The “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program is an initiative of TechSpace and Junior Achievement Albania, in partnership with PROTIK and with the support of the Albanian-American Development Foundation (AADF). It is a unique opportunity for all startups and technology enthusiasts to be involved in a new experience, that will open the door to success for them.
This program was designed as a support and advisory program for startups, which will culminate in the opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley, the most developed ecosystem in the world in the field of entrepreneurship and technological innovation.
✓ Phase 1 – Selection of the 25 best Startups
In December 2019, the call for application for the “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program was opened. The applications were done online on the website www.techspace.al and the call remained open for 2 months. The evaluation commission, composed of NAIS and external experts, representatives of AADF and JAA, evaluated the 68 Startups that were part of the program, based on the specified criteria. At the end of the evaluation process, the 25 startups that were judged to have more potential for success in the future were selected during March 2020 to continue the Phase II of the program.
✓ Phase 2 – Incubation Program
The 25 selected startups continued their journey with a series of trainings through an intensive workshop program, related to the development of innovative ideas. The trainers selected the best international experts with successful experiences in the world of business and new entrepreneurship. Due to the Covid -19 pandemic, which also affected Albania, the incubation program was developed online, in accordance with the anti-COVID rules set by the Committee of Experts in the country. This process adopted well-known curricula
for incubating/accelerating startups. The program lasted several months and included: Supervision and mentoring; Ongoing training; Specific consultancy for the needs of startups. At the end of this phase, only 12 startups showed interest and participated in all the offered training and mentoring. This gave them the opportunity to continue to the other phases of the “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program.
During July, interviews were conducted with the participating startups in the program, by representatives of NAIS and JAA, aimed at identifying their needs for further training and mentoring. Later in the month, a workshop was held by the international expert Peter Bruner on presenting the business idea (pitching). Startups were trained to improve their business idea presentation to be competitive in various events, where they would need to participate and compete to expand their activity. The training module was divided into several parts: Basics of “Pitching”; Examples of it; Explanation of the Pitching framework; How to build the “Pitching” script.
During August, a sales workshop was held by expert Fil Guijarro. Fil Guijarro is a well-known expert in consulting for digital companies, especially in sales, and he shared this knowledge with the 25 selected startups during the first phase. The training module was divided into 3 parts, focused on converting various fields related to the sales process, such as: Methodologies; Documentation; Targeting customers; Sales process, etc.
In October, the workshop “Start-up Fundraising: Masterclass Modules 2020” was held. The workshop lasted for 4 days: 3 of them included training and 1 day of “one on one” mentoring with Barbara Fischer. Expert Barbara Fischer is an experienced entrepreneur in founding, growing and selling companies. Participating teams learned how important it is to document data, build a presentation document for investors, as well as learned the best practices on how to approach and attract investors.
✓ Phase 3 – Pitching event
After numerous trainings and workshops distributed throughout the past year of the “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program, March 30, 2021, was the final day of a fantastic journey, culminating in a Demo Day. It was the manifest of everything that the startups represented since the beginning of the program: team formation, company creation and initial objectives.
At the end of the second phase, 12 startups were identified, which were more active during the realized workshops. During Pitching Day, moderated by Ms. Blerina Guga, CEO of JAA Acting, the representatives of the startups presented the progress of their projects and the presentation of their business plan, market research, marketing
strategy, technological solutions used to create the product, etc., to the investors and jury.
The jury was composed of the best experts in the field and successful individuals in startups and new entrepreneurship: Ms. Mirlinda Karcanaj, Director of NAIS; Mr. Dorin Rama, CEO of Crimson Finance Fund; Mr. Igor Madzov, SwissEP Investment Facilitator WB; Ms.Irene Dorsman, CEO of Angel Forum Vancouver; Mr. Kushtrim Xhakli, Director of Connected Inventions; Mr. Max Gurvits, Head of Vitosha Partners & Ventures; Director- Mr. Praveen Varshney, Director of Varshney Capital Crop & Mr.Kieth Ippel, CEO of Spring.
At the end to the process, the jury and investors had the opportunity to communicate with the 9 best and most promising startups in the business world (3 of the selected groups were absent during the final day), who advanced to the final phase of the “Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program. In this phase, some startups expressed interest and established communication channels for further collaboration with Mr. Kushtrim Xhakli.
✓ Phase 4 – The Visit to Silicon Valley
“The Roadmap to Silicon Valley” program reached its final stage, when six Albanian startups had the opportunity to be part of the largest and most important ecosystem in the world in California, United States for a week.
The startups also participated in the #TECHSPO Silicon Valley 2022 expo as well as the Digital Marketing Conference “Digimarcon”, where they explored optimal opportunities to expand their professional networks, after being introduced to various investors. The winning group of the competition that started in December 2019 managed to be a part of the coolest destination in the world for technology professionals.