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This year’s STup! international university startup competition isn’t even over yet, and we’re already bringing you some really amazing news that will have a great impact on Split’s startup ecosystem, as well as the startup ecosystem of the entire Balkan region.
Now that we got you on the edge of your seat with that introduction, let us first introduce the bearer of this fantastic news.
Andreas Spechtler is the founder and CEO of Silicon Castles, and also a great friend of the Faculty of Economics’ Student Business Incubator as he keeps coming back to our city to collaborate with them: from last year’s STup! and Get in the Ring startup competitions, to this year’s STup! and beyond.
With years of experience in the technology and licensing business, digital entertainment, and marketing and sales at global corporations such as Dolby, Sony, and Real Networks, Andreas knows enough about failure and success. He founded his own startup back in 1999 in Munich – a wireless service provider for the logistics industry and, having a not-exactly-ideal experience with it, he realized how valuable good advice actually is for startup companies.
From then on Andreas continued to gather experience in technology, licensing, digital entertainment, international marketing, sales and support, as well as international business development throughout various countries worldwide. At this point, he can look back to 30 years of entrepreneurial experience, as well as involvement with startups and startup incubation within global corporations.
During STup! and Get in the Ring, we witnessed Andreas asking startups some truly tough and very real-life questions.
However, even when he puts them on the spot like that, he also always offers advice and invaluable insight. Trust us – startups benefit a lot from it! Even if at first he just seems like a really strict startup competition judge.
As mentioned, he is currently leading Silicon Castles, a strategic business accelerator for technology IP licensing businesses. Once a year, Silicon Castles also organizes the Startup Executive Academy (SEA) in the Castle of Urstein in Salzburg, Austria.
Startup Executive Academy is an international and exclusive go-to-market program for early-stage startup founders and executives that helps them accelerate their business and inspires growth.
Some of Split’s startups had the chance to participate in SEA and came back to Split full of drive, motivation, and fantastic feedback.
Overall, Silicon Castles is focusing on talents, entrepreneurs, and startups from Europe, and is creating a “Silicon Valley” type of environment with global innovation and IP mindset, including global business development.
The goals of Silicon Castles are transforming ideas into intellectual property and scalable products, leading growth from initial opportunities to global success, as well as educating and mentoring talents and teams to become top-class performers.
Silicon Castles focuses on European Diamonds: technology startups with unique business ideas, scalable technology, and outstanding intellectual property.
The factors they consider to be instrumental to global success. They invest in early-stage startups with a great team, promising ideas, and innovative technology. They also focus on helping Diamonds to form a strong IP portfolio to protect their ideas and file the right patents.
Furthermore, Silicon Castles supports global business development with their global sales team and also assists startups with the creation of a legal framework for licensing businesses. They also coach Diamonds during their scale-up phase in various areas, such as marketing, strategic teaming, and executive coaching. And also provide access to a global network in all major technology hotspots in Europe, the US, and Asia.
So what does all of this have to do with Split? During the busy schedule of this year’s STup! competition, we managed to sit down for a chat with Andreas to hear more about these interesting plans that include our city. Naturally, we like to put anyone on the spot with the question we always ask: why Split?
Answering it, Andreas shared the following with us: “First of all, Split is a beautiful city and a great place to be. Furthermore, I believe that the city of Split and the ecosystem here can in some ways be compared to Salzburg. Obviously, there are differences, but there are also similarities – they aren’t capital cities and both of them are very intertwined with tourism, culture, and tech.
So that’s an interesting combination of various areas of expertise in which we would like to find the new Diamonds. Obviously in tourism and culture, but also in media tech and the new big thing – the metaverse. We firmly believe there is always a need for innovation and new ideas – rooted in science, but also revolutionary in their own way.
For us, it doesn’t matter where the idea comes from because the location has become irrelevant. The global pandemic showed that it doesn’t matter where you are.
You don’t have to be in Silicon Valley, or a large tech hub in a big city – you can do it from Split!”
As advocates of the motto “live locally, work globally” we can only agree with Andreas on this. On this note, our discussion continued towards the way Silicon Castles approaches the discovery of new Diamonds: “That’s the reason why our program does not focus on moving people somewhere.
We’re moving to the people who have ideas.
Therefore, the plan is that Split would become a center for us – for innovation and also for the discovery of the European Diamonds in the region.
We have to be the ones to come here because, if the ecosystem is working, it’s much better to keep the people in their ecosystem while also giving them the opportunity to work and sell globally. That does not mean we allow complacency or staying within the comfort zone.
Quite the opposite – we make startups uncomfortable, allow for mistakes that make them learn and grow, as well as push them out of their perceived limits. We have quite an aggressive global sales attitude as this is something that is quite needed in Europe.
At Silicon Castles, we have a global network that we can leverage and connect the startups with the right people really fast.
It’s the true “real world”. It gets them out of their comfort zone even if the final product isn’t ready. The 80/20 rule is good. What they need is to get out into the market early and get the “real world” perspective – engineering startups especially.
That is why we are a good partner in this – to be the one to push them out into the world to sell what they have. You don’t even have to call it selling. Coming to the big guys and opening the door by pitching your idea and demonstrating your passion even without a finished product can land you your one big globally recognized customer.
However, sitting in your own little bubble in Europe won’t achieve that. You have to think and act globally.
This is the concept Silicon Castles would like to implement with startups here.”
Throughout these past years, everyone who worked on building our startup ecosystem also dreamt of making Split the Silicon Valley of the Mediterranean someday. Silicon Castles is here to enrich the startup ecosystem of Split – as well as the wider Balkan region – and help us realize that dream.
We are excited for this new chapter in our startup ecosystem story and wish Silicon Castles a warm welcome to Split!
Cover photo by Bruno Dubravec