Krakow has caught the startup bug, big time. The range of startup groups, accelerators, workshops and other happenings going on in the city can be bewildering – over 150 events so far this year.
As summer winds down and Krakow gets back to work, a new season of startup buzz stirs. For readers keen to get involved, we present the Krakow Post’s essential guide to the startup scene.
Google for Entrepreneurs Krakow (GEK)
Google for Entrepreneurs’ focus is to empower the next generation of startups and entrepreneurs around the world with initiatives such as Startup Weekend, Women on the Web, or by building Startup Campuses. They currently support more than 50 groups in 30 countries. Seeing a need for a physical space for startups to hack, learn and network, Google for Entrepreneurs opened an office space in Krakow in January 2013. They have hosted 28 meetings in their first quarter, including for the Ruby Users Group, Youth in Leadership, MakerSpace and Open Coffee. By bringing hundreds of developers, entrepreneurs and investors together, they quickly became a hub for Krakow’s startup community. On October 1, GEK and Innovation Nest will hold their annual week celebrating entrepreneurs. New entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to pitch their ideas and discuss their business ideas with mentors.
‘Think, design, make and share,’ is the mantra of Krakow’s Maker Space. It was formed by a group of socially-conscious and passionate people intent on creating an interdisciplinary community to help solve local problems by designing, prototyping and fabricating solutions. This year, four different groups were formed to address Krakow’s four major problem areas: bicycle parking, air quality and pollution, city noise and child safety. Ideas pitched at this year’s Małopolska Innovation Expo included a foldable bike parking stand, an acoustic bicycle compass, and the ReadRideKid road safety educational program for children. An event organized by this group called Maker Weekend will take place in October this year.
Entrepreneurial Poland (Polska Przedsiębiorcza)
Entrepreneurial Poland started nine years ago with a mission to create a development system for Polish entrepreneurs. Three major initiatives were launched: Akademickie Inkubatory Przedsiębiorczości (AIP) provides a platform for testing business models, SeedCapital is one of the simplest investment models in Poland, and Businesslink is a business development accelerator operating in five Polish cities, including Krakow. AIP is now the largest network of incubators in Europe with 40 academic incubators. SeedCapital provides startups with 100,000 zlotys for a 15% return on each investment and has already supported 43 startups. Businesslink, located on ul. Mogilska 65, not only provides an office space for startups to develop their business ideas, but also organizes training, mentoring, and networking for their ‘tenants.’
Hive53 started in 2010 as a group that organises specialized events (in English only) and promotes local meetups to foster the startup community. For example, their May meeting was hosted by Joel Spolsky, the founder of StackOverflow, Trello and FogBugz. Stay tuned for the next event by checking their website for more details. Last year, Hive53 and Marta Rylko initiated a bi-weekly event called Open Coffee, where entrepreneurs, students and other innovative people come to pitch their ideas, network and find teammates or an investor. Open Coffee is held every other Thursday at 8:00 AM at Google for Entrepreneurs, on the 3rd Floor of Pasaż 13 in the Rynek Główny.
Startup Pirates Krakow
‘Be brave, be crazy, be a Pirate!’ is the Startup Pirates’ call to action for anyone wanting to become an entrepreneur. The scheme offers one-week accelerator program at locations around the globe. This year in May, it took place in Krakow for the first time thanks to a group of people engaged in the local startup scene. Participants are exposed to training and mentoring that helps them develop and pitch their ideas to investors and successful business leaders. If this sounds interesting, you can either organize the next Startup Pirates in Krakow, or join the next event.
Rafal Han, the founder of Chance, has supported startups such as Duckie Deck, Vocabla, Ciufcia, Futbolowo.pl and Estimote. Earlier this year, he launched a new initiative that involves touring Central and Eastern Europe in a 1986 Volkswagen campervan discovering and learning about local startup communities. The idea is that the most promising startups will be invited to work with Chance and its partners for one week in Krakow as part of Chance Warm Up. Chance also offers one to three months startup coaching under their Chance Academy program.
hub:raum was founded by Deutsche Telekom and now has offices in Berlin, Krakow and Tel Aviv. The initiative provides startups with seed-funding, co-working space, mentoring and access to Deutsche Telekom’s corporate assets such as its customer base, technical support and infrastructure facilities. Their Krakow’s office brings support to startups from Poland and other Central European countries. They welcome anyone who has ideas and wants to turn them into business ventures.
