Podim Conference

Podim 2022 Returned from the Digital Realm to the Real-Life Spotlight in Style

Podim, one of the most influential startup & technology conferences in Europe, has once again proven why it’s the best in the CEE region business. 

From 16th to 18th of May ideas-full startups, active investors, remarkable speakers, business executives and other entrepreneurship enthusiasts gathered in Maribor, Slovenia in person to network, learn and catch up. More than 1000 business-oriented minds were united in a conclusion that entrepreneurial passion is still burning and the fact that a record-breaking 1139 meetings took place in this year’s Podim Deal Room speaks for itself.

Radenko Katanic, a Serbian entrepreneur,  the founder of Telecorp LLC, a US-based company, and a member of the Nevada Trade Mission delegation led by the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development to experience Podim for the first time. He flew all the way from the USA to witness the blossoming ecosystem of the region and said: “I’m impressed with the enthusiasm and passion the Podim team is dedicating to the innovation ecosystem with the Podim Conference. Our takeaways from the event are precious, and I’m very happy to have been part of it.”

This year all 11 program blocks were most definitely on fire, practical workshops more interesting than ever, talks of our speakers ones to remember, and the Podim Pitching Competition so intense we can’t wait to do it all again next year.

But first, let’s take a closer look at what happened this year at Podim 2022.

1096 attendees once again enjoyed the thrill of the live event

Podim Conference

Podim always will be a conference that encourages attendees to form meaningful connections, and this year has been no different. 

There were 1096 total people attending Podim, which is an impressive number but still “pocket-size” enough to feel like you can network with everyone. 

There were 346 members of startups and scaleup teams, 139 investors and 286 Corpo & SME representatives. We pride ourselves on creating real, business-changing opportunities for attending startups, and this ratio certainly confirms that.

An impressive 122 startup environment supporters were there with a wish to help raise the ecosystem with their knowledge, connections and experiences. There were also 105 researchers and students who participated in Podim with a desire to gain new knowledge and learned about big ideas in various industries. The number of other attendees – let’s call them entrepreneurial enthusiasts – is 98, meaning this year’s Podim audience was extremely diverse.

Podim Conference Participants

There were 95 great speakers sharing their experiences at 5 Podim stages and our attendees participated in more than 40 events – talks, panels, workshops, and behind-the-scenes discussions.

Podim’s audience this year was a very global one. Participants came from all over the world, from exactly 36 countries including Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Poland, Serbia, Croatia, the United Kingdom and the USA. Their goal was mutual – to learn, understand, and support each other in the business ecosystem of the world.

1139 meetings in only 3 days and only 1 winner of the Podim Pitching Competition

One of the main drawing points of Podim is most definitely the Deal Room and 1-on-1 meetings going on in there. Startups, investors and business executives love to participate as the 20-minutes meetings are short and relevant.

This year, we’ve had 1139 meetings during 3 days of Podim!  These meetings were between 346 startups from 23 countries, 139 investors and 286 business executives from various corporations & SME companies! We can proudly say that those are record-breaking numbers for Podim! What a thrill!

There was also a fantastic feeling at the Podim Marketplace where 51 startups presented their products and services to investors, business executives and other attendees. The best part? Trying out all the presented products and even bringing some of them home with us!

One of the most exciting and tense parts of Podim was once again the Pitching Competition, where a lot of great and ambitious startups pitched their ideas to our expert juries.

This year, 132 startups from 22 countries participated in the Podim Demo Day which happened on 4th May. Our jury had to work hard, but by the end of the day, they’d chosen the top 10 startups that then participated in the Podim Pitching Competition semifinals on 16th May live in Maribor. All 10 were pitching their hearts out, but by the end of the day, only 5 startups remained. 

Those 5 finalists were:

💡 Omniaz from Poland
💡
Mutumutu from Czech Republic
💡 Kickscale from Austria
💡
CloudCart from Bulgaria
💡
Capskin from Switzerland

In the Podim Pitching Competition Finals on 17th May, the winner was chosen fair and square! This year’s crown went to CloudCart from Bulgaria. Congratulations!

