Reflection on 2016 Poland Day in Silicon Valley by Jeff Wallace
2016 Poland Day in Silicon Valley – Life Science Symposium
By Jeff Wallace
This week, I had the honor, as the President of Global Kinetics, to participate at the 2016 Poland Day in Silicon Valley – Life Science Symposium at Stanford University. This is an annual event hosted by the US-Polish Trade Council (www.usptc.org) as ”a networking event aimed at enhancing collaboration between science and business in the context of cross-regional cooperation between Poland and the United States.” I had the opportunity to meet with many exciting and innovative people and companies visiting from Poland. In addition, I was able to observe the pitch event wherein Clay Bullwinkel (CEO & Founder of Silicon Valley Flow, LLC & Co-Founder and Board Member of the USPTC) moderated the session of seven presenting companies who pitched their businesses to the entire audience and a panel of distinguished judges including Mark Iwanowski, Alexandra Johnson, Dr. Michael Lepech, Dr. Ron Weissman and Martin Wierzbicki. There was such a high degree of innovation among this group and the energy was quite tangible. The competition amongst these great companies was intense and it concluded in a narrow victory for the winner. Here is a description of the participating companies.
Automater – this is an online shopping platform for selling digital products which is integrated to leading auction portals such as eBay, Aukro and Allegro. Automater allows users to sell products across all channels from one place. They have amassed over 10,000 sellers across the world and aim to help sellers sell 200% of sales goals. When questioned by the judges about such topics as customer acquisition costs, fulfillment and selling digital products, Mac Zielinski, COO/Co-Founder from Automater, fielded the questions with confidence and addressed some understanding of the differences between doing business in Poland and in the U.S.
APS Energia JSC – this renowned manufacturer of wide spectrum of power applications for various industry sectors such as oil & gas, transportation, telecommunications, mining and more, is more than 20 years old and operates in 6 countries across the globe. They strive to provide solutions that enhance the reliability and stability of energy supplies. Ireneusz Konarski, the Sales and Marketing Director, responded to judges about their expansion goals by stating that they are not seeking investors here in the U.S., but rather looking to expand their sales efforts to the U.S. marketplace and that given the 20+ years of experience, they believe they have superior products and better pricing capability to the competition.
Booke – this company developed the first ever companion application to search, create citations and annotate printed books. Furthermore, Booke’s smart app for phones or tablets allows users to interact, collaborate and otherwise socialize around actual books. It also gives authors, educators and publishers means to enhance the reading experience through the incorporation of video, audio, photo and text based content additions within the application. To date, they have secured Silicon Valley based pilot tests in both libraries and universities as well as obtaining excellent media coverage. Based on judges’ questions, Grażyna Szczepaniak, Co-Founder, described how current research continues to demonstrate that users still often prefer the physical book to an electronic alternative and that Booke is completely in compliance with fair use doctrine for copyrighted materials. All in all, they have developed something which enables readers to “experience a book” vs. merely reading it.
Circus Digitalis – this virtual reality (VR) film production company comes with over 12 years of experience of film production and post-production of VR films including script development all the way through to release. According to Jacek Naglowski, CEO / Founder, Circus Digitalis is initially focusing on being a VR content creator using technologies in-house. Later on, they may create market-ready products from tools they developed and use to create content. Jacek also indicated that he believes that VR will sustain in the long-run based on the fact that ’everyone is in’, such as Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and more. He stated that he believes his team has the knowledge, experience and research results to enable them to succeed in both Polish and international markets.
Fido labs – this is an artificial intelligence company creating technology that allows computers to understand humans. Their AI engine reads and understands all social media, forums, blogs and reviews (almost any written text in English), and performs the cognitive work of understanding and extracting what matters. They call this the “Internet of Humans” – an exponentially growing untapped pool of knowledge. Michal Wroczynski, CEO and Founder, indicated that fido labs is already generating revenue and focuses extensively within the pharmaceutical sector given much prior success in that space. Fido already has offices here in Silicon Valley and a strong team in Poland and has created some solid intellectual property.
PolTREG – this company spun off from the Medical University of Gdansk to develop and commercialize patented TREG (T-regulatory Lymphocytes) method treatments for Type 1 Diabetes. TREG therapy lowers the risk of complications associated with Type 1 Diabetes, has no side effects, and thereby reduces indirect costs of the disease. Given the vast reach of this disease, PolTREG is addressing a large and (sadly) growing market. Bartosz Kakol, Financial Director, fielded the judges’ questions around topics such as patient improvements to date, PolTREG’s desire to create a ”cure” vs. a ”treatment”, FDA trials and technology licensing. To date, the results of their trials have been quite impressive and they hope to license the technology to additional markets across the world.
RTB Tracker – this is a company focused on proximity and beacon based marketing solutions, predominantly focused on retail sectors. The award winning solution (2015 Bluetooth SIG Breakthrough Award & 2015 CES presenter) delivers customer communications, loyalty programs, coupons and more directly to customers’ smartphones. They see a competitive differentiation with their in-store location capabilities as well as their integration with offline data in addition to online data. Pawel Mizgalski, CEO/Co-Founder, replied to some challenging questions around competition, vertical applications, customer acquisition costs and methods and more. Pawel did admit that it is a challenge to convince possible customers to change their habits, but emphasized that they believe their holistic approach to enhance the shopping experience is rather compelling.
In what was said to be a close race to the finish line, Fido labs was awarded the winner of the evening. However, I was totally encouraged by the diversity and overall smart approaches demonstrated by this group of innovative entrepreneurs. Clearly, these companies don’t just have good ideas, but also fantastic technical capabilities to deliver these solutions to market. What they need now is to take these solutions to larger markets across the globe, particularly here in the U.S. marketplace. I welcome the opportunity to stay connected to these wonderful entrepreneurs as they take their next steps on this international journey.
With so many amazing Polish companies seeking to bring their solutions and skills to the U.S., we at Global Kinetics are excited to continue our participation at these Poland Day in Silicon Valley events in the years to come.
Global Kinetics (www.globalkinetics.com) serves as a corporate advisor and market development accelerator partner to early-to-mid stage clients seeking to establish operations or expand within the U.S. marketplace. The services provided include commercial introductions, investor introductions, marketing/public relations, social media/content marketing, user experience/design, strategy/market positioning, sales processes/strategies, formation of industry advisory boards and interim executive services.