Spotlight 2021

CONNECT WITH THE BIG SHOTS
JOIN SPOTLIGHT 2021

Have your startup's growth covered!

APPLY BY SEPTEMBER 19

SPOTLIGHT 2021

BOOM! OCT 4 - NOV 24

If you’re an early-stage founder ready to connect with the big shots in the startup world, look no further.

Join Spotlight, leading program dedicated to early-stage Eastern European startups, to connect with top investors (Sequoia, Accel, Y Combinator and other over 50 venture investors), experienced high-growth founders (Payhawk, Typing DNA, Salesflare) and top experts (UiPath, Product Led Institute, Startup Core Strengths).

For 5 weeks, you can get access to as many (or few) of our mentors during private meetings. And at the end of the program, you may be the lucky winner of our investment prize, €350K

StartUp Spotlight

MENTORS & INVESTORS

MEET & CONNECT
WITH THE BEST

Spotlight is an all-you-can-eat mentor buffet – you can meet with experts in product, growth or sales, venture funds or angels, founders who have seen it all to share their scars, or operators and experts from unicorns and top training programs for startups.

There are no mandatory activities, and we help you decide who are the best fitted mentors for your next objectives and challenges. We’ve only done this for 10 years and aprox. 10k times, but we should be ok.

If you want to be the best in the world, connect with some of the best in the world. Join Spotlight now!

SNEAK PEAK
MENTORS & INVESTORS

of the program

Luciana
Lixandru

Partner
Sequoia

Partner at Sequoia Capital investing in seed / Series A companies and beyond in Europe.

Andrei
Brasoveanu

Partner
Accel

Early stage investor, interested in enterprise software, developer-oriented software, open-source, security, financial services.

Nicolas
Dessaigne

Visiting Partner
Y Combinator, ex-Algolia

Co-founder of unicorn Algolia and a visiting partner at Y Combinator (YC)

Irina
Haivas

Partner
Atomico

High-growth investor in Europe's best companies from series A and beyond.

Carlos
Espinal

Partner @ Seedcamp

Investor in 4 European unicorns and thought leader at Seedcamp Podcast.

Ramli
John

Managing Director
Product-Led Institute

Growth Marketing Today podcast host and expert helping SaaS companies with growth and user onboarding

Ondrej
Bartos

General Partner
Credo Ventures

Early stage investor, with investments in UiPath, PriceFX, Productboard and many more.

Nopadon
Wongpakdee

Co-Founder
Startup Core Strenghts

Digital marketer with 20+ years of experience, ex-Citi Ventures EIR, 500startups growth hacker

Hristo
Borisov

Co-Founder & CEO
Payhawk

Payhawk Co-founder and CEO, financial system that combines credit cards, payments, expenses into one experience

Mirela
Mus

Founder
Product People

Technical and creative product leader, with experience in mobility, digital health, travel, marketplaces, fintech, IoT.

Raul
Popa

Co-Founder & CEO
TypingDNA

Techstars Alumnus (NYC '18), AI / ML expert building a revolutionary technology called “typing biometrics”. It is currently used in Cyber Security for 2-factor and multi-factor authentication, fraud prevention, and risk-based authentication.

Andy
Budd

Founder
Clearleft

Design leader, international conference speaker, agency founder and coach.

€350K INVESTMENT
& MORE BENEFITS

Spotlight helps you prepare for the next stage of your startup. Here's the full list of benefits you'll get access to:

€350K investment prize

Best 10 startups qualify for Pitch Day, where the jury will award the winner a convertible note of €350K syndicated by TechAngels, SeedBlink, Growceanu, GapMinder, RocaX, Simple Capital and Transylvania Angels Network.

Focus on your objectives

We focus on helping you achieve your next business objectives by putting you in touch with relevant experts, investors and partners.

Up to 4 hours / week

Because you focus on your startup, we'll ask for only 6 hours / week of your time. Minimum commitment, maximum impact.

Customised schedule

You'll get a customised schedule of activities based on your needs and priorities, with no mandatory activities to attend.

High-value network

All our mentors are highly experienced founders, investors and experts, including representatives of multiple A-list funds and successful unicorn founders.

