PODIM 2017: Every year better, every year more serious, and every year more!

“Every year better, every year more serious, and every year more! Congratulations to the team, all partners, and sponsors. It’s difficult to imagine all the necessary organization, coordination, and scheduling. We know it’s not easy, and we’re glad that you’re succeeding! … we don’t have recommendations for improvements, we only wish for you to keep the same high standard that we witnessed this year …” Once again this year, praise for a successfully carried out PODIM Conference poured in from the mass of 826 participants from 33 countries, proving that we are heading in the right direction with the biggest and most influential startup conference in the region. Through trust and tight collaboration of everyone who makes it possible for an event of such dimensions to even happen, we also annually upgrade our leading motto: PODIM = Energy + Connecting + Learning + Alps-Adriatic, and use it to power and initiate all activities, wishing to place Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region among established European startup hubs. This year, our efforts were also recognized by the government of the Republic of Slovenia, as at this year’s PODIM, the Prime Minister, Dr Miro Cerar, accepted the challenge to eliminate administrative, fiscal and business obstacles that Slovenian startup entrepreneurs face and consequently prefer to found a company abroad instead. We gave him a list of these obstacles in the name of the entire Slovenian startup community, which is aware of the potential of our country and region as one of the most attractive locations for life and work in the world. This journey isn’t finished yet, but the achievements and surpluses of this year’s PODIM prove that it is a goal worth following, on the level of the country, including higher governmental representatives, as well as on the level of the entire Alps-Adriatic region.

Tomaž Štolfa (left) and Chuck Goldman

TOP assessment and a promise fulfilled

Once again, this reportage is dedicated to presenting all key facts, statistics, achievements, and reactions of attendees and partners of this year’s PODIM. At the same time, we are happy to inform you that we succeeded in fulfilling the promise that we made at last year’s PODIM, namely that we will excel in quality, not quantity, and use a boutique, personalized approach to create the most influential startup event in the Alps-Adriatic region. The experience of this year’s PODIM through the eyes of a well-known Danish entrepreneur, lecturer, and author Nicolaj Højer Nielsen, nicely confirms this year’s jump in quality, as he described PODIM like this: “I judge a startup event on three criteria. A – the quality of the startups attending. B – the quality of the peers or speakers I can network with and C – the quality of the organization of the event. I can honestly say that PODIM 2017 scored at the absolute TOP at all three criteria, and that it’s an event I can recommend everyone to attend. Thank you, I really loved it!”

Prime Minister dr. Miro Cerar (left) and conference host Daniel Cronin

With Prime Minister on eliminating obstacles for startup entrepreneurship

Prime Minister, Dr Miroslav Cerar, joined us at this year’s PODIM as a guest of honour. His attendance was incredibly important for further development of innovative entrepreneurship in Slovenia, because the Slovenian startup community, collaborating with well-known Slovenian startuppers – Aleš Špetič, Primož Strajnar, Nejc Škoberne, and Andraž Logar – prepared a meticulous survey of all main administrative, fiscal and business obstacles that startups face in their business and due to which they often leave their home environment and prefer to establish a company abroad. The Prime Minister was prepared to accept the challenge and face problems that have been troubling Slovenian entrepreneurs for several years, while at the same time he pledged to approach solving problems systematically and on an interdepartmental level in the future. “The Prime Minister’s pledge to eliminate obstacles wasn’t incidental, but rather came about based on our constant dialogue with the Prime Minister’s cabinet. Immediately after PODIM we also made plans for follow-up activities about which we will inform the Slovenian startup scene,” said Matej Rus, head of Initiative Start:up Slovenia.

Digital transformation keynotes (from left) Peter Schlecht, Marcin Kasz and Alexandre Massart

PODIM content for a win in the digital future

On the global startup scene, it’s all about startups, investors, and corporations, as well as their individual or joint innovation, development and other business activities for a win in the digital future. We also successfully implemented that fact into this year’s conference contents, which were, according to all three main attendee groups, on a high expert level and had high value added. With them, we managed to cover all key digital trends, such as virtual reality, the Internet of Things, connectivity, sharing economy, artificial intelligence, big data, and other technologies that will shape our business and private lives in the era of the fourth industrial revolution and the society’s digital transformation. We couldn’t have succeeded in this without excellent speakers, experts for individual mentioned fields, such as Peter Schlecht, Michael Nassirian, Marcin Kasz, Alexandre Massart, and others.

