Venture Capital/Analysis/ Are these 9 companies the next southeast European unicorns? The Balkan peninsula is home to tech successes like Twilio competitor Infobip — and there are many more winners on the horizon. By Josipa Majic 24 November 2022 Tenderly Tenderly \Venture Capital Speedinvest starts €3m fund of funds programme to back emerging managers By Eleanor Warnock 17 February 2023 Venture Capital/Analysis/ Are these 9 companies the next southeast European unicorns? The Balkan peninsula is home to tech successes like Twilio competitor Infobip — and there are many more winners on the horizon. By Josipa Majic 24 November 2022 Southeastern Europe, a region traditionally known in tech for outsourcing and affordable engineering talent, has managed to turn the plot on its head in recent times. The Balkans has seen record growth and the emergence of scaleup successes such as the Twilio competitor Infobip, car manufacturer Bugatti-Rimac and other unicorns. But what about startups with the potential to reach a $1bn+ valuation in the region? Sifted assembled a list of nine of the most promising companies from the Balkans. The list is a combination of cash-efficient scaleups which grew with limited amounts of VC capital, as well as companies which have attracted significant capital from some of the world’s most well-known investors. We looked at companies that were either valued at over €100m or growing at three to five times a year in users or revenue. Publicly available information from sources such App Annie and Crunchbase was used where possible, in other cases Sifted asked the companies directly. Photomath A B2C educational app with over 320m downloads worldwide that lets users scan printed text and handwritten mathematical problems using a device’s camera or type and edit equations with their calculator. Photomath breaks down mathematical problems so users can understand core concepts and oftentimes solve their homework and assignments faster. The app is most popular among primary school students, their parents and teachers. The team consists of serial entrepreneurs with previous exits; founder and CEO Damir Sabol’s claim to fame was bringing broadband Internet to Croatia. Photomath is backed by Menlo Ventures, GSV Ventures and Cherubic Ventures. Amount raised to date: $29m Founder and CEO: Damir Sabol Place of origin: Zagreb, Croatia HQ Location: San Mateo, US What’s next for the company: Monetising the product. Gideon is building flexible autonomous mobile robots. Credit: Gideon Gideon Gideon is a Croatian company building flexible autonomous mobile robots. Its two main products are Casey — used for case picking — and Trey, an autonomous forklift which manages trailer loading and unloading operations. The company is backed by Koch Disruptive Technologies and Deutsche Bahn Digital Ventures. Amount raised to date $37.5m Cofounders: Matija Kopić, Josip Ćesić, Kruno Stražanac and Edin Kočo Place of origin: Zagreb, Croatia HQ Location: US What’s next for the company: After previously competing pilots in the region with early adopters Atlantic and Tokić, the company is now planning to deploy their forklift solution Trey, launched in April this year. Orqa Originally from Osijek, Crotia, Orqa produces video headset devices that let people control vehicles like drones remotely from a pilot’s point of view and is building ultra-low-latency video solutions for unmanned systems and telepresence. The team is led by Srdjan Kovacevic, who has a background in finance and pension fund management, and Ivan Jelušić, a serial entrepreneur with a consumer electronics background. Orqa’s investors include Hungary’s DayOne Capital and a number of well-known angels. Amount raised to date: €1.7m Founder and CEO: Srdjan Kovacevic Place of origin: Osijek, Croatia HQ Location: Dublin What’s next for the company: Selling to the defence industry via their joint venture Vegvisir. This Croatian-Estonian entity is focused on developing an armoured vehicle situational awareness system in line with NATO standards. Timely given the current geopolitical situation in Europe. Tenderly Tenderly is a blockchain platform for real-time monitoring, alerting, debugging and simulating smart contracts on Ethereum. The team originally met while working at MVP Workshop, a regional crypto and Web3 development organisation. The company was founded in 2019 and since then has grown to a global team with over 60 employees, according to LinkedIn. The