€1M in free benefits for all startups

Accessible via F6S Alpha Card that will bring you access to tools & resources.

KPMG Service Pack for top 3 startups

Each pack includes accounting and payroll services for 1 year and legal services with a focus on terms and conditions and privacy policy, all having a total value of €15k. More details here.

BRD Bank Account for all startups

An account package “Optimist Entrepreneur Plus”, that has an attached debit Business card from Mastercard, offered free of charge until 31st of December 2022 by BRD – Groupe Société Générale, for all the startups admitted in the program.

Google workshop for all startups

An educational workshop for all startups that enroll in Spotlight.

+ MORE OTHER PRIZES

Ready to grow?

Applications are reviewed periodically.

Apply now

See all application details

Mentors
& Guests

of the program

  • All
  • Investor
  • Expert
  • Corporate
  • Founder
  • Speaker
  • juror
  • product
  • growth
  • team
  • investment
  • sales
  • marketing

Luciana
Lixandru

Partner
Sequoia

Partner at Sequoia Capital investing in seed / Series A companies and beyond in Europe.

Andrei
Brasoveanu

Partner
Accel

Early stage investor, interested in enterprise software, developer-oriented software, open-source, security, financial services.

Nicolas
Dessaigne

Visiting Partner
Y Combinator, ex-Algolia

Co-founder of unicorn Algolia and a visiting partner at Y Combinator (YC)

Irina
Haivas

Partner
Atomico

High-growth investor in Europe's best companies from series A and beyond.

Carlos
Espinal

Partner @ Seedcamp

Investor in 4 European unicorns and thought leader at Seedcamp Podcast.

Ramli
John

Managing Director
Product-Led Institute

Growth Marketing Today podcast host and expert helping SaaS companies with growth and user onboarding

Ondrej
Bartos

General Partner
Credo Ventures

Early stage investor, with investments in UiPath, PriceFX, Productboard and many more.

Nopadon
Wongpakdee

Co-Founder
Startup Core Strenghts

Digital marketer with 20+ years of experience, ex-Citi Ventures EIR, 500startups growth hacker

Dan
Oros

Head of Marketing
Google & YouTube Romania

Leading the B2B acquisition marketing projects in the CEE and helping companies and startups grow their business online.

René
Schöb

Partner, Head of Tax & Legal
KPMG Romania

Head of Tax & Legal at KPMG Romania and coordinator of the KPMG Romania Startup Grow Pad Program.

Laura
Stefan

Director, Commercial and Nontraditional Business Development
Mastercard

She's a finance professional with more than 10 years of experience in the banking sector. She also works closely with lean practices and processes.

Horia
Velicu

Head of Innovation Lab
BRD – Groupe Société Générale

Over 20 years experience in banking and consulting with focus on financial markets and machine learning.

Bogdan
Axinia

Managing Director eMAG Ventures
eMAG Group

Senior leader with 16 years of experience in tech companies, currently working as advisor with C-level executives and their teams to drive business growth through technology.

Alexandra
Marcu (Badea)

VP Marketing
2Checkout
(now Verifone)

She has over 15 years of Expertise in Marketing for Software Business (Commerce, Online Payments, Subscription Billing, SaaS/Cloud Services) and driving cross-functional teams.

Gabriel
Diaconescu

Senior Manager
BearingPoint Romania

Focusing on digital innovation in various industries, combining his business knowledge with his technology expertise.

Monica
Obogeanu

Startup Programs Manager
Orange

Manager of the Orange Fab Romania program, facilitating collaborations between innovative startups and Orange.

Dan
Lupu

Partner
Earlybird Venture Capital

Investor and adviser in technology companies such as UiPath, FintechOS. Computer science and business background.

Mihai
Buda

Manager
Mastercard

Experienced finance professional with background in consultancy.

Catalin
Dediu

Vice President, Product Management
FintechOS

Seasoned in consultancy, analytics, operations, strategy, through FintechOS, Catalin Dediu brings to the banking system the possibility of smarter, profitable products and personalized experiences.

