Last week we’ve finally reached the conference day of WLEF. For half a day over 150 people gathered in central London to listen, talk, and network Lithuania. As the conference third part was focused on Lithuanian startups, over two dozens of VCs turned up at the event. While the rest of the audience was comprised of Lithuanian and foreign high profile businessmen, a large delegation from Lithuania itself, and a margin of various other guests. This is an attempt to give you a fair impression of what happened during that half of a day.
The conference was kicked off by a speech delivered by Lithuania’s PM Andrius Kubilius, right after greeting speeches. PM gave a snapshot of Lithuania’s fiscal consolidation, key advantages and pulled that joke about basketball victory and Eurovision being the next hard targets of the government, while everything else being easy. It was followed by quite thoroughly seconding speech by a representative from IBM. Next on the panel for a moment it looked that “Strategic Staffing Solutions” and “Barclays” outright loves Lithuania from what they’ve said, but the impression was later effectively downed by a question from the audience about whether Barclays retail banking will come to Lithuania – the answers was: not any time soon. Minister of economics, who joined the panel to answer questions admitted it was his job to engage Lithuanian’s abroad and those about to leave, but failed to give a good reason why national problem of emigration will be reversed.
The second panel was more dynamic, providing more than one interesting thought on how to nurture entrepreneurship ecosystem. While minister of economics said startups where a priority, Bill Morrow from Angels Den said healthy startups should spring where it is tough, meaning no direct influx from the government. It was furthered by Henrik Albertsen from Nordic Venture Partners as he said he would not invest into a startup who has received public money. On the other note from the panel two successful Lithuanian companies spoke about their experience that painted a picture of business being a lone warrior in the field of Lithuania. During the question sessions minister of economics said he would go green tech should he return to business after his present duties. An indication for us all.
Last session was comprised of seven Lithuanian startup pitches. Quality of the presentations for once (during the second panel it was voiced that all Europeans, especially from northern part are terrible at pitching) was quite good, some of the pitchers really demonstrating great skill, and the content of all of them was considerable. We at Open Coffee Club believe that all seven were good business opportunities for VCs. This can be backed by number of very positive responses from VCs collected after the conference. One more note worth mentioning, is that aside traditional IT startups from Lithuania, we had greeen-tech, bio-tech, an even nano-tech pitching at the event.
To sum it up it was intense half of a day, with great number of messages to be heard and outstanding networking opportunity. Hopefully Lithuania lit up lighter on the minds of quite a few in London, as well as gave good chance for Lithuanian and foreign companies to meet up and hopefully bridge some lasting partnerships. So let’s collect the fruits of this event and brace for the one next year.