It is very simple – we want to encourage young people, creators of various ideas that have the potential to improve and transform existing business solutions and to support them to develop quickly
We spoke with Davor Sakač, Director General of TS Ventures, the first fund in Serbia to help startup companies, about the Fund’s mission, vision and the criteria for selecting startups. “A pioneering endeavour, such as the formation of TS Ventures Fund, resonated with the public, as evidenced by the excellent reactions we get every day, as well as a large number of applications for startup ideas that we have received via the Fund’s official website (www.tsv.fund ),” says Mr. Sakač.
Telekom Srbija has launched the first corporate venture capital fund in Serbia to help startup ideas. What are the fund’s vision and business strategy?
We are aware of the fact that there are many visionaries among us with great projects who find it difficult to secure financing for further development, and that is the basis of our Fund’s strategy – we invest in ideas that have the potential to “change the world”. Being the first in this part of Europe to have a corporate venture capital fund is a challenge and a privilege, but also a responsibility, considering that Telekom Srbija, one of the most successful companies in this area, is backing us up. Investing in startups is a serious task, given that our market is in its infancy and has a lot of room for improvement. As time goes on, together we will thrive, learn and grow, both startups on the one hand, and venture funds and the business environment, on the other. It is a privilege to participate in creating and boosting a new industry that has huge potential in the future.
What will be the criteria for selecting startups to help and what will be the biggest benefit for young people with ideas?
The Fund’s task is to assess whether a startup idea has market potential, and in what innovative way it solves the existing problems. It is also important to ascertain if a startup can develop quickly, grow and become interesting to the global market. We have defined the criteria based on the best global practices, and we will be assisted in this by global experts in this field. The so-called X factor is that startups rank high in terms of scalability and potential for global application. Through the process of interviews, idea creators will have to have a presentation and convince us why we should place our trust and funds in their solution, but also why they need us as partners. The Fund itself will sort of function as a startup because we will educate and push each other forward through joint work.
What role does Telekom Srbija play in this and what message are you sending to anyone who needs financial resources for business development?
Telekom Srbija is the first company in this area to create a fund of this type, following the example of the world’s largest companies. Deutsche Telekom, Samsung, General Electric, Unilever, Google, Microsoft, BMW and Bosch, to name a few, already have large funds. Our initial budget is 25 million euros, which will be invested in the best startup ideas in the next five years. Telekom, as the Fund’s founder, wants to raise the entire startup community to a higher level and set a new standard in that segment which will inspire other companies to engage in the same endeavours.
“It is a privilege to participate in creating and boosting a new industry that has huge potential in the future”
How important is it to be the first in Serbia and which partners (companies, organizations, countries…) are you counting on?
We are forming partnerships with people from Israel and the U.S. for this endeavour, but also people from Serbia who have international experience in this field of business, i.e. both in startups and corporate venture capital funds. I am convinced that, in the process, we will establish cooperation with more individuals, as well as with organizations and companies. Our idea is to become a kind of hub for gathering communities, startups and investors. We are open to cooperating at any level.
Given your background, and experience from different industries, what sectors do you think the most startups will apply for funding?
In the last few months, startups have offered mostly AI, B2B, B2C, e-commerce, EdTech, FinTech, Food and Beverage, Healthcare, IoT and Software Saas solutions. These are all areas that are in great demand in the world at the moment, and they will be appealing to us as well. I believe that our startup market can match the global one, while our people, who have proven to have good ideas, have always kept pace with global trends. It will also be a revelation for us to find out in which direction our startups are taking and what solutions they are developing. We will definitely have an ear for everyone and give everyone a chance.