Hristo
Borisov

Co-Founder & CEO
Payhawk

Payhawk Co-founder and CEO, financial system that combines credit cards, payments, expenses into one experience

Mirela
Mus

Founder
Product People

Technical and creative product leader, with experience in mobility, digital health, travel, marketplaces, fintech, IoT.

Raul
Popa

Co-Founder & CEO
TypingDNA

Techstars Alumnus (NYC '18), AI / ML expert building a revolutionary technology called “typing biometrics”. It is currently used in Cyber Security for 2-factor and multi-factor authentication, fraud prevention, and risk-based authentication.

Georgia
Diaconescu

Product Marketing
what3words

Seasoned Product Marketing Manager with 8+ years experience across digital customer experiences and B2B SaaS solutions. Working with agile teams in a start-up setting to deliver technology that genuinely answers unmet consumer needs.

Elina
Halatcheva

Managing Partner
BrightCap Ventures

Investor in early-stage companies. Strong experience in the private equity industry, mainly for the real estate sector.

Jeroen Corthout

Co-Founder
SalesFlare

Founder, B2B sales and product expert.

Aaron
Krall

Growth Specialist
SaaS Accelerator

Helping SaaS companies to achieve scalable, predictive growth and to look for proven systems and frameworks they can implement into their business to increase revenue and build a scalable SaaS.

Alex
George

Investment Associate @ Credo Ventures

He's helping Credo to find and evaluate new investments, and building internal tools for Credo’s automated sourcing efforts.

CHRIS
MASSEY

Product Manager
The Access Group

Product management and team alignment expert with a background in content, marketing, & communities.

Pedro
Oliveira

Co-Founder & CEO
Talent Protocol

Developer, researcher, manager and founder of several tech startups, focused on HR, community, social tokens

Michal
Bas

Principal
Venture Friends

"He's responsible for navigating the fund's activity in the CEE region. Previously at TDJ Pitango Ventures (Polish-Israeli VC fund) and PFR Ventures (CEE's largest Fund-of-Funds, operating in the VC space)."

Jure
Mikuž

Managing Partner
South Central Ventures

VC fund manager with broad experience in deal structuring, business modelling and helping Start-ups to grow their businesses.

Jamahl
McMurran

VC Partnerships
Uncapped

Mentor for early stage startups, expertise in HR, webflow, cryptocurrency.

Manuel
Heilmann

Chief Commercial Officer
IPXO

"He's passionate about helping startups to grow, sharing his experience from successes and failures he had at $0 to $400M tech companies in Europe and in the US. He works with founders of several seed-funded and Series A startups, helping them to create a scalable revenue engine."

Mihai
Rotaru

Founder
Neobility

Serial entrepreneur with previous sucessful exit of CleverTaxi to MyTaxi (currently Free Now). Self-taught transportation and mobility expert.

Natasha
Lytton

Head of Brand, Marketing & Portfolio Support
Seedcamp

Talk to her all about startup brands, storytelling, marketing and network building.

Kaan
Eren

Investment Manager
500 Startups Istanbul

Investor at 500 startups Istanbul, early-stage VC under the broader 500 startups network.

Sebastian
Maraloiu

Growth Marketing Manager
Questo

He's investing his time in creating & growing innovative tech startups using clever Marketing & Product Management.in

Cathy
White

Founder & Director
CEW Communications

Startup & Venture Comms Specialist, focused on PR, content creation, and social media.

Malin
Stefanescu

President
TechAngels

Early stage business angel, investments including Symphopay, SmartDreamers and TypingDNA.

Radu
Georgescu

Founding Partner
Gecad Ventures

Serial entrepreneur in the software and eCommerce space. Successful exits such as ePayment business by Naspers, Avangate by Francisco Partners and Vectorwatch technology by Fitbit.

Gyula
Feher

General Partner
Oktogon Ventures

Backing high growth technology startups from Central and Eastern Europe

Andrei
Pitis

Founder & CEO
Simple Capital

Investor in early-stage companies. Sound engineering background and previous successful founder of Vector Watch with exit to Fitbit.

Julien Coustaury

Managing Partner
Fil Rouge

20 years of experience in manufacturing and services, much of it at the CEO level.

