Vojtech Horna

With Bryan Meehan of Blue Bottle Coffee

At an Index founder event

It’s been invaluable to have Vojtech’s advice, energy and passion over the years. You can count on him to be your biggest advocate.
Taavet Hinrikus,

Co-founder of TransferWise

Biography In Conversation

For the past decade, Vojtech has advised start-ups and challenger brands of all sizes, helping them tell their stories. At Index, he provides strategic communications and marketing counsel to the firm’s family of companies, as well as the brand itself, throughout Europe and the US. His international perspective was shaped by an upbringing in Prague, an education in California, a career in San Francisco and London, and campaigns on both sides of the Atlantic. Some of the agencies that have benefitted from Vojtech’s expertise and skills include Edelman, Weber Shandwick, and Atomic PR (acquired by Grayling). His work in communications earned him PR Week’s “30 under 30” citation. He continues to be most inspired by the focus and determination of the entrepreneurs he works with every day.

What should be the objective of communication in the early days of a startup?

Vojtech — Startups think of comms as a tool for reaching customers, but I think the biggest audience for communications at the early stage is talent. When you get an investment, a lot of it is for hiring, so you have to show people that your company is doing meaningful, impactful, exciting work. Momentum’s important; people want to be a part of it. Startups should really hire for comms roles earlier than they usually do. It’s an area that’s under-invested in, but it’s critical to determining a startup’s success in hiring the best talent and attracting investors, customers, and partners.

Why is policy playing a larger role?

Vojtech — Five or ten years ago, the only startups that engaged in policy were reactive. Well-established companies, hundreds or thousands of employees, who then got on regulators’ radar and had to respond. Today, startups hire people with policy experience early on. It’s important to view regulators as another audience to be communicated with. The importance of policy function is increasing for startups, and the backlash we’re seeing against the tech industry is the result of companies ineffectively addressing this audience.