Jana Hrženjak and Tim Breznik are the brains behind Helicopter Food®, brand of Timini d.o.o. Despite the fact that they are social scientists by education – Jana studied at the Faculty of Public Administration, and Tim is a communication specialist – they bravely started on their own path of entrepreneurship: »Because I studied marketing communication, I am aware of the importance of designing a brand identity, both on a visual and communication level. That is why I designed the visual and communication identity myself and thus gained the unity of all its parts.« They recognized the problem of eating healthy and quick already during their student years. In response, Jana prepared a pesto from pumpkin seeds and other healthy seeds in pumpkin oil for her boyfriend Tim. Tim liked the pesto so much that it eventually became their first product.
Today, Helicopter Food® presents a creative nut diet – everything from spreads to snacks. The products that are the result of their own production line are genuine, versatile and trustworthy. Their main customers are people who want to live healthy. Helicopter Food® “flying snacks for flying people” are nuts dressed in fruit – a healthy snack and dessert at the same time. The products are BIO certified, with no traces of gluten and completely plant-based.
Why did they decide to start their own company at a time when a good job was relatively easy to get? Tim said that already when he returned to Štajerska region, he knew that he would start his own business. Their families also supported the decision, despite the fact that neither of them comes from an environment where they would deal with food for business. You see this as a problem at the very beginning: when you want to reach a large customer, say a grocery store chain, when knowing the right people is crucial. “They’re hiding the purchasers,” Tim says. Nevertheless, they managed to penetrate not only into various health food stores, but their products will soon appear on the shelves of Mercator. Along the way, they also received support from the municipality, which provided them with a subsidy to purchase equipment.
In their entrepreneurial journey, they emphasize the goal the most – when you know what you want, you can learn what is needed along the way. “If we could change something, we would be less concerned with the details today,” they added. At the beginning of the journey, they were convinced that just a great idea is enough to succeed with it. Today, they know that a lot of hard work and perseverance is needed to succeed.
When asked what are they worried about, Jana explains that they were a little worried about the recent situation with the coronavirus: “People have moved from almost luxury goods to basic ones, such as flour. When this happens, of course, you start wondering whether the company will survive. ” But there are far fewer worries today: “We are moving back to normal, including in the company.”
It’s no secret that Jana and Tim are also a couple in their private lives. They say that this is an advantage for them: “In the beginning, we went for walks and Jana wrote down every idea. If you don’t write down ideas, they are forgotten. We talk a lot. “
Today, they are more than happy with their decision. The main recognition comes from the professionals: “When you hear that one chef gives your product to another as a birthday present, you know that you make good products.” When this Las Vegas chef then calls you and personally compliments your product, you no longer worry about failure. Nevertheless, they find that failure is also part of the job and that there is something to be learned from it. However, it is not necessary to take into account the opinion of the environment, which is sometimes not in favor of success.
If you’re interested in learning more about Helicopter Food®, you can view the products and story at www.helicopterfood.com, FB @helicopterfood and Instagram @helicopterfood.
How Podim looked this year: The ABC team behind the scenes of the largest startup conference in our country
Last week, we were at Podim- the largest start-up conference in the CEE region, where innovative companies and capital meet. Over 170 startups participated in the conference, and had the opportunity to meet with almost 100 investors. Due to the circumstances, the conference was happening completely online for the first time. The organizers responded appropriately to the situation and took advantage of their creative streak and tried to bring the event as close as possible to the real live meeting. Registered people were able to schedule who they would like to meet via video call, a few days before the event. There were 20 minutes available for the mentioned meeting, where the startups tried to make the best impression on the investor. Preparation, including the obligatory check pg the microphone, speakers, camera and light in the room was very important. If the startup did not prepare in advance, the whole situation was uncomfortable. It was essential for the investor to decide whether he wanted to meet with this startup again.
Parallel to the meetings, the Founders Academy and a presentation / pitching took place on six different virtual stages on the first day. ABC Accelerator presented 13 startups on its virtual stage and sent the Chess Universe startup to the semifinals.
On the second day, the participants at the round tables listened to how modern technologies are changing industries as we know them. At the same time they had the opportunity to see the semifinals of presentations / pitching startups. One of the members of the jury was also the director of ABC Accelerator, Grega Potokar.
On the last day of the conference, round tables and various workshops were held where startups could attend the Growth Academy in virtual classrooms and how to get an investment (Getting Funded). The last event of the whole conference was the finale of the presentation / pitching of startups. Among the finalists, the Croatian startup Farseer was the best, solving the problem for all companies that deal with a large number of numbers. Their application makes it easier to allocate funds and easily predict the future operations of the company.
