“The start-up community in Montenegro has made great progress in the past few years, however, it has to work on sources of financing, the number of start-ups, their performance and maturity”, the Director for Strategy and Digitalization of the company M:tel Aleksandra Radojević said.
“The start-up community has made great progress over the past few years, but still we have not been recognized on some of the world’s major lists,” Radojevic said for Mina-business agency.
She said that is the reason why it is required to work on sources of funding, the number of start-ups, but also on their performance and maturity. “We in M:tel and the Digital Factory hope that we are partly responsible for some first steps and that we are pioneers”, Radojević said.
According to her, the ecosystem in its maturity is in the first phase, ie activation.
“I hope that we will rapidly come to the second phase of globalization, which requires more start-ups to have an exit of over a million EUR. Also, it is necessary to increase the number of start-ups, as well as to connect our ecosystem with the international one”, Radojević said.
She said that for the success of start-ups, besides the source of capital, the market is needed.
“Montenegro is as small as it is, but I hope that future integrations that are expected, our start-ups have that opportunity,” Radojević added.
Speaking about the problems and success of start-up in Montenegro, she said that statistics are pretty devastating and start-up is not for everyone.
“Start-up is like a roller-coaster, you either like it or you don’t. Some enjoy it and some are scared and only watch the others as they deal with it. But when you are high, you are very high and when you fall – you fall fiercely and quickly”, Radojević said.
When it comes to the development of start-up, they pass the Canvas model and in the Digital Factory they are methodologically trying to help them pass certain steps that are designed based on the experience of earlier start-ups.
“The first issue is related to the personal and professional motive of the people involved in that story. The second set of issues is about the market, respectively the problem that they deal with in that market. It is very important that the market has the right potential and in the whole assessment of the business idea they have to consult the mentors”, Radojević explained.
She said the team is one of the important factors for the success of start-up.
“There are many freelancers here in the Digital Factory and we allow people interested in this topic to meet up and connect with each other in order to successfully realize the idea”, Radojević said.
She added that the third dimension is the time at which start-up is launched.
“There are often prejudices that it is never early enough, respectively, it is always the right moment, but the statistics show otherwise. You need to estimate the market in which you are launching the idea well, because if it is not mature enough, you as a start-up have no opportunity to change that a lot“, Radojević said.
According to her, there is potential and that is shown by successful stories that exist in Montenegro.
“The winner of our previous academy, Marleq, has made remarkable progress, and we have start-ups that can be mentors, such as Uhura Solutions, which was a member of the jury. I hope that in the following period we will have some other examples like that”, Radojević said.
Answering to the question of why the most start-ups are registered outside of Montenegro, she stated that a lot of steps were made towards that in M:tel and the state had equally actively worked on that.
“I would like to commend the Ministry of Science, which has recently had a competition for certain grants for innovative projects. Since start-up is not recognized as a term, they have to be found in other forms. There is a room for them as well, provided they can read the call between the lines”, Radojević said.
She added that the Ministry of Public Administration is actively working on digitization, respectively creating a public administration environment that is ready to support digital solutions.
“The Ministry of Economy has numerous calls for small and medium-sized enterprises, and the start-ups could be found there as well”, Radojević said.
Speaking about the difference between start-up and business ideas, she said that these are two different concepts.
“Every business idea has no potential to become a start-up, and other business ideas that are not start-up are a certain type of entrepreneurial initiative. Certainly, start-ups are entrepreneurs, but not all entrepreneurs are start-ups. What sets them apart is that the start-up idea is innovative and carries with it a greater amount of risk for which regular business models are not prepared”, Radojević explained.
Also, the motives behind the start-up ideas are different, as well as the problems that start-up solves.
“The difference is also in the way of funding. There is a often a confusion, since start-up and business ideas have the same method of funding in the first phase, and are based on the 3F model (family, friend and fools), but very quickly in the second phase, you move in different directions”, Radojević precised.
According to her, for small and medium-sized enterprises, these are certain types of grants, subsidies or banking products, while for start-ups, unfortunately, they are not available yet, but rely on venture capital, business angels, or, increasingly present in Montenegro, smart capital.
“It is easiest to simplify with M:tel equity where except financial, there is structural support in terms of mentoring, space and resources,” Radojević said.
In Montenegro, as she reminded, the start-up has not been legally recognized yet, and there is no adequate legal form that would allow the quality of addressing problems, respectively, the needs that start-up have.
“Certainly, efforts are being made on improving that ambiance, but in the current regulation, unfortunately, there is that problem” Radojević said.
She addressed to everyone who wants to work with start-up that they should not be afraid of failure, because it is enough to confirm once they are right and no one will remember their mistakes.
“The only worse than trying and failing, is not to try. Certainly a large part of our lives occupies a job and working and it is important to find yourself in a job that you really like and I have not met a start-up who does not like what works”, Radojević concluded.