Balkan Startups to Watch Out For in 2018

Could the Balkan region become the European Silicon Valley? These startups certainly give us hope!

Free-Photos (CC0), Pixabay

When we hear the word “Balkan”, most of us don’t think of “innovation” or “growth”. In fact, the very word “Balkanization” describes the process of fragmentation or division of a region or state into smaller regions or states that are often hostile or uncooperative with one another. Our region has long been associated with hostility, bickering, stunted economic growth, corruption, and instability. Could it become something else? Could it become a hub of technology and innovation? We have a couple of things going for us: low cost of living, the tech know-how, enthusiasm, high level of education, and a surplus of talented young professionals (many of whom are struggling to find employment).

Despite the red tape and competition from more developed entrepreneurship hubs (like London or Berlin), things are looking up. The Balkan governments are slowly getting more into it, and local funding is becoming more available. Young people across Balkans are jumping on board the self-employment train. Could this also be a solution to rampant youth unemployment? 

Let’s take a look at some of the Balkan pioneers who are heading the startup revolution!

  1. Letz – Macedonia (HQ Skopje)

Are you constantly creating to-do lists in a desperate attempt to get organised? Are you drowning in a sea of calendars, productivity apps, diaries, journals and post its? Are you ready for something different? Letz features Lucy, your personal assistant. Through a chat experience, Lucy schedules your tasks, gives you weather updates, sends you news, and even tells jokes. Perhaps this is what we have all been waiting for?


2. VRET Solutions – Bosnia and Herzegovina (HQ Mostar)

The youngest of the startups on this list, this Mostar-based startup aims to bring Virtual Reality Therapy to the fields of psychology and psychiatry, in particular when it comes to treating fears, phobias, panic, and stress. Neither software nor the device will be sold commercially. It will only be used by licensed professionals. During VR therapy, the therapist will be monitoring the patient’s reaction. Unlike the traditional cognitive – behavioural therapy, VR treatments can be adjusted to the patient through picture, sound, and vibration. A lot seems to be in store for these four young people from Mostar!

3. Sunthetic – Serbia (HQ Brussels)

Have you ever reached for your phone in a crucial moment only to find your phone has 1 or 2% battery left? An important e-mail to answer, an urgent call to make, a Google map to reach your destination… Sunthetic has the solution. Aiming to respond to the modern human’s need to be connected, Sunthetic has developed a solar phone case for iPhone 6 and 7. It’s sleek and modern, made of Apple-certified components. With just one double tap on the case, your phone battery recharges in bursts of 10%. How cool is that?

4. COPRIX – Serbia (HQ Belgrade)

Anyone who grew up on the Balkan peninsula knows that, although detailed and comprehensive, our education systems are far from progressive. COPRIX built fun and interactive technological solutions that appeal to today’s digital natives. Their applications have been built with multiple curricula in mind, and throughly tested by students, experts, schools, and parents. COPRIX wishes to bring about a new educational system, one that is more personalised follows the growth of every child. It’s already been proven to improve learning performance by 10 times!

5. Bellabeat – Slovenia-Croatia (HQ San Francisco)

Bellabeat has, by many indicators, already made it. Leaf by Bellabeat is a beautiful, smart, innovative piece of jewellery that helps women track their health and get connected to their body and mind. It tracks your stress, activity, sleep, menstruation cycle, and even offers guided meditation exercises. The Leaf is stylish and designed with the modern woman in mind. But this is not the end of Bellabeat! Bellabeat recently released Sping, a smart water bottle that tracks and calculates your hydration needs, sends you reminders and logs your water intake. Airi, their virtual wellness coach is absolutely amazing. It learns from you and designs personalised mind, body and soul experiences every day. Bellabeat is booming!

6. Oradian – Croatia (HQ Zagreb)

Oradian, winner of the European Fintech Awards 2017, just about two weeks ago, is a technology company led by an international team and headquartered in Zagreb.They offer a cloud-based software for micro finance institutions in developing countries. The company’s ultimate goal is to become “Google for the underprivileged population in the world” by providing financial services to the underserved.

7. Tickey – Bulgaria (HQ Sofia)

Founded in 2014, Tickey’s main purpose is to make public transportation more convenient and attractive, so that more people will prefer to use it instead of their cars. Something I wish every Balkan city had implemented, Tickey uses proximity sensors to recognize where you are and which vehicle you’re located in. It works with all smart devices and smartwatches. You can buy the ticket instantly through your device and plan your journey. No queues. It helps customers, nature, and the municipalities. Win-win!

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