a look back at 2023 part 2

A Look Back at 2023 – Part 2

A final look back at the year of change. A look forward to the new hope.

Happy New Year friends. If my timing is right, this should be going out on the 2nd of January 2024, which means celebrations are in order! It’s the start of a New Year! How exciting! What are your resolutions or plans for these next 365 days?

A little bit of housekeeping to get the year started 🙂

There’s going to be a change of the format of this blog, for the better! In the New Year, the weekly email will be an overview one, with links to the Tips & Tricks, a link and excerpt of the weekly long post, as well as thoughts & news of the week. Please hit reply on next weeks newsletter and let me know what you think.

This week, as I’m sitting with a stuffed nose, lack of taste and hurting skin – thanks C19!, I’m continuing on the look back at 2023 started last week. If you haven’t had a chance to read that yet here: A look back at 2023 – Part 1


May started off in Cyprus, pushing ahead the renovation, spending some time with the dogs, and getting things in order. I think it’s safe to say that in May, the majority of the work was done, from the tiles on the floor, to the painting and electrical works. From just an empty space, 507A started to really look like an office space.

507 a beginnings

Back in Poland, we were getting ready for the big Polish launch of Nutrified. On May 21st and 22nd, we were at the Tauron Arena in Kraków at Psoty 2023, promoting Nutrified to the Polish public. It was exciting, it was exhilarating and it was exhausting. More than anything, it was great fun. Firstly, it was just a blast to pet all the dogs that attended. Secondly, we launched our Ampawssador’s Catwalk Campaign, with a red carpet and many treats for the best boys and girls. Each dog and cat who got their photo taken also got cuddles, treats and many of them took home a pouch of Pure Goodness For Happy Tummies. It was a real blast, and kicked off our summer tour across Poland. After an intense weekend, we packed up and flew to Cyprus for a few days, where the office was already taking shape. We had a few days together with Natalia, before she returned, and I got stuck in Cyprus with an middle ear infection from a pesky cold the month prior. Having lost about 75% of my hearing, I got a few days extra in Cyprus before being able to come home.


These first few days, I focused very strongly on my mental health. I meditated, did Headspace every day, went for long walks in the marina and molos by the sea side, to breath in the fresh air and observe the people about and around. I took time away from the screen to focus on my body’s health, and tried to spend at least an hour in the sun, even just sitting and enjoying the breeze. On the 1st of June, after much deliberation, after countless conversations with family and our legal counsel, it was evident that due to creative and personal differences with the investor, TCG could not complete work on Czeczotka In Motion. It was a gut-wrenching and heavy hearted decision, one which carried not only financial consequences, but also reputational ones, but deep down I knew this was the right choice on my path to mental health. I departed the project on The 2nd of june, shortly before it was sunset.
Side Note: We’ve been hard at work to open source the entire project, and hopefully will be able to share our work soon.
In the final days, I’ve solved an impossible logistical challenge which was bringing an AC compressor up to the 5th floor. Spoiler alert, it took a team of 6 people and a crane the length of 35 meters. It was a sight, but we managed. I also managed to complete the last parts of the office, moving in the furniture, installing the wooden divider and doing last paint touch-ups. I’m so incredibly proud of how 507A turned out, the new forever home of The Codeero Group and Mineo. In June, we also traveled to Wrocław with Nutrified, to take part in PupiLove Tradefair. We celebrated our 4th anniversary with Natalia, doing some light sightseeing and then welcoming the 18th in the ER with a twisted ankle, courtesy of the Japanese Garden. In better news however, we’ve had the most delicious steak tatar in Wrocław for our anniversary dinner, at Culto. At the end of June, we did a day-trip to Austria with my mom to take care of some affairs at the bank. With flying forbidden due to my ear, we took an overnight train across Europe on Day 1 and then a day train back on Day 2. It was a wonderful little adventure, seeing the world glide by as the train sped on it’s way. We finished off the month with a few nice weekends out grilling with Natalia’s parents in their garden. Summer was well underway and blissful!


