Friday, July 31, 2015

The five hottest Polish Fintech Startups

Paul Chen

Fintech (financial technology) is one of the leading categories of start-ups. Fintech covers a wide range of products and services, including: cybersecurity, big data, payments, crowdfunding, Bitcoin and P2P lending. Most start-ups are working to disrupt the banking sector. These are the five Polish fintech start-ups to watch

The Polish fintech ecosystem is still quite young. However, there have already been some interesting developments. Along with Transferwise, Azimo has been named a fintech start-up to watch. Zencard was one of 12 startups from the V4 region to participate in the Visegrad Startups competition in Silicon Valley. More information about them and others below.
Atsora: app for efficient management
Atsora provides strategic management and entrepreneurial tools for financial institutions, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises. Their flagship product is Momentum, a piece of software that is placed between the Small & medium-sized enterprises and the bank. It is an integrated online and mobile application used for planning business models that monitors cash flow and growth based on financial data. Users can easily share selected information with the bank in order to get tailor-made offers and real-time support.

The SME receives a complimentary set of functionality helping with cash flow, business model planning, cost optimization and client profitability management. Everything seamlessly integrates with bank accounts, providing a real-time view on business. The bank in turn gets better insight and can deliver the products exactly as needed. They support all the phases of the SME life cycle in order to improve cross selling and proactively manage retention.
Atsora are marketing themselves directly to a variety of businesses (B2B) by going through financial institutions, other fintech companies and platforms. Recently, they participated in the 2015 edition of Fintech Innovation Labs in London. This will allow them to connect with some of the top fintech experts in their global expansion ambitions.
Azimo: Affordable money transfers for everybody
Azimo allows migrant workers to make fast, simple low cost money transfers to their family members in over one hundred countries. They operate online and help customers save 85 percent of what they’d pay a high street bank or an online money transfer company. Based in London and Krakow, they are aiming to disrupt the industry dominated by legacy players Western Union and Moneygram. Their value proposition is the fact that they offer their services on mobile and to a population often overlooked by the tech sector - migrant workers. 

The first to feature full Facebook integration, excellent for KYC (Know Your Client) purposes and convenient for users of the uber-social network to send money to one another, Azimo is also the cheapest – charging on average 2 percent instead of the 9.5 percent which is the industry standard.
Last month they finished their fund raising round B of $20 million at a $100 million valuation. The round of investment was lead by Frog Capital and MCI Management.
PricePanorama: Sort out your prices
Managing an online shop is difficult when you are isolated from the market. If you do not investigate the market environment, you cannot know if your offer is competitive. This is particularly important because pricing policy is one of the cornerstones for a competitive advantage in Polish e-commerce. There are many methods to check the prices of products from competitors, the most popular of which is of course to visit the store and check out the prices of products that interest us. However, keeping track of the prices in every store in the sector it would be really time consuming.
PricePanorama is a system of monitoring and analyzing the prices and availability of products on the internet using a SaaS model. Their main goal is to give you the opportunity to build a consistent pricing policy and to find markets abroad where you can start your business through competitive pricing and cost structure.
They already monitor many of the markets in Poland and are expanding to the Czech Republic, Russia, Ukraine, Turkey and Vietnam. They are looking to be ubiquitous in the e-commerce sphere and provide companies information about pricing and the availability of products from online stores.
VoicePin: Identify yourself with voice 
VoicePin is providing the least invasive way to verify your identity - through your voice. They are the first company of its kind in Europe, and their service has been accredited by international biometric organizations.
Your voice is as unique as your fingerprint. Like snowflakes, no two voices are 100 percent identical, even with twins. To utilize this, VoicePin takes advantage of something that is already in your phone, the microphone. Most smartphone mics are sensitive enough to take advantage of this technology. This means implementing the service into your offering is cost-effective.  

The value in voice verification is that it is language independent. This means implementation across international borders is streamlined, and I can use the same English phrase to identify myself no matter where I go. With VoicePin’s proprietary software, it can differentiate the intonation and the unique intangible characteristics of the user’s voice from others even if the user has laryngitis. The system requires a person to actually talk into the microphone, which means you cannot record another person’s voice and play it back.  
VoicePin has already been implemented in some major banks and businesses in Poland, such as ING Bank and Tauron Energy. The applications can range from identification verification for e-banking and m-commerce to verifying permission to enter a house and even some IoT applications involving voice commands. This August, VoicePin will officially launch in New York City at the SpeechTek conference. With 20 years under its belt, SpeechTEK has become a must-attend event for anyone who wants to learn about deploying speech technology for business applications. Attendees will have a chance to test out their technology.
ZenCard: Make your clients stay
After being selected for Google’s Campus Exchange programme, and picking up a prize at the latest V4 Startups competition in Silicon Valley, ZenCard is flying high. They recently raised two million euro in funding. They are a real-time loyalty redemption platform that allows retailers to develop targeted offers based on customer purchase behavior profiles. They turn existing payment cards into universal loyalty & rewards cards. ZenCard is an omni-channel solution that solves one of the biggest problems of modern businesses – how to make people come back. How to turn one-time shoppers into regulars?

