Startup Monthly Vilnius – great success and only the beginning!

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13th of April, 2012 might have been just another Friday the 13th. Not quite so in Lithuania, where the very first Startup Monthly event in the region was officially opened. 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. It was facilitated by Vadim Slavin and Yuri Rabinovich, 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 it always happens in these events, there were more ideas than people who could execute them. This only meant that the way you sell your idea is probably the most important factor which helps you to successfully register your team at the end of the day. “Ideas are worthless; execution is everything” – this is an important lesson from David Weekly’s speech, which marked that the first day was going 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: “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 – 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, both of 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 organizers mentioned, they were receiving files from the selected teams at 2am, 3am, up to even 7am. That only shows the dedication these teams have to their ideas. The whole program was divided into three pitching rounds. As the day turned 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.

And the announcement was made! My personal congratulations go to:
3rd place: GigBasket
2nd place: Tropic Mind
And the very best: 1st place winners MapsWithMe!

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. Final big thank you note goes to 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.