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March 16, 2020

Oliver Dlouhý, founder of global start-up Kiwi.com s.r.o., is EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic

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The global entrepreneur competition as held in the Czech Republic for the twentieth time.

Prague, 3 March 2020 – Oliver Dlouhý, founder and owner of Kiwi.com s.r.o., is the winner of the prestigious EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic competition. The trophy for the nationwide winner of best entrepreneur was presented on Tuesday, March 3rd in Prague’s Žofín Palace. Michael Tresner of ThreatMark s.r.o. was named EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019. The Czech Television Prize for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts went to Ondřej Kobza, owner of Zahrada na střeše s.r.o. and the Social Entrepreneur trophy went to Antonín Nekvinda and Josef Suchár of civic association Sdružení Neratov, z.s. Twenty-two-year-old Václav Staněk, founder of Vasky trade s.r.o, was named EY Start-up Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019, and also won the competition for the best entrepreneurial story 2019 in a vote of MF DNES and iDNES.cz readers.

“I really appreciate this success and award. I would like to thank my whole team, family and friends. I wouldn't be here without them. I see a wave of Internet global entrepreneurs in the Czech Republic, but there are still few of them. Even if this success were to inspire just one entrepreneur, I would be very happy,” recounted Oliver Dlouhý of Kiwi.com s.r.o., winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic title, of his immediate impressions.

“The 20th anniversary of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition in the Czech Republic was packed with great entrepreneurial personalities, as evidenced by the ten regional awards. Thirty-two-year-old Oliver Dlouhý, who won this year's national contest based on the judging panel’s decision, is the youngest representative of the Czech Republic ever to go to Monte Carlo in June for the World Finals,” said Magdalena Souček, managing partner of EY in the Czech Republic and part of the Central and Southeast Europe Region, adding: “I believe Oliver will be a very valuable source of inspiration for all those who are hesitant to start a business. I’m convinced his story will also impress the jury of the Monte Carlo World Finals. We’re still waiting for the winners from the CEE region. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for Oliver to place first, though the competition in Monaco will be intense.”

Oliver Dlouhý will represent the Czech Republic at the competition’s world finals to take place 4 - 7 June 2020 in Monte Carlo. National winners from some 60 countries will vie for the title of EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year. Since 2001, no entrepreneur from Central and Eastern Europe has ever been named the international winner. The winners of the last four years are from the USA (2019), Brazil (2018), Canada (2017) and Australia (2016). For a full overview of world winners, see https://podnikatelroku.cz/monte-carlo

Winner profile: 

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 České republiky a EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Jihomoravského kraje

Oliver Dlouhý, Kiwi.com s.r.o.

Some years ago, Oliver Dlouhý and his girlfriend were looking for flights to Portugal. They found a good number of tickets through various search engines, all of them too expensive. In an effort to get where they wanted to go for less, they began to try all possible flight combinations of low-cost airlines manually. Their trip, with several transfers, consisted of multiple tickets and cost about a quarter of a ticket from Prague to Portugal with the cheapest vendor. Nobody at the time had a comprehensive system for searching and connecting flights of non-cooperating airlines, and it immediately occurred to Dlouhý that with successful automation, it could be a highly promising business. He took the CZK 50,000 he had saved, found a partner and in 2012 launched the SkyPicker portal for the sale of airline tickets composed of unique flight combinations. Several years later, he changed the name to Kiwi.com.

The company has gone from a small Brno-based start-up to what is now a global firm with almost a thousand employees in eighteen branch offices around the world. Another two thousand people work for Kiwi.com externally. The head office remains in Brno, as does a part of the customer service and development operations. Despite the company’s rapid growth, it has held on to its open and friendly atmosphere. Dlouhý tries to serve as an example, never ceasing to grow and develop and constantly motivating staff with his ideas and long-term vision. 

Every day, Kiwi.com processes some 100 million searches; annual turnover in 2018 was nearly CZK 30 million. More than 40% of turnover is generated in Europe, a quarter in America, the rest in Asia. In addition to air tickets, the system offers ground transport. In Europe alone, it works with around 60 carriers, whose numbers continue to grow. The company takes great pride in its customer service, which it considers to be a great competitive advantage. Customers are looked after from start to finish. No matter what combination of carriers people buy, Kiwi.com guarantees it will deliver them to their destination, even in the event of a delay or cancellation of a connection.