The ABC Accelerator team held a total of over 150 meetings, where mostly everything went smoothly. We also spoke with startup Farseer, that won the Podim DX Pitching Competition. Both at the competition and at the meeting, they presented perfectly what they are doing and how they managed to reduce costs for their clients by up to 50% with the first 6 pilot projects, which proves that a virtual pitch or meeting is just a form, but it is the content that counts.
We have already agreed with some startups for another virtual meeting, where we will discuss the possibilities of cooperation in more detail. Despite the fact that participating in such an event was probably a challenge for both the organizers and the participants, it once again showed how important it is to be agile at the moment when it is needed.
The purpose of the PowerUp initiative! is to find the most innovative startups, companies in the expansion phase and small and medium-sized enterprises from Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). This year, 362 companies from 24 countries took part in the challenge. In Slovenia, three selected candidates, Troia, SmartLPG and Geteco, competed for the title of the best energy startup in the country.
The winner – Troia – was chosen by a jury consisting of Next Move Energy director and carbon neutrality expert Nina Bračko Colja, IT expert and CEO of the Žejn Group and PartIT, Ernest Žejn, prof. dr. Matej Zajc from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, and EIT InnoEnergy representative Szymon Kwiatkowski.
The winner of the Slovenian final of the InnoEnergy PowerUp challenge will also represent our country at the international grand final.
This year’s Slovenian competition took place online on Earth Day – Wednesday, April 22, 2020. “We decided whether to continue the program despite strict pan-European measures to contain the new coronavirus,” said Jakub Miler, Central Europe Director at InnoEnergy. “And that’s why we decided to continue – albeit with online implementation in a safe and responsible way. We want to continue to support innovative companies and thus help them survive, develop and operate successfully at a time when economic forecasts are rather pessimistic. Right now, when many of the channels and resources on the market may dry up for them, we will continue to support innovative entrepreneurs with financial resources, knowledge and valuable partnerships, with the help of the European Institute of Innovation and Technology. “
Troia, the winner of the Slovenian PowerUp! Competition, is already successfully penetrating markets around the world with its advanced technological knowledge and innovative thinking. With the help of AR glasses, tablets or phones, the Troia AR platform displays computer-generated key data in real time, thus enabling outstanding improvements in terms of operational excellence and quality at work. It offers endless possibilities and business opportunities for all industries and organizations.
“We are extremely happy with the victory, as we competed against really innovative and good solutions. For us, it represents a confirmation of good and hard work, and above all a confirmation of the quality of our solution. The award will help to further develop our own solutions. We believe that the cooperation with EIT InnoEnergy will bring us additional new opportunities, new contacts and greater visibility, with the help of which we will be able to show our solutions to the wider world public, “said Primož Sevčnikar.
At the PowerUp! Slovenia startup SparkLPG presented itself, which is already launching its own product this autumn – LPG system for newer vehicles by injecting the liquid phase of LPG and achieving the highest engine efficiency, safety and savings. It is the result of long development and intellectual property, achieved by an international business team of Simon Štrancar, Thomas van Veen and Darko Obretan.
Among the three Slovenian startups in the PowerUp! There was also Geteco. The company solves the environmental problem of mixed waste plastics, which is not interesting for recycling for utility companies and concessionaires or processing into new innovative products
“We are pleased that the competition was carried out so successfully in such demanding conditions. We presented three startups with really interesting and ‘scalable’ solutions or products. The teams are realistic, with clear goals and, above all, a strong technological basis. Any of the startups can become a serious player in the international market. Slovenian knowledge and entrepreneurship with a partner such as Innoenergy, which brings a strong network of partners and customers, is the reason for our pride and joy that Slovenians will be global players. Globality may seem a bit more remote in these particular times, but we believe startups will be able to do that. As ABC Accelerator, we believe that the region is suitable for great companies and their growth, ” said Bernard Grum, InnoEnergy’s hub manager for Slovenia.
The winners of the national competitions will compete for the main prizes at the international grand final: cash prizes worth up to € 65,000, the CEE startup title of the year and rich incentives from leading partners such as Amazon Web Services, Revolut and SpeedUp Group. The initiative also offers a way to secure millions in investment and to integrate into EIT’s InnoEnergy network, which provides resources, expertise and a wide network of trusted partners that can help companies thrive and achieve global success. A decision on the exact date and venue of the international grand final will be made later and will depend on the easing of government regulations in the region.