Pitch Deck Crafting Webinar

16th of April 2:00 pm CET

14 March 2023·13 min read

Roman Nováček

Partner, Presto Ventures

TOP 10 CEE+ Startup & Investor Events In 2023

2023 will be a big year for startup events throughout Europe. At Presto Ventures, we focus on the most promising startups in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) and their neighbours, so we feel right at home here.

We’ve created this guide to spotlight the most interesting conferences and summits in this region, which is where we see the highest investment potential in Europe. Why? CEE is the fastest-growing European region in terms of the value of deals done – increasing 7.6x since 2017, in comparison to 3.8x growth across the rest of the continent.

While CEE startups have traditionally been challenged by a lack of VC investment, the tide is starting to turn – 2022 saw a flurry of regional VCs raising new funds, and we’re confident this trend is only just beginning. Due to the current macroeconomic conditions and VCs' increased focus on business fundamentals and capital efficiency, things are looking up for the CEE startup founders – they’re likely to be in better shape than their western competitors.

Our team attends dozens of tech summits and conferences across Europe every year. In 2022, we’ve collectively spent more than 250 days abroad, connecting with promising projects. And with investments in nearly 50 companies, we’re one of the most dynamic VC funds in the region. Last year alone, we closed 24 new deals and invested more than €12 million.

Now, with so many events to choose from and so little time – which ones should you attend? The Presto team has compiled almost 100 European startups and VC events that will take place in 2023, and zeroed in on the wider CEE region to select the top 10 plus one wildcard. We’ve put our behind-the-scenes insights into this event guide, so take a look and let us know what you think!

sTARTUp Day

When: March 15-17, 2023
Where: Tartu, Estonia
Website

What it is?
This year, sTARTUp Day will bring more than 150 world-class speakers and 4,000 attendees to the beautiful Estonian city of Tartu to talk about business, innovation, and new technologies, while sharing startup success stories and important lessons learned.

Already in its seventh year, the 2023 festival will focus on topics including AI, EdTech, FemTech, SexTech, HealthTech and – as always – entrepreneurial skills and inspirational stories from founders. The packed two-day program will be complemented by more than 30 side events as well as hands-on seminars with professionals, networking parties, and a huge company showcase. One of the most exciting parts of the event is the startup pitching competition, with up to €500,000 at stake.

Why you should go?
Tartu is a small, cosy city that lives and breathes tech and startups. Especially if you’ve never been there, you’ll be amazed at the enthusiasm the city and the entire country of Estonia show for new businesses and technologies.

At the same time, Tartu is far enough off the beaten path that the people who make the effort to attend are above-average when it comes to interest and influence. The event organizers have a proven track record of bringing only the most relevant and promising startups to sTARTUp Day, which features a focused work schedule but also offers plenty of chances to enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife after each day’s meetings and presentations.

CEE VC Summit

When: March 28-29, 2023 
Where: Warsaw, Poland
Website

What it is?
Creating a space to strengthen regional relations, exchange valuable insights, and bridge the gap between Poland and more mature VC ecosystems, this invitation-only two-day event hosts more than 200 GPs and selected LPs.

The schedule for this year looks exciting, with discussions and presentations on crucial topics such as how VCs can differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive CEE market; how to manage and evaluate your portfolio during turbulence; the state of the Ukrainian startup ecosystem; or navigate to exit in uncertain times.

CEE VC Summit is hosted by Vestbee, the largest online matchmaking platform for startups and scaleups in Central and Eastern Europe, and is supported by the global community of VC funds, corporates, business angels and accelerators – from Amazon to Tera Ventures and everything in between. Vestbee is a regional pioneer in online startup events, making CEE VC Summit valuable for all interested VCs in the CEE region.

Why you should go?
There aren’t many conferences in Central and Eastern Europe that are aimed specifically at VCs, but the CEE VC Summit is already leading the way, making it one of the most valuable VC gatherings in the region. Attending gives you the chance to network with leading VCs and startups, and this year will feature more than 50 Ukrainian companies – a unique opportunity for anyone interested in gaining more insight into their ecosystem.

TechChill 2023

When: April 26-28, 2023
Where: Riga, Latvia
Website

What it is?
One of the most significant tech and startup events in the Baltics, TechChill is bridging the gap in knowledge, skills, and networking in Latvia and throughout the region. Each year this conference brings together more than 2,300 attendees, including around 300 of the fastest-growing startups and most innovative corporations, alongside 200 investors active in the region, 100 media representatives, and scores of talented tech enthusiasts.

