Poland leads the way in the region’s startup scene

Poland leads the way in the region’s startup scene

Last time we have promised you a comprehensive summary of how prolific the Visegrad startup ecosystem is. In the first part, you could read about Design Terminal’s V4 Startup Force Program, and we shed light on the prosperity of the Hungarian scene. Now it’s time to take a look at what makes the Polish startup landscape special.

„I believe that the Visegrad region has tremendous potential in the startup world. We got a great base of talents here.” Startup founder Piotr Chomczyk said this optimistic statement, whose innovative platform, Renderro, has had countless successes over the past few years since its founding in 2019. And these successes apply not only in its motherland but also in international waters. In the first article of our startup series, we made a special video for you about one of Hungary’s leading startup wonders right now. Let us introduce you this time to an innovative Polish business.

And now that we’ve learned about the successes surrounding Renderro’s path and what Piotr thinks about the Visegrad situation, let’s take a quick, more rigorous, data-driven analysis of the Polish startup ecosystem.

Business areas are divided among Polish cities

In addition to Piotr, the Polish Startup Report also states that the local ecosystem evolves rapidly and has significant potential. 30% of Polish startups cooperate with large companies, which is an essential element for the survival and thriving of businesses like this. 46% of them are engaged in export activities, which is also crucial when a young, cutting-edge company would like to achieve the cornerstones of being a startup.

The Polish startup ecosystem with its 3000+ startups, 300+ coworking spaces, 130+ VCs, plenty of acceleration programs and technology conferences is the most advanced in the Central and Eastern European region. Circumstances are ideal for starting an innovative company. Polish corporations have learned to work with startups (good for them, since this takes a lot of effort for these mammoth companies!), and many of them are running their own acceleration programs. Also, some have even set up corporate venture capital funds.

About 100 venture capital funds are operating in the Polish market. Four out of five investments help startups in the seed phase. And if you are wondering what type of innovations make a Polish investor say that this is worth the money, here are the most common startup areas. They are primarily interested in Big Data, IoT, MarTech (so Marketing Technology), as well as Life Science, BioTech and HealthTech. In addition, many new businesses are focusing on FoodTech or green solutions.

Warsaw has the biggest number of startup acceleration programs. The gaming, entertainment and e-sports industry is blooming in Bialystok. CRM and management tools are being developed in Katowice, Bialystok and Kielce. Analytics-based startups are strong in Warsaw, Wroclaw and Lublin, while fintech is popular in Poznań and Warsaw. The majority of IoT startups are located in Krakow. Companies dealing with fashion and design innovations are trendy in Lodz and Opole.

From the Visegrad region to Indonesia and South Africa

We have picked three leading Polish startups – one of which has already become a unicorn. All of them can be proud of the fact that they are expanding beyond the region worldwide and gaining tens of thousands of customers globally. Booksy, Brainly and DocPlanner are all world-renowned innovative businesses.

Customers use the Booksy app to book and pay for beauty appointments with local businesses. Salons, nail bars and barbershops can manage the bookings, payments, and customer base via the Booksy Biz app. The platform also allows these businesses to sell other products via Booksy E-Commerce. The startup was launched in 2014, and since then, it has become popular in the US, UK, Poland, Spain, Brazil, and South Africa. There are altogether 13 million users on the app. Booksy recently raised $70 million in a Series C investing round.

The COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a significant increase in online learning. Brainly is a startup that has built a popular network for students and their parents to engage with each other for advice and help with homework questions. The company doubled the number of its users in the last two years from 150 million to 350 million. Their latest success was in 2020 December, where they have raised $80 million. With the money, they would like to expand into some new territories such as Indonesia and Brazil.

DocPlanner, the medical booking platform, was founded in 2012. Rumour has it that this year the startup joined the exclusive group of the so-called unicorns. Unicorns are startups whose valuation exceeds $1 billion. With this, DocPlanner became the first Polish technology company to achieve this. About 30 million patients in 15 countries use DocPlanner’s services, making approximately 1.5 million visits each month.

Polish startups in the V4 Startup Force Program

ReaktorX accelerator, the Polish partner of Design Terminal in the V4 Startup Force Program, was established in 2018 as the first startup scholarship project in the region. ReaktorX’s primary mission is to help founders grow their businesses from the pre-seed level and become the best startup not only in Poland. They help companies find the best mentor possible to guide and support them validate their business ideas during and after the ReaktorX accelerator program.

In 2018 Runvido got into the program from Poland. The startup helps enterprises to better communicate with their customers by their tools of extended reality. In 2019 Secfence was the Polish participant: they help companies protect their entire organization with simpler and stronger authentication.

In Spring of 2021, dodo work, in Autumn this year, BioMinds took part in the program. The former uses project algorithms to form project teams; the latter helps rehabilitate people who have had a stroke with VR technology.

As you can see, the Polish startup ecosystem is as colorful as ever, giving the region a high evaluation regarding this area. Our following articles will discover how Czech and Slovak innovative companies play their part in this ecosystem game.

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