You are just reading an article from the series, in which Polish startups, technology companies and venture capital funds sum up 2021.
Follow-ons and company growth
An important element of our strategy for 2021 was to maintain our commitment and follow-on investments, which enabled us to support companies from our portfolio. Observing the dynamic development of some of them and seeing their potential, we decided to grant additional funds to the start-ups we believe to be most promising in 4 rounds of financing.
We closely watched how our portfolio companies coped with the challenges of the pandemic: high uncertainty, sudden changes, the need to quickly respond to the dynamic situation and the need to enter a different level of leadership. Additionally, one of our companies, Worksmile, whose CEO is Tomasz Chaciński, in 2021 gained an investor in the form of Grupa Pracuj, thanks to which it has the support of an experienced strategic and financial partner. We are counting on this cooperation to create a real competitive advantage on the dynamically growing market of HR tech solutions in Central and Eastern Europe.
As a CVC fund we plan to expand our portfolio to about 11-12 companies, currently we already have 7. We can afford to observe the market calmly at the moment and that is why we carefully look at new companies and talk to the founders. Our goal is to invest in projects with the highest potential and those that in our opinion have the greatest chance of success in the increasingly competitive field of HR tech and EDU tech. We spend a lot of time on a thorough analysis of the profiles of many entities, because in 2022 we plan to invest in the Polish and Ukrainian markets.
The key in selecting the projects we support is that the direction of their development should be in line with the vision and values of the founders of the Pracuj Ventures fund. We will also be slowly preparing for exits from several projects, but we are not planning any sudden moves – we have time to carefully analyse the situation of each company and calmly make a decision on possible exits from some investments.
In short, we are in a comfortable situation where we can think strategically about further steps and ensure consistency of our actions and values. We also keep a close eye on the Ukrainian market.
We research and educate the market
Much of our focus in 2021 is on researching the industry and continuing our mission to educate the market. We believe that this is the only effective way to communicate knowledge about the HR- and EDU-Tech environment, build awareness of the solutions available on the market and recognize the changing needs of their recipients.
1. report “Stronger position of HR, potential for technology”
A major undertaking last year was the extensive report “A stronger position for HR, the potential for technology” developed by us in cooperation with Pracuj.pl. It was the first survey in Poland to directly examine the current situation of HR, the planned investments in this area and the level of implementation of HR-tech solutions in Polish companies.
We checked, among other things:
- what activities are currently a priority for HR teams,
- how the pandemic has affected the position of HR in companies,
- in which areas companies already use software supporting the work of HR and employees, and in which areas they are planning to do so.
- Who typically initiates conversations about HR and Work Tech systems,
- What are the criteria for selecting these systems.
- What is the level of advancement of HR analytics.
What surprised us perhaps the most was the fact that only 40% of organizations plan to invest in HR support systems next year. On the one hand, this may mean that companies have already implemented HR-Tech solutions and now only want to develop them. However, it may also indicate that the awareness of the need to digitalize this area is still low. This gives food for thought… There was also a positive surprise, i.e. confirmation of the trend related to the growing role of HR in organisations, as indicated by 36% of the respondents.
Although HR still has some homework to do in terms of proactively establishing a strategic role in organisations and working in partnership with business, it is clear that it has used the pandemic to strengthen its position. Will this trend continue? It depends only on HR professionals themselves.
Subjective Map of the Polish HR-Tech Ecosystem
The second educational initiative of the fund was the “mapping” of the Polish HR tech environment. This is how the Subjective Map of Polish HR-Tech Ecosystem was created. We have shown there the most interesting and active startups and scaleups, although we did not include mature, present on the market for several years entities in the expansion or latestage phase. It was a demanding project, because we had to verify nearly 300 projects, but the enthusiastic reactions of the audience and the companies themselves showed us that there was a lack of this type of initiative on the market. A month after publishing the first version of the map, we decided to up-date it. We plan regular updates every six months.
As for the plans for 2022, we are focusing on further investments on the Polish and Ukrainian markets. As we mentioned before, we will consider exiting some of the investments, we also want to continue our educational activities and continue to carefully examine market trends.