Innovations That Matter

Wise Words with Jaroslaw Bogulak

Publishing & Media

We spoke to the Booke co-founder to find out the motivation behind the company and the ideas that keep him ticking.

While some see digital publishing as a death knell for the printed word, others welcome its potential to help spread ideas more rapidly than ever before. For Jaroslaw Bogulak, co-founder of Booke, both worlds can work together – his platform matches physical books to their digital counterparts, enabling readers to use their smartphone as a reading companion for searching particular terms and copying passages for later reference.

Jaroslaw’s idea is something he feels absolutely compelled to do. Having previously held a vice president position at the Fundacji Kultury Ekologicznej (Foundation for Ecological Culture) in Poland, Jaroslaw now sees his job as a full-time entrepreneur. We spoke to him to find out the motivation behind starting Booke and the ideas that keep him ticking.

1. Where did the idea for Booke come from?

The first flash of the idea for Booke came in the middle of reading… I was trying hard to find a particular fragment and – finally losing my patience – I shouted: why there is no Ctrl+F?! This was the moment when I decided to start the business. These two needs: to release the power of the printed book and a strong urge to do something important for others helped conceive the idea.

2. Can you describe a typical working day?

A typical day? Anything but that! Ok, there are some constant elements… Every morning I wash my teeth very thoroughly. The dentists are very impressed: “you are my only patient, who has all his teeth healthy!”. Doing exercises every morning is my other addiction. I usually eat my breakfast at the office. It is the target of all my mornings to get to the office as fast as I can. At work the most important time is when you do nothing. In the afternoons I find a moment when I do nothing but thinking, away from the operating hustle and bustle. Then you can find me walking along one of the most beautiful boulevards in the area. In the evenings I get to know new things, I learn and fight with the news. What is the most precious in the daily routine? I believe that a day without a genuine encounter with another person is a day lost.

3. How do you unwind or relax when you’re not working on Booke?

I get to the office by bike. But I don’t go the shortest way, I chose the one that gives me the most pleasure because of the architecture and wonderful urban green. I also like to go with my friends to the designer places. I love design. It makes me relaxed. And not only the beautiful things, which I like. The important thing for me is when you can see at the very first glance, that someone took the trouble to create something original, which bears the mark of its creator and encourages you to think and starts dialogue.

4. What’s the secret ingredient to success as an entrepreneur?

What to do to be a successful entrepreneur is common knowledge because loads has been said and written about it. The major issue is not always what you do but who you are. It is mostly about overcoming internal not external constraints and developing an attitude that is independent of circumstances. Very often we can encounter the myth associated with this that states that a person’s skill, their capability to implement the idea are more important than the idea itself. This is complete nonsense, which has clipped the wings of many people, killing their self-confidence or, at best, causing doubts and inhibitions. If you have an idea, you also have everything necessary to implement it. Of course, I am talking about real ideas. What do I mean by ‘real ideas’? They’re the ones that you cannot get out of your head, which constantly make you think about it and makes you act in an almost physical way. If you have such an idea, all you need to do is take your first step. It does not have to be a big step as long as it is somehow an important one.

5. What drove you crazy while building your business?

The time. Everything takes time and you don’t have it. You want it done because you can see it so clearly. Of course it’s a case of attitude and impatience because time – as well as failures – work for you, improve the quality and give you the space for improvement and development, especially through dialogue with others for whom you are doing all of this.

6. What motivates you to keep going?

Obedience to the original idea and to its inherent command to do your best to implement it. And when you’ve done all you can do, even if you haven’t “succeeded”… of course this is the real success. The results always require more work. This is a virtuous cycle. I consider it to be one of the most beautiful aspects of the business as a whole.

7. If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

Certainly, I would spend less time, if any, on verification of the business idea by the recognised authorities. I am not talking now about the professional advisers, who are helpful in answering questions on how to do business. I am talking about looking for confirmation as to whether and for whom I should do it. Regarding this aspect I would trust even more my potential clients. Getting to them and getting to know their needs is the source of real satisfaction, and of course, if you have the clients you are the boss and even the greatest business authority has not much to say then.

8. Where do you see your business in five years, and how will you get there?

In five years time everyone who seriously would like to be a better employee, entrepreneur, scientist, professional, student or even simply a better person, will think about Booke and it will be a pleasant thought, because one will know that Booke releases additional power concealed in already available sources of knowledge and wisdom. Moreover, it does it in a way that stimulates natural joy, which comes from learning and discovering. To achieve this we are going to develop Booke as a channel for delivering and receiving additional, contextual – in relation to the initial content – information with useful functions, such as searching and remembering important excerpts to use in almost every situation through mobile or wearable devices.

9. If you weren’t working on Booke right now, what would you be doing?

If the place in my head wasn’t taken by the Booke idea it would be the idea of a crowdfunding platform based on certain financial mechanisms known from the field of mutual investment and serving to finance projects in the developing countries with surplus funds currently invested in developed financial markets.

10. Tell Springwise a secret…

There was a time in my life when I spent nights on staircases or railway stations and I did not have enough to eat for long days. I sailed the relatively less travelled routes, on which one can discover many secrets. One of the most valuable is that the lower you get – in any aspect of human life, not just the material ones – the more broad a perspective you get. And the sooner it happens, the sooner you achieve a solid foundation – provided by the pavement – to bounce and follow the right direction. The well-travelled path can give a broad perspective and a reliable reference point only to outstanding individuals. If you do not include yourself among the very wise ones, I can only wish you one thing: a quick and large fall, because it will give you the chance to find your own way, the road to authentic success.

11. Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

Be obedient to the idea that calls you and take first small step. Today, NOW.

Read our original article on Booke.