RockPaperStartups.Me: Inside The SEE’s Biggest Startup Conference

RockPaperStartups.Me: Inside The SEE’s Biggest Startup Conference

I was sitting in a coffee shop near the beach, enjoying my double espresso on a hot summer’s days while the sailing boats were passing by not far from the shore. While some might call this a perfect vacation, some 200 entrepreneurs gathered last week in Rijeka, Croatia to attend a first RockPaperStartups conference.

Organized by Netokracija / Netocratic, region’s leading online magazine on all things tech and startups, the conference was a part of Republika Fest, a three day celebration of music, art, uniqueness and yes – entrepreneurship. With a rich program that featured some of the world’s most renowned names such as Daniel Burka and Alex Hunter, the conference kicked off with a Mini Seedcamp as a Day Zero of RockPaperStartups.

Total of nine teams pitched their ideas to a panel of judges, all of them hoping to end up at Seedcamp Week in London and maybe even become a part of the Seedcamp’s family. As Carlos Eduardo Espinal pointed out:

This doesn’t mean that one of you is definitely going to London, but it’s a good way to start the journey.

He also added that there are some truly industry-changing ideas being born in this region and that Seedcamp is definitely going to keep an eye on it in the future. Carlos also spoke during the Day One of the conference about Product Market Fit phase – you can find a detailed cover of the lecture on Netocratic.

Day One: It All Starts With You

After the opening remarks from Ivan Brezak Brkan, the founder and Editor-in-Chef of Netokracija / Netocratic, mayor of Rijeka Vojko Obersnel took the stage to welcome all the young entrepreneurs who gathered in Rijeka and are attending the startup conference. Obersnel said:

I am truly honored to have such a conference taking part in the city of Rijeka.

Daniel Burka, Google Ventures (Photo: Marina Filipovic Marinshe)

Daniel Burka from Google Ventures was first up. He talked more about design and how startups should approach it. Burka added that hard work and initiative are the key elements to success – without it, he continues, you cannot count on good projects and the things you like to do.

Don’t ask your boss to give you another project, start it on your own. That’s what evenings and weekends are for!

Good team is hard to find these days, especially when everybody is looking for an extra programmer or designer. Tak Lo from Techstars who is also ex-military talked more about creating the perfect A-Team for your startup and what it should be consisted off. The time he spent in the U.S. military, prior to his enterprenurial journey, taught him how to be a better team leader and how to motivate his teammates to achieve more for their country.

I accept the fact that as a Ranger my country expects me to move further, faster and fight harder than any other soldier.

Continuing with the first day, audience also had the opportunity to listen to an interesting panel discussion on how big brands such as Google, PayPal or Vipnet from Croatia can help young startups achieve their goal. You can also find a full coverage of the discussion on Netocratic.

“How can big brands help young startups” (Photo: Marina Filipovic Marinshe)

Max Gurvits form Bulgarian accelerator Eleven took the stage to talk more about the distribution and prototyping problems startups are facing up with. He added that most of them focus on creating the final product whereas they should actually spend a fraction of their funds working on a prototype for further testings. When it comes to storytelling it may not be the strongest point of startups. Alejandro Barrera from Press42 talked about storytelling and some of the things startups should throw in and out of their stories. He added that there has to be a human element in every story in order for people to connect to it.

Day Two: How Should Startups Handle Media?

Second day of RockPaperStartups conference as opened by Jared Gorlanick, CEO of Awayfind and mentor at several accelerators who stated that real business takes time and that most likely we are not going to sell it for 1 billion dollars only 9 months after we’ve launched like Instagram did. He added that startups should focus on small things in the beginning, like forming a good team they like to work with.

Alex Hunt, (Photo: Marina Filipovic Marinshe)

Alex Hunter, former head of the online marketing for Richard Branson’s Virgin Group and today a CEO of told attendees that the brand connection is something they should really pay attention to and that small things are the ones that matter. He also pointed out how everybody is always talking about failure like it’s a necessary thing. Instead, people should focus on creating good stuff and succeeding at it!

You have to believe in what you are doing, as well as the fact that what you are doing to make a revolution. Failure is not an option!

Our very own Natasa Djukanovic was also there to talk more about millennials and how they should be approached from the marketing side. You can check out her lecture in the post we published the other day!

Considering the fact that media approach is one of the startups weakest side, Kelly Hook from Prezi closed the conference by giving a lecture on how should startups approach media. You can check out her presentation on Netocratic.

Final Thoughts: This Is Just The Beginning

We at Domain.Me are very proud that we had an opportunity to be a part of such a conference. All the speakers were fascinated by the pure talent they met during the two days they spent in Rijeka. We are certain that next technological boom is happening right here in the Balkans and we are looking forward to all the things that are going to lead us towards there!


Marko Mudrinić

Marko is an undergraduate student based in Belgrade. Majoring in Journalism he's interested in digital publishing, startups and new technology. He currently writes for Balkan's leading Internet magazine Netokracija about local startups scene.

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