Copenhagen-based Podimo raises €15 million to build a global podcaster ecosystem

Today Podimo, a fast growing podcasting provider, has announced snapping up €15 million in a round led by 83North, with participation from existing investors e.ventures and Heartcore. The Danish startup aims to bring smart curation, discoverability features and intuitive design to listeners, as well as a new revenue stream to creators.

Founded in 2019, Podimo is a podcast and short-form audio platform that offers personalised recommendations for users, and supports podcast creators through a revenue share model, driven by their subscription-based service. Podimo’s ambition is to deliver an outstanding podcast experience for both creators and consumers globally.

“Podimo’s long-term ambition is to create robust revenue streams to the podcasting community and to be a positive partner to everyone within the ecosystem”, says Morten Strunge, CEO and Founder. “Our dream is to be part of developing the podcast industry, where we can help match audiences with content they love and create incremental income to support creators, allowing them to focus on creating great content. Our focus is solely on podcasts and short-form audio.”

As we are entering a new decade of podcasts, we see that Podimo is a key player in revolutionizing the industry and has a leading role in reshaping consumer and creator experiences”, says Arnon Dinur, Partner, 83North. “Podimo has a very strong team in place and a proven track record. We are excited to be part of the journey.”

So far the service is currently live in Denmark and Germany. The fresh funds will be used to drive market expansion across the rest of Europe, as currently more than 20% of the European population listen to podcasts. The finance will also be used to develop the platform, invest in content and creators, develop a podcaster studio and build the team.

EU-Startups

[OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved in Cleaveland Jewish News] Tech giants tell Jerusalem Day narrative of the capital’s thriving startup ecosystem

OurCrowd founder and CEO Jon Medved related that Jerusalem is so much “in the trend” of global innovation that it has “moved into its rightful slot as a major part of Israel’s, and onto the world’s, tech scene.”

Read more here.

The post [OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved in Cleaveland Jewish News] Tech giants tell Jerusalem Day narrative of the capital’s thriving startup ecosystem appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

Which sources for info and news about the startup ecosystem do you use?

Hi, currently I would like to update my sources for info and news about the startup ecosystem.

Until now I have used the following websites:

I would really appreciate it when you would post your go-to-websites for startup news and info. 🙂

Thanks

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

How do you feel about LinkedIn’s evolution and where startups fit Into their ecosystem?

If you haven't noticed lately, LinkedIn is turning slowly into an Instagram community for entrepreneurs rather than being a place for professionals.

Years before when it was a network of engineers, entrepreneurs, business owners, and so on, helping each other, teaching others new stuff, it has turned into a bragging place where 90% of posts are people bragging and behaving as one would do in Instagram. Sharing posts how easy their startups are going, how easy their lives are turning since they started their own startups. And how much easier or better it is working on a (your) startup than a fortune 500 company.

I call that total BULLSH*T!! Those people who think startups are easy, they haven't worked on a startup before, or they are still in the idea phase, where everything is sunshine and rainbows. But startups are not like that.

Running a startup is like being in a knife fight in the prison yard. If you are not sharp, skilled, and strong, you can't survive it. (correct me if I'm wrong on this one)

More than often, the competition you have in your startup is with other startups, but sometimes, big companies with a budget far bigger than you, and with manpower far larger than you, they will try to bring you down too. These companies will fight you in tooth and nail if they are threatened by your product or what you are trying to make. And more than often is not only on the legal side. They will approach your clients, your employees, anything that would help you, they will try to take them away from you.

But this is something you don't see in the LinkedIn front page, nor in the startup groups. 9/10 posts in startup groups you will find posts of people bragging about them releasing this cool new feature, or how they raised 1,000,000 USD for their startup. But no one talks about the struggles they went through to get those done. And that is a wrong impact on the young entrepreneurs and developers who are trying to get into the start-up world. Young and unexperienced entrepreneurs get into the industry with this mindset that they will make the next million-dollar project, but they have no idea how the road to get there is.

In the start-up world, I've worked as a developer, project manager, VP of Engineering, and even as CTO (for the better part of 2 years), at some point in time, I have covered all fields of the industry, and I can tell you for certain, it doesn't get easier, no matter if you are just a developer or a CTO.

Many people think that if they have money, they can do whatever they have in their heads, but that's not true. While money is really important while trying to build your startup, your team is really crucial. And you can't buy a good team. You can't put a pice on a good team that cares about each other and as well as caring about the product/project.

