Podim DX, one of the 30 most influential startup & technology conferences in Europe, which was transformed into a fully digital online implementation this year due to changed circumstances, has been finished. The conference was recently selected among the 20 best online startups and technology conferences in Europe, and the reactions of the participants after the event only confirm the justification of this choice.
The statistics of the event, which brings together the most promising startup and scaleup companies from the region, the most motivated regional and global investors, business executives, dozens of top-notch speakers who share valuable knowledge and rich experience with the participants in one place every year, is once again exceptional. Until last year the venue of the event was the Hotel Habakuk in Maribor, and this year for the first time Podim was held online only.
As many as 1,126 participants from all over the world have been networking, meeting and making deals for three days. The online dealmaking platform Podim DX Deal Room hosted 842 meetings of representatives of startups & scaleups with investors and businessmen. The participants were dominated by members of startup and scale teams (294), 77 investors, 122 businessmen, 144 speakers, and 489 other participants, including members of the support environment and entrepreneurship and startups enthusiasts.
“The dealflow was amazing this year and clearly reflects the improvement of the regional scene. We were very happy to be part of it and will be there next year!” said investor Julien Coustaury from Fil Rouge Capital, after executing several meetings.
More than 100 studios from all over the world united in one virtual venue
Matej Rus, CEO of Venture factory, organiser of Podim DX, was frank: “The situation with the coronavirus forced us to embark on a completely digital path. While many similar events for startups have been canceled or postponed, we have not given up.”
The virtual venue of the event this time was the online platform Hopin.to provided by the London startup, and the transition between the diverse Podim DX program contents required just a few clicks. A special feature of the conference were also two Podim DX studios, one in Maribor, which the team prepared together with the teams of BK TV and the company Soundbiro, the other was in Vienna, made by Podim’s Austrian partner Der Brutkasten. The main program of the conference took place from these two studios, and most of the guests joined the program stream remotely, from their homes and offices. Therefore Podim DX had more than 100 “studios” this year.
“It was a real pleasure for us to organise this top-notch conference with Podim team. With this production, we were able to set new standards in digital conferencing. On top, I have seen some of the most interesting panels and talks since I have been in this business. Big congrats to both teams, Podim and Der Brutkasten, for pulling off this great event!” Dejan Jovičevič said after the event.
Matej Rus admitted that the team had flirted with the introduction of digital technologies in the past, but they found it almost unacceptable to use the technology as it might offer “shortcuts”. “But now we have been forced into it and we have accepted it as an opportunity. We were scared but also daring at the same time. We told ourselves we were going to pull it off – and we did. And now we know that the use of digital technologies is not so bad at all. It is also sustainable, because it saves the environment due to fewer trips, and it is also good for our use of time.”
Recognition for implementation came from Brussels as well
An additional confirmation for the Podim DX team that it is on the right track was the participation of Margrethe Vestager, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission responsible for the digitization of the European Union. Vestager was the guest of honor at the opening of Podim DX, where she said, among other things: “The crisis has shown what a person is capable of when he is forced to do so. Among other things, to adapt to new conditions overnight. I hope we will be able to use part of this experience as a foundation along with customized established models. So that in the future we will not only use digital technology, because sometimes it is good to meet live.”
She praised the implementation of the event and highlighted the commitment of the team: “It is so impressive to see how much the human ambition is driving this. And that I find to be the fascination about tech. It’s not just the machine, it’s humans driving the machine to make sure that we can make the most of it. And Podim is an excellent example of exactly that.” Also extremely interesting was the conversation between Robin Wauters, editor of Tech.eu, one of the leading European media in the field of technologies and startups, with Margrethe Vestager, which we broadcast live on the Internet, also on the European Commission’s Facebook page. what kind of society we want to be and what kind of relationships we want.
“Podim DX demonstrated that great events can be both physical and virtual; that what matters is the care that is put into the organisation, the speaker line-up, the quality of the production, the interaction with participants. What it shows is that major virtual events are here to stay, and that people can get a lot of value out of it,” Robin Wauters said about Podim DX.
