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These Are the Central and Eastern European Soonicorns of 2023

Startups to watch in 2023

2022 was another strong year for unicorn creation in Central and Eastern Europe. It saw the rise of eight new unicorns in the wider CEE region, moving the total to 44. Startups with $1B+ valuations included Bulgarian fintech Payhawk, Czech enterprise software company Productboard, and Croatian automaker Rimac Automobili. 

Despite the economic downturn, a total of €5.3B VC money flooded in the region, making it one the fastest growing regions for VC funding in Europe.

What is in the cards for 2023? The Recursive scouted for the tech startups to watch in 2023, as they have the biggest chances to become the next unicorns of Central and Eastern Europe. 

We selected startups with an estimated valuation between $200-950M, the last funding year being at least 2017, and with headquarters or founding place in Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Western Balkan countries, The Czech Republic, or Poland. Valuations estimates are provided by Dealroom, unless otherwise indicated.

 

CEE startups to watch in 2023

Soonicorns from Bulgaria

In 2021, fintech startup Payhawk, which was on our previous soonicorns listbecame the first unicorn originating from Bulgaria. Four years after founding, the company raised a $100M round in March 2022, extending its previous historic Series B. Another Bulgarian private tech company rumored to have a valuation of over $1B is SiteGround, the web hosting company founded in 2004. The rest of startups to watch in 2023 follows the candidate list from last year.

 

Name: Dynamo Software

Founders: Dilyan Pavlov

Headquarters: Massachusetts, US

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: Asset management and reporting software for alternative assets.

Total funding: N/A

Estimated valuation: $900M

Last round: Strategic growth investment in 2021, undisclosed amount

 

Name: Hyperscience

Founders: Krasimir Marinov, Peter Brodsky, Vladimir Tzankov

Headquarters: New York, US

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: Data automation technology to improve operational efficiency.

Total funding: $289M

Estimated valuation: $400—600M

Last round: $100M Series E in December 2021


Name: Quantive (former Gtmhub)

Founders: Ivan Osmak, Jordan Angelov, Radoslav Georgiev, Bo Pedersen

Headquarters: Colorado, US

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: A software and services company offering a data-drive OKR platform where companies can track their most important metrics to improve decision making.

Total funding: $160.6M

Estimated valuation: $480—720M

Last round: $120M Series C in December 2021

 

Name: Insurify

Founders: Snejina Zacharia

Headquarters: Massachusetts, US

Industry: Financial Services, Insurance

Solution: Virtual insurance platform for auto, home, and life insurance using AI and predictive analytics.

Total funding: $130M

Estimated valuation: $400—600M

Last round: $100M Series B in 2021

 

Soonicorns from Romania

Over the years, Romania has produced two unicorns: publicly listed RPA company UiPath, and privately owned blockchain and crypto startup MultiversX (formerly Elrond). Privately owned e-commerce giant eMAG is also valued at over €1B+. Among the potential unicorn startups to watch in 2023, we see the rise of companies aiming to digitize and modernize the financial services system.

 

Name: Bitdefender

Founders: Florin Talpeș

Headquarters: Bucharest, Romania

Industry: Cybersecurity

Solution: Cybersecurity solutions for end users and businesses.

Total funding: $187M

Estimated valuation: $600M

Last round: $180M, secondary market, 2017

 

Name: ZoidPay

Founders: Eduard Oneci, Vasile Burcin

Headquarters: Nicosia, Cyprus

Industry: Fintech, Crypto

Solution: A crypto liquidity platform that enables instant card issuance for purchases at any merchant.

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Total funding: $75M

Estimated valuation: $300—450M

Last round: $75M late VC series in November 2022

 

Name: FintechOS

Founders: Sergiu Negut, Teo Blidarus 

Headquarters: London, UK

Industry: Financial services

Solution: Low-code solutions for the digital transformation of the finance industry.

Total funding: $81.3M

Estimated valuation: $281M

Last round: $60M Series B in 2021.

 

Name: MaintainX

Founders: Chris Turlica, Nick Haase 

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: Tools for preventive maintenance and control of daily business operations.

Total funding: $42.8M

Estimated valuation: $156—234M

Last round: $39M Series B in 2021

 

Soonicorns from Greece

So far, the accelerating Greek tech startup ecosystem has produced two unicorns: learning certification company PeopleCert and neobank Viva Wallet, which recently completed its partial acquisition by JP Morgan. 

In 2022, automotive leasing company FlexCar made one step further towards becoming the next unicorn company from Greece, after a €210M VC round. An industry fellow company, Spotawheel, joined the ranks with a €100M growth equity round.

 

Name: FlexCar

Founders: Konstantinos Davaris, George Desyllas

Headquarters: Athens, Greece

Industry: Automotive

Solution: Automotive leasing solutions that make car ownership flexible and minimize advance payments.

Total funding: $326M

Estimated valuation: $924M—1.4B

Last round: €210M late VC round in 2022

 

Name: Blueground

Founders: Alex Chatzieleftheriou, Penny Papakonstantinou, Alexis Maragkos, Andreas Nezeriti

Headquarters: New York, US

Industry: Real estate

Solution: Proptech rental company offering a platform for booking flexible stays.

