Investment in Progress

CEE Unlimited: Exploring Bucharest, Sofia & Zagreb

With CEE Unlimited we are realizing one of our biggest (and probably most important) projects yet: an event series that is taking us to eight countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Our goals: get to know the local ecosystems, meet the relevant players and connect investors and promising startups – across borders. You can read more about our vision and why we started CEE Unlimited in one of our earlier blog posts.

The first stop of CEE Unlimited was Bucharest, the beautiful capital of Romania. We teamed up with our friends from Business Angels Romania, Andrei and Iulian, to host this kick-off event. Supported by our Austrian partners – Austrian Business Agency, Elevator Ventures & Raiffeisen Bank International, IP Austria, Speedinvest, UNIQA Ventures, and Vienna Business Agency – we tried to create an entertaining and educational program for our local audience. According to the 60+ participants we did quite well. But actually it is our speakers who deserve all the fame: Thanks to Dawid Rylski, Daniel Tiganila, founder of startups.ro and our partner in crime Camilla Sievers from IP Austria, we had a great discussion on why angel investors and VC funds are crucial for the success of startups.

By the way: Did you know the heaviest building in the world is located in Bucharest? We bet you didn’t. And neither did we.

Sorry for this short trip to nerd-land and back to business. As mentioned, CEE Unlimited is also about connecting startups and investors. So it’s no surprise that pitches were a huge part of this event. Five startups presented their ideas, but – as with so many things in life – there was only one final winner: The Health Tech startup Xvision convinced the jury and got the tickets to Vienna. Literally. All the winners from the local CEE pitching events are invited to join us for Investors Day 19, the biggest gathering of investors in the CEE region. Btw #2: it’s time to save the date for this happening – November 14, 2019, at Palais Wertheim. We have people from the European Space Agency, Creandum, Credo Ventures and many more coming. So be there or be square.

In case you’re still wondering why the startups are excited about joining the Investors Day 19: It’s not only about the investors (but mainly, we know that). There are also pretty nice prizes for the big and final winner of this CEE showdown – 50k media volume from our colleagues at IP Austria for the media group RTL, a 10k cash prize (no strings attached) and a Vienna Startup Package. Pretty LIT, as some people might say.

What happens in Romania doesn’t stay in Romania – our friends at derBrutkasten released a nice summary which you can read here.

Alright, alright, ok (yes, quoting one of Austria’s most popular contemporary bands here). Let’s continue the road through CEE with our next stop in Sofia, this buzzing hub in the heart of Bulgaria. If you haven’t been there, go there. It’s a place where the past meets the future, different cultures have co-existed for centuries and a lot of great talent can be found.

We had the great pleasure to be hosted by CEO Angels Club, a network run by Milen and his assistant Kiril. They created an agenda that attracted more than 100 (!!) people. This time on stage: Alex Zhigarev from Speedinvest sharing his learnings from being an angel investor first and then joining a VC fund, followed by an intense discussion with our host Milen on the differences (or similarities) of these types of investors.

The second part of the event was again dedicated to great founders pitching their businesses. Although one company tried to bribe the jury with beer, Iskren from the Social Tech startup KindLink secured his spot in Vienna. More info on the event and KindLink: derbrutkasten.com

Before we jump to our next stop, one more fun fact: Do you know what kind of fast food people in Sofia love to eat to prepare for or recover from a night of partying? Kebab with fries. Yes, we tried it. Nope, we don’t like it. But apart from this experience, Sofia really has a lot to offer for foodies 😉

Zagreb. A beautiful, modern city with lively streets and good vibes only. Although Croatia’s capital is especially outstanding in winter (the density of Christmas markets is unbeaten), it’s also worth a trip in summer – plus it’s close to the sea, so you can actually get best of both worlds. But enough about the city and the amazing beaches in Croatia (ok, we’re doing it again. But honestly: Croatia is a pretty great holiday destination) and let’s get back to business and our third stop of CEE Unlimited.

We’ve already been working with the team of CRANE for a couple of years, first and foremost with Davorin Stetner (who was the youngest owner of the Formula 1 media rights in the world). Which is why it was no surprise that they created a great panel with Davorin himself, Dawid Rylski from Speedinvest (who you already know from Bucharest) and two more well-known entrepreneurs, investors and board members of CRANE: Sasa Cvetojevic and Hrvoje Prpic.

Res Maritimae, the winner of the Zagreb pitch competition, is working on a product that can (or at least should) only be used in water. Click here to read more about the company and the event.

We’re currently on a summer-break (at least in terms of events) and will continue our CEE tour on September 12 in Ljubljana. All the dates of CEE Unlimited, further info & the registration for the events can be found on our website: www.ceeunlimited.com. Looking forward to seeing you there!

In the meanwhile: have a great summer,

the aaia crew