Program blocks tailored to the needs of modern entrepreneurs
In more than 72 hours of live broadcast, the extremely rich program offered more than 50 round tables, presentations and workshops with 144 excellent speakers, who impressed the participants with a variety of current content.
The organisers of Podim DX developed the program together with partners, and the content served as a reflection on the possibilities of disruption of individual industries. Already on the pre-conference day, the Founders Academy with investors, founders, experts and members of the support environment have been sharing their experience in a five-hour block. The event, which took place as part of the Start: up Alpe-Adria program, was also broadcasted live online.
The Growth Academy block offered lots of tips, tricks and revealing the secrets of top masters for sales growth. Experts with experience from working with companies such as Spotify, Facebook, Yelp, Tinder, Salesforce, SoundCloud, have joined.
Experts with experience from companies such as Ripple, Raiffeisen Bank International, OriginTrail answered questions about whether the blockchain will slowly sink into the dustbin of history in 2020 or whether it represents an opportunity for growth and breakthrough.
Founders, who sold their companies for nine-digit numbers, have been sharing valuable experience
The key people responsible for innovation in the “giants” Intel, Western Digital, Visa, DHL Start-up Lab, Raiffeisen, Corephotonics, Allianz, Kapsch TraffiCom, spoke about how innovation with startups can maintain a competitive advantage.
Serial entrepreneurs, startup founders who also sold their businesses for nine-digit numbers to giants such as Adidas, IBM, Onevest, as well as the most active angel investors and venture capital fund representatives, revealed the secrets of their success and shared valuable tips and experiences.
Those looking for funds for the next round of investments at Podim DX have learned, among other things, what they need to do to keep investors from rejecting them. Futurist and humanist Gerd Leonhard, among other things, revealed what is more important for the society of the future, to have algorithms orto have relationships, as well as when there is just too much technology.
Of particular interest, especially to companies in the creative sector, was a set of experts from the creative industries who shared their valuable advice and experience gained by working with companies such as TripAdvisor, Dunkin ‘Donuts, Sprinklr, Red Bull, Nike, Levi’s , Xbox in Diesel. Networking part of the Podim DX was also an opportunity for startups from the creative industries to get expert mentorship.
“We are pleased that this year’s Podim in digital form left an inspiring impression on our companies and individuals from the creative industries and that we provided them with numerous individual mentorship sessions with experts from creative industries. Panels and talks were additional motivation at seeking for new approaches to both creative and entrepreneurial challenges that we face today,” said Urška Krivograd, project manager at the Center for Creativity, who, together with Podim, provided entrepreneurs with individual mentoring.
Experts in the food industry talked about how to transform the agri-food industry into a more sustainable, transparent and adapted to new market needs.
An opportunity to promote the city, country and the region
Podim, which traditionally strengthens the role of the university city of Maribor in the field of innovation in the economy and thus tries to reduce the gap between first-tier and second-tier cities, was also promoting the city and the region and their tourist, cultural and sports potential. In the infotainment Podim DX program section, the cities of Maribor and Ptuj with its traditional carnival, the University of Maribor, other tourist attractions of Slovenia, including Ljubljana, the Alps and the Karst, the Technical Museum of Slovenia, Piran Salt Pans, were presented.
We are convinced that we have managed to make one of the best digital startup conferences so far and we are proud that this is also confirmed by the responses of participants, both from the speakers’ and investors’ as well as from the startups’ sides. “I was quite impressed with the level of production of the event. It’s the most proffesional online event I’ve seen or been a part of to date,” said Patrick Lee, one of the speakers at Podim DX, co-founder and first CEO of Rotten Tomatoes.
“Congratulations to Podim DX team for adapting to new reality so quickly and for pulling off the conference on such a professional level that confirmed Podim’s established role as a flagship event of the Slovene startup community. The deal flow this year was great, we got to know new teams and strengthened connections with other system stakeholders,” said Gregor Rebolj, General Partner at Silicon Gardens Fund.
“Really big congratulations and respect for such a great setup of everything related to going digital this year. Did a lot of other conferences during the last couple of weeks – also from big players – this one is light years ahead. Respect,” said Simon Jurič, co-founder of Inova IT.
