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Arta Shehu Zaimi: the support of peers is the key to success

Labbox is one of the most successful startups from Kosovo. And its co-founder Arta Shehu Zaimi, is highly engaged in startup community in the country.

Labbox is one of the most promising startups in Kosovo at the moment. By entering Techstars Berlin accelerator, they are on the way to perfecting their product. On top of that, Arta Shehu Zaimi, CEO of Labbox, is always willing to give first and support her peers.

Labbox is an ed-tech startup with a mission to inspire children to be innovative, creative, and think like engineers. With a STEM (Science, technology, Engineering, Mathematics) project packed in a box, delivered to their homes each month, kids from the entire Balkan region can enjoy fun and educational activities.

The Founders of Labbox are sisters Arta Shehu Zaimi and Fiona Shehu, and Glenn Noble. Arta and Fiona already ran a business before Labbox—jCoders, an educational center for coding and robotics. Running five jCoders centers throughout Kosovo, helped them realize that kids enjoy resolving problems with tech solutions, so they decided to take this game to the next level. With the help of Glenn (their CTO), they designed a small box packed with kid-friendly electronics. The monthly subscription consists of in-home delivery of an electronics kit designed to help children learn how to resolve various engineering problems.

From the start, Labbox was an exceptional project:

  • In 2019, the team was among the finalists at the prestigious SLUSH startup conference in Finland,
  • In the same year, they received an investment from South Central Ventures, as the first company from Kosovo in the portfolio of this investment fund,
  • In early 2021, they were accepted into the Techstars Berlin accelerator.

With three co-founders and a team of seven, Labbox is making constant progress towards global success. And the face of that success is Arta. As a company CEO, she gets the most exposure and the most attention from the startup community. Perceived as a positive role model, Arta is giving her best to justify this role and to be ready to "give first".

I know how difficult it is for entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. It takes stamina, belief in the 'impossible', and a hard will to surpass all the challenges to bring your company to a well-established state. I, for one, drew inspiration from others, and I feel like sharing my story, talking about the ups and downs creates a sense of humanity around one's success, therefore inspiring others for success. Entrepreneurship is a multi-disciplinary skill, and it can be very overwhelming to many. I know this, and I know how big a difference the support of others had in my work. I feel a great satisfaction being there to return the favor indirectly to others.

Arta Shehu Zaimi, co-founder and CEO of Labbox

Knowing that support is crucial for success, Arta is always ready to support emerging entrepreneurs. One of the excellent examples is a workshop she held for participants of the regional Investment readiness program for female founders led by Preduzimanje and Women Founders Network Albania. During the workshop, Arta described and explained her experience with different investors and investment processes to her peers.

In turn, she also continues to learn and work with different experts to further improve her business knowledge. She was one of the busiest mentees of Vineet Devaiah, Jane Uzunovski, and Dennis Kibirev, Swiss EP EIRs who visited Kosovo in the Spring of 2021. She is also actively engaged in the Women Entrepreneurs Kosovo network, providing and receiving extensive support from her peers.

As she said, she particularly appreciated the support she received in her early entrepreneurial days, and she wants to help others feel the same:

For me, the biggest support came from my family and friends initially. As my success was more visible, I found it surprising how much people were willing to help. I learned how to ask for help, and how to know who is best to ask for advice for certain topics. I learned to leverage the power of my network to surpass the challenges in my businesses and I feel that by doing that, I have been able to build life-long relationships. I felt that the success of my companies has been wished by all who knew me (at least that is how I like to think).

Arta Shehu Zaimi, co-founder and CEO of Labbox

From the example of Labbox and Arta's personal engagement, we can see how support to an outstanding individual can make a visible and essential difference inside an ecosystem. Today, Arta is a respected mentor, lecturer, and go-to person (especially for female founders) who is always willing to help.

Entrepreneurs are required to be good in many fields. That is why they often end up in positions where they don't know what they don't know. In such cases, other entrepreneurs can be of enormous help. They can come in the role of mentors or advisors, and they could teach you how to run your company better, especially if they have managed to take their own businesses to a more advanced stage than the stage you have. Other significant sources of support are mentors/experts in specific fields. They can teach you about certain processes, show you best practices in managing these processes within your company, and set you up for great success.

Arta Shehu Zaimi, co-founder and CEO of Labbox