Serbia's first accelerator StartLabs
announced last week that it would launch another fund called StartLabs Ventures. The new fund is going to invest up to USD 50,000 in 8-10 IT startups over the next year, with the possibility of providing additional funding of up to half a million U.S. dollars for the most successful companies in the portfolio, Voja Lalic, one of the co-founders of the investment fund for IT startups, said in a talk with eKapija.
StartLabs invests USD 50,000, in two phases, in Belgrade and San Francisco. With this investment, StartLabs acquires a stake of between 10 and 15 percent in the company, and the exact size depends on the concrete amount of investment as well as on the phase in which the company and its business are at the moment.
- StartLabs' initial investment amounts up to USD 50,000, and all startups obtained this investment in the first year, but they also received investment from other funds later. We are monitoring the development of startups even after that initial period because we want to take part in their further development – Lalic explains.
According to our interlocutor, startup community has made a significant progress in this region over the last two years. In 2014, StartLabs tested the market and found a "fertile ground".
- Last year we met with 190 startups. Our invitation to apply for investment is open all the time because it is a process which helps us get to know startup founders and monitor their development, and then decide whether a startup can enter our program. When we see a good potential, we provide assistance even before investing – says our interlocutor.
Money and ideas not an issue
When asked if the local startup community lacks ideas or investments, our interlocutor stresses that money and ideas are not an issue, but what's missing is the knowledge to turn the ideas in their early phase of development into a product that consumers are ready to pay for.