PODIM = Energy + Networking + Learning + Alpe-Adria

Day 10. June 2016 posted Stanislava Vabšek
“Great energy. Great speakers. Great people. An amazing event! Excellent networking and learning opportunities. An impressive gathering of startups, investors and corporates. A lighthouse event for the Alps-Adriatic region!” These are only some of the statements from participants of this year’s PODIM, the most influential and biggest startup, entrepreneurship and innovation conference in the region, which connected, excited, motivated and educated nearly 900 people from 26 countries in two intense days in Maribor, 11th and 12th May. Besides the record number of participants and value added for them, we are proud of another achievement this year. We co-created the programme of PODIM 2016 with the most active stakeholders of the national and regional entrepreneurship ecosystem, with whom we share the vision of Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region as an internationally established startup hub and one of the most attractive locations in the world for life and work.

First lectures and first speakers about new perspectives on industries and markets (Daniel Kraus, Bart Lorang – right)

The main theme of PODIM as the answer to megatrends

The programme of the PODIM conference is annually developed in harmony with the megatrends of digitalization, globalization and the march of the millennial generation on the labour market. The main theme of the conference concerned the hidden forces of startups and how they revolutionize business and its environment. For finding the latest solutions in increasingly tight competitive conditions, we designed various conference programme segments.

Startup Wars – Corporate Force Awakens! Discussion about the dark and light side of the startup tsunami, led by Matej Golob alias Kylo Ren

We get power from openly collaborating and connecting!

“We are proud that this year's PODIM showed that Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region can get the power for growth and development of the startup ecosystem from openly collaborating, connecting and transferring knowledge and experience! Despite all efforts that the organization of such an event brings, we daringly and smoothly co-created the conference programme together with the ABC Accelerator30LeanCEED SlovenijaEIT DigitalD·LabsCoinvestUK Trade & Investment, and Ustvarjalnik. Under the umbrella of the Start:up Alpe-Adria programme, traditional national co-organizers were joined by KWF and Build from Klagenfurt, Science Park Graz and Friuli Innovazione from Udine,” was how Matej Rus, leader of the Initiative Start:up Slovenia, summarized the main impressions and the biggest value added of this year's event at the end of the conference.  

With PODIM friends to new PODIM friends - Steli Efti and Poornima Vijayashanker

PODIM friends for excellent speakers and as part of the team 

“We are also thrilled about the fact that what works better every year is also the recipe according to which we collaborate with successful individuals from the lines of startups, investors ... actually all PODIM friends to comb over the globe and find the best speakers for the conference. Personalities such as Alex Iskold, Steli Efti, Poornima Vijayashanker, Bart Lorang, dr. Jens Pippig and many others travel to PODIM also or mostly because of personal invitations from individuals who make an effort and selflessly help us attract these speakers. So it's actually difficult to separate between who is or isn't in our organization team. And as another PODIM friend noticed, by following a higher joint goal, we managed to find synergies that connect the industry and give it higher credibility, and give an event, such as PODIM, even bigger authority,” said Urban Lapajne, organizational leader of the Initiative Start:up Slovenia.


Promise for PODIM 2017 

And before this reportage brings you through all the top facts, best statistics and the juiciest statements from PODIM 2016, a promise for next year: in tight collaboration with startups and stakeholders of the ecosystem, we will continue to master quality, not quantity, and use our special, personalized approach to co-create the most influential startup event in the Alps-Adriatic region. Our guarantee that we will justify the reputation of an unforgettable epic event next year is seen in positive PODIM energy, authentic hospitality and incredible opportunities for networking and learning.

More than 900 participants from 26 countries gathered 

Impressive numbers of PODIM 2016

This year, nearly 900 participants came to the PODIM Conference – including speakers, investors and other guests from as many as 26 countries. Besides Slovenian startup enthusiasts and professionals, the congress centre Habakuk on 11 and 12 May hosted attendees from Austria, Italy, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Hungary, Great Britain, Poland, Serbia, USA, Germany, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Ireland, Spain, Australia, Estonia, Macedonia, Moldavia, the Netherlands, Romania and Sweden.