Dlouhý doesn’t hide the fact that the business was started primarily for the profit motive. When it started to thrive, his motivation changed and the financial side ceased to be so important. Today, he primarily wants to improve the world around him through his actions. In addition to his constant efforts to make travel more accessible and easier, he is deeply engaged in the issue of transport sustainability and actively involved in several projects in this field. Elon Musk is a great role model for him.

Oliver Dlouhý defines Kiwi.com as a “virtual global super-carrier” and his dream is to aggregate the entire world of transport so that the customer can simply make the best journey from any point A to any point B anywhere in the world, no matter the means of travel. From taxi to plane to shared bikes or scooters.

The other EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic finalists were announced:

  • Vít Kutnar, DEK a.s.
  • Alessandro Pasquale, Mattoni 1873 a.s.
  • Libor Musil, LIKO-S, a.s.
  • Vlastimil Sedláček, SEKO Aerospace, a.s.

The profiles of the other finalists can be found in Annex 2 to this press release.

Michal Tresner, owner of cybersecurity company ThreatMark s.r.o.,was named EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019.

Michal Tresner has spent his entire career working in cybersecurity, which also happens to be his hobby. In the past, he worked in consulting, testing the security of many different systems as an ethical hacker. The fight against cybercriminals is like a game of cat and mouse, where the mouse in the form of an attacker usually has the upper hand. Most security technologies work with previous attacks or attempts, try to learn from them and avoid them in the future. Tresner and his colleague at that time came up with the idea of fighting cybercrime in the opposite way – based on correct user behavior in the online environment. They developed software for almost a year and approached an investor with a prototype. He liked the idea and decided to invest money in the start-up ThreatMark. Their software determines whether users are legitimate or fraudulent by detecting variations in their online behavior. It focuses primarily on banks, specifically internet banking, an area of great interest to cybercriminals. A unique technological solution operates on computers and mobile devices and works with hundreds of variables. From classical parameters in the form of location and device type, through the usual user steps in the application, to behavioral biometry. For example, it evaluates how fast users type on a keyboard, how they move the mouse, or how much they move their fingers on the touch screen. This is where ThreatMark has almost no competition in the world. The company's main advantage is that it offers banks a comprehensive anti-fraud solution in the online world. From detecting threats and fraudulent transactions to identity validation. 

It was not easy at the start; Tresner mainly struggled with the distrust of banks. A young start-up without references had to convince large financial institutions that their solution was not only beneficial, but above all, as safe as possible. This was eventually achieved thanks to several partner companies. Since its establishment in 2015, ThreatMark has been steadily growing and today is the most widely used solution for online fraud identification in Czech and Slovak banks. Recently, the company has partnered with a large international banking group for which it delivers solutions to nine European countries, and thanks to its foreign partners, it already has customers in Canada and Africa. It is currently looking for another investor to help with international expansion.

Every year, ThreatMark invests nearly 70 percent of its profits in research and development. In addition to banking, Tresner also wants to focus on other industries in the future and aims to enhance both safety and user comfort. He believes that his technology will soon allow reliable authentication without the need to enter any passwords, codes or fingerprint readings.

Václav Staněk, whose company Vasky trade s.r.o. produces handmade leather shoes and accessories, was named EY Start-up Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 and also won theMF DNES and iDNES.cz Readers’ Prize for Best Entrepreneurial Story of 2019.

Václav Staněk dreamed of having his own company since childhood. As a native of Zlín, a great admirer of Tomáš Baťa and the son of a shoemaker, he played with the idea of his own brand of shoes. He devoured the professional business literature, and additionally competed in sports and was a multiple national champion in the 800 meters. A few years ago, however, he had to suddenly end his promising running career due to illness. At that moment, he decided to fully venture into business, and a few days after his eighteenth birthday founded the brand Vasky trade. His shoemaker father tried to dissuade him from the idea at first, but because he liked Václav’s suggestions, he placed his workshop at his son’s disposal.

