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Getting Started: How to Launch Your Startup

The term “startups” can be heard or read often over the past few years, whether in online media, in a college lecture or a coffee conversation, mostly in the context of cool apps from San Francisco or major tech companies. But what exactly is a startup, especially in the context of Bosnia and Herzegovina?

We’ve been working with startups at SPARK for the fifth year now, so we have prepared a brief introduction to the startup world for all those who want to become entrepreneurs and start their businesses. The definition says – a startup is a young company founded by one or more entrepreneurs to develop a unique product or service and market it. Sounds easy, but how do you get started? We assume you have a great tech idea like an app or online product that can very easily conquer the European or world market.

Pitch deck

The first step is to prepare a so-called pitch deck or simply-put a presentation. But this presentation is not any kind of product presentation, but rather it should consist of several important slides:

  • Idea – a brief description of an idea, what problem it solves for future users, how it works
  • Team – who is on the team and why you are the best for this job
  • Business Plan – how you make money, how much and similar money-related stuff
  • Target Market – where you will be making money and who your customers will be.

Your pitch deck should be short and sweet. Each slide should be visually appealing, not full of text as a seminar paper.

Team

As you delve deeper into the startup world, many times you will hear that the team is the most important part of the startup and it will soon become clear why. Choose carefully – the startup team needs to be passionate about the idea in the same amount as the founder and, of course, reliable, which means they won’t quit on startup when they are most needed.

Accelerators, grants, competitions

Apply for as many startup programs, accelerators, startup grants and pitching competitions as possible. There are several reasons for this:

  • You will receive a quality business education and mentoring.
  • You will have the place and equipment to work.
  • You can also get some money that is useful for all beginnings. 
  • You’ll get free PR.
  • You will be part of the startup/entrepreneurial community.

The SPARK startup program opens new batch applications every year, but also organizes startup competitions like BETAPITCH. For example, applications are currently open for the eight-week Tech Boost Program, ideal for new startups. Applications are due until 14 Feb 2020. 

Financing

When it comes to financing, you have several options, such as bootstrapping, grants, crowdfunding campaigns, accelerators/incubators, venture capitals or angel investors. We will explain each of these concepts in more detail in one of the following blog posts.

Network

Build your entrepreneurial network, talk about your startup, attend as many business events and conferences, and stay up-to-date. Continuous education is very important in the ever-changing startup world. Find mentors and advisors. The easiest way to reach them is to join a pre-accelerator or accelerator program, such as SPARK’s Tech Boost Program.

And of course, none of this is important unless you have turned your idea into reality. Who says entrepreneurship is easy? 🙂

Tech Boost Program: A New Startup Journey at SPARK

We are embarking on a new startup journey in 2020, and we cannot do this without creative and enterprising people with ideas, without founders and startups… As we enter a new decade, Tech Boost Program has been designed to be new and full of interesting and useful things to turn your ideas and dreams into sustainable plans. Keep reading if you have ideas for tech startups!


About the program

The Tech Boost Program is designed to accelerate the growth of early-stage startup founders who wish to prepare for the first investment round. The program covers a wide range of verticals and industries while prioritizing impact-driven entrepreneurs. 

The program will run for eight weeks, beginning in early March 2020. It is designed for complete beginners who have never had their startup, but also for veterans of the startup world. Eight selected startups will receive free space, equipment, online and offline mentoring and education for their team, and will work on their product during that time. Each of the eight weeks will cover different topics, such as introductions to the startup world, pitching and presenting, lean startups, sales, marketing, investments, and starting/managing a company. In addition to local mentors, European mentors from renowned European startup accelerator Startup Wise Guys will also work with startups.

After an eight-week startup program, an intense three-day bootcamp awaits you. Topics that will be included in the bootcamp are sales and management tools, design thinking, customer acquisition, and pitch training. Finally, startups will showcase their products at Demo Day at PODIM, Slovenia in May 2020 in front of regional and international partners and investors.

One of the benefits of the program is that startups will join the alumni and get a chance to pitch at EFSE Entrepreneurship Tournament (to be held in October 2020 in Sarajevo). They can win up to EUR 10,000 for their business development.

The Tech Boost Program is a regional program designed as a partnership between Europe’s leading B2B startup accelerator Startup Wise Guys and selected regional accelerators such as SPARK, supported by European Fund for Southeast Europe (EFSE) Entrepreneurship Academy.  

Applications 

We search for early-stage startup founders who have the ambition to do commit full time and are ready to fight for regional and international success! Ideally, the startup should be in the early stage of MVP development or have a draft MVP. The application deadline is 14 February and the application itself will not take much time. In addition to your basic information, you should provide the name of the startup, a brief description of the idea, team members (if you have one), target market, business model, and submit a short pitch deck (presentation). Apply via form at the end of this page. Important note: the application should be in English.

The program is free of charge thanks to project partners: EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy of European Fund for Southeast Europe, Startup Wise Guys, and NSoft.

About partners

EFSE ENTREPRENEURSHIP ACADEMY

The EFSE Entrepreneurship Academy, an initiative of the EFSE Development Facility, encompasses a range of programs to support local business development throughout the EFSE target region. By working together with on-the-ground organizations that drive incubation and acceleration projects, the Entrepreneurship Academy provides entrepreneurs with guidance, resources, mentoring, networking opportunities, the chance to receive financial backing, and other means necessary to turn good ideas into successful enterprises. In this way, the Entrepreneurship Academy and its partners help create an environment where entrepreneurs can thrive – driving the spirit of EFSE as “The Entrepreneurship Fund”.

More information: www.efse.lu/entrepreneurshipacademy

STARTUP WISE GUYS

Startup Wise Guys is Europe’s leading B2B startup accelerator, present in all three Baltic states with participants from around the world, also voted VC fund of the year 2019 in CEE. SWG displays a 77% survival rate and is one of the most active early-stage investors in Nordics & CEE with more than 145 portfolio companies.

More information: startupwiseguys.com

SPARK

SPARK is an IT and business education hub dedicated to students, digital professionals, startups, and companies. We are located in Mostar, but our operations cover the whole of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Our goal is to provide high-quality education and prepare young talents for industry 4.0, which will lead to the enhancement of the competitiveness of bh. market. We do this through our five programs – SPARK school, SPARK startup, SPARK marketing, SPARK project, and SPARK business, by organizing various workshops, academy programs, meetups, hackathons, conferences, and other community-wide events. 

More information: spark.ba

MY-GATEWAY Balkan Roadshow: Two Workshops Held

As a part of MY-GATEWAY Balkan Roadshow, two workshops were held at SPARK premises today. 

The first one “How can we leverage Talent in Innovative Societies?” was aimed at universities and professors, and the topic was how soft skills can represent the missing link between disruptive innovative systems, startups, and people. 

After a short break and lunch, the second workshop “EU funds for startups and SMEs” started. Participants gathered at SPARK to learn how their startup can benefit from EU funds. This two-hour workshop was conducted by the Europa Media Group. The aim was to teach participants everything about EU funds and how to access them. They also explored the new Horizon Europe program which will come into place from 2021 to 2027 and were offered instruments and services for startups and SMEs. Both workshops were interactive, so participants shared their views and participated in the discussion.

These two workshops within the Balkan Roadshow were the last two activities of the MY-GATEWAY project.