The Polish Startup Scene
By Richard Lucas, a British entrepreneur who has lived and done business in Poland for more than 25 years.
I recently asked Startup Poland for examples of Jewish Israeli Polish entrepreneurship. The most active and prominent is the Israeli fund Giza Polish Ventures which has many investments in Polish startups. There is a good overview of the Polish startup scene on the Startup Poland web site and an American website called Google is excellent at providing lots of links and articles. Poland is a country with strong regional hubs. Cities like Gdańsk, Katowice, Lublin, Poznan, Rzeszow Szczecin, Wrocław as well as Kraków where I live and the capital Warsaw have startup activity. Berlin is just over the border too and Polish/German relations are better than would be believable a few years ago. Cheap flights and visa free travel (thanks to the European Union) to Europe and modernized airports mean that getting to London, Paris, Cambridge Dublin Milan and most other major European cities is very straightforward.
I’m biased towards Krakow - we have several world class startups here in Kraków: Estimote* world leader in Beacons; GetBase world leader in mobile first CRM; Brainly – a world leader in social learning. Integer Group is the world leader in final mile drop off pick up logistic and is active in 20 plus countries. Meble.pl is doing to furniture what Dell did to PC manufacturing. There are any number of smaller companies also doing interesting things.
Campus Warsaw has recently been opened by Google in 2015. This has put the Warsaw startup scene on steroids. It’s got off to a fantastic start. Previously Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow (GEK) did a great job.
Hub.Raum in Kraków owned by T-Mobile. and Colab*.pl (a co-working space owned by members of the Startup community including me) have stepped forward to fill the gap left when Google departed. There is still a fan club for GEK here.
The Krakow Startup community chose the hashtag and brand #OMGKRK!. A link to their Facebook group to be found here. An excellent events listing site Crossweb.pl has depth on listings. I won’t name any for fear of annoying those in charge of ones I omit.
TED and TEDx are active in Poland. Progressive, internationalist open minded people are involved. See their listings here I moderate a TEDx Fans group on Facebook here. I’m the Curator of TEDxKazimierz and a huge fan of the whole movement in Poland and worldwide.
The other community event I am closely connected to is Open Coffee Krakow which works very well indeed – low budget, high impact, useful and productive. Our Linkedin group is here. Another group Silicon Valley Network is here.
Finally my podcast Project Kazimierz showcases success and interesting initiatives usually connected to Poland.
For anyone who is interested to connect with me for help or contacts in Poland or the UK, you can reach me at Twitter, Linkedin, and my blog. Additional information about my work in Poland's startup ecosystem interview with and, of course, the link to the JCC Krakow.
Richard Lucas is a British entrepreneur who has lived and done business in Poland for more than 25 years. An angel investor, he has invested in many startups, . As a community activist, spending a lot of his time helping building the local entrepreneurial scene. He's active as a TEDx Licensee or as a founder of the “Wojtek the Soldier Bear” historical initiative.