But these still are stuff you don't see in LinkedIn, I have been there for years now, and in the last 2-3 years, I haven't seen one single post where they teach you how to raise a team, how to hire the right people, how to find the right co-founders for you, how to raise funding or when is the right time to raise funding and so many other questions that entrepreneurs need to know.

Building your startup is hard, long hours from Monday to Sunday. The stress, the pain, long hours of agony that you spend to build your dream. That's not for everyone. Please don't take suggestions on how to build your dream startup from someone, if they don't tell you the harsh environment you are getting yourself into.

BUT, building your startup, and bringing on board people who are good communicators would make your experience a little bit easier.

What is your opinion about this change that's happening on LinkedIn? Is it for good or bad for start-up founders to find each other, share knowledge, or collaborate with each other?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

London-based New Vector nabs €4.1 million for ‘Matrix’, its decentralised comms ecosystem

Today New Vector, who is behind new collaboration solutions used by European governments and organisations alike, has announced raising approximately €4.1 million from Automattic Inc. This new investor brings both the financial backing and experience of being the parent company of web publishing and e-commerce platforms WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Jetpack, and enterprise WordPress VIP.

New Vector, founded in 2017, is on a mission to enable governments, businesses and individuals to run their own secure communication infrastructure, while interconnecting via the global Matrix network. So far the startup has developed Riot, the flagship Matrix-based messaging app, and Modular, the leading Matrix-based hosting platform. New Vector, formed by the team who created Matrix, also provides significant development to the Matrix open source project (an open network for secure, decentralised communication which lets organisations and individuals run their own collaboration apps).

Like WordPress, Matrix has a huge spectrum of users from the largest of organisations to individuals. Matrix has a strong installed base within governments, the largest deployment being the French government where it serves the country’s 5.5 million civil servants. Matrix is also popular with enterprises, such as Mozilla, which runs all public communication via Riot. Small businesses and individuals that want complete control over their communications are also rapidly adopting Matrix, which now has around 15.8 million users.

The team already raised €7.7 million in Q4 of 2019 from Notion Capital, firstminute capital and Dawn Capital, taking New Vector’s funding to a total of €16.4 million. They also currently have teams between London and Rennes, France.

Matthew Hodgson, CEO/CTO at New Vector commented: “We’re incredibly pleased to have Automattic on board. It is one of the most successful and well regarded open source companies in the world. We’re completely aligned in our love for the open web, open source and open standards. We share the same philosophy of transparency and data ownership.”

“We’re also looking forward to benefiting from Automattic’s experience in sustainably and responsibly funding and growing open source projects in general. WordPress.com is an excellent example of how one can support development of a project like WordPress without compromising its open source nature. With Riot having just launched end-to-end encryption by default, the additional investment will be directed towards improving Riot’s user experience and expanding Modular, New Vector’s SaaS offering.”

Founder of Automattic, Matt Mullenweg commented: “I am very excited about what New Vector is doing with Matrix – creating a robust, secure, open protocol that can bring all flavors of instant messaging and collaboration together, in the way that the web or email has its foundation layer. I share New Vector’s passion for open source and the power of open standards. I’m excited to see how Automattic and New Vector can collaborate on our shared vision in the future.”

EU-Startups

Serbia’s startup ecosystem at a glance

When people people think of Serbia, startups and technology are not the first association that comes to their mind. Usually there are two perceptions. Firstly, some people (mostly outside of Europe) don’t know exactly where Serbia is, and often confuse it with Siberia or Syria. Secondly, those who are familiar with Serbia and are sports fans know for sure that Serbia, despite being small in size and population, has some of the best teams in the world in basketball, water polo and volleyball. When it comes to sports personalities, the most recognised sportsperson from Serbia in the last 15 years is Novak Đoković, and in the last few years NBA star Nikola Jokić has also gained a lot of attention.

Unfortunately, many people still don’t know that some of the world’s biggest inventors were Serbians; it is enough to mention Nikola Tesla or Mihajlo Pupin. Serbia has been always fertile soil for innovation. Last year, Serbia was included for the first time in Startup Genome‘s research, where it can be read that there are between 200 and 400 startups and the ecosystem’s value is almost €300 million.

To spread the news about Serbia’s entrepreneurial history, in this article I will take you through some of the most prominent startups, tech sectors (gaming, productivity, on-demand apps, argitech, blockchain, to name just a few), as well as introduce you to Serbia’s innovation and tech hubs. You’ll also get to hear from some startup players in the ecosystem about their opinion of the startup scene.

