Polish startup scene is becoming widely known for its blooming and vibrant startup communities in such cities as Krakow, Warsaw, Gdansk and Poznan. Among recent trends that emerged in the Polish startup ecosystem is startup founders' focus on the expansion in the Western markets. However, whereas several companies - such as Brainly, Base CRM, Zortrax - have already gone global successfully, other startups still need a strong financial support and resources for their development. We caught up with Anita Soczka to talk about Poznan Valley, a brand new private equity accelerator that is aimed to boost startup community in Poznan, help startup founders accelerate growth of their businesses locally and foster their expansion on the foreign markets.
Magazine MN: Anita, what is the main goal of Poznan Valley?
Anita: Poznan Valley is a private equity accelerator. The main goal of Poznan Valley is to share know-how, contacts and experience with others. We help startups come into being and enter the local as well as foreign markets. Project is neutral and objective. Poznan Valley ia aimed to support startups that have large financial needs and which may be of interest to European investors. We want to promote startups from Poznan and encourage people that our city is the best city to launch your own business.
Magazine MN: What makes Poznan Valley different from other accelerator programs?
Anita: Startup scene in Poland is full of incubators. But we have only a few accelerator programs. Most young companies in our country are financed by grants from the European Union. We want to change it. We show startup people that there are other ways to finance your business. And this is the reason why we created the first private equity accelerator in Poznan. Investors from Poznan Valley community invest only their private cash. No money from the EU will be involved. You won’t have to submit any applications, prepare stack of documents and wait for EU decisions. But you will get more flexibility.
It’s something more. Poznan Valley offers special and interesting way of cooperation with mentors. Usually they get nothing for their work and involvement in the project. They don’t even get the reimbursement of travel and accommodation costs. But in Poznan Valley our mentors can count on remuneration in the form of shares. We believe that this will get mentors more engaged in the project and in the startup development.
Magazine MN: What are the selection criteria for startups that want to participate in the program? Is the program aimed for domestic startups only?
Anita: If you want to participate in Poznan Valley program, all you need to have is a brilliant idea. That’s it. This is the only condition. Please, do not send us your business plans! What we are very interested in are your ideas, motivations and commitment. We place in the forefront startups from Poznan. But if you have a freaking awesome idea and you are ready to move to Poznan for at least 3 months, welcome on board.
Magazine MN: What are the details for the application process to the program?
Anita: We’re new and our website is under construction now. But we’ll start soon. Application process is really easy. You go to website poznan-valley.pl and click on “Send project”. All you have to do is to fill out the form. You will have to start with the description of your project. We will also need some additional information - the status of your project, how much money you need to realize it, and some information about you and your team. If we love your idea, we will contact you within a few days. In case we don’t like your idea, you will receive feedback from us. Maybe Poznan Valley will inspire you to make some changes or improve your product. And, as a result, you’ll get back to us with much better project.
Magazine MN: What are the main features of the program? Is Poznan Valley a complete support program?
Anita: Yes, it is. We are with our participants from concept to beta version of their product/service. Poznan Valley gives them knowledge, experience, space to work and a complete support. We share our know-how, time and contacts with co-partners and startups. We look for investors and mentors who fit a particular startup.
Magazine MN: What kind of activities the participants of the program will be involved in?
Anita: Of course, they will be involved in work on the project. It’s their job. We can only help them. This is the main activity. Teams which take part in Poznan Valley can come to our office in Bazar in Poznan and try co-working with us as well as with Punks who share office space with us. Believe me, it’s a lot of fun! Basically, they will have a lot of meetings with mentors and investors and other inspiring people, including participants of the program. We organize events and trainings. Partcipants can come to that kind of event as an audience or they can participate as speakers. It will be hard work, but it will be an amazing startup adventure too.
Magazine MN: Who will provide mentorship for participants of the program?
Anita: I can’t tell it yet. Poznan Valley is in the pre-launch phase! I can lift the curtain on and tell you that we have mentors not only from Poland, like most of the polish incubators and accelerators do it. Since our goal is to create scalable startups, it’s important to us to invite foreign mentors too. For sure we will use the proximity to Berlin – one of the most vibrant startup cities in Europe. To prove this, I can tell you that CEO of BDMI (Bertelsmann Digital Media Investments) is invited to one of our upcoming events.
Besides this, we’re still looking for cool mentors. So if you’re an awesome one, feel free to contact us. You can do this through the website or mailing me. As I said before, our mentors can count on some payment for good job.
Magazine MN: Is Poznan Valley aimed to go global?
Anita: At the present moment we focus on the local market and the markets of our neighbors. Poznan Valley has a lot of work here, in Poznan. It’s a incredibly exciting and prosperous city with great potential. We believe we create something big and something good here. But we will see. It would be really great if we conquer the world.
Magazine MN: Tell us more about the co-partnership of Poznan Valley with European Venture Market.
Anita: Co-partnership with European Venture Market is a big chance for us. The European Venture Market is a two-day networking conference that hosts 100-200 investors, service providers and early/expansion stage companiesthat operate in different areas. It’s really big and can be important for startup people from different countries, including Poland. As I said, we try to encourage investors from the whole Europe to invest in Poznan. We help startups from Poznan to enter foreign markets. EVM provides and excellent chance to make valuable connections. And this is the reason why we decided to co-partner with EVM.
Get in touch with Anita Soczka: firstname.lastname@example.org
Poznan Valley website: http://www.poznan-valley.pl
Anita Soczka was interviewed by Natalie Myhalnytska