Václav introduced the first pair of hand-stitched cowhide shoes in 2015 and after a few months won a start-up competition. Over the four years of its existence, it sold over 13,000 pairs of shoes, and at twenty-two Staněk has a team of thirty people working under him. Vasky is growing by nearly 200 percent year-on-year and has its branded stores in Zlín, Prague, Brno and Ostrava. The average employee age is around 25.  Besides a passion for the product, friendship and a belief in the company, employees also enjoy a high degree of freedom: every employee is a proud Vasky ambassador.

Václav Staněk is building on the Bata tradition and, as such, endeavouring to develop and popularize shoemaking. Each pair of shoes is handmade in Zlín and passes through the hands of up to 12 people. Women's and men's formal shoes and hiking boots are offered and in addition to finished models, Vasky offers customers the option of custom shoes. From color, stitching and sole to monogramming. In addition to focussing on quality and sustainability, Vasky also minimizes production waste. Small accessories are made from leather remnants. Currently, Vaclav is working intensively on his own sneaker line, which should be launched in 2020. He believes that sneakers will help the brand penetrate new markets. The vast majority of existing customers are in the Czech Republic; in the near future, the company is preparing to expand to neighbouring countries.

After shoemaking, Václav started doing business in other market segments, becoming involved in companies producing leather handbags and backpacks, industrial furniture and women's underwear. Last year, he co-founded an agency that helps not only with the marketing and branding of Vasky and others, but also with employee development. In his spare time, Václav continues to be into running and traveling. Indeed, it’s when he’s on the go that he gets the most ideas.

Since 2006, EY has awarded a prize for social entrepreneurship. Cousins Antonín Nekvinda and Josef Suchár of civic association Sdružení Neratov, z.s. were named EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019

An unforgettable place “at the end of the world” with an exceptional atmosphere. That – or something like it – is how most visitors describe the village of Neratov, located in the Eagle Mountains [Orlické hory] near the Polish border. In just the last year, some forty thousand visitors have come. It had taken little for Neratov to become a forgotten place, as did many other displaced Sudeten villages in the country’s border region. In the late 1980s, however, it was discovered by Catholic pastor Josef Suchár, who decided to return life to the abandoned village and restore the Baroque church that served as a pilgrimage site. All this with the help of people with intellectual disabilities, for whom he wanted to build a pleasant place to work and live. In 1992, he founded the civic association Sdružení Neratov together with several others and the revitalization work began. Suchár’s cousin Antonín Nekvinda joined the association in 2012. The long-time former insurance company director was originally supposed to have only a formal role, but so enthused by the activities of Sdružení Neratov, he decided to play an active role in the project and help it evolve and achieve maximum financial independence. He recalls with a smile that his pastor cousin’s first response when learning of his plans was to make the sign of the cross.

Sdružení Neratov’s main activity is to provide sheltered housing and a day-care center for people with various degrees of mental disability. In addition, it runs a primary school for children with multiple disabilities and continuously repairs and enhances the Neratov church, which has become a sought-after pilgrimage site. Due in large part to Nekvinda, the activities are largely financed from their own social entrepreneurship. Right in Neratov, the Association operates sheltered workshops and facilities for visitors – a shop, accommodation, kitchen, restaurant, laundry and horticulture. In 2017, the Association opened its own microbrewery and is currently completing a community hall with a large hall and accommodation in the village, which should satisfy the growth in visitor interest. Thanks to the activities of the Association, a number of social events, such as weddings, are held year round in Neratov. The Association runs other sheltered workshops in neighboring towns and villages, including bakery, ceramics, weaving and assembly operations.

Today, Sdružení Neratov has nearly 60 full-time and 200 part-time staff. More than half of the employees are people with disabilities. Over 200 volunteers also help with operations and development, and the number of job applicants is constantly growing.

In addition to the region’s further enhancement, the Association’s main objective is the sustainability and maximum self-sufficiency of village life for people with and without disabilities. Over the next five years, it aims to cover at least three quarters of the cost of running its social services from its own earnings. Sdružení Neratov is already a great model for many other social projects in the Czech Republic and abroad.

This year, the Czech Television Award for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts was awarded for the fourth time in the history of the competition. It went to Ondřej Kobza of the company Zahrada na střeše s.r.o.  

