In this short article, I will try to describe our road from noticing that there is a super exciting competition happening in Slovakia all the way to winning it. What a trip it was! Let me tell you that I have never seen a competition of this quality happening in Central Europe before. But first things first. We are talking about the Slovak Startup Awards. The competition for young and dynamic companies originating in Slovakia, incorporated there or having Slovak founders.
We found out about the competition sometime in the second half of 2016. We thought something like: “Well, why not. Let’s give it a try. We have a Slovak investor, we are incorporated in Slovakia. Maybe, just maybe our Czech accent will not be a major obstacle.” 😉
A couple weeks after submitting the filled-out application we received an e-mail from the organizers informing us about the fact that we had been selected to participate on a semi-final competition. I recall my initial reaction being: “OMG, can’t you just make a decision about such a simple thing as which companies to invite to a final?” Oh, how naive I was 🙂 I kept reading and found out that the semi-final competition was a weekend-long event in Hungary! So, I set on my merry way to meet the other start-ups eager to get to the finals. In Hungary, we found out that 24 start-ups had been selected for the semi-final out of about 120 applicants. Nice, I thought to myself. The program of the Hungary event was fabulous. The organizers managed to invite many of the top Slovak and also Central European entrepreneurs, CxOs, top managers and investors to help us get our pitches, and basically business approaches, right during the weekend in order to pitch our idea to the final jury on Sunday morning.
Pitching to the jury in the semi-finals
The up close and personal hands-on approach of the mentors, many of whom had travelled from far destination just to help us, was amazing. The quality of the 24 pitches presented on Sunday was great and no one could really be sure about a spot in the finals. And yes, it did take the jury a much longer time than anticipated to make the final decision. AgentBalance was lucky to be one of the companies that qualified into the finals in one of the 4 categories – Art & Design, Society, Science and Digital. The whole event was recorded by Slovak TV and afterwards profiles of all the finalists were aired on the Slovak public channel. Quite cool, I must say.
Representatives of the 12 finalists
Anyways, then came the finals. And EVERYONE was blown away. The quality of the event was just unmatched in this part of the world:
- The venue: great.
- The speakers: top class.
- The jury: best I have seen.
- The overall organization: flawless
The one day event in Bratislava had been widely marketed and advertised. The audience of 1200 people fully corresponds with the quality of the event. Every single presentation, panel discussion and even the moderator were top notch quality. After the “warm up” (yeah, right… 😉 ) presentations came the final competition in all the four categories.
Uri Levine, the founder of Waze, on stage
The pitches were perfect, the products and services made perfect sense. The atmosphere was electrifying. To sum it all up, we at AgentBalance won our category and are extremely happy for it. It has been only about 5 days since the competition and we have had 4 new customers and 3 investors approach us with concrete next steps.
The winning team of AgentBalance
I would like to write something about the after party but I was so overwhelmed with the results that I barely remember. I heard it was great as well. 😀 Thank you, Slovak Startup Awards. Best of luck in the years to come.