Join Maribor’s Thrilling Startup Community

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Maribor has a lot to offer to anyone who is ambitious and passionate about starting a business. From a wide range of connections to the opportunity of working in international market. Maribor has a pool of opportunities to be explored.

Perfectly positioned in the heart of the Alpe Adria region, Maribor is booming with an evolving startup scene while offering a perfect work-life balance possibility. Learn more about Maribor’s startup community!

Serene landscapes of Pohorje, dynamic nightlife and creative talent, Maribor is becoming an attractive startup scene for international startups, digital nomads and young entrepreneurs.

Despite being the second largest city in Slovenia, Maribor has a small town feel. It’s a city in which you don’t need a car or public transport – walking boots or a bike do just fine. The city is gorgeous. It’s one of those old European cities that preserved its old architecture. You will find castles, old mansions, medieval towers and even a majestic Franciscan church. Here’s something you didn’t know, Maribor is home to a 400 year old grapevine that is according to Guinness World Records, the oldest grapevine in the world. Not too shabby.

It is a city that doesn’t brag but let’s its achievements and programs that speak for itself. It is home to world renowned football player Zlatko Zahović and freestyle skier Filip Flisar. Furthermore it is home to well- known cultural professionals such as Tomaž Pandur, a famous theatre director and Karmina Šilec, the manager of the youth choir Carmina Slovenica. Every July Maribor hosts one of the largest open air inter-cultural festivals in Europe, called Festival Lent. One could describe Maribor as a city of great wine, excellent food and a finely tuned coexistence of city hustle and nature.

It has an industry tradition of leading companies that provided products and services for all of Yugoslavia. The brands and target markets changed, so that today Maribor is home to companies and factories that provide products and services for individuals as well as small, medium and big sized companies worldwide. The small city by the river Drava also exports to other European countries. The strongest example is Maribor’s automotive companies and factories that provide parts for leading European car manufacturers.

A small city of great character showcased in all its inhabitants. Mariborians are known for high levels of education, hard work, creativity and fun character. A great combination for startup team members and co-founders.

At The Foot Of Pohorje

Advantages Of Starting Up In Maribor:

  • You will be ideally positioned between Central Europe, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Which means you get the best of all worlds. Good business connections and a great Pannonian climate, with white winters and hot summers.
  • Ljubljana, Graz, Zagreb, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest are all reachable by car, bus or train within a couple of hours. Thus one can enjoy all the perks of living in a small city, while still doing international business in bigger European markets.
  • While Maribor has a small airport that has been completely renovated in 2014 and is currently working on establishing connections with London, the other airports most often used instead are the ones in Ljubljana, Graz, Zagreb and Vienna.
  • According to OECD, the corporate tax rate in Slovenia is 17%, making it among the lowest in Europe. There are also tax reliefs for investments that reduce corporate tax by 40% of the amount invested in intangible long-term assets and equipment or by 100% of the amount invested in R&D. There are also favorable depreciation allowances on buildings and equipment. More information on the tax system available here.
  • 1 in 6 inhabitants of Maribor are students. The public University of Maribor is the second biggest university in Slovenia with 17 faculties offering undergraduate and postgraduate programs in Maribor and regionally. More than 1700 highly skilled professors and other administrative members study and cultivate around 20,000 students. There are also other private faculties and institutions that offer university level educational programs.
  • University of Maribor is a big supporter of connecting business and research in Maribor and the whole eastern region of Slovenia. Its IOT program – Innovative Open Technology, where startups play an important role, is a development program uniting all who add to the development of Slovenian regions. It encourages the flow of knowledge, competition, and cooperation, builds on the potential of the young and connects existing technology with innovative solutions.
  • With approximately 105K inhabitants, Maribor is just the right size to find peace when you need it, to hunker down with work when you have to and to enjoy a rich social life including opera, football games, skiing on the Pohorje mountain, enjoying spectacular sunsets from the Piramida hill and going for a coffee by the river Drava when you get the urge to socialize. Great quality of life is common in Slovenia.
  • The majority of the city speaks English. Due to the proximity to the Austrian border a lot of inhabitants speak German as well. Other languages inhabitants know are Croatian and Serbian.
  • Mariborians are also great co-workers for your business. We come from a culture of perseverance and adaptability, something we’ve learned throughout history. This is best showcased by our athletes and startups determined to make an impact on the world.
  • You will rarely get stuck in traffic, so you won’t waste any time you could use to build your business and product.
  • You can bootstrap more since the cost of living is low. Compared to London it is 58% cheaper to live in Maribor. It is also very easy to find comfortable and trendy apartments in the city center or the surroundings for a good price.
  • You will feel very safe in this small city. There are only 46 violent crimes committed per 10.000 inhabitants per year and 0.24 murders per 10.000 inhabitants per year. It is also a very tolerant city of many diverse minorities including a well-integrated Romani community.
  • Maribor is a city of low air pollution, clean streets, water drinkable from the tap and a lot of urban greenery. It has parks and vineyards that stretch all the way to the city center, a river that creates an amazing ambient and neighboring hills perfect for hikes and biking.
  • Once you start a company in Maribor or in Slovenia in general, you and your coworkers get mandatory healthcare. With it you get access to free medical services and free medicine.
  • Slovenia has a good economy with a GDP per capita of 23,289.34$, putting it in 30th place among worldwide countries.

