Contact info

Locus Workspace Website: http://www.locusworkspace.cz
Location 1: Krakovská 22, 110 00 Prague 1 - Wenceslas Sq.
Location 2: Slezská 45, 130 00 Prague 3 - Vinohrady
Mob: +420 732 501 105, Email: info@locusworkspace.com

Friday, June 24, 2016

Czech Innovation: Possible Zika Treatments and Better Water Filters

 
All of us who live and work in the Czech Republic should be aware of the impressive research and innovation going on in our midst. For example, scientists from České Budějovice, Brno, and Prague are engaged in promising research which could pave the way for treatments of the Zika virus. At The Institute for Nanomaterials, Advanced Technology and Innovation at the Technical University of Liberec, researchers have developed a water filter that is "substantially more efficient than all the existing water purification filters and it is to be usable for at least ten years." It's cool to be surrounded by people doing important, cutting edge research.

http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/czech-scientists-on-track-for-drug-against-zika-virus
http://praguemonitor.com/2016/06/24/pr%C3%A1vo-czechs-invent-new-nanofiber-water-purifying-filter

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Who Is Karel Gott?!




If you're doing business in Czechia, it is always helpful and courteous to know the history and culture of your Czech associates. A fun way to learn about ordinary life in Prague during the "Normalization" (70s and 80s) is to visit the impressive exhibition: Retro 70s and 80s, at the Dancing House Gallery. It features three floors of "communist culture, leisure, work, housing, technology, design and architecture." One entertaining display is of popular Czech singer Karel Gott's albums covers, plus outfits he wore on TV. (He was the perfect entertainer to take my parents to see in the 1990s.) The walls of the exhibition have texts in both Czech and English.

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c206-Art-and-Culture/n6264-Exhibition-Retro-70s-and-80s-at-the-Dancing-House-Gallery

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Czech Republic is the Sixth Most Peaceful Country



Good news! According to the Annual Global Peace Index, the Czech Republic is pretty darn peaceful, placing 6th out of 81 countries. In 2015 it was in 10th place, so it has gained peace or, more likely, other countries have become more violent. The countries ahead of the Czech Republic are 1) Iceland, 2) Denmark, 3) Austria, 4) New Zealand, and 5) Portugal. Some of the factors that make Czechia so tranquil include: low homicide rates, lack of violent crime, lack of internal conflict, difficult access to weapons, low military expenditure and good relations with neighboring countries. Interestingly, our friends in Slovakia placed an unimpressive 24th. The lowest three were, you may have guessed, Syria, South Sudan and Iraq. The safe environment in Prague, where it is common for people to walk alone at night, makes it a great place to work and live.

http://prague.tv/en/s72/Directory/c212-Relocation/n6252-Czech-Republic-named-sixth-most-peaceful-country

Ballet The Snow Queen at the National Theatre's State Opera

One great thing about working at Locus Workspace is its location. This Sunday I am going to catch up on some work and then head up the street to see a matinee performance of the ballet The Snow Queen at the National Theatre's State Opera. It takes about five minutes to get there on foot. The ballet is completely sold out, which will make for an even more exciting performance. The music is by the terrific composer Prokofiev, who also wrote the fabulously distinctive music for his ballet Romeo and Juliet. (I have fond memories of seeing Prokofiev's R & J in Budapest.) An interesting detail about the Czech National Theatre production is that the Snow Queen will be decorated with real Czech crystals. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Locus Does NaNoWriMo



A November 2013 blog post from Sarah Tatoun that was mistakenly never published. As relevant now as when it was written.
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Born in the same year- 1999- National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) and coworking have, at first glance, nothing much more than that in common. A deeper look, however, shows a common origin: both were born out of the recognition that people are designed to work in communities. Cut off from others, most of us flounder, while often the mere presence of others, even without any active attempt at cooperation, can make the same activities easier- even fun.

The difference between the processes in writing my first two novels  - twenty-five years apart- is a case in point. The first one, written in my twenties, was done at a time in my life when I was particularly isolated. I was living in a new place and had few friends. The only structure I had was the one I tried to build: forcing myself to sit down for a daily two to three hour writing stint. I had some advice from professional writing friends, but they were distant and, in those days before email, not readily accessible. Taking a writing class gave me some contacts and more structure in the way of deadlines and the demands of professional formatting. Still, the whole thing was excruciatingly slow and painful.

Twenty-five years later I was living in a whole different world. I had moved back to the US after nine years abroad- but, via the internet, I was still in touch with friends not only in the Czech Republic, but across the US, Europe and Asia as well. And I had made new friends locally, too. When I heard about NaNoWriMo in 2005 I thought maybe it was time to dust off my writing dreams and an old plot that had been lying around all these years and give it a whirl. So every day for the month of November, I sat down dutifully and churned out my 1667 words- on my way to writing the 50,000 words that mark the lower bound for a work to be called a novel. Only this time, instead of one or two people offering encouragement- and more who were tired of hearing me talk about it- I had an army of thousands of people around the world, all aiming for the same goal, egging each other on with 'word sprints' and challenges, complaining to one another, or offering advice. It still wasn't easy, but it was satisfyingly hard, like running a marathon for which you've been training for for months, not painful. And the story I was writing opened up into something new and unexpected. Five years later, back in the Czech Republic, I used NaNoWriMo again to write a 'prequel'- only to decide that what I had was actually a series of at least five novels.

