"It's worth being a speeding motorboat on a stormy ocean" - we invite you to the second interview in the #selfevolution series powered by Selfmaker

14 marca 2020

When the rest of the business world cuts itself off with a wall when hears about cryptocurrencies and tokenization, he knows that thanks to this mixture he will change the face of modern investing. About the era of #selfevolution, changes in the market and why automation is a multi-level process, we are speaking with Marek Wieteska - CEO of Selfmaker, one of the most dynamically developing technology companies.


AG: At first, we had plans to have this conversation two weeks ago. From today's perspective, the nature of this conversation has changed significantly.

MW: Yes, it's true, the situation is dynamic on the market, but better to ask the way than to go astray, even in such an exceptional situation.


In recent days, all Polish media shown the photo of the Central Railway Station in Warsaw. A deserted place, where two people in coveralls are disinfecting the entire place. In the background we see closed ticket offices and a working, illuminated ticket machine. This photo is thought provoking.

Certainly, this photo in Selfmaker will go down in history. It also illustrates a problem that many industries have been grappling with for months - a problem that has now taken on a new dimension, even on the verge of such a huge crisis. Of course, we are talking about replacing human work by machines. I often come across arguments that robots will take our jobs, but being in the industry and seeing from the inside what entrepreneurs are struggling with, it is a necessity because there is a shortage of people at every level. Replacing human competences with machines is done, to be able to improve the supply chain of products and services. It’s made especially for people!


So what about the numerous fears that the machines will take our work?

This is a rumor repeated by many people, but the reality is completely different. The experience of our customers who have implemented self-service devices shows that thanks to this, they not only improved the service or sales process by over 65%, but also saved on it. As a result, they could devote a larger pool of funds to improve the qualifications of employees and to migrate them to more complex tasks. Technology is not against man, you just need to use it wisely.


How does this relate to the new reality we live in, in the last days?

The history of the world, the history of each of us will be divided into „before COVID-19” and after. What will happen in the upcoming weeks is an unknown for everyone. It causes fear, but we can already predict the estimated losses and the course of events on the basis of other countries. That's why at Selfmaker we started to take preventative measures right away. We have always taken care of the quality of our devices, but now we have additionally decided to support our partners with the SelfNanoSilver disinfectant. In just a few days, we transformed a part of our plant into a packaging facility for these products to ensure even more security for our partners and their customers. Disinfecting liquids placed near kiosks are standard, for example in Indonesia or Japan, where self-service is very popular.


Recently, the market speaks a lot about "Supply-chain challenges"

Nothing unusual. For many companies around the world, the most important factor since the first ten weeks of the COVID-19 outbreak has been the impact on supply chains that start in or pass through China. As a result of factory closures in China, many disruptions were felt in the area in the first quarter, although all the effects are of course still not tangible. The current situation shows us how many challenges business is facing. Most companies focus on temporary stabilization measures, but for a large number of them, COVID-19 means accelerating strategic, long-term changes to supply chains - changes that have often been considered but for some reason not implemented. However, it is not so easy to implement overnight.


What is the situation at Selfmaker?

It’s stable. More than five years ago, when we started running our company, I have heard many times that it is worth importing ready-made kiosks from abroad, that I will earn more, that we will not go far in such a model. I was stubborn, I focused on domestic production. Because I am from Lodz! And here, for decades, craftsmanship and a decent Polish manufacture have been valued. Having a company in the center of Europe, with the people involved, I knew we could do it. For those five years, over 30 large corporate clients have trusted us. We design, build and service kiosks in Poland, but we deliver them to customers all over Europe. And only in about 5% we depend on the supply chain which now affects the entire industry. In the face of such a great tragedy in the dimension of life and health that we are witnessing, it is not appropriate to say that, but for the first time I am sure that my intuition has not failed me in choosing the direction and nature of our development. We are a fast motorboat on a rough ocean, and it is very important to be flexible in terms of business in such a dynamically changing reality.


It also took remarkable persistence and courage to finance the company's development by tokenising a part of Selfmaker. Where did this choice come from?

For nearly two years, I have been looking for solutions that will allow us to develop, while leaving decision-making freedom at every level. I analyzed many scenarios, also looking closely at what is happening on the cryptocurrency market. In the same time I met Tomek Sychowski, an independent investor in this industry. We conducted hundreds of hours of talks, analyzed the threats and potential profits. We both decided that in order to be able to use safe financial instruments without giving up a controlling stake in the company, we must go out to people. This is how the idea for Selfmaker Smart Solutions was born - a project financed by a community of individual investors who together with us create the automation market.


First successes?

Already behind us! Thanks to the community, we bought a production hall, where construction works are already underway, so that we can move there at the end of the third quarter of this year. In the current situation, this rapid development is of additional importance because with strong and independent financial support, and with our own production, I know that we are able to be one of the leading companies providing modern technological solutions, even on the verge of the global crisis. Because after each crisis comes a new order and we are not going to waste this chance. In addition, the community strengthened the brand image by bringing the ideas of #selfevolution to the world, for what I am very grateful. Because these are not only self-service devices, but also a strong belief that the freedom of choice, technology and strength hidden in people with the same beliefs can overcome many obstacles.


Thank you very much for the interview.

Thank you too. Let's stay calm, let’s not leave the house, let's take care of our loved ones. And after that, let's follow the words of Winston Churchill, who said that we must not waste a good crisis.


Interview by Agnieszka Gonczar


BIO: Marek Wieteska, an entrepreneur with many years of experience in the FMCG industry, for over five years the president of Selfmaker, a dynamically developing technology company dealing with the broadly understood automation of service and sales processes. Advocate of new technologies, active speaker and promoter of the idea of digitization and improving the quality of customer experience in the broadly understood retail industry. A lover of good food and boxing. Co-creator of the Selfbox project, the first fully modular self-service kiosk on the market, which won the prestigious "Retail Innovations 2019" award in the field of modern technologies for the retail industry.

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