It was a tantalizingly tight race at the Next Round demo day, with the top teams from the portfolio of the Slovene Enterprise Fund being separated by few percentage points and most of the field as evenly matched as it was diverse in terms of technology, business model and target market.
In many ways, one could argue this wasn't a fair or a contest at all. Designed as a preparation exercise, the startups did their pitch and then got feedback from real investors on how to improve. But after hearing pitch by pitch, it was clear these startups mean business and many of them are doing just that. They have products, customers and competitive, even unfair advantages. Some are just helping a handful of people monetize their skills or assets. Others are already taking on world known brands, or at least planning to do so with some fresh capital.
It was a great effort on behalf of everyone participating. So here's a special shoutout to the teams of REMIGO, OPTI.SPACE, AGITRON, TWIRE and UPSQUARE, here's what they do>
Opti.Space: "Shared use of therapy rooms on optimal locations in real time."
Agitron: "Providing retailers with tools to increase sales through a more engaging shopping experience."
eFlamingo: "With eFlamingo platform anyone can earn money by playing video games."
Remigo: "First user-friendly, compact, powerful and stylish electric outboard motor."
Upsquare: "Create a mobile shop app with no coding required."
Twire: "Visualization of live statistics for broadcasted esports competitions.
Next Round caught up with Matic Mele from eFlamingo. Here's the story how they went from zero to Demo Day hero with the help of business angels and the Slovene Enterprise Fund support.
NR> What is changing in the eSports industry?
MM> The eSports industry is one of the newest and the fastest growing industries out there. More and more people playing video games and a lot of people doing it professional way. These professional players are treated as an athlete. So eathletes, the professional players, are the ones who make money in gaming, but they only represent point zero five percent of all gamers.
NR> And how does your product fit into all that? MM> We allow all of the other gamers that do not make money out of it, like casual gamers, amateur gamers or gamers like me who play games sometimes, to use their skills and earn money. So we're not providing a way for you to gamble on luck, random chance or anything like that. You put up some money and either win because you're better or lose if you're not, just like the pros. NR> What is your unique unfair advantage? Something that something that you have and other people in your space do not have. And you're beating them with it. MM> There were platforms out there who were trying to do something as we did. They were using old games, for example Counter strike Global Offensive. But when new games such as Fortnite came out, those games had closed API so nobody could use their code to be integrated into their platforms. Save for one company in the US, our competitors were not able to solve this problem. We on the other hand have and can use all of the new games and even if some game is coming out now and it will be a multiplayer game, we will add it to our platform and we won't have any troubles, not with copyrights, not with anything. And because we are not using their APIs.
NR> How did eFlamingo start? MM> A couple of years ago, me and Jaka were just the two kids with an idea. We called Business Angels of Slovenia. And we told them our idea over the phone. They were like, you know, it's all good, but do you guys have a company and we were like, no, we don't. So we asked our parents to borrow us the minimal starting capital, incorporated a company and then we went back to Business Angels and they somehow accepted us with only an idea. Even though they had no obligations, they really helped us and took the time to give us advice and point us in the right direction. As our ideas were shaping up, we then turned to the Slovene Enterprise Fund who accepted us for P2 early stage funding. This is how we got our first money and we started building a company from there on. So all I can say is thank you to everyone. NR> And now you're selling services, you have customers, you have a business thats generating revenue? MM> Exactly. The environment is great right now in Slovenia for building your own startup.