Daniel
Tomov

Founding Partner
Eleven Ventures

A pioneer in the venture capital in Bulgaria, cofounded in 2000 the first local seed fund.

Kamil
Mieczakowski

Principal
Notion Capital

Investor and adviser in technology companies. Sound educational background in ML and data science.

Max
Gurvits

Partner
Vitosha Venture Partners

Investor in early-stage scalable startups. Previous experience as entrepreneur in the legal field and investment banker.

Martin
SFP Bryant

Founder
Big Revolution

Consultant, podcast producer and host, speaker, writer, educator in the fields of technology and media

Alexandru
Popescu

Managing Partner
Cleverage VC

Highly experienced professional and investor, specialised in growth, M&A, marketing, operations, sales.

Vlad
Sarca

Partner
Sparking Capital

Entrepreneur and early-stage investor, open to join boards of for-profit and nonprofit organizations.

Jon
Bradford

Partner
Dynamo Ventures

Investor in supply chain and mobility companies. Serial entrepreneur that pioneered the startup acceleration space in Europe and set grounds for Techstars London.

Andy
Budd

Founder
Clearleft

Design leader, international conference speaker, agency founder and coach.

Marius
Istrate

Growth strategist & angel investor
3VC

Investor, Growth Adviser, UiPath Alumnus, Venture Partner at 3VC

Adrian
Erimescu

Angel Investor @ Growceanu

Tech entrepreneur with 20+ years experience in developing business systems. Co-founder Imobiliare.ro, Growceanu Angel Investing and Faber.community.

Vlad
Panait

Founder & Managing Partner
Sparking Capital

20+ years marketing experience & trade marketing international experience, now managing full VC cycle.

Marvin
Liao

Partner
Gamegroove Capital

Investor and adviser in technology companies, formerly a Partner at venture capital fund 500 Startups, running the SF based accelerator program.

Dimitris
Kalavros-Gousiou

General Partner
Velocity Partners

Investor with entrepreneurial background and a passion at the intersection of tech, culture and new media. He also serves as Co-Founder and General Partner at Velocity.Partners, a pre-seed and seed Venture Capital Fund active in Greece and SEE.

Kirsten
Connell

Investor FIrst Cheque Fund
Octopus Ventures

Accelerator director, VC, angel investor in Tessian, Immersive Labs, Senseon, DynaRisk, Cybersmart, Zamna, RiskLedger, eCora

Iulian
Circiumaru

Managing Partner
V7 Capital

Experienced strategy consultant in CEE; serial startup cofounder, including one exit and non-profit projects

Daria
Gherghelas

Investment Analyst
Speedinvest

Looking for pre-seed and seed companies with a focus on Digital Health in CEE

Bogdan Lucaciu

CTO
Adore me

Expert in organisation design, team performance and engagement, open source, building disruptive products

Cristian
Negrutiu

Partner
Sparking Capital

Entrepreneur, Investor, Mentor and Consultant, Associate Professor at Bucharest University of Economic Studies

Marcel
Animucki

Investment Manager
BValue

Investment manager looking for early stage start-ups from CEE and CIS region, especially B2B SaaS and marketplaces

Bernat
Nacsa

Principal
Day One Capital

Their fund is operational since 2018 with a capitalization of EUR 27M and still raising. Bernat is working on sourcing new deals, performing due diligence, and supporting portfolio company performance.

Alexandru
Bogdan

CEO
ROCA X

CEO at ROCA X, Strategist, Investor, Growth Marketer, Experience Designer

Marcin
Hejka

Co-Founder & General Partner
OTB Ventures

Experienced Investor with a demonstrated history of working in the venture capital and private equity industry.

Apostolos
Apostolakis

Co-Founder & Partner
Venture Friends

Tech entrepreneur and investor, focused on B2C, marketplace, Fintech and proptech startups.

Krzysztof
Przybylak

Investment Associate @ Inovo Venture Partners

Investor at Inovo Venture Partners, backing early-stage, post-traction startups that can grow 100x

Marius
Ghenea

Partner
Catalyst Romania

Venture capitalist & PE investor in tech companies. Skilled in investment, negotiation, business planning, management, and corporate development.

