The luxurious Metropol Palace in Belgrade was all business last week, as a startup pitching competition took place inside on 19-20 November. Sponsored by StartLabs Tech Accelerator and operated in organisation with the Serbian Venture Network (SeVeN) and the Belgrade Venture Forum, the largest venture capital and private equity investment forum in Serbia, 130 startups initially competed. Serbian company Strawberry energy emerged victorious, awarded top honours – and 1.000 euros, among others – for their developing business idea.
We were naturally curious about their award, new business model, and what the future holds for the team of ten enthusiastic entrepreneurs and their fast-growing projects.
Planting seeds of success
As they previously told inventures, the goals of Strawberry energy are harnessing clean energy and making renewable energy resources and clean technology readily accessible to everyone, while educating about sustainability and usage. With this win, they’ve proven they’re well on their way. The seeds of success were already planted with the introduction to the Balkan market of their Strawberry Trees: solar-powered chargers for portable devices usefully installed in busy public locations, allowing techies (but not only) to top up.
Their recognition at the Belgrade Venture Forum is already bringing new collaborations, with hopes that the attention will also aid in increased investment opportunities. With revenues at 158.000 euros and a profitable enterprise underway, plus a fresh product and business plan, they’re already enjoying a fruitful harvest – and there’s more where that came from.
Well-cultivated business models
Healthy growth stems from a strong business plan at its roots. Thus far, Strawberry energy’s model has been based on expanding the network of Strawberry Trees, and earning revenue from sales. Telekom Serbia is their strongest partner, having purchased five Trees.
“The need is obvious, as our consumers are the same – people who use mobile phones,” Head of Corporate Communications Tijana Manitašević told inventures.eu. They’ve also “planted” Trees in cooperation with the city of Belgrade and through various other projects. The new business model entails creating their own network of Strawberry Trees, which will be supported through funds from investors, and not from charging users who plug in for some juice.
In addition to entering more worldwide markets with the original Trees, they’re also planting them in further fields, beyond urban centres. The new plan is to grow their most recent development – a portable solar charger dubbed the Strawberry Mini Rural – inthe countryside. According to Manitašević, it’s “made to meet the needs of people living without access to electricity. We see it as a tool for rural electrification and improving the lives of people living without some basic conditions, like [a] lighted house, or possibility to easily communicate with people around them,” she said. “Our wish is to help these people and deliver as many Strawberry Mini Rural chargers as possible.”
The Belgrade Venture Forum prize awarded them 1.000 euros, a discount for using the Deal Market platform, and a Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini mobile phone. But as Manitašević said, “most of all, it is a channel to get in communication with other interested parties and potential investors. It is a confirmation for us that the business model we are preparing is feasible and valuable.”
Interest seems to be already sprouting, and with a new product providing both necessary and humanitarian services, it seems they’ll be looking forward to a bountiful future, while helping others do so, too.