Szymon Janiak

Venture Capital

About me

Co-founder and managing partner of the – one of the most active venture capital funds in Central-East Europe – with capitalization of 12 million euro.

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The book

Start-ups in popular opinion are associated with big money, building global companies and passionate work. Veterans of the industry, on the other hand, say that building an innovative company is like... chewing glass. Read the first Polish book on the realities of the sector and see for yourself.

Experts About the book

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Creating a start-up is by no means a road strewn with roses. Simon in his book emphatically shows that in this world most are not, as you might think, media unicorns, but graveyards of companies looking to achieve this status. Therefore, instead of thinking about how to build a unicorn, learn from this book and create a "cockroach". A company that will survive under any conditions, even with the extremely difficult challenges you will face in the intractable start-up world.

Wojciech Pysiewicz, co-founder of WP2 Investments

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Simon is known in the investment and start-up community for his uncompromising, cutting language and love of simple expression. He says succinctly what he thinks and doesn't beat around the bush. And that's what this book is - it's a concise but factual picture of the extremely difficult reality facing founders, as seen from the perspective of an experienced investor. Simpler and more blunt is probably not possible anymore. I recommend it, especially to entrepreneurs who want to take the first steps in their own business.

Maciek Marszałek, CEO and Managing Partner of THE HEART

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"The Dark Side of Start-ups" is a must-read for anyone considering starting a start-up. The book is full of difficult, and sometimes dramatic, stories of founders and shows how difficult the path of building a start-up is. However, for me, the most interesting parts of the book are about Simon's personal experience as CMO of a startup, in which he describes the problems and challenges the company faced, despite being perceived from the outside as a spectacular success.

Pawel Maj, partner of the Warsaw Equity Group fund

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9 out of 10 startups fail. You'll read about the one on LinkedIn in a founder's self-deprecating post. From this book, you'll learn what happened to the other nine. Working 20 hours a day, fictitious backers, real scammers, a million zlotys of funding that doesn't even last a year, an exit that doesn't even return your contribution, stress, loneliness, depression illness. This is much more often the reality of building a start-up. Do you dream of a unicorn? See what awaits you on the road to creating one.

Boleslaw Breczko, journalist,

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Reading this book, you will not get tired of "unwinding the cotton" of the crux of the matter, i.e. start-up realities. The author spares the reader unnecessary embellishments. He calls things by their names, is not afraid to talk about numbers, and breaks down budgets into factors. Also he exposes shortcomings, not so much in knowledge, but in the code of ethics. He spares no one, but does justice to the deserving. There is no unnecessary malice or cynicism here. Instead, there is a description of the ecosystem given in an easily digestible form that will undoubtedly encourage readers to take a holistic and unapologetic look at our Polish start-ups. I absorbed the reading in one breath!

Dra Maria Belka, Mentors4Starters

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Without anesthesia, but with an accurate diagnosis.... These terms, which are familiar from a doctor's office, perfectly describe Simon's latest book. This time the author presents us with the fascinating world of funds and start-ups in a clear and accessible way, revealing its full picture. Simon does not try to disenchant or color it. Instead, he shares his experiences, showing it as it is. Devoid of unnecessary aura and glitz, the book is a must-have for those who can look for solutions on how to get out of the "dark side" when things don't go according to plan ... business plan.

Grzegorz Chylinski, KnowledgeHub Starter fund partner

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When, after 30 years of professional experience, you still find great fun in reading your chosen reading, while taking notes and remembering the author's key recommendations, you have come across a really strong book. Such is Simon's book. I sincerely regret that I didn't have the opportunity to read it many years ago, when I started my journey as an entrepreneur. Polish startups usually rarely invested in knowledge, because the information that was available so far often distorted the true face of business, including investor relations. In the book you get only valuable suggestions - "meaty morsels" - which, certainly, will not discourage you at all, but will motivate you to consciously build a startup.

Tom Plata, entrepreneur, marketer, coach, Co-Founder AUTENTI

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"The Dark Side of Start-ups" reveals with great candor and precision the behind-the-scenes of the not-so-easy world of start-ups. It is a story full of empathy and deep understanding about people who have the courage to dream and take risks. Simon balances perfectly between a realistic view of business and a tribute to human determination. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is ready to look at the world of start-ups from the perspective of the journey that entrepreneurs go through.

Bartek Pucek,, angel investor.

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Simon describes the often brutal reality behind the media successes of both domestic startups and the funds that invest in them. Does this mean that it's not worth starting your own innovative company and struggling to find an investor? Of course not. You just need to prepare better for negotiations, and learn quickly from failures. If only for this reason, this is one of those books that you simply have to read and appreciate even more those who are trying to change the world. I highly recommend it!

Paulina Skrzypińska, Chief Innovation Officer, BNP Paribas Bank Polska SA


I regularly comment on events concerning Poland’s technological scene in the media.

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Do you prefer to listen than to read? Listen to my podcast about venture capital on:

Kiedy Deal Start - Upu Z VC Rozpada Się Przez Prawnika
Większość Funduszy VC Nie Zwraca Inwestorom Nawet Włożonego Kapitału
Finanse W Start - Upach Mają Niewielkie Znaczenie ?
Rynek VC Jest Pełen Bufonów
Rzucił Korporację, Założył Start - Up, Wrócił Do Niej Z Płaczem


7 czerwca 2022

You can't afford to work in a start-up

How to prepare for a conversation with an investor? How to approach To the first contact? What not to do at such a meeting, and what is the market for venture capital in Poland? Szymon Janiak co-founder, co-founder and managing partner of answers these questions and talks about the fund he is behind.

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The fund that I have founded belongs among the most active entities of this kind in Central-East Europe

We have received several awards and prizes
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