Social entrepreneurship in Slovakia – interviews

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Social entrepreneurship in Slovakia – interviews


One of the activitiy of our project “Entrepreneurship Skills for Youth”( was to make interviews with young people who have already started some  social business in order to inform the public about this kind of businesses, but especially to motivate other young people to start a social business. Here are some:

Maja Demjanovicova (26)

What were the reasons why you started doing business? What did you do before starting your business? How was this idea born?

When the idea of (PURE JUNK) was created, I didn’t see it as the start of entrepreneurship. The project was presented for the first time at the Startup Weekend in Žilina in 2014, but I didn’t know then that I would make my living from it. Since at the time I was in my 3rd of University, I had the feeling, that my studies were not enough and so I wanted something more. Therefore, I decided to join the Start-up Weekend, to our surprise we succeeded and came in second place. The main thought of recycling was for me a substantial problem, which we have been trying to solve now for some time, but only on the domestic society level and not at business level. I think, that now this problem has really started to be solved, even if we solve only a small fraction of the whole problem, it still makes sense to do it. The idea came to me during the time I was studying at the Faculty of Management Science and Informatics which, wasn´t my dream field, I was looking for something closer to design, which was my initial university plan, which however didn’t work for me. That’s how I was able to successfully come back to something that I had wanted to do for a long time, and to connect it also with my University, which despite the fact was in another field it provided me with lots of valuable information for entrepreneurship. At the time when PURE JUNK was established I was already working for two companies in the position of marketer.

What problems/difficulties did you face at the start of your entrepreneurship?

As no one in my family had ever started their own business, the biggest problem I faced was to handle all of the legislative regulations. To learn how everything functions in the world of entrepreneurship, why choose LTD, rather than self-employment. There were so many questions which I had to figure out off my own back. So, the biggest problem for me was to learn how to swim in the world of entrepreneurship, I don´t want to say that I know it now, but what I would say is that now I know how not to do things.

How did your life change since you started entrepreneurship?

The first two years, it was alright, I was still at school and I worked for the company KROS in the marketing department and we saw the company more as students, and therefore we also perceived it differently. When I finished school, I realized, that I have to set my priorities and start to fully dedicate myself to one activity, which for me was the company. The start was difficult, since I was used to having more projects and things going on like- school, one job, second job plus a company. Then suddenly there was „only “the company and I started to see things into the depths and I saw more things clearly, which should have been done completely differently.  At first, I was quite demotivated, because things weren´t going as fast as I wished they would. However, after a couple of weeks I really got into everything. Now I can honestly say, that what I do, I really like and I´m very happy. Despite the fact, that it is difficult in Slovakia in the area of entrepreneurship, we function and move slowly onwards. Lots of the processes have changed, which are more professional than they were at the start. Same as the products which are somewhere else, from when we started to work in the garage.

What are the best moments you experienced during your entrepreneurship:

It is very hard to say, there are lots of them. Since nobody from our team is carpenter by trade, every order is new for us and we are always learning something new. I really like to remember the construction of pergola for the kindergarten in Báhoň. Every one of us was there and the project was really big. We worked all day and we had lots of laughs and fun. Despite the fact, that our work is not completely easy and therefore it is not always fun, there are lots of situations which one can remember. That day the two of us were there after being out on the Friday night out and we had the sun burning on our heads all day, you can imagine that it is not very pleasant and as the bonus we were getting the best work from the others, so we will nicely „suffer “.  As well, we ate in the evening the cheese, which was off, so the two-hour drive home was really never ending. Despite all of this for me this is the order with the best experiences. All together.

What advice would you give to future young entrepreneurs?

Ask. Always ask. If you try to sort out something like an administrative office task, ask the competent person what your possibilities are, if you are dealing with entrepreneurship ask skilled entrepreneurs for advice. They Who ask, are They Who know. And the second piece of advice is, don´t be scared, risk, but everything with thoughts and calculate risk but don’t be afraid to take it. We should always realize the consequences of our decisions.

Marek Paulovic (31)

What were the reasons you started your own business? What did you do before starting your own entrepreneurship? How was this idea born?

I had a desire to create something meaningful, to elevate myself and start something completely from zero. The direction of my social entrepreneurship was highly influenced by the long-term experiences I’ve had with volunteerism and in the non-profit sector. The impulse and the moral commitment to move from the thought process to realisation was greatly promoted by my studies in Nexteria Leadership Academy, where I met many young inspirational people with ongoing projects or projects that had just began to run. The idea to start out with the social entrepreneurship with the aim to help the physically disadvantaged community, is something I already carried inside me for a very long time, so long that sometimes I even have to think what drove me on.  Intuitively I was doing activities, which helped me to meet the right people until at the end I joined together with Ivo Páleník and Diana Šilonová, who also wanted to start a business in this area. We found a common vision and in the end we started the project together.

What problems did you face at the start of your entrepreneurship?

The biggest problem in the beginning is to even make a start ? for a person it is nice to dream about the things with open eyes but more often than not a person will stay caught in this trap forever. That is to say it is attractive to create a vision of success in our imagination and to feed it inside. However, any difficult project is not only about the pretty and amazing things, it is also about lots of drudgery, disappointments and failures. A person is ready to start a business only when he/she also accepts also the flipside side of the coin. There were many problems, it’s hard to count them all. At a certain time for example we were standing at a dead end, because we were looking for a programmer who would help us to get started with the project. We looked for a long time and didn’t find anyone, therefore we built the project on an easier platform, which we could set up by ourselves. We were following the principle „what I don´t know, I´ll learn” and therefore we were literally dabbling in many things. The lack of knowledge therefore shouldn´t be seen as an obstacle for starting a business. Who really wants it, will bite through all the problems.

How did your life change since the start of your entrepreneurship?

I changed my working habits and I started to use my time more efficiently. No more excessive stalking on Facebook or binge-watching. To have more time alongside my work for my own business, for myself and for the family I needed to learn get up earlier, to work more efficiently and to even relax more efficiently ?

What are the best moments you experienced during your entrepreneurship?

The divinest moments were when we could see that our work was giving meaning to other people. Every sold product hides the story of an individual and our project connects the awareness of society with the support for people with physical disadvantages. There probably isn’t anything nicer than a satisfied costumer, a proud producer, the spreading of a story busting the myths about physically disadvantaged people and a positive pattern in society, that people with physical disabilities could be an inspiration not only for their community, but for the whole of society. Inside me it creates a sense of pride and joy, which is much more powerful than if I would be making a huge amount of money in  a classic business.

What advice would you give to future young entrepreneurs?

Don´t be afraid to start! It will never be the right time, same as you´ll never be completely ready. If you really want something, go for it now right there and then. You will gain experience on your way, no one fell from heaven knowing everything. It is also important to be able to thoughtfully judge your own vision and primary functioning and don´t go into anything with a hot head. It needs the golden middle in between the enthusiasm and discretion, and to have high demands on yourself and not to be scared of falls and failures.


More interviews with entrepreneurs from more countries are here:

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