Ondřej Kobza started to do business in the field of culture as a teenager in the 1990s. Dissatisfied with the offering of cultural activities in his home town of Ústí nad Orlicí, he and his friends rented an old clubhouse and started organizing events where, over time, people from all over the world came together. He continued organizing lectures and pilgrimages. In 2010, he opened the Café V lese in Prague's Vršovice and helped to start the revitalization of Krymská Street, soon to become a sought-after destination. He garnered broader public awareness three years later with the project Pianos on the Street. He placed pianos in five different public places around Prague and asked that people play. Gradually, the project expanded to other cities, and pianos were followed by chess tables and so-called poesiomats, which recite poetry upon request. Later, he started organizing concerts in unusual places, for example in the Main Post Office building in Jindřišská Street. By doing so, he tries to show that culture does not only have to take place in established, purpose-built institutions.

Kobza’s most notable recent achievements are the spaces for the Šesťák gatherings at Dejvice's Victory Square and the Střecha Lucerny. This is also the most expensive of the projects. In 2014, Kobza acquired the roof space of the Lucerna Palace in central Prague. During the building’s construction, it was planned that the roof would be used for social events, but this original intention was eventually dropped, and it remained closed to the public for almost a hundred years. Kobza breathed new life into it and in 2016 the roof began gradually to welcome visitors. Nowadays, social events, concerts, yoga lessons and exhibitions are regularly held on the Lucerna roof. In the future, Kobza would like to revitalize and make more roofs available across the country.

What links all Ondřej Kobza's projects is the cultivation and revitalization of existing public spaces and what he calls “subtle interventions in the appearance of cities and places”. Through his activities, he endeavors to show that public places can be improved and favorably influenced even without extensive financial resources. His aim is to inspire people of all ages not only to be more receptive to their surroundings, but also to embark on projects similar to his and transform the world around them for the better.

Kobza successfully combines business with the non-profit sector. In addition to the café in Vršovice, he also operates Café Neustadt in the New Town Hall building and co-owns the enterprise na Náplavce. Profits from cafes and events are used to finance non-profit activities. He says he does business to make money and makes money to invest in other projects.

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EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 partners

The official car of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 competition is BMW Group Czech Republic.

Raiffeisenbank is a competition partner. The main co-organizer is the daily MF DNES and iDNES.cz. The main media partner is Czech Television; other media partners are Forbes Magazine and the  Info.cz news portal. The contest is supported by CzechInvest and held under the auspices of the Czech Chamber of Commerce.

_________________________________________________________________________

Press Release Annexes:

1. Judging panel

2. Finalist profiles

3. Regional winners

4. Overview of national winners of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition

5. EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition rules

About EY Entrepreneur Of The Year

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is the world's most prestigious business competition that pays tribute to outstanding personalities.

Its aim is to introduce the public to extraordinary personal examples in the field of business that can serve as models for young, start-up entrepreneurs. The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year is designed to be international, so the criteria for assessing each participant are comparable in each country. Currently the only world-renowned competition of its kind, it is regularly held in almost 60 countries on six continents. For more information, go to www.podnikatelroku.cz

About EY

EY je předním celosvětovým poskytovatelem odborných poradenských služeb v oblasti auditu, daní, transakčního
a podnikového poradenství. Znalost problematiky a kvalita služeb, které poskytujeme, přispívají k posilování důvěry
v kapitálové trhy i v ekonomiky celého světa. Výjimečný lidský a odborný potenciál nám umožňuje hrát významnou roli při vytváření lepšího prostředí pro naše zaměstnance, klienty i pro širší společnost.

Název EY zahrnuje celosvětovou organizaci a může zahrnovat jednu či více členských firem Ernst & Young Global Limited, z nichž každá je samostatnou právnickou osobou. Ernst & Young Global Limited, britská společnost s ručením omezeným garancí, služby klientům neposkytuje. Pro podrobnější informace o naší organizaci navštivte prosím naše webové stránky www.ey.com/CZ.

