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KEA DIGITAL alumni Jarek Owczarek creates companies in Copenhagen

Af Louise Juncker, 2017-09-01

“I learned a craft at KEA - and I finished with a toolbox”

Jarek Owczarek came to Denmark in 2008 to study Multimedia Design and Communication at KEA. After finishing his studies at the top up E-concept Development in 2012, he co-founded the company wouworld, a predecessor for woumedia, a successful digital products studio where he currently works as Managing Partner.

Among their clients are Frankly Juice, Telenor, Eric Bagger Studio and Odense University Hospital. Their offices are located in the buzzing Nordhavn area with splendid views over Øresund, sharing a huge space with other creative companies.

In this alumni portrait, Jarek shares how to use your learning experience at KEA when you are going to start up your own company, build it up and work with real clients.

A life changing decision

Jarek: “I'm originally from Poland and came here nine years ago to study. I chose Denmark, because I really liked the programme. I have visited Denmark a couple of times before – so I decided to come take the leap and move here. I really fell in love with the idea of independence, the ability to study, work and be able to have a decent life.”

“I have always been drawn into meeting new cultures and I like exploring and broadening my horizons. It turned out to be completely true and it was one of the best choices I made in my life: It opened my eyes onto how different it can be when you meet an international environment. The cultural differences had a big impact on me understanding so much more about people overall.”

Finding the path at Multimedia design and Communication

“In the beginning, I think I had a bit of trouble adjusting to the program in the sense of the way the study is run; but once I got used to it I thought it was very practical and turned out to be very useful in the end.”

“During the years at Multimedia Design and Communication, I think I got to know myself a little bit more. We touched a variety of subjects like design, programming, audio and video, which was terrific; I was able to understand and choose my path later on.”

“I ended up choosing design, simply because I cursed too many times when the code I wrote didn’t work. I didn’t want to stress over simple things. Design was gentler on me. The internship I did during the two years at Multimedia Design helped me to take the decision. It was in a small company, which made me very close to the owner – which made me understand many of the struggles he went through and the challenges of being a small business owner.”

Creating solutions at E-concept Development

In this alumni portrait, Jarek shares how to use your learning experience at KEA when you are going to start up your own company, build it up and work with real clients.

A life changing decision

Jarek: “I'm originally from Poland and came here nine years ago to study. I chose Denmark, because I really liked the programme. I have visited Denmark a couple of times before – so I decided to come take the leap and move here. I really fell in love with the idea of independence, the ability to study, work and be able to have a decent life.”

“I have always been drawn into meeting new cultures and I like exploring and broadening my horizons. It turned out to be completely true and it was one of the best choices I made in my life: It opened my eyes onto how different it can be when you meet an international environment. The cultural differences had a big impact on me understanding so much more about people overall.”

Finding the path at Multimedia design and Communication

“In the beginning, I think I had a bit of trouble adjusting to the program in the sense of the way the study is run; but once I got used to it I thought it was very practical and turned out to be very useful in the end.”

“During the years at Multimedia Design and Communication, I think I got to know myself a little bit more. We touched a variety of subjects like design, programming, audio and video, which was terrific; I was able to understand and choose my path later on.”

“I ended up choosing design, simply because I cursed too many times when the code I wrote didn’t work. I didn’t want to stress over simple things. Design was gentler on me. The internship I did during the two years at Multimedia Design helped me to take the decision. It was in a small company, which made me very close to the owner – which made me understand many of the struggles he went through and the challenges of being a small business owner.”

Creating solutions at E-concept Development

“I really like the fact of being able to help people with their needs, solve their problems and create something people use. I think I fell in love with the idea of contributing and leaving something behind me to the society.”

“That was when I chose to join E-concept Development, which was the second program I studied at KEA. It was better than I imagined because of the practical angle it had and the fact that a very experienced team of people created it:

“I love the fact that my teachers were people who worked at e.g. Google, Microsoft and BBC. People, who started their internet businesses in the 90’s and earned lot of money just by showing where the '@' sign is on the keyboard."

