When choosing new Escalator participants, we need to see their clear vision and motivation for development. Three companies talk about the importance of thinking “outside the box ” and “inside the box ” – a crowdfunding publishing house EZOPO from Bratislava, Sewn bag s.r.o. dealing with upcycling of textile waste, and Textile craft center Čadca residing in the former historical factory Slovena.
EZOPO, Michala Mia Ilavská
I have to admit that at the beginning, I was a bit skeptical about the online form of the program Escalator. Not because of the program’s quality itself, it has been here for ten years and has already helped many great high-quality projects. It was more about me and keeping my attention in the online space. Surprisingly, the online training is very friendly and interactive, and I already consider it a routine of my Wednesdays.
Since the program is quite intensive, I think every organization needs to come to the point to be ready for it. Only then can it thoroughly enjoy it and apply all the advice from mentors and other program participants. This is a great plus, as everyone can come outside of their bubble and get inputs from people active in the creative industry and business.
Everything that happened in the last year globally shows us that all we were used to can change overnight. Of course, it is vital to have stable ground, but it can be existential to be flexible and accommodate. That is important not to lose track and be satisfied with what we already know but to search for new opportunities to move forward. There is a saying that every organization is as strong as its weakest point, which says it all.
In my opinion, we in EZOPO think most of the time out of the box. But thanks to the program, my colleague Marcela and I have found time to look “inside the box, “which might be even more necessary. Thanks to mentors and their questions, we have finally started to think about how we work and our foundations. And this is the “look back “or “inside the box “we should always have in mind. Ideally, even at those times, we think about innovations.
Valuable networking is, in my opinion, essential. Valuable because it is not only exchanging the business cards which will end in our drawer but also about meaningful connections. I think there is a limited number of people who are experts in every field and therefore it is beneficial when you can identify your strengths and weaknesses. If you know what you are good at and can help others in that and on the other side you are aware of the areas you need to be supported with, the networking becomes really meaningful for both sides. These are the kinds of interactions that happen during Escalator. Of course, since we are all active in the creative industry, there is also space for joint projects. As we are not strangers anymore, we know what to expect from the cooperation.
Sewn bag s.r.o., Zuzana Eliášová
Our company is currently in a state where we need to move forward, and that’s why Escalator came at the perfect time for us. So far, we haven’t had any training or education, and no one has shown us how to do business. And it is far more complex than a person can expect. Thanks to the questions we get and haven’t asked ourselves before, the program displays what is crucial. For example, one of them is, “How much cash do you have in your organization currently?” It was something I haven’t kept a record of since I haven’t considered it necessary.
Sewn bag s.r.o., it is me as an owner, right now we accepted a business engineer Zuzka and then there are around 15 other employees. The program showed us that we need to have a strong core of three to four people who cooperate and are stable, even though other employees change.
I consider education and development in the organization important mostly for everyone to understand the vision and be aware of the broader context of what is happening. Since many of our employees are disadvantaged job seekers, the way we communicate it to them is fundamental since too much information might scare them. When we have spare time, we can prepare for something we plan ahead. That is something we haven’t done before.
As a company, we have already experienced the beginning of our journey. We identified that we needed to have a clear vision in the beginning. We have made the most significant move forward in finances and now have a better overview. We also want to deal more with marketing and sales since we have gaps in these areas. I have known most of the participants before, but I really appreciate the mentors. Our mentor is Paul Bogen, and it is interesting because he asks you straightforward questions with no easy answers. We were talking with him about finances at the beginning. It is completely different when you get training from some random company and receive advice and feedback from a person who went through the whole process himself.
I definitely recommend Escalator to everyone who wants to go further with their company or organization. The advantage is that you deal with all the topics complexly. Even though you can read and study the finances on the internet on your own, it will not be in the context of other equally important topics.
Textile Craft Centre Čadca, Daniela Danielis
The program Escalator is beneficial for systematical thinking in steps. Right at the first workshop with Paul, two other co-founders of the organizations quit because they were not motivated enough, and I stayed in the Centre on my own.
After the team fell apart, the restructuring time began for me. I had to build everything from the ground. I pay attention to every meeting we have, analyze and store the information to set the structure for the center better when the time comes. Organizations are like living organisms, which struggle when they do not develop.
Since I had to organize the events at the end of the year on my own, there was not much time left for communication with other participants. However, I am looking forward to more space for deeper conversations. For networking, it is crucial to meet not only during the training but also informally.
Escalator was supported using public funding by Slovak Arts Council.