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Silesian startup ecosystem: unicorns, where are you?

ยท 3 min read
Wojciech Gruszczyk

It's been three weeks since co.brick released the report: "Preliminary diagnosis of the Silesian startup system" (can be downloaded here). The report was discussed with representatives of the ecosystem, mostly representing technology clusters and local government. Therefore it was discussed mostly from that angle, but how about the local founders? I think that their perspective was missing and in this post, I will try to highlight some of the challenges they are facing.

Steve Jobs' family house | Source: Flickr.

Only physical work is realโ€‹

Starting a business is a challenging undertaking that requires a lot of hard work, dedication, and, above all, financial resources. This is especially true in regions where the local culture and economy are not supportive of entrepreneurship, such as Upper Silesia.

One of the main issues that startup founders in this region face is the prevailing belief that only hard physical work is considered "real work." This often leads to a lack of support from family and the wider community for those who want to start a business that is not based on manual labor. Instead of typical American admiration of successful entrepreneurs, in the region, the first thought is that all that person achieved or earned must have been either unfair or stolen. Years of communism planted this way of thinking and it will need at least one generation to change it.

Transformationโ€‹

However, over the years, Upper Silesia has undergone a transformation that has allowed the middle class to evolve. This has created new opportunities for those who are willing to take the risk of starting their own business.

Moreover, the next generation of entrepreneurs in Upper Silesia is likely to have much more financial support from their parents. This is because the current wave of startup founders is made up mostly of people who have already worked in corporations and can afford to fund their startups. Their children will be growing up in a much more entrepreneurial atmosphere and will not have the risk aversion their parents had in their DNA.

As a result, future young startup founders will start from the middle-class level, having apartments, cars, and savings provided by their parents. They will know that, in the worst case, they will have substantial support, also financial. This will create a new dynamic in the startup ecosystem, where the focus will be on innovation and growth, rather than survival.

Conclusionโ€‹

In conclusion, although Upper Silesia may not have the most supportive environment for entrepreneurs, the region's transformation and the changing attitudes of its inhabitants towards entrepreneurship indicate that there is a bright future ahead for startup founders in the region. The coming generations are likely to have much more support, both financial and cultural, which will create a new wave of innovative and successful businesses in the region.

Local governments and technology clusters will also play an important role, yet in my opinion the transformation must first happen - and is happening! - in the minds of people who can make a difference, take risks and become successful. It is not a matter of if but rather of when it will happen.