10 startups to look out for in the Balkans in 2019 and beyond

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Macedonia, Croatia, Albania, Serbia, Kosovo, Bulgaria, Bosnia and Herzegovina – these mountainous countries that were broken up in the 1990s are rarely on the startup radar, but they should definitely not be left out. The ecosystems in each country are slowly taking shape, backed by government initiatives, the birth of venture capital and business angels associations, regional tech conferences and success stories. Known for great tech talent and an ambitious young population, you might be hearing a lot more from the Balkans in coming years. For now, here are 10 startups already making a name for themselves.

FindMeCure – Dubbed as “Google for Clinical Trials”, this Techstars London Accelerator alumnus connects patients seeking innovative health treatments with pharmaceutical companies that are looking for participants to join their clinical trials through their smart search engine platform. Founded in 2015 in Sofia and backed by LAUNCHub Ventures, FindMeCure is revolutionising access to clinical trials and saving lives worldwide.

Gideon Brothers –  Founded in 2017, this Croatian startup is developing an AI-powered robot for various industrial applications. Backed by TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus, Gideon’s first product is an autonomous indoor transport vehicle intended for logistics and manufacturing purposes. Gideon Brothers won the “European AI Rising Star” award at Founders Forum in London in June 2018.

Hunch – Serbian startup Hunch is an advertising SaaS technology company that helps businesses deliver automated, optimised, and personalised ads to users on leading digital advertising platforms like Facebook, AdWords, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Founded in 2016, this advertising automation service is already helping brands like Weebly, Greenpeace, and Dice.FM acquire and grow their customers online.

Koola develops a predictive maintenance platform utilising AI and machine learning for car dealerships. The platform provides service opportunities (service due, crash reports, engine faults, revenue opportunity) and increases customer retention, satisfaction and dealership revenues. Backed by ABC Accelerator, Koola is expanding its services to fleet management and is based in Sarajevo and Delaware, USA.

Nasekomo is an agrobiotech startup from Sofia, whose innovative technology allows the conversion of organic waste into an alternative protein source, which is then used to feed fish and livestock. They are tackling the issue of food waste by harnessing the power of insects, creating a sustainable source of protein for feed. Founded in 2017, Nasekomo raised a €1 million seed round in June 2018.

Sentinel Marine Solutions – Boat owners and boat rental companies have limited options to monitor and control their boats. Founded in 2015 and based in Vodnjan, Croatia, Sentinel Marine solutions develops a boat maintenance and logistics platform, providing boat location (fleet tracking), its health (batteries etc.) and usage information (petrol station visits, ETA, danger areas, etc.). Awarded as “Best IoT startup” by CESA and being backed by venture capital, Sentinel is transforming the marine industry.

Softmogul has developed a cloud-based software management tool for hotels and other accommodation venues, helping them to make their operations more cost-effective. Features include a property management system, point-of-sale, housekeeping, event management, booking engine, channel manager and payment getaway. This Plug and Play accelerator alumnus is one of the biggest startups in Albania, with offices in the USA.

Agremo – Belgrade-based Agremo has developed an agricultural sensing and imagery analysis platform for drone and remote sensing operators. Using aerial imagery, AI, computer vision and machine learning, Agremo is helping agro-businesses achieve sustainable production, improved yields and lower production costs. Founded in 2015 and backed by South Central Ventures, Agremo is bringing digital transformation to agriculture.

Alchemy Cloud – In 2016 the Enterprise Innovation Fund invested €300k in the Serbian startup dryTools. A year afterwards they merged with the Silicon Valley-based Alchemy to further work on their Chemistry Acceleration Software, helping chemical companies increase lab capacity, accelerate chemistry innovation, and grow sales. The startup is based in Novi Sad, Serbia, and recently opened an office in San Francisco.

EmbedSocial – Founded in 2016, this Skopje-based startup is a fully automated SaaS platform that helps companies improve their websites, re-use social media content, and increase their web conversions. Features include EmbedAlbum, a generator of all your social media photos; EmbedReviews, collector of your online reviews on any websitel EmbedFeed, a social media feeds aggregator; and EmbedStories, a tool for Instagram stories.

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