With three days of pitch battles, investor presentations, and awesome parties organized by a non-profit foundation that works to empower the Baltic startup ecosystem, TechChill is both unique and innovative.

Why you should go?
We enjoy TechChill because it’s a smaller, more focused event, inviting only the most relevant startups and investors. The number of attendees is purposefully limited, which ensures a much higher networking quality than many other conferences. Since the events and afterparties are limited in size, you’ll find both VCs and startups a lot more available to connect with.

If you’re not into massive events, this tech conference is for you. You’ll feel comfortable and will get more than enough opportunities to network with the right people.

Podim DX

When: May 15-17, 2023
Where: Maribor, Slovenia
Website

What it is?
Hosted in the beautiful city of Maribor, Podim DX is quite influential throughout the region. This is a conference that seeks to connect true innovators with business opportunities, capital, and knowledge. Podim DX is a gateway to and from the region, bringing together renowned international investors and established corporations with startups and scaleups for three days of efficient networking and dealmaking.

150 to 200 carefully selected startups and up to 1,000 attendees will be coming this year, making 2023 the perfect time to network in Maribor with a group that’s diverse yet focused. You’ll have the chance to make real business connections.

Why you should go?
One of Podim DX’s biggest differentiators is Deal Room, their match-making scheduling app, which makes it much easier to connect with the right people. It’s a cool solution to a common challenge at conferences like this.

If you want to get to know the best startups in this region and specifically in Slovenia, which is often called the ‘Switzerland of the Balkans’, this is the place to do it. You’ll enjoy the connections and opportunities as much as the relaxed atmosphere and beautiful setting.

Latitude59

When: May 24-26, 2023
Where: Tallinn, Estonia
Website

What it is?
Estonia is a pioneer among digital societies, so you know that attending the country’s flagship startup and tech event will be worth your while. Latitude59 brings together top entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders from the country and the region to network, share ideas, and learn from each other in an exciting and supportive environment.

This year’s conference focuses on the tech sector’s response to global chaos, the importance of mental health and the principles of synergy and cooperation. These themes form the backdrop for several days of inspiring talks and presentations.

Why you should go?
Latitude59 is the largest startup event in the Baltic region – it showcases true Estonian innovation while also attracting a significant portion of international participants. Being backed by the most dedicated startup nation in the world, we truly see Latitude59 as the up-and-coming rival for the globally famous Slush event.

Not only will this conference bring you to the most startup-supportive country in the world, but it will also give you a chance to visit the lovely city of Tallinn – the perfect combination of historic architecture and tech innovation. It’s the ideal place to get inspired while learning how to establish a successful startup in the region.

Surge Summit

When: September 5-8, 2023
Where: Tbilisi, Georgia
Website (check back on Mar 16)

What it is?
Surge Summit is a premier tech event that brings together the best and brightest of startups, hubs, and ecosystem stakeholders, as well as angels and VCs from the EECCAA region (Eastern Europe, Caucasus, and Central Asia). Featuring a full three days of panel discussions, matchmaking and networking, the summit lets you connect with more than 800 startups, along with over 80 speakers and 45 VC funds.

There’s something for everyone at this large and eclectic tech summit, where you’ll find plenty of inspired and hungry young startups looking for the right opportunity to excel.

Why you should go?
Often overlooked by VCs in the past, Georgia is a very promising country with many opportunities just waiting to be tapped. Attending this summit will put you in touch with innovators from the EECCA region, all together in one place.

Moreover, Georgia is a rapidly developing regional tech hub, with a booming startup scene and a supportive ecosystem. The country’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia also makes it an ideal place for entrepreneurs to connect with potential partners and customers from both regions.

You can purchase your tickets to Surge Summit starting Thursday, March 16th.

How to Web

When: October 4-5, 2023
Where: Bucharest, Romania
Website

What it is?
Focused on entrepreneurship and innovation, How to Web attracts European founders, investors, and tech execs looking to innovate. While the conference features four stages with international industry leaders, one of the biggest draws is Startup Spotlight, the most intense competition for startups in the area.

This is a high-energy event that some call the leading tech conference in the region. We’ll let you decide that, but there’s no doubt that How to Web is leading the way when it comes to bringing Romanian startups together with some of the most prominent investors and forward-thinkers in Europe.

Why you should go?
Since the global success of UiPath, a robotics company that started in Bucharest, all eyes have been on Romania – and a new generation of startups has recently arisen, ready for success. Romania has a very strong startup scene, and everywhere you turn you’ll find innovation.