Representatives of all six PODIM Challenge blue chip partners

To an excellent investment part of the conference with blue-chip partners

Excellent content and activities at this year’s PODIM and its investment part PODIM Challenge was achieved in collaboration with six blue-chip partners who are systematically looking for opportunities to collaborate with startups in various fields, depending on the industry they’re working in. As such, Kolektor took advantage of PODIM to actively establish contact with startups that are working in the fields of materials and manufacturing, and industry 4.0 and smart factories. One of the leading European ICT providers, Iskratel, paid attention to teams with solutions for smart cities and communities, digital services for public safety, energetics, and transport. With Zavarovalnica Triglav, leading in Slovenia and the Adriatic region, we covered the field of sharing economy and its implications for car and home insurance. With Telekom Slovenije, we looked for startups working in the field of IoT and connectivity. Pošta Slovenije took meetings with teams that are working in the field of mobility and transport to develop solutions for first-mile and last-mile challenges in delivery. Meanwhile Nova KBM and its IT team focused on fintech startups developing advanced user solutions for banking services of the future.

PODIM blue chip meetup

Highway to startups and PODIM as the main stop

“We’re happy that corporate partners recognized that the Initiative Start:up Slovenia succeeded in building a strong and responsive community of startup entrepreneurs, mentors, consultants, and investors that can be compared to a highway on which big established companies can  get to relevant startups in Slovenia, Alps-Adriatic region and the Balkans a lot faster and more effectively, and collaborate with them as strategic investors or partners to develop new business models or find new business opportunities. An event such as PODIM is definitely one of the main stops on this highway, annually summarizing and wrapping up our activities in the field of encouraging, researching, financing, and mentoring startups as well as accelerating the development of the national and regional startup ecosystem. Another important value added for our partners is that we are closely collaborating with CorpoHub in these activities, which is a pioneer in the field of lean and agile transformation of big established companies and has rich experiences in connecting both worlds,” said Matej Rus, head of Initiative Start:up Slovenia, after the end of PODIM.

Arnaud Bonzom, director of corporate innovation at 500 Startups from Singapore

Priceless exchange of Corpo Think Tank experiences, advice, and knowledge!

This year, we collaborated with chosen speakers to ensure special tailor-made content segments for big established companies, which have to guarantee effective innovation and development in increasingly uncertain conditions, while at the same time need to constantly look for new market opportunities and business models. Among others, Arnaud Bonzom, director of corporate innovation at 500 Startups from Singapore, presented best practices of the biggest global companies’ collaboration with startups. Chuck Goldman, investor from Boston and former Apple executive, revealed the secrets to creating a winning corporate culture, while Michele McConomy, general director of corporate innovation services in RocketSpace, presented best practices for building an innovation ecosystem and how the role of an active listener can help. Matthias Hilpert, director of the German MH2 Capital fund, talked about the right forms of investing at the right time, while Thomas Herlin from the French EIT Digital Accelerator personally advised attendees on procedures for business acceleration.

We are honoured that in fulfilling promises for future PODIMs, we were also joined by this year’s incredible speaker Chuck Goldman (right)

Ambitiously into PODIM 2018 with a new member of the leading team

And before we set out to present all achievements, surpluses, statistics and recommendations of this year’s PODIM we will, now already traditionally, make a promise for PODIM 2018 in this reportage: we will upgrade and deepen this year’s standards of quality and hospitality, and continue to excel in creating an unforgettable event for startups, investors, corporate representatives, and all other attendees of the most influential startup conference in the Alps-Adriatic region. We are honoured that in fulfilling promises for future PODIMs, we were also joined by this year’s incredible speaker Chuck Goldman, investor from Boston, the executive director for IoT at Sky Ventures Group who gained expertise and knowledge as senior manager for professional entrepreneurship services at Apple. Because this year’s PODIM impressed him with its quality, genuine hospitality and excellent opportunity that the Alps-Adriatic region offers, Chuck will become part of the core PODIM team. His knowledge, experiences, and the broad network of connections will ensure an upgrade to the international network of partners, speakers, and expert content of the PODIM Conference.

