The 13 April 2012 might have been just another Friday 13th. Not quite so in Lithuania, where the very first ‘Startup Monthly’ event in the region was officially opened (Update – February 2023: The Startup Monthly website seems to be out of use, and we therefore deactivated the original link). With more than a hundred participants, organizers and volunteers (who deserve a big thank you from all the attendants) this three-day event turned out to be a huge success.
During the first day, the team formation activities took place. This was facilitated by Vadim Slavin and Yuri Rabinovich, the COO and CEO of Startup Monthly respectively. Many great ideas were presented; almost 30 people came up on stage to try their luck with a world-changing idea. However, selling your idea in 90 seconds turned out to be harder than initially expected for some of the presenters. Nonetheless, after the whole round of pitches was over, the search for team members began. As always happens at these events, there were more ideas than people who could execute them. This only means that the way you sell your idea is probably the most important factor in helping you to successfully register your team at the end of the day. “Ideas are worthless; execution is everything” was an important lesson from David Weekly’s speech, marking that the first day was coming to an end.
The official opening ceremony in the evening hosted Lithuania’s Prime Minister, Andrius Kubilius, who gave a great speech on the importance of entrepreneurs for any economy. One important quote was: “There’s no need for the second Silicon Valley. Instead, let’s make Lithuania’s Amber Valley.” Why not, right?
Saturday welcomed all the registered startups, and teams with at least an MVP came on stage to present their ideas. The panel of judges, after intensive discussion, decided which teams will be proceeding to the final day, Sunday. Overall, 15 teams, including already existing startups and newly formed teams, were selected.
Finally, after a long and, for some of the teams, sleepless night, the final Demo Day came. As the organisers mentioned, they were receiving files from the selected teams at 2am, 3am, even up to 7am. That only shows the dedication these teams have for their ideas. The whole programme was divided into three pitching rounds. As the day came to an end, the jury panel was left with the most important decision yet – select the top 3 teams that will win a 9-week trip to Silicon Valley. Quite a life changing event, to say the least.
The winning startups were: 3rd place, GigBasket; 2nd place: Tropic Mind; 1st place: MapsWithMe (Update – February 2023: The startups seem to be no longer in business under these websites and we therefore deactivated the links). In the end, everybody agreed that the event went better than expected, which is a great compliment to the organizing team who made this possible. A final big thank you note goes to the Pinevio guys, without whom this conference could not have been as successful and memorable as it was now.
I am only left with a few words for Lithuania. This event was definitely a huge step towards the dream of becoming the Amber Valley (yes, I really love the concept). My only wish is that Lithuania will not stop here and I will be able to participate in many more great conferences in this country.
Speaking of events, do you have your ticket yet for the upcoming EU-Startups Summit?