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A Startup’s Guide to Success in Central and Eastern Europe

Title slide for GTC session, A startup's Guide to Success in CEE.

Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) is quickly gaining recognition as one of the world’s most important rising technology ecosystems. A highly skilled workforce, government support, proximity to key markets, and a history of entrepreneurship are all factors that have led to a significant increase in funding to the region over the past several years. In turn, the increase in funding has led to dozens of dynamic and competitive startups in almost every vertical.

But startups in this region face some unique challenges. High competition with neighboring markets, difficulty attracting foreign investors, and brain drain are all unique variables that startups in the region must overcome. If neglected or handled incorrectly, these challenges may end up being lethal for innovative new companies that aspire to be successful in the global technology industry.

The A Startup’s Guide to Success in Central and Eastern Europe GTC session highlights the biggest challenges that startups face in the region and uses industry experts to provide tips on how to overcome them.

  • Venture capitalist at Atmos Ventures and founder of the Quantum Data Center Corporation Dominik Andrezejczuk shares what he looks for when investing in companies.
  • Hear the founder and CEO of Piotr Byrski discuss how to build and scale successful teams in the region.
  • Learn from NVIDIA head of Developer Relations Liron Friend-Saadon on the free tools available to developers to build and accelerate AI solutions.

Due to YouTube’s terms of service, Dominik’s video is not available in the NVIDIA On-Demand session replay, so I’ve included it in this post.

Video 1. Special Event: A Startup’s Guide to Success in CEE

Key session takeaways

We recommend viewing the whole session for insights, but here are the highlights:

  • What makes CEE special?
  • Five questions that a startup pitch should answer
  • Remote work has enabled remote funding

What makes CEE special?

There are several unique factors that enable growing tech ecosystems to become thriving tech ecosystems and CEE has all of them:

  • A strong culture of entrepreneurship
  • A high density of highly skilled workers
  • A significant initial investment from the public sector
  • Subsequent large private investments
  • A large influx of highly skilled immigrants to satiate the demand for new high-tech growth

These five variables were instrumental for growth in both Silicon Valley and Israel. They also underpin the foundation for success in CEE.

Specifically, as economies have grown and remote opportunities have become available, the trend of brain drain has reversed, allowing economies to retain the strong talent they produce. A positive feedback loop is undoubtedly in motion to provide the continuous growth necessary for CEE to become the next major global technology hub.

Five questions that a startup pitch should answer

  1. Is your technology actually deep tech?
  2. What real-world problem does your technology solve and who is the team behind it?
  3. How much progress have you made?
  4. How much are you raising and what is it for?
  5. How can the investor provide you with value beyond capital?

Deep tech startups commonly come out of university settings, where cutting-edge research has evolved into innovative commercial solutions.

However, due to the complex nature of the technology, many investment deals are left on the table due to the inability of founders and VCs to understand each other. This results in investors walking away from potentially lucrative deals and founders missing an opportunity for much-needed capital.

Answering these five questions at the beginning of a pitch can leave the rest of the session for questions and explanations. In turn, this can provide the right environment for investors to better understand not only your technology but also your strategy.

Remote work has enabled remote funding

Historically, access to capital has been an issue in CEE markets. VCs based in the United States or Western Europe have been reluctant to commit capital outside of their immediate vicinity.

Due to the rise of remote work and remote tools, however, foreign investors have warmed to the idea of investing in CEE. They’ve been a contributing factor to the large increase in tech funding to the region.

As startups navigate the process of raising capital, soliciting offers outside of CEE may be important. This is especially true if a startup is hoping to quickly scale globally and can leverage the knowledge and connections of a global investment firm.

NVIDIA tools for building and accelerating workloads

There are several NVIDIA tools and programs available to startups and enterprises alike to help them build and accelerate their AI solutions:

  • NVIDIA Developer program
  • NVIDIA Inception
  • NVIDIA LaunchPad

NVIDIA Developer program

The NVIDIA Developer program is a great opportunity for you to enhance your expertise and level up your skills in AI, HPC, or the metaverse. By signing up for this free program, you benefit from exclusive access to an extensive library of NVIDIA software with over 150 SDKs, whitepapers, research reports, and technical documentation.

Save precious time thanks to optimized frameworks and pretrained models, along with leveling up your skills with the NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute, which offers hands-on training and workshops.

NVIDIA Inception

NVIDIA Inception is a free program designed to help startups evolve faster through access to cutting-edge technology and NVIDIA experts, opportunities to connect with venture capitalists, and co-marketing support to heighten your company’s visibility.

Unlike traditional accelerators, NVIDIA Inception supports all states of a startup’s lifecycle. We work closely with members to provide the best technical tools, latest resources, and opportunities to connect with investors.

As your startup matures, your program benefits also evolve to further your growth. Premier members receive increased NVIDIA marketing support, access to premier-only member events, and a dedicated NVIDIA relationship manager.

The number of Inception members from CEE is growing significantly and include some of the most innovative startups in the ecosystem, including, DRUID, and DataFromSky.

NVIDIA LaunchPad

NVIDIA LaunchPad is a free program that provides you with short-term access to a large catalog of hands-on labs. Now, enterprises and organizations can immediately tap into the necessary hardware and software stacks to experience end-to-end solution workflows in the areas of AI, data science, 3D design collaboration and simulation, and more.

LaunchPad helps developers, designers, and IT professionals speed up the creation and deployment of modern, data-intensive applications. After quick testing and prototyping, the same complete stack can be deployed for production workflows, so that more confident software and infrastructure decisions can be made.

Next steps

For the full conversation, be sure to check out the replay for A Startup’s Guide to Success in Central and Eastern Europe. This session is just the beginning of a bigger conversation about how CEE will become the next major global technology hub, with a strong focus on AI.

Join the NVIDIA Developer Program to stay tuned for the latest on this topic and for you to be part of the discussion.

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