826 attendees from 33 countries

This year, 826 people attended PODIM, including speakers, startups, investors, corporate representatives and other guests who travelled to the Habakuk congress centre in Maribor from 33 countries. If we compare this year’s attendance with last year’s, when PODIM attracted almost 900 attendees from 26 countries, this is just another proof that we are moving from a mass approach and broad gathering to a boutique event with a chosen structure of visitors, and ensuring ideal conditions for their quality interaction.

More than half of them entrepreneurs

The structure of this year conference’s attendees also, same as last year, supported the fulfilment of the PODIM mission, that is ensuring excellent opportunities for learning, motivating, connecting and collaboration of startups, investors, corporate representatives, and support ecosystem and other visitors: 425 startups and representatives of small and medium-sized companies (51%), 126 representatives of the national and regional startup ecosystem (15%), 106 representatives of corporations and big established companies (13%), 68 investors from Slovenia, Europe, and the US (8%), 45 representatives of government departments and agencies (5%), 30 students and academics (4%) and 26 media representatives (3%).

Established companies from Slovenia and the region

Alongside the representatives of the mentioned six PODIM Challenge blue-chip partners, this year’s PODIM was joined by attendees from Petrol, Danfoss Trate, PWC, Studio Moderna, Omron, Pozavarovalnica Sava, Talum, Iskraemec, Atlantic Grupa, Gorenje, Podravka, Žito, and many other big established companies from Slovenia and the region.

59 speakers and 48 talks

On the main conference stage and in three parallel programme sets, 59 esteemed Slovenian and international speakers shared their knowledge, advice, and experience, which helped many an attendee to quickly and effectively arrive at solutions for their business that would have taken them weeks or months otherwise. With 48 lectures, talks, panel discussions, fireside chats, roundtables, and workshops, we managed to cover all areas and topics that startup conference attendees are interested in, but we also ensured an intense experience of learning and interactive collaboration with speakers.

We strengthened the set for personal advisory meetings and workshops in cooperation with excellent experts from D·Labs, Red Orbit, EIT Digital and IUURI

86 personal consultations and excellent programme partners

To truly give the best possible value to PODIM attendees, we also significantly strengthened the set for personal (one-on-one) meetings. We carried out 86 personal consultations for attendees with excellent experts from D·LabsEIT Digital and IUURI, namely for quick product fixes, business acceleration, and legal consulting. Even otherwise, collaboration with this year’s programme partners was more than successful. With members of the Ljubljana- and London-based D·Labs team, we carried out a workshop on metrics that are important for monitoring progress in product development. The virtuoso for digital marketing, Andraž Štalec from RedOrbit, led a workshop during which he led us through the customer lifecycle in digital channels. In collaboration with the CEED Slovenia team, we carried out a roundtable on the startup and leadership mentality and growing up, while Corpohub was, as mentioned, indispensable for content on connecting the worlds of corporations and startups.

Mariano Kostelec, the founder of Uniplaces.com aka ‘Airbnb for students’

A lineup of excellent speakers – also with help of PODIM friends

Just like in previous years, our PODIM friends from the whole world helped us find excellent speakers for PODIM and attract them to Slovenia. Our PODIM friends are startups, investors, mentors and other mentors who have already attended PODIM in the previous years and were thrilled about what we succeed in organizing every year, but they are also aware of the role and importance of PODIM for the development of the national and regional startup ecosystem. So besides the already mentioned speakers, such as Chuck Goldman, Boston-based investor and former Apple executive, and Michael Nassirian, investor from Seattle and former member of the leading HoloLens team, this year Maribor also hosted Tomaž Štolfa, cofounder of Layer, working and living in San Francisco, where his company is known as one of the hottest startups, and Mariano Kostelec, the founder of the incredibly successful platform for student accommodation Uniplaces.com. Others have also drawn big applause on the stage this year, including Demetrios Zoppos, esteemed London-based investor and entrepreneur who gained experience at McKinsey & Co and World Bank before jumping into startup entrepreneurship, and Sunil Sharma, established investor from Canada and leading partner in Extreme Venture Partners.

Who competed for the Slovenian Startup of the Year award?

Besides the excellent speakers, this year’s PODIM atmosphere was also lit by the ceremonial announcement of the Slovenian Startup of the Year award, which happened for the tenth year in a row! Star scenography in the style of the Oscars, the always funny and witty Peter Poles in the role of the moderator, and six startups that broke through to the finals with the quality of their teams, innovativeness of their products, development and market potential as well as example, achievements and reputation they have in the Slovenian startup community. The first group of finalists comprised of young challengers – startups in the earliest development stages that performed best at this year’s Start:up Slovenia competition – and included AgiliCity, Potenza Innova, and Optibar. In the other group of finalists, teams of Fastcast, 45HC and VIAR competed for the award, having been nominated by Slovenian ecosystem stakeholders.