At the start of July, our plans drastically changed. We had a small mini-holliday planned to Israel, a location Natalia wanted to show me for years. With flights booked, hotel arranged, our 4 stress-free all-inclusive days were at an arm’s length… Until it wasn’t. The first signs of unrest unraveled on the first day before our flight, and with a travel ban issued by our Foreign Ministry, we were once again stuck. Fear not however, because we made the best out of it, and did a little stay-cation, using accumulated miles to check into our favorite hotel in Poland – Puro. We took our packed bags and instead of flying, drove 2km, checked in and did the best we could. We ate breakfasts at our favorite spots, took strolls in the botanical gardens, read books sitting by the river, sipped wine at our favorite bars and on the last day went to the waterpark. Plans change, but with the right people, any-cation will be fun. This just proved that. Later in July, Julia and the kids came back to Europe, and we had a few wonderful days in Poland together, and then a few great moments in Cyprus. I was so happy that I got to show my beloved sister Julia a little bit of my world, the new office, the old office and some of the favorite spots from the 10 years in Cyprus. I had one amazing day with them in Cyprus, before flying back overnight to Poland in time for the next Pupilove event in Kraków.
We’ve learned a ton from event to event, and her at Vol. 3.0, had our own lights, a bigger carpet and a proper uniform – scrubs. We were miles ahead of our first event, but still got spotted and recognized by some of our earliest patrons. It was wonderful to see that after such a long time, our brand was already building a community. Tired, exhausted and with the last of our energy, as the sun was setting and we dug into our beloved Good Lood, Natalia looked at me and said: We need a vacation.

I’ll let you in on a little secret. This was my first vacation in years. If I am being honest, I think ever. Growing up, we didn’t have traditional vacations where it was just the family and some time off. We traveled, but it was always connected with work, and it was always with strangers. Holidays meant coming back to Poland, spending time with family, and being with close ones. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it, but never quite knew what I was missing out on. That was, until the 1st of August came around, and we embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.


Money doesn’t buy happiness. I know. I know it’s just a tool, and it’s the time and the experiences that really matter. I don’t think I’ve ever spent a better euro, than on our vacation to the Maldives. Bootstrapped itinerary, crazy flight times and a little bit of digging, allowed us to squeeze 8 days in paradise out for over 70% off the normal price. Worth. Every. Single. Euro.

The days in Arhruga were… paradise. Heaven is a place on earth, is a sentence that was constantly playing in my head. I never in my life saw such beauty. Swimming with sharks, snorkling with turtles, long walks on the beach and an outdoor shower. The phone was locked away, the kindle was charged, and it’s the fewest photos I have of all year, yet these were the happiest days. Pure bliss doesn’t do it justice. The freshest of food, the best service possible, and the great friendships made. We traveled half-way across the globe, and met amazing folks from Poland and a lovely couple from Dubai. For 10 days, life was the best it could be. It was splendid. The Apero’s were flowing, the card games were filling our evenings, and the sunsets were out of this world. Money doesn’t buy happiness… but it sure can get you tickets to paradise.

Coming back was hard, but while the tan lines would fade, the memories would stay forever. We were off cross-country to Gdańsk for one of the final events of the summer, a 8 hour road trip in extended pack, with Mathew, Natalia’s brother tagging along as photographer. This time around, we had custom printed tables, new products and an even bigger photo wall, to capture all of the amazing floofs in attendance. It was the best event yet, but also by far the most exhausting. With Cukroteka, we officially crossed all of Poland for events, and with the exception of Warsaw, visited all the key cities.

August however also brought its fair share of grief, as towards the end of the Month, Max, my mom’s cat, would loose a short battle to the bird flue. A rescue which initial no one wanted and was taken in reluctantly, over the 3 years he was with us, became part of the family. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking, but we try to focus on the joy he has brought us.


September started off with a trip to Milan to find an apartment, and we did in the end. I say in the end, because between arriving and leaving, we fell to every renter scam under the sun, from bait-and-switch, to non-existent properties to impossible landlords. Until, we found seemingly the perfect place. We quickly signed the agreement, paid the deposit and would be back in a month to move in. It was too good to be true, and it turned out to be true. Between water leaks, mold and power cuts, we’ve had our fair share of adventures with this apartment that we live in. At the end of the day though, home is where Cosmo and Natalia are, and for now, that’s here. Once back, it was off to Łodź, and then Warsaw, for one last event in the 2023 season. PupiLove Warsaw was the highest frequency and the most new Ampawssadors. It was a little sad to be packing up for the last time this year, but the hundreds of pawesome friends made all the exhaustion worth it. Over 6 months, we’ve been across all of Poland, doing work but also getting a chance to immerse ourselves in the culture. September was also the first month where I realized that I was starting to have more happy moments again. Slowly, but steadily, a positive thought was sneaking in here and there. Progress was being made!
We visited Cyprus with Natalia, she got to see the finished office, and we got to spend some time with the dogs, before flying to Poland, packing all our belonings into boxes and shipping them off with Raben as freight to Milan, where the next chapter of life was waiting to begin.


