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Digitalk 2019

500 startups, Earlybird & Co: Leading European VCs Gather in Sofia To Scout for The Next CEE Unicorn

Krasimir Nikolov of QuarkVR pitching the future of VR streaming on the main stage during DigitalK ©DigitalK
Krasimir Nikolov of QuarkVR pitching the future of VR streaming on the main stage during DigitalK ©DigitalK

Between May 30 and 31, Sofia will be the heart of the CEE startup ecosystem. For the sixth year in a row, DigitalK, the leading digital and tech conference in CEE, has a special startup track for founders who want to meet and pitch in front of leading VCs from the region. This time the organizers from LAUNCHub Ventures and Capital made sure the VC selection is just the right one that will open opportunities to both startups and investors. 500 startups, Earlybird, Tera Ventures, Outlierventures, Credo Ventures, to name a few. Applications for the contest are open until May 19. 

In 2016, FindMeCure CEO Maya Zlatanova made it to the final pitching on the big stage of DigitalK. She didn’t win. At least not the €10K prize. As it turned out a bit later, however, Max Kelly, then Managing Director for Techstars London, was in the audience and noticed the potential of her company. A bit later Zlatanova and her team went through Techstars Accelerator in London in 2016 and soon secured $420K funding.

“We decided to have a more focused jury selection this year, so companies can pitch in front of leading VCs (check out the list below) with interest particularly in the CEE region,” says Stefan Gantchev, partner at LAUNCHub, and the main engine of the contest. Trending Topics supports the event as a media partner.

Deadline is Nearing

The applications for the startup contest are open on F6S and companies from Europe have time until May 19 to fill in the form and hope to get to the semifinals on May 30 and 31. Every year the interest in the competition is growing, last May 150+ applications came in counted, and Gantchev expects 200 this time. Up to 15 of them are invited to pitch on the first day of the conference and get exclusive training on doing it the right way by the well know pitch doctor Christoph Sollich .

“We actually participated in two consecutive years, and the first time was great training and opportunity to refine our pitch,” shares with us Tatyana Mitkova, co-founder of 2017 winner ClaimCompass.

Up to five of the pitchers will make it to the big stage of DigitalK on the second day and have the opportunity to convince the jury and the audience, they know what it takes to find a solution to a real problem and develop a viable product, and business out of it. 

The single most convincing founder will secure the prize of €10K, another company will get the chance to receive €10K in form of convertible notes from the Bulgarian CEO Angels Club. Everyone else, however, will have the opportunity to meet their next potential investors and advisors. The conference itself enjoys the presence of senior executives and speakers from Uber, Oracle, Hubspot, Indiegogo, Smule, and others.

The Winners Club

So far, five startups have won the competition and each of them has proven significant traction after this. ClaimCompass made it to the big finale in 2017 and took off to the US and their next investment a bit later. In 2016, the coworking managements system developer OfficeRnD got the wildcard to the final and won the contest. The company secured a funding of $1M the next year and is now working with some of the biggest coworking brands globally. 

For the first time, the startup competition prize will be €20K © DigitalK
For the first time, the startup competition prize will be €20K © DigitalK

As every year the contest turns more and more international, in 2018 the winner came from the UK. Illumr is a London-based deep tech company that helps its enterprise clients to better understand and predict patterns of behavior that affect their organization using big data analytics.

The list of VC partners and investors attending DigitalK grows every year, both in numbers and geographies. Here are this year’s funds and their representatives, who have already confirmed attendance. More names are yet to come.

Fund Investor
01Ventures Ton van ‘t Noordende, CEO
500 Startups Marvin Liao, Partner
VentureFriends Apostolos Apostolakis, Co-founder
Balderton Capital Magda Lukaszewicz, VC
Founders Institute Adeo Ressi, Founder and CEO
Amadeus Capital Volker Hirsch, Partner
Alphabit Digital Currency Fund Saeed Hareb Al Darmaki, Managing Director
Piton Capital Mira Mihaylova, Principal
Market One Capital Marcin Kurek, Co-founder, Managing Partner
StartersHub Arda Aşkın, Managing Director
Earlybird Digital East Fund Cem Sertoglu, Managing Partner
Credo Ventures a.s. Ondrej Bartos, Partner and Chairman of the board
Earlybird Venture Capital GmbH & Co. KG Dan Lupu, Partner
Aeternity Nikola Stojanow, Chief business development officer
CryptoAssets Institute Ethan Pierse, Director
Day One Capital György Simó, Co-founder, Managing Partner
212 Ali Karabey, Managing director
Tera Ventures Stanislav Ivanov, Founding Partner
Outlierventures Jamie Burke, Founder & CEO
Eleven Ventures Daniel Tomov, Partner
Eleven Ventures Ivaylo Simov, Partner
Almaz Capital Alexander “Sasha” Galitsky, Ph.D., Co-founder and Managing Partner
Buran Ventures Marton Medveczky, VC
Buran VC Alexey Sidorov, Investment Associate
Hoxton Ventures Hussein Kanji, Founding Partner
LAUNCHub Ventures Lyuben Belov, Founding Partner
LAUNCHub Ventures Todor Breshkov, Co-founder and managing partner
NEVEQ Zlatolina Mukova, General Partner
Pi Labs Raya Yunakova, Programme Director
500 Startups Enis Hulli, Venture partner
Innovation Nest Wiktor Rybicki, Senior Analyst
Neo Ventures and NEVEQ Pavel Ezekiev, Partner
King’s College London / PISA Research Patrick McCorry, Assistant Professor / Chief Scientist
EMV Capital Dr. Ilian Iliev, Managing Director


In our role as startup community media, we at Trending Topics will make sure to equip you with all the tips & tricks, you need for proper preparation in the next weeks. Don’t miss out.
 

*Note, selected startups get free passes for the conference.

 

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