Last week's TechCrunch tour of Bulgaria, Serbia, Croatia and Slovenia really brought out the best in the best startups from the region: viable business plans, well-thought out and executed projects, and above all plenty of passion for technology.
From video capture animation, drum notation apps, or apps that help you pick the right bra, to websites that connect farmers and consumers, electric bicycles, Square-like light meters and biomedical data apps, the ideas were as varied as you’d expect and really showcased the potential for innovation in this region.
The winners of all four pitch dates are getting a table at the TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin, and the opportunity to get their startups to lift off. We wish all of them the best of luck and we'll be watching them closely, because they've deserved to be watched.
Infobip had the honour of serving on the pitch jury, together with the TechCrunch hosts and a number of influential partner companies. Netokracija/Netocratic did a great job, bringing the expertise together for the benefit of startup community. Our Kristijan Matas, Marko Skomersic and Tomislav Mrkus sat on the juries in Belgrade, Zagreb and Ljubljana and used their experience in business and technology to help pick the best candidates.
However, the reluctant star of the tour was the TechCrunch East Coast editor John Biggs, who charmed the audience with a mixture of his quirky humour and biting observations about the startup industry. John's advice is useful and inspirational, and we dare say applicable to any tech company, or any company for that matter.
In this neck of the woods, it’s not easy for startups to get a head start and catch the eye of investors and media. What we’ve seen during this tour is that the support system that exists in the US, media, investors, incubators, is still pretty much in its infancy. Notable efforts of Deutsche Telekom and Eleven will surely be crucial in helping startups go global and overcome the limitations of domestic market sizes. It’s the only way to stand out and develop your business, as virtually all meetup partners can testify, including Infobip.
Despite that, the tech scene in the region is agile, innovative and passionate. What all the pitch winners shared was that their business idea was born out of something dear, close, and important to them, something they’re passionate about. It’s another important thing for a startup – make your business more than just a business. That’s how Infobip started, after all.
In the end, another round of applause for the winners: Farmhopping, PubSonic, Sizem and eBeat, and a special mention for the organisers, the Netokracija/Netocratic team, and of course John Biggs, the man who knows his sci-fi franchises. We'll be looking forward to more meetups and until then, keep innovating from the heart.