EY Czech Republic

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Annex No. 1

The main Judging Panel of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic competition selects the national competiton winner, the regional winners and the EY Start-up Entrepreneur Of The Year

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Judging Panel members

  • Radka Prokopová, Alca plast, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018
  • Zdeněk Pelc, GZ Media, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2015
  • František Piškanin, HOPI, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012
  • Eduard Kučera, AVAST Software, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2009
  • Vladimír Kovář, Unicorn, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008
  • Pavel Juříček,BRANO GROUP, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2006
  • Zbyněk Frolík,LINET, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2003
  • Petr Šmída, ENERN, investor
  • Tomáš Ventura, iDNES.cz, deputy editor-in-chief
  • Michal Půr,Info.cz, editor-in-chief
  • Petr Šimůnek,Forbes, editor-in-chief


Advisory Forum

  • Lubomír Stoklásek, AGROSTROJ Pelhřimov, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017
  • Petr Chmela, TESCOMA, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016
  • Vlastislav Bříza, KOH-I-NOOR holding, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014
  • Jiří Hlavatý, JUTA, EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013
  • Jannis Samaras, Kofola, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011
  • Valdemar Walach, WALMARK, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010
  • Miroslav Řihák, ANECT, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2004
  • Kvido Štěpánek, Isolit-Bravo, Entrepreneur Of The Year 2002
  • Ivan Pilný, digital education agent
  • Vladimír Dlouhý, president, Czech Chamber of Commerce
  • Petr Koblic, managing director, Prague Stock Exchange

Judging Panel for the category EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019

  • Jaroslav Klíma, Judging Panel Chair, TESCAN ORSAY HOLDING, Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2011
  • Jan Hvížďala, JHV - ENGINEERING, EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017
  • Vladimír Velebný, holding CONTIPRO, EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014
  • Karel Volenec, ELLA-CS, Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2012
  • Václav Muchna, Y Soft Corporation, Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2010
  • Josef Suska, HOKAMI CZ, Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year 2007
  • Pavel Baudiš, AVAST Software

Judging Panel for the category EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019

  • Vít Ježek, REKOLA Bikesharing, EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2017
  • Tomáš Masopust, Portus Praha, EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2016
  • Tereza Jurečková, Pragulic – Poznej Prahu jinak!, EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2014
  • Drahoslava Kabátová, Letohrádek Vendula, Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2008
  • Jiří Bárta, NADACE VIA
  • Jakub Knězů, Etincelle, EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2018

Czech Television Prize for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts

Judging Panel:

  • Petr Dvořák, managing director, Czech Television
  • Aleš Najbrt, creative director, Studio Najbrt
  • Daniel Bárta, singer, librettist and photographer
  • Jan Školník, owner, HOBRA-Školník; founder, Broumov Development Agency and EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year 2013
  • Radana Waldová, co-owner and managing director, Wald Press, holder of the Czech Television Prize for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts 2016
  • Čestmír Vančura – Kovárna VIVA, holder of the Czech Television Prize for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts 2018

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Annex No. 2

Finalist profiles

National finalists and winner of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Czech Republic competition:

  • Oliver Dlouhý, Kiwi.com s.r.o. (for profile, see p. 2 above)
  • Alessandro Pasquale, Mattoni 1873 a.s.
  • Libor Musil, LIKO-S, a.s.
  • Vlastimil Sedláček, SEKO Aerospace, a.s.

Finalist, national round of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 competition

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Central Bohemia Region

Vít Kutnar, DEK a.s.

Even as a child, Vít Kutnar had an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether it was selling rabbits, collecting herbs or photographing his classmates, he was fascinated by his ability to create something. He considered the money he earned to be a pleasant bonus, not a primary objective of his activities. Indeed, it was his desire to create that led him to the idea of setting up a company for the sale of waterproofing materials as a Czech Tech student in 1993. His experience abroad and instincts suggested he had chosen the right business. He started out with two friends in a garage and used all the money he had made from temporary jobs to start the company, plus CZK 150,000 from his parents, which was almost all their life savings. He was able to pay it all back in just a year. Today, DEK has a number of subsidiaries, more than 2.5 thousand employees and is a leader in the building materials market in the Czech Republic. In addition to the sale and distribution of building and wiring materials through 120 branches in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, DEK operates a machine and tool rental business. As Kutnar himself says, the combination of rental and sales is their great competitive advantage and growth driver. One would be hard-pressed to find a similar set-up in the Czech Republic or anywhere else in the world.