What You Should Consider:

  • Relatively small market. Slovenia has only around 2 million people. It might be tough to target a niche market. However, if you can create ripples here, the world is going to eat it out of your hands.
  • Bureaucracy. You can’t get around it. While it’s fairly simple to register a standardized company, the paperwork required later on can be a hassle for some. An entrepreneur like you shouldn’t have a problem, though.
  • High income tax. Depending on the amount of your income, the tax rate varies from 16%-50%.
  • Rigid labor market. While it is easy to hire an employee it may be a bit complicated to fire them.

What’s Up In Maribor’s Community?

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As soon as your feet hit the ground in Maribor you’ll notice how relaxed the environment is. After a month you’ll know all the players of the startup scene and you’ll have connections to startups that have reaped rewards internationally. There are no secrets here – locals share their knowledge freely. Think of it like a family.

  • First thing’s first. Check out Start:up Maribor and it’s Facebook page. They will become your second home. Start:up Maribor is the key player in Maribor’s startup community organizing educational and networking events, workshops, meetings and conferences.
  • Maribor also has a growing tech community that organizes meetups for programmers and technical co-founders.
  • There is also a community of startup enthusiasts on Facebook, where they discuss ideas, articles and share resources. It’s called Startupovci v Mariboru
  • Multidisciplinarity is in Maribor’s heart. Tkalka / Weaver showcases that as an incubator of multidisciplinary talents for future startup founders and employees.
  • If you’re building a physical product you’ll need a prototype, the guys at Kreator Lab will help you with their knowledge and machinery for 3D print, CNC, and much more.
  • High school students, the future generations of entrepreneurs also have a program meant for them. One such program is the High School Student Idea Incubator.

Regular Events & Meetups:

  • Start:up Musli is a weekly event that focuses on different startup topics including business model, marketing, sales,… It is organized so that different people from their respective fields come, talk and debate with the audience about their experiences.
  • Spletne urice are events for programmers. They consist of workshops, talks, live walkthroughs and other interesting events for tech guys.
  • Every semester, students of Maribor join Demola, a project where they get their first experiences from entrepreneurship. Working on products and spin-offs with different companies. They annually carry out 90 projects with 400 students. These students are submerged into the world of Entrepreneurship and are motivated to join startups like yours or make their own once they finish. You can find them in the rectorate of the University of Maribor.

Yearly Events:

  • Maribor also hosts the largest and leading yearly conference on entrepreneurship and innovation in the Alpe – Adria region called PODIM. Make sure you get your tickets early, because they sell out fast and you don’t want to miss it.
  • An important part of Maribor’s startup community is Microsoft’s Imagine cup student competition. Several teams from the University of Maribor achieved top rankings in the world finals, granting them and our community global media exposure. Successful Maribor startups like Inova IT, Motiviti and others started out as Imagine Cup teams. Best show-case of the competition and Maribor’s startup community is team ADORA which came in second place in the 2013 worldwide finals, beating hundreds of other international teams. Today ADORA is an ambitious startup with a global potential present on the European market.

