Tomasz Kowalczyk is a Partner, Growth & Innovation Designer in Rebels Valley.
In Rebels Valley, Tomasz is responsible for building innovation ecosystems of global corporations and young tech companies. He has gained professional experience in consulting companies in Poland and Asia (including one of the consulting companies belonging to the so-called Big4) as well as managing pioneering VC and CVC funds in Poland with ca. 20 investments into young companies.
His scope of activities covers financing pilot implementations in major companies as well as in-depth business development advisory and internationalization. He is mostly focused on projects related to corporate digital transformation.
Rebels Valley was founded as an answer to the demand for building an innovation community made up of experienced companies with a grounded market position and smaller and more nimble companies which are looking for scalable market niches.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Tomasz says:
I am not the most disciplined person in the world. However, I am always trying to stay goal-oriented. And – to be engaged in at least one long term, non-professional activity. One year ago, I came back to regular boxing workouts, at least three training per week. I strongly advise being active as a business is always related to stress, and stress kills more efficiently than any other addiction.
- You are the master of your fate, and only you alone can establish limits for your dreams
- Convert dreams into goals as it will motivate you to wake up every morning
- Your professional activities cannot define what person you are; always be yourself – a human you would like to be
Read on to know more about Tomasz Kowalczyk and his journey.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: My main area of expertise covers digital solutions that strengthen the non-core operation of large, multinational corporate clients. For years I have been working for brands like P&G, Citi, BNY Mellon, Santander to help them match actual business needs with available tech solutions. My team, Rebels Valley, is mostly focused on transforming startups into scaleups, providing them with the necessary financing and access to market specialists – experienced executive managers that help our portfolio companies deliver their services to Tier 1 global clients.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: I have been involved in the startup/VC market since I left Deloitte Innovation Consulting Team. Initially, I joined one of the pioneering VC teams in Poland, then took over one of the first CVC funds in Poland launched by a local leading software company. Since 2018 I have been involved in Rebels Valley – an innovation-focused boutique acting as one of Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” character – Mr. Wolf, portrayed by Harvey Keitel. We do whatever is needed to bridge the startup and corporate worlds.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: I have been engaged in financing a diversified portfolio of startups –mainly B2B, AI-fueled solutions, but also other types of projects related to market tech, HR-Tech, e-commerce, e-mobility, but also moonshot projects like the Polish hyperloop initiative.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: As mentioned above – our engagement is not focused purely on financing. We search for companies with skills, potential, and resources allowing the team to engage the biggest global clients. First of all, we need to fully understand the core value being offered. We always assess the viability of securing (sometimes creating) market needs. We dig deeply into growth and market strategy in order to see if our engagement will bring additional value to the startup.
Rebels Valley is into a hands-on approach. We actively support our portfolio companies – when needed. I believe in a startup portfolio application of the Pareto Rule – no more than 20% of portfolio companies should focus on disruptive innovation within target markets. 80% should focus on a more incremental approach.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: Annually, we are working with ca. 20-30 companies, domestic and international (mainly from EU). In 2021 we are opening Rebels Valley Asia office in other to expand our operations.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: It may be diverse in each industry like LTV, CAC, MoM, etc. but it will be helpful to understand more about your additional investment factors.
From our point of view – the business is not about indicators and KPIs. Show me your current client’s potential leads, and I will
Tomasz Kowalczyk: As for companies, we support COVID-19 actually creates additional business opportunities – many corporations have been forced to boost their digital transformation.
Of course, all sales and business development activities must be reconsidered. First of all, many clients have limited their offline presence, so online channels must be used more effectively when managing the sales funnel. On the other hand, we make CEOs and founders even more aware that this is the time when you sell real value, not dreams or inspirations.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: Running a VC fund is a matter of trust. When you start your first fund, you have no track record to prove your ability to earn money for LPs. Be honest; tell them about your lack of experience in this area. Use external advisors, build a committed team. Transform your weakness into a strength – be openminded, design your own investment strategy, and updated it when needed.
Sometimes everything goes south. In such times – do not hide the difficulties from your stakeholders (LPs, the team, founders). It will only distract you. It is always better to solve issues together rather than lose market confidence in your honesty.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: First of all – founders focus on technology and the team. A startup is not a lab – is a venture focused on building a business value – provide your clients with information on the business advantages you deliver. Show the market strategy, prove that you understand the market; thus, you know what resources to use, both human as well as tech.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: “Global” equals “market” to me. That should be the ultimate goal of any startup.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: Apart from obvious answers like AI in the decision-making process, big data analysis, I would mention 3 areas of challenges:
Tomasz Kowalczyk: I am not the most disciplined person in the world. However, I am always trying to stay goal-oriented. And – to be engaged in at least one long term, non-professional activity. One year ago, I came back to regular boxing workouts, at least three training per week. I strongly advise being active as a business is always related to stress, and stress kills more efficiently than any other addiction.
Tomasz Kowalczyk: I am an ambitious person. I believe we stay in this world as long information on us and our deeds survive. I would like others to remember me as someone who was ready to take action, get involved in changing the world, and making it a better place.
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