The 2015 edition of the pan-European startup contest Idea Challenge sees an increase in variety and internationality. The series of events re…
Photo credit: Ina Ciobanu
It's no secret that having a business idea and actually applying it on a real company are two different things and accomplishing the latter can be quite challenging. However, if you're planning to build your own startup and happen to be from Serbia or the region, you might want to consider StartLabs. Based in Belgrade and San Francisco, the accelerator has recently launched to provide new companies with mentorship, technical infrastructure, networking opportunities and most importantly, financial support.
The mentor-led programme, co-founded by Serbian entrepreneurs Voja Lalić and Nebojsa Lazic, consists of two stages: one in Belgrade and another in San Francisco. Lazic told inventures.eu that “either stage is optional, meaning that a startup can go through both of them, or through only one - depending on what is the best for the startup, and on its performance.”
The mission is to create a bridge to Silicon Valley for local startups. Teams will get to spend some time - one to three months - in the US, work from a shared office space, establish networks and further improve their product. The programme aims to offer startups “valuable mentorships both in Belgrade and in San Francisco,” said Lazic.
Flexibility, customisation and $$
StartLabs is willing to invest up to 50.000 dollars in exchange for 10-15% share of a company, yet, they do not have an offering that is carved in stone and equal for all startups in terms of money, percentage of equity acquired and the duration of the programme. “Since the Western Balkans is still a young environment for startups, we believe that we should tailor our programme for every startup that joins us,” said Lazic.
Unlike many accelerators, StartLabs has no fixed deadlines for accepting applications meaning that teams can apply all year round. Lazic is convinced that “an open application process is better suited for us at this time. So, we … are receiving pitches, evaluating them and deciding to act on a continuous basis.”
Split between Belgrade and San Francisco
StartLabs's co-founders Lalić and Lazic are both entrepreneurs, who have been working together for over 20 years, developing technology products and companies. Lalić is based in San Francisco and Lazic in Belgrade, and in this formula, they have successfully run a number of ventures. Launching StartLabs resulted from their willingness to share their successes and failures with up-and-coming entrepreneurs. The goal: Support startups from an early stage to one where they would be able to raise outside funding.
It’s a tough world out there and in most cases, startups need investors to make it big. But you are not the only one – it’s a highly competitive market, after all. The Erasmus Centre for Entrepreneurship (ECE) highlights this in their Get in the Ring Investment Battle. They are the organisers of the international competition where startups try to secure an investment of up to 1 million euros. Battles have been taking place since July, and the next stop is Bulgaria.
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