What's the status of available venture capital in Slovenia?
Technology Park Ljubljana hosted an event for entrepreneurs, eager to find out more about how they can scale their startup with the help of external funding. The last event before attendees scattered around the premises to attend individual workshops, was the investors roundtable. Steering the discussion between:
- Aljoša Domijan, ABC Accelerator
- Branko Drobnak, Business Angels of Slovenia
- Jure Mikuž, South Central Ventures
- Peter Ribarič, Silicon Gardens
- Alexandre Massart, Blend Ventures and
- Maja Tomanič Vidovič, Slovene Enterprise Fund
to relevant topics was, Jakob Gajšek from Ljubljana University Incubator.
There are several opportunities for Slovenian startups to raise funds. Drobnak from Business Angels of Slovenia reminded the audience about our demo days. Ribarič from Sillicon Gardens announced the creation of a “micro” VC fund, which will be headed by Gregor Rebolj in close cooperation with investors exiting from the only Slovenian unicorn – Outfit7. The fund is expected to kick off its activities in the second half of 2019.
Domijan outlined their activities in the ABC Accelerator, where applications for their 9th Batch of startups-to-be-accelerated have just opened and will close on April 4th. Massart from Blend Ventures reminded everybody about the importance of corporate investors. Corporations are increasingly innovating openly and are eager to cooperate with competent startups.
Breaking with the myths: if one bank invests in you, this doesn’t mean other banks will not. The conviction that a startup will miss out on cooperating with their first investors competitors is false.
Mikuž from South Central Ventures too announced an increase in their funds’ activities. Last but not least Tomanič Vidovič, announced the 9 mio EUR coinvestment scheme, launching in the second half of the year. To bid for these funds, a startup will have to convince a private investor and after they will have the investors' commitment, they will apply for the investment to be doubled by the Slovene Enterprise Fund.
On a side note investors also engaged in the general discussion about the Slovenian ecosystem. Drobnak put in a good word for all the stakeholders, reinstating that if an entrepreneur wishes to set up a startup, they receive a lot of support. The discussion turned to Slovenian startups, where the round tables’ participants pointed out some observations:
– when investors listen to for example startups originating in the USA, the sky is their limit. Entrepreneurs plan to conquer “the mighty” China and after that the world.
A really good startup CEO is nonstop raising funds, constantly updating investors on progress. CEO’s communication style is the make it or break it momentum.
Slovenian startups on the contrary are often too modest. Domijan stressed that homegrown startups should indeed first master their local market. This success can prove the entrepreneurs’ network building skills and market analysis. After that it is absolutely necessary to quickly identify new markets to push to. Growth on Slovenian market only, can rarely return the investors’ investment.
Secondly, the VC raison d’etre
– Gajšek made an important clarification about VC funds. These invest in many startups, betting on the odds of one successful scaleup returning the entire investment in the entire batch. This means that startups approaching VCs should have a clear case and must be well prepared.
Thirdly, the sector
It is an interesting dynamic we are witnessing in Slovenia. There are many consumer (B2C) oriented startups, even if established Slovenian firms aren’t. Many firms work for international corporations, providing parts and knowledge in the field of manufacturing, auto-moto industry and mechanics. Our startups on the other hand excel in services. This means that there is a gap between these two industries, which might also result in less possibility for startup-corporate cooperation or open innovation.
OK this is where the event's recap ends. Missing any info? Consider joining us next time! If you have questions on business angels or any other startup ecosystem representative, feel free to reach out via our social media or write us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Photo credit: Start:up Slovenija