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Get in the Ring 2021: a startup competition full of excitement and potential for the future!

Nikolina Kukoč

Nikolina Kukoč

02.11.2021.

The final round of Get in the Ring 2021 happened last Friday here in Split and we are still getting down from the high caused by all that excitement! This particular startup competition is exciting in many ways: for startups as it offers them an opportunity for substantial global exposure, for the local ecosystem as it is an important event that enriches the local startup community, and for the audience because we get to witness some amazing startups fight some fantastic fights in that ring.

No wonder we still can’t get over the Get in the Ring high!

From forty-two to six

As we learned during the intro to the competition delivered by the ringmaster Michael Freer, forty-two startups applied for this year’s edition of the Get in the Ring competition in Split. These startups then went through the pre-selection process and twelve competitors were chosen: Adenso, AymoLive, DisCloud, Helm Order Monitor, LoopCro, Magnet Fight, MetaBelly, Mr. Popper, Resplit, StoryToApp, UniCompoST, and Wingo.

Out of these twelve, six finalists were selected by seven experts from the world of startup entrepreneurship: Ivana Čuljak (Invento Capital Partners), Edward Platt (Kavedon Kapital), Darja Ogorodnik (Startup Wise Guys), Jan Debets (Business Angels Europe), Andrea Čordaš (Hellen’s Rock), Noortje van Heijst (Unknown Group), and Vedran Blagus (South Central Ventures).

Ivica Puljak, Mayor of Split, addresses the audience before the competition starts

This fantastic jury panel had the fabulously difficult task of determining the entrepreneurial and global-level growth potential of each of the startups through one-on-one interviews. The ones who made it into the final round held at Hrvatski Dom last Friday were: AymoLive, Helm Order Monitor, MetaBelly, Mr. Popper, Resplit, and Wingo.

They have gotten the chance to get their boxing gloves on and step into the ring to fight to the last man or woman standing!

Exciting possibilities for 2023

Before we got the chance to see the first punch being thrown, the gathered audience was greeted by prof.dr.sc. Ivica Puljak, the Mayor of the City of Split, prof.dr.sc. Vinko Muštra, Dean of the Faculty of Economics in Split, and the Vice-Rector for Science and Innovation of the University of Split prof.dr.sc. Leandra Markić Vranješ.

They expressed their satisfaction with the organization of the event and the progress of the startup ecosystem in Split.

The mayor also invited everyone, especially the competitors, to continue their dedicated work on innovative solutions that contribute to improving the quality of life in the local community and beyond.

On the way to the ring – boxing gloves and all

We would like to remind you that the total prize fund of HRK 300,000 intended for the finalists was provided by the City of Split. The competition organizer, the Student Business Incubator of the Faculty of Economics, University of Split, provided the Get in the Ring license for Croatia and all preparatory training for the competitors. By organizing this competition, Split has positioned itself on the global business map as part of the international Get in the Ring community, which includes more than 200 cities around the world.

As an additional incentive to keep up the good work, the candidacy to host the global Get in the Ring competition in 2023 has been announced. If we make it happen in 2023, and we are sure all of us who are in any way connected to Split’s startup ecosystem will do our best to make it a reality, it would mean a great deal to our developing tech hub here in Split!

Six finalists, three champions in the jury, and an audience hungry for blood

For those unfamiliar with the concept, the final of Get in the Ring competition is a series of three fights where the top three startups are selected for a final round which ultimately determines the winner. The finalists have to impress the three champions in the jury, as well as the audience who is allowed to cast their votes to influence the jury decisions. Andreas Spechtler from the Austrian business accelerator Silicon Castles, Pawel Bochniarz from the MIT Enterprise Forum CEE, and Antonio Kuzmanić the Deputy Mayor of the City of Split, were on the expert jury that decided on the winners in the finals.

The audience was very active as well, casting their votes and asking some interesting questions, as well as demanding for some metaphorical blood to be spilled in the ring when it seemed like all our startup finalists were too friendly and supportive of each other. We will not let you know what occurred after that particular demand: what happens in the ring, stays in the ring!