It’s also about fun and excitement at the Startup of the year 2017 Award

The crystal statue proudly received by the VIAR team!

In the spotlight and intense expectation, we announced that the Slovenian Startup of the Year 2017 award goes to company VIAR, led by Jernej Mirt and Blaž Zafošnik. Both were on a business trip to Seattle during the ceremony, so the big crystal statue was victoriously received by the CTO and co-founder of VIAR, Marko Munda, together with other members of the VIAR team. The main awards given to the Slovenian Startup of the Year are personal consultation by Marvin Liao, partner of the elite American accelerator 500 startups, and an all-inclusive package for the Pioneers Festival in Vienna.

VIAR team and it’s CTO Marko Munda with the crystal statue

How we chose the teams for PODIM Challenge …

Just like the award ceremony for Slovenian Startup of the Year, the audience was also excited about PODIM Challenge, the investment part of the conference with a pitching competition, with which we fittingly concluded this year’s PODIM conference. 68 esteemed investors gathered at the Challenge – business angels, representatives of venture capital funds, and corporate investors from Slovenia, Europe, and the US.

PODIM Challenge main stage jury

Even before the conference, the PODIM team organized an expert assessment, so we ended up with 20 semi-finalists from amongst the mass of 343 startups that applied for PODIM Challenge. On the first day of the conference, these semi-finalists then pitched to the jury, consisting of Slovenian and international representatives of accelerators, venture capital funds, business angels, and corporate investors …

Highest government representatives don’t attend pitching competitions every day, and startups that win these competitions don’t often get congratulated by the Prime Minister himself. The satisfaction of everyone was evident, and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia praised the business ideas of all five finalists of this year’s PODIM Challenge.

… and ensured another victory on stage!

Five best teams placed into the PODIM Challenge finals – 3D Survey, Feelif, Borza terjatev, Genialis and Ingen.io, which introduced themselves to the investor jury on the main stage of PODIM and investors in the audience with three-minute pitches. The jury showed their enthusiasm with green or red cards for the fourth in a row, and they were most enthusiastic about Genialis, for which the company CEO and co-founder Nejc Škoberne pitched. The winner was also congratulated by the Prime Minister, Dr Miro Cerar, who attended PODIM Challenge as a guest of honour, while Nejc received the main award from the hands of the ABC Accelerator representative Jakob Gajšek – an all-inclusive business trip to Silicon Valley with a networking programme, organized by the ABC Accelerator and in the joint value of 10,000 EUR. Our PODIM Challenge blue-chip partner and general sponsor of PODIM took care of the pocket money for the journey, as the Vice Chairman of the board of Nova KBM, Robert Senica, gave the winner a payment card with a thousand euros of credit.

Highlights from PODIM 1:1ARENA

This year we doubled the number of personal meetings!

We also rejoiced in the achievements, results and high value added for attendees within the PODIM 1:1 Arena, which took place in an especially-equipped space of the Habakuk hotel. Compared to last year, when we organized and carried out 182 personal introductory meetings between teams of the PODIM startup catalogue, investors, corporate investor representatives, and PODIM speakers, we managed to more than double this number this year and organized exactly 383 of them, much to the satisfaction of all attending!

We also increased the scope of the PODIM startup catalogue. Last year it included presentations of 106 startups from 13 countries, while this year we made our selection from amongst 343 teams that submitted their applications for the PODIM Conference and applied for the PODIM Challenge pitching competition. We chose 133 best startups from 20 countries – Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Kosovo, Latvia, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and USA.

‘Must meet’ list of startups

We are also happy about the fact that conference attendees and stakeholders of the Slovenian and regional startup ecosystem are increasingly aware of the importance of the PODIM startup catalogue, which has a lasting promotional value for the Slovenian and regional startup community. It’s the only publication of its kind, in which we annually collect the most promising startups that work in the Alps-Adriatic region or have a strategic interest in collaborating with it. At the same time it’s a “live” document that we, especially on the national level, supplement with new promising early-stage companies that are looking for an investment or a strategic corporate partner. We sent this year’s PODIM Startup catalogue to all investors, speakers, and PODIM Challenge blue-chip partners ten days before the start of the conference. Alongside the catalogue, we also sent them a personalized must-meet list of startups and thus added the cherry on top of the value that we wished to guarantee for them. That we succeeded was also confirmed by Mateja Lavrič, director of the corporate investment fund Kolektor Ventures.