Total funding: $251M

Estimated valuation: $560—840M

Last round: Undisclosed late VC round in November 2022

 

Name: Spotawheel

Founders: Charis Arvanitis, Kiriakos Agadakos 

Headquarters: Néa Ionía, Greece

Industry: Automotive

Solution: Dealership platform for used cars.

Total funding: $138M

Estimated valuation: N/A

Last round: €100M growth equity VC stage in April 2022

 

Name: Hellas Direct

Founders: Alexis Pantazis, Emilios Markou

Headquarters: Maroussi, Greece

Industry: Financial services

Solution: Offers car, motorcycle, and home insurance solutions.

Total funding: $50.9M

Estimated valuation: $141-211M

Last round: €32M late VC round in 2021


Sonicorns from Western Balkans

In 2022, Western Balkan countries welcomed a new unicorn – Croatian automotive company Rimac Automobili, after raising a €500M Series D round. Rimac thus became the second company with a >$1B valuation in Croatia after communication software company Infobip.

Other success stories in the region include Serbian gaming company Nordeus$378 million acquisition in 2021. Several Croatian and Serbian companies raised further rounds and 2022 and made our list of startups to watch in 2023 for unicorn valuations.

 

Name: HTEC Group

Founders: Aleksandar Čabrilo, Dusan Kosic

Headquarters: California, US; founding location – Serbia

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: Consulting, software engineering and digital product development services.

Total funding: $140M

Estimated valuation: N/A

Last round: $140M initial round at the beginning of 2022

 

Name: Cognism 

Founders: James Isilay, Stjepan Buljat

Headquarters: London, UK; founding location – Croatia

Industry: Enterprise software, Marketing, AI

Solution: Sales intelligence software that uses AI tools to extract sales and recruitment leads from big data.

Total funding: $128M

Estimated valuation: $350—525M

Last round: $87.5M Series C in January 2022

 

Name: Seven Bridges 

Founders: Deniz Kural, Igor Bogicevic; CEO: William Moss

Headquarters: Massachusetts, US; founding location – Serbia

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Industry: Biotechnology

Solution: Specializes in software and data analytics to drive healthcare research.

Total funding: $113M

Estimated valuation: $250M

Last round: $15M closing of a $30M Series C in 2021

 

Name: Fonoa

Founders: Davor Tremac, Filip Sturman, Ivan Ivankovic

Headquarters: Dublin, Ireland; founding location – Croatia

Industry: Enterprise software, Fintech

Solution: Solution for tax automation and compliance for companies to streamline the transactional chain.

Total funding: $85M

Estimated valuation: $240—360M

Last round: $60M Series B in July 2022

 

Name: ReversingLabs

Founders: Mario Vuksan, Tomislav Peričin

Headquarters: Massachusetts, US; founding location – Croatia

Industry: Enterprise Software

Solution: Threat detection solutions for the software supply chain.

Total funding: $81M

Estimated valuation: $224-336M

Last round: €48M Series B in 2021

 

Name: Tenderly

Founders: Andrej Bencic, Miljan Tekic, Bogdan Habic, Nebojsa Urosevic

Headquarters: San Francisco, California; founding location – Serbia

Industry: Enterprise software, Fintech

Solution: An Ethereum Developer Platform for real-time monitoring, alerting, debugging, and simulating of smart contracts.

Total funding: $55.3M

Estimated valuation: $250M

Last round: $40M Series B in March 2022

 

Sonicorns from the Czech Republic

After becoming the first Czech unicorn in 2021, Rohlik Grouo raised a further €220M Series D  this year. 2022 also saw the rise of San-Francisco-based Productboard, after it raised a $125 million Series D. The company’s valuation now sits at $1.725 billion. Logistics provider ShipMonk is also estimated to have a valuation of over $1B, after closing a $290M round in 2020. In January 2021 they raised another $65M growth equity VC round and at the beginning of 2022 they acquired competitor Ruby Has Fulfillment. Several companies with valuations over $500M and recent fundraising rounds could become the country’s next unicorns.

 

Name: Cera

Founders: Dr. Ben Maruthappu, Marek Sacha

Headquarters: London, UK

Industry: Healthcare

Solution: A digital-first home healthcare company offering care, nursing, telehealth and repeat prescriptions.

Total funding: $303M

Estimated valuation: $686M—1B

Last round: £130M in debt and £130M from VCs in August 2022

 

Name: Mews

Founders: Richard Valtr

Headquarters: Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Industry: Enterprise Software, Travel, Fintech

Solution: A SaaS-based property management system that simplifies hotel operations, from reservations to payments and others.

Total funding: $230M

Estimated valuation: $865M

Last round: $185M Series C round in 2022, one of the largest funding rounds in the Czech Republic in 2022

 

Name: Ataccama

Founders: Jan Mrazek, Michal Klaus

Headquarters: Toronto, Canada

Industry: Enterprise Software, Deep tech

Solution: A software company that specializes in solutions for data quality, master data management, and data governance.

