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Being a part of revolution – get to know Marcel Veselka and

Patient experience building and the soul of experimenter – a mixture of these seemed to bring Marcel Veselka to the startup world. What is his boarding pass? – a software test optimisation tool meant to become the top e-commerce virtual “security guard”.

This article is a part of cycle inspired by the PFR School of Pioneers upcoming recruitment. While gearing up for our top-tier Venture Building Program, we invited some promising startup founders to share their experiences and lessons learned.

Can you share a bit of your background – what led you to become a startup founder?

I think it all started during my studies. At the time, I was dreaming about cable television. In the Czech Republic, it was new idea, so I thought – ok maybe it’s good to build it. Eventually, I found out it was nothing special and the other idea was to sell Internet via these cables, but it turned out not to be so original too. Later, I thought about something like Spotify, so over time there were plenty of ideas in my head. I soaked up the inspiration coming from many market signals but didn’t really develop what sprang to my mind. Instead, I spent ten years in corporations working in the banking industry.

So your founder spirit was always by your side but not always in the foreground, right?

It’s true that even when working in a corporation I always had my small side projects like building a website for my mother’s business or another one for hitchhiking. I'm a Slovak living in the Czech Republic since 2009 – it’s more than 15 years now. However, I was studying in Germany and there was a website for drivers to track how people change cars. It seemed really interesting to me, and I felt like we needed something like that too. So, I’ve made it happen and it was my first journey as an entrepreneur. I didn’t earn any significant money on that, but some of my competitors convinced me to sell it. Then, they consolidated it into their app and sold it to BlaBlaCar. I earned very little money, but it was my first ever experience to exit.

You didn’t stop at that one.

I started playing with affiliate marketing. First, I built a small website and subscribed to all newsletters from various airlines. Once a week I wrote a blog post about their offers. It was quickly attracted by Google, popped up in search results and started generating a couple of hundreds, later a few thousands euros a month. Unfortunately, the search algorithm was changed, but it was my first business achievement. I remember also making a business on renting parking spots around the airports. It was a super success in Bratislava but it failed very soon as we couldn't scale it up through other locations. In 2013 I had – let’s call it – the last adventure before I founded a company called Tesena with my colleague Phil Royston, and it’s grown into a reasonable size. We hired 120 people and currently generate over 4 million a year. It is still working, but running the business started to be too monotonous for me after seven years.

So your startup grew out of boredom?

Sort of. (laughs) You know, I has been working in software testing for 20 years and felt a huge change coming to the industry. At the same time, I realised it might be the very last chance for me to build something huge before I retire. There are at least 10 years needed to create something with a decent size, value, and impact. So I thought, ok, it’s probably the last wave I could catch. If I win, that would be a nice story.

You followed that voice.

In my mind, it seemed to be an amazing opportunity. The prediction around is that in a couple of years, one-third of the current approach in my industry will be transformed. It can be compared to the moment when there are only horses on the street, and you come up with the first car. I don't know whether the predictions will turn out to be right, but if so, it'll just blow everything up. Most of all that provoked me to get started. I wanted to be a part of the revolution.

So how to make the revolution happen? Using

I hope so. Our product is pretty simple; if you have any business based on the web app, you are dependent on how it works. Like if you have Amazon e-commerce or any other online shop platform, it’s super critical for you to make it work smoothly, otherwise you are losing your revenues and profits. Nowadays, companies spend around a third of their IT budgets to avoid such situations. The first era of software testing was manual. We are automating it with a bot capable of scanning your app and learning how it works. Whenever you modify it or add some new feature, we can rerun the bot and it generates a report telling you what’s wrong.

So, it’s a like a “safety guard” for e-commerce apps.

One can say so. It’s good to know that some companies deliver small but almost constant changes to their apps. They do that a couple of times a day. That’s where automation is a must. We noticed that and found Wopee last year in February. At the beginning it was just a free time project of my other company activity. But we knew we have to spin it off if we wanted to succeed and further grow it. Now it’s an independent company with three founders and two developers on board. We’ve already raised our first investment round and the next one is coming in the summer. After transforming our target business model from B2B services into B2B SaaS, we’ve got over 200 active users and several dozen paying customers.

Everything seems to be on the right track. What to your mind is your secret recipe?

Well, I’ve been in this industry for 20 years now. The last ten I was selling, let’s say “washing machines” and now my product is like “superwashing powder”. Often, we are targeting the same customer profile with a complementary product. Thanks to that, I can benefit from my network, understanding the problem we are solving, and knowledge of potential customers. Now, the difficult task is to figure out how to shape it in the way it scales up. Our benefit is that we are not starting from absolute scratch.

What is the most crucial when being a beginner founder?

In my opinion – working consistently on one idea, experimenting heavily and analysing thousands of scenarios. It’s often that I'm stuck with an idea, thinking about it, writing some Excel files, and reasoning rather than making small steps. Nowadays, I believe these are the most crucial. Of course, you need to always rethink, review, and adjust as you go, but people tend to hesitate for days with no action, no steps forward. It’s super simple but super useful to tap yourself out of this state.

How would you describe the startup ecosystem in the Czech Republic? Do you think it’s supportive for beginner founders?

Maybe I’m not the best person to evaluate it, because for the last ten years I was rather following a bootstrapping approach. I became attracted by the idea of VC investments only two years ago, but in the Czech Republic we have around 20 to 30 of them organising some events that are helpful when coming into the community and many smaller home offices and angels. For beginner founders like me in this area, I found accelerators a great format for opening a lot of doors, expanding your network, and helping you work on your idea weaknesses. It provides many opportunities, especially for beginners, and is a part of marketing. We’ve gone through two or three accelerators to date and it has been definitely worth it.

Sounds familiar. In the School of Pioneers, it’s our core activity, too, but for beginner founders. We provide top networking, business solutions polishing, and certainly some mentoring. Did you have any mentors on your business journey?

I did, but more like some career mentors. Nowadays, I feel like I have mentors but short-term ones. I work with certain experts when a problem arises, discuss it, learn something and improve potential solutions. For instance, I didn’t know much about financial plan preparation, so I cooperated with one CFO who gave me advice. We were talking about its structure, key metrics, its level of detail and feasibility, but it’s not enough. Someone can share knowledge and experience with you, but to succeed it’s your job to use it. When I was working in a corporation, I had such experience of losing my boss. Suddenly, I had nobody to advise me, and I had to adjust. That made me stopped waiting for someone to tell me what to do and I started figuring things out by myself. So, it’s always good to consult someone when you lack resources, but no one will guide you through that path step by step. And at the end, taking action is super important to make it happen.

Ok, so decision-making, openness to feedback mixed with a proper amount of self-reliance, and…? What else should every future startup founder dedicate him-/herself to?

For those having only an idea, I’d recommend trying to attend some meet-ups – online or off-site. The first ones are not so efficient for networking, but you can still learn something from experts invited to share their insights. So, start gaining experience from others and then swing into action to learn your own lessons. It won’t be easy, but only this way can something remarkable can be achieved.


Feel inspired by Marcel’s story? Maybe it’s time for you to become a startup founder. Apply for the School of Pioneers 7th edition and join the exclusive community of 300 Alumni with almost PLN 220 M of funding raised so far. Visit our website here - PFR School of Pioneers (

Natalia Kupsik

Senior Specialist, Polish Development Fund