Startup representatives facing off in the ring

The fights were opened by the duel between Resplit, represented by Leo Žanetić, and Mr. Popper, presented by Darko Majić. Resplit is a system based on smart contracts that allows the division of all types of payments between multiple payers. Mr. Popper is an innovative digital video communication platform with some gaming elements. In this round, Mr. Popper took the win after short deliberation by the jury. The audience votes were undecided and therefore did not sway the jury either way.

The second fight brought Wingo, presented by Nikolina Vučković and Helm Order Monitor, presented by Hrvoje Mihovilović, into the ring. Wingo is a table with integrated heating in the base that saves more than ten times the energy compared to all existing electric heaters on the market. Helm Order Monitor is an electronic device intended for use on a ship’s navigation bridge. It uses automatic speech recognition and, according to maritime rules and regulations in combination with data obtained from the ship’s sensors, monitors whether issued rudder orders are clear, confirmed, and correctly executed. This fight again divided the audience in half, with no clear influence on the jury who took a little longer to deliberate this time before declaring Wingo as the winner of the fight.

The third fight brought into the ring two successful women from the world of science and entrepreneurship, Ena Melvan and Vanja Perić, representing MetaBelly and AymoLive respectively. MetaBelly focuses on creating personalized diet plans based on the microbial profile of the gut, to improve the health of intestinal bacteria and help weight management by directly influencing the person’s native microbial flora of the digestive tract. AymoLive is an open video platform for live streams that focuses on the arts, culture, and creative industries. This fight was exceptionally intense with the longest deliberation by the three members of the jury. The audience was again of no help to the jury as the votes were once more divided in half. In the end, MetaBelly won this fight and progressed to the final round.

The final saw the top three startups, MetaBelly, Mr. Popper, and Wingo, do their best to again impress the jury panel, as well as the audience present, and make sure that they are the ones who should take home the top prize as well as the ticket to the global finals of Get in the Ring. It was a fierce final fight that gave the three jury members the arduous task of determining the winner. In the end, Wingo flew high!

Wingo announced as the winner
Wingo wins Get in the Ring 2021, but all startups are winners

Wingo, the startup behind the energy-efficient smart table – the first in the world to use the principle of conduction in heating and intended primarily for the HoReCa sector, won a cash prize of 120,000 HRK and a ticket to the global Get in the Ring competition. The second place and the prize of HRK 70,000 went to MetaBelly and Mr. Popper ended the night in third place with a prize of 50,000 HRK.

The overall final standings after the intense fights and their corresponding prizes look like this:

  1. Wingo, 120.000 HRK
  2. MetaBelly, 70.000 HRK
  3. Mr.Popper, 50.000 HRK
  4. AymoLive, 20.000 HRK
  5. Helm Order Monitor, 20.000 HRK
  6. Resplit, 20.000 HRK

After this fierce and fiery competition, Nikolina Vučković, the representative of the winning startup Wingo, shared some insights into what it means for a startup to be selected as a finalist, as well as win this competition: “It signifies another confirmation of the quality of our product and the Wingo team, as well as the potential we have for the world market.”

The emotions are overwhelming after such an intense competition

Congratulations to the winning team from Wingo, as well as all the other finalists! You have shown tremendous potential and can be an inspiration for others to join in the building of Split’s, as well as Croatia’s startup ecosystem.

This competition again showed the richness of our still-growing startup community and gave insights into the possibility of a bright future ahead!

In the end, we would like to give a standing ovation to the team from Student Business Incubator who worked tirelessly to realize this event, making sure everything ran smoothly and the competitors, the judges, and the audience all had a great time.

We also wish all the startups great success in the future: the winner, the six finalists, the twelve that made it through the selection process, the forty-two that sent their applications in, as well as all others out there who are still in the beginning stages of starting to turn their ideas into a reality. You are all winners in our book!

Top two startups at Get in the Ring 2021: Wingo and MetaBelly

Photos by: Student Business Incubator

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About author:

Nikolina Kukoč

Researching is woven into my DNA, but I'm a musician at heart. Interested in too many things and always curious. Forever in love with Split and enchanted by people who teach me new things. When I'm not writing about Split's tech community, you will find me somewhere in nature, in the theatre, or with my head stuck in a book. I do my best to live by the verse from the opera "Fedora" by Umberto Giordano: "Love forbids you not to love."

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