Start-Up Culture Reshapes Prospects of Innovation
Poland is in a fiscal upswing. And as its people prosper, so do the prospects for its entrepreneurs, and their ideas. As an economy flourishes, the priorities no-longer orient to sustenance, nor to aspire towards one’s wealthier neighbours, but to create something on one’s own.
And as 150,000 young Poles graduate from their nearly 450 institutions of higher education, they seek a path of actual promise. But whether that path takes them through one of the countless companies is yet to be seen. There are those embracing Poland’s tech, and management graduates; from up in Gdansk, to down in Krakow.
There are of course, those who choose to Lone Wolf their path to success – some of whom do triumph. Worldwide, Polish-borne tech claims to fame include Allegro, an Amazon-cum-eBay eTailer, and BLIK, a tech journalist-revered ePayment system, whose workings rival the giants of Google and Apple pay products in the region.
Formulas to success are no coincidence, and success stories much like this signal more than Polish work-ethic and good fortune – they are the spores of a flourishing tech culture. And with the right cultivation, companies can expect world-class talent, combined with a resounding entrepreneurial and problem-solving culture.
The likes of tech giants such as Apple recently reporting less-than perfect revenue projections, since blamed on a slowing Chinese Market, are signals resounding across Silicon Valley – that innovations, brought on through adept talent have begun to stagnate. Large players, have taken to the New European markets in search for this much-needed talent, grooming and championing a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Warsaw, the economic nucleus of Poland, attracts a lion’s share of Poland’s €175 billion FDI in 2018, according to Polish Investment and Trade Agency – PFR Group. Its historically blue-collar Praga district, once famed for its red-brick factories, is a hotbed of start-ups and incubators quickly gentrifying what was once the underdog quarter of the Capital.
Today, it is home to one of 6 Google Start-up Campuses worldwide (the others; London, Madrid, Sao Paolo, Seoul, and Tel Aviv). Situated in what was once the famed Koneser vodka factory, the site on the right bank of the Vistula paints an enchanting metaphor of Poland’s economic transformation. It’s a pivot from saturated stereotypes – to sobering success story.
The Google Lab fosters what is an increasingly maturing culture of Startups across Poland by hosting seminars on attaining funding, VC pitches, management, amongst other aspects. It also however exports the now-common ‘flexi-office’. With open beer taps, video games, bean bags chairs, and vast spaces, users are encouraged to subscribe to entice themselves to the ‘collaborative’ culture born from these open spaces – Polish aspirants have been enthusiastic.
Name brands of Co-Working Spaces such as WeWork, and Google Labs have been tapping in – with reasonable success – into the famed ‘low-overhead, high-functioning’ office spaces across Warsaw. These facilities offer start-ups with central locations boating top-of-the-line equipment and amenities, in a shared office space. And despite lower comparatively lower staffing overheads in Poland in-general, PLN 1250 (350 USD) monthly starting rates of standard WeWork Lab memberships are beginning to rival those of New York and Shanghai locations (550 USD), surpassed only marginally by WeWork’s London membership rates (700 USD).
Owing to the popularity of co-working spaces, alternatives have begun to spring across Warsaw, as well as Poland’s other major cities. Poznan, a business hub equidistant to Warsaw and Berlin, has experienced a renaissance in shared workplaces. Many of these have taken advantage of the city’s office building boom, with one, Plus Jeden nestled in a brand-new block located a stone’s throw from the heritage-listed mayor’s office in the city’s Old Town Precinct.
In a near-cheeky nod to Google Labs in Warsaw, Hive61 in Poznan has situated itself in what was a famed brewery – hosting info sessions and business seminars for like-minded entrepreneurs in the city. A rival of Warsaw, Poznan places itself in a strong position to attract much of the same calibre of talent with lower business overheads, and shorter travel distances to its European partners.
Collaboration is of course not a question of rivalry, but of sharing. And with the likes of Hive61, and Plus Jeden, the embrace of sharing is taken by new generations of Polish IT professionals. A nation beloved for determination is being embraced by some of the world’s technological goliaths – because of promise. And much like the country sheds it’s industrial past, its symbolic transformations from breweries and distilleries, to tech incubators begin to change global perceptions too.
Calculated decisions made by Google have helped the world recognise Poland’s e-culture, and its potential for pure breeds of tech talent. Such a culture brings more than ideas to our online buffet – it brings value, to companies, and value to the world.