From Czech Republic to Chicago

When her JA company year came to an end, Czech Alumna Lucie Částková wanted to go on with the idea - and started becoming pretty successful. Even though she just became an Alumna, she volunteered at last year's Alumni conference in Prague and today, besides her studies at a business academy in Choceň, Czech Republic, she lately competed in a competition called “Soutěž a podnikej” (literally translated: “Let's compete and do business”). It was for students with innovative ideas and Lucie presented her former JA company idea to the jury, which chose her as a winner in the end!

Read on to find out what will be coming next for Lucie and her invention "Olá"!

The name of the game you invented is “Olá”, which, to most people, sounds like the Spanish “Hola” – What does the name mean and why did you choose it?

"When I was thinking about the name of this game, I didn't have an idea at first. But when you play this game, you start feeling like on the same "wave" with the disadvantaged player. So I looked up the word “wave“ in other languages and it actually is a Spanish word – Olá means wave in Spanish!"

As far as we know your group back in high school was inspired by a schoolmate of yours, who’s visually impaired. How can impaired and non-impaired people connect through your game?

"When I was thinking about a project for JA company, I thought about helping a girl from my class. There are only a few games for people with disabilities and when I realised that there aren´t any games which connect visually impaired and non-impaired people I wanted to change it.

When playing the game, you try to understand what the world of visually impaired is like experience some new sensations. The goal of the game is to touch and recognize the shapes of the wooden pieces in a bag while the player has a scarf over his eyes in order not to see anything."

According to a recent nestpick ranking, the Czech Republic is by far not the most popular country for startups to settle and do business. As an insider, why do you think the Czech Republic is often being underrated and what are the great benefits of this country young founders should start thinking about?

"I think the Czech Republic is a much better place for entrepreneurs than it was 10 years ago. In my opinion, young entrepreneurs today have much more opportunities to start their projects, there are so many incubators all over the country. I think we are on a very good way and in a few years the Czech Republic will be at the top!"

The game you developed was born during your JA company year, you even made it to the European Finals in Brussels but eventually the programme terminated. How did you agree with your company mates on how to go on with the idea?

"The trip to Brussels and the whole year being in a JA company was a wonderful experience, indeed, but I really didn’t want to stop working on the idea that was developed. Many JA students think like this but unfortunately not all of them can (or want) continue pursuing this dream. When I discussed the future of the project it turned out I was the only one who wanted to continue, which was a real pity but I still wanted to stand out and continue. It would be great to motivate more JA students to do so in the future!"

Has your success on the Czech level and in Brussels given you the courage to apply for the recent competition or were you motivated by a mentor or similar?

"Maybe yes. But I knew this competition would move me somewhere further. At the start every contestant got his mentor and it was great! I wanted to show the game to other people and I couldn’t imagine it would be so successful."

Congratulations on winning the competition, what was the most difficult part about it?

"The most difficult thing about it was the lack of time because every week we had to send our materials and our tasks we were given, to a mentor. But I must say that I am very grateful for the experience though!"

 What tasks did you have to successfully complete?

"We had to answer a lot of questions about our business model, furthermore addressed our potential customers, communicated with potential suppliers, created a final plan and also the first prototype of the product."

As we could read in an article on the webpage of Forbes Czech Republic, one of the key elements of your prize is travelling to Chicago. When will the journey start and what are you excited about the most?

"My trip to Chicago will start after my graduation exam. We already know that this will be in early June and I can't wait for it to start!

The programme will be quite busy: I'm going to a college and various big boot incubators for startups and I'll be lecturing about my game. It's going to be a real business trip. I want to get as much experience as possible, especially contacts."

What do you think non-blind individuals can learn from visually impaired personalities?

"For non-impaired people the game will bring great experience. They get to know what it is like to lose sight and feel visually impaired. I think it is very important that people can empathize with other people and help them!"

If you had to sum up this entire journey of your’s in three words, which ones would you choose? "It is amazing!"

Last but not least, our five fast for you:

  1. Coffee or Tea? "Coffee!"
  2. Smartwatch or Classy Chronograph? "Classy Chronograph."
  3. Mountains or Seaside? "Mountains."
  4. Summer or Winter Olympic Games? "Winter Olympic Games."
  5. “Why” or “Why not“? "Why not?"

Congratulations again to Lucie Částková and lots of success and great experiences in Chocago this summer! 

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