21st & 22nd of May
Maribor, Slovenia
Monday, June 18, 2018

Getting new distributers at PODIM Marketplace!

“We looked for new, interesting designer products and today, we also found them here. I’m thrilled. When I look at the offer, I see a big opportunity for sales,” was heard from more than 12 regional and global distributers and traders. Hardware startups, 30 of which were chosen to present at the event, were also thrilled about PODIM Marketplace and how they’ve profited from the networking: “We got to know many excellent distributers, on a very personal level, they’re open and interested in collaborating with us … We got at least two excellent contacts that will open doors to new, target markets …” With the goal of 1:1 networking, making new deals and exchanging best practices between hardware startups, distributers and traders, a special post-conference event PODIM Marketplace took place on 17 May 2018 for the first time in the history of the Slovenian startup scene and the PODIM Conference. The organizers of the event were the PODIM Conference and business accelerator Katapult.
Startups found the recipe for expanding the distribution network through networking and collaboration
PODIM Marketplace came into existence on the initiative of Slovenian hardware startups. Chipolo, Equa, Xvida, Visionect and SIPA Boards decided to join forces and address the pressing problem of how to expand the global distribution network and establish a good relationship with distributers. The distribution network is one of the key elements of company success. “Every hardware startup faces the same challenges in selling their products. Chipolo has been on the market for 5 years, we’ve woven a lot of business ties, but despite this we’ve faced a big challenge in the past year – how to expand our distribution network. We realized that the most effective way to get new contacts is through connections with other companies that do similar things and connect you with their distributers. That is the main reason behind initiating this event: bring our distributers to an event where we can exchange knowledge, experience and contacts, because at the end, this brings money,” is how Primož Zelenšek, from Chipolo, summarized the challenges that startups face and the main motive for initiating this event.

Žiga Potokar from Visionect tells of a similar experience: “In the early years of our activity, we got to a big challenge as a small Slovenian company that wished to build a global distribution network – how to approach global partners and customers. An event such as PODIM Marketplace gives direct access to international partners and distributers.”
Networking, lectures, and 1:1 meetings
The PODIM Marketplace programme was spiced up with lectures on the topic of sales, sales networks, online sales and trends on global online and mobile platforms. Carolyn N. Spencer from the internet giant Amazon and Ivan Vučetić from Chipolo shared their long years of experience with the attendees.

The central part of the programme was dedicated to networking and connecting participants. The first part of organized networking took place in the form of rotating desks, where 5 moderators ensured that all startups and distributers met with the key information, presented their main challenges, received answers and advice, and exchanged experiences and best practices. This way, the first arrangements for one-on-one meetings were made. These then moved to the stalls, where the startups also presented their physical product and additional promotional materials.

Startuppers, distributers and traders quickly found a common ground, which was also demonstrated by the informal networking that took place during lunch and after the official part of the event had concluded.
Startups: “A good contact opens important doors”
“We got at least two very good contacts, one by an Asian distributer, the other from Europe. I hope this will be the start of a very good story,” told us Žiga Potokrat from Visionect at the end. Other startups were also thrilled about new connections that can open many doors. Ladislav Jurić from Baggizmo, focusing on the European and Asian markets, says that they “met a few very interesting people who are ready and looking forward to collaborating with us.”
The value added of the event wasn’t only seen in new business connections but also in exchanging experience and knowledge. “It’s important for startups that have similar challenges with contacts, people, online sales … to meet in one place, talk about these challenges and problems, and try to solve them together. We need to work in a more connected way and collaborate more. At the end, you need only one contact that can open very important doors.”

Distributers: “Many new, interesting products that we will happily include in our portfolio”
Propulsive regional and global distributers such as Cylla, Blue Green Group, Alarm Bands, Petrol, QoQa, Telekom, Selection-Trade and others came to the first PODIM Marketplace to look for opportunities to expand their sales network with innovative products.
Distributers, too, were extremely satisfied with the new business contacts: “We looked for new, interesting designer products and also found them here today. I’m excited when I look at these products and I see many opportunities for sales! I had a lot of conversations with startup companies and gained many good connections. That is also the main advantage of this event – there is a lot of one-on-one communication,” said Tadashi Aoyagi from Blue Green Group after the event.
Onur Canseven from Cylla (Turkey) was also thrilled about the event: “We are very satisfied with the event. It’s been a while since we’ve been at such a well-organized networking event. We gained many new, quality connections, where there’s opportunity for networking. We will definitely attend PODIM Marketplace next year as well.”
Distributers are recognizing a competitive advantage in the innovative products
“The competition is great on the Japanese market, because there are a lot of Japanese, Chinese and American products of a similar type. The products I got to know today are not only about the item but also about the design. That’s the something extra that we can offer to Japanese customers. When I look at these products, I see excellent opportunities for sales,” said Tadashi Aoyagi from Blue Green Group about the value added of innovative startups. The Turkish distributer Cylla is also always on the lookout for new innovative products that are still looking for their place on the market. “We then work together with them, help them on all levels, and grow together.

Joint project of hardware startups, PODIM and Katapult!
Jernej Pangeršič, director of the business accelerator Katapult, was satisfied with the course of the event, into which they put a lot of effort: “Katapult helps hardware startups get from the prototype stage to the final product. At the end, sales are always the main challenge. When we thought about how to tackle this challenge, the PODIM team gave us an excellent idea to jointly organize the PODIM Marketplace event. As it seems, the idea to join representatives of startups, distributers and traders in one place, where they can talk among each other, is a very good one. The reactions were good – after the event, we received quite a few emails/texts with praise for the event. David Knez (QuickSholeace) told me that he made a deal for nearly 5000 shoelaces to Austria at the Marketplace.”
“For startups, signing a contract with the right distributer or trader is one of the key milestones, so we’re happy about all the connections that were created today. We’re proud that startups overcame their reserve and mistrust, and used mutual support to recognize the right way to encourage the growth of all involved,” is how Matej Rus, leader of Initiative Start:up Slovenia and PODIM organizational committee, summarized his impressions after the event.