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I have already blogged about Startup Weekend Poznan, and E-nnovation, which both took place within the last 7 days. The last startup competition, Startup Fest, chose its winner on Friday.
Given that there are over 20 countries in CEE, or eastern Europe, it is a bit unfair that Poland was written about three times this week. Yet, it is perhaps a fair representation of how active the tech entrepreneurial community is in Poland.
One of the notable companies pitching at Startup Fest included an auction monitoring tool Manubia, which helps users understand what is being sold, at what price, and how. It is a helpful tool for small businesses, whose whole know-how is what products to sell on ebay and how.
Cityrace.me, which won startup week warsaw in May 2011, was a highly praised project during the Startup Fest. It develps a dynamic engine for mobile multiplayer augmented reality games.
Myguidie, which got plenty of twitter kudos from the investors is run by a serial 19-year-old entrepreneur Ola Sitarska (imagine how old she was when she sold her first internet business!) The business idea is an interesting one: use Myguidie to find a local guide who can help you not only with guided tours, but also with accomodation and local travel. I suspect that there are possibilities for a misuse: for example, large hotel chains can appoint local guides to direct tourists to their accomodation for a fee. At the same time, a feedback or an adequate rating system can filter out the advice early adopters have not fully enjoyed.
Wisdio is the Polish Quora, which aims to deliver valuable answers & opinions from specialists as a result of user information search. In fact, they are set to take on Quora, which suggests a global outlook, and its website is in English.
But before we get to the winners, let’s look at what enables this great multitude of startups and startup competition.
Poland, I have learned, has a good number of seed venture capital funds. Even entrepreneurs say that the seed / early stage funding problem in Poland has been resolved (clearly this said someone who got his company funded).
First there is a non-profit accelerator Warsaw-based AI NOT, an AIP Seed Capital, whose size of funds I have not yet established.
HardGamma Ventures is a first fund raised by a prominent Polish investor Chris Kowalczyk, after he supported Codility as an angel investor. HardGamma is spending 700 000 Euros. With help of the EU money Kowalczyk raised another fund ProFound Ventures. Read more on Codility’s success at Seedcamp and afterwards here.
Move to Poznan, and SpeedUp Group dominates the tech invesment landscape. According to its managing partner Bartek Gola, Speedup Investments is funded by business angels (3 million Euros in total, and not fully invested yet). Then there is SpeedUp IQbator (4 million Euros) and LMS Invest (2.4 million Euros). Both funds attracted money from the EU. Poznan is Poland’s fifth largest city, and I am yet to establish why it has been so popular with tech entrepreneurs (both Startup Weekend Poznan and E-nnovation took place there).
Innovation Nest is the new “kid” on the block. The venture fund has 13million Euros to invest in seed and early stage companies with global ambitions. It is managed by Peter (Piotr) Wilam, an internet guru, a cofounder or Polish largest site onet.pl and an angel investor in merlin.pl, Polish replica of Amazon.
This is more or less it, as far as organised venture investment is concerned, although I am sure business angels are abound in this fast growing economy, which is a part of the EU.
There are also multiple events. E-nnovation is a respectable annual conference. Startup Weekends take place in various Polish cities. The next upcoming startup weekend on the 28-30th of October is in Szczecin. The organisers have high hopes on promoting a collaboration with German entrepreneurs, as Szczecin is only two hours drive away from Berlin. PitchRally is a Warsaw-based event. Its format included a keynote, pitching and networking. Get inspired, listened to great founders and join the team, it sounds like. Invitation-only. Open Coffee takes place every Wednesday, again for now in Warsaw only.
StartupFest culminated in a winner announcement which is SaveUp, an original technology aiming to facilitate an impulse purchases. Taking a photo with a mobile phone is all it takes to find an equivalent online, and buy the product using a smartphone. The company, which has previously made it to the final of Startup Week Vienna, uses complex image recognition technology.
For more, refer to my earlier article on TechCrunch Europe.
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