We know what you’re going to think. Isn’t that another Rohlik.cz? Only time will tell. Anyway, the ePultik.cz project, founded by two friends, Šimon Brož and Robert Gulyas, easily dominated the public startup grill – Startup Go Grill 2022. The goal of the project is quite simple – to support local farmers through the online sale of their products. The path to achieve the goal is not so simple. We interviewed the founders of the project, who went through the business incubator.
Šimon and Robert, how did you come up with the idea of supporting regional farmers?
The ideas for ePultik came up during the overall preparation process, and you could say that they are still being born, because we are constantly thinking of new things that could take ePultik a step further. Our first idea was that we would have an e-shop with the groceries you know from regular supermarkets combined with a network of regular pick-up points. The customer would then shop from the comfort of their home and just pick up their bag at one of the pick-up points on their way home from work. However, this was not enough for us and as true patriots and heartthrobs of the Usti Region, we wanted to focus on it more. We have our hearts here and we love to help, so we finally decided to incorporate local farmers and producers into our service. And it has started.
Where is your business at now? I saw that you’re already finalizing website with products. When will customers be able to order products?
The website is basically the most important thing for our business because it decides whether a customer will buy from us or not. We want them to feel comfortable on it. However, the website is far from all that is yet to come. It’s a big project and its preparations take a lot of time. We have to fine-tune every detail because we want to offer the people of the Usti Region a perfect service. Now we are mainly dealing with warehouse space and arranging cooperation with future suppliers. We see the launch around the beginning of the second half of this year.
How is the search for new farmers going? Do you go on your own or do you get suggestions from others?
The whole searching and approaching of new farmers is basically in our own hands and we do it by ourselves. But lately we have also been getting tips from the farmers themselves and from people close to us.
We want to be partners for the farmers. We want to grow with them, and if they’re happy, we’ll be happy, so will the end customer.
Aren’t you afraid that companies like Rohlík.cz or Košík.cz will come and take over the whole concept?
We have to calculate with this possibility as well. Rohlík and Košík have more ambitious goals and plans at the moment, and the big cities they are targeting will help them to do that. The quantity that local producers would have to supply from competitors would have to be very high, and smaller farmers would not be able to compete with that. These two well-known companies have such high investment costs that they will not be satisfied with reduced margins and will try to ‘skin’ farmers. We want to be partners with farmers. We want to be partners for the farmers. We want to grow with them, and if they’re happy, we’ll be happy, and so will the end customer.
Last year you went through a business incubator from ICUK. How do you remember it?
The incubator was an interesting experience for us. We looked inside the thinking of other budding entrepreneurs. We consulted our problems as well as we gave suggestions to others. We met with several experts who helped us to set the direction.
You won the Startup Go Grill 2022 – a public event and competition for startups in Ústí nad Labem. What did this victory give you?
We are happy to have been given the opportunity to present our vision, and even more happy to have received so much support. That’s probably the most valuable thing we could get. We are sure now that we are going in the right direction and can continue in it.
How does it feel to stand on stage in front of a jury and 40 other people and present your project to everyone having just 5 minutes time limit?
It was stressful and a ride at the same time. Five minutes is a very short time to present the whole project, so we decided not to burden our speech with details and rather tried to sell the whole idea to the jury based on our experience and the current situation on the food market. And as you can see, we succeeded.
And speaking of the program for uprising entrepreneurs – what would you say to people who are still hesitant to start their own business project?
If you have an idea and don’t know how to proceed, then definitely contact the ICUK and try the business incubator. You will get support and a helping hand. The important thing is to go into it with open mind and enthusiasm. Everything else will come by itself.
Will you share your immediate plans with us?
Our plan is to launch a test version of the website, complete the farmer portfolio, equip and fill the warehouse and test our logistics. When everything goes well, we’ll be ready to go live.
Simon and Robert, we wish you strength for the future, and may you prosper!