I’ve been updating my Quora list of hottest Polish startups since 2011 and frankly this became a bit too much work for me to keep it fresh and stay unbiased. So I decided to change my approach this year and come up with a fully biased, personal list of my favorite startups that I also believe have a chance to become some of the hottest companies in the world in the coming years.
Even though the list is subjective, I did use some criteria to filter out companies. I’m only listing:
- private companies that are still controlled by their founders, i.e. not bought out by private equity firms,
- companies that are either based in Poland or have a strong connection to Poland, e.g. a mix of Polish founder, Polish investors or majority of staff based in Poland,
- tech companies with a scalable product and a business model focused on distributing this product, i.e. not service companies, infrastructure companies, software houses or agencies,
- companies with software as a key component of their product, so excluding new materials, biotech and most hardware startups, except those where scaling is dependent at least partly on software,
- only companies operating globally or at least in other markets than Poland,
- no token, NFT and crypto stuff.
Nothing against public companies, blockchain or non-software industries, but I’m pretty ignorant regarding anything but software (which this article is focused on) and gamedev (check out my Map of Polish Game Industry for that), so here you are.
- eObuwie — an e-commerce platform for shoes, known for its customer service and superior tech — the company became a unicorn in 2021 by accepting ~$150M USD from Softbank on a ~1.5B valuation
- Docplanner — a booking platform and management software provider for doctors. Raised ~$140M USD from Enern, One Peak Partners, Target Global, Goldman Sachs, EBRD and others
Yes, it’s an awful name for the future unicorns. But, it’s also well understood so it does the work. Listing the future Polish unicorns and when I say “future” I mean this or next year. Here we go!
- Brainly — an online learning platform where students and parents get homework and study help from peers and experts. Raised ~$150M USD from Point Nine Capital, Runa, Manta Ray, Learn Capital, General Catalyst and others
- Booksy — an online platform for finding and booking beauty and wellness appointments. Raised $120M from Inovo, Enern, Manta Ray, Piton, OpenOcean and others
- ICEYE — empowers others to make better decisions in B2B and B2G industries by providing access to timely and reliable satellite imagery. Raised ~$152M USD from OTB, True Ventures, Draper Associates, EIF & co
- Uncapped — a provider of revenue-based financing that enables founders to raise growth capital without interest or equity. London-based but co-founder Piotr Pisarz is Polish and part of the team is based in Warsaw. Raised $80M USD from GFC, White Star, Mouro, All Iron and Seedcamp
- Ramp — crypto purchases as a simple SDK built for developers. Raised $60M+ from Balderton, NFX, Firstminute, Seedcamp, MakerDAO and angels.
- Packhelp — an online platform for creating and ordering custom-branded packaging in a web browser; raised $60M from investors like InfraVia Growth, Portfolion, Market One, Profounders, Speedinvest and White Star
The Rising Stars
Most of these companies already raised their seed and series A funding, and are good unicorn candidates for the next 2–3 years.
- tylko — a D2C furniture brand offering high-quality, perfectly fitting shelving that can be ordered in the easiest way possible. Raised $33M from TDJ Pitango, Experior, Evli Growth Partners, G+J Digital Ventures
- eStoreMedia — Digital Shelf Automation, raised $30M from Kennet Partners and Digital+ Partners
- Codility — a SaaS platform that helps tech recruiters and hiring managers engage, recruit, and train stronger engineers, faster. Raised $22M from Seedcamp, Oxx and Kennet Partners
- Estimote — a technology start-up, building a sensor-based Operating System for the physical world. Raised $30M from Y Combinator, Innovation Nest, Flashpoint, Commerce Ventures, Javelin, Box Group, Digital Garage, Homebrew and others.
- Cosmose — a data analytics platform that predicts consumers’ offline shopping behaviors. Raised $27M from Founders Factory, Pitango, Experior, OTB and Tiga Investments.
- Spacelift — an operator of a terraforming platform used to manage any cloud, infrastructure, or service. Raised $23.5M from Insight Partners, Inovo, Hoxton and Blossom Capital.
