CEEfarers - February 2024 Edition

Maria Bartuszová’s exhibition concluded last month in Museum der Moderne, Salzburg (organized by Tate Modern). With her organic sculptures and innovative casting techniques, Maria’s abstract plastic art ranges from raindrops and eggs to the human body, finding inspiration in observations of nature, personal experiences, and processes of transformation. More here.

Ahoy CEEfarers! We summarize the most notable events in venture capital in CEE and news from the team at KAYA VC. Enjoy the read!

In 2023, we did 14 investments, about half of which were first time investments (into new companies). Our main focus remains on investments in bold founders from Czechia, Poland and Slovakia, living at home or abroad.

💸 Early-stage rounds in CEE

During the previous three months (November and December 2023, January 2024) more than 60 CEE startups successfully raised their early rounds with an aggregate deal value of €79.7m (€1.33m per deal on average). Key rounds:

  • 🇨🇿 Digitoo (Reflex Capital; €2.3m)
  • 🇵🇱 LiveKid (Inovo VC; €3.1m)
  • 🇵🇱 Quesma (Heartcore Capital, Inovo VC; €2.3m)
  • 🇪🇪 Arbonics (NordicNinja VC, Tilia Impact Ventures, Plural Platform; €5.5m)

*Early stage round = publicly disclosed round prior to Series A

Even if it is not an early stage round, we would like to give a big shout out to the new unicorn in CEE - ElevenLabs. Congratulations to Mati Staniszewski and Piotr Dabkowski (PL-born) on raising well above-standard Series B led by a16z with participation of others, such as Sequoia, and their early backer Credo.

Voice cloning startup ElevenLabs lands $80M, achieves unicorn status | TechCrunch
ElevenLabs, a startup creating AI-powered tools to generate voices, has raised a fresh round of capital and achieved unicorn status.

📸 Portfolio in the news

  • We are truly excited to announce our follow-on investment of $10 million into Better Stack — helping them accelerate the growth and achieve their goal to continuously build better products for developers to ship faster and cheaper. Great job Veronika & Juraj!
  • On the occasion of the investment, Veronika also spoke about current biggest challenges at Better Stack and her own journey to tech and startups (in Czech)
Observability platform Better Stack secures $10M cash infusion | TechCrunch
Better Stack, a startup developing a robust observability platform, has raised an additional $10 million in venture funding.
Zkoumala biochemii organismů, jako vývojářka prošla Googlem i Shopify. Teď staví globální startupy
Základem dobrého startupu je, abyste řešili vlastní problém, lidé chtěli řešení, a aby za něj byli ochotni platit, říká Veronika Kolejáková.
  • Tomas sat with Zosia Wanat from Sifted and discussed his experience navigating Rohlik in the complex space of grocery industry.
Brunch with the founder of Rohlik — a profitable disruptor of a trillion-dollar grocery industry
Czech online grocery scaleup Rohlik wants to expand to 30 cities by 2030 — after becoming a major player in the CEE region.
  • Stefan gave great insights about entering the US market with Booksy.
‘We’re running a marathon’: How Poland’s Booksy broke into America
How Booksy cofounder Stefan Batory broke into the US, and learned about the importance of global expansion the hard way.
  • We are also thrilled to share that Digitoo has successfully raised additional funds! Empowering their mission to continue enhancing digital accounting solutions, making them faster, and cost-effective for businesses worldwide. Cudos Karin!
Dokud nás exit nerozdělí. Digitoo má investici od Ondřeje Fryce — Forbes
Do fintechového startupu Karin Fuentesové investičně vstoupila skupina Reflex Capital Ondřeje Fryce. Mladý startup rodačky z Mohelnice navázal také partnerství s Raiffeisenbank a globálním gigantem SAP.

📚 What caught our eye

  • Czechia and Poland recorded the lowest unemployment rates among all European countries, reflecting robust economies.

👌Book recommendation by Vasek

Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matter most

Every day gives us an opportunity to speak with our friends, family, partners, colleagues, or people we only barely know, and to everyone, it feels pretty normal. We have developed our own patterns and communication styles based on our previous experiences and existing relationships. It is also fairly normal that we do not think about the communication that much because it would require a lot of energy that we could potentially use for planning, making important strategic decisions, etc.

The thing is, most of us do not spend much time dissecting our own communication styles and the thoughts that go through our heads when we are engaged in conversations. This is because we usually think that we have a certain stance or truth and we just want to convey it to the other side because they must be perceiving it wrongly or just do not have enough facts that we possess.

This book really helped me to build a simple but effective framework on how to look at (difficult) conversations by dissecting them into not only the events that happened but also feelings and personal identities. Needless to say, even after knowing about these best practices, it is still sometimes really difficult to keep your head cool when you are overwhelmed with emotions or when you feel this particular situation may for some reason require a different approach because you just felt that way in the moment.

And it is absolutely normal. The important thing is to be aware of it, actively try to improve, and approach every conversation as an opportunity to learn more about the other person rather than having an urge to come out of the conversation as a winner.

Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most: Stone, Douglas,  Patton, Bruce, Heen, Sheila, Fisher, Roger: 9780143118442: Amazon.com: Books

🚗 Where to meet us

If you or someone you know plan to attend the following events, please feel free to reach out!

  • 🇺🇸 San Francisco (14th-22nd February) - Karel, Martin
  • 🇨🇿 Velvet Innovation (Brno, 15th February 2024) - Vasek
  • 🇵🇱 CEE VC SUMMIT (Warsaw, 19-20th March 2024) - Pat, Karel, Martin
    • PS: We are organising a private dinner for this event. If you would like to know more, ping someone from the team :)

🫠 What made us smile

🎉 Events and conferences

Tento obrázek nemá žádný alternativní popisek
Tobik speaking on a panel at pre-event of Central European Startup Awards in Bratislava
Karel in the panel during Sparring Startup event in Bratislava organized last year

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Jamie Larson