Gaming startups

Similar to Finland, the gaming industry is one of the key pillars of the startup tech landscape in Serbia. When we speak about online gaming, the first company that needs to be mentioned is Nordeus. Founded in 2010, they currently they have 3 games – Top Eleven, Heroic and Golden Boot. The game itself is an online football manager, where more than 200 million players compete against each other. Top Eleven is nowadays the most popular sports game in the world, and they have signed endorsement agreement with the famous football coach José Mourinho.

We asked Branko Milutinović, founder and CEO of Nordeus, whether he thinks it is easier or harder to make world-class games in Serbia: “Gaming is competitive anywhere in the world, but I actually think we have an advantage here in Serbia. We have amazing local talent coming out of our higher education system and fantastic engineers. Couple that with lower cost of setting up and running a business, while competing globally with no physical borders, and we see plenty of opportunity here.”

Beside Nordeus, there are dozen other game companies, including Mad Head Games (2011) and Peaksel (2012). Mad Head Games has so far created 48 HOPA game titles, has 145 employees, and their studio is focused on making AAA games for the most demanding gamers.

Peaksel is a privately held and bootstrapped company, which today has over 40 full-time employees and a portfolio of over 700 mobile apps and games (virtual pets, casual games, quiz games, colouring pages, math games, art apps).

Productivity apps

It’s also worth mentioning time-tracker Clockify. Despite only launching in 2017, it has quickly risen to the no. 1 spot in free time-tracker services. More than 100,000 people sign up every month to use their service. With Clockify you can easily manage different projects, track usage time and make neat reporting for your clients, among other tools.

On-Demand apps

FitPass was started in 2015 and they offer different sport and leisure activity venues with one membership card. They are the only such company in Serbia and currently cooperate with 650 venues in 32 cities in Serbia and offer choice of 60 activities. More than 1000 companies offer Fitpass to their employees. In 2019, French company Groupe Up acquired a 20% stake in the company for an undisclosed sum.

Sredime was started at the end of 2016. Sredime is a marketplace for people who want to find and conveniently book different beauty salon services. They have over 35 000 users and 360 salons on the platform. Until March 2020, their business model was exclusively based on commission from bookings but since then they implemented two additional options: monthly software usage, or one fee plus additional free of charge bookings. Ivana Zirojević, CEO of Sredime, said the post-lockdown situation is slowly getting back to normal, and that they are witnessing 60%-70% of the booking level compared to the period before the martial law was active.

Car:Go is a popular on-demand transportation app in Belgrade. They have launched in 2015 and experienced the biggest growth when taxi drivers made protests during 2019. Comparing to similar platforms which usually do not have their own vehicles, they invested in several hundred hybrid vehicles. They offer free transportation to people with invalidity in appropriate mini bus for that purpose. They announced that they will soon launch the delivery service called Butler same like other ride-hailing companies.

Agritech startups

Serbia is (still) agricultural-first country. Hopefully, one day it will change to be a tech-first country, or some mixture of agriculture and technology. For this reason, there are a number of different innovative agritech startups in Serbia.

One of those startups is Agremo, a cloud-based software which is used by companies in agriculture, crop growers, and anyone else interested in plant status and health. Their platform uses artificial intelligence, computer vision, and machine learning to extract insights from aerial imagery in order to improve agricultural processes and used by more than 3000 users from 50 countries. We included Agremo in our list of 10 startups to watch in the Balkans in 2019 and beyond.

Smart Watering is agritech startup that allows farmers to control different parameters of their lands and plants via an app, remotely. With the app farmers can switch on/off watering, track the average daily temperature, humidity of the field, which zones are getting the water, amount of watering, and appropriate dosage of the nutritients. Customers get all notifications on their phones and, therefore, to be able to react in time if some issues arise.

Blockchain, crypto mining and green startups

The biggest ICOs in Serbia are from GameCredits (€51.5 million) and OriginTrail (€20.2 million). Also, different companies provide crypto mining as the price of the electricity is one of the cheapest.

“Serbia is the Europe’s hub for mining cryptocurrencies and related financial operations. Good infrastructure, cheap electricity and skilled workforce make many investors from around the Continent colocate their cryptomines to Serbian facilities. Unfortunately, Serbian blockchain development scene took a heavy hit after the post-ICO industry meltdown. However, a dozen or so teams have survived and thrived, doing solution development for foreign clients, being the silent leaders in their respective areas of expertise” , said Dušan Katilović, Founder and CEO of Polatris Consuting, an advisory company specialized in permissioned blockchain solutions.

