Best companies to get up to USD 0.5 million - StartLabs accelerator launches new fund to invest in 10 start-ups

Source: eKapija Wednesday, 11.02.2015. 14:25
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.
Voja Lalic in a talk with eKapija's journalistVoja Lalic in a talk with eKapija's journalist
- The knowledge related to go-to-market strategy is what we want to present to a broader public at meetups we organize and transfer to young IT entrepreneurs - eKapija's interlocutor announces.
The most usual problems an IT entrepreneur faces when starting up a business is the failure of domestic administration to understand the needs of this industry as well as the fact that it applies the principles that are applied to firms already in operation, which often slows down and limits young entrepreneurs. However, as Voja Lalic underlines, startups that participate in the StartLabs' program have no bureaucratic obstacles because this accelerator adopted good practices from California.
Voja Lalic adds that Serbia and the region have a plenty of talented young entrepreneurs.
- It is necessary to focus their talent and knowledge on the creation of business ideas. StartLabs makes it possible to work with menthors from San Francisco, London and Berlin who are either investors or owner of successful companies, have broad experience in running a business and numerous investments in the past - Lalic concludes.
Another domestic startup at StartLabs
StartLabs has four startups using its program - Business Exchange, CaseTrek, CarLock and Loyalis. The portfolio of StartLabs' IT accelerator has recently got bigger for one more startup - Mango Coinz. It is an application that is still beta, and its founders say that it enables people to earn money while engaged in physical activity.
StartLabs' invitation to apply for investment is open during the whole year, and all companies interested in joining up can apply on the company's official website
Irina Milosevic
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