Poland’s startup ecosystem may be considered still in its infancy compared to larger European tech hubs, like London and Berlin, but that doesn’t mean it should be overlooked by entrepreneurs or investors. In this week’s installment of PYMNTS’ Weekly Tech Center Roundup, we look at how the country’s capital city is developing a tech landscape that’s quickly catching up with its western counterparts.
Before we jump into the post, here are a few quick facts about Warsaw and its tech scene:
- Warsaw is the capital city of Poland and has an estimated population of 1.71 million people.
- Warsaw is a part of the TWIST Digital project, which connects it to three other European cities (Rome, Lille and Stockholm) under the Startup Europe umbrella.
- Poland brought in €7.2 billion in EU funds aimed at promoting an innovative economy after joining the EU in 2014.
- About 30 percent of all Polish startups surveyed in Startup Poland’s annual report are based in Warsaw.
- Warsaw is home to the third Google Campus in Europe.
- Nearly 60 percent of Polish startups are bootstrapped from their own funding, according to Startup Poland.
Poland is carving out its own path to startup ecosystem success with a string of digital success stories, a well-developed startup infrastructure and the new Google Campus in Warsaw.
Warsaw itself has quickly become the country’s entrepreneurial hotspot, attracting younger people from surrounding regions to a growing number of creative and productive hubs, accelerators and workshops.
Growth in FinTech activity specifically has resulted in the arrival of many startups that are serving as a catalyst for innovation throughout the country.
According to Forbes, new ventures, like VoicePIN, which supports voice recognition-based ID verification software, are helping to transform the mobile retail and online banking offerings of Poland’s big banks. Atsora is another notable Poland-based FinTech startup that is aiming to help financial services organizations communicate more effectively with customers.
Poland’s government is also making big strides to bring innovation and new use cases to the country’s banking sector.
Earlier this month, Poland’s Ministry of Digital Affairs and the banking industry launched a new projected called “From paper to digital Poland,” aimed at strengthening the digitalization of the nation’s public administration.
The project will allow banking customers to leverage their banking ID and password as credentials for logging into the social insurance board, contacting public administration offices or accessing a local government’s site to apply for benefits and sign documents.
The “trusted profile” will enable access to a growing number of electronic government platforms for banking customers.
Anna Streżyńska, Poland’s minister of digital affairs, called the move a “game-changer in the approach towards digital services and digitization.” She confirmed that there are currently 500,000 trusted profiles in use, while the number of online banking users has reached 16 million. But with the addition of the ability for people to confirm their identity with an authorized public administration unit online, it’s expected that the uptake of the program will continue to grow.
Helping The Busy Get To Business
While some entrepreneurs have the luxury of devoting all of their time and finances to building a new business, many of the people venturing into the startup ecosystem still have a need for a day job.
But a new accelerator called ReaktorX is aimed at supporting busy people with the work that it takes to get a startup off the ground.
The nonprofit organization was created by Marta Diana Koziarska and Borys Musielak, who also run a traditional startup accelerator in Poland. Musielak told TechCrunch his goal is to “help Polish founders succeed.”
“I’ve been meeting wannabe founders, often professional bankers, physiotherapists, doctors, teachers, who have been pitching the same concept for months without doing anything to make it happen,” Musielak explained. “I’ve been meeting tech people who thought startups are about shipping code, the sooner the better, with no interest in customer development or UX or actually building something people want.”
“Those two groups don’t talk to each other. They don’t know how to find each other. This is true even on a college level. Business students from SGH don’t talk to those losers from Politechika. It’s insane. It needs to change if we are to create a sustainable startup ecosystem here in Warsaw,” he added.
ReaktorX will help to bring groups together so that they can collaborate on coding, PR and product design workshops in hopes of fostering networking opportunities and strong working relationships.
“We’ve been helping startups over the last five years, and we helped the Warsaw startup scene grow from nonexistent to one of the leaders in CEE. This is the next step,” Musielak said.
'Airbnb For Computing' Scores Big
In just 29 minutes, Golem Network, raised more than $8.6 million for its Golem Network Token (GNT) and simultaneously became the third largest platform ICO (initial coin offering) ever, Forbes reported.
The Polish-based FinTech is a decentralized global market for computing power that’s often considered to be the “Airbnb for computers.” Golem Network supports an open P2P network that enables both application owners and individual users to rent the resources of other users’ machines. Payments take place in cryptocurrency, and all users within the P2P network are considered to be equally privileged.
Forbes explained that Golem serves as what many view to be “the backbone” of a decentralized market for computing power, making it both an Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) platform.