Pitching Competition Winners

We’d like to thank all of our great jury members: Nenad Marovac (DN Capital), Jan Habermann (Credo Ventures), Jure Mikuž (South Central Ventures), Francois Mazoudier (Fundraising Bootcamp), Julien Coustaury (Fil Rouge Capital), Alina Klarner (Impact Shakers), Mirna Marovic (VentureXchange), Martin Mössler (Science Park Graz), Krisztián Gyepes (Elevator Ventures), Monika Kek (BluHeera), Or Haviv (Arieli Capital) and Maja Tomanič Vidovič  (Slovenski podjetniški sklad). And thank you, Slovene Enterprise Fund, Ministry of Economic Development and Technology Slovenia and European Regional Development Fund for making this happen. The competition wouldn’t be possible without you!

As the winner, Cloudcart will receive a spot at the Fundraising Bootcamp in London, one of the best programs that will help you get funded.

Urban Lapajne, Podim’s program director, had the following to say about the competition: 

“The number and diversity of startups that pitched at the Demo Day, in the semifinals and finals, testifies to the international dimensions of Podim. There were 132 startups from 22 countries at the Demo Day! Our juries also consisted of international and eminent experts. There were plenty of international investors from the most elite European venture capital funds, which further confirms the weight and importance of the Podim conference in Europe.”

But Cloudcart was not the only one celebrating! Our friends from Fil Rouge Capital announced some really cool news. Instead of the intended  €50.000, they decided to invest €100.000 in the Bosnian startup OREA Bazaar, a platform for buying and selling handmade, original products with a local label based in Southeast Europe. Just wow!

Huge congratulations are in order for the co-founder & CEO, Senita Slipac and her whole team! We would also like to say a big, heartfelt thank you to the entire Fil Rouge Capital team, who indeed put their money where their mouth is.

Podim’s Program had 95 speakers from all over the world

Globally recognized speakers from all over the world shared their knowledge and business kilometers in 11 program blocks that included talks, panel discussions, workshops and meetups. Let’s break down the top 5 of them below:

Confessions of a Founder

We experienced raw and honest confessions of founders telling us no bull* business building inspiring stories, giving us leadership lessons learned from a former burlesque dancer, sharing actionable tools on how to get the best of the startup and corporate world to grow your business, showing us insights of building the world’s best company in Premium Sales Intelligence, revealing the importance of purpose-driven leadership for achieving breakthrough success, and going from a renowned professor to a space entrepreneur like a true badass. 

Speakers of the Confessions of a Founder block were:

Dheeraj Pandey, board member of the American software giant Adobe and co-founder & CEO of DevRev.
Joc Pečečnik, founder of Interblock, president of Slovenian Business Club, and the 7th richest man in Slovenia.
Paulina Sygulska Tenner, founder of GrantTree and author of “Laid Bare: What the Business Leader Learned from the Stripper”.
Zoltan A. Vardy, B2B startup mentor and investor with knowledge on how to take a business from ‘1’ to ‘100’.
Anna Gregorio, one of the top Italian scientists in the field of physics, space entrepreneur and an assistant professor at the University of Trieste.
James Isilay, co-founder and CEO of Cognism, a multi-awarded sales acceleration platform.

Digital Transformation

The expression ‘digital transformation’ is receiving a lot of buzz these days, but many experts agree that the hype around it is not doing the business world many favors.  Of course, there are valuable aspects of it to profit from, but quite a few misconceptions and unrealistic expectations as well, wasting your time and money. You see, digital transformation is not just about the latest technology, but should be viewed as an exercise to redefine and refine the core of the company, the company’s culture and, most importantly, its people and customers. The most valuable and specific lessons about ‘yes’ and ‘no’ moments of the digital transformation, were brought to us by our next panel of speakers, globally recognized experts on exploring, experiencing, and trying to understand the unknown.

Speakers of the Digital Transformation block were:

Robin Weninger, managing director of the Global Institute of Leadership and Technology (GILT).
Emilija Stojmenova Duh, head of 4P DIH Hub.
Hajdi Cenan, co-founder & CEO of the AI Startup Airt platform.
Mario Fraiss, CEO of FRAISS IT.
Sama Carlos Samame, co-founder of Salsa Ventures and BoxyHQ, where he also serves as the COO.

Developing a Winning Ecosystem

Our largest program block was truly a fruitful one! Joining us on the mission of supporting the winning ecosystem were the best experts, answering the questions like “Who Is Who in the Emerging Ecosystem of the Alps Adriatic & Balkan Region?” and “Is the Regional Ecosystem on the Right Path?”. Not just asking, but also teaching us how to seize the opportunities for growth of ecosystems, dissecting phenomena of the Startup Chile, data-driven tools for managing the startup communities and why building a strong mentorship program is key.

