An interview with Julka Święch – teenage entrepreneur from Kraków

Richard Lucas May 2014

Introduction

I heard about Julka’s business ventures from her father Grzegorz.. As someone who has been promoting entrepreneurship projects in Schools  in Poland for more than 20 years. (see end of article for examples, links), I was impressed and requested an interview

Please introduce yourself, who are you, what do you do and where are you from ? 

My name is Julka, I’m from Cracow. I’m pupil from First Middle School in Cracow, near Wawel. I’m fourteen and I’ve got two small companies.

Julka Święch

Julka Święch

The first  is EBC (Everything Best Company), which was founded by my and my best friend.. EBC helps you with housework, gardening and babysitting. We can do everything you want. We makes cakes & candies too. Second is nosmog.pl. I started it two months and it produces friendly antismog masks. This is my first big project. Now, there are three models of masks, each other with different colour and concept. If you want to know more about nosmog.pl , just visit our webpage.

IMG_6194

how did you find customers?

In EBC our customers are our neighbours. We increase sales by finding more, further from us, people and expatriates In nosmog.pl I target mostly young people, who have their own style, perhaps hipsters and artists.

how did you decide how much to charge?

In nosmog.pl I have a three pack, where are 3 masks, each one with other colour. The threepack costs 20 PLN. In EBC we have a price-list. If the potential order is new, and not on our standard list, we write a proposal, or  ask a potential customer what price they propose.

What were the biggest challenges

The biggest challenge for us in EBC was the beginning. We didn’t know how to start, we did some paperwork, created an e-mail and named our company (first we called White Group :-). We started with special offers, helping out our parents. Then we made some cakes and helped different people with housework, gardening and more. I think, that the biggest challenge is in creating a company is the beginning. In nosmog.pl it was different, because I was on my own.  I told my parents about the idea  and they helped me a little. I was a bit scared on my first interview, too.

How did you persuade people that it was ok to do business with someone who was not adult

People were attracted to our young age. They know, that we are young and they are saying something like„Oh, you are fourteen!! When I was fourteen I was…”. Of course we have some customers who are  outraged by our age, but we don’t care about that.

Were you supported by family and friends or did they think you are crazy

My family is thinking out of box. My friends’ reaction was very cool, because they weren’t jealous. They were very surprised and they supported me in my problems.

What did you school think of what you were doing 

Well, my school doesn’t know about my company yet. I presented nosmog.pl idea at a  Chemistry lesson and my teacher was very surprised. My Geology teacher’s reaction was similar.

were you alone or did you have a team

In EBC I am the founder with my best friend Pola. We are supporting each other. We have got some volunteers, younger than us, our little neighbours. We had one employee, but we released her. (RL Comment-  it’s valuable to get such tough experiences young)

In nosmog.pl I am alone, but my parents help me with important decisions.

What was the most unexpected, funniest and strangest experience you had as a result  and what are you most proud of?

The most unexpected thing was, when I was texting with some women. I thought she was in her twenties or thirties, and I wrote to her like to my friend, but when I met her I saw, she was in my mum age! Shame!  I am proud of, that there are not so many people surround me, who are as much active as me :-).

What advice would you give to anyone who is considering starting a business before leaving school.

My advice is to don’t care about weaknesses, keep calm all day and all night and have fun! If your business as teenager won’t be good, take it easy and try again. You will be stressing later!

What are you working on at the moment, what’s next and what will you think of as a success in 5-10 years from now. 

Now I am thinking how to sell 1000 masks! Probably I will sell them near Cracow monuments, to tourists ;-)!

Congratulations and good luck

Closing comments  

It’s never to early, and it’s never too late to start a business. The things that you learn with your own business, about motivation, communication, organisation and responsibility, and the connection between hard work and achieving success, are hard to teach. “Learning by doing” has much to recommend it. An interesting TED talk about raising kids to be entrepreneurs is Cameron Herold’s here . When I asked Alex Schey 24 year old CEO of Vantage Power how he got the confidence he said that his father let him go to business meetings when it was possible, and since then I’ve invited my kids to come with me and they sometimes do. See Alex’s amazing TEDx talk here 

Enterprise projects targeting young people

(FMP , Global Entrepreneurship Week, “My Two Minutes” (also here in Polish) Entrepreneurs from my school,  Best School Enterprise competition,   “Open Company”

 

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About richardhlucas

business and social entrepreneur pl.linkedin.com/in/richardhlucas
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