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Maxim (Max) Gurvits is associate VC and investment manager with Eleven Startup Accelerator in Sofia, Bulgaria.
May you live in interesting times, goes the Chinese proverb. Certainly, in Eastern Europe it’s a very interesting time for startups. After the surge of great game-changers coming out of our region in the past several years, ranging from Prezi to Vox.io, the money is starting to follow the action.
This year has been particularly great for the undercovered and underfunded region of Southeast Europe, also known as the Balkans or SEE. The startup scene here is rapidly taking shape, and so are early-stage investment funds. I have been lucky to be on the team of Eleven, a EUR 12 million acceleration and seed fund based in Bulgaria. As we launched in Sofia in the summer of 2012, here’s a brief update of what has been keeping us busy.
Starting up a startup fund: funding process, acceleration space, and scouts.
By all means, Eleven is a startup on its own. There are big and small things that we need to test, re-do, ship, and occasionally pivot on, just like the startups that we fund. They range from finalizing the funding process, to investor relations with our investor, the European Investment Fund (EIF), to seemingly simple but such crucial stuff like making sure there’s always enough coffee for 50 or so people.
But there’s more than coffee machines and the funding process. We’re putting the last hand to our awesome workspace which we like to call the Roof; a 600 sqm startup realm right in the heart of Sofia. And last week, we started the roll-out of our scouting network, by presenting three community veterans as our scouts in Croatia, Serbia, and Romania. In Croatia, we are partnering with Ivan Brezak Brkan, the founder of Netokracija, also known as the TechCrunch of the Balkans. In Serbia, we’re proud to have onboard Vukasin Stojkov, the organizer of the country’s startup scene and its undisputed leader. And in Romania, we have Bogdan Iordache, father of How To Web, and the person perhaps most responsible for letting the world know about the great startups in the region, by organizing the best, biggest, and most exciting tech conference in the region every November.
As we dot the last i’s and cross the last t’s in setting up Eleven, we have already launched our second application window, which runs for another two weeks. We are getting a steady stream of applications, and are thrilled to see that the SEE region, which consists of roughly of ten countries, is evenly represented. This is especially great because it’s our aim to offer a platform not only to Bulgarian teams, but to the region as a whole. Applications for our second acceleration call can be submitted through our website until November 4.
If you’re around in this busy period of events, conferences, and startup weekends, then there’s a big chance you will meet us somewhere. We’ll be there at Pioneers, How To Web, Balkan Venture Forum, and a swath of smaller local events. And if you’re around Sofia at the end of November, or in London at the end of January, you’re very welcome to attend our demo days, where we’ll be showcasing what it’s really all about: our incredible teams, which are working hard on their product at this very moment.
+44 (020) 3290 3544
vita at goaleurope dot com