Rok Habinc, an experienced venture capital investor and partner in STH Management, talks about how he experienced this year's digital implementation of Podim DX, how he evaluates the value of Podim for startups and investors and other participants and what are the advantages of digital implementation compared to an in-person event. Podim is also the flagship event of the Slovenian startup community, which brings together startups and scaleups, investors and representatives of corporations and is considered the most influential startup and technology event in Central and Eastern Europe.
How do you see Podim DX as an investor, an actor of the entrepreneurial ecosystem?
"Podim is a very useful event for investors in Slovenian companies and other actors of the entrepreneurial ecosystem every year. A lot of actors are gathered in one place. Podim is a great opportunity to get to know each other and start agreements on possible joint projects. Keynotes, panels and workshops are interesting and relevant every year, you can learn a lot in one place and in a short time. Of course, it is crucial for investors to get acquainted with excellent startups, both Slovenian and foreign, start monitoring them and later decide on a possible investment."
How crucial do you think the implementation of Podim DX is in the situation we have seen this year?
"This year, the entire global ecosystem was shaken by a coronavirus pandemic. It was not clear what would happen to the conferences where we usually met. Podim DX organizers, in my opinion, managed to organize a great online event incredibly quickly. Despite minor technical difficulties, program blocks on Podim DX ran incredibly smoothly. It was useful for me to be able to meet again in one place - albeit virtually - many acquaintances with whom I wanted to chat: especially entrepreneurs, investors and business angels. I listened to excellent lectures by foreign lecturers, connoisseurs of global startup environments that I might not otherwise have the opportunity to hear - I would warmly recommend at least two lectures on fundraising to anyone involved in fundraising for their project. "
Listening to ideas and facts from abroad broadens horizons
Is there any other positive effect?
"Definitely. During Podim Demo Day & Pitching Competition, in a short time, investors can see over a hundred 'pitches' of quality Slovenian and foreign startups - access to so many quality entrepreneurs would otherwise be much harder and more expensive. Participants had the opportunity to listen to a large number of very good conversations on different topics. The Slovenian startup space is limited and listening to ideas and facts from abroad certainly broadens the horizons. So I would suggest to the participants of Podim DX to review the program again and listen to one of the lectures they may have missed."
"The organizers set a high standard for all other organizers of similar events"
So - was the digital implementation of the event good as well?
"The implementation was excellent, it was praised by all participants, speakers, entrepreneurs, investors,…. There was some technical problem occasionally but the vast majority was quickly resolved with plenty of good will. For some participants, especially foreign ones, such form was even better, as they didn't have to waste a lot of time traveling to Slovenia. I liked the 20-minute 1-on-1 meetings with companies in the Deal Room even more than the usual live ones: here the technology actually cuts you off after 20 minutes, so the participants were forced to say their brief and concise words, which is a great advantage."
Was anything missing, however, compared to the in-person execution of the event?
"I got the feeling that we were all impressed with the quality of the performance and that the online event - even if prepared in a very short time - could be great. In some ways even better than live. The organizers set a high standard for all other similar organizers. events.
Of course, there is a lack of live contact with the participants, chatting over coffee, when many informal information is exchanged and new sciences are created. So, I hope Podim comes back live as soon as possible."
A golden opportunity to present itself to foreign investors as well
Does Podim have a positive effect for entrepreneurs in the region and especially for Slovenia?
"Certainly. A whole bunch of investors gathered in one place, entrepreneurs had the opportunity to present themselves to everyone at the same time and get feedback from a number of investors and other ecosystem actors they might not otherwise meet. Opportunities for Slovenian entrepreneurs to come to finance, they are quite limited, so it is worth the golden opportunity to present ourselves to foreign investors. It is crucial for Slovenia to present Slovenian companies and the ecosystem to foreign investors and entrepreneurs and to arouse their interest in co-creating our common future."
"It is crucial for Slovenia to present Slovenian companies and the ecosystem to foreign investors and entrepreneurs and to arouse their interest in coming to co-create our common future."
What do you pay special attention to as an investor at Podim?
"For me as an investor, it is also very important to see which foreign investors are interested in Slovenian companies or companies from the region. Slovenian companies are mostly too small to be attractive for global funds, so it is crucial to know who has an interest or mandate to invest in the region. Many foreign investors come year after year, and every year the organizers also attract something new to get to know.
Podim has established itself in the past as the most important and best startup conference in the region, and I think that this reputation has only been consolidated with this year's implementation."