Beyond bootstrapping, innovators have a number of different options for financing their endeavors – corporate ventures, VCs and accelerators, crowdfunding platforms, private equity investors, and more. The financial backing of angel investors usually fills in the gap between the small-scale financial support from family and friends and venture capitalists. Moreover, angel investors, being established entrepreneurs themselves, understand the struggles of early-stage founders and are willing to take the financial risk of supporting a team and an idea in which they see a potential for a high rate of return. Unlike loans, this relatively novel way of startup funding operates in a different framework as founders are not expected to repay the investment if their venture fails, while if it takes off successfully, they are expected to share the benefits with the business angels who made this success possible in the first place.
The impact of creating more connections between business angles and promising startup founders can be improved when it takes place on a global level. And the World Business Angels Investment Forum (WBAF) does exactly that – creating a global stage for establishing synergies, expanding networks, and bringing together policymakers and key players of the equity markets with the aim to encourage constructive discussion about the benefits and challenges of securing sustainable growth for businesses. The Forum is an affiliated program of the G20 Global Partnership for Financial Inclusion (GDFI) and its focus is to develop smart investors, smart finance practices, and smart exit strategies by introducing innovative financial instruments for entrepreneurs and SMEs. In order to accomplish this goal, the WBAF has launched an international co-investment platform for qualified angel investors – the Global Fundraising Stage (GFRS) as part of its Angel Investment Fund. With the mission to showcase 100 of the world’s most promising startups and scaleups by providing founders with opportunities to pitch in front of business angels and various investing institutions, the GFRS allows established and typically funded ventures to speed up their globalization process with investments ranging from €50K to €3M.
Who are the North Macedoniаn stars this year?
This year’s WBAF Angel Investment Fund fueled the growth and internalization of 10 startups from the GFRS which were shortlisted from the 100 selected applicants after their pitching virtual sessions on the 20th February 2021. Among the startups that presented in front of investors this year, there are nine representatives of the North Macedonian innovation ecosystem, eight of which have started their journeys as part of the Skopje-based Seavus Accelerator. Being the first tech accelerator in the country, it focuses on early-stage and prototyping startups that have the potential to expand internationally, so it makes sense why startups from its portfolio were selected as participants in the GFRS.
The North Macedonian startup that got selected as one of the 10 shortlisted startups that will receive investments from the Forum was Trident Peak. The food-tech startup develops an integrated software solution for the automation of the daily operations of food delivery businesses. Their solution allows users to integrate all of their data into a single dashboard in order to have control over their food costs, optimize their inventory procurement, simplify their manufacturing, and manage multiple ordering platforms. Which were the other eight startups, what problems do they solve, and what are their founders aiming to achieve by participating in the Forum, you can see here:
- Culture Technologies (also known as Razgovor.mk) is a behavioral teletherapy marketplace that offers users the opportunity to connect and talk to licensed psychologists anonymously through the app. Users can browse from a list of registered psychologists, schedule an appointment, and pay through the app, while psychologists can set their pricings, choose a preferred type of communication and execute their session through text, video, or audio. Founded in 2020, the startup already has a €55K investment from Startup Wise Guys and has 33 psychologists and more than 1700 users across North Macedonia. Currently, the team of Culture Technologies is working on setting up a company in Estonia and getting ready to internalize further as well as to prepare for the launch of their B2B product sometime at the end of February 2021.
- Challenger is an app that engages its users in healthy competitions and offers them rewards in the form of discounts with the goal to encourage people and businesses to be more active, use sustainable methods of transport and develop more environmentally-friendly habits. It helps businesses that struggle with lack of continuous engagement and motivation of remote employees as well as with decreased team spirit due to fewer organized activities for well-being. Challenger offers companies to get a branded app for their team and creates a fun social experience no matter where they live with features such as news feed about teammates’ activities and visualization of individual and team progress and environmental impact. The founding team of the startup is aiming to raise €150K and gain new partners from the Forum in order to speed up its international expansion.
- EnRoute is a free app in its beta testing phase that helps people to reduce their carbon footprint they generate from everyday activities by connecting them with eco-friendly businesses. The app uses a personalized approach and rewards customers when they commute with the least CO2 emissions and shop sustainable products. Currently, the app conducts its testings with 3000 users and has started negotiations with 20 eco-friendly local businesses. The co-founders of the venture who are still high school seniors plan to officially launch in North Macedonia in April 2021 and to expand to the USA by the end of 2021.
- Si-mAind provides developers who are not AI proficient with algorithms that enable them to create intelligent and more personalized software products. The startup targets SMEs that do not have in-house AI teams but need intelligent expertise in order to add value to their current projects. Even though the product of Si-mAind is in MVP stage, it has already raised €57K. The goal of Si-mAind is to help solve some AI modern challenges such as by designing a fast and scalable information processing algorithm and a distributed P2P solution based on blockchain. The of Si-mAind is looking for funding that will complete their €110K seed round in order to cover the development and promotional costs of the launch and selling of their solution in 2021.
- Go Easy is a scaleup that creates ERP and PMI solutions and participates in the Forum with the goal to raise capital for the development of its new 4Connect solution. Their new product is a digital marketplace that matches service providers with customers who bid for their services. So far the product has attracted 1200 registered service providers and over 1600 users across North Macedonia and has already secured its first €53K investment. The plans of Go Easy are to expand their solution to Serbia in 2021, continuing with Bosnia, Montenegro, Albania, Kosovo, and Bulgaria in the long-term for which their team is looking for €116K investment.
- Solar Data Collector develops a solution that forecasts, monitors and optimizes the output of photovoltaic systems. Their product measures irradiation, temperature, and humidity and uses data from meteorological sources. The team of Solar Data Collector points out that their solution differentiates from its competitors because it does not rely on satellite data only, but integrated information from sensors as well.
- Nsight Solutions is a Dutch-Macedonian startup that is looking for funding to develop its new OrderThis’ digital menu and ordering solution for hospitality businesses. OrderThis automates the ordering process and improves the table turnover time by allowing guests to scan the QR code on the table, make an order, and pay from their phone. The team of Nsight Solutions is looking for €60K that will be used to cover the hardware costs of early adopters as well as for marketing and expansion to new European markets.
- EVO – Enterprise Virtual Office (not part of the Seavus Accelerator’s portfolio) is an all-in-one app currently developed by the data telecommunications and voice startup New Systems that allows users to reach their office from any kind of device. The product is projected to be run by synchronized virtual services on the cloud, which will bring many benefits to the users such as the elimination of the need for new operating systems and software application licenses, as well as no risk of data loss.