In the last few years Poland has grown its tech and startup reputation, and is now recognised as one of the most startup-friendly ecosystems across Europe and beyond. The Wolves Summit, Google Campus, and MIT Enterprise Forum Poland are just some of the reasons why you should consider Warsaw as your next destination if you are looking for a place for your entrepreneurial venture. The city is booming with opportunities for entrepreneurs, with many of them featured below.
“The startup support ecosystem in Poland has significantly developed in the last five years. The intricate machinery of connected vessels comprising entrepreneurs, mentors, investors, universities, corporations, as well as leaders of startup communities is becoming increasingly functional, whereas the success achieved by a significant number of Polish startups provides strong grounds for optimism.”
– Rafał Plutecki, Managing director, Campus Warsaw
The City’s top startup hubs
Campus Warsaw – Operated by Google for Entrepreneurs, the campus is a true supporter of the startup community in Warsaw. With their startup school and residency program focused on mobile gaming startups, they provide top-notch services and assistance, coupled with a coworking space. When the job is done, the Startup Cafe is an excellent networking space, and the event space is usually busy with expert talks. Who better to learn from than Google experts?
The Heart – The Heart is an international hub for corporate-startup collaboration. Located on the 38th floor of The Warsaw Spire, The Heart offers event and office space, coupled with a restaurant and parking area. The aim is to help corporations and startups grow together through various initiatives and programs, backed by Ghelamco Poland, MasterCard, Samsung and Daftcode.
Mindspace – The global provider of coworking space Mindpace with its offices and services is a true inspiration in the industry. The Polish branch in Warsaw is filled with stylish furniture, beautifully designed meeting rooms and lounge areas, a fully stocked coffee bar, and all amenities needed for entrepreneurs to do their job. The vibrant work atmosphere is complemented by top-notch event calendar.
Reaktor – The home of Warsaw’s entrepreneurial community, Reaktor is a true startup hub. Their services go beyond the coworking space and full amenities for freelancers, digital nomads, and young companies. Open all year long, Reaktor also offers a pre-acceleration program and hosts a monthly event called Open Reaktor, an excellent networking and pitching event over beer and pizza.
WeWork – With four locations in the Polish capital, WeWork is dominating the coworking space. Known to provide the ultimate coworking experience, WeWork also offers all-inclusive amenities, daily cleaning, IT support, 24/7 building access, private phone booths, bike storage etc. Access to the global network is also guaranteed.
Top 5 of the city’s most promising startups
MAM – Imagine if every time you bought groceries, your utility bill went down. This is a reality in Poland, where if you have the app MAM and buy groceries in one of 176 MAM-affiliated merchants, you earn credits that go straight towards paying off your utility bills.
AioCare – HealthUp has developed AioCare, a portable and connected spirometer which allows patients to permanently monitor respiratory functions. The Joint Polish Investment Fund has invested $1.1 million in AioCare, which can perform an examination at any time and any place, while the app keeps a detailed log of the measurement history and its algorithm analyses each and every result.
Growbots – Using AI for sales through its machine learning-based sales automation platform, Growbots guarantees reaching out to hundreds of potential customers in just a few minutes. Features include automated lead generation, email communication and CRM integration, and more than 450 customers are already enjoying them. With three offices globally, Growbots is one of the fastest-growing SaaS companies.
Just Drive – In order to make refueling more simple, JustDrive allows drivers to fill up their cars at gas stations without going to the checkout counter and to pay directly from a bank account connected to the app, by simply scanning the QR code on the pump. The company is now working on adding additional features like buying insurance, car financing, and car rentals, as well as automated highway toll payments. Drive on!
Userfeeds – Userfeeds is an Ethereum-based platform offering a content ranking system for blockchain communities. One of the ideas behind it is to combat so-called “fake news” by giving publishers an economic incentive to rank content more accurately in order to filter out fake news from real news. The product is called Userfeeds Engine and is backed by $800k in seed funding.
The city’s most active VCs
Experior Venture Fund – Experior Venture Fund is an early and growth stage venture fund focusing on software & tech-enabled businesses. The fund provides a combination of both financing and expertise for their portfolio companies, which include Cosmose, Fuero Games, iTaxi, Joymile, Algolytics and more.
Giza Polish Ventures – This Warsaw-based and Israeli-backed venture capital fund invests in various stages of a startup, from seed to growth. Since the establishment in 2012, they have invested in more than ten startups, and are looking into investments in the following areas: IT, telecommunications, media, e-commerce, cleantech, mobile technologies, nanotechnology, medical equipment, and biotechnology.
HardGamma Ventures – HardGAMMA focuses on providing seed and early-stage funding within the software, hardware, IoT and mobile environments. Besides funding, the fund also provides support for business planning, marketing, product positioning and other business functions. Its portfolio includes the fashion startup Showroom, IntelClinic, the software developer MacOScope and app developer Appvetica.
