Dear friends, let me tell you a story of last 4 years of my life.
My business journey started at the beginning of 2013 when I was almost 30. At that time I really wanted to earn a lot of „fast“ money. And because I was a DJ in a strip club during my young ages, I did like that market. That's why I started to develop a new kind of adult portal. Yes, I am originally a web developer.
I spent almost a year by development in my free time. It was very stressful period. At the end of 2013 I decided to leave my job and found my company in London.
Then, after a year, I saw a reportage from one African country (sorry, I can't remember which one). It was (maybe still is) the country with highest number of sexual violence. The reporter asked one prisoner why he thought there was the problem. And prisoner answered: „It's because the internet. It's full of porn and violence.“ The problem is that those people are not at a high mental level, there are not educated. For them it's fun they want to experience.
I realized that I don't want to continue to support that adult market. Human population grows fast, especially in that countries, and it's only a question of time when they start to migrate to Europe and bring their practices to our civilization. We can see it's happening, actually.
I realized I want to help to improve global security. Through education.
The original idea was changed. From adult website to the educational platform in healthy sexuality. But soon (and maybe it was a mistake) we decided to open the platform for every kind of knowledge. That's how Nooledge - our knowledge sharing network - was borned. Nooledge was something like YouTube for knowledge but better - with videos as well as with audio files and documents.
While we were developing Nooledge, there was a problem with monetization. I had a plan but I wasn't able to finish it. We spent a lot of time with development and the platform became too robust. Nooledge included video, audio, slides and ebooks; clever authentication; affiliate program as well as multi-level marketing scheme; integrated private cloud for businesses; and much more. It was very hard to say what Nooledge is.
Two years in a row I signed up for Mass Challenge competition. Without success. But then in Summer 2016, I received offer to join smaller Mass Challenge East London programme.
It was very hard decision. Last day of deadline I didn't know if I should take it. I was scared - on my czech bank account there were my last money (approx. 300 pounds); my English wasn't good; I was worried what could happen; and I would have to leave my sweethearts (little sister and our three dogs).
I throwed the coin... and the result was that I should stay at home. My reaction? "I don't like it. I think I should go." I moved to London in 10 days, only few days after wedding of my best friend and co-founder Karel.
In 14 days I spent almost all my money – 280 pounds. I had to make some money. I went to one restaurant and asked for a job. One day I was helping the chef - dishwashing and cutting vegetables. I was there 5 hours and earned 40 pounds. It wasn't so bad, actually. I didn't have NIN, so it was only one-time job. But I am grateful for that. The great also is that I learned how to peel garlic quickly! :-)
It looked like I will have to go home but then something happen with a booking system in a guesthouse I lived. I offered I could help... and since that time I help them with their websites and I have solved the most expensive cost in London - an accommodation. And what is better - we became friends.
Back to Mass Challenge. I met a lot of amazing people there.
Thanks to Mass Challenge and generally thanks to talks with people at meetups and events, I realized that I should transform Nooledge again, to find the right direction. But first, I needed new energy.
Together with Anton, my roommate from guesthouse, we started to build Afterlife - the mobile game with a city guide in one. But relatively soon we found out that it's more about fun than a viable product. We closed it as an experiment.
Thanks to Patrik (our landlord) and small donations (approx. 70 pounds per month) from friends and patrons, I was able to stay in London until the end of the first part of the programme. In the middle of November I moved back to the Czech Republic.
At home I have finally decided that it's not possible to continue with Nooledge in the same face. It would need a lot of time and energy to transform the platform and the result would still be uncertain. Nooledge failed. That's why I decided to split Nooledge into small pieces - to create a new service and use technology that is already done, at least for validation.
I choosed an authentication system. During Christmas I realized that this idea has amazing potential and still follows my vision - to improve security. Even if only a web security.
In January, I came back to London for the second part of the programme. With only 100 pounds in my pockets but also with a new prototype – Ukey.one!
Ukey.one started as simple but powerful authentication service. But the idea is bigger. Ukey.one changes the way how websites store personal data. Currently, websites store personal data in their databases - usually unencrypted. And this is only one of many problems. Our vision is that websites will store personal data in our secure data warehouse and no single person will be able to decrypt those data, neither our developers, security experts nor me. Together with authentication system we want to offer unified solution for startups as well as enterprises with the mission to generally enhance security and privacy. I believe it's a strong idea and we can make it!
Play video below to see how Ukey1 works...
During the programme we validated our idea and found interesting business model. Indices, that Ukey.one is a great opportunity, were everywhere. For example, I was invited to do pitch in Disruptive TV. Soon, I realized that the potential of Ukey.one is much bigger, also thanks to new General Data Protection Regulation. I was also invited to present Ukey.one at TechHub Demo Day where I met Kirill, one of my kind advisors!
Mass Challenge ended at the end of March and I moved back to the Czech Republic – because of Easter holidays, my birthday (34) and another wedding.
It's not easy to build a start-up, something you love, especially without cash.
I spent years building Nooledge and... I failed. It was hard. I could cry and feel sad, maybe find a job and live a relatively quiet life. But it's not for me. I know I risk - my life and everything. Believe me, I know it every day.
But still, I believe I can make the world a better place - now with Ukey1. I have to try it.
I am going back to London in the middle of May - the exact date depends on my financial situation. I am broke. I have around 10 pounds in cash, my personal bank account is empty and balance on our two business accounts is around 20 pounds. Anyway, I am determined to take the risk. Again.
However, I was thinking that I could try to ask you for help, my dear friends. That's the reason of this campaign. If you can donate any amount, I will be grateful. Every penny counts.
With ❤ Zdenek