Spotlight on 10 kickass female founders from Serbia

Country development can be measured in different ways. While indicators like GDP, Gini index, Human Development Index (HDI), and business list ranking are important, in the last 10 years people are paying evermore attention to the number of newly established startups. Furthermore, when it comes to startups people tend to focus more on serial entrepreneurs and founders, with increased attention now falling on female founders.

While tech appears to be (still) mostly a male-led industry, there are  a number of significant and successful startups in Serbia led by female entrepreneurs. Growth of female entrepreneurship in Serbia is boosted by different governmental and non-governmental organisations, as well as by programmes like Preduzimanje (where 25 female Serbian entrepreneurs get 10 months of entrepreneurial development support). Additionally, individuals like Jovana Miljanović are currently offering dozens of offline and online courses, seminars and workshops aimed at female entrepreneurs.

Based in Serbia myself, this list was curated with local Serbian startup hub knowledge, as well as an analysis of the top female founders in Serbia.

Branislava Gajić-Stanojević – Branislava is probably the first association people make when it comes to female digital Serbian entrepreneurs. She co-founded Infostud, on of Serbia’s largest internet companies. Infostud started as a student information portal, expanding to different verticals like jobs, insurance, and used cars after acquiring polovniautomobili.com. Having had 25% acquired by Finnish media company, they have also invested in different startups, one mentioned here. Unusually, they are not located in Belgrade.

Anja Varničić – Anja co-founded and is CEO of UrbiGo (2017), an intelligent nano garden situated in the beautiful Science Technology Park Belgrade. Many people live in big cities and small apartments, but they would like to grow plants. UrbiGo enables them to do just that with technology that makes indoor gardening easy. Having landed €110K funding in 2018, their first plant packs were sold out, with the new version released to be released in July already nabbing more than 300 pre-orders.

Ivana Zirojević – Ivana was already mentioned in our previous article about Serbian startup ecosystem as the co-founder and CEO of SrediMe, the leading beauty booking marketplace in Serbia which started in 2016. Before Sredime, she co-founded Donesi.com, the leading food delivery service in Serbia. She sold the business to Foodpanda (Delivery Hero) in the end of 2014.

Gaia Montelatici – Gaia is co-founder of Impact Hub Belgrade, the place to go to for gender-diverse founders, entrepreneurs, startups that are creating positive social impact with their businesses. The hub is responsible for bringing the global impact network to Serbia, as well as setting up meetups, support and vsibility for Serbian impact enterprises. Gaia has just founded her second venture, STUDIO X Ventures, which aims to invest in startup talents from the Western Balkans and take them to markets of scale.

Bojana Knežević – Bojana is co-founder and COO of Holodia (2017) which offers a VR fitness product called HOLOFIT, making indoor workouts fun, interactive and rewarding. The team landed angel funding in 2018, and now with a monthly growth rate of +150% since the start of 2020, Holodia is expanding to include not only the fitness machines (rowing, bicycles, ellipticals) but also full body workouts that require no additional hardware. HOLOFIT is available on all major VR headsets and all brands of fitness machines.

Marija Ilić – Marija is co-founder and CPO of Two Desperados (2011), a gaming studio from Belgrade. Serbia has a strong gaming industry, and this games Woka Woka and Viola’s Quest are no. 1 in the marble shooter category with over 30 million players. Woka Woka is monetized via in-app payments and reward-based video ads, and is currently expanding its team with another 20+ professionals.

Nađa Jokanović – Back in 2011, Nađa co-founded and is CMO of Wannabe Magazine, which she established alongside another founder to watch Nina Milović. Wannabe covers fashion, beauty and lifestyle topics for both women and men, and holds a leading position in their segment. Besides an online publishing business, they also have their own merchandise and organise the Wannabe Digital Awards, where they choose the most successful influencers in different categories.

Dragana Jovčić is co-founder and COO of Uradi Zaradi (2016). This marketplace offers cleaning and cooking services, and plans to expand in other verticals like babysitting. So far, they have over 4000 clients in Belgrade and Novi Sad. Dragana closed a crowdfunding campaign in August 2019, which helped them to test and launch new premium service called Home manager. Dragana participates in different panels related to promoting entrepreneurship.

Milica Milošević – Milica is one of the owners of Stetoskop.info, the go-to site for health related information in Serbia, which boasts +1 million visits a month. This online platform also offers booking services where people can easily book their sessions with doctors, online or via phone. In the last 15 years more than 1000 doctors have published their articles on the site. Milica is no stranger to the media, often appearing on television to talk about the platform.

Tijana Stamenković – Tijana is co-owner of ZDRA Branding,an agency specialized in building brands from scratch. Also, she is co-founder and CMO of YoloBook, a photo album and photo printing delivery startup. In mid 2019, they raised 220K, and overall have over 100K users and sold over 100K albums.

If you’d like to learn more about this ecosystem, you can take a look at our article ‘Serbia’s startup ecosystem at a glance’.