Mateja Lavrič, Kolektor Ventures: “Last year at PODIM, Kolektor appeared with the announcement of its venture capital fund for the first time, so the expectations of our team for this year’s conference were rather high. I am happy to say that we definitely weren’t disappointed. We thoroughly took advantage of all opportunities for 1:1 talks with interesting startups and other conference attendees. But we were also thrilled about the positive vibrations, energy, well-prepared startups, and this year’s PODIM content.”

Nearly 3,500 interactions in the PODIM app

Besides the formal organized networking with help of the PODIM Startup Catalogue in the PODIM 1:1 Arena, the official PODIM app once again gave practically countless opportunities for informally establishing new contacts and connections. Besides presenting all speakers and investors, the app this year also included the descriptions of all startups from the catalogue, users demanded certain information through it more than 30,000-times, uploaded nearly 400 pictures, but we also noted nearly 3,500 interactions (commenting, liking …) between users. 

The app was also priceless for us as organizers, because it helped us get the general pulse of the event as well as a lot of priceless feedback and recommendations

First news announcement for the first cross-border angel syndicated investment

The PODIM Conference was also set as the scene for the news announcement of the first cross-border syndicated investment into a Slovenian startup, which will be simultaneously carried out by a group of business angels from Slovenia, Hungary, and Estonia as well as some other countries. This was announced by the business angel and leading investor Niko Slavnič, and the CEO and co-founder of the Datafy.it startup, Igor Panjan, who will receive the mentioned investment in the amount of 250,000 EUR for international business expansion. Datafy.it is otherwise also an excellent example of a startup growing with the support of the Slovenian startup ecosystem and regularly attending the PODIM Conference “because it annually gathers startups, established companies, and investors from practically all over the world, which is an excellent opportunity for testing business ideas, finding customers, and establishing and keeping contact with potential investors,” also said Igor Panjan at this opportunity.

Business angels have announced their intention of entering the Slovenian startup Datafy.it, led by Igor Panjan (second from the left), on 9 May at EBAN CEE Demo Day, while Igor Panjan and leading investor Niko Slavnič (in the middle) chose the PODIM Conference, scheduled the next day, as the set for the first news announcement of this investment.

Support of CEP for startups from BiH, Kosovo, and Danube countries

For the third year in a row, PODIM has been proving the continued tradition best practices through its partnership collaboration with CEP – Centre for European Perspective, and the financial support by the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which enabled completely free-of-charge attendance at the conference for ten startup teams from Kosovo and Bosnia and Herezgovina. This year CEP managed to further geographically broaden its support through its Interreg Danube Transnational programme to ten teams from ten DANUBE countries, including Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Montenegro, Serbia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The delegation of 40 young entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo also visited the Jable castle and Ljubljana with CEP’s support, getting to know the Slovenian entrepreneurship ecosystem and existing startup initiatives and practices more closely.

Attendance of Slovenian startuppers from neighbouring countries

The good reputation of all positive effects that visiting an event such as the PODIM Conference can trigger in young startup teams and its members also reached the Office for Slovenians Abroad, led by Minister Gorazd Žmavc. Similarly to CEP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Office for Slovenians Abroad also enabled all-inclusive attendance to 29 young, Slovenian-speaking founders, cofounders or startup team members who live and work in Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary. Already on Tuesday, the day before PODIM, we organized an innovative startup school based on the design thinking methodology, in collaboration with the Faculty of Management and prof. Mitja Ruzzier, while on Wednesday, the young startuppers were welcomed and hosted by Minister Žmavc at lunch.

Minister Gorazd Žmavc with young startuppers who live and work in Austria, Italy, Croatia, and Hungary

Why do we thrill startups each and every year?

If we try to sum up the feelings and value added for startups who attended the conference – here are some statements that can help you understand why do we thrill them every year:

Mariano KostelecUniPlaces: ”Thank you very much for the invitation to join you at PODIM and for arranging everything for me to be there! I really enjoyed the event and have been impressed with it! It was larger and better than I had expected, very well organized, and you really brought together a nice group of people! Congrats on making it happen!”

