New book

Start-ups are commonly associated with building companies with global reach, young age, astronomical money and unconventional technologies. For many, it's even a dream job. However, the realities presented here apply to far less than 1% of the companies that achieve spectacular success. For the rest, daily life is a constant struggle with lack of capital, constant failures and one's own psyche. This is an incredible challenge that only a handful of people are able to cope with.

The author, after dozens of his own investments and several thousand analyzed start-ups, shows how strongly the common perception fueled by the media is far from reality. The book is a frank and pragmatic reflection on building start-ups, filled with authentic stories that completely change the image of this industry.

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This book irrevocably changes the perception of the start-up world, shattering the media's familiar narrative of success.

Experts About the book

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Creating a start-up is by no means a road strewn with roses. Simon in his book emphatically shows that in this world most are not, as you might think, media unicorns, but graveyards of companies looking to achieve this status. Therefore, instead of thinking about how to build a unicorn, learn from this book and create a "cockroach". A company that will survive under any conditions, even with the extremely difficult challenges you will face in the intractable start-up world.

Wojciech Pysiewicz, co-founder of WP2 Investments

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Simon is known in the investment and start-up community for his uncompromising, cutting language and love of simple expression. He says succinctly what he thinks and doesn't beat around the bush. And that's what this book is - it's a concise but factual picture of the extremely difficult reality facing founders, as seen from the perspective of an experienced investor. Simpler and more blunt is probably not possible anymore. I recommend it, especially to entrepreneurs who want to take the first steps in their own business.

Maciek Marszałek, CEO and Managing Partner of THE HEART

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"The Dark Side of Start-ups" is a must-read for anyone considering starting a start-up. The book is full of difficult, and sometimes dramatic, stories of founders and shows how difficult the path of building a start-up is. However, for me, the most interesting parts of the book are about Simon's personal experience as CMO of a startup, in which he describes the problems and challenges the company faced, despite being perceived from the outside as a spectacular success.

Pawel Maj, partner of the Warsaw Equity Group fund

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9 out of 10 startups fail. You'll read about the one on LinkedIn in a founder's self-deprecating post. From this book, you'll learn what happened to the other nine. Working 20 hours a day, fictitious backers, real scammers, a million zlotys of funding that doesn't even last a year, an exit that doesn't even return your contribution, stress, loneliness, depression illness. This is much more often the reality of building a start-up. Do you dream of a unicorn? See what awaits you on the road to creating one.

Boleslaw Breczko, journalist,

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Reading this book, you will not get tired of "unwinding the cotton" of the crux of the matter, i.e. start-up realities. The author spares the reader unnecessary embellishments. He calls things by their names, is not afraid to talk about numbers, and breaks down budgets into factors. Also he exposes shortcomings, not so much in knowledge, but in the code of ethics. He spares no one, but does justice to the deserving. There is no unnecessary malice or cynicism here. Instead, there is a description of the ecosystem given in an easily digestible form that will undoubtedly encourage readers to take a holistic and unapologetic look at our Polish start-ups. I absorbed the reading in one breath!

Dra Maria Belka, Mentors4Starters

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Without anesthesia, but with an accurate diagnosis.... These terms, which are familiar from a doctor's office, perfectly describe Simon's latest book. This time the author presents us with the fascinating world of funds and start-ups in a clear and accessible way, revealing its full picture. Simon does not try to disenchant or color it. Instead, he shares his experiences, showing it as it is. Devoid of unnecessary aura and glitz, the book is a must-have for those who can look for solutions on how to get out of the "dark side" when things don't go according to plan ... business plan.

Grzegorz Chylinski, KnowledgeHub Starter fund partner

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When, after 30 years of professional experience, you still find great fun in reading your chosen reading, while taking notes and remembering the author's key recommendations, you have come across a really strong book. Such is Simon's book. I sincerely regret that I didn't have the opportunity to read it many years ago, when I started my journey as an entrepreneur. Polish startups usually rarely invested in knowledge, because the information that was available so far often distorted the true face of business, including investor relations. In the book you get only valuable suggestions - "meaty morsels" - which, certainly, will not discourage you at all, but will motivate you to consciously build a startup.

Tom Plata, entrepreneur, marketer, coach, Co-Founder AUTENTI

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"The Dark Side of Start-ups" reveals with great candor and precision the behind-the-scenes of the not-so-easy world of start-ups. It is a story full of empathy and deep understanding about people who have the courage to dream and take risks. Simon balances perfectly between a realistic view of business and a tribute to human determination. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is ready to look at the world of start-ups from the perspective of the journey that entrepreneurs go through.

Bartek Pucek,, angel investor.

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Simon describes the often brutal reality behind the media successes of both domestic startups and the funds that invest in them. Does this mean that it's not worth starting your own innovative company and struggling to find an investor? Of course not. You just need to prepare better for negotiations, and learn quickly from failures. If only for this reason, this is one of those books that you simply have to read and appreciate even more those who are trying to change the world. I highly recommend it!

Paulina Skrzypińska, Chief Innovation Officer, BNP Paribas Bank Polska SA


Media Partners


Many people decide to build their own start-up because they are tempted by the beautiful stories of unicorns that were built from scratch. Not surprisingly, this is what the media, both traditional and social media, are filled with. Meanwhile, beneath the surface are thousands of incredibly difficult stories with no happy ending. Founders go bankrupt, end up in psychiatric care, lose relationships with loved ones - all in the name of building a global tycoon. The line separating persistence and perseverance from insanity is incredibly thin. That's why it's so important to know the realities of the industry before making irreversible decisions. Instead of feeding on illusions, you should learn the facts, because this is what allows you to make a rational decision and answer the question - am I ready to build my own start-up?


The book's premiere and shipments are scheduled for December 6, 2023.

* E-book of the new and previous book