IdeaBox Capital – Idea Box Capital is a private equity investment firm investing up to €14 million in a single project. It looks for high-margin, profitable businesses operating in stable sectors of the economy. Being part of one of the strongest financial groups in Poland, Idea Bank provides selected companies unlimited access to resources and expertise.
Market One Capital – Market One Capital is an early stage venture capital fund focused on Marketplaces and SaaS, investing mainly in seed and Series A rounds. Their motto: “Invest in people”. Selected companies should expect close cooperation and valuable support from their side. Notable investments include Callpage, Packhelp, and Nautal.
Most active business angels
Marek Rusiecki – Marek is the founder of Xevin Investments, focusing on seed and early-stage investments, and one of the most active angel investors in Poland. He has invested in more than 60 companies all over the CEE region and Israel, as well as being an investor in the Polish edition of TV Show “Dragons’ Den”.
Seedfund – Business Angel Seedfund was the first seed capital investment fund established by business angels in Poland back in 2007. It specialises in seed and early-stage investments in the following areas: Internet, communications, technology, biotechnology, software, hardware, new mobile technologies, services, automation, healthcare, environment, bioenergetics, services, advertising, media, entertainment, and commerce.
Hedgehog Fund – Founded in 2012, Hedgehog Fund is a business angel fund investing in Polish and CEE technological startups with regional or global perspectives, specialising in early and mid-venture investments. Its focus is on e-commerce, SaaS, B2B and IoT projects.
Cobin angels – Established in 2015, Cobin Angels is a group of experienced CEOs, Founders and Top Managers of international firms, joining forces to help startups with capital, know-how and their network. More than 30 active investors are presented with business ideas through networking sessions held four times throughout the year. Besides their capital, the angels contribute with their experience and business contacts to the growth of the portfolio companies.
Piotr Wasowski – Serial entrepreneur and angel investor with 20 years of experience in the investment market and three IPOs under his belt, Piotr is founder & CEO of Wasowski Ventures, a technology accelerator, and Arkley Seed Fund, an angel and seed investment fund. Currently, Piotr specialises in early-stage hardware startups, IoT, fintech, and e-commerce.
Important Accelerators and Incubators
GammaRebels – GammaRebels, a part of HardGamma Ventures, is a three-month acceleration program for technology startups which invests up to €12k for 10% equity. The startups receive support from top-notch mentors and coaches and the chance to pitch the investors at the end of the program. Notable graduates of this program are Busyflow, ARNav and Game Disrupt.
MIT Enterprise Forum Poland – This acceleration program is based on the expertise of MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), providing access to practical knowledge, mentorship, resources, global recognition and support through MIT Enterprise Forum Global and MIT Technology Review to the selected participants. A weeklong boot camp in Boston is reserved for the best five teams.
OrangeFab Poland – OrangeFab is a 12-week program run by the telecom company Orange, aimed at building innovative products or services from which Orange customers will benefit. Focus is placed on customer experience, AI, IoT, big data, e-commerce, VR and cybersecurity. Acceptance into the program guarantees access to the Orange brand, a wide range of customers, knowledge of experts, channels of promotion and distribution network.
ReaktorX – Known as a pre-acceleration programme for first-time founders, this program is specifically targeted at industry experts, programmers and ambitious students with an entrepreneurial mindset, who need to develop core skills necessary for success on the market. Each accepted startup is assigned a mentor and has to follow a series of events, mentoring sessions and workshops, followed by a pitch presentation at ReaktorX Demo Night.
AIP Warsaw – AIP is an incubator and co-working space, currently present in 26 Polish cities. The idea is to help people start their business and AIP provides all the necessary tools to grow your business, such as mentoring, coworking, legal assistance, HR service, training, networking etc.
The city’s most popular startup/tech events
Aula Polska – Created back in 2007, Aula Polska is one of the oldest events focused on startups in the country. The idea is to promote the entrepreneurial culture and build an ecosystem by sharing experiences and practices in bi-monthly meetings. Speakers hold three to six lectures on startup related topic during each meeting, followed by Q&A section.
Bitspiration – Bitspiration Festival is a well-known brand among the Central and Eastern European entrepreneurs. It is an annual one-day event, placing focus on key issues of building a company such as marketing, sales, recruitment, brand building etc. The aim is to connect with relevant people needed to set up a startup or support a running company.
Confitura – Confitura is Poland’s largest Java conference. Totally free of charge, the event has been an international platform for the exchange of knowledge and experience among Polish Java community since 2007. The one-day event is rather busy: presentations, workshops, panel discussions and relevant speakers all in one place.
Open Reaktor – Once a month, the startup hub Reaktor opens its doors to the whole Warsaw startup community to hear three 20 minute speeches by relevant industry leaders or entrepreneurs on startup-related topics in English, followed by Q&A and networking over beer and pizza.
Wolves Summit – Dubbed as one of the most important networking events in Central and Eastern Europe, the Wolves summit is a 2-day conference, involving panel discussions, one-on-one meetings, a great pitch contest and an exposition area for startups. Great for establishing connections and hearing about the latest industry trends. Next Edition: 19-20, March 2019
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