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Business Angel Summit 2023: Fostering Early-Stage Funding in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Western Balkans

Western Balkan startups face many challenges during their entrepreneurial journey, one of them being the most essential is the scarcity of initial funding. Many founders struggle to secure the capital in the beginning of their journey and it can also prevent many startups from taking off. Another challenge founders face is the limited availability of guidance and mentorship by experienced entrepreneurs. In comparison to more established and developed startup ecosystems, the Western Balkans lack a network of seasoned entrepreneurs who can offer mentorship and support to startup founders. Without proper guidance, new entrepreneurs find it difficult to navigate the early stages of their development and access the resources essential for expansion and success.

Western Balkan entrepreneurs have several options for early-stage funding. They can explore options like grants from government agencies and other funding opportunities. However, many startup founders also seek angel investors and venture capital firms to secure alternative funding sources. Recently, the Western Balkans have emerged as an untapped market for an increasing number of investors willing to invest both capital and expertise in emerging ventures. Additionally, the region has a growing number of incubators and accelerators, offering growth-orientated programs and resources to support.

Some individuals and organisations in Bosnia and Herzegovina deeply believe that entrepreneurship is a driving force to propel the country forward.

Dajana Džindo and her team at F787 are dedicated to improving economic opportunities for the youth and women of Bosnia and Herzegovina through entrepreneurship. One of their initiatives is the Business Angel Summit, held for the first time in Sarajevo in the fall of 2022, which brought together key players in the local and regional startup ecosystem. This year, F787 hosted the Business Angel Summit 2023 (BAS2023), now in its second edition.

I truly believe that the Business Angel Summit represents a significant step in our ecosystem’s journey towards enabling systematic access to private capital for startups. The event not only serves as a platform for startups to showcase their innovations and gain exposure, but also actively contributes to the growth of our investor community and fosters cooperation of ecosystem players who share the vision of a thriving startup environment.

Dajana Dzindo, Executive director @ F787

BAS 2023 once again reconnected and united the regional investment community. The summit had the main aim to continue to empower entrepreneurs and investors through knowledge exchange and informative sessions, advancing the local startup ecosystem.

Key highlights from the event included:

  • Vuk Lau of Silicon Gardens, a Slovenian seed fund, showed the opportunities for investment in the Balkan region by providing key data from their Adria region study, which can be found here.
  • Milos Matic, Partner at Omorika Ventures, presented a case study on Randevu that outlined the benefits of syndicated angel funding and its impact on startup growth.
  • A panel of experts, including Grant Van Cleve, Maaike Doyer, Nebojsa Bjelotomic, Amil Kamenica, and Igor Mishevski, discussed their experiences and regional perspectives on angel funding, emphasising the importance it has in the development of entrepreneurs.
  • Edin Mehic, a seasoned entrepreneur, shared startup ideas, sharing success stories from his own angel investing journey and provided advice to others thinking about contributing financing to early-stage startups. 
  • Dino Čolaković, founder and CEO of Privee, an emerging startup revolutionizing the video content creation industry, highlighted the importance of networking and its contribution to building your business by involving individuals as angels and advisors.
  • Maria Carolina Romero, Partner at the Swiss-based angel network efino, spoke on de-risking early-stage investments and illustrated angel investing tactics into several enterprises as well as how to arrange your investments.
  • Dajana Dzindo, Executive director of F787, held a keynote on the roadmapping of angel investors in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the criteria for joining such a group of individuals, and potential for regional collaboration in the Western Balkans.

Audience was equally impressed by an excellent pitch competition of 9 startups in addition to the captivating keynote talks. This event included aspiring entrepreneurs that showcased their ideas brilliantly, sharing creative ideas and solutions that created a lasting impression.  It was a demonstration of the potential of new ideas and a glimpse into a bright and positive future.

BAS 2023 has become a catalyst not just for Bosnia and Herzegovina, but also for the startup ecosystem in the region, bringing together angel investors and entrepreneurs to drive innovation and economic development. 

We, at Elevate, support the aim of all ecosystem stakeholders to enable a better business environment for startups and as a startup platform, we provide all the resources and network needed for startup success in one place. As an investor, Elevate is free and matches you with promising firms that meet your investment criteria. Find out more on our platform here.

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