Poland as a startup community is at a very interesting point at the moment. It has acheived some success in Estimote, UXPin, Base, Kontakt.io, Zortrax, and Antyweb. In recent months, a Startup Poland has formed. This iniative is a community backed effort to lobby for legislation that will create conditions where startups will be able to operate without the traditional Polish business barriers, such as streamlined process in setting up your own company, and tax breaks.
Last week, Bartek Jozefowski from KPT organized an one day Startup Safary for members of the local Krakow government to raise awarness of the local startup ecosystem. The tour included stops at Hubraum, Colab, and KPT. The tour also included talks given by representatives of Clime, Ecois.me, Presspad, Sher.ly, and Innovation Nest. Along for the ride were reptresentatives of local governmental and academic departments responsible for funding innovation projects. Overall, the tour was seen as being a successful effort in getting people to understand what the Krakow startup community is about and its potentials as builders of our future. One of the most interesting development is the ordaining of Batek Jozefowski as the unofficial mayor of the Krakow startup community. This crowning was backed by the likes of Estimote, Google, Richard Lucas, and Ela Madej. For Wroclaw, I nominate Dermot Corr!
Ever since I got involved with the startup community of Poland, I had thought that getting governmental support and lobbying for legislation was a necessary ingredient for a sustainable startup community. I have written many posts about the topic. I am glad the community have started to come around to it.
The Next Steps
Getting government support is a great idea but it is only the start. The next step is branding. We need to sit down and decide what are the identities associated with being a Polish startup? What are our values? What is our USP and value proposition? Which standards should a startup have to achieve the "Developed in Poland" mark. Basically a mark of quality. Why do people drink Coca Cola, wear Nikes, or drive a BMW? In New York City, they have a "Made in NY" mark celebrating the city's media, entertainment, and digital industry. We should also have a "Developed in Poland" mark to celebrate our startup community.
A community Website:
I like that the Startup Poland initiative has a nice website. However, i believe that this website can do so much more. First of all, it should have a mobile site with a smooth UX. Second of all, I would like to be able to administer the community portion of the website.
This portion of the website is meant as a one stop shop for external investors and entrepreneurs to find information about Polish startups.
1. Crunchbase for Poland - I would like to use the website as a database of all of the startups in Poland. It can be listed by city, sector/industry. The profile for each startup can include the usual informations that can be found in a Crunchbase profile: Founders, product, services, address, investors, funding history, and milestones.
2. Along with startups, the database would include incubators, accelerators, VCs, angel investors, co-working spaces, specialized services like startup lawyers, and local contact persons.
3. Calls to action: There would be a section for incubators and accelerators to announce their applications. For example, Hubraum can announce the next edition of WARP there.
4. Event announcements - I have talked to Krzysztof Hostyński, the head of Crossweb. We agree to allow our events section to be powered by Crossweb in order to take advantage of their extensive event listings.
5. Advertisement space for startups to advertise
6. Most important tweet of the day. Using a dedicated Twitter account, I would retweet the 20 most important tweets made by community members each day. Such announcements can include funding and new products.
7. Media space: there would be a space for startup bloggers who write in English such as KSUP, Bitspiration, Web.gov.pl as well as ones by Marcin Szelag, Piotr Wilam, and others.
8. Jobs listing - Startups would be able to list their openings here.
I know this seems like a hard thing to do, but JFK said in 1961 about going to the moon, "we don't do it because it is easy, we do it because it is hard."
I would like to get the community to get behind me on this project. There are plenty of people who think this is a good idea. I would like your help on this. I would like to gain funding, be it private or from the EU, for the administration and development of the website. I would also like to recruit programmers to help me with the website. Please contact me at ( email@example.com)
Once the website is setup, I will use the Startup Poland brand and website to organize meetups in different startup communities large and small throughout Poland where an industry leader would give talks. This will be a good chance for networking and bring attention to smaller communities such as Torun.
A Farm System
Other than the website and the government support there are so much more to do. One of the reasons that the German National Football Team has been constantly good is their development program. We need to develop a curriculum for entrepreneurship for high schoolers and university students. One thing is to use the Y Combinator "How to start a Startup" model to get a bunch of Polish business leaders like Rafal Styczen, Piotr Wilam, and Bartek Gola to do a course at one of the business or tech schools. It should not happen just once but more than once.
Okay, Polish Startups and my international readers, I would like to know what you think? Please comment below or tweet me at @eurodude23 or comment to my Facebook posts.
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