Almost 300 startups from Central and Eastern Europe applied to the Bridge to MassChallenge Warsaw acceleration program. Only 23 made it to the finals. On Thursday, January 18th, during the Demo Day summarizing the first stage of the program, the Top 10 were announced. This February, they will fight in Boston for international success.
23 companies from 12 countries from Central and Eastern Europe and Israel participated in the pilot, CEE focused program of MassChallenge – one of the world’s largest startup accelerators. For four days, young visionary entrepreneurs worked with international experts specializing in various fields of business, representatives of VC funds and global corporations, as well as major partners of Bridge to MassChallenge Warsaw – PKO Bank Polski, Visa and PGE Nowa Energia. Their goal – to develop an expansion strategy to launch their products and services into new markets.
“One of the key foundations of PKO Bank Polski’s strategy is that our institution should be an open technological platform capable of cooperating with the startup industry. Cooperation with MassChallenge complements our previous activities for the development of an ecosystem for young technological companies in Poland, thus expanding our access to knowledge about innovative fintech solutions. After full implementation of the project, Poland will have the largest accelerator for startups in the European Union, and will therefore enhance both the attractiveness of our country for foreign entrepreneurs and the innovativeness of the Polish economy,” emphasized Zbigniew Jagiełło, President of PKO Bank Polski.
“Innovation is one of the pillars of PGE Group’s business strategy, as we place great emphasis on the development of new business areas. We also assign particular importance to the dynamically developing startup market. As the leader of the energy sector in Poland, we can offer these companies invaluable support, not only in financial terms, but above all knowhow and infrastructural assistance. Cooperation with MassChallange is of great value to us and it is an opportunity for fruitful partnership, which will bring tangible benefits to all parties involved in this project,” says Henryk Baranowski, President of PGE Polska Grupa Energetyczna, parent company of PGE Nowa Energia.
Over the four days of the intense boot camp, young entrepreneurs from CEE had at their disposal more than 40 experts who served them as mentors. More than 160 individual mentoring sessions took place, startup founders also partook in a numerous workshops and discussion panels dealing with matters such as growth financing and international expansion, sales in new markets, or legal and tax aspects related to conquering foreign markets. Among the mentors ready to answer any question, representatives of supporting partners of the program, Deloitte and K&L Gates, were also present.
“We are looking forward to going to Boston, so we can find prospective investors and scale up our business. Being here in Warsaw means a lot to us, because we partnered up with some of the biggest players, such as PKO Bank Polski, PGE Nowa Energia or VISA. These companies can help us to get in touch with people with whom otherwise it would be difficult to connect,” said Petr Bořuta of the Czech startup Spaceflow, one of the companies that will fight in Boston for international investors.
Amongst the guests who addressed the young entrepreneurs by stressing the significance of startups for the economy and their role in overcoming social and economic challenges were Paul W. Jones, US Ambassador to Poland, Jadwiga Emilewicz, Minister of Entrepreneurship and Technology, and Zbigniew Jagiełło, President of PKO Bank Polski.
“Many young people who are not afraid to bring their bold visions into life took part in the Bridge to MassChallenge Warsaw program. There are startups here operating on the financial or real estate markets, as well as startups who want to help solve the problem of air pollution, to name but a few. We want to cooperate with those who provide new, breakthrough technologies,” said Jadwiga Emilewicz. She then jokingly added that the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Technology is a startup itself, as it was only created a week prior to the event.
Next month in Boston, the following startup companies will fight for investors’ attention:
bNesis (Poland/Ukraine) combines scoring engines, social media, payments, banking and eCommerce services, into a single platform. With bNesis, banks get ready to use credit application platform in which any banking customers can easily apply for a credit. In several clicks, credit applicants share their real-time financial metrics from all their accounts in banks, instead of connecting necessary systems separately.
CertChain (Belarus) – Blockchain Certification Network, is the first global decentralized platform where anyone can track the full cycle of quality confirmation process of any product or a service.
DrOmnibus (Poland) creates a digital platform based on Applied Behavioral Analysis supporting the therapy of children with Autism. The solution contains interactive therapeutic tasks that automatically adapt to the specific capabilities of each child and resources, progress tracking system and advanced features for cooperation and communication online between parents and therapists that allow therapy to be carried out both at home and in the institution.
Funtronic (Poland) is a company established by a team of engineers whose passion is to create financially available teaching tools that facilitate the work of teachers and help students in active participation in lessons at all levels of education. Technology created by Funtronic supports education, rehabilitation and fun.
KLEAR Lending (Bulgaria) is the first P2P lending platform in CEE competing directly with traditional forms of lending. The startup created an environment connecting people who need money with people looking for higher return from their savings. Their vision is to create a safe place for people to interact with money..
ShelfWise (Poland) is an instant, real-time shelf recognition software that enables companies to audit planograms execution – the way store’s products are displayed. Thanks to artificial intelligence, in only few seconds application enables companies to assess shelf share, product presence and the planogram compliance directly in the store during the sales rep’s visits. The solution can be used by FMCG companies, retailers and OTC pharma companies.
Skriware (Poland) has created a home- and school-suited 3D printing ecosystem consisting of intuitive, originally designed 3D printers, programmable robots and an interactive e-learning platform. The company’s mission is to help its clients develop 21st century skill set by providing tools enabling to design, build and program personalized robots and drones.
Smart Technology Group (Poland) developed readers that combine all key IoT technologies in one device (RFID, Beacon, WiFi, ZigBee, and GSM/GPRS). Their devices make detection faultless, faster and chipper – with smart RFID they can detect hundreds of items within few seconds, from long distance and during movement.
Spaceflow (Czech Republic) is a community app that enhances comfort in buildings’ environment by connecting all key participants in the building environment such as landlords, tenants, visitors and local vendors. Amenities, services, community life – simply everything people use in buildings, are all in one app.
Talk-A-Bot (Hungary) is the enterprise chatbot provider. They developed a universal framework natively supporting 50+ languages and all popular chat platforms. Their unique bots are built from over 30 integrable function modules and leverage the chatbot marketing know-how built from tens of millions of conversations.