With a growing number of startups, a supportive infrastructure, and significant funding, Poland is emerging as a leading hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the CEE region and beyond. In this article, The Recursive will begin the mapping of the key features of the Polish startup ecosystem, the major trends shaping it, and several notable startup successes.
Poland represents the largest country in Central and Eastern Europe and the 6th largest in Europe, with a population of nearly 40 million. Like other post-socialism countries in the region, Poland’s economy has been steadily growing for the past 25+ years, ranking as the 6th largest in the EU. Moreover, Poland was the only European nation that avoided recession during the 2008 crisis, outlining the exceptionally healthy economic development foundations.
Mapping of the Polish startup ecosystem
The Polish startup ecosystem is one of the most active in the CEE region, boasting over 3000 startups, 300 co-working spaces, 130 VC firms, and various acceleration programs and tech conferences.
Poland presents the benefits of a strong economy, affordable cost of living, a talented workforce, notable gender equality in tech, and a modern banking system. The country also offers an ideal location to launch a business with the intention of expanding into other EU markets and beyond. However, the country’s startup ecosystem has yet to achieve its true potential.
One of Poland’s challenges is a lack of private capital investment due to the public sector’s previous overly active approach focused on direct investments and government-backed funding. Nevertheless, the trend is changing as local venture capitalists start raising larger amounts of private capital and co-invest at higher rounds. This positive trend is expected to continue, leading to the development of several funds capable of investing at the level of other strong Western European funds within the next half-full decade.
In the context of startup ecosystem ranking, Poland’s position in StartupBlink‘s index slightly declined to 33rd globally and 5th in Eastern Europe, placing right after the Czech Republic.
The Polish startup ecosystem tech hubs are the capital of Warsaw, Wroclaw, Krakow, Lublin, and the Tri-City of Gdańsk, Sopot, and Gdynia.
Startup industries and verticals in Poland
As previously noted, there are currently over 3000 startups in Poland. Most Polish startups operate in the IT sector, with big data, analytics, and IoT being the main specialties. The industries of FinTech, Marketing technologies, and Management tools (CRM/ERP) are also popular.
Polish startup industries rank globally 18th in e-Commerce & retail, 20th in Marketing & sales, and 22nd in Healthcare, according to StartupBlink. Poland is home to multinational e-Commerce platforms, including MODIVO (formerly eobuwie.pl) for shoes and accessories operating across most European countries, and Allegro, which bought one of the main Czech e-Commerce stores, Mall.cz, in 2022.
Moreover, a recent research by Startup Poland indicates a rise in startups incorporating AI, suggesting that this area will likely grow faster than others. Additionally, new businesses dedicated to FoodTech and sustainable solutions emerge, which may represent the next trend-following FinTech and Big Data. Poland also seeks to become a regional climate tech leader.
Notable Polish startups you should know about
Established: 2014, Espoo, Finland (Polish-co-founded, office in Warsaw, Poland)
Founders: Rafal Modrzewski, Pekka Laurila
About: Iceye is a commercial satellite company that provides timely and reliable synthetic-aperture radar (SAR) imagery to customers in the government and commercial sectors, empowering them to make better decisions.
Highlight: Iceye raised a Series D round of ~€125M in 2022, adding to a total funding of ~€287M. The startup is expected to become one of the next Polish-founded unicorns.
Established: 2009, Krakow, Poland
Founders: Michał Borkowski, Lukasz Haluch, Tomasz Kraus
About: Brainly is an online learning platform that connects students with peers and experts for homework and study help. The platform encourages collaborative learning and aims to build students’ confidence by providing them with opportunities to help others.
Highlight: Brainly closed a Series D round in late 2020, raising ~€73M led by Learn Capital. In total, the startup has raised ~€136M and is set to be one of the next Polish unicorns.
Established: 2011, Warsaw, Poland
Founders: Mariusz Gralewski, Lucjan Samulowski, Jakub Skoczylas, Grzegorz Krysiak
About: DocPlanner is a software provider for doctors that aims to simplify booking appointments for patients and help doctors manage their practice more efficiently. The platform allows patients to find the best possible care and doctors to improve their online presence and focus on providing quality care to their patients.
