You must be wondering what the connection between startups and sailing might be. We asked ourselves the same question upon hearing that our own city will be hosting the Startup Europe Regatta on May 22 and 23. It is a two day event which will consist of all-too-familiar startup segments such as idea pitching and panel showcasing but will also include a sailing competition!
This peculiar notion grew on us instantly so we ventured to learn more about it from none other than Frane Šesnić, the event’s initiator. In addition, it should be mentioned that the organisers of the regatta are Smart Island Cluster and Saling Club Podstrana alongside key partners Adria Yachting and NauSys.
“The startup world has its roots in thinking outside of the box and, some of the best things I’ve initiated and organised, I did so in accordance with my own wishes and desires. I believe that sailing and entrepreneurship are interconnected in terms of strategy, team management and frequent challenges that appear almost out of nowhere” Frane said, introducing us to his unusual story. “It was a combination of experience, desire and possibility that made this event happen now. It is our wish that it serves as a different concept of startup events, more relaxed and focused on direct communication in a less formal fashion. Nowadays, there is a great inflation of mega startup events on the global scene, but here we would like to focus on the quality and potential opportunities with a small number of participants instead. We could even go as far as to say that this is a startup boutique event!”
The “Startup Riva Public Pitch”, where 5 startup companies will introduce themselves, will be held on the promenade on the first day of the event, on May 22. If you are interested in presenting yourselves and your idea, you should definitely apply through the official website of the regatta.
As Frane likes to point out, idea pitches favour the quality of the team over the product itself. When you combine a good team and product presentation with a clear vision of market sustainability and the obvious benefit to the investor, the goal is within reach. It is essential, he stresses, to sense that the team is focused on product work and to see that the team members themselves believe in the success of their product. It is necessary to prove that you are working with actual users, the so-called early adopters. The investor must have a clear idea of the business model that is expected to generate profit as well as the potential of the market niche.
If you aim to arrive as a member of the audience bear in mind that everything is available to the public on the first day. You will not be charged an admission fee nor will there be any need for a formal registration. Therefore anyone is free to come to the promenade and participate in the planned events.
“On the promenade there will be an interesting panellists’ programme featuring startup presentations for the public. The topics at hand will include ongoing discussion points within the fintech industry, new technologies, blockchain as well as startup financing, but a special emphasis will be on early stage cross-border investments. Another goal of ours is to raise awareness of investment opportunities so we have planned a workshop for those who wish to know more about startup investing at their very beginning“, Frane said and then added that in order to participate in the second day activities formal registration is required.
On the second day, May 23, the regatta part will take place. It will consist of a short training session for the contenders in order to acquaint them with basic manoeuvres and sailing techniques, after which the competition starts in the waters of the Brač channel: “Of course, the regatta itself can be observed from the shore, as for the regatta field, it will encompass the area between Split, Brač and Podstrana. During both evenings an entertainment programme is scheduled for registered participants with the aim of allowing investors, startups and business partners to establish networking connections. We have also made sure that professional skippers are available to those who do not know how to sail but still wish to experience the joy of sailing and regatta.”
We were curious as to what kind of investors are to be expected as well as what they usually look for in a startup and Frane disclosed that there will both domestic and foreign investors in attendance. On the one hand, their goal is to stimulate transnational investments, but at the same time they wish to attract as many domestic investors as possible due to the trend of investors preferring to invest within their own nation, e.g. the French opting to invest in French startups.
“Of course, it’s not uncommon for an investor to invest in a startup from another country, but then they make demands that the startup moves its business and intellectual property to the investor’s country of origin. Here in Croatia, we are tasked with finding solutions to these challenges, otherwise startups that commence in Croatia are destined to journey to where the investors and market are“, Frane said acknowledging how demanding it is to organise an event such as this. However, he says, they have established a good and interesting framework, they are enthusiastic and they have the support of partners who have recognised their idea: “The first try is the most difficult. I believe that this event can place Split as well as Croatia amongst the world’s greatest startup events, if we all pull our weight. And if not, at least I’ll be content knowing that I’ve tried. :)”
After combing through the entire event schedule, we’ve had very few options left but to comment the potential value of Split’s pre- and post-season as well as the quality of our lifestyle. Frane agrees with us that these kinds of activities should be pushed forward in the pre- and post-season mainly due to the fulfilment of all the prerequisites that would make the organisation of these events successful in this period precisely, especially when the infrastructure is not overloaded:
This particular date had been chosen in accordance with that line of thinking, and let’s not forget the fact that Croatia is going to hold the EU presidency next year and we do not want to miss out on the chance to present ourselves with the best arguments we have as a nation of knowledge and other resources suitable for business development. In addition, the quality of life in terms of safety, healthy food an unpolluted natural environment makes for a compelling argument to attract high quality experts seeking for a place to live and work. Unfortunately, we’re still not aware of all the advantages that we have. This is exactly why I am launching this event, and I’m hoping I’ll come across more powerful and concrete support from likeminded people in the future.
To finish it off, Frane has a message for all the young people who are just at the beginning of their entrepreneurial journey, with perhaps just an idea and no means of realising it:
“Focus on assembling a responsible, high quality team, one that is capable of bringing an idea to fruition – to a prototype. Make an attempt and do not be afraid of mistakes and failures because they can only make us more experienced! We need to try again and again! Go now, as soon as possible! But on the other hand, it is never too late! All of you that are dabbling in this, feel free to contact me, and I encourage you to apply and present your startup as part of this regatta; use this opportunity that we offer because it won’t cost you anything and it might prove to be very useful!“
We would like to invite you all to seize this opportunity, as well as wish the organisers the best of luck, a lot of high quality applications and sunny weather accompanied with enough wind to make the regatta a smashing success!
Translation of the original text: Ana Vidić