Innovation Nest is an initiative created by Piotr Wilam and Marek Kapturkiewicz to support established or newly-launching high-tech businesses in Poland and abroad. Entrepreneurs can develop know-how, build networks, or find investors through cooperation with Innovation Nest. In addition, Spin, Innovation Nest’s school of entrepreneurship, provides intensive two-day trainings focused on teaching Steve Blank’s Lean startup principles.
Wytwórnia is an open space for local makers to get inspired, develop, prototype and produce their product ideas. It was founded by a group of friends with technical, design and art backgrounds and focuses on designing products, interactive installations and graphics. You can visit them at ul. Ślusarska 9.
Bitspiration launched in June 2012 and quickly became the most important Internet, startup and technology event in Central and Eastern Europe. Last year, it brought speakers such as Jawed Karim, co-founder of YouTube; Don Dodge, co-founder of Altavista, Napster, and currently a Developer Advocate at Google, and Bridgette Sexton, Global Entrepreneurship Manager at Google. This year, the event consisted of pre-conference workshops and demos as well as presentations from key Internet personalities.
Startup Weekend is organised by a network of passionate individuals engaged in growing their local startup communities. Anyone can come to an event and pitch their idea. Attendees then form teams around these ideas and, after 54 hours of business model development, coding, designing and market validation, they are presented in front of key local entrepreneurs. The event provides an opportunity to meet people, join the startup community and, most importantly, learn how setting up a startup really works.
COLAB is a co-working space at ul. Berka Joselewicza 21. It is also an inspiring ecosystem in which local entrepreneurs, startup teams, visionaries and investors exchanging ideas and experience. Startups such as Duckie Deck, Notatek.pl and Estimote are already taking advantage of this space.
Global Student Entrepreneur Awards
This year saw the first Global Student Entrepreneur Awards in Poland. GSEA is a global project aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among young people through a competition that enables the winners to execute their business projects. The finalists, who presented their projects on June 3 in Krakow, included Indivia, Misbehave, Nizapomniana Chwila, Nova System and Robocode.pl.
Hackerspace Kraków is essentially a playground for IT people, where they can meet new people in the same profession, develop new skills and test their ideas. It has a permanent office/space at ul. Radziwiłłowskiej 20/2, where makers, innovators and artists connect and strive to change the world. Everyone is welcome.
Wenusjanki brings Polish business women together to share professional experiences. They organize informal events in Warsaw, Krakow and Kielce for all women interested in networking with other business women, exploring new fashion, food, and beauty trends, or learning new skills.
Since its inception in 2005, SATUS has been creating innovative forms of startup investment that minimise risks and maximise returns. Simply put, they connect entrepreneurs with private investors.
Open Małopolska is an initiative designed to connect people who are passionate about open source and working on it in their free time. The idea is to create an open government in Małopolska. They are always looking for people to become engaged in changing the world.
Lean Startup Circle
Lean Startup Circle organises informal meetings and workshops around the Lean Startup methodology. By attending their meetings, you can learn how to shorten the product development cycle by adopting Lean principles. Follow their online forum for more information.
Startup Stage is a monthly meeting held at The Stage – ul. Łobzowska 3. The events, touching on different tech business topics such as Growth Hacking, SaaS, and 3D printing, last a few hours and attract hundreds. Find out about the new, autumn season of events by liking them on Facebook.
KrakSpots are free, informal conferences for people interested in keeping up to date with new media. Each event attracts up to 300 fans and pizza and beer are provided. This barcamp was originally formed in 2008 and celebrate their fifth anniversary this year. Their next event is scheduled for October.