This year, five young tech companies are contending for the prominent and resounding Slovenian Startup of the Year award, awarded for the eleventh year in a row by Initiative Start:up Slovenia together with the Slovene Enterprise Fund, the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology and other partners. The finalists are Event registry, Gotoky, MAG-LEV Audio, Next and Smart Optometry. Just like in previous years, the winner will be announced at the gala ceremony, which will take place at the conclusion of the first day of the PODIM Conference on Tuesday, 15 May, starting at 19 o’clock, in the congress center of the Habakuk Hotel in Maribor.
The five finalists this year were chosen with a special pre-evaluation procedure from a joint selection of thirteen startups, which were nominated for the award by the most active stakeholders of the Slovenian startup ecosystem through our public tender.
Representatives of all five companies pitched to the jury yesterday in Technology Park Ljubljana. The jury consisted of the most visible Slovenian startup entrepreneurs, mentors and investors – Aljoša Domjan, Gregor Rebolj, Matjaž Slak, Darko Butina, Matej Zalar, Gregor Pipan, Tatjana Zabasu, Niko Slavnič and Tilen Travnik, who were joined in their assessments by the director of the Slovene Enterprise Fund, Maja Tomanič Vidovič.
The title of Slovenian Startup of the Year is annually given to a startup that convinces the expert jury with an excellent and dedicated team, innovative product, current investment achievements and global growth potential, and successful global business operations. At the same time, the expert jury makes sure that the award goes into the hands of the team whose development achievements, actions and reputation represent a new generation of Slovenian innovative entrepreneurs.
Short presentations of this year’s finalists
Event registry - http://eventregistry.org
Event Registry is a product that offers decision-makers (brokers, business analysts, trend predictors, investors etc.) a good and comprehensive overview of events from across the world that concern the things and topics important for their work. The product uses the most modern solutions in artificial intelligence and machine learning to collect and analyse news that were published globally, in more than 30 languages, in real time. By using text analysis technology, key information is automatically extracted from the news, including the people, locations, organizations and discussed topics. Through the analysis of all news, Event Registry also identifies the events that happened, such as for example various accidents, important meetings, product announcements, lawsuits etc., and extracts the key information for each individual event in the news – what happened, where, who was involved in the event etc.
Users of Event Registry can use a rich collection of structured information about events to define very specific filters and thus identify only the subset of events that are relevant for them. The product has incredible value added for decision-makers in the financial and consulting industry and in risk management, because the proliferation of information means this can’t be done manually, but at the same time, a lack of information on important events can have big financial consequences for decision-makers. The value and importance of the product is confirmed by the fact that it’s used by important companies such as Bloomberg, Nasdaq, IBM and Accenture.
Gotoky - https://www.gotoky.com
Gotoky combines advanced hardware and software solutions into a communication network that enables 100% off-grid communication. It is independent, decentralized, low-cost, portable, and affordable for any user who doesn’t wish to use a standard mobile network, which can be either non-existent, unstable or excessively expensive. The solution enables normal communication in secluded areas or disaster-affected areas, areas affected by power outages and poor coverage or areas with prolonged mobile networks failures, which is why it’s the ideal choice for active people who spend time outside, be it during traveling, hiking, attending a crowded event or preparing for extreme conditions. Gotoky is also adapted to business needs of safety experts, big companies and the military and defense industry.
The device can link with any modern smartphone with operating systems Android and iOS through the Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) technology. Such a pair of devices creates a communication node and many such nodes in distances up to 15 km can create free, portable communication network on the license-free RF spectrum. Proprietary protocols are enabling mesh, chain communication via a number of devices and reach distances of up to 45 km between nodes. The many prominent international partners of Gotoky also include the Slovenian Iskratel, leading European provider of info-communication solutions, the Jožef Štefan Institute, and the elite hardware accelerator HighTechXL from the Netherlands. Numerous potential customers have shown interest in it, including the Dutch mobile operator KPN, Vodafone, Telkom Indonesia, Royal Netherlands Army, Media Markt, Sharaf DG and others.
