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Żabka Group wants innovative start-ups to join its acceleration programmes

Żabka Group, the leading Polish convenience ecosystem, is looking for start-ups that will help embrace positive change and foster innovation, to further transform convenience shopping.

Applications are now open for Żabka Future Lab, an accelerator programme for start-ups that want to grow with Żabka Group and test their products and services at scale, using its infrastructure and resources. 

The programme is open for early-stage start-ups, who can help Żabka Group with enhancing its customer experience, improving the logistics, optimizing operations, and transforming it into a leading global retailer. Up to five start-ups from all around the Europe and Middle East will take part in workshops and mentoring sessions with industry experts that will help them improve business models, learn how to communicate with potential customers or develop the right product/market fit. 

Start-ups will also have a chance to test their product and services at scale, within Żabka Group’s infrastructure. The leading convenience ecosystem in Poland, the company has over 9,000 stores, over 50 Żabka Nano autonomous stores, and over six million users of its mobile app.

Żabka Future Lab is one of three acceleration programmes run by Żabka Group, and an example of a whole variety of endeavours by Venture Studio, a division of Żabka Future that specifically looks for start-ups and tech companies, to foster innovation that could further expand and improve the convenience ecosystem and create additional value for Żabka Group. 

“We work closely with start-ups to bring innovative solutions to retail,” says Karol Gajewicz, head of Venture Studio. “We support companies that are designing unconventional solutions for e-commerce, q-commerce, and D2C. We share our expertise to help young entrepreneurs test their ideas, reduce the risk of failure, and bring their products to market. The work of our team is all about supporting innovators, searching for new business opportunities, and building relationships within the start-up community.”

Venture Studio on the lookout for start-ups 

In 2022 alone, Venture Studio analysed applications from 1,335 start-ups, met with over 100 of them and invited 13 companies for the pilot programme of their products or service. The team also organised four acceleration programmes, aimed at working with different companies, that solve different issues.

The list includes the first edition of Żabka Future Lab, Foodtech Lab aiming at fostering innovation in the food industry, and two editions of the Start-up Impact Programme, looking for start-ups that create a positive impact on the world around them. 

The winning projects in the second edition of the Start-up Impact Programme are the development of energy-free fast beverage cooling (E-ice); biopolymer production (Seasoil); the development of intelligent composters suitable for use in urban and even office environments (Vermico). 

The winners of the first edition of Foodtech Lab include SERio Vegetable cheese – vegan cheeses made from lupin, BIO COOLS – cryogenic, vegan ice cream, NewGranny – functional coffee drinks with high protein content, Small Giants – healthy insect-based protein snacks, and Fermentful – fermented plant-based drinks for gut health. 

Start-up success stories in the convenience ecosystem 

Żabka’s Venture Studio has already seen successful pilots, tests, and implementations, including Virbe and Omniaz.  

Virbe is a start-up that creates 3D virtual assistants using conversational AI, used to help stores improve customer experience. They can be present both in digital channels as well as in physical locations, serving as brand ambassadors that are always available. Żabka Group tests them in the autonomous stores, to provide customers guidance and personalised product recommendations, as well as make the checkout process a breeze. 

Omniaz is an end-to-end augmented reality solution for retail, using AR to merge the online and offline shopping experience. The first pilot, conducted in 2022, resulted in an NPS of 90 per cent. The second pilot, with a larger customer base, is planned for 2023. 

“As a technology-driven company, we’re able to quickly test and validate new ideas. And with our large-scale operations, we’re able to do it in a real environment, always listening to customer feedback. That’s how we’ve introduced new payment methods, q-commerce services, and made investments in AI. And as a result, Żabka Nano is the largest chain of autonomous stores in Europe. But innovation is a constant process, not a single project. We’re always open for bold ideas that could help us respond to consumer needs, invent new categories and stay ahead of the market,” adds Gajewicz. 

Applications for the second edition of Żabka Future Lab programme are open until March 15. Selected companies will take part in the acceleration from April till June. 

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