Massive action, excitement and success of the PODIM2015 Conference!

Day 4. June 2015 posted Stanislava Vabšek

“This is crazy!”, “I can’t believe this energy!”, “So many new international contacts and potential partners!” These are only some of the excited statements that echoed in many languages amongst the 644 participants and more than 100 international speakers and investors who attended the PODIM 2015 Conference and enjoyed two days of intense startup action, learning and networking. This year’s PODIM justified its status as one of the largest and leading startup conferences in the Alpe-Adria region, as the organizing team succeeded in making a massive event with an incredible influence on the development of the regional startup ecosystem. It will stay in the hearts, minds and business results of attendees for quite some time …

Speakers: Daniel Cronin, Steve Keil, Gina Waldhorn, Tristan Pollock

44 foreign and 27 Slovenian renowned speakers

At the PODIM Conference, as many as 71 renowned, internationally known speakers lined up! We managed to convince 27 Slovenian and 44 foreign speakers that Maribor, Slovenia and the Alpe-Adria startup ecosystem are worth being personally discovered and researched. They flew in from nearly all continents of the world, from America, many European countries, Middle East and even Asia, to share their knowledge, experience and wisdom.

39 top investors

Amongst all 71 speakers who were on the main stage and altogether had 37 different talks, workshops, panel discussions and roundtables, there were also 12 globally known investors. They were the members of the main committee for the investment part of the conference, PODIM Challenge, and they assessed the pitches of five most promising startups from the Alpe-Adria region. 27 representatives of international venture capital funds and business angels from Slovenia and abroad were sat in the audience.


Investment part of the conference attracted 58 startup teams

58 startup teams from seven countries sent in top quality applications for PODIM Challenge. Their number is persistently growing, which shows that PODIM is getting more and more international recognition as a regional investment conference.


644 participants from 21 countries

When PODIM Conference attendees swarmed the Habakuk Hotel in Maribor, you could hear not only Slovenian and English, as the main conference language, but many other languages as well. Exactly 644 people arrived from 21 countries – from Slovenia but also from Austria, Italy, Hungary, Poland, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Germany, Finland, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, USA, Great Britain, Malaysia, India, Netherlands, Portugal, Israel and Oman.

Participants ...

More than half (or a good 57 %) of those attendees were from start-up, small and medium-sized companies. Some more than 37 % of participants came from large companies, investors and entrepreneurship support environment, while about 5 % of the attendees were young entrepreneurship hopefuls and talents, namely high school and university students. This diversity of attendees also shows the mission of the PODIM Conference: joining and connecting all key stakeholders of the regional startup ecosystem in a two-day intense entrepreneurship experience.

Invited 234 startups on business dates ...

Each year, PODIM re-establishes its status as one of the leading startup conferences in the Alpe-Adria region, which is also confirmed by the number of participants coming from startup companies. There were exactly 234 of them amongst 644 attendees, and their massive attendance showed the incredible desirability and importance of the conference sets PODIM 1:1 (attendees having mentoring meetings with speakers for help expanding to markets abroad) and PODIM Speed Dating (meetings of startups with representatives of large, established companies and corporations, venture capital funds, and business angels). For this purpose, we’ve prepared an attractive catalogue with descriptions of 60 startups from the Alpe-Adria region, which made it a lot easier to look for startups for individual meetings.

One-on-one meetings

… and organised more than 200 meetings for them 1:1

So this year at PODIM, we organised more than 200 of these one-on-one meetings, in only two days. How excited about meetings with startups were the speakers, for example, is nicely shown with a statement from Gina Waldhorn from the American agency Evol8tion, connecting startups with successful brands: “If I had my own investment fund, I would invest into most of the startups I’ve met.” Meanwhile, the feelings of participating startup entrepreneurs are best summed up with exclamations such as “This is crazy!”, “I can’t believe this energy!” and “We’ll definitely be able to do something together with the mentors!” The meetings have already proven to be useful, as several startup companies are discussing an investment and talking about collaboration with the speakers, company representatives and other stakeholders.

Eleven corporations will see you next year!

