firma.de loves founders no matter where they come from. That’s why we are proud to announce our partnership with the Polish Tech Night! Polish Tech Night is an annual event that promotes cooperation between the German and Polish startup industries in terms of investments, financing, knowledge sharing, and the development of common product and services.
The mission of the Polish Tech Night is to bring the neighbouring startup scenes closer together by helping them navigate their differences and commonalities.
Since its inception, the night continues to grow in popularity as investors more and more look to Poland for new and innovative ideas.
We interviewed one of the founders of Polish Berlin Tech, Ula Lachowicz and Berlin-based Polish tech entrepreneur, Tobias Szarowicz, to get the lowdown on the night as well as their unique perspectives of the German and Polish startup scenes.
What inspired the Polish Tech Night?
Ula Lachowicz, Polish Berlin Tech: Polish developers have a great reputation in Berlin, thanks to their skills and engagement. However, there are amazing Polish startups struggling to gain visibility and presence in Germany because they lack the connections, sales skills or the courage to approach international investors.
On the other hand, German investors were seeking new innovative solutions to invest in and more and more looked to the Polish market. But, they didn’t know how to find such projects because of how scattered the tech scene is in Poland.
The main idea of Polish Tech Night is to promote Polish startups in Berlin and to bridge the two tech hubs that are so close to each other but at the same time disconnected.
What is the vision of the Polish Tech Night?
Ula: We invite Polish startups and German investors to show opportunities and mutual benefits of the German-Polish cooperation, and to share the experience we’ve already gained in this area.
The goal of the first Polish Tech Night in 2016 was to discuss differences and similarities between the Polish and Berlin startup scenes. With each and every new edition we find more links between these two neighbouring startup scenes and open new opportunities for cooperation.
Before the very first event, we had to convince German investors to come over and listen to pitches from Polish startups. After 2 years we have seen a huge change – now German investors keep asking us when the next edition of Polish Tech Night will take place. And, that’s our biggest success.
What are the main differences between the Polish and German startup scenes?
Ula: Germany has a stable economy and tech industry so the whole ecosystem of accelerators, investors and business organizations is much bigger. Thus, an average German startup has a higher chance to find an investment. That being said, right now the local market is crowded and German investors look at other countries to find fresh ideas.
The Polish startup scene is younger and known for good technology, but businesswise it has a long way to go.
The available VC and private capital are lower, and many Polish startups apply for government or European funds.
Combining Polish creativity with German capital and business experience provides huge opportunities for international growth.
What are the challenges that Polish founders face starting companies in Berlin (and greater Germany)?
Ula: Germans have a different business approach than Poles. The decision process from the first arrangements to signing the contract is much longer in Germany than it is in Poland. Polish startups have to be ready for a longer pipeline that can last up to one year. And, sometimes that can be a shock.
Tobias Szarowicz, YOBO: German corporates work slowly but surely. The good thing is, however, once you have a deal with a corporate from Germany you will have a very loyal customer.
As a founder yourself, what has been the most rewarding part of starting a company in Berlin?
Tobias: Berlin is great for startups. There is so much on offer, people and communities who can help you with whatever you are doing. But, it’s also very easy to lose focus in this city. Every single day you can meet new people, go to events and get new ideas. I think keeping focus can be challenging in Berlin, especially when you are not used to living in a place with countless offerings.
My own startup (YOBO app) is an artificial intelligence which can predict what places you personally might like in a city. So it’s basically an attempt to deal with all those different and ever-changing offers in big cities like Berlin.
For me personally, the most rewarding thing has been seeing people actually using my app. I check our statistics mostly at night and it’s a great feeling to see that the product you have built is being used by real people. And when you are sitting in the metro and someone next to you is actually using your app right in front of your eyes, it’ been the most rewarding experience so far.
What obstacles have you had to overcome?
Tobias: Too many. I mean the whole idea of founding a startup is to attempt to overcome a huge obstacle – your users’ problem. So I think having a startup is all about dealing with obstacles. From convincing users, customers, investors or journalists, to solving product and personal issues. When you overcome one obstacle, the next one is already waiting for you. But, that is also the fuel that keeps your startup alive, so don’t be afraid of obstacles.
What should people expect if they attend the Polish Tech Night?
Ula: The upcoming 4th edition of Polish Tech Night on September 27th will feature selected Polish startups pitching their projects in front of German investors and the Berlin tech community. There will be also a fireside chat on VC rounds and alternative ways of raising funds. The day before the main event we invite Polish startups to attend dedicated workshops on fundraising on blockchain (by Agnieszka Sarnecka, Neufund), on communication strategy (by Piabo), and much more.
To register for workshops and for the main event please go to https://polishtechnight.com/
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