Startup Europe. Grown up reporting
Ask venture capitalists in London, Paris and Berlin where the up-and-coming startup hub is in Europe and many will say Poland.
But which are Poland’s most exciting startups? Which are the ones to watch in 2020?
Our team of experts at Sifted have chosen a list of exciting companies we think you need to know about, with an added “Sifted take” to provide an extra layer of insight on the most interesting. Keep reading below and stay informed about Europe’s new economy!
(P.S. The data is from our partners at Dealroom.co. If there is anyone missing from this list, or anything is wrong, please let us know: [email protected]).
Sifted Take The rivalry between Europe’s two biggest healthcare startups intensified in 2019, as Docplanner, the Polish medical booking platform, raised €80m in series-E funding round, putting it in a position to challenge heavily-funded French rival Doctolib.
Doctolib of France still remains the continent’s best-funded healthcare booking app, having raised a total of €237m, including a €150m round in 2019 which took the company to ‘unicorn’ status with a valuation of more than €1bn.
Docplanner’s funding round, which brings its overall funding to more than €130m, does not yet make it a unicorn, but the Warsaw-based company is rapidly catching up with its French rival.
“Doctolib may have raised more but we are happy with our round,” Peter Bialo, chief financial officer of Docplanner, told Sifted last year. “Many of the countries we are in are much more affordable to work in [than Europe]. This will be adequate for us for two to three years.”
Docplanner has operations in Poland, Turkey, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Brazil, and has been focusing on rapid growth in Latin American markets over the last few years. It employs more than 1000 people.
Doctolib, meanwhile, employs 750 and has focused mainly on the French and more recently the German market. Bialo says that a period of consolidation is coming for healthcare booking apps: “At some point this will become a face-off.”
For investors, it will be key to watch who wins this battle.
Sifted Take With 150m users in 35 countries, Krakow-based Brainly has already become one of the world’s biggest online education technology platforms, making a healthy stab at disrupting the $2.6bn global education market with its distinctive ‘crowdlearning’ model.
It has won repeated investment from South African technology giant Naspers, who have been impressed by its rapid growth since 2009. Amazingly, in some countries such as Poland and Russia, more than 80% of students are on Brainly, according to the company. In the US it is 15-20%.
In India, the company has hit growth of over 100% over the past year and a user-base of 20m, doubling from its previous count of 10m as announced in November 2018.
Students can go onto the Brainly platform to ask for help with homework questions, anything from how to work out an equation to advice on upcoming exams. Asking a question costs points, and users can earn more of these if they answer questions others have posted on the platform.
Michal Borkowski, Brainly’s cofounder and chief executive, told Sifted last year that there is much more room to grow and they are aiming to reach 500m students. “There are more than one billion students in the world, and every student needs help with learning sometimes,” he says.
The question Brainly has to answer, however, is whether it can make money from its millions of users. The company has recently started experimenting with a freemium model in Poland and the US. This model has proved hard for others though. And Brainly is also up against some formidable firepower from US and Asian rivals.
Read more: Polish edtech company Brainly has 150m users – but can it make money?
Sifted Take Estimote makes small wireless sensors – and the accompanying software – which allows retailers to pinpoint the location of customers in stores and send targeted infomation to their phone (coupons, deals, encouragement etc…)
It’s a fascinating company at the forefront of changing the way that retail works. Because it’s not all about pushing offers. The dream is that the tech could be combined with other technology to radically alter the customer experience.
So, for example, users could put a button on their phone to order a product – say a table – that was right in front of them and have it delivered to their home. Or they could push a button to call an assistant. Or they could upload a photo of a product and the app could direct you to its nearest approximation at the store.
Founded by Jakub Krzych, Lukasz Kostka and Steve Cheney, Estimote boasts several large US retail customers and 50,000 smaller developer customers. The founders went through Y Combinators in San Francisco and the company has raised €15.8m from investors such as Buran Venture Capital and Javelin Venture Partners.
The big challenge for the group is firstly selling enough of the hardware but then converting those hardware customers into using the software which has much higher margins.
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