Slovenian established companies are strongly increasing their activities in the field of collaborating and investing into promising startups from Slovenia and the region! After the industrial giant Kolektor Group presented their investment fund Kolektor Ventures last year at the PODIM Conference, the Kranj-based Iskratel revealed its plans for a newly founded investment fund Iskratel startup at the press conference on Tuesday. They also announced partnership collaboration at this year’s PODIM Conference and presented the investment criteria and details of their first startup investment. It was received by the innovative startup Gotoky, member of Technology Park Ljubljana, which placed among the finalists for the Slovenian Startup of the Year award last year, received an award as one of the most promising startups by the Dutch accelerator StartupBootCamp HighTechXL in 2015, and placed among 100 most promising European startups in the project New Europe 100 in November last year.
What startups is Iskratel looking for?
As one of the leading European manufacturers and providers of info-communication solutions, present in more than 30 countries across the world, Iskratel is planning to invest about 5,000,000 € into promising startups from Slovenia and the broader Adriatic region. The starting investments are intended for startups that outgrew the earliest development stages and have an MVP and promising reactions from the market, be it in the number of pre-orders or, for example, a large number of followers on social networks. The investment will amount to between 150,000 and 200,000 € in exchange for a company ownership share of up to 25 %.
Telecommunications and three new industrial verticals
As Damjan Slapar, CTO of Iskratel, explained at the press conference, the company recently successfully restructured itself and is now working in three new industrial verticals besides telecommunications – energetics, intelligent transport and public safety, including smart cities. This way Iskratel, which is rapidly preparing for the fourth industrial revolution, will look for investment-suitable startup teams with complementary ICT products, focused on cloud solutions, internet of things, smart and 5G networks, and industrial digitalization.
Key advantages for hardware teams
All these are thus areas in which Iskratel will be looking to establish contact with innovative, lean and agile startups that are developing software, hardware or a combination of both. Iskratel as a strategic partner is important mostly for startups developing hardware, because it can ensure access to its development and manufacturing capacities and offer the possibility of testing the product and its quick passage from the prototype stage to a market-ready product.
Comprehensive offer of value for startups
Besides financing, rich know-how that is a result of already 70 years of business, and mentoring with an emphasis on softer entrepreneurial skills, Iskratel will also give startups a supporting entrepreneurship environment within its business incubator and technology park RC ICT, including all the necessary business infrastructure. Another important part of the support is also covering all stages of industrialization on the path from the idea to product – research and development, engineering, managing the procurement chain, prototype and serial manufacture that includes assembling modules, programming, testing and systems integration, and all the logistics, sales distribution over its branched B2B network in more than 30 countries across the world, and after-sales support.
Excellent partner for challenges faced by the Gotoky team
The first startup investment from Iskratel went into the hands of the Gotoky team, which developed the smart walkie-talkie that enables communication over radio waves even in areas that aren’t covered by a GSM network. “Besides using it for sports and personal exercise of skiers, snowboarders and trekkers, Gotoky is an urgent solution in cases of natural disasters, when the afflicted areas stay without a mobile network for a couple of days or weeks. To optimally implement our business idea, we need a reliable and experienced partner, which is why Iskratel is an excellent partner for all challenges that we will face in this process,” said Gotoky CEO Denis Lončar when signing the contract.
Speakers at Iskratel’s press conference (from the left) dr. Roman Kužnar – Iskratel and RC IKT, Damjan Slapar – Iskratel, and Denis Lončar - Gotoky
Startup mentality and richer product portfolio
For a big established and development-oriented company such as Iskratel, founding an investment fund is one of the ways to open outwards, to enrich the portfolio of innovative products, and strengthen the startup mentality and attitude of lean, agile and innovative startup teams. “In Slovenia and the broader region, I have been noticing a rise in good ideas, so I am not afraid that we will not be able to invest this intended five million, even though there is currently enough money for investments in this environment. We established contact with at least five different startups from the region, we are staying in contact with them and monitoring their progress, and we got to them with the additional help from the Slovenian startup ecosystem and organizations such as the ABC accelerator, Business Angels of Slovenia, Initiative Start:up Slovenia, and CEED,” added Damjan Slapar.
To the PODIM Conference for suitable startups!
So in Iskratel, they aren’t afraid that there wouldn’t be enough suitable companies for investments, and dr. Roman Kužnar, CEO of the RC IKT development centre, which is a subsidiary of Iskratel and member of the Initiative Start:up Slovenia, emphasizes the importance of good collaboration with the entrepreneurship support environment. In collaboration with the Initiative Start:up Slovenia, the main organizer of PODIM, the biggest and most influential startup conference in the Alps-Adriatic region, Iskratel will actively participate in co-creating the PODIM Challenge, the investment part of the conference, where it will address those branches and fields from which it wishes to attract promising startups.
Ecosystem – first filter for ideas and station for empowering startups
Iskratel is also excellently collaborating with Business Angels of Slovenia, who also played a key role in the Gotoky investment. Much like with all other organizations of the national ecosystem with which it collaborates, Iskratel sees their importance mostly in the fact that they work as the first filter for ideas that are potentially interesting for Iskratel as well as that they are preparing startups for market appearance, and empowering them for discussions with investors.
Who will enrich this year’s PODIM besides Kolektor and Iskratel?
Besides the company Kolektor Ventures, which premiered its investment fund Kolektor Venture at last year’s PODIM Conference, and the already mentioned Iskratel, we are also concluding discussions for partnership collaboration at PODIM with some other more visible representatives of big established companies from Slovenia and the region. We will announce this in more detail soon.
How does 30Lean comment the awakening of startuposauruses?
Matej Golob and Lojze Bertoncelj from the consulting company 30Lean
are also very positively commenting the fact that Slovenian established companies are strongly enhancing their activities in the field of collaborating with and investing into promising startups from Slovenia and the region, as well as that they are recognizing the importance of appearing at resounding startup events such as PODIM. “Besides the mentioned activities of Iskratel and Kolektor, we definitely shouldn’t overlook company Petrol with its activities and initiatives under the umbrella of new business models and digitalization. Atlantic Group is also active in this part of the open innovation spectre, and Slovenian banks and insurance companies have strongly started opening up in this field,” is how Matej Golob commented the current events on the Slovenian corporate scene.
Corporations aren’t closed fortresses anymore!
Slovenian and regional startups are thus getting a significantly more responsive and relevant interlocutor from the side of corporations than they did two years ago. “I remember how I helped startups get meetings in big companies, which seemed like closed fortresses to them. Now in the most progressive corporations, the thing looks more like a well-organized fair. Both sides are open about their interests and potential collaboration. There is less fear, more trust, and the speed of connecting is significantly higher,” said Matej Golob. We are also recognizing and saluting all this in the Initiative Start:up Slovenia, which will collaborate with company 30Lean even more thoroughly when designing the corporate part of the PODIM Conference this year.
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