A few months ago I launched Data Ventures – a venture capital firm focused on B2B, data – centered companies. The amount of money available for startups in Poland, where we are based, is already quite big, and will be even bigger, in large part thanks to public money distributed by Polish Development Fund to startups via business angels and VC’s.
After spending almost a month in the very center of global startup ecosystem – Palo Alto, CA and Stanford University, I see clearly that Poland and CEE in general are catching up. Our startup ecosystem is getting more and more mature. Resources are there. How to put this all together and build a company that will be The Next Big Thing on the market? I bet on data analytics.
For me, data analytics is not just a buzzword. It is, and will more and more be, a game changer for the global economy. Entrepreneurs from different corners of the world use big data to change the rules of doing business in many industries. We see it especially in AI, Blockchain, DevOps, Fintech, HRTech and SaaS.
Until now, we saw two waves of business models growing.
First, there were those based on value chain. Those companies had to have a physical presence somewhere, and were offering products or services that were transferred in one direction, down the chain. Those business models allow intermediaries to thrive and thus affect negatively the users.
Then, business based on networks emerged. All kinds of platforms and social networks came into existence, such as Airbnb, Facebook or Uber, and revolutionised the way of creating and exchanging value in business. Their business models are based on facilitating core interactions within networks and/or sharing assets between users. Those business models create central network operators who charge huge profits on managing the platform and thus affect negatively the users.
Now, a third wave floods the markets. It’s businesses based on data analytics and/or trust networks. They put data analytics in the center of their business models and organise all of the processes around it. Companies that use those tools, offer new types of products and services. Also, they can emerge and operate anywhere in the world. They are truly global and don’t require physical presence anywhere. We aim to invest in companies which empower users and liberate/share data to create value new value proposition for the customers.
We, as Data Ventures, want to be in the center of this new revolution, and make talented entrepreneurs from Poland and the whole CEE region catch this ride.
We want them to take as much advantage as possible of the thriving entrepreneurial ecosystems in this part of the world. We might have started later than the Silicon Valley, but boy, we’re catching up. Our entrepreneurs – and investors – are getting more and more experienced. The brightest people are here. Access to capital is improving. We’re part of the globalised, international start-up community and we not only benefit from it, but contribute and bring value.
If we provide our entrepreneurs with relevant resources: knowledge that comes from experience plus capital that helps them iterate, enter the market and scale quickly – we won’t need to stare at the backs of entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, Singapure or China, trying to catch up. We will be in this game from the very beginning.
Ps. if you share our belief in big data and think we may do something together, get in touch!
Piotr Smolen, CEO & Managing Partner at Data Ventures