DEK turnover has been growing in recent years, reaching CZK 20 billion in 2019. Its virtually unshakable market position and growth lies in continuous innovation and service improvement. DEK has thought through everything to the last detail and comes up with something new and fresh every year. The company’s pride and joy is its online catalogue of all goods broken down by construction area. The company is also hard at work on digitizing construction. An easy-to-use program allows customers to select and configure everything they need from the catalogue and use a 3D model to find out how long construction will take and how much it will cost. Kutnar admits that while continuous innovation and growth sometimes inhibit efficiency, it nevertheless suits the company, which is built on innovation.

Although the number of employees exceeds 2,000, DEK is a welcoming company with a friendly atmosphere. Continuous education is a matter of course and employees are among the best paid in the field. Thanks to this, the company has long-term low staff turnover. DEK is attracting new people from, among others, the ranks of students and graduates of Czech Technical University and the University of Technology, with whom it cooperates extensively. In addition to his former wife, who is a co-owner, Kutnar's children are slowly becoming involved in the company. In his capacity as director, he primarily seeks to inspire and consult.

He devotes his free time to family and sports. Business has taught him much, but from the beginning he has kept his optimism, trust in people and reluctance to choose life and business shortcuts. His goal is for people – employees and customers – to benefit as much as possible from the company’s success.

Finalist, national round of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 competition

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Karlovy Vary Region

Alessandro Pasquale, Mattoni 1873 a.s.

Alessandro Pasquale says, with some exaggeration, that there was no other option but to start a business. His father left a successful beverage business in Italy in the early 1990s and bought the Mattoni factory in Kyselka near Karlovy Vary that had been run into the ground by the communist regime. The company, which was founded in 1873 by Karlovy Vary native Heinrich Mattoni, gradually got back on its feet. Alessandro became involved almost immediately and never regretted his decision. He started out as an apprentice and gradually took on more responsibility. He led the Dobrá voda brand for a while and took over the management of the entire group twelve years ago as part of a generational change. At that time, the family received an interesting offer to buy the entire company, but Alessandro opposed it, and in the end convinced the family to hold on to it.

Today, Mattoni 1873 is the largest Central European soft drink manufacturer with annual production of nearly two billion bottles. The Group has twelve production plants and employs over three thousand people in eight countries. In addition to natural mineral and spring waters, it also produces other soft drinks and juices, and a few years ago, entered the snack segment. In addition to the Mattoni brand, the portfolio includes Magnesia, Aquila, Dobrá voda, Poděbradka, Haná mineral water, Schweppes, Granini and Yo syrups. The products are exported to more than twenty countries worldwide, not only in Europe, but also North America, Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Australia. The annual turnover of Mattoni 1873 exceeds eight billion crowns.

The company has invested considerable amounts in technology and innovation in the long term. In recent years, it has been intensively engaged in sustainable production and applied the principles of circular economy. While Pasquale's father came up with the ergonomic shape of the bottles as we know them today, a few years ago Pasquale introduced an eco-bottle made from material containing 30 percent of ingredients of plant origin. All PET bottles produced at the factory are fully recyclable. The company is also involved in ecology and environmental protection as part of its socially responsible activities. In addition, it supports research, education and a number of cultural and sporting events such as marathons.

Mattoni 1873 is a family business and Pasquale takes great pride in good relationships, trust and an ethical approach across the company. His dream is to run and develop the company for the next twenty years and then hand leadership over to his sons. He wants to leave the decision to them, but he believes they will be interested in the family business. Just like he was years ago.

Finalist, national round of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 competition

Libor Musil, LIKO-S, a.s.

Libor Musil graduated in mechanical engineering and at the end of the eighties had a promising career as a technologist in a state enterprise. Immediately after the Revolution, however, he took advantage of the newly acquired freedom in his working life, gave his notice, and in 1990 started a business with his father-in-law, who was a builder. They built buildings all over Europe and had about three hundred employees, but Musil was drawn back to engineering and therefore founded a manufacturing company for prefabricated systems. The beginnings were wild. Musil borrowed considerable start-up capital, failed to manage growth and saw the company nearly collapse in the 1990s. In order to repay his huge debts, he mortgaged all his property and for years worked under enormous pressure. In the end, almost impossibly, he came through it, and since 2005 the company has been entirely self-financed. Today, LIKO-S has annual turnover of about one billion crowns. The company operates in two sectors, in both of which it is the absolute leader, and owns several patents and utility models.

