading DeepTech company in Europe. His profile on Forbes will regularly feature updates on building R&D-focused companies, particularly emphasizing DeepTech solutions for real-world problems. Stay tuned for more updates from Przemek in the tech space.
This article originate from forbes.com.
Przemek’s role in Forbes
Connect-The-Dots: The (Not-So) Secret Journey Of A DeepTech Entrepreneur
The journey of an entrepreneur in general, and a DeepTech entrepreneur in particular, goes through various phases. From initiation to growth to exit, different motivations drive an entrepreneurial journey. As a CEO of an R&D-rooted company, reading literature from science and practice is a part of my daily routine. The more I read about entrepreneurial journeys or an entrepreneurial mind, the more I resonate with Kjartan Rist’s article, which explicitly mentions that entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone! Additionally, looking back at my entrepreneurial journey, I see that one of the things that made my venture a success was the personality, thinking and thought process that my team and I injected. Simply put, you need to plot your pathway to success. I connected the dots of the mile markers in my journey for this article to show how small directional changes can orient your’s ventures overall outcomes.
Recognize The Inner Drive
Ever since my university days, I have had an infatuation with technology and believed it could change the world to make it a better place. I had the inner urge to sow the seeds and nurture something that would help the diffusion of technology applications in business and society. My studies, travel and involvement in cluster activities gave me a nuanced picture of problems that would require sustainable solutions with the dawn of DeepTech. It is what fueled the origins of my entrepreneurial journal. Adding to this fire was the ambition to create jobs and a workplace where candidly taking up challenging projects would be a norm. As a family man, recognizing the urge was the first step to starting my journey. The desire to have a good life for my family, kids, co-workers and me kept pushing me, even today.
Know Your Skills And Competencies
The inner urge toward entrepreneurship came naturally to me. However, I thoroughly reflected on whether I am suited to take it up as a career. Apart from the basics, I found that I had a few key traits that would enable me to take up DeepTech entrepreneurship.
• Ability to bear high exposure to risk.
• Ability to make fast yet thoughtful decisions.
• Capability to simultaneously work operationally and think strategically.
• Having interest and knowledge in technology but also law and finances.
• Ability to build a strong network.
Understanding The Market
Exposure to various perspectives is essential for an entrepreneurial endeavor. During my studies in Poland, the U.K. and Spain, I noticed the creative problem-solving skills of Polish engineers and their recognition. There weren’t many globally recognizable Polish companies then, so in resonance with my motivations, I set out to promote Polish tech expertise. Today, when I see great satisfaction among our clients, I always look back and feel proud of how our team contributes to business and society.
Getting Relevant Experience
I started working in the tech industry after finishing my studies, so I was able to come to terms with the technology and the business of technology. However, I needed to gain experience in marketing. Thus, all the sales activities and opportunities came through the personal network and recommendations in the initial stages.
Build A Niche
Understanding the market and relevant experience helped me to see that the Polish tech market was primarily service-based. A venture based on research and development (R&D) and/or product-based would hit that right niche in the market. DAC.digital’s initial projects were for developing unique R&D-based solutions for the dairy and logistics industry.
Entrepreneurship As A Lifestyle—Not Just A Business
Creating something from scratch gave me a lot of satisfaction and motivation. Carrying it to date has been a challenge. I had prepared to take up the venture as a lifestyle rather than just a business. I built my life around it, treating the company as a responsibility toward my co-workers, the tech community in Poland and Europe and society. The lifestyle entails the needs of the company as a community before mine. An obligation to provide opportunity, growth prospects and challenging projects that would indulge the interests and talents of all associated with the company.
One of my most important decisions was to hire intrapreneurs rather than just employees. For a DeepTech venture, it’s vital to have people in the company who would own their bits and drive forth with self-motivation. These were specialists in their fields and simultaneously had good managerial skills. It sometimes meant paying them higher than I would take home or investing my funds. Looking back through the thick and thin, this decision has played a significant role in the success of our company.
Be Ready To Diversify
There is a rise in financing DeepTech R&D through investments in startups. At the same time, building DeepTech talent, which involves multispecialty teams, is challenging. In my experience, these talents desire more than just financial satisfaction. They crave engagement, challenge and fulfillment through the productive use of their time. Hence keeping them on the bench during the lag time of projects, even if there are no financial concerns, is not the best course of action. In such a case, diversifying and offering services in line with the R&D orientation of the company is an optimal solution, in my experience. It creates additional cash flow, as well as engages the talent.
Connect The Dots!
Connecting these dots, we have achieved a 2000% growth over the last couple of years. I have mentored fresh DeepTech startups, played an active role in building technology clusters and endeavored on my entrepreneurial journey abiding by these (no-so-secret) journey milestones!
Przemek contribution to Forbes!