When we speak about electricity it is worth mentioning companies which help in reducing CO2 emission. Belgrade-based company E-PRIME makes e-bikes, e-trikes and trailers while Strawberry Energy makes solar-powered products like smart benches and Strawberry trees that can be seen even in London.

Prominent hubs and centres growing the Serbian tech scene

It is much easier to become an entrepreneur in Serbia and have a startup in 2020 compared to 10 years ago. Community is very collaborative, there are numerous free and paid workshops, courses, events, and podcasts. Academic institutions have opened separate departments for data science, digital marketing which weren’t availaable before. Pupils in primary schools learn their first programming steps in Scratch, have the opportunity to attend different courses to learn about programming robots and similar cool things.

The development of the tech scene in Serbia is thanks to different hubs, centres and organizations. I will mention few of them but there are definitely more.

Startit is one such organisation with co-working centres in different cities in Serbia that help to foster entrepreneurship in smaller cities, as well as a cool blog. They regularly organise different workshops and events. For several years they have been organizing an accelerator programme which lasts 3 months, called Startit Rast (in English, Startit Growth), supported by Google. Their annual events include “Znam da možemo” (in English, “We know that we can”), where some of the highlights of their activities and the Serbian startup scene are showcased. One of their latest projects is called Tesla Nation through which they want to help promote Serbian tech companies worldwide.

ICT Hub is the centre for development of entrepreneurship and innovation. They offer cowering space to their members, in which are also held different lectures and workshops. Beside that, thru ICT Hub Venture they invest in promising ideas and they are also active in working with corporations and helping them in digital transformation.

Impact Hub Belgrade is part of the global Impact Hub network consisted of more than 100 hubs worldwide and have over 16 000 members, partners, mentors and investors. Beside interesting coworking space in the heart of Belgrade and evemts, they offer financial support to startups which want to take global challenges.

In Centar is coworking space in Belgrade which beside space for different companies and freelancer offers workshops on different topics like web programming, digital marketing, 3D modelling for kids, virtual assistant course. They also have a 3 month program called StartIN held by well-known people from the Serbian tech scene.

Netokracija is another company which also contributed a lot to growing the regional startup industry. Besides their blog, they organise different events like OMG Commerce focused in e-commerce, and Ladies of New Business aimed at women who are working on different activities in digital.

The biggest tech event for startups in Serbia is Webiz. Since 2013, they have grown from a local event focusing on internet businesses to large event which also holds lectures and workshops in different cities around Serbia.

As Serbia is among the countries with highest “brain drains”, there are many skilled Serbians abroad working abroad in some of the world’s best companies. A group of them got together and founded Serbian Entrepreneurs, which aims to get Serbia put on the global tech map and Serbian entrepreneurs included in important communities and conversations. For example, Serbia was only recently listed on the App Store.

Some of the biggest domestic tech companies founded Digital Serbia Initiative. This non-profit organisation carries out different activities to improve the overall tech landscape in Serbia. To do this, they combine the forces of more than 30 member-organisations from all sectors,  including tech, banking and finance, telco, consulting, legal, education and research, media, pharmaceutical, and startup support organisations.

Additionally, some foundations like Petlja help youngsters to learn their first steps in programming, otherwise known as “algorithmic literacy”. This is important to make sure Serbia’s younger generations can both join new technology startups in the future from the rest of Europe and the world, as well lead the charge on the home front.

Government and local administration support

The Government of Serbia has also implemented different incentives for companies who employ Serbian citizens living abroad and will because of that come back to Serbia. These companies pay up to 70% less taxes on their salaries in the first period of 5 years. From the beginning of 2019, companies also have a tax reduction if they invest in R&D in Serbia or a tax reduction for an innovation product. Also important to note is that companies which make innovative products can have 0% income tax.

From 2020, there has been a significant reduction in salary taxes and contributions if companies employ people who didn’t have an employment agreement in 2019. In the first year there is a 70% decrease of taxes, plus a 100% decrease in pension and insurance contributions. There are also benefits for the 2nd and 3rd year too, based on different percentage decreases.

Plus, in order to increase foreign direct investments, different incentives are offered. Both international companies and local companies can apply for different grants and credits for the development of their businesses. Additionally, the procedure for issuing work permits for foreigners became simpler regarding the conversion of foreign academic diplomas.