The construction division is dedicated to the construction of indoor buildings and the production of interior mobile partitions, where it ranks among the top ten manufacturers in the world. The latest achievement is a touch screen that acts like a laptop. In the area of indoor buildings, it has been focusing on ecological green buildings in recent years. Recently, LIKO-S opened the world's first living hall that can cool the surroundings by up to ten degrees. The engineering division specializes in high-tech welding lines. It delivers to laboratories and companies from the food processing, pharmaceutical and metallurgy industries all over the world. Musil's products can be found not only in almost all of the world's KFC and McDonald's locations, but also at CERN in Switzerland.

In addition to its headquarters in Slavkov u Brna, the company has branches in Prague, Bratislava, Budapest and Bangalore, India. Musil employs over 200 people and considers employees the key to success. Therefore, he regularly invests in their development and education. Motivation is also important for him, so he introduced a unique remuneration system – employees themselves set their salary. The core of the company is the Musil family. His wife has been working in the company almost from the start and is still in charge of the HR department. A couple of years ago, both children joined and they are gradually taking over the entire operation. His son is now a division manager, and his daughter an HR manager.

For Musil, the theme of ecology and sustainability is not only about business, it is also a major hobby and commitment. He invests considerable resources in development, technology and general education, lectures at conferences and is one of two entrepreneurs to ever become a laureate of the Josef Vavroušek Award, which has been awarded for more than twenty years for a specific environmental benefit. In his free time he enjoys sports and his own farm.

Finalist, national round of the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 competition

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Ústí Region

Vlastimil Sedláček, SEKO Aerospace, a.s.

Vlastimil Sedláček’s father was an extremely enterprising person and a great technician. From the time they were little, he took his two sons to the workshop daily and thought up jobs for them to do. Back then, Sedláček wasn’t too happy, but he is grateful to his father now and sees him as a role model. It turned out he inherited both technical talent and creativity, so as soon as possible after the Revolution, he went into business. He traveled through Europe, found a unique timeless machine tool, and in 1991 founded SEKO in Louny. Although he had two young sons at the time, he mortgaged his house and garage for the business. The first years were difficult. He got up daily at three in the morning and tirelessly stopped in at potential partners across the country. He had no employees besides finance people, so he involved both of his barely teenage sons. With some exaggeration, he says that the younger of them then became the youngest operator in the country. For the first 14 years, the company grew slowly, then growth accelerated and in recent years turnover has grown annually by about one fifth. In 2018, it reached almost 800 million crowns. Both Sedláček's sons are still with the company today. One is a plant director, the other is a trader. His daughter works in the HR department.

SEKO currently has more than 600 employees. In addition to its three locations in the Czech Republic, it has branches and offices in India, Italy, Germany and Brazil. Sedláček is one of the most successful Czech entrepreneurs on the local market. SEKO focuses on the energy and aerospace industries and is primarily engaged in the production of key components for aircraft engines and steam turbines. It is one of the world leaders in both sectors. It works with all key global manufacturers of aircraft, aircraft engines and power turbines. Parts from Sedláček's company are found in 97 percent of newly manufactured aircraft and in hundreds of turbines worldwide.

According to Sedlacek, continuous innovation is the key to success. He tries to think up something new every day. He invests considerable resources in innovation and robotization every year. Thanks to this, the company boasts highly sophisticated production, which has no competition in our country. He is also building a solar yacht.

Within the framework of social responsibility, SEKO helps to improve the places where it operates. Most especially the home base of Louny. It supports school development, culture and sport and sponsors a local football club. It also has a small aircraft museum in Louny and its own zoo, which is visited by about 2.5 thousand children annually.

Due to the uncertain future direction of energy, Sedláček now focuses primarily on the development of aviation. Flying is also his main hobby. He flies a helicopter in his free time and also for business trips. He devotes the remaining time off to his grandchildren. His major goal is to hand over a thriving, debt-free business to children.