Their unique features include integration with payment terminals by removing all of the barriers for people to sign up to the loyalty and rewards program, therefore increasing the number of involved customers threefold compared to typical plastic card/app based systems. Their system works the same way on both e-commerce and in physical retail stores, and they also support non-monetary rewards, not only discounts.
Even though the Polish fintech space is quite young, it has already gained some accolades internationally. With the rising popularity of the fintech sector, we can expect more from these and other up and coming Polish fintech start-ups.
Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!
This is a repost with permission from an article that originally appeared on

Who will walk away from TechCrunch Meetup in Krakow a Winner?

Paul Chen

Last night at the foot of the majestic Wawel Castle in the Metaforma Cafe, TechCrunch held their third night of pitching and networking on their tour of Poland. The tour was headed by John Biggs, the East Coast Editor and organized and hosted by Ralph Talmont, the head organizer of TedxWarsaw. We here at KSUP were proud to be one of the official partners of the event along with Estimote, Innovation Nest, and NCBR.

We had some inspirational keynote speeches. Ela Zielinska of Get Smarter told the crowd that they just have to try whatever you want to do. She added:  statistics may say that only 10% of startups will succeed but math says 50%. Piotr Wilam talked about seed funding and other ways to raise funds. It includes crowdfunding like Kickstarter and Syndicate Investors like the ones from AngelList. He has announced an AngelList Investor Syndicate is in the process of forming in Krakow. Wilam also advises that win or lose, you should try to learn from the process  and to keep your investors in the loop of your progress.

Then came the Pitch-off! 

The panel of judges included:

Jakub Krzych - Founder of Estimote
John Biggs - East Coast Editor of TechCrunch
Wojcheich Olszenka - Investing Manager of Giza Polish Ventures
Elizabeta Zielinska - Operator of Get Smarter
Piotr Wilam - Managing Director of Innovation Nest

The participants were:

Husarion - They use electronic, software and cloud to make powerful robots in easy way and developer of Robocore. Robocore is the operating unit of a robot that you can build yourself. They brought along a dog feeding robot that you can operate remotely. Despite some hiccups, they finally got the robot to “pee” at the end of the night.

Riftcat - They want to become the Steam of VR games by building a marketplace for VR game developers. They say that their platform is hardware independent. - They offer a seat cusion with built in sensors with a dedicated app that will help you with your sitting posture. Bad sitting postures can often lead to certain health related problems later in life.

The Other Dude - A mobile app allowing people to exchange contact info with one swipe without typing or searching. Users decide what info to exchange - private and business. - They use voice biometrics to help you verify your identity. Applications can include e-banking, m-commerce, and IoT. - They support every independent producer and director by providing a professionally recognised broadcasting platform that generates high viewing figures and pays you the highest ad-share revenue.

The runner up was Husarion with Robocore and their dog feeding robot. I think they tried to do too much with their pitch. I saw a telepresence device that they had in earlier events, they should have gone with that one. They got tickets to a TechCrunch Disrupt anywhere in the world.

The winner of the night was with their voice biometric technology. They walked away with a table at a TechCrunch Disrupt anywhere in the world.

Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!

Monday, July 27, 2015

ContentFarm will help your Startup Go Global

Paul Chen

When a startup launches, their first landing page will likely be in their native language. However, when they want to go global, they will likely choose English as their international language of choice. In a previous blog post, I advised against this. It is my opinion that your startup’s landing page should be in English from day one.

Some of the English I’ve seen on the landing pages of startups who say that they want to go international are God awful. It felt like they took their native content and just used Google Translate. If a customer or investor comes to your landing page and sees that, they are going to know something about your startup. Before you publish anything, you should employ a wonderfully communicative native speaker who understands technology and business.

ContentFarm is looking to solve this issue. They are offering content editing and proofreading services so you sound good to a native speaking customer. They will take what you have created and fine tune the language so it will sound natural with the right mix of technical language and colloquialisms. Businesses often miss this step. As a result, the content ends up sounding dry, textbook-ish, and a drag to read. With ContentFarm’s help, the language of your landing page will be easily digestible.  