Jan Dobrilovič and David Mohar, Beeping: “Every year better, every year more serious, every year more! Congratulations to the team, all partners and sponsors. I find it difficult to imagine all the necessary organization, coordination, and scheduling. I know it’s not easy and I’m happy you’re succeeding. To many more PODIMs!”

Adrian Cincu, AMA IT&C Solutions: ”Great work PODIM team! Great people, great experience. See you next year!”

Jan Pečar in Miha Bratina, IUURI.LEGAL: Sincere congratulations for organizing the PODIM Conference. Interesting lectures, good organization, nice location, and a relaxed environment have made the conference unforgettable. Collaborating with you through the legal counselling service exceeded all our expectations. We don’t have any recommendations for improvements, we only want you to keep the same high standard that we witnessed today.”

Fulfilled expectations of investors!

Because we significantly upgraded and strengthened the investment part of the conference this year in collaboration with blue-chip partners and many esteemed investors from Europe and the US, we were of course interested in whether we managed to fulfil their expectations and deliver the maximal value of the event. Their praise and recommendations show that we apparently succeeded:

Chuck Goldman, Sky Ventures Group: The talent, the people, the venue – all world class! Special thanks to the PODIM team for including me in all the fun and productivity!

Jure Kobal, Nova KBM: ”This year’s PODIM was something special for Nova KBM, because employees from the fields of both corporate business and IT attended it. We actively networked with and participated in choosing the finalists for the PODIM Challenge. Our expectations were completely fulfilled in this part!”

Enis Hulli, 500 Startups: Overall PODIM was truly amazing! I had great time networking with the organizers, other speakers and the start-ups. I was surprised by the quality of start-ups and top class entrepreneurs from throughout Central Europe, that attended this year’s event.”

Darja Osvald, Pošta Slovenije: ”We attended PODIM as a blue-chip partner that wishes to insert more startup energy into its business and get to know innovative solutions that we could include in our first and last mile of parcel reception and delivery. We’re thrilled, not only about startup ideas and solutions that we had a chance to meet and talk, but about all PODIM activities and organization!”

Michael Nassirian, 9Mile Labs: Thank you for all your great work and hospitality. I enjoyed my experience at PODIM and believe that you did a fabulous job in making this event a great success!”

Nine resounding events before and after PODIM

Three resounding pre-events, six carefully planned partner events after PODIM, unforgettable speakers’ dinner while tasting excellent wine, and hanging out and discovering the beauties of Slovenia on Friday and Saturday after the official part of the conference, were this year’s rich harvest of pre- and post-conference events that we succeeded in including into the dynamic PODIM activities:

  • Under the wings of the Centre for European Perspective and in collaboration with the ABC accelerator, we carried out the traditional PODIM pre-event in Sarajevo, in the famous entrepreneurship centre Networks, where we presented our activities, the PODIM Conference, and opportunities for connections and collaborations of both communities. We were also guests in the Innovation Centre Kosovo with the same cast and purpose.
  • One of this year’s speakers – Heather Corcoran from Kickstarter – was a guest at a Slovenia Crowdfunding Meetup before PODIM, otherwise regularly organized by Niko Klanšek, Žiga Brece, and Tilen Kegl.

Kolektor hosted Marcin Kasz, expert for Industrial IoT from the Polish company Konekt.io

  • As part of our collaboration with our PODIM Challenge blue-chip partners, we organized three events after PODIM, attended by this year’s PODIM keynote speakers covering individual areas that are strategically important for our partners – Kolektor hosted Marcin Kasz, expert for Industrial IoT from the Polish company Konekt.io, Pošta Slovenije was visited by Arnaud Bonzom, director of corporate innovation at 500 Startups from Singapore, while Chuck Goldman, executive director for IOT at Sky Ventures Group, was a guest of the Iskratel StartUp team.

