Entrepreneur Profile: Joanna Kółkowska
Joanna Kółkowska the CEO & co-founder of Prowly.com
I met Joanna at the opening of her new venture: Bluebirds&Co, a startup for creative women who want to wear high quality, fine clothes designed by themselves. The launch party was held at Prowly headquarters, on a huge terrace, with deckchairs, italian food and nice wine. It turned out that Joanna and I have a lot in common; we live and work in the same neighborhood, we've both come from the telecoms world and we both agree that the best people in business descend from there.
Don't be fooled: she's a funny girl dead serious on business
Sometimes a simple need to solve everyday problems and improve the quality of work accidentally sets up the foundation for something much bigger. That is, if you have the guts to do it and if you meet the right people to share and expand your vision with.
Joanna Kolkowska is also the founder and former CEO of Kolko, a Warsaw based Public Relations agency in which the basic concept of Prowly was created. Starting a PR company was a life changer for her.. After some time the daily PR workflow and work routine was the motivator to do something more.
Great innovation starts with fundamentals
Joanna, despite her young age, has an extensive industry knowledge and I was surprised to notice how mature her views on reality of PR business are.
In terms of technology, Public Relations market is pretty ancient in Poland, says Joanna. The last (r)evolutionary change in the industry was switching from fax messages to e-mails. Since then, it seems like the entire business is stuck in the past. Most of PR professionals still use heavy tools like Excel, Word or Outlook to manage their daily activities. It takes too much time.
Business doesn't have to be boring
Although Public Relations and technology are totally not compatible, technology was the foundation that brought Prowly.com a product that helps PR professionals with media relations management and everyday routine by making it more creative, effective and fun. Oh, and changing the way of how the press releases are distributed, by the way. Innovation in Prowly means changing professional behaviours of PR pros by offering them a tool that can simplify their daily workflow. By offering ground breaking design and functionality as a bonus to make it more creative and fun. Joanna believes that Prowly will innovate PR professionals workflow. That PR pros will leave all "heavy" tools, create common space for PR projects and automate the most time-consuming tasks. Unleash their creativity and increase their effectiveness. All thanks to better organization of work.
No talk, all action
Polish entrepreneurs usually have to be extremely stubborn and ambitious to gain credibility on global markets and expand the operations outside country to search for scale. Road to that is rather a bumpy one. Joanna's concept gained the attention of one of the leading local VCs and soon after Prowly was founded as a seed company with short term targets to verify market need across local niches and search for minimum viable product.
Young entrepreneurs in Poland have to be really hard working. They have to dream and think big. There is no handicap - only great willingness to learn, experiment and the ability to fail and then immediately stand up and adapt again. Joanna is that kind of person. Entrepreneurship means willingness to act for herself - not a fashion or lifestyle. She definitely prefers to work hard instead of taking part of noisy startup show. That's why you won't meet her on most startup community events in Poland.
Because only cool things what matter
Prowly is not there yet, though Joanna and the rest of Prowly team (Prowlies) were steadfast enough to travel a long distance from where they were one year ago. They are still on their way of building a great tool for Public Relations industry and reaching an agreement between PR and technology - creating an innovation. Changing the mindset along the way. Thinking of reaching outside Poland is no longer frightening for them, it is something that Prowly can't wait for. To be good is not enough. In next two months Prowly will kick-off globally.
Work hard, party hard
Beside producing tons of ideas and spending a lot time at work, Joanna is kind of person that usually doesn't get bored and rarely gets tired. One day you can meet Joanna roller skating in Warsaw, another day kitesurfing and fighting with waves in Brasil or anywhere in the world with proper wind conditions. I am glad to have such a creative, open minded and funny neighbor as Joanna!