Many businesses would agree that content and inbound marketing are essential parts of a firm’s business development. You want to deliver the right content at the right time to establish your brand’s authority and credibility in the sector. Having good content will also help bring readers and possible customers back to your website repeatedly. Furthermore, having a good amount of content on your page will improve your SEO and in turn helping your brand establish a strong online presence.

There are many ways to do it. You may crowd-source your content the way Brainly does it. However, for their business model it is the right fit for them. You can try to do it in-house where you hire an army of community managers to respond to inquiries and write posts about the latest development and use cases of your product like Estimote. Third option is to write your own and if English isn’t your native language just get a translator. Well, you know how I feel about that. There are many fine translators out there, but they often miss the mark on the natural flow of the language. The fourth option is to hire a freelancer. There are many fine freelance writers out there, however, in many markets especially in Poland, there aren’t many who understand startups and technology.

ContentFarm will solve that problem as well. They have a wonderful writer familiar to you who understands the startup business and technology. If you had been curious enough to click to the link before your got to this point, you will have noticed that I am that professional. I am pitching my services to startups and even some SMEs to help their business go global. Along with the previously mentioned services, I also offer consultation and act as an interpreter if you have entered a startup competition and they want to do a conference call with you. I have helped a local startup get into the final round of a major startup festival in San Francisco. I do all this with a reasonable rate. This Thursday, I will be at the TechCrunch meetup in Krakow. If you can’t make it, you can contact me in all the usual places. How can I help your business build bridges?

Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

TechCrunch is Coming to a Major Polish City near You!

Starting in the end of July, TechCrunch will make an abbreviated tour of major cities in Poland. The stops will be: Cracow, Warsaw, and Gdynia.  It is part of their “TechCrunch Let’s Meet Up” tour. This will be their first tour in Poland. K'SUP is a proud partner of the event taking place in Krakow.
English version provided by Paul Chen

These events will be your chance as a young and dynamic startup to gain major exposure  and win cool prizes at the beginning of your growth. Each of the startups will have the opportunity to present their idea in a pitch-off in front of a panel made up of investors, experienced founders. and tech journalists for the local ecosystem. It is a great chance for you to take that huge step forward in terms of marketing, increasing the recognizability new business ideas, and brand building. Who knows, you startup might end up on TechCrunch!
Metaforma Cafe in Krakow 
Organizers would especially like to encourage IoT, 3D, wearables, biotech, medical devices and fintech startups to take part in the event. In order  to make application easier, we have created a special form where you can register your startups, and we will direct it to the local organizers.

Because a relaxed atmosphere is more conducive in making meaningful connections, every event will happen in a chilled and casual atmosphere – the most important part of the event is the networking and create collisions, so you might meet your future partner, investor, coworkers, or customers. Meet-up will be held in the evening.  Cracow already has a time and place, stay tuned for information about the Warsaw and Gdynia events. Like TEDx, each event will be organized by local partners. The organizers will organize it in a casual restaurant or bar with lots of networking spaces.  Very often during such networking events a startup can take part in “one on one” conversation with investors, get valuable advice to your pitch and get feedback for your company. And if you play your cards right, you could get funded right on the spot.

Showroom HQ in Warsaw
TechCrunch Meet-up and other similar events have already been held in other countries (eg: Montreal, Seattle or Boston).  They are always a great opportunity for the integration of local startup ecosystem. These events can also act as a catalyst to prompt beginning and promising startups to form much earlier. 
The list of startups, which will take part in pitching will be announced few days before each of the events. You can already register for the event and admission is FREE. If your startup didn’t have opportunity to pitch in front of a big audience before, this is your chance to get the publicity and grow faster!

Scena Letnia Teatru Miejskiego in Gdynia

Dates of the events and links for registration: Note all the events are sold out!
Gdynia – 28.07.2015
Warsaw – 29.07.2015
Cracow – 30.07.2015
This is a repost of a blogpost that originally appeared on

Thursday, July 23, 2015

After Raising $5 Million, UX Pin says,"Back to Work!"

An Open Letter from Marcin Treder, CEO of UxPin

Hello Everyone,

There's couple of things worth celebration today.
First of all - the company is doing fantastic. With growing offices on two continents (there's 41 of us!) we continue to nail the collaborative work style. The goal for this year? Growing to +70 employees and keeping the culture at least as great as it is today.
Secondly, business is going great. 25k people sign-up for UXPin every month. We've turned a simple product, started in 2010, into multi-million dollar business, valued at... well it's quite a number, but I will I leave that to your imagination.

