Poland has largest number of ‘unicorns’ in CEE, says new report
Poland has more start-ups worth over $1billion than any other nation in the CEE, according to a new report.
Entitled ‘Coming of age: Central and Eastern European startups’, the report by Google and Dealroom looks back at the growth of start-ups in the region over the last 11 years, during which time the region has seen the value of companies soar from around 10 billion EUR in 2010 to 186 billion EUR this year.
Poland had the largest number of companies classified as unicorns with 10 companies. Estonia had six, with Czechia and Ukraine both having four and the rest of the region having a total of 10 unicorns.
Joanna Nagadowska, CoActive Coach at Venture Capital Partnerships Google wrote in the report: “The world is a different place now. Some industries experienced a drastic slowdown, while others saw a significant increase in demand for their products and services. CEE region withstood many of the turbulences.
“This edition of the report shows another record-breaking year for the region. Companies founded in CEE now have a combined enterprise value of over €186 billion (up 19x since 2010), VC investment soared to €4.0B in the first nine months of 2021, projected €5.4B by the end of the year and we have now 34 unicorns born in CEE.”
On the Polish list were household names such as Allegro and InPost, while the gaming industry contributed the most companies including CD ProjektRed, Huuuge, PlayWay and Ten Square Games. DocPlanner, Wirtualna Polska, CCC and LiveChat make up the remainder of the list.
Poland had a very strong 2021 as seven of these 10 became unicorns this year according to Dealroom with only Allegro, CD Projekt Red and Ten Square Games being considered as unicorns before the turn of the year.
One of the reasons highlighted by the report for the growth in unicorns in the last five years is something known as the ‘flywheel’, this cyclical process sees a successful company attract more investors to a region, grow the knowledge in that sector and helps to create the next wave of successful companies with that experience and additional funding.
The good news is that this means that the number of unicorns emerging from Poland and the region in general should continue to grow in the future.
The report goes on to name four ‘future unicorns’ from Poland that they predict will reach the $1 billion valuation. Booksy an app for arranging appointments to beauty salons, hairdressers and more is one of the four as are Uncapped and Brainly with ICEYE also named among the future unicorns.
During the COVID enforced lockdown, education app Brainly skyrocketed in popularity as parents were looking for answers to their children’s homework online.
A further seven companies were labelled as rising stars in Poland and only Lithuania had as many new start-ups valued below $250 million that the report highlighted as rising stars with the potential to join the elite list of unicorns.
Among those rising stars was bespoke packaging outfit Packhelp, Tylko an AR (augmented reality) based furniture retailer, Ramp who helps people switch their money between cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and fiat money such as dollars or euros, retail tracking firm Cosmose, Vue Storefront a software company that helps online retailers, Spacelift a software startup and Infermedica who describe their service as ‘helping insurance, healthcare and pharmaceutical companies increase efficiency, improve patient flow, and reduce costs’.
The report also highlighted the number of gaming companies in Poland that are now successful on the Warsaw Stock Exchange with a sector value of 6.8 billion EUR.
This industry is an example of the flywheel in motion and shows why Poland is seen as one of the world’s leading countries in the development of video games.