Poland rises, Croatia surprises on CEE Fast 50

Poland rises, Croatia surprises on CEE Fast 50
By By Clare Nuttall in Bucharest October 17, 2017

The rapid rise of new technology companies in the Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) region was reflected in the latest Deloitte Technology Fast 50 Central Europe. Two thirds (68%) of the companies ranked were new entrants to the list, which programme leader Agnieszka Zielińska noted highlighted “the speed our top-performing young companies are developing”.

Czechia was the home of the top ranked country overall, Kiwi.com, founded by youthful college dropout turned entrepreneur Oliver Dlouhý in 2012 to provide users with the cheapest fight itineraries and combinations. As bne IntelliNews reported earlier this year, Kiwi.com is fast achieving “unicorn” status to rival the country’s previous breakthrough success Avast Software.

Kiwi.com, which is based in Brno, the Czech second city that is rated CEE's best destination for tech startups, has grown by a staggering 7,165% over the last four years. 

“If any startup has a chance to succeed, then it is almost certain to be one that manages to perfect something we deal with on a regular basis – such as cutting costs when buying airline tickets. But in order to achieve large-scale success, it also has to find a gap in the market. And that’s exactly what Kiwi.com has been able to do,” the report commented.

Deloitte orders companies according to their revenue growth over the four years from 2013 to 2016, discovering that this year their average growth outstripped last year’s. “I found many things about the participants impressive. For example, the average growth rate of the companies in this year’s ranking has exceeded last year’s outstanding 1,057% to hit 1,127%,” commented Zielińska. 

Poland — the largest economy in the region and a long-established tech hub — dominated the latest ranking, with Polish companies accounting for 19 of the fastest growing tech companies in the region up from 17 on the 2016 ranking. 

Still there were some surprises. Croatia was the home of eight fast growing tech companies, putting it into second place, and it was the only country to produce companies across all three market segments monitored by Deloitte — Clean Tech & Energy, IT & Digital Solutions, and Internet Media and Telecoms. 

The top ranked Croatian company on the list was Rimac Automobili, which in just six years went from a small business operating out of founder Mate Rimac’s garage to the producer of world’s fastest electric car — arguably the fastest-accelerating car of any sort in production — Concept_One. In a 2016 interview with bne IntelliNews, Rimac said he was committed to keeping Rimac Automobili a Croatian company and would never move production or development abroad. 

A further six companies hailed from Lithuania, compared to just one each from the other two Baltic States. Second ranked overall was Lithuanian Deeper, a producer of intelligent devices, which welcomed the news on its Facebook page, saying “As our CEO Aurelijus Liubinas told Deloitte, “we have a motto at Deeper: “Dream Big” … and our success comes from having a strong team that buys into this approach.” Thanks to all the team and our customers for helping us achieve this!”

Elsewhere in the region, there were five companies from Czech and three from Romania, while Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia were each the birthplace of two fast growing tech companies. Bosnia & Herzegovina’s sole entry, Mostar-based NSoft, remained within the top 10 on the ranking for the second year, though it fell slightly from fifth to seventh place.

While all the companies originated within the CEE region, Zielińska points out that many have expanded outside the region. “I find it remarkable that around half of companies in this year’s ranking already develop their operations or explore entrance possibilities in countries outside Central Europe,” she said. “The export of technology is an optimistic prognostic for the region.” 

In addition to the Fast 50 ranking Deloitte also issued a Most Disruptive Innovation award for the second year running, to recognise a company it considers will be one of the technology leaders of tomorrow with the greatest potential for revolutionising their markets. This year, Deloitte picked Serbia-based heating and ventilation technology business DADANCO Europe, with a special mention for Bucharest-based robotic process automation vendor UiPath. 

As the ranking was published, many of the selected companies took to social media to welcome their inclusion. 

“We're proud to tell you that Kiwi.com has been ranked the fastest-growing technology company in Central Europe,” Kiwi.com greeted the news of its top position. 

“#1 in Poland; #4 in Central Europe; Enough said,” wrote Polish software development company Tooploox on its Facebook page, while Lithuania’s Tiny Lab Kids enthused “Happy to be part of Technology Fast 50 Central Europe”, and another Lithuanian entrant, digital marketing agency Good one, attributed its inclusion to the “marketing-oriented approach” that it considers to be its main driving force.