In Berlin, I had an opportunity to meet fantastic people, one of whom was Marius Starcke, the Pioneers Festival co-founder. When an invitation to Pioneers Festivalshowed up in my inbox, I didn’t think twice!

I accepted the invitation believing this festival will be just as good as Seedcamp. Boy, was I wrong! Pioneers turned out to be even better. I was highly honoured to be a part of this crown-of-all-startups event.

10 start-ups and high-class mentors

Preparations for the event started a month earlier. I joined 3 start-ups to help them shape their presentations. We scheduled Skype pitching after which I could advise them on few important things. Our final meeting before the event made sure all 3 were ready to pitch.

At the Mentor Day, 10 selected start-ups had an opportunity to pitch in front of 5 mentors who truly impressed me! Their high-class professionalism is at the top level. The biggest issue some start-ups face is the lack of ability to simplify their complicated products. This is where those high-class mentors come in. What a fantastic job!

Blown away by the top 50 start-ups

I was excited about the next day as there were 50 start-ups waiting to pitch. After the first round, only the best started to rock the stage. I couldn’t decide which one was better. Unfortunately, they were all far from my investing capabilities. They were already highly developed and worth a few million euros.

Having an opportunity to see them all, it helped me to better understand the future, which is more than promising – Microscopes leading to human cells, building genes, ordering micro organisms via Internet, drones transporting items in a distance of 160km, self-driving planes carrying 250kg within 2500 km. Pretty impressive!

Her Majesty – Hofburg Imperial Palace

What a place! This massive hall with 2 floors and 10,000 people mingling around truly amazed me. All people were labelled with colours – green for investors, blue for start-ups, grey for visitors and red for speakers.

Pitching took place in 3 different halls at the same time. I had a fantastic time, but anxiously waited to see the top 8. Once they were out, I wasn’t happy. Only 1 of my favourite ones was among them. What a pity!

The big 8

The pitching of the top 8 start-ups happened the next day. There were some pretty cool ideas:

Prometheon, an adhesive bandage instead of a needle – Great idea!, a smart personal assistant in an artificial intelligence form.

Dronamincs, a self-driving plane transporting 250kg without a pilot.

I was stunned by the scenography of the show, the quality of the host, the sound, the effects – All at the highest level. Here, the audience had a chance to change the jury’s decision. The atmosphere was pretty hot. I loved it!

Rimac vs. Koenigsegg

The finishing part was fantastic, too! Our Croatian entrepreneur, Mate Rimac, had a demanding task – To battle against Cristian Von Koenigsegg. The show extra boosted the atmosphere, and the audience had a hard time deciding whose side to take. Great job was done by the British host, too.

The winner of winners

And finally, this major event catapulted its winner, the one who beat the rest 1599 start-ups form 98 countries and 5 continents.

This start-up just took away the thorn from Airbus and Boeing. Yes, you read it well – Airbus and Boeing!

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Dronamics – the self-driving plane who nailed it! They won 100.000 euros to go on with their fantastic project, and the cheque was handed to them by Julian Oehrlein – the co-founder of Croatian Oradian.

When the time to leave Vienna arrived, I was exhausted but pleased and happy. I had an amazing time, met interesting people, and the most important thing – saw amazing projects of the future. What a great way to come home!

Thank you Pioneers Festival! See you again next year.