What we love most about How to Web is the Startup Spotlight, an engaging startup pitch competition that puts some of the brightest minds in the industry onstage to compete for attention and prize money.

Engaged Investments Conference

When: October 25, 2023
Where: Prague, Czechia
Website

What it is?
The Engaged Investments Conference in the Czech capital of Prague brings together startup founders, thought leaders, and investors from all around Europe for an intense day of workshops, speed dating, networking and round tables. The conference has expanded immensely over the past few years, turning into an event that draws some of the brightest and most inspiring figures in the industry to one of the most beautiful cities in Europe.

The emphasis here is on cooperation and partnership, sharing knowledge of successes and failures in a supportive, invigorating environment.

Why you should go?
We never fail to attend the Engaged Investments Conference, and not just because it’s in our backyard. The conference is always well organized, thanks to DEPO Ventures, the fastest and most successful business angels syndicate in the CEE region. Everything here is perfectly representative of how they do business: on point, swift, and with plenty of afterparties.

Since this conference takes place the day before the Disraptors summit, you can enjoy a perfect combination of events in the Golden City, stretched over two days. Attending will put you in touch with the movers and shakers in the Czech startup and VC ecosystem.

Disraptors

When: October 26, 2023
Where: Prague, Czechia
Website

What it is?
Formerly known as the SWCSummit, Disraptors is one of the most significant events of its kind in Czechia. This event is intended for everyone from VCs to startups, corporates to NGOs. Everyone comes with an open mind and is ready to collaborate.

One of the biggest highlights is the Startup Championship, where startups compete for $500,000 in investment. They’ll also get to call themselves the European Champion, which comes with international media attention and a chance to compete in the Global Finale of the Startup World Cup.

Why you should go?
This is certainly the largest Czech startup event, and it attracts amazing international speakers like Steve Wozniak, Esther Wojcicki, and Tosca Musk. The event was recently rebranded, which has brought a breath of fresh air and a more vigorous approach to invitations and programming.

The Startup Championship is always a sight to behold, with up to 700 V4 startups signing up every year. The draw? Aside from the prize money and local VC connections, the organizers can connect the most promising founders with Western powerhouses such as Y Combinator, Stanford (Dave Evans), Speedinvest, or Octopus Ventures.

Untold Stories Conference

When: November 2023
Where: Budapest, Hungary
Website

What it is?
This founder-centric gathering in the heart of Budapest aims to create an environment where real learning and networking can take place. Their mission is to shine the spotlight on some of the most promising startups in the region, connecting them with investors who can make their dreams and hard work come to fruition.

This is a conference that focuses on education and sharing ideas, bringing inspiring speakers from around the world to share their knowledge. The programming stretches over two days and is always intended to foster connections.

Why you should go?
Hungary is a huge market, but there aren’t many industry events there. The Untold Stories Conference is the exception – and it’s worth attending. Need more convincing? Read this insightful policy report from Startup Hungary, one of the conference organizers. It sheds light on issues that might be holding the Hungarian startup and VC ecosystem back and will clue you into some of the country’s investment opportunities.

Wildcard: MatchIN Tech and Investor Summit

When: May 11-12, 2023
Where: Lake Ohrid, Macedonia 
Website (coming soon)

What it is?
A new two-day tech extravaganza hosted on the beautiful Lake Ohrid, MatchIN Tech and Investor Summit brings together more than 100 startups, some 50 angel investors, and dozens of VCs and corporates. This is a unique opportunity to meet, greet, and collaborate with the top representatives of Balkan tech in a stunning setting.

Why you should go?
We’re stoked to share some early info about this Balkan event, which is one of the newest and most exciting tech summits in Europe. In a beautiful location that sets itself apart from urban startup conferences, the MatchIN Tech and Investor Summit gives you a chance to meet the best of tech from the Western Balkans and the most promising investment-ready seed and pre-seed startups.

Check their website at the beginning of April for more information about the summit and to get your hands on tickets.

Are you planning to attend any of these events? Did we miss any interesting tech conferences in the CEE+ region? Get in touch to let us know at hello@prestoventures.com.

Related Posts:

VC And Startup Trends 2023: Cleantech, Energy, Greentech, Impact Investing (by Olga Chechłacz, Editor, Vestbee)
CEE Unicorns: The Rise Of Startup Ecosystem In Central & Eastern Europe (by Katarzyna Groszkowska, Editor, Vestbee)
VC Trends Shaping CEE Startup Ecosystem In 2023 (by Olga Chechłacz, Editor, Vestbee)

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