Most importantly, today, our mission is more important than ever. The world runs on design and collaboration and the platform for the entire collaborative design process is a must! We're going to make it happen.
Finally, it feels like a dream. Jeff Veen, the design legend, founder of Adaptive Path, Measure Map (sold to Google) and Typekit (acquired by Adobe), left the position of VP of Products at Adobe, joined True Ventures and immediately led UXPin's Series A. Unbelievable.
I'd appreciate if you could share this post. We need to hire the best of the best:

Now back to work!


Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Keep it Simple Stupid: A Language Guide for Non-English Speaking Founders

Paul Chen

In a recent blog post by Brad Feld, he stated:

The language of startups has become pervasive. It feels like it started with Eric Ries’ great book The Lean Startup when words like MVP and pivot started showing up in all conversations. Back then it was new, fresh, and focusing.
Today, there are hundreds of words that people throw around in the context of their startups. Many, like traction, are completely meaningless. If you need a dose of some of the language, just watch a few episodes of Silicon Valley.

(Disclaimer - This post has some expletives, so consider yourself warned!)

I cannot agree more! I have been teaching English in the CEE Region for many years and the problem for many English learners is the fear of looking stupid when speaking a language that is not their mother tongue. The problem is seeded in the English learning experience of non-native speakers. Their teachers would reprimand them if their grammar is wrong, but not focusing on the content of their speech.  

The Polish language grammatically is very complicated. And you thought learning German was hard. In Poland, your IQ is often measured by how grammatically correct is your speech. The Polish President, Bronislaw Komorowski was made fun of when he made some grammatical mistakes. The result is that Polish English learners become very shy with their use.  However, many especially intellectuals would like to show how smart they are by acting like Fan-boys and using over-complex terms. As a result, they come off sounding condescending and obnoxious. During my lessons, I try to help them sound more natural. However, I often tell my students, it’s better to sound confident with simple speech than insecure with badly used complicated grammar and vocabulary.

Sometimes I attend some accelerators and pitch-offs, and when I do, I try to read up on the startups that participate. Many times, I become totally confused as to what the startup is doing. The description of their product and services is so filled with tech corporate jargon that it becomes a roach motel. I mean, after reading it, I am still as uninformed as ever. Sometimes, I just think they are selling bullshit dressed up in flowery tech speak.

Last summer, I had the privilege to hang out and interview John Biggs of TechCrunch.  I asked him what is something he could advise startup founders. He told me among others, to keep the language simple. During a demo day when your pitch time is limited, you need to get to your point really quickly. Additionally, often your target investor will have a limited amount of time. Rather than trying to show off your vocabulary, just use some simple easy to understand phrases to sell your startup. You will appear to be more confident and you will get to your point faster.

Like building your minimum viable product, it is often better to do more with less same goes with language. If your product is so fucking awesome, you should not have to sell it with bullshit.

Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Startup Estonia and the role of government in an entrepreneurial ecosystem

Paul Chen

There is no denying that Skype has been quite a European success story. In the latest listing of valuations, it is valued at $8.5 Billion.  It has recently been acquired by Microsoft.  People choose it as their preferred international communication solution putting local telecoms out of the international dialing business.  Most people cannot imagine that such a company comes from a small Baltic country of Estonia.  Poland is on the verge of having, what they call a unicorn (company with a valuation of $1.0 Billion or more). We want to know how to deal with the period after this declaration.  I sat down with Mari Vavulski during Bitspiration to talk about this and the role of a government in helping to make this happen.

Mari Vavulski is the head of the Startup Estonia program. Startup Estonia is seeking to turbocharge Estonian-based start-ups that have the potential to succeed in the world. They cooperate with the rest of the Estonian startup ecosystem, to make it easier for start-ups to have access to experienced people and companies, investors, and money as well as developing a good breeding ground. Startup Estonia is financed by the European Regional Fund. She has a banking background and was a sectoral manager of Enterprise Estonia which is one of the largest institutions of the national support system for entrepreneurship in Estonia. What was the state of the Estonian tech domain after 1989?

Mari Vavulski: Telecommunications and banking sectors are the cornerstones of Estonian information society developments. Activities of the public sector have been also crucial in providing favourable legislative environment, but also in launching infrastructural projects and in implementing 'innovative e-services.

The first banks were established in Estonia in 1988. By the end of 1995 foreign ownership amounted to 35 percent of the share capital of Estonian banks. It is somewhat extraordinary how quickly electronic banking and Internet banking has emerged in Estonia. Hansapank started its first electronic banking solution Telehansa in 1993. The first banks to introduce Internet banking services in Estonia were Eesti Forekspank and Eesti Hoiupank in 1996. It is even more outstanding that as the world's first Internet banking services started in 1995, and by the end of 1996 there were only about 20 such services, of which three were from Estonia.

