Adam Gala, a generalist who builds the Slovak universe
Adam Gala is a creator and one of the two main organizers of Výťah conference – the first space technology conference in Slovakia that intends to become a similar conference like Slush or Websummit in the future, but for the space industry.
Adam Gala is a creator and one of the two main organizers of Výťah conference – the first space technology conference in Slovakia that intends to become a similar conference like Slush or Websummit in the future, but for the space industry. This means being a place where big non-space companies, space companies, startups, people interested in space and where space industry moves forward thanks to real orders and real deals.
Adam, please introduce yourself using one sentence.
A generalist who connects the future, space and business with innovation and marketing.
If there was such a possibility, what advice would you give your younger self, who has an idea “up his sleeve“?
Execution. Things need to be done quickly, efficiently, simply and with a great emphasis on execution. I was trying to start a business from the age of 14, I was selling T-shirts at school, which was the best business of my life with regard to the earned money and time spent. Thus, it would certainly be execution and also rather to be supported by a simple “quote” or even silliness and to say I did this, I stand behind this, as to have some great vision that you cannot back up with anything.
Can you tell me some of your experience that has changed your life and that deeply affected your future or the way you think?
Erasmus as such. Furthermore, I managed to come across the book Atlas shrugged (Atlas pokrčil plecami), a trilogy by Ayn Rand, and this is the book that changed my life. It is a fascinating story of how the world looks when the elites leave it, the chaos it falls into. That was something that really inspired me and encouraged me to work hard.
What did your friends tell you when you told them you would organize a space conference in Slovakia?
I convinced one of them right away. I met with a friend Tomáš from Echt studio, we drank some coffee and I suggested that we organize a space conference. Afterwards, he arranged a meeting with Igor Zacek (Nice Visions) for me. We had a beer and there was two of us organizing a space conference. Later I told my friend in the gym: “I will organize a space conference in Slovakia“. He didn’t believe me and when he asked after a week how things were going regarding the conference, I replied: „Well, I booked a space, we paid a deposit, I’ve got to organize it.“
You have to tell people about things and ideas, because then I personally feel embarrassed when they don’t come true. It’s one kind of motivation that if you tell it at least five people, you have to do it. If you don’t want to be considered as the one not fulfilling promises, you have a limited number of times you can say that you will do something and not do it.
What is the scariest challenge you have faced in the process of forming a conference?
When you try to get money for a space conference in Slovakia and see some people’s facial expressions, that’s scary. Fundraising, also marketing, is clearly challenging when organizing conferences, especially with difficult topics such as the space theme. The co-organizer of the conference Igor wanted to involve the state in the conference because it makes sense for the both of us. When I met with state organizations and their employees and I saw the way they were thinking, that was scary. It provided us with a great reflection on how civil servants can look at the future of Slovakia as such, rather from a negative point of view. The challenge was to pick up the phone and tell companies or start-ups: hey, guys, come to the space conference in Bratislava. They asked us if we are members of ESA (European Space Agency). Slovakia is not a member, but we have convinced them that this is why they should come here. (author’s note: if you are not a member, they cannot do business with you)
Who do you think is your biggest competition?
We are competing with big conferences – Slash, Websummit and the like because they can also cover a whole branch of one theme. Furthermore, many events are made locally, small, there are also many in the Czech Republic, they are organized all over Europe, for example Paris Space Week, which paradoxically lasts for three days. We think that any action that is dedicated to the universe is great and we don’t see it as a competition. We want to help create a world-class space event in Europe and ideally also for people who are not directly from this industry. It is our job to do it locally outside of this industry. When we succeed, we will be the only ones who have managed that.
What do you usually pay attention to when negotiating a deal?
People’s motivation – why they want to negotiate with you, what they want to achieve. When we deal with anything, whether a conference or something else, we try to ask partners on the other side what can be of benefit to them, why they want to talk to us at all, and they often don’t have a clear idea or they propose something we can’t deliver or it is illogical from our point of view, whether for us or for them. Then we try to communicate very clearly and suggest what might be more interesting to them. But once we know the motivation, we can customize a lot of things. If we do not know the motivation, the cooperation is mostly difficult.
What is your next big step?
We organized the first space conference in Slovakia, so we don’t have the ability to do the second first one :D. And we think we don’t need to organize the next one for the next three years, so our biggest plan now is to get Výťah conference outside Slovakia and find a functioning model how we can do a lot of events – smaller, bigger, live, online, so we really keep on track of what is happening in the space industry and we can do it continuously.