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12 June 2014

Interview with Petr Sýkora

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Petr Sýkora
How it is possible that your co-owned company PAPIRIUS became so successful?

In essence it has been a combination of 3 main factors – right business model at the right time led by a team of people who have not made too many mistakes. The sequence – “right business model” – right time – capable management / entrepreneurs is important because most of us who got successful suffer from so – called “overconfidence bias”. We simply tend to believe that the business got successful because we were so damned smart... As Warren Buffet says: “The boat matters more than the rowing”.

Why did you decide to sell such a prosperous business?

We had started PAPIRIUS back in 1993 when I was 18 years old. We sold it 13 years later. The key driver for me was to try other things in my life. This enabled us to travel live for a while abroad, learn and try new things.

Why did you start the project Good Angel (Dobrý Anděl) when you had enough finance to live „happily ever after“?

First of all, financial means give us a rather illusory sense of security. Second, entrepreneurs are an active and restless breed. We (as others) want to contribute. As we were contemplating several new for profit business ideas we stumbled over a “for-loss-business” (means charity) GOOD ANGEL. The founder and incoming Slovak president Andrej Kiska presented the concept a few years ago in Prague. We liked it so much that we decided to test it – i.e. started to support a few cancer families to learn and understand. We realized that the saying: “It is not a child who gets a cancer. The whole family does” was true. The first family was a family of single mum with healthy daughter (4) and a little boy (Peťa who had a brain tumor). I got to know the family rather well, visited them at home as well as in Motol. Less than a year later Peťa died. It was the first funeral I ever went to. Afterwards we had no doubts about GOOD ANGEL any more...

In the interview on NCCC Flower Power Spring Party with our Board member Miloš Malaník, you mentioned how Good Angel works. Can you please summarize the most important principles of the endowment?

Yes. GOOD ANGEL is a foundation focused on families with kids where either a child or one of the parents got cancer (or a child suffers from other long-term illness) and who got into difficult financial situation. People can register on our website and become Good angels after they start sending monthly donations. The amount is an individual choice. The families who need help will in the form which always needs to be signed and recommended by their doctor. As my friend and business partner Jan Černý and myself fund all the administration costs (from the proceeds we got for the sale of our business PAPIRIUS) the foundation is able to distribute 100% of donations to the families. Hence “to the last cent” claim. Moreover, Good angels get their unique access code and password so that they see exactly which families they are supporting. This is ultimate transparency – and the ultimate efficiency. Try it yourself.

What does Corporate Social Responsibility mean to you?

It is a complicated term for something rather simple. Companies today have a lot of resources and technology. They compete for talent and customers and operate in the environment we live in. To be more attractive – for the right type of people, to have appeal to their customers and to improve their environment they are uniquely positioned to help. It is so natural. It is worthless to get rich, build a fence and live in a dirty unsafe environment with people who are either poor or ill.

What kind of person is Petr Sýkora in private life? (What does he like to do in the free time?)

I am rather introvert, love to spend time outside with children, friends or even alone. Read a book. And climb some mountains, go down wild rivers on the kayak or go for a long, long run...

Dobrý Anděl
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