Structure of attendees consistent with the mission 

The double mission of the conference – actively connecting startups with investors, corporations and individuals who can help them with their knowledge, experience and networks of connections, and developing Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region into a nice, internationally established startup hub – is also reflected in this year's structure of attendees:
- 412 startups and representatives of small and medium-sized companies,
- 156 representatives from the Slovenian and regional startup ecosystem,
- 70 representatives from 17 corporations and
- 47 investors from Slovenia, Europe and the US. 

PODIM Playing Lean workshop

78 speakers and more than 60 performances

On the main conference stage and in parallel programme segments, 78 esteemed Slovenian and foreign speakers shared their knowledge, advice and experience that will help many entrepreneurs save a lot of hours that they would otherwise spend for “inventing the wheel” and despairing over completely solvable problems. The speakers appeared on altogether more than 60 different lectures, roundtables and panel discussions, and the participants were able to interact and collaborate with them as well as meet them personally at ten practical workshops that we organized during both conference days.


70 participants from 17 respected corporations

We are glad that in line with our slogan “PODIM = Energy + Networking + Learning + Alpe-Adria”, we also managed to please 70 corporate participants. They joined us from companies BisnodeBonnier Business PressBTC SloveniaCetisComtrade GroupDanfoss TrataDeloitte SlovenijaGorenjeIskraemecoJamnicaNova KBMPetrolPetrol EnergetikaPodravkaSoške elektrarne and Sportina Bled

Collaborating with the global press release distribution network PR Newswire also gave good results, reaching 232 posts altogether 

More than 300 media announcements at home and abroad

Collaborating with one of the main media sponsors, the global press release distributing network PR Newswire, also brought good results this year. Through it, we informed people about the biggest startup event in the Alps-Adriatic region and reached altogether 232 posts, among others also on Yahoo FinanceCollab Tec and Market Watch. At the level of the Alps-Adriatic region, the Austrian ORF and Kronen Zeitung wrote about the event, while in Slovenia we counted exactly 88 posts by the end of May, appearing on the internet, in print media, press agencies, radio and television. The team of the TV show Prava Ideja also reported from the conference.
Speakers who pierced the depths of growth hacking, rapid growth and difficult entrepreneurship falls as well as the winning combination of public and private company financing

Programme contents for fighting global competition 

We pierced the depths of growth hacking with the ABC Accelerator. We revealed the traps and challenges of startups with CEED Slovenija. We developed products and made quick product corrections with D·Labs. We collaborated with the European Commission Representation in Slovenia to find out and confirmed that public and private are actually the winning combination in financing risky entrepreneurship projects. Meanwhile the accelerator of youth entrepreneurship, Ustvarjalnik, brought lectures and student startup pitches to PODIM.

Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva revealed the secret of 3.5-yearly reinvention of companies, business models and individuals 

Contents for Startuposauruses or “future Ubers” 

In collaboration with 30LeanAssociation Manager and Business Daily Finance, or the project Startuposauruses, we dedicated a special segment of conference content to representatives of corporations and big established companies. This is because we wanted to add value to all individuals in big systems who are in charge of effective innovation and development, but are simultaneously aware of the danger and opportunities of startup tsunamis and the fact that sooner or later, we will all “need to become Uber,” like the boss of Slovenian Microsoft, Robert Trnovec, emphasized two months before PODIM for an interview with the Business Daily Finance.
Jure Mikuž, RSG Capital, and Valter Leban, Kolektor Group board member

First presentation of the Kolektor Ventures Fund

The industrial giant Kolektor Group also supported us as partner. “For the first time, Kolektor decided to participate in PODIM this year, and this decision was definitely the right one. The event has an enormous amount of positive entrepreneurship energy and opportunities for networking as well as excellent business opportunities,” was how Valter Leban, Kolektor Group board member, summarized his impressions after the event. He also participated at PODIM to present the Kolektor Ventures fund for the first time ever. The fund will finance tech startups from the field of industrial IoT and digitalization innovations.

