Maxim Gurvits, chief hustler of Bulgarian accelerator Eleven, now mentors some 30+ early stage startups in Europe. He will be one of the speakers on Spark.Me and one of the reasons why you should attend! We thought you would like a taste of what’s to come at the conference, so we prepared this little interview. 🙂
1. How would you describe current startup scene in the region?
The startup scene in Southeastern Europe is definitely heating up. Probably after the Baltics, we’re the region that provokes the highest expectations. We have several economical and developmental advantages that are hard to beat, like a favorable variance between the education level and income level, and great penetration of high-speed internet.
2. Can you name some of your favourite regional startups and explain why you like them?
It’s really hard to ask someone who invests about their favorite company without leaving anyone out. 🙂 I’m extremely impressed by Nordeus from Belgrade, Farmeron from Osijek, and iMediaShare from Sofia, all three of whom are absolute global champions in their domains, and prove every day that awesome companies can come from SEE.
3. What is your number 1 advice for startups?
Number 1 advice: go for the win. This may sound as too obvious or a cliche, but from my own experience, actually believing that you will make an awesome, globally relevant and highly profitable company, is what most startup founders lack, even the most enthusiastic ones. I’m often shocked how quickly founders get into the defensive when you quiz them, and try to downplay the importance of what they’re doing. When I see that, I know for sure that guy won’t make it.
4. How would you describe the future of startups in the area?
I think we’re heading to become an efficient startup-building market a few years down the line. Some of the people building awesome companies now will exit in the coming years, and come back to the region to do new cool stuff. We already have way too much early-stage money in the region, and we’ll have a surplus of growth money 2-3 years from now. This will cause a lot of subpar companies to be funded, but in the longer run, these guys will use that learning resource and build great companies, even if it’s 5 or 10 years from now. I think our region will become the leading European engine of scalable technology 10 years from now.
5. Why are you attending Spark.Me? What will your presentation be about?
Spark.Me is awesome event that I’ll be attending for the first time. The .ME team is an unmissable feature of our region, a company that has a profitable online business and yet manages like no other to combine this effort with marketing their country (Montenegro) and giving a lot of value to startups, both through Spark.Me, as well as through the support of other communities like Netokracija, and the great deals that startups can get for cool .me domain names. I’m very happy and honored that I’ll attend and will speak about the future of venture investing in SEE at Spark.Me.
6. Our conference speakers for Spark.Me are already known. Whose presentation are you looking forward to the most and why?
So many speakers at Spark.Me are great personal friends, that it’s hard to make a choice. I think I’ll look out to the presentation of the awesome Dr. Opper, Israel’s former chief scientist, who always does a great job in explaining Israel’s long and exciting road to becoming an innovation hub. I more and more often feel that Israel is SEE’s best example in how to build a vibrant innovation ecosystem from scratch.
7. Do you think this conference is important for the region (tech scene/startups)? If yes – why? If not – how could it become important?
Spark.Me is really important because every time such an event takes place (and it only happens a couple of times each year in our region, each time in a different country and city) a number of new or aspiring entrepreneurs get the chance to meet awesome people from the industry and get inspired. I’ll never forget the tech events that I first attended when I started my first company; they opened my eyes to the world of opportunities.
I know that at Spark.Me there will be many new and aspiring entrepreneurs, and if even one of them goes ahead and builds a great company, it’s a goal fulfilled. For making this happen, the awesome crew of .ME (truly an amazing team, with an vibe and feeling of internal friendship that’s unparalleled) deserves huge credit and gratitude!
If this interview inspired you to register for Spark.Me conference, please be advised that our Early Bird Price lasts until August 31st! We hope to see you there!
Featured photo by: JD Lasica