NaNoWriMo turned out to be just what I needed for writing- but there was still the problem of revising. Once again I was stuck in isolation, trying to put and keep myself on some kind of schedule and finding it hard going. And that's where coworking came in. I started coming occasionally to Locus for various events: movie night, lectures, poker... It hadn't even occurred to me to become a member- until the Friday Critique-Free Writers' Meetups got started. Usually there were at least three or four of us in both the morning and afternoon sessions. After saying what we hoped to accomplish we got down to writing. The sound of everyone else clicking away was enough to keep me on track. I found I was getting more done in a single day at Locus than the rest of the week put together. It wasn't too long after that that I decided to become a member. I bought a 'virtual membership' - one day a month- and paid for extra days so that, with the Friday Writers' Meetup, I was coming two days a week. About six months later I began helping with the management in exchange for a full time membership.

The presence of other people working is always a stimulus to getting things done- still, I find what helps the most is being in a group, all there for the same purpose and with a clear goal for the day's work. So this year for NaNoWriMo we threw open the doors of Locus every Saturday for the month of November to anyone and everyone in the Czech Republic doing NaNoWriMo. Some people came from other cities, most were already living in Prague. Some came every time and some came only once. A total of around fifteen people came to at least one meeting- and three of our members that I know of - perhaps more- 'won' NaNoWriMo in 2013 by writing at least 50,000 words on their novel. And yes, I was one of them, writing the third of my historical series- set, fittingly enough, in 18th century Bohemia.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Regional Accelerators and Incubators

Below is a list of some of the business accelerators and incubators in the Czech Republic and in nearby countries (or else ones that actively target Czech startups). This is a work in progress, so please help me keep the list current and accurate by sending me feedback or leaving comments!

The terms accelerator and incubator are sometimes used interchangeably and sometimes used differently from how I would use them, so take these classifications with a bit of skepticism. This overlap in usage and similarity in experience has me grouping the two together for this blog post. 

For me here are the basic similarities and differences:

Similarities

Both accelerators and incubators provide shared work space and mentorship to startup businesses for a limited period of time (usually 3-6 months) to help startup businesses success. Both also tend to do this on a competitive basis, providing the space and support for free to the selected winners who are deemed to have the most potential.

Differences

Incubators 

Incubators tend to be non-profit entities set up by regional governments, academic institutions, or other non-profit organizations with a mission to help support the startup environment. They generally have some kind of institutional support that allows them to provide the free work space and the mentorship. As such, incubators are not as firmly tied to either the limited time period or the competitive nature of acceptance. Some of them have relatively open acceptance based on university affiliation or some other general requirements, and many will not put strict limits on how long a startup can stay. Although they do not as a rule provide capital to the startups, some do, though usually without strings attached or any ownership stake in the company being incubated. Though acceptance may be in batches on a calendar schedule, it is often on a rolling basis as well.

Accelerators

Accelerators, on the other hand, tend to be for-profit entities. They provide free work space and mentorship AND INVESTMENT in exchange for a percentage of ownership in the company. For accelerators, the competitive nature of entry and the limited time period are essential features of the program. They are gambling on getting that next great startup that will compensate for the loss on most companies they accelerate. The investments tend to be small (5-25,000 USD) as does the percentage of ownereship (5-10%). Acceptance for accelerators tends to be on a set schedule, where all of the companies being accelerated will start and finish together, as would a class of students in the same cohort. Often accelerators will have stages with benchmarks, where additional help and funding will be possible as long as these benchmarks are met. 

But again, this is my usage based on what I take to be the norms. I may not have it exactly right, and certainly many of the players in these industries mix the concepts as they see fit.

The list is organized geographically relative to Prague, since that's where Locus Workspace and our members are located. 

Prague

  • Startup Yard
  • (CLOSED) Wayra CEE 
  • InnovaJET (part of ČVUT, technical university)
  • xPORT (part of VŠE, university of economics)

Czech Republic outside Prague

  • Help me add to this list!

CEE Region outside the Czech Republic

  • hub:raum Krakow, Poland (also locations in Berlin & Tel Aviv). Has both an accelerator and an incubator program.
  • RubixLab Bratislava, Slovakia
  • CEE LiftOff Budapest, Hungary (website not working properly, may be ending)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Crowdfunding Portals on the Czech Market

Below are a few crowdfunding portals on the Czech market. I'd like to keep the list current and have some details about each, so let me know if you know of any others or have any comments about the ones in the list. Specifically it would be nice to know their pros and cons and whether they have any particular industry focus.

  • Hithit (Czech, Slovak, English; as of 3 Oct 2015 seems to be the largest and best known)
  • startovač (Czech only)
  • kreativcisobě.cz (Czech only)
  • nakopni mě (Czech only)
  • Everfund (Czech-language only; as of 3 Oct 2015, new on the market)
  • Fundlift (still not launched as of 3 Oct 2015; claims to be first EQUITY crowdfunding platform on the Czech market)
No longer operating:
  • Fondomat.cz (no longer operating; may have been the first on the Czech market)