Slovenia as a European touch point for startups and angel investors

by President of Business Angels of Slovenia & EBAN Board Member, Nina Dremelj

Business Angels of Slovenia is a 15-year-old organization located in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. Our organization collects the best from entrepreneurs to people, from the Alps, Pannonian landscape, Karst to the Adriatic Sea, all in one place. We believe that being small can also be an advantage. Our BAN is the first and exclusive club in Slovenia, accepting only 60 members annually and investing in sector-agnostic industries with a focus on European startups. Our specialties include integrity, VC level due diligence, our own VC fund, and multiplying our investments for at least 3x directly at entry. And this is not all.

Slovenia has a bustling startup ecosystem with everything in one place, from incubators to technology parks. All of these work together to create a great platform for startups to jump into different international markets. A recent Dealroom report shows that CEE startups are resilient and the most efficient value creators in Europe. Slovenian web3 startups amount to 427M EUR in enterprise value, the second-largest after Estonia with 1.3B EUR. Ljubljana was also mentioned as one of the emerging hubs, with Salesqueze, Quantifly, Birdbuddy, Juicy Marbles, Leanpay, Grashka, Salesqueze, Yourflare, and others rocking the space. The number of startups in Ljubljana is 600+, representing an enterprise value of 2.1B EUR, and they raised 71M EUR in 2022. Companies representing 0.7B EUR of enterprise value remain based there, while 1.4B EUR worth of companies have relocated elsewhere. Startups are actively hiring, creating more than 50 jobs for every million EUR raised.

Our BAN is led by an enthusiastic team of three people: Nina, Maja, and Marcel, with a strong supervisory, advisory, and management board. As the president, my team and I are eager to provide the necessary support to early-stage and growing businesses, providing the right support to become investment-ready, close the investment, and grow internationally. The vibes are positive and result-oriented, but the international component needs to become stronger. Therefore, we strongly connect with different stakeholders within Europe and beyond, trying to establish new connections. We believe that cross-border investments are key to leveraging angel investment in the future.

We are proud to be at the top of the investment pyramid in Slovenia with a strong network of angel investors and supporting ecosystem in Slovenia, from incubators to technology parks, with strong terms of engagement, awareness, and contribution from all investors to support startup companies to succeed. But from a process point of view, we are not yet easily able to onboard foreign investors into Slovenian company structures. Therefore, we established the first Slovenian startup and scale-up association under the authority of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce in December 2022 to have another vehicle to achieve better and more lean processes for investors in Slovenia. There are still a few hurdles we need to change in the investment process to allow more money to flow into Slovenian startups to help them grow and internationalize. Being part of the EBAN board will undoubtedly bring much more value and exposure to decision-makers in Slovenia and outside, making investments into Slovenian companies more freeing.

Year 2022 seemed to be another successful year for startups in Slovenia, and we expect more VC funds to be established in 2023, making a case for further growth of the space.


About the Author

Nina Dremelj serves as the president of Business Angels of Slovenia and is dedicated to assisting entrepreneurs in transforming their ideas into successful ventures. Over the past five years, she has invested in more than 17 companies, with an average investment multiple of 7.71x. Nina also devotes her time and expertise to Alita Capital, an investment firm that provides funding and guidance to early-stage startups and founding teams focused on innovative projects. Previously, she co-owned and managed the Swiss seed fund, AlpVent AG. In 2021, she helped establish the first daFUND venture capital fund, supported by business angels, and invested in it. Nina holds a Master of Science degree in European policies from the University of Ljubljana.