11 carefully chosen proactive established companies attended the networking, and after the event, they sincerely thanked everyone and said goodbye with a thumbs-up and the words “See you next year!” The companies that joined us were Ericsson, Deloitte Group, ABC Accelerator (as a representative of some large companies it’s collaborating with), S&T Slovenija, Kompas MTS, Si.mobil, Slovenia Post, Instrumentation Technologies, Cosylab, ATech Electronics and Orodjarstvo Gorjak. Considering the number of hearty and sincerely thankful emails, tweets and Facebook posts, there are also those who openly admit to having post-PODIM depression, but we believe that we’ll attract at least twice as many corporations next year.

ABC Accelerator team 

Four post-PODIM events in a single day

Partnership and collaboration as keys to success in the modern global economy also allowed us to flawlessly organise and carry out four attention-grabbing post-PODIM events on Friday, 15 May. More than 155 people attended these events and if we add this number to the number of PODIM Conference attendees, we can conclude that as many as about 800 entrepreneurship enthusiasts acquired knowledge from renowned global speakers.

First Deloitte lunch and hanging out with accelerators

Deloitte’s DGC business lunch for fast-growing companies was an excellent opportunity for discussing the meaning of collaboration in innovation. Meanwhile, the ABC Accelerator hosted Dominic Coryell, from the American accelerator 500 Startups, and Jouko Ahvenainen, a guru for crowdfunding platforms from Grow VC Group.

Deloitte’s DGC business lunch

Then Global Pioneers Ljubljana and inspiring social entrepreneurs

At Global Pioneers Ljubljana, hosted by Technology Park Ljubljana, we talked about the recipes for successful growth of startups and the meaning of ethical design with two American PODIM keynote speakers – Gina Waldhorn from Evol8tion and Tristan Harris from Google. In collaboration with the Cene Štupar Public Institute and Technology Park Ljubljana, we hosted Zikry Kholil and Daniel de Gruijter from the global movement Incitement and listened to them at the event entitled Start a social movement and change the world.

Speakers in the media and nearly 200 pieces

With nearly 200 pieces in web and printed media, in Slovenia as well as abroad, this year’s PODIM Conference also achieved the best media coverage so far. Journalists and readers gave the most attention to interviews with keynote speakers, allowing their knowledge, experience and advice to reach even those who couldn’t attend the conference or post-conference events. If you haven’t yet managed to catch all of the most-read pieces, we are listing a couple of links below. Even the Oman Daily Observer wrote about the conference!

You can look at the chosen interviews on links below:

Beautiful sights of Slovenia impressed international speakers

Already on Friday, but then also on Saturday and Sunday, we additionally and thoroughly made international speakers excited about the beauty and potential of Slovenia by organising unforgettable guided visits of the Ptuj Castle, Ljubljana and Bled. Meanwhile in Maribor, we pampered them with Slovenian culinary expertise and tasted excellent wine underneath the oldest grapevine in the world. International speakers were visibly thrilled about Slovenia, which they’ve also shown with many posts on social networks, thus ensuring excellent international promotion of our country.

Slovenian culinary expertise and guided visits of the Ptuj Castle and Bled

Of course we also made sure that they additionally met with a startup entrepreneur or a startup centre on their way. Mike Bott, for example, spent his Saturday afternoon at Technology Park Ljubljana, mentoring business teams. 

And what did the speakers say about the conference?

International speakers weren’t thrilled only about Slovenia’s beauties. When we asked them about their assessment of an event such as the PODIM Conference and its meaning for the development of the regional startup ecosystem, we’ve received very honest and highest possible praise:
”PODIM is incredible! I’m happy that I was able to come here, the speakers and content were so very educational, inspiring and motivational, as were the attendees. I really think it’s incredible how much I’ve learnt, not only from the speakers but also from the people who were sitting in the hall beside me. Attending such a conference is a must for every startup company targeting fast, steep growth, because it’s a truly incredible opportunity for collaboration, networking and getting motivated for success!”
Gina Waldhorn, Evol8tion, USA

”In order for the ecosystem to develop, it’s crucial that each year, not only startups and investors attend PODIM, but also government and state representatives, since they are the ones who can actually change something and ensure the infrastructure for growth and development of startups. But I just hope that these startups realize how valuable it is to have 30 minutes for an actual meeting with an investor such as Jon Bradford from TechStars, not only a couple of seconds for hand-shaking or a brief chat in the crowd like the other thousand startups looking for the same opportunity.”
Ivan Brezak Brkan, Netokracija, Croatia

