Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Google Campus in Warsaw Welcomes their new Boss

Mary Grove, Director, Google for Entrepreneurs

Construction is in full swing on Campus Warsaw, our space for Polish entrepreneurs. As we prepare Campus for launch, we've been designing the space (in the historic Centrum Praskie Koneser), planning innovative programs, and hiring a strong local team. We’re almost ready to open our doors and would like to introduce you to an exceptional entrepreneur, the newest member of the Google Poland team, and the Head of Campus Warsaw, Rafal Plutecki.

Rafal knows all aspects of the startup ecosystem intimately- he has worked in nearly every capacity of the entrepreneur’s journey. He was the successful founder and CEO of Internet Technologies, a Polish ISP acquired by GTS in 2000, served as the Managing Partner of Innofund, an early-stage and seed venture fund, and has been an active angel investor. This week, I sat down with Rafal to learn a bit more about him and get his perspective on the startup ecosystem.

Where did you grow up?

I was born in a port-city of Szczecin and grew up in Warsaw. My father travelled around the world on commercial ships before I was born, and I think I liked his stories so much, that later decided to study and live in Germany, France, and the United States.

How did you get involved in the startup community in Poland?

I was studying at the University of Delaware in 1993 when I got my first dial-up email account from America Online. I was fascinated by the unlimited possibilities the Internet could offer and decided instantly that would be my future. Upon returning to Poland I founded Internet Technologies, one of the first Internet Service Providers, and successfully sold the company to GTS (now a part of T-Mobile). Since then I have evolved to be a mentor, angel investor, and manager for several startups. I am looking forward to continue to give back to the community that supported me.

What do you think makes the Polish startup community unique?

Poland has a great mix of talent, aspirations, and funding. We have always enjoyed a high level of engineering education and our programmers frequently win coding competitions. There are a growing number of startups that successfully operate internationally like Livechat, Brainly, Estimote, and City Interactive- we want to create a community that builds more of these great companies at Campus.

What can the local community expect from your first month at Campus?

We have tons of things in store for the community. We’ll be bringing some of the best programs from across our global network like our Campus for Moms program, Campus Exchange, Industry Connect, Mentoring, as well as innovative events and opportunities to help founders build strong international businesses. I’m excited to hear from the community how Campus can serve them.

What do you do when you’re not working?

I enjoy biking, kayaking, climbing, culinary trips, and traveling, especially in Africa and Asia.

Welcome aboard, Rafal!

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