The year 2021 was a truly an exceptional one for the entire European venture capital ecosystem. Fundraising for growth funds set a new record of EUR 20 billion and venture capital one of EUR 18 billion. Roughly…
When you hear someone running from one side to another at the Rockaway offices, it’s usually investment partner Dušan Zábrodský – the person responsible for the on-line grocery companies in the portfolio, headed by the German Bringmeister, as well as some of the start-ups in the Rockaway Ventures portfolio. How does he handle such enormous responsibility, and in what does he see the added value of the business he’s involved in? This and more is in the new issue of the Rockaway Insider newsletter.
What key thing has 2020 taught you?
From my perspective, 2020 had many positive aspects, not only for me in my personal life, but for society as a whole. People were taken out of their comfort zone, lost the feeling that they were untouchable, and so the majority of us had to change their way of thinking. This change is also evident in business. Companies realized that if they want to survive, they have to innovate, restructure, and digitalize. The status quo would never have forced us to make such fundamental changes. People realized that if there’s no other choice, you have to start doing things differently, and suddenly it turned out that everything is possible if you have the will.
What is the number-one rule that you follow at all costs in your business?
Transparency and openness is what I like best. I find it terribly difficult to play any sort of politics. The reason is clear – I’m responsible for so many projects that playing politics would just exhaust me even more People quite often don’t want to hear the truth and are incapable of reacting to it. They believe on principle that people want to cheat them, so this approach definitely has its negative aspects. Especially in business dealings, people are in general not used to being dealt with openly, transparently, and honestly. Reactions to this vary. Some see it as a positive thing, some negatively. But it gives me a good feeling – I get along with people. That’s why I believe that, from a long-term perspective, it’s the best possible approach.
One learns from one’s mistakes. What mistake taught you the most, and what, specifically?
My biggest mistake, which simultaneously taught me the most, is that I tried to solve certain things at work on my own. That was my biggest mistake, which I also learned the most from. So from my own experience I can say that it’s extremely important to be able to delegate things within the team. There, we’re all in the same boat, and regardless of what the problem may be, we have to solve it together. At the same time, I try to behave transparently and openly with respect to my colleagues, so everyone knows what’s going on.
What is your most important piece of advice for new entrepreneurs and start-uppers?
In the end, it’s all about people. Without capable people, nobody will make it very far, no matter how talented an entrepreneur they may be, with a good idea. Human resources, the team, colleagues, and friends – that’s the greatest value. Finding the right people who have the right skills and building the right team should be the number-one priority for all new entrepreneurs and start-uppers. Even though it’s a very difficult road, you can’t avoid it. If you surround yourself with an average team of people who meet your requirements only halfway, you’ll never make progress and later it will catch up with you.
What do you consider the greatest benefit of your business for society?
We’ve succeeded in building a strong investment group that isn’t afraid to get involved in interesting internet projects and digitalize a traditional sector. Because we’re a private company that isn’t controlled by other capital, we have the convenience of doing things we’re convinced are right. One such example is the recently founded Rockaway Ventures Fund, which is based on the principles of ESG (Environment, Social and Governance). Through it, we want to invest in traditional businesses in way that ensures they will have a positive impact on the environment, will develop an ethical culture, and will have strong management with transparent control. Through such projects, our ultimate objective is to increase awareness of sustainability in society.
What question are you asked most often, and how do you answer?
Probably the most frequent question, aside from “How are you?” is “How far did you run today?” My answer is 10 kilometres. That’s the minimum distance I usually run. That takes a little under an hour. I usually don’t have time for more.
What life hack helps you most in your work?
At one moment in my life I almost stopped using a computer, and it simplified my life a lot. I consider email to be the least effective form of communication. Plus it’s a terrible waste of time. On the other hand, Teams, phoning, texting, and WhatsApp are all tools I like using. If you want some sort of life hack – cut down on computer use. If possible, I try to deal with everything directly, be it via one-on-one or one-to-many communication. I’ve found that this allows you to take care of as many things as possible in as short a time as possible.
Did you like this interview?
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