The Bosnian startup Dwelt with their solution Platform X was the winner of Podim’s 2021 pitching competition.
Platform X is a very interesting and ambitious software that aims to support modern players in the energy sector. You’ll learn more about it in a minute.
We talked with Marija Dimitrijević, Dwelt’s Head of Global Sales & Marketing and discussed Platform X, her Podim experience, the startup ecosystem in Bosnia and Herzegovina and more.
Enjoy the interview!
Congratulations on winning the Podim Pitching Competition! You impressed our jury with your solution Platform X. Now please tell our readers – what’s Platform X all about?
Platform X is a holistic cloud-based software solution specialised for the energy sector. The idea behind the product is that it should serve as the digital backend of energy businesses. What that means is, if someone decided to start a retail energy company (ie. sell energy to end-consumers), they have everything they need in one platform. It widely covers all of the business processes, from contracting, billing, invoicing, customer portal to strong business intelligence analytics used for consumption forecast and successful two-way communication with smart meters to name a few. What is important to mention, Platform X offers multi-utility support, meaning it supports power, water, gas and heating.
How did the Platform X story begin? When did you figure that Platform X is a solution the world needs?
The whole story started when Stefan, Dwelt’s founder, realised the state of current solutions in the energy sector. What existed in the market were software solutions from big companies, dinosaurs that are quite outdated and inflexible for the energy sector transformation that has begun. The market needed an agile, innovative and modern solution that aligns with the industry needs. Dwelt started with a small project in a local heating plant back in 2017. The product is called Platform X – X is there because we did not really know where the software solution actually ends.
Who are your target users? What’s the feedback once they start using Platform X?
On one hand, our target customers are new retail energy providers that are emerging due to market liberalisation, especially those who are focused on selling energy coming from renewable sources. On the other hand, we work with established public utility companies who need to keep up with the future industry transition and digitalise their operations.
The general feedback that we get is that Platform X offers a high level of automation which removes a lot of dreadful manual work. Also, workflows are faster and more accurate, the interface of the platform is user-friendly and most importantly, the focus is on the end-customer.
Platform X is a part of Dwelt. What’s the difference between them and what’s the big idea behind Dwelt?
Dwelt is the official, legal name of the startup, which was founded back in 2015. Platform X is our main product, with which Dwelt aims to support the next phase of energy market transformation using a modern, flexible and innovative approach powered by the latest scientific trends.
Let’s move to Podim for a moment. Where did you hear about it? What was the reason you attended it?
Dwelt’s founder and CEO Stefan attended Podim physical event back in 2018, where he realised Dwelt needs to be there in the following years, and that’s exactly how it was.
The reason behind attending this year’s Podim was to get some visibility and awareness for Dwelt, which we achieved since we ended up winning the pitching competition. Our goal was also to use the opportunity to network and connect with VCs from the CEE region.
What was your general experience at Podim DX?
Absolutely phenomenal! There were a lot of interesting participants, in terms of speakers as well as VCs. I loved the idea of Deal Room, which allowed us to network and enjoy the benefits of attending the conference, even though it was in a virtual form.
What was the most memorable part of Podim for you – apart from winning the competition of course?
I would say, meeting new people from the startup world and great networking.
How was the Podim Pitching Competition? Were you nervous and excited to pitch in front of a jury of experienced investors 3 times in 3 days?
Before the first pitch, I was quite relaxed and just presented the way I always do. Once I got such positive feedback after the first pitch, I became more intrigued with how things will turn out. I was most nervous before my second pitch because I realised we are in the top 10 and it’s getting more serious. Plus my whole team in the office was watching me this time. In the finals, I was pretty relaxed again because I knew that the top 10 is already a great achievement. However, just before the final pitch I looked at the jury list and was pretty astonished by what I saw. It gave me more motivation to do my best.
What does this win mean to you?
It means a lot to myself and my team because it’s another validation that our product, team and potential are strong and that we are going in the right direction.
What are your concrete follow-ups from the Podim?
In the weeks following Podim win, we received a lot of media attention in our country, which we find to be vital for our startup ecosystem. In addition to that, since we are looking for an investment, we got significant attention from VC funds too that will help us close our Series A round.
Right after winning a PODIM pitching competition you were super happy, you said that it is great, especially because you are a company from Bosnia & Herzegovina. What did you mean by that? How is the startup scene in BIH?
Right now, the startup scene in Bosnia & Herzegovina is in a very early stage. I believe there are a lot of ideas and innovations going on in peoples’ heads, but fear of entrepreneurship exists. Society does not really encourage entrepreneurship and many people are not familiar with it. Also, we do not have many monetary support options available – like business angels or VCs who would initially aid you during the early stages. That is why Dwelt’s win at Podim represents an encouragement for everything mentioned above.
What kind of support is the country offering to the startup ecosystem?
Bosnia & Herzegovina still does not have any legal frameworks for startups, and we expect that to be resolved soon because it would significantly improve the situation. On the other hand, there is a lot of tech talent in the country that is mostly outsourced. We believe that talent needs to be used for building our own products instead.
Did you as Platform X had any support on your first steps into the business world? Mentors, incubators, accelerators?
We did not have some significant mentorship nor we were a part of an incubator and accelerator. However, Dwelt’s founder and CEO had one startup before this one, which was the first subscription-based competitor to Uber back then. Therefore, he’s gone through the good, the bad and the ugly during the first startup when it comes to business, so he used his previous learnings and applied it to Dwelt.
Are you looking for an investment? Any details you want to share with all the investors reading this interview?
Yes, we are looking for an investment that would allow us to internationalise and move our business operations to the DACH region, as the market potential for our Platform X is significant there.
How would you describe the region you are coming from to an investor who doesn’t know the region well?
When we talk about the energy sector and Bosnia & Herzegovina, we always describe it as an imperfect market and take pride in the fact that we have successfully managed to build traction with local utilities here. Now we feel more empowered and ready for what is waiting for us in the future.
What advice would you give to founders who will apply to Podim next year?
I would advise them to definitely maximise the networking opportunities that are out there, to be assertive and of course to apply for the Pitching Competition, because you never know, you may even end up winning it!
Any tips you want to share with founders?
First, focus on your vision and let that guide you. Second, build your own product.