At Miton, he has been in charge of Heureka, Bonami, Domodi and GLAMI. Now he is working on the projects Knihobot and 100ks. He sees himself rather as a product person than an entrepreneur. His path to becoming a founding partner at Miton began at the Rampa rock club in Jablonec. He spent part of his childhood in Australia.
AI, augmented workforce
What technology currently fascinates you the most?
At this time, advances in machine learning. These have shown that our perception of the effect of “AI” on human labour has been backwards. Because humanity’s intellectual output is digitised to a much greater extent, it is much easier to collect a gigantic dataset to learn from. That’s why AI is suddenly affecting humanity’s intellectual and creative endeavours rather than replacing manual labour.
What business topics are you engaged in at this time?
I really enjoy creator economy tools, the future of art in today’s technological era, and re-commerce. It makes me happy that there’s renewed interest in AI in the form of generative AI tools – it’s a well-earned boost for machine learning, which was slowly becoming just something hanging around in the background.
My Knihobot-related work is keeping me focused on those original e-commerce projects I share a long history with. Knihobot can help prove that the circular economy works in all directions, but also alongside the sale of new goods, and can be an important part of the ecosystem. I enjoy that, and I see it as my personal goal to help create such a model.
How would you describe your style of work?
I can make good decisions and give good advice when I can see into the depths of a company and understand what it’s trying to achieve. That’s why I pick and choose the projects I’m going to focus my energy on, either by investing money or time.
More broadly, I think the market’s expectations from remote work have been too high and is naively trying to find a technical solution to something that has already been functioning reasonably well. So, I’m looking forward to the moment when companies begin listing “we have a special place where we can meet in person each day” as a benefit.
I’m more of a collaborative type and not very competitive in fact. I just want to create the best services in my field. I really don’t understand people who see a properly functioning and profitable service and say: “There’s money in that, so I’ll give it a go, too”. I personally try to find areas that don’t work and that nobody has managed to do properly. I’m not going to try to create a new Spotify when the original works just fine.
What projects do you find the most interesting, whether by segment or approach? Who can come to you for advice?
I like smaller, supermotivated teams the most. Teams that have the beginnings of a great product, the first few clients or users, and would like to find support for their product vision. Find an economic purpose and the right priorities for it to achieve market success.
You have always had an affinity for products. What, in your opinion, defines a great product?
I have been forced to build a company because it was the best-known way to organise a larger group of people for creating something useful. I see a product very broadly as a whole plan of a group of people that have agreed that the world is missing something like that. For me, a great product also means that it is being done in the best way imaginable.
Because we live in a world with certain restrictions, a great product is not only a dream, but also a plan anchored in healthy and sustainable foundations. That’s why I enjoy the search phase for a product-market fit, when it is, for example, being decided who should pay whom and then how much and when.
Your track record (you helped found Heureka, GLAMI and Bonami) raises the question: What is your superpower?
It is rather a set of many low-grade superpowers.
Luck, attention and patience. Being at the right place at the right time. And one more tiny thing: being able to realise I’m there. Then just patiently being a user of the service I’m creating with the team. Eliminating distractions. The world is full of opportunities, but also of people who will tackle them.
Looking ahead. My poor memory has been good for that, forcing me to look ahead rather than back, where it is somewhat empty. 😀
Going with the times, but not with the herd. A lot has been written about doing things differently. For me, it’s important to do “different things”. If everyone is riding wave XYZ, then it’s not for me, even if there’s money in it. If it is something overlooked but, in my view, clearly needed, I want to know why nobody has found a way to make it happen. A lot of energy is spent on price and brand wars. I prefer to overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles to “feasibility”.
One solution is to create your own unique access to the market. Starting an e-shop with original home décor by buying a full warehouse of the items isn’t an option: you don’t know if you’ll end up selling one or a hundred pieces. The model of a campaign and ordering only what will sell suddenly becomes economically feasible, users enjoy it and, moreover, they will remember it well. Bonami created its own category in this way.
What book do you most often give as a gift?
Naval Almanack is the only book I’ve gifted multiple copies of. It surprised me how much food for thought could be packed into one small book. It doesn’t just asks questions: it also offers possible answers, giving each of us a starting point for seeking better answers for ourselves. Otherwise, there is no book that I would absolutely recommend to anyone save one: the trilogy The Three-Body Problem, of course.
What podcast do you spend most of your time with?
“Spend most of your time” is quite apt. The most valuable educational content of all media can be found in podcasts, but finding such content is difficult. No podcast is consistently interesting, and even in the case of the best ones, only one in ten episodes is worth it. Moreover, episodes last 1-7 hours, but usually only about 30 minutes of that are interesting. So I only listen to those podcasts and episodes people recommend to me.
What has stood the test of time for you? That is, what have you been focusing on regularly for years?
Skiing and, most recently, answering the call of the ocean by surfing. Wim Hof breathing and expanding my comfort zone through cold-water swimming and other discomforts.
What five things can’t you do without?
Like everyone, I’m dependent on a mobile phone and notebook for work. I see that in the last 20 years we at tech have been working on making it possible for people to work online. To make everything available to everyone. To make more choices available and thereby provide more freedom. Today we are seeing the flip side of the coin: some activities now can only be done on-line and via a monitor, and in many ways, we are restricting our freedom.
Recently, I have become fascinated rather by the thousands of tiny innovations created during my lifetime, innovations we now take for granted – credit cards, full-text searches in car navigation, the “back” key in a text editor, finding photos by location, … - but I also remember the times before them.
Is it better to be famous or rich?
Famous through your creations and rich in experience. Deep, I know. 😉
What would you be doing if Miton didn’t exist?
I’d like to believe I’d be surfing in Hawaii and running a cocktail bar on the beach. But a more likely scenario is me creating flyers in Photoshop for LIDL, because I wouldn’t have the time to try “one of those fancy Figmas”. And I think a bar on the beach is a very common dream among the IT crowd, a sort of shared consciousness.
It is one of those highly successful technology companies well-known among insiders but not seen that often in the media. In 10 years, Glami has become the largest search engine and online catalogue of fashion goods and accessories. It operates in 13 countries, and its customers place almost half a million orders a month. Thanks to Glami, online fashion stores will add CZK 4 billion to their sales this year. Of course, Glami, now led by CEO Ján Kešelák, didn't become a prominent and profitable international company by chance.
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