”PODIM is actually one of the best conference for startups, not only in the region but also in Europe, especially if we look at the truly impressive list of speakers and attendees from the world of entrepreneurship, and representatives of venture capital funds and international business angels. I strongly recommend attendance to anyone who’s planning or already has a startup company, because you get new knowledge as well as new acquaintances and contacts.”
Darko Butina, business angel and startup entrepreneur, Slovenia

Concluding the activities with a Slovenian delegation to Vienna

And because the Initiative Start:up Slovenia as well as the PODIM Conference are founded on values of national and international contacts and collaboration, all activities around PODIM2015 were concluded with a Slovenian delegation to the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. We attended our partner event Pioneers Festival 2015 with startups participating in the Go:Global accelerator programmes, and entrepreneurship enthusiasts. Each year, the Pioneers Festival celebrates entrepreneurship and astonishing innovations that will play an important role in designing the new global economy.
Slovenian delegation to the Pioneers Festival 2015

There’s power in unity, or more than 70 partners from Slovenia and abroad

There’s power in unity, which is why we’re incredibly proud and grateful that we carried out an entire week of PODIM entrepreneurship activities in collaboration with more than 70 international partners. We would like to sincerely thank all of them and we’re looking forward to further collaboration.

The general sponsor was, already traditionally, the Nova KBM bank, but we were also joined by Si.mobil as the main telecommunications partner. This year’s PODIM was organized by the Initiative Start:up Slovenia, the Slovene Enterprise Fund, European Commission, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, University of Maribor with RAZ:UM, Carinthian Economic Promotion Fund (KWF) and Friuli Innovazione.

The main partners of the event this year were RSG Kapital, Pioneers Festival, Microsoft Innovation Centre, SPIRIT Slovenia, the GREAT Campaign of Great Britain, the Centre for European Perspective, the Israeli Embassy, Kompas MTS, Slovenia Post, S&T Slovenija, ABC Accelerator, Coworking Maribor and COINVEST.

Conference promotion was encouraged by our main media partners: Business Daily Finance, Netokracija,, Inventures, Dnevnik and Gazelle, and Večer. Media, such as Mladi podjetnik, Napovednik, STA, Računalniške novice and The Slovenia Times helped spread inspiring business stories.

Conference sponsors supporting us were Amis, Medex, Jamnica, Terme Maribor, Press Clipping, Sinhro, Samosamina, Soundbiro, Moj denar IT,, Zavarovalnica Triglav and Maja Ferme Fashion. The implementation of the investment part of the conference was supported by RSG Kapital, Deloitte Slovenija, Centre for European Perspective, DsgnFwd accelerator and 99designs.


Partners from entrepreneurship and manager organisations

Many Slovenian and international partners from entrepreneurship and manager organisations as well as accelerators and other players in the regional startup ecosystem also stood by our side with their promotion. These partners were Internet Week Slovenija, CEED Slovenija, AmCham Slovenija, The Manager’s Association of Slovenia, Ypsilon Institute, TechnoCentre of the University of Maribor, Ljubljana University Incubator, Silicon Gardens Fund and Centre for Technology Transfer and Innovations at the Jožef Štefan Institute, Business Angels of Slovenia, Austrian Startups, Techsylvania, Startuplive Innsbruck, LAUNCHub, Eleven, Build, Trento Rise, ZIP,,, StartLabs, Invendor, Krypton Venture Capital and Impact Hub Vienna.

Sincere thanks to entrepreneurs and investors

We would especially like to thank entrepreneurs and investors from the Slovenian and international startup ecosystem, helping us with advice, guidelines, contacts and encouragements for active collaboration: Andraž Tori, Jure Mikuž, Tatjana Zabasu, Boštjan Špetič, Robert Farazin, Branko Drobnak, Damjan Obal, Živa Jalovec, Ulla Hudina Kmetič, Katja Geršak, Tilen Travnik, Martin Železnik, Matej Golob, Nejc Lisac, Shira Abel, Yann Girard, Ivan Brezak Brkan, Tristan Pollock, Petra Minarikova, Jose Antonio Morales and anyone else who contributed to the conference in any shape and form, our sincere thanks. 

See you all next year! Your PODIM 2015 team





PODIM 2015 Podim impact
Communications and PR Start:up Slovenija
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.