Ekapija Serbian News Interview with Roman Kikta
Participants in the forthcoming FundraiseIT conference, which will take place this week in Belgrade, will have an opportunity to learn about the ways in which to find funding for their projects and the things to do to successfully implement them.
The conference, which focuses on different forms of funding for IT entrepreneurs and companies, should secure the gratest value for each participant through direct contacts between company representatives and competent serial investors and entrepreneurs. The aim is to directly present a variety of investment models of business angels, venture capitals (VC) and private equity (PE) funds, local and foreign funds as well as EU funds.
So far, over 160 companies from more than 20 countries have applied for participation in this year’s FundraiseIT event with some of the world’s most famous investors and entrepreneurs taking part in this two-day conference. Roman Kikta, the founder of the Mobility Ventures company who will give a keynote presentation on Friday (April 19th), speaks about his impressions and plans for the Serbian market in an exclusive interview with eKapija.
eKapija: How much do you know about Serbia? What would attract you to invest here?
KIKTA: “I am pleased to have been invited by Mr. Andrija Bednarik, General Manager of the Serbian Business Angel Network and organizer of the FundraiseIT conference to participate at the event to learn more about what Serbia has to offer, and I applaud his efforts of creating a platform for Serbian companies to showcase and network. While this is my first trip to Serbia, I had engaged a software development/ IT company based in Belgrade about 2 years ago and have been very pleased with the quality of work they performed for my firm and also for some of our portfolio companies. I have found the Serbian development team to be highly capable, knowledgeable and professional, completing projects on time and budget.
I believe that Serbia for many venture investors is a well kept secret, especially Serbian human capital, which I have found to be well educated, thinks globally and is unafraid to take on challenges.
I do believe that an infrastructure like the one found in high tech centers, for example, in Finland, U.S. or Singapore is the fundamental basis for creating an innovative ecosystem—a place to learn, collaborate, create, develop, commercialize, work, live and play. Additionally this ecosystem must include experienced management teams with global insights that know how to instill a culture of successful collaboration, have consistently added value to emerging companies by working closely with the founding team in formulating and executing strategies and business plans, including business development. And equally important is to create a source of capital (venture capital, private equity, investment banking, gov’t grants, etc.) to fund these emerging companies.
I also believe that governments need to create laws and favorable tax incentives for fostering innovation and entrepreneurship in the IT sector. This, I believe will serve to attract company formation and relocation, creating good paying, high tech jobs for Serbians. “
eKapija: What kind of companies/projects do you invest in? Which sectors of the IT industry you find the most interesting?
KIKTA: “The Mobility Ventures team members are proven business leaders and entrepreneurs who have helped to lead the wireless revolution of the past two decades, built some of the world’s most leading edge and successful companies, technologies, products and services, including the launch of cellular and PCS in the Americas, Asia and Europe. We invest in what we know and where we can add value.
Mobility Ventures invests in cutting edge companies that enable mobility and promote a digital lifestyle, focusing on the merits of the opportunity, rather than being confined to one category of investment. We define Mobility as solutions that leverage the convergence of wireless infrastructures, the Internet, applications and services which result in anytime, anywhere connectivity. Ours franchise is Mobility. We invest across the Wireless Ecosystem in technologies, applications, services and media that enable and promote a mobile society. These include areas such as, mobile marketing, mobile health, mobile commerce, location based services and energy & power management.”
eKapija: How much do you usually invest? What is your usual exit strategy?
KIKTA: “Mobility Ventures’ investment philosophy is to work with best-in-class entrepreneurial teams that have created breakthrough technologies, strong intellectual property, innovative business models, and other sustainable advantages. Our proactive approach to the investment process is based on knowledge, experience, and success. We generally make investments between $50,000 in a seed round to several million dollars over the life cycle of the company.
We invest in companies that have the potential to be leaders in large growth markets, with technologies that enable significant market trends to occur, and we are a value added investor. Our primary objective is the success of our portfolio companies. We support our top-performing companies with additional capital and critical strategic management support needed for business and financial success throughout the company’s life cycle.
I believe that companies need to focus on the fundamentals of delivering revenues, profits, create market value. The typical exits we have experienced recently are merger & acquisitions.”
eKapija: What would be your expectations from the Serbian market?
KIKTA: “I believe innovation can happen anywhere, certainly it’s not exclusive to the Silicon Valley and the U.S. Based on my dealings with Serbian software development teams, (while smaller in numbers than larger nations), I have found them to be experienced, professional, world class—performing as well as development teams in US, Europe or Asia.
I believe it will be only a matter of time before we start hearing about Serbian success stories—the leading edge software innovations and about the new generation of Serbian entrepreneurs emerging; and as a Venture Capitalist, I’d like to be at their side to help them succeed!”