Tomasz Snażyk is co-founder and CEO of Startup Poland.
Polish tech ecosystem: The organisation was started in 2016 to bring more awareness to the start-up community in Poland.
“We aimed to get start-ups and the tech community on the first pages of the newspapers in Poland and get the start-up community more seriously. And those two main goals were achieved some time ago,” says Snażyk.
As part of our focus on tech start-ups in Poland, we caught up with Snażyk to learn the lie of the land.
What role does Startup Poland play in the Polish tech ecosystem?
We are a think tank, and we are not investors nor an accelerator; we do not give any money. Also, we are a non-governmental organisation, and we don’t take money from the government.
We research start-ups and the start-up community in Poland, and we also do public advocacy for the start-up community and the tech community.
I’m reading your Polish Startups Report 2021, an exciting read and in-depth read. How do you compile this report?
Every year, we conduct a survey with the start-up community in Poland. The data and the reports are from the founders and the start-ups themselves. Last year we got 2000 surveys. Every year we ask people to complete the survey, and they hate us for it, but they do it!
It’s nice to have such a detailed report in English. It’s challenging work – it’s three months of gathering data.
You’ve been reporting on the Polish tech ecosystem for the past six years; what changes have you seen in that time?
The one thing is that there’s a lot more money, and with every year, there’s less public money for the funding of start-ups.
The other thing is the age of founders is higher. In 2016 it was somewhere between age 23 and 29. Right now is actually between 30 and 36 – giving them a lot more experience. They’ve gained that experience in Big 4 or other international companies.
As I said, the valuation of companies is getting higher, but the money input of the investors is getting higher. It’s shifted from an average of €200k to around €400k in the seed or pre-seed rounds.
The community is getting bigger with higher numbers of VCs and accelerators. Corporate venture capital is also increasing.
How does Government money reach the start-up ecosystem?
The Polish Development Fund from PFR Ventures – it’s a fund of funds. They don’t give the money directly to the start-ups. They deliver it to people to start a fund – they are as passive investors or passive as a government can be.
What is the support system like for start-ups in Poland?
I think generally, the start-up community is very supportive. They share a lot of information, and there are a lot of informal groups where founders can get a lot of information – from how to raise money to how to hire and fire people. It’s great.
Name two tech conferences in Poland that shouldn’t be missed?
Infoshare -it’s in the north of Poland, and it gets a lot of people from Scandinavia and the Baltics. It is very founder orientated.
Impact has a different approach, but it’s definitely a good conference. If you are looking for clients, business relations, funding, or maybe another founder, this is the conference to go to.
Name drop an exciting Polish start-up that we should be keeping an eye on.
Vue Storefront – an opensource frontend for eCommerce.
Give three things that describe Polish start-ups.
Need improvement in their soft skills and learn how to sell