Startup Weekend is Ensuring the Growth of Macedonian Startup Community
Events such as Techstars Startup Weekend inspire and motivate young people to pursue entrepreneurship. In spring 2022, two different Startup Weekends took place in North Macedonia, one in Ohrid and the other in Skopje.
In Spring 2022, two Techstars Startup Weekends were organized in North Macedonia, one in Ohrid and one in Skopje. Why are these events significant, and how do they contribute to the health of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in North Macedonia?
Techstars Startup Weekend is one of the most exciting events an entrepreneur can attend. It's a sprint where one can experience a compressed entrepreneurial journey in only 54 hours. Over the weekend, entrepreneurs and their teams get to convince people that their idea is worth pursuing, try to validate it, figure out how to create an MVP, get help from mentors, and finally, pitch it to a jury and audience.
Besides being a perfect intro to entrepreneurship, events such as Startup Weekends are crucial for promoting and introducing new people to the startup community and the entrepreneurial world. They inspire, and do justice to the positive energy and excitement that comes from running your own company.
The most significant value we get from organizing Startup Weekend Skopje is getting young entrepreneurs the opportunity to create something new with the help of dozens of mentors.
We are organizing this event for a better startup ecosystem in the country, especially after many successful stories coming from Startup Weekend Skopje, like Brainster and Challenger.
Thanks to Solveo and their partners, Startup Weekend in Skopje has become a tradition. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, they organized two online SW editions. On the other hand, Startup Weekend in Ohrid had its premiere and was quite a successful event. Startup Macedonia joined forces with local partners and, with the help of Swiss EP, provided participants with a genuine Startup Weekend experience. Blagica Eftimova, Swiss EP Project Associate for the Global and Regional Management in North Macedonia and Startup Macedonia volunteer explains:
We wanted to decentralize and boost the community in the southwestern part of our country. There is already a good startup community in Ohrid, so why not create awareness about the opportunities that entrepreneurship can give to idea-stage startups?
One of the Swiss EP Entrepreneurs in Residence, diaspora Sarita Bradley, supported teams in Ohrid. She pointed out how important it is to help entrepreneurs in all stages of development, especially early on:
In the early stage, networking among founders is an important aspect of development. It can help find synergies and support one another. In total, I would highly recommend continuing SW weekends in the future.
The attractiveness and energizing effects of Startup Weekend is best described by a few people who attended both events—first in Ohrid and then in Skopje.
Those events are an excellent opportunity for students not experienced in business to meet, brainstorm, and develop business ideas/models under pressure. Another benefit for me was meeting great people and business connections that I will cherish for the future.
Boris Stanojski, student
A well-developed startup ecosystem must be able to cater to the needs of startups at all stages of development—from early and idea stages to the scaling and exit-ready startups. North Macedonia still has a long way to go, but the ecosystem and most actors involved are working hard and that work is paying off.
Even Startup Macedonia, which usually works with more mature startups, decided to organize an event designed for people just entering the entrepreneurship world. Blagica explains:
Startup Weekend in Ohrid was the first time in the last five years that we organized an event for idea-stage businesses. As an organization, we have focused on startups in more mature development phases, but we decided to make an exception now to help younger generations get familiar with entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial mindset. We were following the need and supporting the process. Who knows? We might do something similar in the future.
Thinking about the future is critical. Without events that trigger the spark and raise awareness that entrepreneurship can be a desirable, accessible option for more people, there would be no scaleups to support.