Highlight: DocPlanner is one of the world’s biggest healthcare platforms. The startup closed a Series E round in 2019 led by GS Growth and One Peak Partners, raising €80M to its total funding of ~€129M. DocPlanner became Poland’s first unicorn in 2021.
Established: 2013, San Francisco, US (Polish-founded, office in Warsaw, Poland)
Founders: Stefan Batory, Konrad Howard
About: Booksy is a beauty marketplace that offers a SaaS App for business management, allowing customers to easily find, schedule, and manage appointments with their health and beauty providers. It aims to provide a seamless and accessible way for customers to connect with their preferred service providers.
Highlight: In 2021, Booksy secured a Series C funding of ~€65M led by Cat Rock Capital. The company raised ~€109M over six rounds and is on the list to become one of the next Polish-founded unicorns.
Established: 2019, London, UK (Polish-co-founded)
Founders: Piotr Pisarz, Asher Ismail
About: Uncapped offers revenue-based financing to founders, providing access to growth capital without the need for interest or equity. The company charges a transparent flat fee on the capital provided, allowing founders to access fair and flexible finance.
Highlight: Since its establishment in 2019, Uncapped raised ~€109M over a seed round, two venture rounds, and the latest debt financing of an undisclosed amount in 2021. Like the previous startups, Uncapped is rising to become one of the next Polish-founded unicorns.
Established: 2015, Warsaw, Poland
Founders: Wojtek Sadowski, Arkadiusz Wasilonek, Konrad Kwiatkowski, Maciej Woźniczko, Maciej Zając, Patryk Kabaj
About: Packhelp is an online platform that simplifies creating and managing fully custom-branded packaging. With solutions for both small and mid-market companies, Packhelp offers a wide range of packaging products and delivery options to customers worldwide.
Highlight: In 2021, Packhelp raised €40M Series B led by InfraVia Capital Partners. The total funding received so far reaches ~€53M. The solution has been used by over 50 000 companies, including H&M, T-Mobile, Bolt, Google, or L’Oreal.
Established: 2013, San Francisco, US (Polish-founded, office in Szczecin, Poland)
Founders: Tytus Golas, Marcin Wiktor
About: Tidio provides small and medium businesses worldwide with a live-chat app powered by chatbot solutions to serve their clients efficiently.
Highlight: Tidio raised ~€25M over three rounds up to date. In 2022, the startup secured most of its funds, ~€23M, in a Series B round led by PeakSpan Capital. The solution can be integrated with common apps and platforms, like Shopify, WordPress, or Google Analytics.
Established: 2019, London, UK (Polish-founded, office in Warsaw, Poland)
Founders: Piotr Smolen, Daniel Wartolowski, Maciej Artur Noga
About: Symmetrical.ai is an innovative payroll solution that simplifies the payroll process and automates onboarding to reduce human error and increase efficiency. Providing real-time, daily, weekly, and monthly payout options helps companies scale up quickly while eliminating time constraints and complexity associated with traditional payroll systems.
Highlight: In 2022, Symmetrical.ai secured a Series A round of ~€17M led by Target Global, adding to the total amount of funding of ~€24M. The startup operates in the UK and Poland and plans to expand to other EU countries.
WorkTrips (formerly Hotailors)
Established: 2016, Warsaw, Poland
Founders: Filip Błoch, Maciej Stopierzynski, Michał Szeksztełło
About: WorkTrips is an AI-powered enterprise travel management solution that offers access to real-time offers from millions of hotels and transportation options worldwide. Its reporting, integrations, and analytics features enable companies to control their travel policy, reduce spending, and increase efficiency.
Highlight: WorkTrip has secured a corporate round of €23M in 2022, led by DialCom24. The startup cooperates with Amadeus, Microsoft, Google Campus Warsaw, Kiwi.com, Mastercard, and others.
You may view more notable Polish startups, including health tech startup Infermedica (funding ~€41M), bio tech solution Proteon Pharmaceuticals (€20M), e-Commerce Cosmose (~€25M), deep tech Synerise (~€21M), robotic solution Nomagic (~€20M), and others featured in our V4 AI startups mapping.
Note: The list features the reporter’s selection of some of the most notable Polish startup ecosystem players, focusing on covering various industries.