Thursday, January 7, 2016

Is Poland still a good Investment - my answer may surprise you

Paul Chen

By now those following the news in Poland as well as from abroad may have noticed that Poland has been the subject of many reports. Most of those don’t exactly paint Poland in a very positive light. Publications like the New York Times, the Economist as well as cable channels like CNN have reported about the worrisome developments in the Polish government. I cannot say whether these maneuvers will result in detrimental outcomes or not, only time will tell. One thing is for sure, the country’s branding is taking a beating.

Every startup founder knows that one of the most important things is the branding for their startup. Branding builds trust. As a result, investors may not trust Poland as a place to invest their money. So you ask me,”Is Poland still a good investment?”

A good investor needs some information to make an educated judgement, so let me drop some major knowledge on you.

Encouraging Statistics

Currently, Poland is forecasted to have a +3% in growth in their economy with over $13K  per capita. The corporate tax rate is holding steady at 19%. Poland is ranked 26th in the world for the penetration of mobile communications along with 57% penetration with smartphones. With 67% of the population having access, it ranks 22nd in the world for the penetration of internet.

Because of investor jitters, foreign currency is worth more in Poland than in the last few quarters. There hasn’t been positive inflation in Poland since 2014. The quickest growing sector in terms of employment is in the service sector with 57% of the over 18 million people workforce.

Only 7 of such in the world

Google just opened up a Campus in Warsaw to bring their years of experience and some leadership to the Polish startup community.

Industry leaders in Southern Poland

Krakow continues to be among the European leaders in terms of high technology. It is one of the industry leaders in the shared services sector with over 45,000 employees. There are over 100 multinational corporations with a branch in Krakow. In the last couple of weeks, I was at a meeting where the city has announced increased efforts to build on their already excellent communications between the city and the high tech businesses.

Krakow leads Poland in the number of graduates with a technical degree and ranks third in Poland in terms of IT. Krakow has 40% of the world’s market share in producers of bluetooth beacons in Estimote and

Disrupting Museums and Fashion

A local startup used such proximity to world class beacons to their advantage. HG Intelligence has implemented their Synerise solution in Gino Rossi, a major fashion retailer in Poland. People who downloads the Gino Rossi app will be privy to some exclusive deals via pushes from beacons. Such solutions has also been installed in MOCAK, a contemporary arts museum to enhance the interactivity between the visitor and the artwork. Many users have tried the MOCAK app. It received positive reviews. These apps already have thousands of downloads.

A more secure cloud

Ever since their participation in the 2013 Disrupt Europe Startup Battlefield in Berlin, and things have been pretty interesting for in the two years that have passed. It is a SaaS-based software that essentially gives teams and telecommuters a private, project-centric cloud with the goal of giving users full control over their data.  It was successful on their Kickstarter campaign for their Sherlybox, a slick-looking desktop network storage system that puts a personal cloud on your desktop complete with removable hard drive and a touch sensor for configuration, raising $150K from 900 backers. They have just started to ship the Sherlybox. So far they have sold 1000 units along with 6000 business customers.

A heart for the Tinman

Anyone can create their own personal robot with the innovative RoboCORE. It is the marquee product of Husarion. Fresh off of their successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $50K from a little over 300 backers, they recently completed a tour of Silicon Valley. Their tour was the result of winning a startup competition by Business Link and the US Market Access Center as a part of the Ready to Go 3 week accelerator program. Their RoboCore units are ready to be shipped.

24 hour gourmet shop

Imagine having to work late but the stores will be closed by the time you get out of work? Coming home to an empty fridge is not very pleasant. Coolomat will help solve your grocery shopping needs. They recently teamed up with the upscale Polish supermarket, Alma, in their Alma24 e-shop.You can get anything from bottles of olive oil to Polish ham delivered to a postal locker so you can pick it up anytime you want within a certain period of time. Their lockers are temperature controlled so your ham will not get spoiled. The postal locker method of delivery have been very popular in Poland among busy e-commerce customers who cannot pick up their packages during the operating hours of the post office.

A Unicorn in the making

In a recent article appearing on CNBC, Brainly  was featured as a possible candidate in the mythical Unicorn Club, a startup with over $1B in valuation. It is certainly exciting to follow this startup from Krakow. Currently they are helping students with their educational needs across the globe, from Indonesia to Russia. They have tens of millions of users as well as millions of downloads of their app. So far they have raised about $10M.

Despite the current wave of negative press about Poland. The numbers and developments in the Polish startup community can speak for itself. Polish entrepreneurs and startups are pressing forward independent of what is going on in Warsaw. More and more Polish businessmen are thinking beyond the borders. Is Poland still a good investment? Absolutely!

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  1. Poland is absolutely closed mind to the rest of the world; including European Union and USA. Poland should develop some high confidence to work with western people. Poles should know that western people wants to be friends and to import and export each other