Speakers of the Developing a Winning Ecosystem block were:

Sebastián Díaz Mesa, co-founder and head of acceleration & community at DEEP Ecosystems, as well as the CEO of Start-Up Chile.
Nina Nikolich, Swiss Entrepreneurship Program (SwissEP) officer and co-founder of Startup Macedonia.
Jeff Saling, angel investor, executive director and co-founder of StartUpNV, Nevada’s only statewide business incubator.
Jakob Modéer, regional entrepreneurship program manager for Western Balkans at SwissEP.
Milos Matic, full-time partner at ICT Hub Venture, investor and board member at Bitebell.
Hajdi Cenan, co-founder & CEO of the AI Startup Airt platform.
Alema Pelesić, ecosystem facilitator in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the Swiss EP or Swiss Entrepreneurship Program.
Matija Srbić, co-founder and CEO of startup Noomly, while also being a startup incubator program director of the Innovation Centre Nikola Tesla and Start-up incubator SPOCK of the University of Zagreb.
Angelika Mitteregger, project manager at the City of Graz Department for Economic Development.
+ others.

Read all about HERE & HERE!

Venture Building 

Venture building is already deservingly gaining a foothold as an increasingly popular approach that established companies outside the startup scene like banks, insurance businesses, manufacturing firms and many others take on as a new way for their corporation operations to thrive. Our speakers of Venture Building showed the audience why corporations turn to venture building to drive their innovation efforts and disrupt the market.

Speakers of the Venture Building block were:

Martin Schöppl, innovation manager at Ottobock.
Aleksandra Petkov-Georgieva, corporate innovator at Raiffeisen Bank International AG.
Moritz Hertlein, IT/digitalization consultant at the Digital Innovation Hub of Miba Group.
Patrick Enzinger, co-founder & CEO of Smart Inspection.
Max Ditzel, CEO and managing partner at WhatAVenture.

Leadership for Disruptive Innovation

The disruptive innovation journey is accompanied by tough challenges, the biggest one being decommissioning obsolete business processes with zero impact on ongoing business, while also incorporating intrinsically new processes. That is when true and proper leadership plays a game-changing role. Disruptive leaders are many things, but most of all are voracious for information about changing trends in the industry and constantly ask people the toughest questions. They are valiant because they bravely lead people and organizations through uncertainty, encourage variety in thinking and open-mindedness, and are veracious in everything. We were lucky enough to meet some of them and listen to their stories of success at Podim 2022!

Speakers of the Leadership for Disruptive Innovation block were:

Dr. Tina Ruseva, founder & CEO of Mentessa.
Loretta Tioiela, co-founder & managing partner of Next Sequence.
Stoyan Yankov, productivity & performance coach and a global keynote speaker.
Alina Klarner, head of ventures at Impact Shakers.
Kristina Shershun, helper for the amazing tech startups from Credo portfolio with all things talent, hiring, and people.

If you would like to know more about our program blocks, check out our blog HERE! 

Meet SPOT. Robot SPOT! 

Podim Conferenc SPOT robot

Spot is the man – sorry, the robot 😉 – for the automated sensing and inspection, capturing limitless data, and exploring without boundaries. It navigates terrain with unprecedented mobility, allowing you to automate routine inspection tasks and data capture safely, accurately, and frequently. The results? Safer, more efficient and more predictable operations.

Industries like construction, manufacturing, power & utilities, research, public safety, and even entertainment are all head over heels for this futuristic gentlerobot. We were lucky enough to present it to our audience this year and it impressed all of us! Big thanks to Boston Dynamics and Smart Inspection, who brought SPOT to Podim!

Networking, Podim Party and all that business jazz

The heart of Podim is still the same after all these years. Our goal is to connect and help all of our attendees network their hearts out. Getting to know each other and feeling the connection of the regional startup ecosystem is important, so we must stand united in the pursuit of it. Helping us with our mission were many Podim activities, the Podim Terrace and of course the legendary Podim party. This year’s theme was Cruise Ship Extravaganza and we were sailing on the waves of: band Xequtifz, DJ, Cocktails, Burger Corner, Balkan Corner and Hula girls.

Podim Party

Wondering what others think of Podim? Let’s see 👇:

Podim 2022 most definitely went out with a bang, but …

… we would like to sincerely say a big, massive, heartfelt thank you to our partners! YOU absolutely ROCK!

< references >

Investors at Podim 2022

Investors that attend Podim

TMRW Fundraising Bootcamp

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