"I found the education structure super interesting. They created that internal structure of an agency where every group was simply a separate company or a separate team within an organization. The practical approach of bringing real life clients and them briefing their needs, was one of the biggest lessons I got.”

“What I remember the most was a project we did for the Vordingborg Køkkenet. They had a rather boring image at that time, so one of the groups in my class tried to make it a bit more tangible and work on the branding - they really made something amazing. However, the brief, which the director of Vordingborg Køkkenet gave us, was about lead generation - not much about branding. After the presentation, he was super impressed with the work, but in the end, he said:

"Yeah, but this is not really what I asked for. I need something that will bring me more leads, and this is more branding than lead generation. So on a scale from one to five; I have to give you two, because this is quite far away from being what I need.”

This real life lesson turned out to be very valuable later at the stage where I started building my own companies.

“I think the biggest contribution to the education on E-concept development was the teachers - who they were and what kind of experiences and backgrounds they came from.”

“So that is my story at KEA. I was happy enough to graduate with a 12, you can imagine how happy I was.”

Using the toolbox from KEA as entrepreneur

“When I graduated, everything I knew was from KEA. From how I approached building the first startups to working with my first clients. I learned a craft at KEA - and I finished with a toolbox – and maybe also a bit of entrepreneurship. I believe I am sitting here, because there was a lot of concept development and most of all - reality checks - I think entrepreneurship is a lot about reality checks. Especially when you are starting up.”

“But most of all, it gave me the understanding of technology and design. During E-concept development, I did an internship at a Polish usability studio. I was testing the solutions and products the company was building. Together with users I was evaluating the user experience and had to come up with improvements and ways that will make the products better. I even had a chance to do an audit for the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The company had both big corporations and small startups as clients. It made me understand the needs of both. Creating the user experiences from scratch also gave me some additional tools and knowledge I could add to the toolbox I have build during my education.”

“I don't do that much design anymore. My focus is on building the teams and the culture. So at this point I don't use much of the toolbox I've build at KEA, but it definitely comes in handy from time to time.” 

Jarek’s advice to future entrepreneurs

“Stay humble and hungry. I thought the knowledge I had made me a professional I was not. Stay curious and focus on learning everyday."

“I think it is quite universal for all the people from KEA, even though you feel like you have a lot of skills - the reality check can bump you on the head and say ‘this is not how we do things here'.”

“So don't start a company right away- find one you can learn from. Look for companies with a culture fit. Pay attention to the value you can bring to the company. Then try to deliver as much of it as possible. Don't worry about money - focus more on gathering the knowledge and trying out your toolbox. Learn from other’s mistakes.”

“I think a lot of people tend to jump into creating their own companies, and it is very difficult – there are lots of lessons, and the struggle is real. I would advise you to take it easy. The time to work on your own dreams will come.”

"So try a couple of things and see what works and what doesn't.”

“Always look to deliver value. Think of you how can you contribute to the team's work.”

The future’s wireless work life

“Overall, I think that the position I am in right now is also very much because on the failures and sometimes even coincidence." 

“I think Denmark is a good place to study and work. The environment can support you when you need it. Going forward, I do not imagine losing my ties to the country. The network I have built over the years is priceless."

“I like Denmark, but I'm open for new challenges. This is also something that my company is working towards. We have a remote work culture, which allows you to travel and work from wherever you want. We are around 12 people right now and the majority of the team is working from various parts of the world. I might do that, too.”

ABOUT WOUMEDIA

Digital Products Studio from Copenhagen

We create digital products and brands for startups and established companies.

We partner-up with founders to create new products and services, and build teams to scale them as independent businesses.

Our mission is to build teams, products and services that impact the present and will change the future.

Over the past years we have gained experiences that allows us to avoid the common pitfalls in early-stage ventures.

We are not an outsourcing agency, we are a hands-on co-founder that cares about the details and is able to do the heavy product and strategy lifting.

We usually jump onboard in early stages of the venture. We craft the brand, build the prototype and iterate towards the product -market fit. We specialise in digital product design, user experience, software development and strategy.

Learn more about Woumedia:

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