CEO of the ABC Accelerator Dejan Roljić in an interview for the Business Daily Finance and portal Startaj.si about expanding abroad, balance sheets of the last three programmes, his own investments, and what annoys him most about startups. The Ljubljana-based accelerator, which is also supported by BTC City, Triglav, EnaA and Petrol, opened facilities in Munich a couple of weeks ago, will open them in Silicon Valley at the end of September, and soon in Bangalore, India, as well. “Rapid expansion is the only possible path for a startup,” explains Dejan Roljić.
Roljić says that they have big plans: first they will expand the programme to 30 startups, they plan to focus on accelerating small and medium-sized companies, and set up the so-called virtual accelerator over time. More about their plans as well as the problematic “Balkan mindset” of certain startups and Roljić’s own investments into Asian startups can be found in the interview.
A year and a half ago you mentioned that ABC is going to become the biggest accelerator in the region. Is ABC the biggest accelerator in the region today?
I actually don’t care if we’re the biggest. It’s more important that we’re the best. And we’re going into the right direction, that’s the direction of expansion. And not even physical expansion as such, but rather an expansion that will enable comprehensive solutions for startups, anywhere and anytime. And we wish to achieve that with a virtual accelerator. I think we’re very close to becoming one of the best accelerators in Europe.
According to which criteria?
The only criteria that really matters: the money collected by “our” startups. And of course it’s easier to collect money in bigger startup centres than in Ljubljana. That’s why we also started connecting and expanding, first to Munich, Silicon Valley and Bangalore.
You mentioned that a virtual accelerator is the right solution. Why are you then building and equipping facilities in Munich or Silicon Valley?
If you wish to get big partners, a virtual accelerator is not enough for now. If you wish to gain credibility and if you’re serious, you have to be physically present in certain places.
Our plan is that besides Silicon Valley, Munich and, of course, Ljubljana, we also open an accelerator in Bangalore, India, and then connect with a strong partner that has at least 70 locations across the world. At these locations, we will be able to use cameras and video conferences to communicate much faster, help startups, and search for the best ones among them.
Which physical location we will send the team to depends on the development stage of the startup. Ljubljana is the place for the earliest teams, those searching for up to half a million of capital. Munich is the next stage, where the company is looking for up to 15 million euros of capital with which it can spread its business across Europe. And for a global story, it’s necessary to go to Silicon Valley.
How many startups have gone through your programmes so far?
How many of them are still alive?
Only three haven’t survived. One already closed its doors and for two of them I could say that they aren’t in the game anymore.
The whole interview is published in Slovenian at: http://startup.si/sl-si/novica/235/abc-pospesevalnik-se-siri-v-m-nchen-in-silicijevo-dolino-prihodnje-leto-pa-se-v-indijo
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The interview was published in the printed edition of the Business Daily Finance on the day 21. 07. 2016, n. 140/2016, and on the portal Startaj.si
. The author of the interview is Blažej Kupec. Photo: Ana Kovač, Planet SiOL.net