Choose An Inspiring Space To Be Productive In Maribor

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We get it. You’re not here just to hike around, enjoy lattes in the sun and mingle in a local jazz bar. You also want to get some work done. Well, we’ve got you covered. Whether you’d like to join a coworking space or type away in a coffee shop, there’s a right fit for everyone. Don’t even bother looking for Wi-Fi connections, because you will get it everywhere.

Co-working Spaces In Maribor:

  • Tovarna podjemov is a 500m2 pragmatic space with a startup ambient, full of startups, great mentors and other members of the community who will be right by your side if you need any assistance. They are also a partner of the biggest newspaper in the region VEČER, which offers a special partnership with the best startups.
  • Something completely different? Tkalka/CAAP is a huge 2,500m² space that won Slovenian Best Coworking Space Award of 2015. This 5 story building in the center is already full of creative people, but there’s always space for more.
  • How cool would it be to have an office in a mansion? Vetrinjski dvor is exactly that. Situated next to the big city square, you can have your work done and get a nice relaxing coffee break on the sun.
  • CoWorking Maribor is located just a couple minutes walking from Drava’s riverside. Be careful, because the calming allure of the river can distract you away from your work desk.
  • Styrian Technology Park is another coworking space where you can get a desk and a mentor’s advice.

Co-working Spaces Nearby:

  • Just an hour drive to the northeast, in Murska Sobota you will find Tehnološki Park Pomurje with its own Startup community and coworking.
  • Also in Murska Sobota, Aurora Coworking is cheerleading for young entrepreneurs and offering support.
  • Start:up Celje and Start:up Velenje are a short distance away to the West. Sharing a similar laissez faire vibe as Maribor, they are places you can really hunker down and focus on work.
  • The oldest Slovenian city, Ptuj, also has a coworking space and a growing startup community.
  • You can also travel north an hour to Graz. They have many co-working possibilities.

Secure Your Startup’s Budget In Maribor

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How to get around and secure some much needed funds, huh? If you’re a serious hustler, the best way to get funded is to pitch to Start:up Slovenia that organizes funds such as P2, SK50, SK75 and SK200 in coordination with The Slovene Enterprise Fund. Also here is a hint, The Slovene Enterprise Fund has its headquarters in Maribor.

In the past few years Maribor has been getting more and more global recognition as a startup scene. Maribor’s startups have been funded by global incubators and accelerators such as Techstars (tvBeat, Databox), Wayra (EqualEyes, JollyDeck), Seed Sumo (SportWip), Tech Wildcatters (Reveel), Eleven (ADORA, Edgar), Industrio (Lock&Charge),… One of the ways Maribor’s startups meet potential investors is through the PODIM conference, where they can pitch investors on stage or privately in the breaks during talks. A showcase of the serious attitude towards business is also the fact that the city is developing a Business zone that will become a highly developed industrial, service and research area for both businesses and the University of Maribor. It will add an important new attribute to a small city with high aspirations.

Incubators & Accelerators:

  • Already validated product/market fit? Go:Global Slovenia offers 200.000€ and top notch knowledge support to companies who already made strides in their business.
  • The Slovene Enterprise Fund’s tender P2 provides a 54.000 € subsidy to start-up companies with an innovative idea, with the purpose of developing a product in the span of two years.
  • ABC Accelerator just opened its doors in March 2015 and is contributing to the development of the Slovenian Start-up ecosystem. With the right idea and attitude, they can help you find a right business partner and initial investment of 15.000€ per start-up.
  • Start:up Geek House is an acceleration program that offers a 75.000€ convertible loan to early stage startups.

Find Additional Help In Maribor

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By now you should be convinced that Maribor is one of the most suitable cities to realize your dreams. You get versatile support for you and your company, absolutely blissful climate, a perfect starting point for discovering other European cities, beautiful nature, great cultural events and exciting sports games. Low cost of living and high quality of life are just the two cherries on top.

For further advice you should contact the always helpful and the before mentioned Start:up Maribor, run by Venture Factory the incubator of the University of Maribor, who is the key stakeholder in Maribor’s startup community. They will provide you with all the information you need to start a company in Maribor or to move it to Maribor. You will also get support, advice and even mentors on how to grow your business in Slovenia’s market. With their help you will quickly be a part of Maribor’s growing startup community.

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Last updated: August 1st, 2016

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