Proficiency in English, fast internet connection, young and enthusiastic people, close location to Western European capitals, VAT free operations for companies offering outsourcing services and commitment from the government to further improving business conditions are the factors that make Kosovo an exciting location for both startups and established western companies looking for IT Outsourcing and investment opportunities.
The number of startups in Kosovo is not big, but their potential is high. The leading sectors include Productivity and Collaboration tools, followed by Hardware, SaaS Solutions, and Entertainment.
In my opinion, and while talking to other tech industry leaders in Kosovo, the list below resembles the 7 most exciting startups that are based in Kosovo and that are planning or are already making products for global markets (There will be another list for service oriented companies and other exciting ventures around Kosovo).
Most of them have one or more co-founders that have lived in the US and returned to Kosovo or still live in the US and are in some way connected to the country. This also represents a strong asset for Kosovo, as the diaspora is returning to bring their experience to the local market and launch global products.
This is one of most buzzed startups of Kosovo and the region. In February 2016, Gjirafa Inc raised a $2 million Series A round led by San Francisco and Prague-based Rockaway Capital.
Its main public product is Gjirafa.com, an Albanian Language Search Engine which also provides aggregation services for News, Used Cars, Real-Estate, Job Vacancies, and more. It is the fastest growing platform in the Albanian-speaking region.
Formon designs and manufactures state of the art Desktop 3D Printers, which are affordable and available to everyone including architects, designers, engineers and any 3D printing enthusiasts and beginners.
Although not yet fully established on the market, Formon has already been awarded the Albanian ICT Award – Innovation of the year 2015 and FIDES Philanthropy Awards – Innovation Award. Rron Cena, Co-Founder of Formon 3D, told us that the company aims to ship over 500 3D Printers to global customers by the end of the year. “We want to double the number by next year and make 3D printing affordable to everyone” stated Rron.
Trigonom, the company behind the Albanian Alphabet, Haluci, 4 Ninja and many others, has launched another app called Hello “ Talk to Strangers, which lets you talk to a complete stranger for 2 minutes in a very easy to use interface. In less than a month, the founders have managed to get over 200,000 downloads from all over the world, and it’s still growing rapidly with new features planned to be released throughout the year.
The startup has also managed to raise an undisclosed amount of investment from a new venture capital firm based in Kosovo, Primus UP.
Picasio Inc, based in Baltimore, US and with the development & marketing team handled by Manaferra, a Digital Marketing Agency in Kosovo, launched back in May. Their main product is an interactive tool for publishers and marketers that enables them to create quizzes and integrate them easily with content.
Picasio continues to be a bootstrapped startup and is seeking for outside investment to grow & scale faster in the global market. Just after the launch and coverage on Digjitale seems to be going in the right direction and the founders behind the company are listening closely to the customers to adjust the product and build tools that they use.
Solaborate is an all-in-one platform for real-time collaboration, networking, and building ecosystems around companies, products, and services.
The startup struggled to take off for a while but is reportedly working on a new product called “Hello Solaborate“. The launch is planned to happen on Kickstarter and the latest rumors indicate that it’s gonna be a type of hardware device that serves for video conferencing. The founders are currently planning the campaign and the buzz around it is quite interesting.
Have you ever been in doubts what decision to make? What game to watch, where to dine with friends or even what sneakers to purchase? When in doubt, there is nothing more important than a second, a third even a fourth opinion to help make a decision.
This is HUM, a Kosovo/US startup which has been quite active the recent months, especially due to their impressive presence at Podim in Slovenia and Spark.me in Montenegro. HUM allows users to ask questions and seeks answers as well as provide their opinions to those who have asked the questions by avoiding hate speech and online bullying.