CEE Released – about the Polish Gene of Entrepreneurship

CEE Released – about the Polish Gene of Entrepreneurship

On June 21, 2018, the Warsaw Stock Exchange Quotation Room hosted the final of the Polish edition of the CEE Released program which was held by the CobinAngels Business Angels Network. I had the enormous pleasure of participating in this event as a member of the jury. Together with the remaining thirteen jury members, from among thirty two companies nominated by CobinAngels, we chose the fifteen which qualified for the Polish final and gained an opportunity to present their idea, company development plans, and expectations in terms of financing by investors. The following companies are the winners of the program’s Polish edition: Monitor CR, Perfect Dashboard, and Photon Entertainment which will enjoy a chance of becoming presented to several hundreds of investors from Europe during the European finals to be held in Sofia.

Immediately after Bartosz Boniecki, the CEO at CobinAngels, extended an invitation to participate in this event, I thought of the huge responsibility resting on my shoulders. Companies subject to assessment are not at the stage of an idea scribbled down on a sheet of paper, but fully operational organizations whose owners and teams have invested a lot of work and effort to introduce original projects onto the market. The products and services implemented are already being used by the first clients. The most frequent motivation guiding the companies applying to participate in the competition was their development on foreign markets which meant, more or less, that they are doing fine on the Polish market.

I don’t know why, but I was certain that most of the companies would be connected to new technologies, in the narrow sense. In my mind’s eyes I saw ideas correlating with e-commerce, e-marketing, CRM, hosting, etc. Obviously, the group of applicants included such companies as well, yet the diversity was enormous, starting from the energy sector, through to robotics, medical devices, clinical trials, recycling, gastronomy, and finally fairytales for kids.

In selecting the best fifteen companies, I decided to focus on several areas which I resolved to scan thoroughly to give myself a chance at comparing and evaluating the applicants. And so:

  1. I visited the companies’ websites, as they are their showcases, and checked them for content. I was interested to see how absorbable the information the entrepreneurs want to communicate is for a potential Client. Does the company make an effort in terms of outbound communication regarding its successes, accomplished plans, subsequent stages of development? To what extent was it able to create a credible and consistent image?
  2. Each applicant had a possibility of preparing a competition presentation. In this respect, a short, concise, and comprehensible presentation of a product/service, an outline of further stages of development, and indication of allocation of the obtained funds mattered significantly.
  3. Each applicant also had an opportunity to present the professional profiles of inventors/initiators and other team members. Considering my own career path, this aspect was of particular interest to me.
  4. When choosing a product/service, I did not put myself in a position of a potential buyer, that is I did not choose only those ideas which I could myself successfully use in my own company or at home. I put myself in the role of a Client of each of the contestant companies and I tried to determine the usefulness and functionality of the product/service being developed.

Most of the companies passed my scrutiny with flying colors, yet there were some guilty of small sins, such as providing too broad a description of the range of the services offered (at the end of such presentations I found myself wondering if I could answer a simple question, namely: What does this company really do?), the lack of an appropriate presentation of the team which they base their company upon; after all, the professional experience acquired by founders and their team in their previous jobs is extremely valuable in the context of developing one’s own business.

Unfortunately, on more than one occasion have I had a chance to witness the failure of a start-up managed autocratically by the main Founder who is perfectly suited to create new functionalities and solutions, but completely unprepared in terms of human resources management and/or the operational aspect. Such people either choose a team of individuals with personalities weaker than their own or employ managers who rapidly arrive at a conclusion that there is little point tilting the windmills since the Founder knows best. Consequently, the company works over a dozen of scattered functionalities, the Founder lacks either the time or the idea required to produce a solid development strategy, the company is running out of money, and parties willing to finance the next stage of its development are hard to come by.

The companies I had the pleasure of evaluating in the frames of CEE Released seem to contradict the above-mentioned perceptions and this makes me feel extremely optimistic. We have fantastic, inventive, and wise entrepreneurs characterized by industriousness, high determination to take action, the capability of taking risks and to think in business terms. To conclude, I present short descriptions of several companies that made the greatest impression on me and which are already performing more than well on the market. I am keeping my fingers crossed for their further development on global markets.

  1. Res Solution – creators of an electric energy measurement and optimization system. The system consists of sensors installed at any node of the electric grid, a computing cloud processing and storing data, as well as a mobile and web applications.
  2. RemmedVR – telemedical VR based vision therapy for home use.
  3. Monitor CR – software integrated with hospital IT systems, supporting clinical test processes by facilitating a better organization of the test process and limiting the costs of monitoring of conducted tests by 40% (the winner of the Polish edition of CEE Released).
  4. Datarino – an innovative online advertising platform allowing retailers to reach specific individuals with their advertising, selected on the basis of their behavior in the real world.
  5. DEKO EKO – developing aesthetical and functional consumer products from carefully selected recycled waste from companies and corporations.
  6. Photon Entertainment – Photon – an educational robot, the world’s first robot that develops along with a child (the winner of the Polish edition of CEE Released).
  7. Outlet Spożywczy – an intelligent internet platform automating the process of distribution of standard value food items nearing the end of their shelf life and offering a solution to the problem of wasting food by managing the transfer of food items onto public benefit organizations.
  8. ChallengeRocket – an innovative approach to recruitment in the IT sector based on creative challenges, gamification, and programmer evaluation automation.
  9. Whirla – a wireless charging system for public spaces. Users may charge [their devices] by launching an application in exchange for receiving commercials.
  10. DrOmnibus – a personalized digital platform offering effective therapy support for autistic children, including therapeutic content such as: games, video modelling, and a picture database based on the ABA approach. Admitted to trading in the EU as a medical device.

Breaking news: Photon Entertainment, startup from Poland, won European finals of CEE Released!

Monika Ciesielska
President at IMSA Search Global Partners. An experienced consultant in the recruitment of the management staff, including board members, and a leader of the recruiting team in the IT/Tech area. Enthusiast of digital transformation of HR processes. Podcaster at "Skrzydlaty HR" and "Top Leaders Club".
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