EBAN Winter University Zagreb 2016 surpassed all existing numbers for attendees, speakers, policy makers, entrepreneurs, and premieres!
On 28-30 November, more than 1,000 attendees from all over the world gathered in Zagreb, Croatia, for three days of celebrating entrepreneurship and angel investing at the EBAN Winter University. Guests of the event included angel investors, entrepreneurs, corporates, politicians, accelerators, incubators, crowd funders and even rock stars!
This yearâ€™s EBAN Winter University focused on building the entrepreneurial mindset in Croatia and the CEE region. For EBAN, the CEE countries of Europe are where the future lies with world-class, creative entrepreneurs and business angels who recognize the importance of banding together with their CEE Compatriots to build innovative companies which can scale across the whole region, Europe, and the world.
The conference was opened by two amazing keynote speeches from the President of Croatia – Olinda Grabar-KitarovicÌâ€“ and rock legend turned pilot turned successful entrepreneur â€“ Bruce Dickinson.
The President spoke about the importance of entrepreneurs and startups in creating jobs and economic growth, as well as the importance of gender balance in innovative fields and companies, which is something that is close to EBANâ€™s heart â€“ as we are closely involved with the Rising Tide initiative, which was also featured prominently at the Winter University.
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, who has founded multiple successful ventures despite having already achieved great success in the music industry and being an airline pilot on top of everything else, gave the next talk! He gave an inspiring speech on the amazing things one can achieve when following oneâ€™s instincts and chasing after the craziest of ideas.
Governments are Game Changers
Following the explosive opening, the conference got off to a great start with the â€œGovernments are Game Changersâ€ panel, moderated by Tom Tyler from Bloomberg and featuring Mark Begich, former US Senator and Mayor from Alaska; Martina DaliÄ‡, Deputy Prime Minister of Croatia and Minister of Economy, Small and Medium Entrepreneurship and Crafts, and Ann-Kristin Adolfsson from the SAAB group. The panelists emphasized the importance of transparency both in politics and private enterprise as a way of gaining trust and achieving success.
Super Secrets from Super Angels
Following the discussion of how politics affects entrepreneurship and investment, four greatly successful angel investors â€“ Johann Hansmann, Peter Cowley, Peter Jungen and Dr. Alicia Robb – shared their knowledge and experience in the â€œSuper Secrets from Super Angelsâ€ panel, moderated by CRANE Board Member SaÅ¡a CvetojeviÄ‡. The audience got to hear how they became successful by angel investing, what their investment criteria are, and how they stay on top of the latest trends in innovation.
Scaling up Globally
Next up was advice from entrepreneurs who have already been through it all – Sandro Mur of Bellabeat, Damir Sabol of Photomath, Luka Abrus of Shoutem/Five, and Avil Marcel Kazstan of Sixgil shared their success stories and advice in the panel moderated by NYC startup attorney Mauro Viskovic on â€œhow to scale globallyâ€, providing hopeful entrepreneurs with a lot of great advice on how to achieve global success.
Dov Moran â€“ Inventor of the USB Stick
The success stories did not stop there â€“ the next keynote speech came from Dov Moran, whose invention changed the way we transfer files throughout the world. The inventor of the USB stick gave an inspiring speech about how many failed enterprises usually stand behind great success and emphasized that no one is immune to failure, even after achieving great success.
Esther Dyson and Space as the Final Frontier
Next up was Esther Dyson, a trained cosmonaut and pioneer angel investor, who was in the CEE region previously for DOKUTECH as well and this year was around for the EBAN Winter University and share her vast knowledge and experience.
Being focused on investing in Space ventures, among other sectors, Esther Dyson was an inspiration, even making the idea of retirement exciting by sharing that she plans to spend her last years on Mars!
The discussion on space continued, moderated by Selma Prodavonic of the Austrian Angel Investors Association with a panel which also featured Martin MÃ¶ssler, from the European Space Agency and Allyson Reneau from NASA. The panel clearly showed how space is truly the final frontier for startups and angel investors and that investing in the sector is an unmissable opportunity.
Cisco EIR at EBAN Winter University
The Winter University was also EBANâ€™s first opportunity to welcome Tom Yoritaka and Jonathan Costello from the Cisco Entrepreneurs in Residence program, who, together with Andy McCartney from Whitespace Ventures, held an extremely interesting talk on their program on 29 November, in addition to a workshop for entrepreneurs and investors the day before which focused on communicating value and led by inspirational speaker Paul Lanigan.
The Cisco â€œEntrepreneurs in Residenceâ€ is a startup development program that focuses on some of the most important technological trends of our time – find out more about the program here!
Entrepreneurs taking center stage at the Winter University
Entrepreneurs took center stage throughout all three days of the EBAN Winter University with special training activities, pitching sessions and workshops. Under the scope ofÂ Training, Coaching andÂ Demo DayÂ onÂ 28 November, EBAN organized a set of activities focused on entrepreneurs, including coaching workshops, one-to-one meetings with investors and elevator pitch dry-runs as part of the InvestHorizon project.
The grand finale of the day was the Global Investment Forum, where startups had the chance to pitch to an audience ofÂ more than 50 active investors, equipped with advice and a better understanding of pitching best practices. Syneidi, the winner of the Global Investor Forum, is a cyber security startup backed by both ICEX and ESA. On 29-30 November, the entrepreneurs took their pitches to an even larger audience at the Winter University Conference.
In addition to EBAN entrepreneurs, contestants from the Zagreb Connect competition also had the opportunity to pitch at the Winter University, and the winner was revealed there as well – 45HC.com took the first prize of â‚¬20,000 euros. GowaftÂ took second place in the competition, Nanodiy – third placeÂ and Vollo received the City of Zagreb award. One of Zagreb Connect the startups – TinitusOFF – even received a $25,000 prize in Azure credit from Microsoft’s BizSpark.