Brutally Honest: 5 Things we learned From Startup Grind Revised

On the 25th of October in Public Room in Skopje, we held the revised edition of Startup Grind, a global initiative supported by Google for Entrepreneurs – and it was jam-packed. We were lucky enough to get the chance to organize this event and enjoyed every second of it.

The tickets sold out one week before the event, and that showed us that this year’s revised edition will be a great start for the Startup Grind series. We organized it under the premise of “Brutally Honest” and we can testify that the panellists were really honest in their answers about setting up and maintaining a business in Macedonia. Our CEO, Teodora Nikolovska, was one of the panel moderators and she was leading the panel discussion together with Petar Ninovski, the CEO of Brainster.

We had a great mix of panelists which include:

  • Gligor Dachevski

    Co-Founder & CEO of DoxTeam, an entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience

  • Igor Izotov

    An International Startup Hustler who has helped over 50 startups in the past few years

  • Katerina Trajchevska

    Co-Founder & CEO of Adeva and an established woman in tech

  • Filip Dimitrovski

    The winner of this year’s Startup Weekend

Teodora and Petar were asking the panelists some pretty edgy questions which led to a heated discussion about the business climate in Macedonia.

What showed us the most that Macedonia was thirsty for an event like this were the questions from the audience in the Q&A session, which lasted for an entire hour. They came pouring like rain and our panelist were racing to give thorough answers to every question. Here lies the value of Startup Grind – startups and anyone that wants to start a business can connect to experienced business people. After the panel and the Q&A session was over, Startup Grind transformed into a cozy networking event. The visitors had a casual drink with the panelists and discussed further the startup ecosystem in Macedonia as well as the questions they have.

As organizers, we loved every second of organizing and managing the event, and in this article, we want to share:

5 key takeaways from Startup Grind Revised

  • The product has to be a market fit

    The answer to this question is obvious – build a product according to the markets’ needs. But, Gligor from DoxTeam had a different take on this. His company had built a product so good and ahead of its time, that they knew without a doubt that it’ll eventually find its place on the market. For those that are not so sure they can wait, Petar suggested to find out what the market lacks and fulfil that void. When Brainster started they had no competition. So they slowly entered the market, worked their way through and today they are the leading platform for informal education.

  • How to choose your perfect partnership

    Choosing the right partner can make or break the business so the people were curious how they could be sure that their choice was good. Gligor had a very poetic answer – just follow your heart. The panellists shared their different experiences in finding their partner. But the conclusion was the same – you need to spend time working with the person to know if he’s the right fit.

  • What’s missing in the Macedonian startup ecosystem

    It’s hard to pinpoint only one thing. But, Igor Izotov gave the answer that we secretly knew – funding. The problem of Macedonian startups is that they don’t seek funding from outside. Another thing that the startups need to master is the art of sale. That’s because even if you have the worlds best products that will fulfil the people’s biggest needs – you still need to be able to sell it.

  • Education is key

    In today’s digital age where all the information is accessible on the internet, there is still a need for education. The youngest panellist – Filip Dimitrovski, the winner of the Startup Weekend insisted that this is what we are missing. What we should do is upgrade the quality of our education, and that will bring development to even more talented youth. Teodora Nikolovska, the founder & CEO of Vrootok agreed and added that we should start educating the children about entrepreneurship from a young age. This will bring a shift in the way they are thinking.

  • Women in Tech is not just a fancy word combination

    When someone mentions IT, we immediately think of it as a male profession. Or, as Katerina Trajchevska said, it a very common situation for male coders to refer to a female colleague as “a good coder for a girl”. But, things are starting to shift slowly, but firmly. Young girls shouldn’t get discouraged to start coding and actively participate in the coding community.

Final Words

Startup Grind Revised added to the sense of community in the Macedonian startup ecosystem. One of the event’s highlights is Gligor’s answer to one of the questions to the member of the audience who has a very interesting startup that he wants to cooperate with them. This is truly in the spirit of cooperation and it encourages young people to make their idea a reality and start their own business. What is left is to wait for the next Startup Grind and see what will bring to the community.