- Vue Storefront — a lighting fast frontend for headless commerce funded by Creandum, earlybird, Y Combinator, Paua Ventures, SMOK Ventures and Movens for a total of $19M USD
- infermedica — a leading digital health company specialized in AI-powered solutions for preliminary diagnosis and patient triage. Raised $15M from Inovo, Heal Capital, DreamIt Ventures, EBRD and Karma Ventures
- Sunroof — a start-up developing fully solar 2-in-1 roofs and façades as well as solutions to support smart energy management. Raised $8M USD from Inovo, SMOK Ventures and others
- Telemedico — a tele-medicine startup revolutionizing healthcare services for insurance and medical companies. Raised $7.4M USD from PKO VC, Adamed, Flashpoint, Black Pearls and UNIQA
- Omnipack — providing full-stack fulfillment for ecommerce focused on the DACH market, similar to US-based unicorns Shipbob and Shipmonk; raised $6M USD from private investors, Nunatak Capital and SMOK Ventures
- Airly — an internet company that specializes in providing hyper-local data about air pollution. Raised $6.4M from Firstminute, Giant Ventures, Bitspiration Booster, Richard Branson & angels
- Stethome — AI-powered healthcare. Automatic and remote lung and heart screening. Raised $6.7M from SpeedUp, Movens, TDJ Pitango, Manta Ray, RST and others.
- InvoiceOcean — the only bootstrapped company that made it here, an online invoicing software serving over 100k customers in Europe.
- Perfect Gym — club management software with>1M clients and more than 1000 clubs in 50 countries. Raised $6.4M from Innovation Nest, DaftCode, 3TS Capital Partners and Trigon TFI.
- Autenti — Polish DocuSign competitor, which raised $6.2M from Black Pearls, Innovation Nest, PKO BP, Alior and BNP Paribas
- AirHelp — helps air passengers get compensation from airlines when their flight gets canceled, delayed, or overbooked. Backed by Khosla Ventures, New Europe Ventures, raised $12.2M.
The New Kids on The Block
This is the most subjective list of all as it includes companies which usually only raised a pre-seed / seed rounds, but for some reason I believe they will build something huge either because of the founders’ potential, the market or early traction and usually a combination of the three.
- Talent Alpha — a human cloud platform that connects global enterprises with European software houses, offering tech talent as a service. Raised $5M from Aper Ventures.
- inSTREAMLY — an automated streamer management platform which brings brands and streamers together. Raised $1.6M from SMOK, Supernode Global, Colopl Next & PKO VC
- Authologic — a system that helps businesses in checking the identity of their clients online. Raised ~$1.5M from Y Combinator, SMOK Ventures and angel investors
- Superbright — a bootstrapped VR game studio, partner of Oculus with InDeath Unchained franchise.
- Tidio — a fast-growing live chat application. Raised $2M from Inovo and bValue.
- MX Labs — real-time health diagnostics in your pocket, authors of Heart Monitor app. Backed by SMOK, Verge HealthTech Fund and angels.
- Pilot — helps companies pay remote team members. We take care of payroll, benefits, compliance and onboarding for international teams. Backed by Y Combinator and angel investors.
- Hiro — home Insurance for smart people. Sounds boring but it’s not when you look under the hood. Raised $2.5M from Kogito and via crowdfunding.
- Stonly — a software company that helps improve user satisfaction, activation, and retention while reducing support costs. HQ in France but most of the team and co-founders are in Cracow. Raised $3.5M from Accel and angels.
- Saleor — open-source ecommerce platform. Raised $2.5M from Cherry Ventures and angels
- edrone — nothing to do with drones, it’s an autonomous e-commerce CRM platform that provides advanced marketing automation solutions. Raised $6M from NCBiR and Portfolion.
- enso — formerly Luna, is a WYSIWYG data processing language. Backed by Kima Ventures, Black Pearls and Passion Capital.
- Nomagic — smart pick and place robotic solutions for order fulfillment. Raised $8.6M from Hoxton, Khosla Ventures, Manta Ray and DN Capital.
- Formation.fi — bringing cross-chain risk parity smart farming to the world of decentralized finance. Raised $4.5M from undisclosed top US-based VC.
If you believe a notable company that matches the criteria set at the beginning of the article is missing, feel free to ping me under this thread with a one sentence explanation that includes a high level pitch and amount of funding raised.
Hope you enjoyed the list. If you want to be updated about the most recent startup news in Poland and CEE reagion, follow me on Twitter @michuk where I constantly share funding news and other insights.
At SMOK Ventures I invest in top Polish pre-seed and seed stage software startups. If you know of an amazing founder working on something new, please send them this FAQ and they’ll know what to do.