Case study

Building an Innovation Strategy for a Major Retail Brand

4 months

Time taken to implement the innovation framework

16 areas

Number of identified prospective innovation areas

4 solutions

Number of relevant solutions addressing business needs

Żabka is a chain of convenience stores in Poland with more than 8,000 outlets across the country, as well as some in the Czech Republic.

As of 2022, Żabka has more than 15,5M clients and is planning further expansion. The retailer is keen to keep innovating and adapting to market needs.


Żabka Future is the innovation arm of the retailer. Żabka already had the idea of building an internal Venture Studio, which would not just to cultivate and drive innovation, but also to speed up the implementation of all the initiatives that had already been agreed on.

Some of the key challenges which Huge Thing were tasked with included: 


  • Building up this internal team responsible for innovation at the company, 
  • Supporting the team leader in creating a strategy of working with an innovation framework: assessing how innovation was approached in the company, choosing the best ways of bringing it to fruition, describing the key competences needed to implement the innovation strategy (including the roles of individual team members), setting KPIs for measuring its effects. 
  • Mapping the innovation needs with business owners and key stakeholders.


The project was conducted in three phases: Research, Creation and Implementation. The Huge Thing Team began by conducting a process of internal research, interviewing relevant stakeholders about what was most important to them when it came to innovation, what their individual and team goals were, and how they envisaged that the company would develop. It was also important for us to define how innovation had been approached at the company to date. We also looked at innovation benchmarks in the retail sector and beyond.

It was also important for us to define how innovation had been approached at the company to date. We also looked at innovation benchmarks in the retail sector and beyond.

With all of this in mind, we defined some key criteria: 

  • What the definition of innovation was for Żabka.
  • What were the innovation goals.
  • Which innovation categories made most sense for the business – was in the ones related to the ‘here and now’ which would provide solutions to immediate challenges, or ones that were far-reaching but removed from the core business.
  • We used the partition coefficient between the different innovation categories, based on the McKinsey 3 horizons approach (around the current, near and distant future).

The next important stage was implementation. We mapped out the steps that needed to be taken to bring the highest priority innovation plans to life.

We also defined some strict KPIs, which would enable the company to track how it was performing against its targets.


The process lasted 4 months but we’re still working with Żabka to implement the process throughout the organization.

We’ve now built out our Innovation pathways and we’re regularly checking in on progress against KPIs. We’re here to help the company adapt to the new process and to make sure that everything is working as it should.

So far, the internal feedback has been highly positive and it has meant that innovative ideas can be implemented so much more quickly!


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CEO and Managing Partner at SpeedUp group

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Maryla Wojcieszek

Interim Head of Knowledge, Innovation Shaper

As Innovation Shaper at Huge Thing, Maryla supports large organizations in processes related to innovation. That includes, among others:  ‘as is’ diagnosis, analysis and (re-)design of processes, innovation framework design, structuring the work of innovation teams, and facilitating cooperation with startups. As the Interim Head of Knowledge, Maryla is responsible for the materialization and transfer of knowledge as well as talent management within the Huge Thing team. She designs and creates new products/services based on internal knowledge resources as well as new models of delivery and dissemination. She’s also a workshop designer and facilitator.

Experienced designer of (public) programs supporting the startup ecosystem in Poland. In her professional experience, as an Expert in the Startup Development Department at PARP, Maryla co-created, among others, the Scale UP program – the first public acceleration program connecting startups and corporations.

A gardener and a LEGO fan.


Cummunity Builder

Since 2022 Nala has been working like a dog to build the Huge Thing community.

She’s always happy to welcome you in our office and you can be sure to get a huuuge hug from her!

PS: don’t forget to bring some treats.

Mateusz Szymański

Junior Program Manager

Tech and innovation enthusiasts, especially those with positive social impact, Greentech, and health tech solutions. In Huge Thing, Mateusz is responsible for co-running acceleration programs. In 2022 he was co-running the 12th edition of the Google for Startups pre-acceleration program. 

Previously he worked in the sales and product departments, where he was responsible for outreach activities and product communication. He’s also gained experience in project coordination and internal communication, working as a Spokesperson for Poznań’s department of NGO organization The Polish Forum of Young Diplomats. He was a co-creator of the social campaign “Paragraphs without blunder” which mission was to educate high school students about their rights.

During his spare time, he likes to read about international politics and the economy. Strategic games enjoyer. He’ll surely like to play chess with you.