Lured out of their shells and filled with positive energy 

So this year, PODIM was attended by established companies that already have their internal startup projects or incubators, or are aware of the importance of connecting with startups and transferring their mentality and lean, agile and breakthrough way of working into big systems. If we sum up their statements, they mostly thanked us for getting them out of their “turtle shells” and “filled them up with this incredible positive energy that you simply must experience at least once a year.”


Startup of the Year 2016 award with an evening party 

The most exciting and dramatic part of the PODIM conference is the gala evening award ceremony for the Slovenian Startup of the Year, followed by the PODIM evening party.

Slovenian Startup of the Year 2016 is team GoAvio (Nizkocenovci) led by Matej Gaser 

Winners are the team of GoAvio

This year, the award went into the hands of the team GoAvio, company Nizkocenovci, but 10 finalists competed for it. In the “young challengers” group, those were startup companies Blub BlubFeelifUlla LabsVinTech and 45HC.com, while the group of companies nominated by the startup ecosystem stakeholders contained ADORA MEDGotokyNizkocenovciDoctrina and Chipolo.

Excellent prizes in the spirit of collaboration

This year's spirit of collaboration was also reflected in this award. We ensured prizes for the winner together with the ABC Accelerator, which gave the winner a ticket for demo day, Nova KBM, which contributed a thousand euros on a prepaid Visa card, and the Pioneers Festival, which ensured five all-inclusive packages.

Meeting with a 500startups partner and Tim Draper 

The prizes also included a mentoring meeting with Marvin Liao, partner of the elite American accelerator 500startups, and a meeting with the well-known investor Tim Draper who saluted our efforts like this: “I support enthusiastic teams with a big vision, such as ADORA MED. I know that there are many of those amongst Slovenian startups, which is why I will be happy to meet and talk to the recipient of the Slovenian Startup of the Year award.”


What are Israel and the Silicon Valley teaching us? 

In line with the trends and research that the most developed startup ecosystems in the world take into account, we collaborated with the European Commission Representation in Slovenia and the Slovene Enterprise Fund to dedicate a part of this year's conference content to combining public and private sources of financing for small, medium-sized and startup companies. The case of Israel, for example, shows the important role of the government in building a market of venture capital as do the starting investments of the American army that helped build Silicon Valley.


Public + Private = Winning Combination 

The study Global Entrepreneurship Monitor 2016 (Policy Briefs, Mike Herrington) also finds that companies that received investments of private and public capital usually receive more capital and generate more income than companies that were supported by only private or only public capital. We also confirmed these findings at PODIM this year, in two discussions with the Slovene Enterprise Fund, Bulgarian fund of seed capital LAUNCHub and entrepreneurs who received investments from governmental or European resources which, among others, come from the Investment plan for Europe or the European Fund for Strategic Investments. 


PODIM Arena 1:1 attracted 106 startups

We also rejoiced about the achievements, results and value added for participants in the investment part of the PODIM Conference, within which we carried out several activities:
  • We chose 106 most promising startups from 13 countries to present in the PODIM startup catalogue – from Slovenia, Austria, Italy, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Greece, Malta, Dubai, Poland, Ireland and the US. We sent the catalogue to all investors, speakers and representatives of established companies one week before the conference. Based on their shown interest, we organized and implemented 182 formal one-on-one meetings with startups from the catalogue as part of the PODIM 1:1 Arena.

  • Altogether 47 representatives of venture capital funds and business angels from Slovenia, Europe and the US joined the pitching competition PODIM Challenge, where Five companies - 45HCPaperleap4SEEBorza terjatev and Pricejet - pitched in front of the special PODIM Challenge jury on stage. The jury said that companies are better prepared and make a better impression with their projects every year. 
PODIM Challenge – pitching performance of ABC Accelerator’s team PAPERLEAP
  • We additionally enabled active networking to participants with the PODIM application which, according to one of the participants, “worked perfectly and positively surprised us with its rich content, interactivity, social links, up-to-date news but especially with its possibility of networking in the real world.”
Winning PODIM Challenge pitch – also ABC Accelerator’s team 45HC.com

First closed investment of this year 

The first closed PODIM investment was already celebrated on the first day of the conference. We were excitedly informed of it by Damir Mujić, member of CRANE’s board of directors (Croatian Business Angel Network), who invested into the BiH startup Lionscube. The event, which triumphantly concluded the first day of activities in PODIM 1:1 Arena, is “an excellent example of regional collaboration of startups, business angels and accelerators,” said Davorin Štetner, CRANE president. 