Alan
Clayton

Global Roaming Mentor @ SOSV

Acceleration specialist, mentor at HAX, Food-X, Chinaccelerator RebelBio and IndieBio accelerators. Previously 5x founder.

Andrei
Dudoiu

Co-Founder & CEO
SeedBlink

Founded the first equity crowdfunding platform in the region which helped 12 innovative startups to get total funding rounds of more than EUR 3.5 mil. Over 20 years of banking experience.

Ricardo
Sequerra Amram

Partner
Point Nine Capital

Partner at Point Nine Capital, ex-early-stage investor at Seedcamp and Cherry Ventures.

Francesca
(Check) Warner

Partner
Ada Ventures

Early-stage funding for overlooked founders & markets

Mihai
Guran

CEO, Managing Partner
GCG Consulting

Vice-President of TechAngels Romania. Founder, mentor to startups and angel investor. EEng, MBA, and PhD student.

Rick
Hao

Partner
Speedinvest

Leading and managing the early stage deep tech / frontier tech investments at Speedinvest

Andrei
Roth

Commercial Projects Director
UiPath

Leading cross-department, cross-geographical strategic projects and business development for product innovation departments.

Dave
Haynes

Director of Developer Ecosystem & Vive X, EMEA
HTC Vive

Dave has extensive startup experience as operator, founder and investor, focused on XR (extended reality)

Dan
Mihaescu

Founding Partner
GapMinder Venture Partners

Investor and adviser in early-stage technology companies. Recently invested in some of the newest high-growth tech startup from the CEE - MEDIjobs, Machinations, Deepstash, FintechOS and more.

Mircea
Vadan

Managing Partner
Activize

He's driven to help tech startups. Support programs expert with a focus on early-stage tech products, customer development and product-market fit.

Cosmin
Ochisor

Partner
GapMinder Venture Partners

Investor and adviser in early-stage technology companies. Recently invested in some of the newest high-growth tech startup from the CEE - MEDIjobs, Machinations, Deepstash, FintechOS and more.

Anca
Albu

CEO
Swiss ICT Investors Club

Diverse professional background in business development, strategy, operations, and marketing. With an intense passion and curiosity for technology and innovation. Maintaining trust-based relations with startups and over 350 investors.

Jacek
Łubiński

Innovation Manager @ Market One Capital

VC investment professional with computer science background. Focused on Marketplaces (SaaS based) and B2B Software.

Carmen
Sebe

Board Member
SeedBlink

Executive with extensive operational, general management, new products and markets, business partnerships, transition planning and execution, organizational development, product development.

Martyn
Davies

Product Manager
Orbit

Product and community strategist with multi-year experience in developer advocacy / evangelism, community management, and developer education.

Dan
Calugareanu

Partner
Early Game Ventures

Investor and adviser in early-stage technology companies, skilled in Negotiation, Business Planning, E-commerce, Business Development, and Entrepreneurship.

Borys
Musielak

Founding Partner
Smok Ventures

Early-stage investor in CEE, previously engineer turned entrepreneur.

Rumen
Iliev

Partner
LAUNCHub Ventures

South East Europe seed stage investor, passionate about entrepreneurship, technology investments and social impact.

Dan
Toma

Co-Founder
OUTCOME

Innovation and lean startup expert with entrepreneurial background. Worked with companies such as Deutsche Telekom, Bosch, Jaguar Land Rover, Bayer, John Deere or Allianz.

Irina
Scarlat

Chief Growth Officer
Bitpanda

Full-stack product marketer and experienced project manager, previously leading the marketing efforts of Uber in Romania. Entrepreneur at heart.

Cristian
Munteanu

Managing Partner
Early Game Ventures

Investor and board member in early-stage tech companies. Previous entrepreneurial experience with a marketing and creative background.

Adrian
Gheara

Angel investor
Typing DNA

Investor and adviser in early-stage technology companies, currently helping TypingDNA on their mission to make online authentication effortless with typing based biometrics.

Marton Medveczky

Investment Director
Flashpoint

VC investor focused on SaaS, central and eastern Europe and Israel, later stage tech companies.

