At UNYP, we are proud of our alumni, and always keen to hear what they are up to. In this article, we talk to Lukáš Šiml about his UNYP experience, life after graduation, current career, and plans for the future.
What are some of your memories from your UNYP days?
I still vividly remember my UNYP acceptance as if it was yesterday – a sunny day in the early spring of 2012. I got that call from UNYP before I passed my final exams at my secondary school, and I was so proud of having reached the next stepping stone ahead of schedule. Like so many of my peers, I had been dreading having to take the next step.
I remember feeling an acute sense of belonging, and the way that I instantly identified with the people I met. I remember the different languages, cultures, viewpoints all mixing together in one melting pot, enriching the discussions we had and shifting the opinions we held. Everyone seemed so eager to learn!
I remember entire classrooms filled with the smell of fresh coffee in the morning, since everyone stopped at the nearby Starbucks on their way to class.
I remember the humbling feeling of being able to tap into the knowledge of industry experts telling us stories from their long and successful careers, passing on their knowledge.
If I could pass on one bit of knowledge, one piece of advice for the new students coming through the ranks now, it would probably be to take a deep breath and enjoy the ride, because some of my fondest memories come from those years I spent at UNYP. Oh yeah, and be sure to get an internship! It will help a lot once you graduate.
How did you proceed in your professional life after graduating?
Being a nerd, I remember trying to boost my GPA as much as I possibly could towards the end of my studies at UNYP. I wanted to get into King’s College London, which was the 16th best university in the world at the time according to the QS rankings, and for that I needed a GPA of at least 3.50. Oh, how I wished I had started to care about my grades sooner! I managed to graduate with a 3.51 GPA – by the skin of my teeth – and was accepted to study for a masters in International Marketing in London at Kings College.
Whilst in London, I was lucky enough to bump in an ex-marketing director of Red Bull, Huib van Bockel, who was just launching Tenzing – his new low-sugar, healthy, all-natural energy drink. I helped Huib with market research, applying the knowledge I gained at UNYP in real life. This led to a packaging design change, since the bright blue color of the can was deemed too “unnatural” for an all-natural energy drink. As well as market research, I sold a lot of cans of Tenzing around East London – if you’re ever in the area, pop into one of the newsagents around Stratford station to get yourself a can.
After a few years in London, I came back to the Czech Republic and was accepted by an investment fund called Nordic Investors as a junior business development analyst. The job title sounds fancy, but for the first few months I was mainly making coffee for higher management. I guess I must have made pretty good coffee, because after five years in the company, my salary had nearly quadrupled, and I was the spokesperson and marketing communications manager for one of our projects – the telecommunications company Nordic Telecom, managing a team of eleven brilliant individuals. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to oversee the company’s rebranding, and work with some of the best creative agencies there are, such as Leo Burnett. We shot TV commercials in the dead of the winter (after all, the company was called Nordic Telecom) and online performance videos all around the Czech Republic. I got some great insights into how to properly conduct business in a competitive environment (and how not to, for that matter), applying the principles I had first learned at UNYP all along the way.
Could you describe your current enterprise, Adwheels?
A close friend and I decided that as neither of us had a kid or a mortgage at that time, we should go rogue and build our own business. Sounds easy, right? Well, it took us about six months of evenings, sleepless nights and weekends to come up with a viable business idea that we both knew could succeed.
To put it simply, at Adwheels we connect companies and hauliers, providing a novel media format that is not currently fully utilized in the Czech market. Companies are always looking for innovative ways of breaking through the advertising clutter and reaching ever more elusive consumers, while hauliers are always looking for alternative revenue streams. What we do is to solve both problems by leasing tarpaulins on the sides of trucks, and essentially turning them into advertising space – moving billboards!
The companies benefit because they can reach people in regions across the Czech Republic with a single ad. As billboards are illegal alongside highways, it is increasingly difficult to be seen in the places where you need to be seen. What’s more, some cities are starting to advocate for an outright ban of outdoor advertising as we know it – for example, Prague recently passed ordinance to remove advertising tarpaulins from the facades of buildings in the historical city center. We see this trend across the world – outdoor advertising is completely banned in cities such as Sao Paolo and Grenoble, and even some entire states such as Vermont and Alaska. At Adwheels, we use pre-existing surfaces rather than filling our environment with additional artificial visual pollution, and so we applaud such efforts.
We worked with Prof. Shintaro Okazaki, PhD., the head of marketing department at King’s College London, to support our claims with hard evidence. There is a phenomenon called “schema-incongruity” which means that when people are surprised in an otherwise familiar environment by a novel stimulus (in our case an ad placed on the unexpected surface of a truck), they tend to pick up the stimulus more easily, cognitively process the information on a deeper level, and subsequently remember it more effectively. This all leads to greater brand recall and recognition. Our target audience of motorists will have your message right in front of their eyes, with a much longer dwell time than traditional billboards. On average, we are increasing brand recognition for our clients in key regions of their choice by almost 12-15%!
What is next for you?
With some of our clients, we are also discussing possible ways to target EU markets. This would mean major savings for them, since outdoor advertising is much more expensive in Germany, France, and Spain. We are also in talks with one of the major telecommunications companies to connect our GPS trackers with their geo-fencing text messaging services, which will enable us to get even more data and be able to activate potential customers even better.
Start-up life truly never stops.
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