“We know we can”: 700+ people attend the central Serbian startup community eventBY Zoja Kukic ON May 25
The biggest startup event in Serbia this year was held on Saturday May 16th in Belgrade, with more than 700 people who attended a celebration of the growing local startup scene.
In some ways, what was celebrated under the motto We know we can was not just entrepreneurship, but a spirit of optimism, energy and determination in an apathetic country which takes second place in the world in the brain drain category due to harsh and absurd economic and social conditions.
The event paid tribute to all those who’ve actively participated or supported development of entrepreneurship in Serbia, and worked close with our NGO, SEE ICT, to build the community which was almost nonexistent just a few short years back.
The event was part of larger campaign “We know we can” aimed at supporting and encouraging young people with entrepreneurial drive to stay in Serbia and build global businesses at home. One of the supporters of the campaign is the founder of the globally successful game development company Nordeus, Branko Milutinovic:
I remember very well what the situation with startups in Serbia used to be like five, six years ago when Ivan, Milan and I returned to Serbia to start Nordeus.
The scene didn’t even exist. I would like to say thank you to everyone in SEE ICT/Startit for what they’ve done to change the situation for better and help new generations have better opportunities.
This campaign has aimed to put local startup founders in focus, to spread their ideas and actions to the general public, and demonstrate that there is a significant startup community willing to offer its support and knowledge to new members.
The enthusiasm of the crowd at Saturday’s event has proven the potential this young startup community has to offer. The audience had a chance to get acquainted with the potential and talent closer through eight pitches by recent founders, fresh out of our own Startup Academy.
Glambox — Online subscription service which delivers customized set of beauty products to your door each month.
Swapp — Mobile marketplace for swapping things you want to get rid off.
WorkPuls — Automatic time tracking software which gives insight how employees spend working hours on computers.
AstroSpace — Designer horoscopes that combine astrology with craft and arts.
Buscador — Mobile provider of safest hiking routes.
drytools — Providing developers with tools that make coding faster.
Kidster — Mobile marketplace for buying and selling everything kids need.
PickMi — Designs unique toyboxes for children and toddlers.
Some of them already have meaningful traction and market, some have gotten seed investments, while others are just about to launch their products.
One signal that shows our efforts are moving the needle in the right direction is the impressive activity on social media. More than 600 tweets tagged #znamdamozemo (Serbian for We know we can) reached an audience of around half a million users. More than 100 individuals visited our offices in Potkrovlje Hub in the last two weeks to take a photo in front of We know we can sign and show their support for the vision of a vibrant, constructive and promising future.
Two big announcements were made during the Saturday’s event: Startit Center will open its doors thisFall — a physical location that is aimed at spurring knowledge, innovation and further building of the local tech community. It is supported by Savski Venac municipality, BC 47, GIZ and Erste Bank, and implemented by our NGO, SEE ICT.
Also, a new regional fund €40M large has been announced by Jan Kobler, one of the managers. The funds are to come from the European Investment Fund, EBRD, ENIF, the Serbian government and individual contributors.
Jan Kobler, a partner in the new fund, took the chance to present the plans during the event:
Individual investments in startups will range from €500K to €3M, but we’ll also be making smaller seed investments around €100K per startup. Fund will invest in teams and companies whose potential and ambition for global growth has foundations in local knowledge.
Both projects, the new fund and the new space in Belgrade, have high potential for further kickstarting of the local and national tech and entrepreneur community.
SEE ICT has been developing IT entrepreneurial community in Serbia since 2010. More than 40 startups with 100+ employees have been founded through our efforts. Cumulative investments these startups have received ever since totals around €2M.
We know we can is also the story about usand the movement we started in our community and beyond, in spite of all the hurdles and few early believers and supporters of our mission.
We’re excited for what’s coming up next and turning small steps into leaps. We invite you to get in touch and join us.