Slovenia’s start-up explosion continues

In 2016, Slovenian start-ups collected almost 100 million dollars or 90 million euros. That’s the second highest figure after record breaking 2015 when they managed to raise 127 million euros of capital. Interestingly, most of the capital didn’t go to the app makers as in previous years but rather to technological companies with their own hardware products.

The start-up that managed to attract the highest sum in 2016 is Urban Mining: a producer of high-tech sintered magnets. The company raised 25 million euros and is building an R&D and manufacturing facility in USA - the only one of its kind in America. Why the name “urban mining”? Because the young company has also developed a highly efficient recycling technology that produces no waste water and operates with no chemical inputs. 

Three companies managed to raise similar amounts of capital: around 10 million euros each. Layer develops automated “customer messaging and conversation platforms”. To put it simply, Layer’s solutions allow companies to respond to customers’ communication in real time with the help of artificial intelligence. Most of the demand for Layer’s products comes from finance, retail, and airline companies. Layer was co-founded by Slovenian Tomaž Štolfa, while the company’s international team operates from San Francisco.

A mixed international group is also behind the London based Emotech. The company was started by two Chinese and one Slovenian entrepreneur and develops robots - not industrial ones but humanoid robots not far from those seen in Star Wars or Isaac Asimov’s SF stories. Emotech’s Olly is an AI powered “robot assistant with personality”. Iconomi developed world’s first and so far, the only “digital asset management platform”: a tool which allow investors and brokers to deal with assets in a “blockchain based economy”- for example with Bitcoin or Etherus, Monero, Dash and similar.

One of the most exciting start-ups that became visible in 2016 is Viar, an innovative developer of virtual reality solutions for use in various businesses. Viar’s customers include corporations like Disney, Microsoft, Samsung and Bosch. Viar’s virtual reality goggles convert smartphones into VR viewing devices. The company operates from the Slovenian town of Celje and Seattle. It cooperates closely with some of the top US universities, including Stanford, San Jose and Iowa State University. 

Slovenian start-ups continue to collect prestigious international awards as well. Vendotel was selected last fall by the European Commission within its Startup Europe comes to Silicon Valley as one of the 15 best start-ups in the EU. The company reinvented classical telephone booths: its upgraded pay phone and vending machine allows numerous automated services and can even be a part of smart city solutions. Vendotel now operates 500 points with their machines all across Europe and annually makes around 50 million euros in revenues. The total estimated potential of the company is 1 million points in Europe and additional 4 million all over the globe. 

Another key development in 2016 was the sale of the most successful Slovenian start-up so far: of Outfit 7 with its hugely popular Talking Tom app. Outfit 7 is one of the very first European unicorns: young dynamic companies valued above 1 billion US dollars. The company was bought by Chinese investors: the price was undisclosed yet is believed to be around 1 billion euros. The start-up movement in Slovenia has become so important that it couldn’t pass by the government unnoticed. The Slovenian Entrepreneurial Fund set up by the government has started to offer various forms of financing for the young innovative companies. We will be following the results closely: stay with us. 

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