More than 70 investors show interest in ABC Accelerator startups
The big entrepreneurship event, ABC Demo Day 2015, took place on Wednesday, the 24th of June in the Crystal Palace in Ljubljana. There, ABC Accelerator has connected startups that finished the intensive interactive three-month program “Smart Cities” with international investors – VC funds and business angels.
The congress hall of the Crystal palace was teeming with investors from home and abroad. In the over 200-strong crowd, there were partners of ABC Accelerator, ABC mentors, and investors. Even before the official start, the young entrepreneurs and investors had been having preliminary talks and started indicating which of the startups attracted which capital.
The goal of the Demo Day, the event that the ABC team has organised at the conclusion of the first – “Smart Cities” program, was to present business models that have been developed and tested during the program by the startups with the help of mentors, coaches, business partners, and the dedicated ABC team to a select audience – especially the potential investors. During this, they were able to test what valuation is given to them by the investors from the various countries – Italy, Russia, USA, Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, United Kingdom,… which have identified an untapped potential for innovation in Slovenia and the region. The need for capital investment shown by the ABC startups in this first – “seed” – round is around three million Euro, and the first investor responses show that this amount will be exceeded.
The initial inspirational video presentation of ABC Accelerator was followed by the motivational talk by Dejan Roljić, the founder and CEO of ABC Accelerator, where he outlined the next development steps. Among them falls the formation of an ABC Accelerator in Salzburg, Austria in 2016 and the entry to the Chinese market in 2017 in cooperation with the investors Premier Group, with whom ABC Accelerator has signed a letter of intent for the transfer of knowledge to Shanghai. In the end, he forecast a visionary break in the field of accelerators, saying:
The accelerator as we know it today will not continue to exist in the future. Time is the key currency for young companies. Startup founders and their teams needed two months to find a suitable business model, media support, create websites and presentations, attract investors, and position themselves. We wish to create a virtual “pre-acceleration program”, which will enable entrepreneurs to progress faster and do the work for which they currently need two months before even applying for the program. The work in accelerators will thus accelerate even more, and success will come faster.
The hosts of the event, standup comedian Tin Vodopivec and co-founder and marketing force behind ABC Accelerator Ladeja Godina Košir, have set the tempo of the event in a relaxed manner. In the first part, the speakers were Miha Zupanc, COO of BTC, Michael Paier, IBM General Manager SEE, and Tjaša Ficko, the vice-mayor of the City of Ljubljana. They have stressed the importance of innovativeness, the connecting of different stakeholders in innovation, and the development of the recognition of Slovenia as a country, interesting for international investors and the important role that ABC Accelerator and its multiplicative development effects.
Afterwards followed the perfectly polished pitches of the eight ABC startups: Styliff, Venxly, Facility, Smart Futuristic, Messenger, Moveo, TravelStarter, and Symvaro. Clear, self-confident, convincing. After four presentations, Victor Osyka of Almaz Capital entered the stage and presented the group, which connects the Russian and American markets, and has invested over 250 million dollars into 15 young companies.
ABC Accelerator awards were also given out – the best mentor award went to Julien Coustaury, best lecturer to Aaron Marko, and best partner to IBM Slovenia.
The final words were said by Darko Đurič, an amazing sportsman – swimmer, Paralympian, and double world champion. The need for persistence, setting new goals, and never giving up was his message. The impossible does not exist for Darko. The same can be said for ABC Accelerator’s startups – they are ambitiously entering the international business arena and are starting investor negotiations.