Teodor Blidarus

CEO and Co-Founder
FintechOS

Growing FintechOS at hyperspeed to serve Fortune500 companies around the world

Load More

HOW DOES IT WORK?

1st

submit your application

The first step is to submit your application, and give yourself the opportunity to connect with highly-relevant investors and mentors, access to amazing benefits and win our investment prize.

40

startups selected

From all the applicants, the jury of the program will select 40 startups to join the program, based on the potential of their business, quality of their products and experience of their teams.

25

top notch meetings

During the program you can sign for up to 25 1-to-1 meetings with investors and experts based on your requests and our recommendations, and continue to work outside the program with the ones you've clicked.

10+

AMAs with world-class experts

You can also join up to 10 ask-me-anything private sessions with some of the world's top experts on building startups invited as guest speakers, where you can hear about their experience and ask whatever is relevant for you.

2nd

opinion on investment strategy

We'll help you refine your deck and investment strategy and get in the best shape when discussing with potential investors and partners.

10

investment pitch finalists

Best 10 pitching startups will qualify for Pitch Day, an event for the finalists, investors, business partners and press representatives, where the jury will award the winner of the competition with a convertible note of €350K

The program

Schedule

Application

Aug 17 - Sep 19

Selection

Sep 20 - Sep 23

Program

Oct 4 - Nov 21

Pitch Day semi-finals

Nov 22&23

Pitch Day + Awards

Nov 24










Application

Aug 17 - Sep 19

Selection

Sep 20 - Sep 23

Program

Oct 4 - Nov 21

Pitching semi-finals

Nov 22&23

Private Pitch Day

Nov 24


StartUp Spotlight

WHOM IS IT FOR?

Spotlight is open to early-stage technology startups from Eastern Europe, which are less than 5 years old and up to 1M EUR in financing.

The program helps startups that:
want to raise a seed / pre-seed round in the near future
want to improve the way they work on their product and growth strategy
want to connect with founder and experts who have significant experience in the same market / with the same clients

Your startup application will score points based on your teams’ experience, vision, product traction and market opportunity.

Ready to grow?

Applications are reviewed periodically.

Apply now

See all application details

TESTIMONIALS

FROM PROGRAM ALUMNI

raul popa

RAUL POPA

Co-Founder & CEO
TYPINGDNA

“Spotlight was a great opportunity to interact with other entrepreneurs and with seasoned professionals who could provide guidance for growing our company. We incorporated many of the things we learned through Spotlight experience into our business. It brought us an extraordinary opportunity.”

Valentin Radu

VALENTIN RADU

Founder & CEO
OMNICONVERT

“The How to Web team has put together a great concept where not only are startups brought into contact with investors, but the guidance from mentors and networking helped us understand better the SaaS game that we are in and also gave us more knowledge about how to tackle the channel market fit phase that Omniconvert encountered.”

georgios gatos

GEORGIOS GATOS

Co-Founder
INCREDIBLUE

“We had the chance to meet awesome people, some of which later become our investors and got featured in some of the biggest tech outlets in the world. Highly positive experience, great business outcome!”

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH

With the support of

INVESTMENT PARTNERS

X

We’re looking for early-stage tech startups from Eastern Europe, no older than 5 years and that haven’t raised more than €1mln to date.

Spotlight is industry agnostic.

 

Spotlight timeline:

Aug 17 – Sep 19 Startups can apply for Spotlight 2021

Sep 20 – Sep 23  All applicants are reviewed and evaluated

Sep 24 – Sep 27  Top 40 startups are invited to Spotlight 2021 and need to confirm their participation

!!! Startups that do not confirm in due time are disqualified from the program, and startups on the waiting list are summoned instead !!!

Oct 4 – Nov 21 All 40 startups benefit from 1:1 meetings and group Q&As according to the program’s schedule.

Nov 23 All 40 startups enter semi-finals

Nov 24 Top 10 startups resulting from semi-finals pitch in the final

Nov 24 One of the startups is awarded the investment deal, in the form of a convertible note.

The investment prize is syndicated by business angel groups and venture capital funds to be announced in September.

Across all evaluation phases, the evaluation criteria are: Market Size, Team Experience, Product Value & Traction

Logo Linkedin