company has received investment from prominent investors such as Accel, Spark Capital, Coinbase Ventures and Point Nine Capital. Amount raised to date: $58.6m Founder and CEO: Andrej Bencic Place of origin and HQ: Belgrade, Serbia What’s next for the company: Although the company itself doesn’t seem to be affected by the crypto winter, most of the company’s user base still is, so the team is using this time to expand their product portfolio. Orgnostic Orgnostic is a people analytics-as-a-service platform founded by Luka Babic, former head of people operations at Infobip, a pre-IPO regional scaleup, and Igor Bogicevic, former cofounder and CTO of Seven Bridges Genomics, a bioinformatics scaleup. Orgnostic helps enterprises organise and link all their HR data in one platform and derive insights from this data. The company was backed by Earlybird, Charlie Songhurst, SC Ventures and Serbian Entrepreneurs angel syndicate. Amount raised to date: $5.9m Founder and CEO: Luka Babic Place of origin: Belgrade, Serbia HQ Location: Cambridge, US What’s next for the company: After closing several large global enterprise accounts, the team is focused on fine-tuning the product, as well as on scaling its product and commercial organisation. ReversingLabs ReversingLabs is a cybersecurity scaleup focusing on software supply chain risks. The founders, Tomislav Peričin and Mario Vuksan, are cybersecurity veterans. The company received funding from Crosspoint Capital Partners, JP Morgan, ForgePoint Capital and Prelude. Amount raised to date: $81m Founder and CEO: Mario Vuksan Place of origin: Zagreb, Croatia HQ Location: Cambridge, US What’s next for the company: The company is maintaining its focus on their product portfolio for software supply chain and security risks, while expanding the development team in Zagreb and pushing sales and marketing in the US. The Treblle team Treblle Treblle is a Zagreb-born startup which processes API requests on its platform while helping developers understand what is going on with those requests. Founders Vedran Cindric and Darko Blazevic previously led a developer shop through which they experienced a lot of pain with clients’ APIs — which motivated them to found the company. The company raised a pre-seed round from Nauta Capital in 2021 and is closing the Series A round soon. Amount raised to date: €1.2m Founder and CEO: Vedran Cindric Place of origin: Zagreb, Croatia HQ Location: London, UK What’s next for the company: After recently onboarding 12k developers on to their platform, Treblle is scaling and monetising their API product to enterprise customers. Insightful (formerly known as Workpuls) Founded in Belgrade, Insightful is an employee productivity platform with over 130k users and one of the major benefactors of Covid and a shift to remote work. The company has received investment from MHS Capital, StartLabs and local VC firm South Central Ventures. Amount raised to date: approximately $4m Founder and CEO: Ivan Petrovic Place of origin: Belgrade, Serbia HQ Location: San Francisco, US What’s next for the company: Insightful wants to maintain growth and momentum as well as expanding to new markets and verticals. Fonoa’s founders: Davor Tremac, Filip Sturman, Ivan Ivankovic Fonoa Company: Fonoa is an API-based platform for automating taxes on online transactions. The founding team met while working at a regional Uber office where they discovered the need for an API tax solution that even Uber would use. Fonoa has brought on investors such as Index Ventures, OMERS Ventures, Coatue, Dawn Capital and FJ Labs and has won customers such as Uber, Zoom, Bolt and Booking.com. Amount raised to date: $85m Founder and CEO: Davor Tremac Place of origin: Zagreb, Croatia HQ Location: Dublin, Ireland What’s next for the company: Continuing to expand the product portfolio while being compliant with new regional legislation. Josipa Majic is an entrepreneur and writer based in Zagreb, Croatia. Related Articles These were the biggest European tech startup news stories this week. By Michael Stothard Click here to read more Polish air quality platform Airly raises $5.5m Series A By Zosia Wanat Click here to read more Want to save the planet? Tear up the VC system By Chris O’Brien Click here to read more Why investors love quantum-as-a-service By Maija Palmer Click here to read more Most Read 1 \Healthtech Is Daniel Ek’s new body scanner worth the hype? 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