Kaja Kulas

Program Manager

Kaja joined the Huge Thing team in May 2022. For several years she’s been connected with the startup ecosystem. She helps international startups in growing their businesses in Poland and across Europe.

In Huge Thing, Kaja is responsible for project management which include running educational programs for startups in their development and acceleration phase. She organizes events, workshops and trainings for the program participants. She monitors their growth and connects with partners and technology recipes. Also, Kaja takes care of relations, community building, recruitments and explorations of startups’ needs to bring them the best value of our programmes.

Before Huge Thing, she gained her experience in Poznan Science and Technology Park developing international projects funded by the European Commission. Kaja was a part of the PSTP Capital Fund and Regional Contact Point for Research Programmes of the European Union. She is passionate about travels, sports, music and dogs. Kaja is a happy “dog mom” of our team member – Nala whom you can pet while visiting us. :)


Zuza Kowala

Innovation Manager, Program Manager

Zuza joined Huge Thing in 2021. She is responsible for acceleration programs like GovTech Inno_Lab and Żabka Future Lab.

Also as Maryla, Zuza supports large organizations in processes related to innovation. That includes, among others: design of processes, innovation framework design, structuring the work of innovation teams and facilitating cooperation with startups.

Before joining Innovation Monsters, Zuza led projects at Żabka Polska, earlier connected with automotive at Volkswagen Group Polska. In Żabka, she was responsible for project management, coordinating the teamwork according to the best practice – she was looking for the best way to keep the process alive.
Zuza is also a sportaholic, innovation seeker, and book lover.

Magda Stachowiak

Project Manager

Magda joined Huge Thing in 2021. Responsible for our Gov Tech inno_Lab acceleration programs and cooperation with the public administration. She runs projects for smart city. She is also responsible for building bridges between innovators – corporations, startups and the administration.

Previously, since 2015, she cooperated on our projects for Gov Tech and corporations. Connected with the Poznań Startup Community. Experience in organizing events for the MedTech community. She worked in advertising and interactive agencies, creating brand campaigns and loyalty programs. She helped implement technologies into the organization.

Passionate about personal development, psychobiology, and supporting women in creating businesses. The creator of the projects Kobiecy Poznań Przebudzenie and Joy of Life.

Damian Wielechowski

Senior Marketing and Communication Manager

Damian manages the external and internal communications of SpeedUp Group, including Huge Thing. He joined the team in 2017 and since then has been working with business representatives, business environment institutions, public administration, media, and the academic community.

In addition to activities related to Speedup Group, Damian supports the fund’s portfolio companies in the area of marketing and PR. He has served on the jury of many competitions, including ImpactCEE, and acted as a mentor at startup events such as hackathons and Startup Weekend.

Damian is also the author of the Poznan Startup Guide and co-author of the Krakow Startup Guide, as well as organizer of many events dedicated to startups and investors.

Agnieszka Cichocka

Head of Acceleration

Agnieszka joined Huge Thing in 2021. She is responsible for our acceleration programs. She is passionate about art, technology, and gendered innovations. Previously, Director of District Hall Warsaw and Startup Development Department Manager at Incubator Starter. 

Co-creator of technological acceleration program and the first coliving space in Poland for digital nomads. 

Natalia Sadownik

Delivery Lead, Senior Program Manager

Natalia joined Huge Thing in 2019. As a Senior Program Manager, she implements acceleration and educational programs (Poland Prize, PlusJeden do Rozwoju) in line with Huge Thing’s standards.

As a Delivery Lead, she focuses on the operation of Huge Thing as an organization, financial issues, team planning, and quality of activities carried out by the company. Natalia loves to sail around Masuria and Croatia, and on gray days eats sushi and watches tennis.

Monika Synoradzka

CEO of Huge Thing and managing partner at Speedup group

Monika together with the HT team is responsible for the company’s development in startup acceleration and activities aimed at supporting organizations from the private and public sectors in their work with innovations.

She specializes in implementing innovations in organizations and building a culture of innovation in companies from various sectors. For years, she has supported the development of Poland’s startup environment.

Monika is also a Managing Partner at SpeedUp Venture Capital Group.
Thanks to her knowledge and experience, she helps portfolio companies to understand the operation of large organizations and corporations and prepare to work with them. She also supports them in building business relationships.

Preparing the resources

Acquiring innovation

Preparing the resources

Acquiring innovation

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Acquiring innovation

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