21st & 22nd of May
Maribor, Slovenia
Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Talent, capital, and access to market – welcome to Boston

The PODIM Conference team, accompanied by Ajda Mrzel Kaluža (Arvio), Robert Sraka (Zavarovalnica Sava) and Mateja Lavrič (Kolektor Ventures), returned from Boston, the liveliest American melting pot of startup communities, and they were full of interesting impressions and new contacts. The goals of this visit were the famous MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) as well as accelerators Techstars Boston and MassChallenge, where we took Arvio, the Slovenian startup chosen for a trip to Boston by Zavarovalnica Sava at this year’s PODIM Conference.

The Boston visit was also useful for establishing contacts and networking. 

“The dynamic and active startup ecosystem in Boston was an unforgettable experience! The openness of startups, accelerators and investors to new ideas and their willingness to share their experiences is thrilling,” is how Ajda Mrzel Kaluža, founder of Arvio, summed up her impressions after returning from one of the most important American higher education centres. Arvio is developing innovative solutions in the field of valuating real-estate and mortgage obligations.

MIT Media Lab is proof that big ideas and big results do not need large teams.

Collaboration between traditional companies and startups, similar to Slovenia 
Robert Sraka, director of new generation services at Zavarovalnica Sava, also found the visit of the Boston startup ecosystem to be an interesting experience that brought a valuable realization: “For me, the most valuable realization was that even big companies collaborate with startups when it comes to digitalization, in a similar way as we ourselves are trying to. But at the same time, this isn’t a recipe for guaranteed success, no matter the available resources and staff.” That is also one of the reasons, finds Sraka, why last year’s success stories of company transformation don’t necessarily have a happy ending, even though there is a lot less talk about this than there is about ambitious beginnings. “Visiting startups and the MIT Media Lab has shown that big ideas and big results do not need large teams,” was another finding that Robert Sraka brought from the capital city of Massachusetts.
Boston is an incredible example of a successful mix of talents, access to market, and capital.

“Regarding its startup ecosystem, Boston is an incredible example of a successful mix of talent, access to capital and, of course, capital,” is the impression that Boston created in Mateja Lavrič, CEO of Kolektor Ventures. “Maybe one of the key breakthroughs of this visit was the realization of how crucial a talent pool is for the development of successful companies. MIT, Harvard and Boston truly enable quick scalability of startup companies because they provide such a number of experts. This is a bit more difficult to achieve in Slovenia,” adds Lavrič. 
Intense networking for the startups chosen at the PODIM Conference 
The main goal of the team in Boston was to connect and strengthen the PODIM Conference with global partners, who will also enable us to strengthen the conference programme, bringing value added for participants. MassChalenge is undoubtedly amongst the ten best accelerators on a global scale. Meanwhile, the PODIM Conference team is already strengthening its collaboration with Techstars Boston, whose 80 billion of created value make it into the most successful tech accelerator in the world. 

Networking with one of the biggest accelerators, MassChallenge 

“The main purpose of the visit was to strengthen the conference with international partnerships. These will help us offer an even richer programme to participants, and give startups an even higher quality global network of mentors, investors and strategic partners for breakthrough onto the global market. With Techstars, we are preparing a special networking programme in Boston for the chosen startup teams of PODIM 2019,” said Urban Lapajne, member of the PODIM and Start:up Slovenia team and organizer of the Boston programme, when asked to comment on the results of the visit.

The trip to Boston was enabled by
The trip to Boston was enabled by the main organizer of the PODIM Conference and co-organizers, namely Slovene Enterprise Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology.