Albanian’s startups visit in Silicon Valley!

The ‘Roadmap to Silicon Valley’ program, an initiative of Junior Achievement of Albania and TechSpace, in partnership with PROTIK and supported by the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF), was launched in December 2019 as a call for open to all bold ecosystem startups.

Over 2 months the call gathered over 60 applications from startups of different industries that presented the most creative and technological solutions. Following the jury evaluations, the 25 startups that were judged to have the most potential for future success were selected during March 2020, to proceed to Phase II of the program.

The selected startups continued their journey with a series of trainings through an intensive program of workshops on further development of their ideas. The trainers were selected as the best international experts with successful experiences in the world of business and start-ups. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also affected Albania, the Incubation Program was developed online.

The incubation program was adapted by taking as a model the most popular curricula and approaches for incubation/acceleration of startups according to the Silicon Valley model. The program lasted several months, containing mentoring, training and consulting specific to the needs of startups. At the end of this phase, only 12 startups managed to move on to the next phase of the ‘Roadmap to Silicon Valley’ program, that of Demo Day.

The 3rd phase of the journey, Demo Day took place on March 30, 2021 as the final day of reflection of all the imaginative work done by the startups during the incubation program. Through the moderation of Mrs. Blerina Guga, CEO of JAA, entrepreneurs presented to investors and the jury their performance through business plan, market research, marketing strategy, technological solutions used to create the product, etc.

The jury was composed of the best experts in the field and successful people in the field of startups and new ventures: Mrs. Mirlinda Karçanaj, Director of NAIS; Mr. Dorin Rama, CEO of the Crimson Finance Fund; Mr. Igor Madzov, SwissEP Investment Facilitator WB; Mrs. Irene Dorsman, CEO and Angel Forum Vancouver; Mr. Kushtrim Xhakli, Director of Connected Inventions; Mr. Max Gurvits, Head of Vitosha Partners & Ventures; Director – Mr. Praveen Varshney, Director of Varshney Capital Corp. and Mr. Kieth Ippel, CEO of Spring.

At the end of Demo Day, the jury and investors selected 9 startups with the most promising potential. Because of Covid-19 everything went online, successfully and with the intention that as soon as possible, the selected startups could conduct their physical visit to Silicon Valley.

Although 12 months later, due to Covid-19, a group of 6 startups, part of the ‘Roadmap to Silicon Valley’ Program, physically experienced the startup ecosystem in Silicon Valley. During a 6-day visit, startups participated in 2 conferences aimed at technology and development of digital marketing, as well as in 1 international startup fair:

1. TechspoSV Conference (focused on technology and startups),
2. DiGiMarCo Conference (focused on digital marketing and startups),
3. SUGAR Expo 2022 (international startup fair).

During the participation in these events, Albanian startups and their representatives had the opportunity to be closely introduced to various ecosystem actors in Silicon Valley and beyond San Francisco as investors, startups of various industries, corporate representatives and representatives of international companies such as Logitech, Verizon, Atlassian, Salesforce, Airbnb, The New York Times, etc.

The startups that participated in this visit to Silicon Valley were:
1. CoGo, a phone app that will help people socialize and interact with those closest to them physically.
2. Swipin, think of a whole network of individuals and businesses exchanging goods and money with each other in the easiest way possible by communicating like on a social network.
3. Markozz, the B2B solution for e-commerce businesses, including CRM and managing social networks, all in one place. By analyzing customer behaviors, Markozz generates data and information in order to create customized packages, services and products for customers based on their purchasing behaviors.
4. Gazoo, the platform that brings job seekers together with Human Resource Managers brings a new form of recruitment and interactivity to this relationship.
5. Fomobot.ai, is completely autonomous automation of cryptocurrency portfolio management as if you had your own dedicated agent 24 hours a day.
6. E-Agric, brings a digitalization solution for the entire value chain in the agricultural sector in order to reduce risk and maximize all resources and processes.

The “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program was an initiative of Junior Achievement of Albania and TechSpace, in partnership with PROTIK and with the support of the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF) that was implemented during 2020, as a unique opportunity for all startups- and young people passionate about Information and Communication Technology, to increase their active involvement in ICT entrepreneurship, creative, innovative and competitive activities through capacity building, encouraging the development of new ideas / initiatives.