June 14, 2021

In a major milestone, ½ of all startups in Serbia’s oldest startup accelerator have female founders

The current generation of Startit enrollees represents a major step towards advancing gender parity in Serbia’s tech industry and society as a whole.

The latest cohort of startups selected for Startit Growth, the longest-running startup accelerator program in Serbia, has women in half of the founding teams. The accelerator, supported by Google for Startups, has been active for the past 10 years, and during that time has managed to provide mentoring support and resources for more than 250 local startups free of charge, some of whom have managed to expand beyond Serbia and reach the global market. 

Since its founding in 2007, in Belgrade, Serbia, Startit has remained true to its mission — give new life to the Serbian economy, and through economic activity, contribute to the development of a more prosperous, equitable, and just society. 

While there are many obstacles on such a journey, the entrepreneurial arena in Serbia is still brimming with untapped potential, as evidenced by the most recent milestone — the eighth generation of Startit’s accelerator that has enrolled 10 teams in total, and is breaking exciting new ground.

This generation of Startit enrollees follows, and goes beyond European and American trends, in that one half of this year’s participants include women as part of a founding team, and includes one completely female-led startup. This represents a much-needed step towards achieving gender parity and provides opportunities for social change through the rapidly-developing startup ecosystem.

The teams we were able to assemble have tremendous potential, a good number have already found their first clients, and we’re very excited to be able to facilitate their growth moving forward. We are particularly proud of the fact that half of the startups have women as part of the founding team — skilled leaders in their respective fields that pave the way for the next generation of women entrepreneurs in Serbia, said Nevenka Rangelov, the director of entrepreneurship development at Startit.

A significant advantage of Startit’s mentoring is its individual approach, connecting each startup with mentors, investors, entrepreneurs and other professionals from global markets that can maximize their potential while achieving the best fit. As this involves a rigorous selection process, each generation consists of between 8-12 teams.

“Gender parity in Startit’s accelerator cohort is a major milestone for closing the gap in representation of women founders. It’s a powerful message to the Serbian and European startup ecosystem about Startit’s values, which Google shares. It’s also pragmatic, in the sense that we know that diverse teams and founders build better, more valuable products and businesses, creating better returns for investors and more powerful economic opportunities.” – Kevin O’Toole, Google for Startups.

Startit was the first European organization that Google chose in 2018 as its partner for Google Launchpad (now Google for Startups), and remains the sole program in Serbia to have Google’s direct support.

The enduring partnerships Startit was able to cultivate and maintain over the years, both abroad and at home, are a testament to the positive impact technology can have on society, and recent developments signal that this growth is sure to continue.

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