Is Poland Becoming Europe’s Tech Startup Capital?

With a well-developed startup infrastructure, a range of digital success stories, and a brand-new Google campus in its capital city, Warsaw, Poland is a Central European tech tiger in the making.

While still trailing behind European startup hubs such as Berlin, Lisbon, or London, the Compass Startup Ecosystem Ranking suggests that Poland is bound to become a serious player on the startup scene.

According to Dealroom.co, last year Central and Eastern European startups raised a total of €177 million. And that’s up from just €15 million a mere four years before. Poland is today among the countries that attract the biggest funding rounds.

So what does the tech scene look like in Poland?

StartUp Poland recently published a report that unveiled everything you need to know about the country’s digital economy through the survey of over 2400 startups.

The report revealed that 39% of startups were software development enterprises that mainly sold as SaaS products. Out of the startups that reported more than 50% of annual growth, most were achieving these results thanks to the sale of data and mobile services to large corporations. More than half of Polish startups are exporting, mainly to the US and UK markets.

And the leaders of international businesses are already picking up on that potential. This year, Microsoft and Ernst & Young joined Senfino (a Polish IT company), to announce the launch of Startberry, a brand-new startup incubator located just a couple of streets from Google’s startup hub in Warsaw.

Local success stories

Krakow – Poland’s historic center, a city with ancient architecture.

It might come as a surprise, but Poland has its fair share of success stories on the global tech scene. The social learning network Brainly is one, as it reports more than 14 million unique users every month across over 35 countries.

DocPlanner, an online healthcare appointment booking platform, closed a $10 million series B round last year, bringing on board $20 million in its largest Series C, and another 15 million EUR in Series D funding. The platform now operates in 25 different markets across Europe, Africa, and Asia.

Estimote and Kontakt.io – two based in Krakow trailblazing companies of beacon technology – have also made their mark on the global retail industry with their indoor navigation technology that build integrated offline and online shopping experiences. Recently, Estimote raised $10.7 million in funding.

Another interesting example is the travel tech startup AudioTrip which developed an app that transforms smartphones into local personal guides as users explore a new destination. It was founded just four years ago and it already has a London office, attracting funding as well.

What’s in store for Polish startups?

Needless to say, there are plenty of interesting tech startups that are bound to get big in the near future.

Fintech is a prominent area of growth. Some of the most interesting startups emerging in this area are VoicePin, as system for voice recognition-based identity verification. VoicePin is a piece of software that can differentiate between different voices and since the technology works with the microphone built into smartphones, it’s very cost-effective to implement. Some major banks in Poland are now using VoicePin in various applications including online banking.

Another interesting example is Atsora, which offers software designed to assist financial service organizations in communicating with small business customers more effectively (especially in terms of business planning or cash flow management)

Krakow is a city we should all be watching closely. KoalaMetrics is one of the powerful newbies that provides psychographic profiling services to an online retailers to help them understand their clients better and boost customer experience.

Another interesting venture is CallPage. They developed a widget that uses free callbacks to increase the number of calls businesses receive from website visitors by a smashing 75%. Thanks to the quickly developing infrastructure and flights to Krakow the city is becoming a fast growing Poland’s business center.

It’s all about funding

It leaves no room for doubt that Poland is a country rich in tech talent and potential for innovation.

As its economy grows, the focus may shift from startup to scalable startup. That’s the only way for Polish startups to start attracting growth funding.

And that’s especially important since funding is the single most significant factor that inhibits growth in this area. While EU funding is helpful, it only works in the short term. Unfortunately, Poland still suffers from a lack of substantial private funding opportunities. Growing these companies will at some point require access to more funding from overseas investors, especially in later stage investments rounds.

Still, the Polish economy is making strides and there are some VC funds operating in Poland that are starting to support the promising local startup ecosystem.

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