Start Trek tour de Balkans

The Balkan startup scene has been explored by the Bulgarian accelerators Eleven and LaunchHUB, who together with local players organized Balkan Start Trek, a series of meetups with entrepreneurs from Southeast Europe from 14-18 October, with the mission to open doors to the scene, meet new startups and to get to know interesting ideas.

Belgrade, Zagreb, Banja Luka, Podgorica and Prishtina were on the map of visitation with speakers from both accelerators and also guest speakers. The event held in Prishtina, on the 18th of October was hosted by the business incubator Innovation Centre Kosovo, whereas only Eleven was present while Launchub wasn’t present at all, which was a bit uneccpected since above 60 participants and 6 teams were present to pitch in front of them and present their startups.

Early stage Investments – cracking the code

Dilyan Dimitrov of Sofia-based Eleven talked to entrepreneurs about how to apply to an early-stage accelerator. In his view, there are three rounds that a startup team needs to cover in order to get in.

Round 1: Desk research and filling out the application form. To put things in perspective, Dimitrov said that from 250-300 applications per window, only the best 60-80 make it to Round 2.
Round 2: Skype interviews. Out of the previously selected 60-80 applications, the best 25 get a ticket to the final round in Sofia. To improve your chances in the competition, referrals and traction will help you a lot in this round. Make sure you scan investors networks for potential recommendations.
Round 3: The presentation. From the 25 applications chosen in the previous round, the best 10-12 will be taken onboard of Eleven. In order to make it, Dimitrov’s advice is to work on your presentation skills. Introduce your team and emphasise previous experiences and useful skills of your team members. Also, investors are often times lazy people, he said, so make sure your presentation is simple enough that even your granny could understand it.

Applications from Kosovo

Since their start, the team of Eleven has invested in a total of 46 startups, five of which from Serbia and four from Croatia. They’ve also received applications from Kosovo and Albania, talking to two teams so far, but none of them has been accepted to the program.

Although the accelerator has invested a lot in online-only startups, they are looking to open up their scope. According to Eleven’s Ivaylo Simov, startups should attempt to meet the needs of industries like animal care, legal services and sports, to name a few. Investors love to be a part of projects that will make our planet better place,” he said.

Pitching ideas

The presentation day in Prishtina was a bit hectic and the response from Eleven was not quite as expected, while the non-presence of Launchub, made some teams drop-out and not present at all. The pitchers included Pishpirik, in which finally it has been made public that there are some local investors, which were also involved with, while presentations were made also by ZAG Apps, Solaborate and from Albania.