Startup Toruń: A meeting in the town of Copernicus
For the past year Toruń has had an active new technologies incubator – the Exea Smart Space. To celebrate its first birthday, almost 200 people came to the town of Copernicus for the biggest conference dedicated to start-ups in the region. It was a great occasion to gain some knowledge, meet investors, entrepreneurs and e-business experts as well as to win some tickets to Silicon Valley
On June 26th, 2015 the second edition of the Startup Toruń conference took place in the Toruń Technology Park. The organizers actually offered three events. First there was the conference, which was a great opportunity to listen to some speakers from the top Polish start-ups – like Jan Zając from well known Sotrender, as well as experts on marketing and web analytics such as Paweł Tkaczyk from Midea. The second part was the SMART Pitch Contest – a competition for the best presentation of a start-up idea. And the last part was a more informal industry meeting called Startup Night.
"The goal of Startup Toruń is to gather all the regional e-business industry representatives in one place: start-up founders, specialists in new technologies, owners of online stores, etc. We offer our attendees the opportunity to meet professionals in the field of marketing, business development, creating a start-up and, maybe even more important, to meet each other. [...] Startup Toruń is also an opportunity to integrate with the Polish tech scene. This year's edition was attended by guests from various parts of Poland: the Tri-City area, Warsaw, Lodz and Wroclaw. We wanted to show them what the local start-up scene has to offer. We are not a major center like Poznan or Krakow, but here in Toruń there are also world class projects and events like Startup Toruń allow them to meet a national audience," explains Łukasz Ozimek, CEO of Smart Space.
The conference attendees could listen to many short but inspiring presentations covered such issues as marketing and financial advice, how to develop ideas and how to prepare a great pitch. The interesting part of the conference was a discussion panel that tried to answer the question “what is lacking in Polish start-ups?” The panelists represented different sectors – start-ups: Jan Zając from Sotrender, incubators: Łukasz Ozimek from Smart Space, government administration: Cezary Borowski from he National Centre for Research and Development and external observer: Paweł Luty, a technology journalist and publicist from Brief magazine.
Of course there are almost never simple and unequivocal answers. What are the weaknesses of Polish start-ups? The most frequently occurring statement was “it depends”. It depends on the idea, on the products, the team, the goals, etc.
But there is no doubt that the Polish ecosystem is not that big and still developing. More experience and greater development will give us more awareness and possibilities to take advantages of the market potential. We have some substantively good start-up conferences in Poland and financial support, which has helped to build many incubators and co-working spaces. But what will happen when the financial support is over? Will these places continue their mission and help start-ups in their development? It is impossible to find an answer. One thing is for sure – we need a “Polish Skype”, a company that can conquer the international market and contribute further to the creation of the next companies that will grow out of this environment.
Is the new Skype among the Smart Pitch Contest finalists? Let’s look who passed the first stage of the competition and got to the finals:
IdealCutter – a service that allows online stores’ customers to organize themselves into purchasing groups and gain some attractive discounts together,
Slidetorial - a tool for the rapid creation of tutorials,
InsBird - an application for the rapid exchange of business cards by holding smartphones up to each other with the ability to synchronize data exchange,
FastTony – a multifunctional tool using the Facebook API and creating more advanced advertising, differing in the possibility of reach and targeting,
TeleActivity - a solution for people with asthma. The device connected with the application allows for earlier diagnosis.
Every team had three minutes to pitch their idea and then five minutes to answer questions from the judges, who were looking not only for the best pitch but also a great project that has a chance to be scaled. It turned out that Slidetorial fulfilled both of these conditions. As a reward they received 5,000 PLN and a ticket to Silicon Valley. Will the team properly take advantage of this opportunity? Well, of course it depends…
Got any questions? Send an e-mail to the author