Mapping the Macedonian Startup ecosystem and building an online platform

Building a startup is hard. What’s even more challenging is building an ecosystem of startups in a small Balkan country. SEEU Techpark is a technology park located on Southeast European University premises in Tetovo, Macedonia. It was created with the vision to build the most suitable conditions that stimulate the creation of new startup companies. 

Furthermore, SEEUTechpark plays a vital role in creating synergies between new and existing companies, thus encouraging growth in established SMEs and startups alike. In the long run, this will achieve the ultimate goal of creating new job opportunities for the region and beyond. 

To achieve this, SEEU Techpark needed to understand the current state of entrepreneurship in the country. 

Unreliable information was an insurmountable challenge for a country that did not even base companies called startups. Inaccurate and incomplete information did not translate into the right decisions and an excellent strategy to support the local startup ecosystem. The challenge that SEEU Techpark faced when they sought out the support of Solveo was to build and populate a startup database with the right information.

As this was an essential need, we saw the need to involve more stakeholders. Thus, demanding a co-creation sprint involving external collaborators tasked to build the most accurate Macedonian startups database and design a digital platform out of it. Our shared vision was that by creating such a platform, we would be helping Macedonian entrepreneurs/startups network with potential investors and promote their businesses. Utilizing the power of crowdsourcing, we engaged a short range of stakeholders from students, startup founders, angel investors, and ecosystem builders to policymakers.

Several multidisciplinary teams from SEEU Techpark, Solveo external collaborators, and industry experts created a digital platform from the most accurate Macedonian startup companies’ database. The project kicked off with obtaining a better understanding of what it means to start a startup and the current state of Macedonia’s ecosystem. 

For inspiration, a lot of research and analysis was needed, mostly from examples from similar countries abroad.  After getting this foundational knowledge on the topic, we got the chance to meet in person and interview entrepreneurs/startup founders, local institutional and angel investors, and the local startup community association. We were using the process of inspiration and discovery to understand the needs of the local community better.

The abundance of available information on the internet did not extend to the local community. Information about local startups was scattered on forums, social media groups, and local chat rooms. To create an accurate database of local startups, we needed a different approach. Getting out of the building to fact-check the information was the focal point of building the database. Talking to hundreds of people who made up the whole ecosystem delivered a tremendous amount of information about building the platform and the future roadmap for building a better ecosystem.

Raw data is good, but making it useful needs a whole different set of design principles. During the design and development of the platform, various stakeholders were invited to guide the end product. It was a proper crowdsourced production where several teams did multiple iterations of the platform and tested it with future users. The required changes were clear from the feedback, and through several iterations, The final product saw the light of day. What would have taken more than a year to build previously, we accomplished in a tenth of the time. Together with our close collaborators, we Succeeded in building a startup database of the Macedonian startup ecosystem that is accurate and easy to use.

Launch with a bang

Make bolder choices. Form stronger teams.
Build better products.