Tbilisi is an untapped sweet spot for business - and startups know it. In the last few years, Georgia has seen a significant uptick in its number of tech startups. On June 23-24, 2021, the capital of Georgia hosted an investor event to immerse foreign early-stage investors into its ecosystem, bringing them face-to-face with the most promising startup teams. Representatives of leading angel networks like LitBAN (the Lithuanian Business Angel Network), LatBAN (the Latvian Business Angel Network) EstBAN (the Estonian Business Angels Network), and Baltic Tech Ventures were hosted by Tbilisi City Hall and Georgia’s AXEL Angel Investors Network at the two-day in-person event where Georgia’s startup ecosystem and investment opportunities were on full display.
At the opening session of the event, Tbilisi Deputy Mayor, Andria Basilaia emphasized the importance of foreign direct investment to the city, alongside the sharing of knowledge and experience. Deputy Mayor Basilaia noted that LitBAN, LatBAN, and EstBAN were highly valued for their contributions.
In 2020, Tbilisi was recognized as the top business-friendly destination among 75 European cities, in the Economic Potential category. The city also won top honors for cost-effectiveness in the FDI Intelligence report on European Cities and Regions of the Future 2020/2021. The Georgian capital offers tech entrepreneurs and investors a competitive talent pool, a friendly regulatory system and predictable business environment, relatively low labor, green energy costs, and of course, a supportive local government.
Deputy Mayor Basilaia spoke about how Tbilisi hopes to emulate the success of the Baltic states, saying, “We believe that the development path taken by Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia provides a vivid example of how the Georgian economy should evolve. To sum up, our goal is to promote private sector development by providing opportunities to attract new investments. Thus, promotion of investment opportunities, business sector support and intense business ties with European companies plays a crucial role for the economic development of Tbilisi."
Gene Zolotarev, CEO of Baltic Tech Ventures, said, “The Georgian ecosystem is flourishing and the community here has the right spirit and amazing momentum. Baltic Tech Ventures is keen to share our expertise alongside Georgian investors to help companies thrive.”
The event lasted for two days and included meetings with local businesses, startups, small and mid-sized businesses, panel discussions with public and private sector representatives, workshops and networking sessions. According to AXEL, “We aim to accelerate the development of the Georgian tech startup ecosystem by providing the highest quality investments to Georgia’s highest-potential entrepreneurs.”
Pitch Day was the main event, where 15 pre-registered local startups had the opportunity to present their projects to Estonian, Lithuanian, Latvian and Georgian investors. Local startups were selected to pitch through an open competition, mainly from the fields of trade, finance, logistics, marketing, tourism and education. EstBAN awarded local startup TTM the “Best Investable Startup of the Event,” sending the TTM team to the sTARTUp Day 2021 conference, held in Tartu, Estonia and online in August 2021.
One of the event organizers, AXEL, is a new angel investor network launched by Startup Büro and Kedari Ventures. The Büro is a key supporter of Georgia’s startup ecosystem, working closely with the private and public sectors to design and implement hackathons, business bootcamps, incubation, pre-acceleration and acceleration programs, community meetups, trainings, and conferences, in addition to other skill-building and capacity development programs for entrepreneurs, innovators, and creatives. Kedari Ventures is a Georgian VC fund established to invest in and to develop startups with scalable business models. Currently, Kedari’s fast growing portfolio includes 15 companies. The event was also supported by TBC Business.