Startup Awards is an annual competition for the most innovative tech companies from Slovakia. The eight finalists of this year’s competition were selected during an intense three-day Bootcamp.
The seventh Startup Awards will take place on Dec 1, 2017. The seventh edition of the event is expected to be more exciting and competitive than ever and introduces several novelties.
· The number of finalists – 8 finalists compared to 12 from previous years.
· One category for all finalists – only one category compared to four previous categories (Digital, Science, Art & Design, Society).
· Challenger Award – a special award that recognizes Slovak technology companies that have achieved outstanding success in the previous year and have the potential to hit it big next year. The company must be on the market for no more than 7 years.
· Mission Award – this special award recognizes a Slovak startup working on innovative solution that tackles a particular social challenge.
· Future Now Conference as a part of the Startup Awards day.
In addition to its competitive element, the event also serves as a virtual accelerator, a platform connecting best startups with potential investors and corporate partners. Therefore, much the value for participating startups comes from behind the scenes during the weeks leading up to the finals. The team behind Startup Awards incorporated the acceleration track of the competition four years ago, and since then it has evolved into a full-on three-day Bootcamp. This year’s Bootcamp took place at the X-bionics sphere in Samorin on November 3-5.
The Bootcamp is a perfect opportunity for startups to kick off their fundraising efforts and secure potential investment. This year, some 20 CEE early-stage investors, such as Credo Ventures, DayOne Capital, Neulogy Ventures, Pioneers Ventures, Crowdberry and many others attended the Bootcamp. All 23 semifinalists at the Bootcamp were able to meet executives of the most prominent accelerator programs such as Launcher, WeXelerate or EIT Digital. Besides the startup investors and accelerators, representatives of corporates also shared their views, knowledge and challenged the competing startups.
Startup Awards aims to bridge the gap between startups with new and innovative products, and corporates looking for likewise innovative solutions. Therefore, most innovative corporates in Slovakia including Tatra banka, ZSE, O2 Slovakia, Skoda Auto, Eset and many others have been generous supporters of the competition and its acceleration track. Many of these partners have been determined to design internal processes to absorb external innovation and we are grateful to be a part of that process.
The Bootcamp included intense group mentoring sessions, one-on-one mentoring sessions focused mainly on the fine-tuning the semifinalists’ value proposition and investor pitch, exploring business model possibilities or devising go-to-market. However, the most crucial part of the Bootcamp was the ‘D-day’ on November After the final pitches, the jury selected the top 8 startups which will have the opportunity to pitch their business ideas to a jury of top international VCs on a stage of the Slovak National Theatre, facing an audience of 1000 startup enthusiasts, investors, and TV cameras.
Finalists of Startup Awards 2017 are (in an alphabetical order) who will stand up to this challenge are:
· Kontentino – An intuitive social media tool for agencies and their clients.
· Matsuko – Matsuko is making virtual teleportation possible.
· Minty – An Easy way for publishers to collaborate with professional illustrators.
· Neseda – The first business chair designed to enable switching positions.
· Netcore (Unimus) – Software for disaster recovery and change-management in IT networking.
· Poetic Studio (Sacred Fire) – Poetic is a video game studio creating a new interactive story format.
· SaftraPhotonics – Photonics solutions for testing of water safety.
· Virtual Medicine – Virtual Medicine is a VR/AR startup focused mostly on medical education.