Conference on crowdfunding and Polish start-ups
Crowdfunding is a relatively new method of acquiring funds for start-up projects that in recent years have become a lot more popular in Poland. The “Crowdfunding in Practice” conference was an occasion to review the state of crowdfunding affairs in Poland, but also to learn more about some Polish start-ups that successfully crowdfunded their projects abroad
“Crowdfunding in Practice” took place in Krakow on August 19-20 thanks to Business Link – the nationwide network of business accelerators. It featured some of the most important representatives of Polish crowdfunding. Jakub Sobczak, CEO and founder of PolakPotrafi.pl, the biggest platform for reward crowdfunding in Poland, showed up with Michał Połetek, PolakPotrafi's self-proclaimed “crowdfunding hero”. We also saw CEOs of Polish equity crowdfunding platforms – Przemysław Różecki from crowdangels.pl and Arkadiusz Regiec from BeesFund. Another treat was a meeting with representatives of Sherly – a Polish start-up that developed Sherlybox – a device that allows for storing and sharing files in a private cloud ensuring maximum privacy. Sherlybox was founded through Kickstarter and is one of Poland's biggest Kickstarter successes.
Crowdfunding in Poland
Speaking generally, there are two types of crowdfunding that are currently available in Poland. Reward crowdfunding (known from Kickstarter), in which users receive all kinds of rewards in exchange for their money, and equity crowdfunding, where users are actual investors who receive company shares in exchange for the funds. As for reward crowdfunding, PolakPotrafi and Wspieram.to are major players. According to PolakPotrafi's Jakub Sobczak, crowdfunding is causing a revolution in Poland. It enables people to distribute money between each other – without having to rely on any central institutions. More than 9 million zlotys ( almost $ three million) have been spent on PolakPotrafi. Projects range from music albums to serious business ventures. Nowa Warszawa is an attempt to awaken the car industry in Poland by producing a brand new version of the classic “Warszawa” car. Decompression on the other hand is a Polish mobile shooter that aims to bring the classic feel of shooters to mobile devices.
Equity crowdfunding in Poland is still a budding concept. Crowdangels' Przemysław Różecki believes that Polish entrepreneurs are often afraid that if they let everyone know about their ideas, they would end up stolen. They are also reluctant to say goodbye to a large chunk of their shares. There are also legal problems with running equity crowdfunding campaigns such as the necessity for each investor to accept their shares personally. Currently, Crowdangels accepts only so called private limited companies (in Polish – “spółka z o.o.”), while BeesFund specializes in joint-stock companies (“spółka akcyjna”). It's changing though and soon a whole lot of new projects will debut on Crowdangels and Beesfund.
How to launch a crowdfunding campaign?
Speakers dedicated a lot of time to talk about the how-to part of doing crowdfunding campaigns. Przemysław Różecki believes that when it comes to equity crowdfunding, patience and hard work are the most important. Participation requires preparing a lot of documents, including a business plan and a financial forecast as well as being always ready to answer investors' doubts. Sobczak suggests anyone willing to actually succeed in crowdfunding should determine their target audience, start promotion way before the start of the campaign and quickly achieve the so called “trust point”. It refers to an amount of money that equals to about 30% of your crowfunding goal. If you manage to acquire it fast, others will trust your project more and be more likely to contribute. In order to achieve this, you have to first find people willing to donate (including but not limited to family and friends) before the start of the campaign. All of this was also a subject of talk from Marta Świtała, one of the people behind Kazimir – a mobile app dedicated to the Krakow's district of Kazimierz, traditionally associated with the Jewish community and culture, co-funded through PolakPotrafi.pl
Polish start-ups and crowdfunding
Polish crowdfunding platforms are a great way to discover Polish start-up projects. But you can also find them on the world's biggest crowdfunding websites such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo. In Krakow, we got to see Błażej Marciniak, CEO of Sherly – their Sherlybox mentioned above acquired just above $150 thousand through Kickstarter. Marek Cieśla was one of the people that helped make that happen.
He talked about using crowfunding as a way to launch a product globally. Several Polish start-ups already chose that path. This includes Woolet, the smart wallet (over $ 322 thousand on Kickstarter,), RoboCORE, the device and development platform that allows you to create robots (over $58 thousand, Kickstarter), Superhot, a unique shooter in which time moves only when you move (over $250 thousand, Kickstarter), NeuroOn, the world's first sleep mask that allows you to shorten your sleep (over $438 thousand, Kickstarter), or Swimmo – the smartwatch for swimmers (over $ 184 thousand, Kickstarter).
Follow Polish crowdfunding sites as well as foreign platforms to find more innovative start-ups from Poland!
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