Conclusion

As you can see the Serbian startup has a lot of power behind it, and the only way is up! From world-class and world-famous gaming startups, to agritech fuelled by a long agricultural history, the startup scene is backed up by a whole host of events, hubs and government support.

If you’d like to jump into a another ecosystem, check out our article on North Macedonia: Skopje’s startup ecosystem at a glance.

EU-Startups

Coronavirus latest: Portugal government announces €25M fund support to safeguard tech and startup ecosystem

The coronavirus has hit the startup ecosystem hard across the world! Many startups are not able to operate due to lockdown while others are witnessing losses due to lack of revenue. Many businesses have urged their respective government to announce a robust economic package to fuel recovery. 

€25 million relief package!

Fortunately, governments around the world are announcing measures to support SMEs. Recently, the Portugal government has announced a package of €25 million in a bid to protect the country’s tech and startup ecosystem. 

“The set of five new measures, with a value of more than 25 million euros, could represent an average of 10,000 euros of potential support for each startup,” the Ministry of Economy and Digital Transition said in a statement.

Package will cover financial support!

This comes after a week of talks with the pop-up movement #tech4covid19, representing accelerators, founders, and investors. The announced package is expected to cover various financial supports including, company financing, employee incentives, social innovation investment fund, and a fund offering co-investment with private investors. 

While some founders are worried about the pace of the process, the government has assured that they are working hard to design measures that can have an immediate impact. It’s worth mentioning that the entire country has been under emergency since March. 

At the time of writing this article, Portugal has registered 21,982 COVID-19 cases, with 785 deaths and 1,143 recoveries.

A couple of days back, the UK government has announced a new scheme to issue convertible loans to innovative companies that are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak: the Future Fund. According to the official news, the Government will initially make up to £250,000,000 available in total for the scheme.

Main image credits: Konstantin Egorychev/Shutterstock

Stay tuned to Silicon Canals for more European technology news

The post Coronavirus latest: Portugal government announces €25M fund support to safeguard tech and startup ecosystem appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

North Macedonia: Skopje’s startup ecosystem at a glance

Lying in the heart of the Balkan Peninsula, amid the mountainous country of North Macedonia, Skopje boasts a diverse, modern and exceptionally friendly population, and a rich cultural, traditional and natural heritage. Despite some arduous challenges, its startup and tech community is working hard to decorate Europe’s map with another eclectic tech city. It’s becoming clear that Skopje has a highly promising startup climate.

Although there is still a long way to go, over the past 5 years the city’s technological development has been breathing in a dynamic rhythm, making Skopje a lively IT and startup hub with over 60% of the country’s startups under its belt. Although producing a world-class tech startup has been on its bucket list for quite some time, the increasing number of national and regional success stories have become a major driving force behind the country’s economic development and are fueling considerably the collaboration amongst the Balkan’s startup communities.

Less than a decade ago Skopje was just a source of cheap labor, with numerous IT outsourcing companies serving as a helping hand in the development of foreign countries’ innovations. Today, Skopje’s new talented generation, along with a rising number of startup players, are empowering a fully united startup ecosystem, changing the state of play and dotting the startup map with more and more product-focused companies. Skopje can take advantage of its army of low-cost talented developers, and somehow manages to avoid a ‘brain-drain’ of its top talents.

One of the key drivers behind the growth of Skopje’s startup community is ‘Startup Macedonia’ an association founded by a group of Macedonian startup enthusiasts, experts, investors, accelerators, and other organisations. Moreover, the present government’s increased interest in igniting technological advances and innovation through its ‘Fund for Innovation and Technological Development’ significantly supports Skopje’s journey to step up the innovation ladder. As a result, Skopje is receiving growing interest from European venture capitalists and entrepreneurs alike, willing to invest and launch in a city which abounds in under-used potential and institutional support. Looking to the future, although Skopje’s startup community has recently been forced online due to the pandemic, this feisty ecosystem will always find the silver lining, there being no doubt that new startups will appear on the horizon and make an international impact. 

Quotes from members of Skopje’s startup scene

Nina Nikolikj, co-founder of Startup Macedonia and SwissEP Program Officer, said: “Something that has been years in the making, facilitating a collaborative startup and innovation ecosystem, is now the new norm for the #MKstartups community. And it’s all because of the many great and inspiring people in SkopYeah :)”

Nikola Bojkov, CEO of EmbedSocial, said: “Today, the geographical constraints mean very little to Macedonian startups who have the advantage of employing talented developers at a relatively low cost. It’s just amazing to live in Skopje while conquering the global market”.

