All hands on deck, that is to say – what are the perspectives of fast development a young startup project

Where am I?

This question is very often overlooked, especially in young startup projects. As so often in a startup. A lot is happening - we all do everything. The excitement of the first successes in product development or even commercial successes somehow enslaves and warrants the attention of many "captains" of new projects. Unfortunately, as it later turns out it is a fateful - at some stage the startup will always be put in jeopardy. It will sometimes even lead to the collapse of the company, which after all was supposed to be so good.

So, in order to avoid the above-mentioned trouble, it is fair to ask yourself (and your colleagues) - at what stage my startup is? Have we closed the stage of creating an absolutely basic, but saleable version yet? (called MVP. Minimum viable product). Or maybe we have already proved, at least at the micro level that the product is so good that it sells at even minimum effort (POC called. Proof of concept). Or are we already selling and generating the so called tractions in our startup and we need both financial (investment) and expertise (mentor, coach, etc.) help? No matter what stage of development of our project is - one thing is worth emphasising strongly - no matter how much experience in conducting innovative projects we have, the answer to the question "have we got anyone to learn from?" will be crucial for the development of our company; “do we have anyone to ask for advice in a difficult situation, someone who would expound at length, both positively and negatively on our project. An institution of a mentor dedicated to our project is still underappreciated in Poland it is something that both in Europe and especially in the United States is becoming a kind of sine qui non condition of the development of a startup – namely the so called the Board of Advisors, which in Poland is still in its infancy. However, let us not delude ourselves- the sooner we can find better, more experienced advisors, the better for us and for our startup. The practice knows no exceptions to this rule.

Poland, the first bastion of resistance

Once you have decided to run a project it is worth asking in what environment - the so-called. Ecosystem - it will be carried out. This can be especially helpful at the beginning when the project is in the first phase of the commercialization of the idea. Better developed startups can provide considerable assistance, both in terms of financial - technical matters, and networking. That's why places focused primarily on the so-called community creation that is creating social networking of a startup are becoming so popular among young companies. At the country level, these are essentially science and technology parks, often subsidized by provincial or municipal authorities. A network of Academic Business Incubators (50 in Poland), which are primarily dedicated to projects which do not yet have legal identity (which is at the stage POC) are nationwide.

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AIP foundation dedicated nationwide network of 10 businesses to startups which are already subject to the commercial law hubs - Business Links located in major Polish cities, among others, Poznan, Krakow, Lublin, Lodz and Warsaw. As for a regional dimension, in almost every major Polish city - and here we can only mention the Hub Rauma Krakow, Warsaw Waw.ac or the Google campus - you can find a place where the local community is developing startups. No matter which place you choose for the development of your startup, all these places are designed primarily to create a community which, based on mutual exchange of knowledge and cooperation, is trying to develop innovative projects.

Grants and subsidies from the Polish Agency for Enterprise Development may constitute a very considerable support for national project, especially in financial term. It should, however, be noted that the so-called " new perspective " of grant applications for the European Union funds, covering the period of 2015 -20 has only been launched, so in many cases, thus, in many cases, we still lack executive documents and specific conditions of the competition.

That is why it is highly advisable to constantly check the Internet website of PARP on which all events are announced. When it comes to national commercial success, we can more and more often find globally the so called vertical accelerators of a startup - that is organizations providing assistance for the startup of a specific industry or focusing on a specific recipient. The capital D-Raft designed to combine innovative startup projects with the needs of large corporations may be an example of the latter.

If we believe that our startup needs an investor, the spectrum of acquisition of the so called seed capital (that is the first funds for the project) is quite large. The leaders are the funds derived from a bygone EU perspective and measure 3.1. Moreover, you will find dozens venture funds (e.g. In Giza, Experior or MCI) on Polish market. All kinds of professional events (Wolves Summit, InfoShare, and Bitspiration) and organizations associating investment entities such as PSIK (Polish Private Equity Association) will help you find an investor.

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Go global, meaning where?

Many Polish CEOs, who have already fulfilled their global aspirations, emphasize that the domestic market is a kind of testing ground for a startup. Obviously, not in terms of the quality of the project - Polish consumers are equally, if not more demanding than potential customers from Western Europe or the United States. However, in the perspective of testing a business model, many people consider Poland as an excellent test market.

However, after a shorter or a longer test, there inevitably comes a point where a startup is challenged internationally. This, in turn, always entail high costs - visits to various countries, tickets, fairs, conferences at which we are actively looking for business partners or simply customers - definitely undermine the budget of any developing project.

The Go Global program - implemented by the National Centre for Research and Development (NCRD) supports and provides assistance in this area. This program - Go Global - assumes a grant in the amount of 150 thousand PLN with the beneficiary's own contribution of 25 thousand. The entire sum must be spent on verification of the strategy to enter predetermined foreign markets (and some of the verification activities may be just the previously mentioned international fairs and professional conferences, etc.).

However the NCBiR program is not the only option of assistance in an international development. If the United Kingdom is within our scope of interest, a lot of help can be obtained from the UKTI (United Kingdom Trade and Investment ), which is a British state-owned entity to promote and facilitate Polish companies in the so-called soft landing on British market. is a lot of help can provide us with? landing soft on the English market. And it is UKTI that virtually free of charge makes it possible for us to obtain information on where in the UK to run our startup the UK (this includes market analysis, assistance in legal matters, logistics and networking). In addition, the program GEP (Global Entrepreneurship Program), which provides opportunities for investment in innovative projects is a part of the activities carried out by the UKTI.

Great Britain is certainly not the only market we would wish to develop our startup. In most instances, on each market, at the Polish Embassy, there is a special department responsible for trade and investment, which can often be very helpful, especially in networking

There are many options for developing new innovative projects. It is important to remember that that it is not the project itself but most of all its results (sales, customers) really make investors interested in our project and seek contact with us and not the other way round.

Marcin Kozłowski
– Global Partner w Vintom; skoncentrowany przede wszystkim na działaniach z zakresu global business development oraz go to market strategy.
Przez niespełna dwa lata pracował jako Global Manager w Business Link – sieci innowacyjnych hubów biznesu. Zarządzał czterema globalnymi programami soft - landingowymi (programy w Dolinie Krzemowej, Londynie, Szanghaju i Tel Avivie), współpracując z prawie 100 polskimi innowacyjnymi projektami.
Jest członkiem prestiżowego Tech London Advocates. Współpracuje m.in. z Google Campus (Londyn, Mountain View, Warszawa), Techstars London, US Market Access Center, D-Lab by Kimberly Clark, Co-Way (Chiny), Terra VC (Izrael) oraz wieloma innymi.
Był też Project Managerem programu Erasmus dla Młodych Przedsiębiorców.
Od prawie dekady związany z zarządzaniem projektami zarówno w spółkach sektora prywatnego, jak i państwowego. Przez trzy lata pracował jako dziennikarz i wydawca programów w jednej z ogólnopolskich telewizji. Doktorant Polskiej Akademii Nauk (ekonomia innowacji). Tytuł Master of Arts in Economics uzyskał na Lancaster University (UK).
Publikuje między innymi w Poland China Business Magazine. Biega ultramaratony górskie.



This article was written under “Get Inspired - entrepreneurship, startup, cooperation”
project co-financed by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs
as part of the "Cooperation in the field of public diplomacy 2015" contest.