Annex No. 3  

Regional winners

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Central Bohemia Region (for profile, see above) Vít Kutnar, DEK a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 South Moravia Region (for profile, see above) Oliver Dlouhý, Kiwi.com, s.r.o.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Karlovy Vary Region (for profile, see above) Alessandro Pasquale, Mattoni 1873 a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Ustí Region (for profile, see above) Vlastimil Sedláček, SEKO Aerospace, a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Prague Jan Fidler, Petr Němec, SEBRE Holding a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Olomouc Region Petra Pohořská, ABO valve, s.r.o.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Zlín Region Antonín Machala, ALTECH, spol. s.r.o.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Plzeň Region Jiří Soukup, Keramika Soukup a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Vysočina Region Tomáš Vránek, ICE Industrial Services a.s.
EY Entrepreneur Of The Year 2019 Hradec Králové Region Josef Hronovský, HRONOVSKÝ s.r.o.

Annex No. 4

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Czech Republic national title holders

2019: Oliver Dlouhý, Kiwi.com s.r.o.

2018: Radka Prokopová and František Fabičovic, Alca plast

2017: Lubomír Stoklásek, AGROSTROJ Pelhřimov

2016: Petr Chmela, TESCOMA

2015: Zdeněk Pelc, GZ Digital Media

2014: Vlastislav Bříza, KOH-I-NOOR

2013: Jiří Hlavatý, JUTA

2012: František Piškanin, HOPI

2011: Jannis Samaras, Kofola

2010: Mariusz, Adam and Valdemar Walachové, WALMARK

2009: Eduard Kučera, AVAST Software

2008: Vladimír Kovář, Unicorn

2007: Tomáš Březina, BEST

2006: Pavel Juříček, BRANO Group

2005: Radim Jančura, STUDENT AGENCY

2004: Miroslav Řihák, ANECT

2003: Zbyněk Frolík, LINET

2002: Kvido Štěpánek, ISOLIT-BRAVO

2001: Zdeněk Jandejsek, RABBIT Trhový Štěpánov

2000: Kateřina Janků, MORAVIA IT

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Annex No. 5

EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition rules

Judging panel decisions are guided by internationally valid rules. The main evaluation criteria include strategic orientation, global reach and of course the company's financial results, which are a clear indicator of a company's health and growth. The evaluation process is complex and takes into account, apart from economic data, the competitor's personality and business story. Among other things, the judges also focus on the entrepreneurial spirit of nominees, their honesty and probity, and their non-business activities in the company or region.

The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year Czech Republic invites nominees who are entrepreneurs – natural persons, owners or co-owners of a business company, who have a decisive influence on its management and who actively operate in its management. The given company must have existed for at least two years (must be able to present two complete financial statements) and have at least eight full-time employees. Anyone can nominate or send in a tip about an entrepreneur, including a colleague, customer, employee or relative. The Best Entrepreneur of the Czech Republic will represent our country at the global finals of the competition on 4-7 June 2020 in Monaco and vie for the EY World Entrepreneur Of The Year title.

EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year

The EY Technology Entrepreneur Of The Year category includes any competition participant whose company creates or uses technology in an innovative way. Applications for this category are judged by an expert judging panel that considers whether modern technologies are successfully integrated into business processes, whether they significantly affect the economic success of the company, and whether the company has a long-term strategy for using modern technologies.

EY Start-up Entrepreneur Of The Year  

An entrepreneur who has not reached the age of 30 as of 31 December 2019 or the total duration of whose business activity does not exceed 5 years (i.e. who went into business after 1 January 2014) can apply for this category.

EY Social Entrepreneur Of The Year

Entrepreneurs who apply business principles in practice to address societal challenges can apply. Entrepreneurship for socially beneficial entrepreneurs is about introducing practical, innovative approaches focusing on essential issues that often remain marginal to society's interest and should provide a practical and viable alternative to charity or state support in the area.

Czech Television Prize for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts

The competition for the Czech Television Award for Entrepreneurial Contribution to Culture and the Arts may include any participant in the competition that financially or materially supports projects that are part of the cultivation of Czech public life through art (music festivals, exhibition activities, etc.), but also projects focussed on the public space (landscape management, cultural heritage, architecture etc.). Support for these projects is not the subject of entrepreneurial activity of the entrepreneur and is not realized for profit.

Best Entrepreneurial Story

The main co-organizer of the competition, the MAFRA media group, has been announcing a reader's poll for the “Best Entrepreneurial Story” since 2011. The editors of MF DNES selects eight finalists from the EY Entrepreneur Of The Year competition participants whose profiles it publishes. Readers of iDNES.cz and MF DNES will then vote for the best entrepreneurial story of the past year.

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