#52. Martin Smolka: “In these days it’s important to have a multilingual platform if you are doing business abroad”

Martin Smolka

Martin Smolka

We got a message through Startup Stay asking for a couch to spend some days in BCN. It was a guy from Slovakia, CEO of an events company, coming to attend a professional fair. We did not hesitate and hosted Martin, from whom we learnt a lot from event managing and Slovakia!

Age: 27

Job: CEO

Languages: English, Slovak, Czech, Polish 

The interview: After trying to have a chat through Facebook, we decided to send him the questions since it was impossible to coordinate agendas!

We got to know each other thanks to Startup Stay. What do you think about traveling using this service?

Young entrepreneurs without a significant budget for business traveling can find accommodation for free, plus a special bonus – a friend with local connections, so you can actually feel the way people live in the town/country and get a bigger picture about what’s going on over there. Doing business is about your network and friends’ so it’s always useful to make connections as I did with Oscar, who hosted me and Jerome for one week and prepared real culture insight for both of us :)

We know that ONXPO is specialized in niche All-in-One Exhibition Platforms. Would you tell us something about it?

Sure! Event organizers are facing the following main issues:

1. Exhibitors are becoming less loyal, more price sensitive, and shop around. And that is a deadly cocktail in times of cost cutting and reduced travel budgets.

2. Besides, visitor behavior is rapidly changing – online shopping, online search, social media, mobile technology and so on. The “Millennial” Generation is today’s 20 year old, and those in their early 30’s are becoming the majority of our workforce, gradually taking major decisions and leadership positions and reshaping the way events will take place. The main decisions and expectation settings about how events will be conducted are in the hands of that Generation Y professionals, and that don’t understand how people could communicate without cell phones and why people still use fax machines if you have email.

As a result of this situation in the exhibition industry, ONXPO has developed all-in-one exhibition platform, that makes industry fairs more effective and profitable (advanced lead exchange, matchmaking, paperless…).

That’s what we do, helping event organizers to increase the impact of their exhibitions :)

Now you are the Chief Executive Officer of ONXPO, when did you start the business?

The idea came up during my university studies, when I was organizing one of the biggest job fairs in Slovakia.  I saw that the peak in revenue and number of exhibitors was in 2008, and since then all numbers fell down rapidly. Therefore we had to look for something that would bring the business back.

Have you ever thought of translating your site into different languages?

Our exhibition platform is translated into English, German and Slovak. Other languages are coming :) In these days it’s important to have a multilingual platform if you are doing business abroad. 

How do you deal with people who speak other languages you don’t know?

Well, if my life depends on it, I can speak any language :) But as far as I remember, I’ve always met people who spoke at least English.

Apart from English, in your opinion, what is the second most important language in the world?

Hard to say, because it depends on the area you live in or type of business you do. But any of these languages might take the second place: Spanish, Russian or German :)

Which skills do you consider the most important to work with people? Are languages one of them?

Definitely yes. If you don’t speak at least English, you better stay at home :) Then the horse-sense is very useful, and orientation in different areas, so you can do small talks and network with anybody.

And coming back to languages, have you ever needed assistance from any language or multilingual communication agencies in your work?

Yes, we use the services of one freelancer, who speaks fluently 6 or 7 languages. He does translations and spell-check of our official documents.

Any anecdotes regarding communication you have been through in your private or professional life?

World would be a better place for living if we all speak one language

Contact Martin at:

Web 

Twitter

Facebook 

 

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