If you were going to cook up the perfect startup city, what ingredients would you need? You’d probably start by sieving in some good tech universities — which will result in lots of great tech talent. You’d want to stir in some financial support and favourable company law to make founding easy. Finally, you might finish with a sprinkle of creative flair to inspire young innovators and to usher in a lively startup community.

Kraków boasts all of these promising factors — and many more. There are approximately 150,000 students in Kraków, many of whom are enrolled at the three key technical universities.

As Sifted have observed, this means that there’s a pool of “affordable engineering talent.” This vast array of talent means that worldwide companies like Motorola, Ericsson, Nokia, Microsoft, Google and IBM all have software development houses and technology labs in the Polish city. And how could you blame them? According to Venturebeat, “There are more than 5,000 graduates from IT-related studies each year.” The Prosta Spółka Akcyjna (PSA), an amendment to company law in Poland, will make founding a company and raising capital for business development far easier, introducing measures which include allowing companies to register electronically in just 24 hours and allowing for an easier management of the company’s funds. Plus, at the end of 2018 Poland introduced a 5% tax rate for income earned on a person’s own invention, encouraging entrepreneurs to move there.

Besides all of the tech aspects, Poland’s second city is worth a visit no matter what you’re interested in. Kraków was Poland’s former capital up until the 16th century and it shows. With breathtaking architecture (its Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), lively nightlife and a mouthwatering culinary scene, Kraków has got Polish culture cornered.

But the culture guide to Kraków will have to wait for another time. For the moment, we’ve limited ourselves to the tech scene. After all, that’s our speciality.  

So if you have 24 hours to check out Kraków’s tech scene, what should you visit? We asked the bright minds at hubraum Kraków for their tips.

A still from Open Coffee #192. Image credits: Open Coffee Krakow.

8am: Tech matters — but it’s people that make a startup scene what it is. So if you really want to get to know Kraków’s tech scene, we suggest starting the day with a coffee with one of Kraków’s key players in a coworking space in the city centre, Coworking Rynek Główny 28. These key players could include Paul Kulon from OMG Krk (pawel@omgkrk.com) which is the oldest startup organization in the city or Bartosz Józefowski at Krakow Technology Park (bjozefowski@kpt.krakow.pl) which offers scale up programs for more mature startups. Ideally, you’d reach out to either of these two tech power players a week in advance – after all, it’s only polite!

If you’re reading this with too little notice to reach out beforehand to these individuals but you’re in Kraków on a Thursday, we suggest heading to Coworking Rynek Główny 28 anyway. This is because the coworking space hosts Open Coffee every second Thursday. At this startup networking event, each person is given two minutes to say who they are, what they do, what they’re looking for and how they can help. The meeting is followed by the chance to follow up with individuals you find particularly interesting. For more details, follow the group on Meetup.

Rynek Główny 28, 31-010 Kraków

Work from “Motion as the Stuff of Art” at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Image credit: Rafal Sosin.

10:30am: Find design thinking inspiration at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Kraków, where their permanent collection includes exhibits on “Symbolic Design” (exploring the limits of design for utility) and “Motion as the Stuff of Art” (in how motion can become almost an object). 

Lipowa 4, 30-702 Kraków

12pm: head round the corner to hubraum Kraków. We’re a special location for anyone interested in checking out the frontier of cutting-edge technology, with our campus offering access to NB-IoT and LTE-M connectivity, Low Latency Cloud and 5G. We also offer a VR holodeck – a room boasting a powerful computer and VR headset where users can play, experiment and test VR solutions. Sounds good? Please drop us a line via email at hello@hubraum.com to let us know you’ll be stopping by before your visit so we can be sure someone is free to show you around. And check out our upcoming events via our Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages to time your visit to coincide with a workshop, hackathon or talk.

Przemysłowa 12, 30-701 Kraków

BAL’s gorgeous interior. Image credit: Alicja Bytnar at Alicja Bytnar Studio.

2pm: Head round the corner to BAL, a stunning restaurant complete with a neon sign, hipster exposed bulbs and – most importantly – some seriously tasty food. Expect bagels, sandwiches, pasta, quiche and a lunch menu which changes on a daily basis.

Ślusarska 9, 30-710 Kraków

2:40pm: In need of a caffeine boost after such an action-packed morning? Head back to hubraum for the city’s best coffee, courtesy of Coffeece. Coffeece is based just outside of hubraum and it’s a cafe/roastery which offers coffee brewed from freshly roasted beans by the master baristas who work there. They offer everything from cold brew to nitro and orangino as well as the classics (cappucino, drip coffee, espresso). 