The building up and development of own in-house capacity has led to the situation where the banks have been the ‘informal’ leaders in the software industry in Estonia.  The emergence of Internet banking in the company was rather a result of work of enthusiastic employees than systematic conduction of R&D or guidance given by top managers. Programmers developed the Internet bank days and nights on their own initiative. The building up and development of own in-house capacity has led to the situation where the banks have been the ‘informal’ leaders in the software industry in Estonia. The Estonian banking system has actually set standards for e-services offered by other private and public sector companies.  Banks have been also providing authentication mechanisms to access public and private sector e-services.

WEB: How did Estonia react to the success of Skype?

MV: Skype has had a profound impact on Estonian startup community and society in many ways. They have brought about a wave of entrepreneurs who understand how to build a scalable international companies. They brought in people who understood how to build a good start-up in terms of team, product and company culture. They also diversified the Estonian workforce in terms of people with many different skills and national backgrounds. This type of raised tech-awareness has made implementing tech solutions for governmental bureaucratic tasks like e-voting possible and popular among Estonian citizens.

WEB: What were some of the problems that Estonian tech faced in the past?

MV: We are facing problems similar to other ecosystems in the CEE region.  We don’t have serial entrepreneurs with a good track record of repeated successes of building globally scalable companies. As a result, we are facing some shortage of tech talent as well as personnel who can fill other start-up positions. Some regulations have impeded progress.

WEB: How did the Estonian government help solve these problems?

MV: The government in Estonia is seen as a catalyst to the ecosystem. They digitized everything, put more focus on the tech sector, and choose venture capital as an instrument. Our government is really open to different solutions and to try new things. An example of a new initiatives is the E-Residency program.

WEB: What is the idea behind the E-Residency program? What are the benefits?

MV: It is a transnational digital identity available to anyone in the world. It allows for a location-independent business online. With a population of about 1.3 Million people and a low birthrate, we needed a way to increase the ability of the country to grow. This seems to be a viable solution to grow the economy. The e-residency gives you access to Estonian e-services which you can use to operate an European business in Estonia.

WEB: How does Estonia get past the habit of looking back at history and continue looking forward?

MV: Estonia has put a lot of effort to built up a digital and tech-oriented society. We have created a favorable business environment for start-ups and investors. All of the public sector services have been streamlined and continuously going towards a paperless state. This allows entrepreneurs to direct their energy and time not to figuring out bureaucratic processes but to build their business and interacting with their stakeholders.    

WEB: Some people believe that government should have minimal involvement in the start-up community. How does Estonian startups feel about it?

MV: Brad Feld has written a brilliant book about it called “Startup Communities”. We believe that a good startup community is built by entrepreneurs. The government’s role is to interact with them and ask them what they need to succeed, get status updates on how have the needs changed and not to interfere with business building. Estonian start-ups are proud to be Estonian. We use the #EstonianMafia which was offered to us by Dave McClure of 500 Startups. These days, we are trying to answer the question ’Why do start-ups need Estonia?’ not ‘Why doe Estonia need start-ups?’.

WEB: What would you say are the essential recommendations for governments when dealing with a start-up ecosystem?

  1. Government should support activities with long term influence to the ecosystem. They should provide a long term commitment and ask the start-ups what are their long term goals. We want the ecosystem to be able to develop by itself.
  2. A government should involve every member of the ecosystem in the conversation. Those include: start-ups, investors, incubators, accelerators, universities, corporate R&D centers and service providers.
  3. Government needs to maintain an open dialogue with the ecosystem. They should be transparent,honest and provide feedback. They should allow a solution time to develop and not to rush things. Consequently, you will get better results.
  4. A government should have an exit strategy for everything they start and know how the market should develop and what will happen next.
  5. The government should involve the start-up ecosystems in the legislative process if the law or regulation could affect the proper legal growth of the community.
  6. Governments should see start-ups and businesses as ways to help the national economy grow, not only a source of tax revenue. A proper relationship will help maximize the government’s return on their investment.

WEB: Thank you very much Ms. Vavulski, that has been very inspiring.

MV: It was a pleasure.

Thank you for reading another one of my posts done just for you!  If you liked what you read please share it by using one of the buttons up top and check out other posts in this blog.  I don’t want you to miss out on future posts so please follow me on Twitter @Eurodude23.  If you haven’t done it already, please like my Facebook fan page by clicking here!  See you next time!

This is a repost with permission of a article that originally appeared in Polish on