The PayPal mafia is a widely used reference to a group of people that contributed to the success of PayPal and then went on to do more great things. Scenarios like this, where success breeds even more success tend to happen in the tech space again and again. I believe the key drivers for this are the fact that a success story leaves the participants with major ingredients for future successes: (1) valuable experience - having been a part of a successful tech startup teaches a lot of the ‘ingredients’ of tech success; (2) strong network; and (3) financial resources, aka exit proceeds.
The Polish startup niania.pl (its proper name was pomocni.pl, but niania.pl is the group’s by far biggest and well known asset) sold to the Edipresse group in 2011. Not massive, but definitely successful exit, which I believe produced something that I would call the "niania.pl mafia". I think this group of people is a key force in the Polish early-stage Internet entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Niania.pl had three operational founders: Michal Skrzynski, Marcin Popielarz and Marcin Kurek. Since the exit, Michal and Marcin K. have been active as business angels and are now running Protos, an early stage Internet fund out of Warsaw. As business angels and VCs, they have co-invested with us in numerous startups and were contributing significantly to their success.
We had a VC co-investor at niania.pl, the folks at BMP, most notably Jens Spyrka and Jakub Slusarczyk. Krzysztof Nowinski, one of the partners at BMP at that time, and Jakub Slusarczyk, are now partners at Protos.
Mariusz Gralewski, a business angel and non-executive co-founder of niania.pl was running Goldenline at the time of niania.pl’s formation and exit. The proceeds from the exit allowed him to focus on his next venture, Docplanner — which we at Point Nine are happily backing. He is also an advisor at Protos. Another business angel from niania.pl times, Jakub Skoczylas, is currently running business development at Docplanner.
Niania.pl was my first angel investment to which I was invited by Lukasz Gadowski while still working at Greenhill in London. It was one of the first things I worked on together with Lukasz. Later, I joined him, Kolja and Steffen to build Team Europe (Ventures), which led to the creation of Point Nine. Who knows whether all of that would have happened had we not invested in niania.pl together. Also, the exit proceeds from niania.pl helped me finance the early days of building Team Europe and Point Nine.
Furthermore, without the niania.pl network, Point Nine would probably not have made a number of our Polish investments, like Brainly, Docplanner, Positionly, Infakt or Kekemeke - each of which came to us directly or indirectly via some of the folks mentioned above.
I would like to thank everyone involved in the niania.pl story and look forward to doing more cool things together going forward.