The investment that triumphantly concluded the first day of action in PODIM 1:1 Arena is an example of regional collaboration of startups, business angels and accelerators, said Davorin Štetner, CRANE president 

Investment into the Bosno-Herzegovinian startup from the CEP delegation

In the Slovenian camp, we were also excited about the fact that the Bosno-Herzegovinian startup Lionscube attended PODIM as part of the special all-inclusive package – the delegation of 30 startups from Bosnia and Herzegovina and 20 startup from Kosovo, which was enabled by CEP in collaboration with PODIM organizers and the ABC Accelerator, and the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia.

The delegation of 50 BiH and Kosovo startups was enabled by CEP in collaboration with PODIM organizers and the ABC Accelerator, with the financial support of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs RS (on the photo during the visit of the Jable castle) 

Eurosender returned with some good news

The tradition that at least one investment closes at PODIM was thus achieved, but we were just as happy about the fact that startup Eurosender, which closed its first bigger angel investment at PODIM 2015, came to the event this year to (also) publically present its new investment with the German insurance giant ERGO, closed exactly a year later.
Tim Potočnik, CEO and co-founder of Eurosender this year once again at PODIM, where he introduced his new investment 

Excellent reviews

With the follow-up questionnaire among startups and investors, we found out that PODIM 2016 will definitely be responsible for another investment, since 72 % of startups answered that they met an interested investor, with which they continue discussions or negotiations. Meanwhile investors listed six potential new investments that they are still evaluating or concluding negotiations with. 


What were startups most enthusiastic about? 

If we try to sum up the feelings and value added for startups and investors who attended the conference and its investment part, we, much like with corporations, return to the PODIM slogan. Startups were mostly excited about the energy and networking or as they said themselves: 
 ”Great event, lots of interesting people and start-ups. Organizers did an amazing job!”  Štefan Kukman, 45HC, Slovenija

”An outstanding gathering of entrepreneurs and investors. We managed to get in touch with potential partners in a matter of two amazing days. Excellent, amazing event, wouldn't miss the next one!”  Botond Tarcsay, Shoployal, Irska

”You made my world spin arround. It's so simple.You hear an amazing keynote, think about it and start doing things the right way. Thank you for changing my start-up life!”  Sabrina Pavlovič, QUAMA, Slovenija

”A lighthouse event for the Alps Adriatic region. Amazing what happend the last few years. The trilateral ecosystem will grow and soon we'll have a vibrant and globally known community.” Alexander Mann, the thinKing, Avstrija

How to excite investors 

“The event is an impressive gathering of founders and startups from Slovenia and the region. I enjoyed being part of it and excited to watch this ecosystem grow and become stronger in the future,” highlighted Alex Iskold, esteemed American entrepreneur, investor and CEO of the New York-based TechStars accelerator. 

“PODIM is one of the best organised conferences I've ever been to. Small is sometimes better. PODIM is a small, intimate event, where you'll experience high-quality interactions. If you want to learn about the region, this is a place to be,” is the praise for our special and personal approach that we received from Rune Theill, co-founder of the Amsterdam-based Rockstart accelerator and multiple recipient of the award for best Dutch investor. 

“PODIM is always worth the trip, great atmosphere and great crowd!”, thinks Michael Schuster from Speedinvest

Julien Coustaury from the Fil Rouge Capital fund pointed out: “Perfect organization, great value. THE event not to be missed!”


