After the Game Connection I flew straight from Paris to Macedonia to mentor and be in the Jury in Mobile App Camp. Mobile App Camp is an international (mobile) startup event and competition that brings together the winners of local startup-competitions from Balkan region. In the event there were 40 startups and mentors and investors from more than 10 countries.
On my way to Skopje I had a 7-hour stop in Belgrade, Serbia where I visited my friend Tähve, who is leading the local chapter of Nortal. With Tähve and his colleagues we held a hour long laser war, followed by a dinner in a nice restaurant and then I took a short flight to Skopje.
Skopje has a modern airport with wide and good quality road to the city. Locals are very proud of their past and consider ancient macedonians and Alexandre the Great to be their forebears. This obviously opposes the Greek opinion, who are sure that Alexandre the Great was Greek. In fact, this is a part of the reason why Greece refuse the recognize the name of Macedonia (even in the form of FYR Macedonia). Since their biggest county (the one bordering FYR Macedonia) is called Macedonia, Greece are afraid that the country of Macedonia has territoral claims for their county Macedonia. Macedonians, on the other hand, would much prefer their country to be called North-Macedonia (instead of current Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia) and this hints that they do believe that “south-macedonia” should actually be a part of their country. It is yet another messy situation in the Balkan family.
On Sunday we had a city tour and saw a little bit more of Skopje. The city is being rebuilt right now and government is investing a staggering €40m in doing that. A big part of that money goes to building new monuments (mostly of the Alexandre the Great, of course). No doubt that the city centre will look much better after the works scheduled until 2014 finish. The only question for me was that perhaps it would make sense to skip some of the monuments and throw in some fountains, parks with benches, kids playgrounds etc. But then again, perhaps the monuments will give a psychological or emotional edge in the dispute with Greece.
The event was great. 40 startups from all of the Balkan countries (+ Ukraine) and high-class mentors from the UK, US, Italy, France, Finland, Germany, Estonia and other countries. I heard some very interesting ideas from motivated teams and I believe we will hear from them in the future. We chose the winners in 5 categories, dependant on the strength of the teams. The overall winner was croatian company iDerma, a solution to help dermatologists serve their customers better and much more efficiently. In the “best game” category the winner was macedonian company X3M Games that was able to demonstrate several games with amazing graphics and entertaining gameplay.
Considering that it was the first time ever when an event on this scale was organised in Macedonia it went really well. I was impressed by the work organisers had done in attracting potent startups and high-class mentors. For aspiring mobile startups I suggest to keep an eye on the competition and apply for it the next year, since the organisers plan to make it an European-level event.