Innotalks: Award-winning ideas in the start-up world

At ABC’s Open Day Mingle&Jingle on the December 19 2019 we talked to Veronika Rožmanc, winner of the 2019 Youth Start Up Award Slovenia. 

At our 23rd Innotalks we were discussing awards and achievements in the start-up world. Veronika’s winning idea is Oli, a multifunctional tent for children, which was also awarded as a global most responsible idea. She is also mentored by one of the most influential manufacturing companies in our country: Skaza Plastics.

“Awards make the biggest breakthrough in our heads” as they raise the confidence and confirm we are on the right track, says Veronika who won multiple awards with her children’s tent Oli. She wanted the tent to have a name that is easy for people to remember, and can be pronounced by children, so it does not contain difficult letters and sounds and can be used internationally. This also indicates Veronika’s wish to make the product globally successful.

The idea for Oli began as an end-of-year assignment in high school. For some time after that, the tent waited on top of Veronika’s closet, expecting the right moment to move things further. Things have moved because of the unique combination of boredom and opportunity. 

An opportunity to develop Oli further came in the form of Ustvarjalnik, completely by chance. With the help of mentors at Ustvarjalnik, Veronika managed to complete the development phase of Oli. It is a multifunctional tent in which the child finds shelter while it stimulates the child’s imagination. It is designed in such a way that it fits into virtually any environment. One can also draw on its interior walls, it contains concealed pockets for the child’s personal belongings, and it can serve as a sleeping bag when the is removed.

FOTO: Katja Kodba/ABC Accelerator

Many versions and variations have been made along the way, but Veronika says the current may not be the last. Veronika’s original idea also contained the function of an armchair, where the tent would be turned around and one could also sit in it. Currently, this is not possible due to construction. In addition, Veronika wants the tent to be completely bio-degradable. At the moment, the frame is still made of plastic, since the wood would further increase the cost of production, and thus the sale price. The maintenance too would be much more demanding. In any case, Oli pursues the original idea that the toy grows together with the child, who in turn does not get tired of it and does not discard it. Given the current speed of the world, it could also serve as a refuge for adults. President Borut Pahor also cheerfully nodded to this idea when he presented Veronika with an award for the best youth start-up,saying he would like to have it in his office so he could momentarily hide from his daily duties. At the moment however, the tent is meant for adults only indirectly, as it is designed as a modern piece of furniture, contrary to the majority of children’s toys.

FOTO: Katja Kodba/ABC Accelerator

She also says that while opportunity is needed, personality is very important for the success of an idea, namely that you can accept and respond to criticism. She participates at several projects and start-up weekends, offering her knowledge to others, because she wishes to encourage others to believe in themselves and make the first steps towards entrepreneurship. 

FOTO: Katja Kodba/ABC Accelerator

You can watch the interview here:

Next Round Gathered the best investors in the region

Mons Hotel in Ljubljana hosted the Next Round Investment Conference on November 12, 2019. The best foreign and domestic private investors met with the best Slovenian startups that need the next round of capital for their development – hence the name of the conference.

The Slovenian Enterprise Fund (SPS), the most important investor in startups in the initial stages in Slovenia, wants to help companies as much as possible in obtaining these next investments. That is why the fund invests in the development of products and services, lends money for either launching them on the market, or for launching sales and expanding business. It is also in the interest of the Fund that its portfolio companies reach private investors as soon as possible. With the help of ABC Accelerator, Ljubljana Technology Park, Ljubljana University Incubator and Business Angels of Slovenia, they organized the Next Round investment conference, where companies gained knowledge about the conditions for obtaining investments.

Would it be better if Slovenia spent a billion on entrepreneurs instead of building second railway track?” Ales Cantarutti, State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, addressed the gathered crowd. The answer to this question is left to reader to decide, but the fact is that the conference brought to Slovenia more than 60 investors who are – at least theoretically – capable of doing so.

In addition, there were more than 35 speakers presented in different 8 panels, including Christopher Coomes, Google Robotics Expert, Peter Globokar, longtime investment banker and technology investor, and Pekko Mäki of 3TS Capital Partners, one of Europe’s leading VC companies investing in technology, and many others.

Investors with a combined power of more than EUR 1 billion of capital for investments in start-up companies, attended the conference. Among them were also some who have already invested in Slovenian companies and know that we have good companies, and can hence hope for the next “unicorn”. The conferences were attended by all major scandals e.g. SpeedInvest, Fil Rouge Capital, Credo, AlpVent, Launchub, 3TS, Capital300 et al.

The main focus of the conference was on meetings and connections between investors and start-ups. To this end, the organizers created a catalog of 41 of the best Slovenian startups. Additionally, DealRoom platform made it possible for startups to connect with investors directly, and vice versa. As a result of the conference, more than 300 1-on-1 meetings were held. The organizers hope that among the direct results of the conference – in addition to getting to familiarize investors with the Slovenian start-up ecosystem – there will be 4-5 direct investments in Slovenian start-ups.