Igor Madzov, so-founder of Startup Macedonia, Investment Facilitator at SwissEP for SEE, and Investment Advisor at SCV, said: “Offering a favourable climate for local and international founders to delve into a pool of affordable resources, Skopje has been a launchpad for many startups to get off the ground. The city creates a perfect environment for startups to show their skill sets and capacities in order to provide the ecosystem with solutions to the ever-emerging challenges.”

Below, you’ll find some basic insights into the startup community in Skopje – everything from its key players to the most popular tech and startup events.

Skopje’s top startup hubs and communities

Startup Macedonia – Headquartered in Skopje, the association has been working at full steam to digitalise the ecosystem and make Macedonia one single connected startup hub since 2016. They have brought to the table a data-centric startup platform that serves as an open hub for the holistic ecosystem progress, as an events calendar, and as a place to find individual profiles of startups, organisations, investors, and mentors.

Social Innovation Hub – The Social Innovation Hub (SIH), founded by the Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering and UNDP, aims to make the most of technology to advance young people’s development by encouraging innovative solutions to social and economic problems. It also provides a space for them to work and incubate their ideas.

Social Impact Lab – Operating from Skopje, the Social Impact Lab focuses on solving global problems, creating impact, and influencing society, by strengthening and reshaping the ecosystem of social entrepreneurship in the country. To achieve this, the Social Impact Lab runs several programmes and projects dedicated to fostering social entrepreneurship and reestablishing cooperation with all relevant players.

INNOFEIT – Having recognised the need for more tight cooperation between academia and industries, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Information Technologies opened the Centre for Technology Transfer and Innovations. INNOFEIT is currently an important cornerstone in the Macedonian innovation ecosystem, a co-founder of the Accelerator UKIM and a selected candidate by EIB to become a Centre-of-Excellence in its fields of interest.

Brainster Space – Brainster Space is a tech centre, co-working space, and a continuously growing community. Located in the centre of Skopje, this new tech hotspot is built on a single mission – to build and nurture connections between creative industries and tech companies.

 

Skopje’s most promising startups

Elevate Global – Founded in 2017, Elevate-Global helps enterprises leverage Big Data and AI to gather, process and acquire knowledge from the data available at their facility in order to predict future best actions.The company has been selected among the top 30 innovative tech companies to be presented at the South East Europe Tech Tour 2019 and is a proud holder of several awards.

Microtica – Microtica is a SaaS platform that automates the entire software delivery process. The company’s aim is to solve the problems of the teams that work on different stages of the software delivery process, with the common goal to deliver software to production as efficiently as possible. Launched in 2019, this startup’s main motto is to make the app development as easy as building a Lego house.

EmbedSocial – EmbedSocial is a platform for social media tools. It is designed to help marketers build better relationships with their web visitors by syncing their social media activity with their web presence. Founded in 2016, the platform was recognised and co-financed as innovative with strong growth potential by the Fund for Innovation and Technological Development by the Macedonian Government. 

Airport Briefing – Airport Briefing is a new generation flight operations and training platform, and an ultimate situational awareness tool for any operating aviator. It helps the pilots build the mental model of the environment. The interactive 3D environment within Airport Briefing allows visual analysis which enhances the experience and presents the data in a user-friendly way for its pilots. The product has been developed by Synapse Aviation, a startup founded in 2016.

Stornest – Stornest is providing a unique service with impenetrable encryption technology designed for people to share with their loved information that they keep private while they are alive, in case something happens to them. Clients upload their information (information on financial/real estate/other assets, passwords, crypto-currency keys, etc.) in their cloud folder. The information is shared with their assigned beneficiaries if needed. The startup was founded in September 2017.

Investment Opportunities in Skopje

Fund for Innovation and Technology Development – Operating as a government entity, the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development (FITR) has been co-financing a substantial number of startups in Skopje over the past years. Its mission is to encourage and support innovation activities in micro, small and medium-size enterprises (MSMEs), while simultaneously improving the business environment for the development of competitive capabilities.

Crimson capital – Crimson Capital is an international investment bank and management consulting firm established in 1991 to provide privatization and restructuring expertise to emerging markets in Eastern Europe. Through its Skopje office, it provides loans to local SMEs and startups. Its guiding principles include putting relationships at the centre of its work, and helping people to help themselves.