Events before and after PODIM

In the spirit of connecting the region, we also planned and carried out one PODIM pre-event and five meetings after PODIM.
  • In collaboration with the ABC AcceleratorCEP and HUB387, we organized the pre-event in Sarajevo entitled “BiH startups' opportunities for investment and growth in Slovenia and the Alps-Adriatic region!” hosted by ACADEMY387.
  • In their facilities in Ljubljana-based BTC, members of the ABC Accelerator were visited by a contemporary Hermes and pitching master Piotr Bucki and Steli Efti, star of this year's PODIM, who gave advice from the field of sales and motivation to startups in groups and 1:1.
Steli Efti visiting the ABC accelerator 
  • The ABC Accelerator and Jable castle were visited by a delegation of 50 startups from BiH and Kosovo, who were able to attend PODIM with help of CEP and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs RS.
  • In Lakeside Park from Klagenfurt, four startups got the opportunity to thoroughly present themselves and get feedback from Jens Pippig and Poornima Vijayashanker.
  • In collaboration with D·Labs' Danijela Divac, Poornima was also the guest of the Product tank meeting in Ljubljana.
  • In collaboration with Science Park Graz, PODIM's introductory speaker Daniel Kraus from HERE maps opened the kick-off event of the European Satellite Navigation Competition.
  • The after-PODIM tour was concluded with Gary Whitehill, hosted by the community of Start:up Velenje.

We visited the Pioneers Festival once again 

The Slovenian Startup of the Year 2016 award went into the hands of the team GoAvio (company Nizkocenovci). Prizes for the winner also included an all-inclusive package for the Pioneers Festival and a personal consultation by the partner of the elite American accelerator 500startups, Marvin Liao. 

Matej Gaser, CEO of Nizkocenovci, met with Marvin Liao at the Pioneers Festival, and when we asked him how it was, he answered “great” with a smile :)

As part of the all-inclusive package chosen by prize organizers, four startups travelled to Vienna – finalists for this year's award, namely Blub Blub45HC.comChipolo and ADORA MED. Representatives of Doctrina and Ulla Labs also joined us on the bus of the Slovenian delegation.  
The PODIM Conference wouldn’t be here without our partners 
Andrej Fištravec, Maribor’s mayor, talking to Christian Benger, the regional minister for Economics in Carinthia (photo left). Alenka Senčar, director of marketing and corporate communications, and Jernej Močnik, executive director for corporate business, both from Nova KBM. 

Grateful for the support of the city of Maribor and Nova KBM

For the first time, the Municipality of Maribor joined us as one of the key supporters of the PODIM Conference. It is always nice to have the support of our home town, is what the PODIM team thinks, which is why we have our fingers crossed and are rooting for Maribor to support us next year as well. That we are talking about mutual satisfaction and benefits has been proven by Nova KBM, general sponsor of the conference, for nearly tenth year in a row. Or as Jernej Močnik, executive director for corporate business in Nova KBM, said: “Numerous projects to support entrepreneurship that Nova KBM is preparing with external partners shows that in the spirit of this year’s PODIM, the bank also proves that collaboration between organizations of different kinds, ages and sizes is useful for all participants and needs to be encouraged and developed.”


Special thanks 

Special thanks also goes to entrepreneurs and investors from the Slovenian and international startup ecosystem who helped us with advice, orientations, contacts and encouraging active collaboration: Tim Potočnik, Luka Topolovec, Andraž Tori, Matej Golob, Tilen Travnik, Jure Mikuž, Lojze Bertoncelj, Darko Butina, Nina Dremelj, Dušan Omerčevič, Scott Rafer, Tim Röhrich, Shira Abel, Thibaut Rouquette, Yann Girard, Eric Brotto, Gary Whitehill, Rob Bailey, team Nomadic Mentors and all others who contributed to the conference, thank you! 


Numerous co-organizers and partners 

At this opportunity, we wish to once again thank all organizers, co-organizers, public and programme partners, and supporters, with whom we co-created this year's PODIM:
  • Organizers

  • Co-organizers and public partners 

  • Programme partners

  • Partners

Database of knowledge and PODIM moments 

If you're overrun by PODIM nostalgia or only wish to renew knowledge, advice and memories of this year's PODIM, visit us on:
Communications and PR Start:up Slovenija
Izvedba: Mojdenar IT d.o.o.