As well as commercial players such as Deutsche Telekom, Krakow’s lively startup scene has also grabbed the attention of non-commercial support organisations. One such is Startup Pirates, a non-profit initiative active around the globe that will be holding a special training programme for young entrepreneurs in the city from May 25 to June 1.
During the week, participants will take part in business-related workshops, work with mentors and get to know like-minded people. Finally, they will present their ideas to potential investors and members of Krakow’s startup scene.
Diana Solomko, coordinator of the Startup Pirates event in Krakow, is especially keen to encourage students to consider starting their own businesses: “As a student or new graduate you are in the perfect position to try your hand at opening your first startup. You don’t have too many commitments, like a family, which allows you to take the risks that are inevitable in business. You are still at the beginning of your career and able to decide if you want to develop yourself in an existing company, or build your own.”
With a remarkable number of IT students and graduates and relatively low labour costs, Krakow has bloomed into a centre of the European tech world. Solomko, who studied in Moscow and worked in the United States, describes the atmosphere in the Polish city as particularly creative and inspiring, and she sees a lot of IT graduates finding jobs in Krakow or using their knowledge and enthusiasm to develop business ideas.
Krakow’s young entrepreneurs are also building potentially powerful networks, meeting at regular events such as Startup Stage and Open Coffee. Diana Solomko believes that organisations like Startup Pirates can help these entrepreneurs realise their full potential: “Young startups often have good ideas, but they don’t know how to put them into action. They are not aware of the legal requirements, they don’t know how to start and which steps to take – they often do not have mentors to guide them. We offer the opportunity to meet major players on the startup scene, to consult with creative and experienced people and find realistic ways to make their dreams come true.”
The Krakow workshop will have some impressive mentors and speakers on hand. Available to pass on their wisdom will be: Vincent Vergonjeanne, CEO and co-founder of Kobojo, a European leader in the social gaming industry; Jaromir Dzialo, who built a startup in Silicon Valley and sold it to a leading social network; Tej Panesar, CEO and founder of Panalyst Sp. z o.o., a private equity and corporate advisory firm operating in Poland; Marek Przystas, creator of the globally successful Duckie Deck educational games; and Richard Lucas, who has started and been involved in many successful businesses in Krakow over the past 20 years.
The first Startup Pirates week took place in Porto in 2011. Since then, the non-profit organization has evolved into a global network with events and local teams all over the world. This year, the Pirates are working on four continents, with events being held in Pakistan, Brazil, Spain, Peru and, of course, Poland (there is second event in Gdańsk in September).
Interested entrepreneurs can register for the workshop week at: krakow.startuppirates.org. The 30 participants with the most promising ideas will be chosen for the program. To cover training, materials and organisation, Startup Pirates charges an attendance fee of 269 złoty (189 złoty for students).