Visit at the ABC Accelerator

  • The entire team of keynote speakers who stayed in Slovenia for some time after PODIM on our invitation – Sunil Sharma, Arnaud Bonzom, Enis Hulli, Alexandre Massart, Peter Schlecht, Michelle McConomy and Marcin Kasz – also visited the ABC Accelerator in Ljubljana with us and hung out with startup teams from their current accelerator programme.
  • With Robert Neivert from 500 Startups and Yu Fan from the Chinese GTOG, we visited the Lakeside Science & Technology Park in Klagenfurt and listened to pitches as well as gave feedback to their members.
  • With a delegation of young startup entrepreneurs from Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo, and with representatives from CEP we, already traditionally, visited the Jable castle, where we hosted a special workshop and shared our experiences, expectations and ideas on how to upgrade collaboration between startups inside our perspective countries and in the region. To conclude their day, the participants visited the ABC Accelerator in Ljubljana, where they had the opportunity to pitch their ideas in a minute and get professional feedback from the experienced ABC team.

Post-PODIM speakers dinner on the hilly vineyard estate of the Doppler house

Unforgettable enjoyment of beautiful Slovenia

So we concluded the cycle of pre- and post-PODIM events with the CEP delegation on the Jable castle, but started the informal hangouts and enjoyments of Slovenia’s beauties and sights with the post-PODIM speakers dinner on the hilly vineyard estate of the Doppler house in Kozjak above Pesnica, where they waited for us with an unforgettable sunset and spoiled us with original culinary treats and excellent wines. On Friday, we wandered around Ljubljana and its old city centre with the speakers, while on Saturday, we first jumped to Gorenjska and visited Bled, Kranjska Gora, Planica and Vršič, and concluded our enjoyment of Slovenia’s beauty in the spring seaside city of Piran.

Good company, good food, good wine – taking care of our speakers after the two-day intensive PODIM experience

Visiting Planica, Bled and Ljubljana

I FEEL SLOVENIA – green, smart, creative

As the central international event of the Slovenian and regional startup ecosystem, PODIM was also the logical choice for promotors of the slogan I FEEL SLOVENIA – Green. Creative. Smart. It’s one of the projects within the Partnership for change, meant to encourage innovative collaboration between employees of the public and economic sectors. For this purpose, we set up a photo booth at PODIM, where more than 230 fun, creative, green, and smart photos were taken of more than 200 conference attendees. We also drew lots to choose recipients of attractive awards from amongst the participants – tickets for PODIM 2018 and smart Bluetooth finders of lost objects, Chipolo. The likeable I FEEL SLOVENIA team also organized the origami challenge, in which participants competed at who will be the fastest to fold a green origami into the form of a pine tree. 30 people participated in the challenge, but the winner folded it in 40 seconds with virtually no practice beforehand, and received the Apple TV award for it.

Special thanks

A special thanks also goes to entrepreneurs from the Slovenian and global startup scene – Andraž Tori, Tim Potočnik, Boštjan Špetič, Jakob Gajšek, Davorin Gabrovec, Niko klanšek, Jernej Mirt, Marko Pleško, Tomaž Štolfa, Tilen Travnik, Tristan Pollock, Martin Železnik, Marko Filej, Aleš Špetič, and Rina Onur Siringol. Their advice, directions, and contacts significantly helped us in finding and attracting the best speakers to Slovenia, and left an important mark on promoting our country as a hospitable, charming, and developed country with a dynamic startup ecosystem and many promising business talents.

More than 170 press clippings

The above-listed properties of Slovenia and its dynamic ecosystem are also confirmed by rich press clipping, as we noted 172 articles with the keyword PODIM in Slovenian printed and electronic media from this January to May. In the same period, our website podim.org was visited by 31,000 visitors from 117 countries, while on social media, especially Facebook and Twitter, we reached almost 220,000 people and a bit less than a thousand mentions.

Jernej Močnik, Nova KBM (left – with the microphone) and Dr Andrej FištravecMayor of Maribor

Thankful for the support of partners, the city of Maribor and Nova KBM

This year, we were very happy about the fact that the accelerator UP TO ELEVEN (UT11) from Graz, Austria, joined us as our partner. In collaboration with UT11, we will further strengthen and upgrade cross-border connections within the Alps-Adriatic startup ecosystem, in which we are otherwise already collaborating well with partners from Klagenfurt and Udine. As one of the key supporters, the Municipality of Maribor was with us for the second year in a row. Our general sponsor, the second biggest Slovenian bank Nova KBM, joined us for the sixteenth year in a row. With this year’s PODIM, we thus once again showed that Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region can get the power and momentum for developing the startup ecosystem from trust and tight collaboration, which is why we would like to use this opportunity to once again sincerely thank all organizers, co-organizers, public and programme partners, and supporters that annually help us create the best PODIM so far!

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