In a country where the closest translation of the word “entrepreneur” (podnikateľ) to some extent can still have the meaning “thief”, the need to recognise positive change taking part in the startup scene is perhaps more important than anywhere else. Startupawards.sk organised by Neulogy, intended to point out entrepreneurs in the best meaning of this word. Young, passionate and outspoken, Slovak entrepreneurs that presented at the event illustrate the point that Slovakia doesn’t only provide “great workforce but also great ideas” (a line we borrowed from a father-like figure of the event, Ivan Štefunko, chairman of Neulogy).
As Christian Mandl, founder of later failed SkyEurope airlines, emphasised, Slovak startups must think about a broader market than Slovakia if they want to attract investors. That was certainly the case for some of them. Goldenfish Lighting, for example, wants to conquer the US lightning market, and Prizeo aims at UK consumers and charitable donations. It seems that some of the proverbial big fish feel that the Slovak pond is too small for them.
While the startups on stage spoke greatly about the local scene, the event was also a success for the incubators and co-working spaces. In the past year, Bratislava has seen emergence of few of them. Most recently, Connect Coworking has opened a few weeks ago. There was a strong presence of startups from well-established Spot and we couldn’t help feel a certain affinity of the audience towards it.
Unlike other events that usually focus on web and mobile startups, the event took a broader view and added Science, Design & Arts and Society as categories to its Digital focus.
And here are the winners in each of the categories:
A*space: fast DNA testing at low costs. Combines nanotechnology with DNA research.
ASANA: the best presentation of a chair that we have ever seen. The chair is inspired by a natural yoga sitting position. It seems that it not only looks great, but sells as well – 900 chairs sold for 600 euros a piece to date.
Mapz: helping the blind navigate via a body-attached camera and a guide belt which help to make the guidance visceral.
Excalibur: one login solution that wants to rule them all. Use your mobile phone to login to all of your websites securely and without the need of a username or password.