10 Kosovar startups to watch
We might often share stories about billion-dollar companies like Facebook, Google, Instagram or Snapchat, and to the general opinion it might look like a very good year for tech startups. While in reality it was not such a year and many have struggled with investments, while some big names went for IPO, like Twitter that boosted investor interest in other social startups.
We’ve never done this before and we’re doing it this year for the first time, rounding up the most notable startups that are a must watch in 2014 and are thriving for success. Some of them may get acquired, some of the may die during 2014, but all of them are worth mentioning.
At first sight it sounds like the tech giant focusing on enterprise software but in fact the story around Kosovo’s S.A.P, starts around the Syndicate of Independent Algorithms, which is a joint venture between Trembelat, founded by Visar Arifaj, and Yll Rugova, Tripika, founded by Valon Badiviku as well as Jetmir Mehmetaj, as an adventurous startup focused on design and web development. In 2013 they worked under the radar, while 2014 it’s the year when we’ll get the chance to see their big clients, since they are also working on outsourcing.
Founded by Kosovar diaspora entrepreneur Labinot Bytyqi, Solaborate is a combination of the words “social” and “collaboration” and comes as a social network for technology professionals. Solaborate uses quite some interesting technologies like HTML5, peer-to-peer video communication for quick chat inside the platform without any additional plugins, SAP HANA for real-time business analytics, etc. In April 2013, Solaborate announced it raised more than $1 million from investors, and at TechEd Las Vegas, the company officially announced the availability of its public beta. Solaborate is part of of the SAP Startup Focus program, which supports startups in developing new applications on SAP HANA. We hear about new upcoming investments in the platform in 2014, and we expect to break the news here as well.
A case study on ICT trainings in Kosovo performed by Cisco Networking Academy (NetAcad) states that there is an educated and experienced workforce as a whole, but it’s searching higher salaries and better working conditions abroad. In this study NetAcad revealed that Kosovo makes a perfect ICT Outsourcing country, and time difference between USA makes it more appealing for the U.S. market. BIT Academy founded by Korab Osmanaj, tries to fit in those market gaps and deliver quick and professional training courses in networking as primary focus, but also on other fields, and deliver professionals to the market. Even though there are other competitors in this field as well, we have selected BIT Academy since it’s new, fresh and has invested in having a fantastic brand that represents and stands more strongly than the others.
Ordering food online is not an innovation nor a novelty, but we like the team and approach of Shpejt.me and that’s why they fully deserve to be on the list of startups to follow for 2014. Founded by Darsej Rizaj, Gezim Berishaj, Edon Bajrami and Aridon Hasimja, Shpejt.me is becoming quickly one of the most reliable products on the market to purchase food online through your smartphone and have it delivered on time and location with ease. Their solution includes the web app for businesses as well, and we are excited to see their quick expansion throughout Kosovo’s market and soon the regional market. Shpejt.me not long ago joined the business incubator of Innovation Centre Kosovo.
Even though we are still expecting a product from Dijon Vula’s and Dren Imeraj’s startup, we are still believing in them especially since the team after being establishedpitched at the famous Rockstar Accelerator in The Netherlands. We hear some interesting projects coming up in 2014, so stay tuned. The engineers behind Smart Squared are making sure to put some interesting surprises for their customers from time to time, while they are still a bit shy to show the market what they have been working on thus far.
TekFuze was established in July 2012, while it made its breakthrough debut during Balkan Venture Forum 2012 in Skopje, being being selected as one of the best pitches. Fast forward a couple of months later, the startup has established a stronghold focused on designs and manufacturing of embedded control systems based on its innovative Modular Configurable Architecture (MCA) approach. TekFuze designs and manufactures modular electronic control products for industrial control applications.
Arianit Fazliu and Faton Selishta, quickly managed to overcome their challenging professional journey and establish a startup which has positioned itself in the market as a unique company in offering web solutions for more creative clients. Their work is quite impressive and unique in many ways, while every time we meet clients of them, we hear a lot of positive feedback. A bright future for them in 2014.
A new startup, which launched in October this year but with a brilliant team behind it. They started as a spin-off from Telegrafi.com and turned quickly into a startup focusing on offering solutions for web and print for different clients. Their name “Mandeta” stands for the power of the mind and of brilliant ideas, and we expect many of such in 2014. Some known names like Leutrim Arifi, Ardian Lezi, Shpetim Shala and Erdis Driza stand behind the team, the work of which is not unknown to the market, while the other big name to mention is Gentian Lluka, the CEO and owner of Telegrafi.com, who is also the biggest shareholder at Mandeta.
Founded by one of the earliest and youngest entrepreneurs of Kosovo’s market, Mentor Paçarada, Trigonom is quickly moving ahead in the market with some unique products that fit within the field of entertainment and education. Mentor was one of the first owners of Telegrafi.com, which has now steeped up to be the number one news resource for Albanians in the region and the world with around to 1.5 million visitors per month , while his other company Frakton, managed to launch amazing games like Haluci (still under development for mobile platforms), and other creative stuff. He may be quite and not being known a lot to the people, but Mentor is a hell of a serial entrepreneur of Kosovo, aiming big for 2014.
Who said that Startup Weekend events are there just for the 54 hour adventure? Agon Avdimetaj, Esat Pllana and Dorjan Berisha, together with their crew of young and brave developers and enthusiasts proved them wrong. They managed to launch their venture in a Startup Weekend event in Prishtina in 2012, with a product focused on math 4 kids (and called Math4Kids), which quickly become the talk of the media. Soon after that they established a new venture called Appsix, focusing on developing mobile applications for iOS and Android and they managed to graduate from the business incubator, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway, Innovation Centre Kosovo. They managed to be double winners of the “App Camp Kosovo 2012” event with the game Skenderman and with another application focused on fashion. Today the startup has employed more than 12 people, with special focus on mobile application development and design, and the base of clients is growing everyday with clients like Telegrafi.com (Kosovo), Albafone (Macedonia), Vivoit (Italy), Shpejt.me (Kosovo), etc. 2014 looks like a big year for them.
You might have heard about them in many instances and in many ways, while it’s quite hard to describe how is actually the founder or employee of ClleanC. In general ClleanC is more like a movement of young and passionate designers with speciality in 2D, may it be graphic design or animation. One thing worth mentioning is that that when they post something on Behance, it makes noise and people see it. And when they see it i means that their work gets mentioned on AIGA as well. So beware of ClleanC, cause the next person sitting right to you might be one, and in 2014 you may be amazed.
As an interactive agency focused in Web Design and Development, Umbrella has managed to bring 11 products to live on Themeforest and sell between 100,000 and 250,000 dollars. The idea behind Umbrella was to create a small group of designers and developers to produce high quality work. Their approach with the clients is to keep them close and offer fast and reliable support. We were happy to see them grow in 2012-2013, and it will be definitely and interesting year to follow them in 2014.
They have over 4,000 sales on Themeforest and have managed to sell between 50,000 and 100,000 dollars. Every time we write something about them on Digjitale, it means some creative work coming out of their lab. Laborator is a creative team founded by Arlind Nushi and Art Ramadani, and their expertise relies on good design and development of WordPress themes.
And in the end what’s left to mention is that Digjitale is one to watch in 2014 as well. In 2013 the name Digjitale popped up in big conferences like WebIT 2013, How to Web 2013, Pioneers Festival 2013, IDCEE 2013, Pirate Summit 2013, BitSpiration 2013, etc (see more here). Digjitale remains to be leading source for news, information and resources, dedicated to report on startups and entrepreneurs emerging from Eastern Europe, while also serving as one of the best resources for entrepreneurs and investors to see what is going on around here.