Total funding: ~$152M

Estimated valuation: $550M

Last round: $150M growth equity VC in 2022, one of the largest funding rounds in the Czech Republic in 2022

 

Name: Rossum

Founders: Tomas Gogar, Petr Baudis, Tomas Tunys

Headquarters: London, UK

Industry: Enterprise Software, Legal, AI

Solution: A cloud document gateway for automated business communication using AI.

Total funding: $106M

Estimated valuation: $400—600M

Last round: $100M Series A in October 2021

 

Name: Pricefx

Founders: Marcin Cichon, Martin Dr. Wricke

Headquarters: Pfaffenhofen, Germany

Industry: Enterprise Software, Marketing

Solution: A provider of full suite price management and CPQ SaaS solutions.

Total funding: $126M

Estimated valuation: $260—390M

Last round: $65M Series C in 2020

 

Name: MANTA

Founders: Tomas Kratky

Headquarters: New York City, NY

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Industry: Enterprise Software, Big Data

Solution: Offers a central hub of all data flows in the organization.

Total funding: $52.5M

Estimated valuation: $140—210M

Last round: Late VC round in December 2022, following a Series B of $35M in May 2022, one of the largest funding rounds in the Czech Republic in 2022

 

Name: Tatum

Founders: Jiri Kobelka, Samuel Sramko

Headquarters: Miami, Florida

Industry: Fintech, Web3

Solution: Empowers web 3.0 developers to build apps fast.

Total funding: $41.7M

Estimated valuation: $166—249M

Last round: An early VC stage round of $41.5M in October 2022, one of the largest funding rounds in the Czech Republic in 2022

 

Name: DoDo

Founders: Michal Mensik

Headquarters: Prague, Czech Republic

Industry: Logistics, Transportation

Solution: Delivery solutions for businesses of any kind.

Total funding: $66M

Estimated valuation: $264—396M

Last round: €60M Series B in May 2022, one of the largest funding rounds in the Czech Republic in 2022

 

Sonicorns from Poland

The Polish startup ecosystem has vast tech talent and a growing pool of VC funding, key ingredients for breeding future unicorns. So far, healthcare startup DocPlanner is the country’s sole official unicorn. Another private tech company valued at over $1B is e-commerce player Modivo (formerly eobuwie.pl). 2022 saw several Series B to Series D funding rounds, bringing new contenders to the unicorn status.

 

Name: ICEYE

Founders: Rafał Modrzewski, Pekka Laurila

Headquarters: Helsinki, Finland

Industry: Space tech

Solution: Micro-satellites for the capture of images from space. A spin-off from Aalto University.

Total funding: $302M

Estimated valuation: $544—816M

Last round: $136M Series D in February 2022

 

Name: Brainly

Founders: Michał Borkowski, Tomasz Kraus, Łukasz Haluch

Headquarters: Krakow, Poland

Industry: Education

Solution: The world’s largest peer-to-peer learning community for students, parents and teachers.

Total funding: $152M

Estimated valuation: $320—480M

Last round: $80M Series D in 2020

 

Name: Uncapped

Founders: Piotr Pisarz 

Headquarters: London, UK

Industry: Fintech

Solution: A revenue-based finance provider, which allows founders to raise growth capital without giving up control of their business.

Total funding: $117M

Estimated valuation: $320—480M

Last round: Support program from Tech Nation and a Series B of $80M in 2021

 

Name: Booksy

Founders: Konrad Howard, Stefan Batory

Headquarters: San Francisco, California

Industry: SaaS, e-commerce

Solution: A beauty marketplace for finding, scheduling, and managing appointments, enabled by a SaaS mobile app.

Total funding: 148M

Estimated valuation: €255—382M

Last round: $70M Series C in January 2021

 

Name: Ramp

Founders: Przemek Kowalczyk, Szymon Sypniewicz

Headquarters: London, UK

Industry: Fintech, Web 3.0

Solution: A non-custodial fiat-crypto exchange infrastructure that makes it easy for users to jump on and off of Web3 from anywhere.

Total funding: €123M

Estimated valuation: €255—382M

Last round: $70M Series B in November 2022

 

Name: Packhelp

Founders: Wojtek Sadowski, Patryk Kabaj, Konrad Kwiatkowski, Arkadiusz Wasilonek

Headquarters: Warsaw, Poland

Industry: Packaging, Retail

Solution: Online marketplace that simplifies ordering and management of branded packaging.

Total funding: $56.3M

Estimated valuation: $176—264M

Last round: €40M Series B in 2021

 

Name: Silent Eight

Founders: Martin Markiewicz, Julia Markiewicz

Headquarters: Singapore, Singapore

Industry: Fintech, AI, Legal

Solution: Explainable AI that enables you to solve more screening alerts in less time and with greater accuracy

Total funding: $55M

Estimated valuation: $160—240M

Last round: $40M Series B in March 2022

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https://therecursive.com/author/antoanelaionita/

Antoanela is a Deputy Editor at The Recursive, where she writes about climate tech, blockchain, and other high-impact innovations in Southeast Europe. She loves complex topics and translating geek to chic. Her holy grail is telling stories that have great potential for social and environmental impact. Prior to becoming a full-time journalist, she worked in various sustainability roles.
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