On the wings of strong support from community and partners
Podim DX program manager Urban Lapajne emphasized the importance of the community, which also plays an exceptional role in the startup ecosystem: “We are building Podim with the help of our community, which is growing and becoming more closely connected. The partners are also a key part of the event, so a special thank you to them for supporting us in the digital implementation of the event.”
The support of the co-organisers was also key on this path; next to the Venture Factory Podim is being co-organised by the Slovene Enterprise Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. The director of the Slovene Enterprise Fund, Maja Tomanič Vidovič, said, among other things: “Digitalisation will be key to success in the future. We constantly have to innovate and think about what else we can do as a company or startup to come out even stronger from the changed circumstances.”
Croatian Farseer winner Podim DX Pitching Competition
How strong startups can be was shown during the Podim DX by those who entered the Podim DX Pitching Competition. As many as 141 of them presented themselves to the commission on the first day of the conference and the best 16 made it to the semi-finals, five to the finals. The most convincing was the Croatian Farseer with its financial planning solution. The award team receives the option of a one-year tour of London’s TMRW technology hub, along with support.
“Podim DX in the online realm was full of great content and incredibly well executed. We didn’t expect anything, so we were all super relaxed through all three days. There were a lot of great startups, but in the end – we won, and the feeling is great. We really did miss the social component and celebrating with the other members of the Tech Boost program, so hopefully we all makeup for it in the next year’s conference. For us this is a big motivation, but we came down from the cloud the next day already and went back to working on the product and traction. We would like to thank WBAF and Wise Guys for supporting us through the Tech boost program and PODIM,” Matija Nakić, founder of Farseer.
“Participating in a fully online 3-day conference for sure is an intense experience. We definitely enjoyed the speaker line-up, late night talks and especially – seeing Tech Boost program’s graduate rocking the Podim Pitching competition finals!” Egita Polanska, responsible for Program & Partnerships in SEE and Venture Partner in Italy at Startup Wise Guys.
“Podim DX provided a great experience for start-ups to pitch to investors, make new partnerships, learn and network. We are very proud of the winner of the pitching competition who is from our Tech Boost Program,” Amra Omeragic, investment advisor to EFSE at Finance in Motion said.
Podim Expo executed in DX version as well this year
The Podim DX Expo, a hybrid of digital and personally moderated version of the exhibition center, was also excellently executed, where Podim DX partners presented themselves with the help of the Podim DX team, video and other visual content.
The day after the event, the program continued with an excellent post-conference distance event, in which experts Daniel Cronin and Natalie W. Nixon lectured on corporate culture to approximately 150 employees of Zavarovalnica Sava. Nixon, creativity strategist and president of Figure 8 Thinking, which specializes in innovative thinking and design business management, is also working with the Center for Creativity to prepare a lecture for all actors in the creative economy.
The Podim DX team would like to thank all the partners who believed in digital performance and made the event possible at such a high level. Along with the co-organisers, the Slovene Entrepreneurship Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, we thank the European Union, which together with the European Regional Development Fund enabled the event, the Startup Europe Networks network, the Municipality of Maribor, the European Commission, Zavarovalnica Sava, DEWESoft, Center for Creativity, Strategic Development and Innovation Partnership of the Circular Economy Transition Network, StartNet Carinthia, TehnoCenter of the University of Maribor, INNOVUM platform of the University of Maribor, WhataVenture, CEED Slovenia, US Embassy in Ljubljana, Science Park Graz, Startup Wise Guys, Oracle, Fil Rouge Capital, ABC Accelerator, Silicon Gardens, Panvita, Fintech Factory, TMRW, Der Brutkasten, Startup Sesame, Tech.eu, DigiFed, BABEG, SoundBiro, Klun, Ljubljana University Incubator, Tribar Design, Samino, Build!, ABA – Invest in Austria, KWF – Kärntner Wirtschaftsförderungs Fonds, Press Clipping, BK TV, Sinhro, TechData, Slovenian Economic Association Austria, Silicon Alps Cluster, A1, Raiffeisen Bank International, Elevator Ventures, UNIQA Ventures and Vienna Business Agency.
You can meet all our partners here.