Przemysłowa 12, 30-701 Kraków

3pm: Head out on your own startup walking tour! Obviously you won’t be able to just go inside these offices (unless you’re organized and email beforehand to ask nicely if that would be a possibility) but if you want to get a flavor of startup life, seeing the different buildings and neighborhoods is a great start. Start with Kraków’s #1 most well-funded startup Brainly. The social learning network’s office can be found at Zabłocie 43A, 30-701 Kraków. From there, head to Bluetooth beacons startup Estimote is the most famous startup to come out of Kraków and their office is located in an old chocolate factory (Krakusa 11, 30-535 Kraków).

Still from ‘Watch Out! The Enemy is Wiretapping You.’ Image credit/Property: Museum of Urban Engineering.

3:30pm: Head over the Kładka Bernatka bridge. The bridge boasts modern art – sculptures adorn the bars of the bridge – making it a must-see for every visitor, no matter their level of interest in the tech scene! By crossing the bridge, you’ll enter the Kazimierz Jewish District where The Museum of Municipal Engineering is based. We think the “Watch Out! The Enemy is Wiretapping You” exhibition looks incredible — it’s on until January 2020. Go embrace the paranoia and explore the history of devices used to transmit secret information. “Visitors will see early telecommunication equipment (telegraphs, telephones, radios) used for instance by the army, intelligence services or democratic opposition. These devices often changed the course of history.” 

Świętego Wawrzyńca 15, 31-060 Kraków

6pm: Want to meet Kraków-based tech obsessives? Check out Hackerspace. They self-describe as “a playground and meeting place for IT people” and in the following “Hackerspace is a space created and maintained by a group of creative people who share a fascination with generally understood creation in the spirit of hacker culture. Space stimulates project development by organizing and lending the tools you need. Hackerspace knows no barriers, if you have an interesting idea and are looking for people willing to cooperate or just need space and equipment – welcome!” It’s possible to visit during a weekday, but this requires coordination — the usual opening hours for visitors are on Friday evenings for the organization’s “nighthacks.” If you’d like to visit, please contact hackerspace via their public mailing group (hackerspace-krk@googlegroups.com) or their public Telegram (https://t.me/hackerspace_krk) a week in advance

Zacisze 5 / P1, 31-156 Kraków (further directions can be found here).

Inside HEVRE. Image credit: Marcin Gierat

8pm: OK, you’ve well and truly earned yourself a drink. But where should you go and get tipsy? We suggest heading to the bars you’ll run into a lot of other startup folks at. One such bar is HEVRE, a former 19th century Jewish prayer house which offers seasonal cocktails and Jewish-Galician food. 

Beera Meiselsa 18, 31-058 Kraków

9pm: One more drink? Alright then. Hit Alchemia, one of Kraków’s most famous bars and clubs — if you’re lucky, there’ll be a concert on. 

Estery 5, 31-056 Kraków

11pm: Wend your way home and fall asleep with a head full of innovation — you’re welcome!

More Kraków tech & tips in 60 seconds

  • If you’re looking for funding, you should reach out to Innovation Nest, a major VC firm found in Krakow. They invest in early-stage European B2B Software companies. 
  • We’re big fans of #OMGKRK, an entrepreneurial NGO which helps Krakow’s startup community by developing online data tools, creating engaging content and organizing events. The contact we’ve referred you to there – Paul Kulon – is an Operations Manager at Foundation Supporting #OMGKRK. 
  • Krakow Technology Park is also well worth visiting if you get a chance, especially if you’re interested in the gaming sector, since KTP also hosts Digital Dragons, Central and Eastern Europe’s leading video gaming sector focused event. The contact we’ve referred you to at Krakow Technology Park, Bartosz Józefowski, is the ScaleUp/ Accelerator Manager there.
  • In terms of other interesting startups, we recommend looking into CallPage, Brand24, Slivair, Airly, Arteia, Husarion, 1000realities and Duckie Deck. The latter was one of the first startups in Krakow, building interactive, often educational games on tablets for young children. 
  • For more information about the most interesting Polish tech events, check out Crossweb
  • For further tips and hints for both the tech and non-tech sides of Krakow, check out hubraum Krakow’s Product Development Researcher Agnieszka Hopcias’s customized Google map of the city.