MAG-LEV Audio - https://maglevaudio.com
MAG-LEV Audio is an innovative company introducing a floating gramophone to the global market. Before, vinyl enthusiasts were able to choose between similar gramophones, which are only trivially different from each other. On the other hand, MAG-LEV Audio is offering a revolution in excellent sound and futuristic design, which rounds off an incredible user experience. With its innovative gramophone, Mag-lev Audio has successfully performed on crowdfunding platforms Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and collected together more than 700,000 EUR in funds for product development and launch.
In years 2016 and 2017, they mostly focused on developing the product and obtaining funds for the development and launch of manufacture. They fully succeeded in both. Besides this, they suitably protected the product and brand, and ensured a suitable space for production and shipping in Nova Gorica. When they sent out a survey to potential distributers across the world, asking them to submit approximate orders, they drew an incredibly positive reaction and interest from more than 400 distributers. 52 of them have already given approximate orders for the following year, in the joint amount of 11 thousand pieces. Start of serial production will begin by the end of the first half of 2018, when they will start by shipping 800 gramophones to Kickstarter and Indiegogo supporters from 30 countries of the world, and shipping the first demo products for distributers.
Next - https://www.beeping.si
Thousands of households in Europe are looking for occasional or regular help in house cleaning and household chores. There is no legal, transparent market of home cleaning service providers. One of the solutions is the black market, which is contentious and non-transparent, and the Beeping team detected an incredible business opportunity in this. In less than two years, they succeeded in building a recognizable brand Beeping with minimal investments. Today, more than 16,000 registered users in Slovenia and Croatia are quickly, simply and reliably accessing up to 100 professional cleaners, so-called “beepers”.
Up to 75% of all reserved cleanings through the Beeping platform are represented by a subscription model. This way, the team is ensuring a sustainable business model, which generates high business growth every month. They also entered into important partnerships with prominent international companies such as Generali Insurance and Henkel Group, and they will soon also announce an important partnership with a big regional bank. In the future, they are planning on becoming the first smart platform for helping households that’s using artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure better matching between preferences of households or users, and those of cleaners, thus ensuring personalized marketing and an excellent user experience.
Smart Optometry - www.smart-optometry.com
Smart Optometry is a globally-oriented startup company developing digital solutions for the eye industry and ensuring eye and vision health. Global trends indicate that due to the modern lifestyle, half of the world population will be visually impaired and 20% of the population will be on the verge of blindness by the year 2050. With their solutions, they are introducing digital approaches into the eye industry, expanding access to quality medicinal solutions, and ensuring timely care and treatment.
Since its foundation in August 2015, Smart Optometry launched two solutions to the market. The first is the professional application Smart Optometry for eye specialists, which enables basic eye screening and diagnosis and is used by more than 25,000 registered expert users across the world. The second is the solution for vision therapy for kids, AmblyoPlay, helping kids between 4 and 14 years of age to eliminate vision problems such as lazy eye, strabismus, insufficient convergence and similar, which up to 15% of children face. In their solution development, the company is collaborating with leading Slovenian and international experts and institutions. Their successful work in this niche segment and their incredible potential was also recognized by the EyeFocus accelerator of the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer and by the Kolektor Ventures fund, which also supported the company with an investment.
About the competition and prizes
The Slovenian Startup of the Year award is a project of active stakeholders of the Slovenian startup ecosystem. Their role is to collaborate in nominating candidates for the award, and promote finalists and the title recipient in Slovenia and abroad. The main organizer of the project is Initiative Start:up Slovenia, which was joined by the ABC Accelerator as a co-organizer in 2016. Already traditionally, the award is co-organized by the Slovene Enterprise Fund and the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology. The main prizes given to the Slovenian startup of the year this year are personal consultation by partner of the elite US accelerator 500 Startups, Marvin Liao, and an all-inclusive package for the Pioneers Festival in Vienna.
Stanislava Vabšek, communication and PR Start:up Slovenia: firstname.lastname@example.org