SEAF Macedonia – SEAF launched its SEAF Macedonia Fund in July 1998, with USAID as their first investor, to provide expansion capital to a vital part of Macedonia’s newly independent economy. SEAF manages multiple funds, ranging from mezzanine investments to PE funds. Recently, with their newest fund, they have been investing in early stage technology companies.

South Central Ventures – Being the only venture capital firm operating in Skopje, South Central Ventures (SCV) is focused on tech companies in the Balkans. The €40 million fund is dedicated primarily to early-stage and growth investments intended to fuel the international business expansion and growth of the most promising tech startups. Their portfolio currently consists of around 30 startups from across the Balkan.

CEED Business Club – Composed of about 150 entrepreneurs and owners of successful businesses, CEED Business Club is one of most active business angel groups in N. Macedonia. The club has operated since 2016 and has made several investments.

 

I2Ban – I2BAN or Innovation 2 Business Angel Network is the first official Business Angel Network (BAN) of Macedonia established in March 2011. They bring together the most renowned and prominent business-people in the country and connect them with the best investment opportunities in startup businesses.

 

Important Accelerators and Incubators

Business Accelerator UKIM – Accelerator UKIM is a business-technology accelerator established to identify and support the growth of the most promising technology entrepreneurs, startups, spin-offs and scale-ups in N. Macedonia. Support includes tailored pre-acceleration and acceleration programmes, early-stage investments (in the area of €25K – €75K), and access to international markets, networks and communities. 

Ceed Hub Skopje – Offering access to co-working spaces, events and educational programmes as well finance and mentorship support, CEED Hub Skopje acts as the central root of a fast-moving community. Overall it’s creating a bridge to take early-stage startups to the stage of mature venture. Its partners include US Aid, and it also offers fellowships for innovation leaders to travel to the US for a 4 week immersion experience in Chicago, sponsored by US Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Seavus Accelerator – Seavus Accelerator is a programme co-funded by the Fund for Innovation and Technology Development and led by Seavus Education and Development Center, which is an active player in the international startup community. Along with its investments, Seavus Accelerator offers an intensive 6 + 6-week mentorship-driven programme and connects startups with more than 1000 tech experts globally.

Newman’s Business Accelerator – Established as the first startup accelerator in the country, Newman’s Business Accelerator currently runs the majority of interconnected programmes in the area of education, entrepreneurship, corporate innovations, and investments. Over the last 5 years, Newman’s BA has hosted over 160 startup events and has organized high-tech training for over 6500 participants.

YES Incubator  Youth Entrepreneurial Service (YES) Foundation offers access to services for accelerating growth and development. It does this through its main component, a business incubator, which supports micro, small and medium enterprises in the ICT field. It also offers mentorship, courses related to entrepreneurship, and resources via its website.

Skopje’s most popular startup/tech events 

Startup Weekend Skopje – Startup Weekend is a 54-hour hackathon for developing new business ideas. The event was first organised in Skopje 2011 and ever since then presents a launchpad for numerous local startups. One success story is Challenger, an app that gained popularity amongst locals by encouraging individual sustainable habits that bring a green and positive change in local communities.

Startup Grind Skopje – Startup Grind is a large independent startup community, actively educating, inspiring, and connecting 215,000 founders in over 185 cities. The Skopje chapter was launched in Skopje in June 2014. Its main goal is to connect entrepreneurs and the business sector, into a cohesive community where they will support and help each other.

Get in the ring – Skopje is part of the global startup competition Get in the Ring, which is an opportunity for startups of different stages to gain exposure and credibility, by being selected as a winner of a local event. Organised by the Faculty of Computer Science & Engineering in Skopje, the event brings together numerous innovators and business leaders to listen to the solutions. 

InTech Meetup – Supported by InPlayer, InTech Meetup is an event that aims to foster knowledge exchange and networking in the IT community. Since December 2016, seven successful InTech Meetup events have been held with prominent domestic and international speakers on a variety of topics such as microservices, technology and gaming innovations, open source software and machine learning.

Codecamp – CodeCamp is a free, one-day software development conference bringing together developers to encourage excellence and innovation in the Macedonian software community. At this conference, the emerging technologies and best practices in the software development industry are covered, regardless of technology platform or language.

Igor Madzov contributed to this article. Image from Wikimedia Commons, by Rašo.

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