The first days were not pretty. We were met with a lack of electricity, no hot water, and a cold and moist apartment in a condition which was strongly sub—par. To make things more fun, we came down with really bad colds, had trouble breathing and would get exhausted from just moving a few things, let alone unpacking. We prevailed, fueled by Pizza, Pasta and a lot of paracetamol, and settled in, right as Natalia started her Master’s Program. In October, I went back to Poland, I went to Cyprus to take care of some open issues, and I continued to work on myself, and get ready for what the next chapter would bring. We overhauled Nutrified’s website and shop, prepared to launch new products, and made a marketing strategy for the New Year. Sometime towards the end of October, I’ve made the heavy choice that it was time to move on from The Codeero Group. You’re officially one of the first people to find out, and I’ll be stepping away on the 24th of January, 5 years after we changed JD Ventures into the current The Codeero Group. It’s a big step, and a scary one at that, because for the last years TCG was synonymous with me. Together with me, the majority of the team is departing, Natalia is focusing on her studies and starting her well-deserved solo practice, Priyantha is moving back to Sri-Lanka to focus on other non-tech related ventures. Operations for our existing clients will remain, and all maintanance contracts will be honored, as TCG will prepare for it’s next chapter without me at the helm.


Most of November was spent on preparing for these changes, preparing the transitions, protocols, and all remaining materials. Taking a step back from running the company day-to-day, we left our social media behind and let a large catalogue of posts, events and announcements pile up. We’re ready to go starting next week, but the sudden and unexpected passing of our dear friend and long-term partner Antonis last week has significantly delayed all activities as we take time to grieve. November was a big turning point. With my 25th birthday fast approaching, it was a time of reflection, evaluations and time to think. I’ve done tremendous work on myself and was starting to really stand on my own two feet, with confidence. I’ve let go of a lot of negativity I’ve harbored to myself, I’ve let go of a lot of doubt, and really learned to love myself more and more. November flew by before I even knew it, with beuatiful moments sipping Primitivo with Natalia, cuddles with Cosmo on the couch, and a return to my kindle, trying to read at least a page once a day, which often turned into multiple chapters. Towards the end of November, I’ve read Show Your Work by Austin Kleon. I decided it was time to make myself my own space on the internet, and let people back in. Over the years, I’ve stopped sharing online, for one because I fell behind and the neurodivergent part of my brain couldn’t post about current things when the last post on IG was February 2022, and partially because after years of toxic work relations, I was doubting myself, my skill set, my passion and my work. I took the plunge, and couldn’t be happier. Now, multiple things are going on simultaneously and will be launching throughout Q1 2024, and I cannot wait to share with the world the last years of my work and to show what I was up to, and what will be next.


December 2023 was by far, the best December I’ve ever had, and I don’t say that lightly. Started off on a strong note with Natalia’s new friends at a Christmas Party, it continued high as we visited multiple projection mapping events in Milan, from “The History Of The World Through Light and Music“, to the interactive Van Gogh exhibition. If you’re in one of these cities, check it out, it’s so worth it.

Then came the big birthday. That was it’s own long ramble, here. Natalia made this one the best one I could have ever wished for. Starting at midnight in the speakeasy 1930, with a delicious home-cooked breakfast and Moana (my guilty disney pleasure), and then with a walk on Duomo, an escape room and the Pizza at Assaje, it was one for the books. The thought of it makes me smile.

julian nat birthday 2023

A few days later, we jetted off to Amsterdam, to celebrate our very own little Christmas. An initially professional trip, delayed due to scheduling issues, it became a mini vacation. We had a chance to visit the interactive experience Amaze, stroll through the winter-streets and light festival, and even catch Wonka in the historic Tuschinski theater. Hot Take: The theater? Amazing. The movie…. They shouldn’t have.

We then had a chance to visit two exhibits at Fabrique Du Lumiers, strill through the Christmas market behind the Rijksmuseum, devouring some raclette served by your friendly neighborhood Italians, and of course some churros. We visited the Avocado Show for an Avo-overload, and enjoyed the winter atmosphere. It was blissful, it was peaceful, it was a time to be happy.

In true JENK fashion, we got stuck in the airplane for 2 hours because of bad weather, but eventually made it home safe.

The last 10 days were… challenging. Coming down with COVID, getting ready to face some things I may not have been ready for, my body shut down. I was scared, as were my closest ones. The signs were there again. Luckily, this time it wasn’t an episode of the 3Ds. I’ve learned to deal with my stress and mind, but the physical toll made it a bit of a nightmare to be awake, thus making me sleep quite a lot. I came back on the 27th, am recovering well, and even though my body hurts, I am just happy and grateful that I know who I am, and that I beat this one. I’m still a little bit uneasy with myself, finding my footing and taking it easy as I recover. With the loss of my dear friend Antonis on the 28th, the year came to a close under the mark of grief and sadness. Though above all else, the emotion that prevails, is that of hope.

I have hope for 2024. I have dreams for 2024. I have high expectations for 2024.

Whatever will come, I’m grateful for what I have, for who I am, and for those in my life.

2024 will be our year. I can feel it. Happy New Year friends!

Love from Milan,


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