Launch Your Startup In Herzegovina’s Precious Gem: Mostar

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Mostar is a beautiful historical city that is growing at a fast pace when it comes to development of the startup ecosystem. Find out what the city has to offer and what are the things you should look out for.

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Ivo Andric, world famous Nobel Prize winner once wrote: “When you spend a night in Mostar, it is not the sound that wakes you up in the morning, but – the light”. The historic town of Mostar is one of the most beautiful cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, situated in the heart of the Herzegovina region, well known as the land of sun and rocks with charming landscape and atmosphere.

Despite ungrateful political and economical issues in the country and city itself, Mostar has managed to establish a solid base for developing stable and fast growing startup ecosystem.

Direction: Mostar

Advantages Of Starting Up In Mostar:

  • Living expenses are significantly lower compared to the rest of Europe. According to Expatistan’s Cost of Living Mostar is ranked 79th most expensive city among 84 European cities.
  • Favorable traffic connections – until recently Mostar didn’t have well developed air traffic network (fortunately, it’s situated within approximately 2 hours away from the cities – such as Split, Dubrovnik and Sarajevo). Recently it’s been announced that the new lines to Germany, United Kingdom, Poland, Albania are being established. Other traffic connections are developed as well, including railway transport and road infrastructure.
  • English is widely spoken among business, tech people and young people in general.
  • Relatively low standard rate of 17% VAT
  • Tax reliefs – for those who export at least 30% of their products/services, the government doesn’t charge taxes for economic gain
  • Quality and well educated workforce which is not too expensive. The average netto salary in the country is 422€.
  • Mostar is a student city. With two different universities with over 10 faculties has more than 20 000 students in each faculty
  • Fast growing number of excellent engineers coming from local universities – especially IT engineers.
  • Establishment, growth and strengthening of institutions providing technology transfer and innovation support as well as support for emerging startups. Also, this year government started few programmes for supporting startups – reducing the company registration expenses and tax obligations for hiring new employees
  • Low competition – Mostar Startup scene is still in development stage so the competition for certain (financial and other) support is low, therefore the chances to gain support are bigger
  • Mostar Software City initiative – developed as a result of successful cooperation between enterprises in ICT sector on common interest. It’s established with a mission to make stronger local capacity and competence, promote entrepreneurship in ICT sector, and together with the academic community work on research and development to make region more attractive as a ICT location. Vision of the initiative is to become region known by development of innovative and quality software solution, and their commercialization on international market.
  • Mostar is a beautiful place to live in for many reasons: great geographic position, beautiful natural resources nearby and excellent climate with many sunny days through the year.
  • Despite constantly being marked as “divided city” – for people unburdened with prejudices Mostar is primarily a great multicultural environment and place of diverse cultural, ethnic and religious communities

What Startup Founders Have To Consider:

  • Slow and complicated bureaucracy in public institutions.
  • Long time period necessary to register your company (around a month).
  • Relatively high expenses for registration of company (approximately 800€) plus around 600 € of extra costs immediately after the registration
  • Startup scene is in early stage of development and it’s still being recognized by the local population and responsible institutions.
  • There are not many opportunities to get investments.
  • The access to financing is quite difficult – mindset of the local investors that are still not ready to take the risk of investing in startups.

All things considered, starting a startup in Mostar is not the easiest thing to do. On the other hand, mindset and awareness about startups in general and support provided to them is growing and developing, and Mostar welcomes you to be part of it.

Dive Into Mostar’s Local Community!

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There are two organisation in Mostar focused on building and strengthening startup community. INTERA Technology Park is a pioneer of startup ecosystem development in Mostar. It is established 3 years ago with the goal of promoting entrepreneurship, supporting and incubating start-ups, providing training and education, fostering business and academic networking. SPARK business Park is recently established accelerator with a mission of providing support to member companies and people with business ideas at all stages of their growth. Most of the Mostar Startup Community events and information are provided through those two organisations.

Where you can find info about upcoming events, meetups and other occasions:

Regular Events & Meet-ups:

  • IT focused Business Tuesdays in INTERA Technology Park – themes of previously organised events were:
    • “IT in tourism”
    • “Female entrepreneurship with focus on online sale”
    • “Startup Yourself!” with focus on promotion of startup companies and startup culture in general
    • “Grant funds – I know how and where” with information of different support funds that exist for startups in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • “IT&wine”
  • Next planned Business Tuesdays at INTERA Technology Park:
    • “IT in education”
    • “Freelance – desk is everywhere”
    • “INTERA TP as future National Point of contacts of European Centre for Women in Technology”
  • Informal meetups with different topics related to needs and interests of startups at INTERA Technology Park. For example, recent meetups were presentation of Superfounders acceleration program and visit of Mr. Peter Corbett, widely known entrepreneur and specialist for marketing.
  • Tech Meetups at SPARK business park – event organised 4 times a year with a goal to gather all IT companies and other interested bodies from Herzegovina so they could meet, hang out, exchange experiences, find new clients or partners or simply start new startup.
  • Demo day at SPARK business park – event organised for startups in SPARK accelerator where they can show what they’ve accomplished and in 3 minutes pitches try to gain attention of potential investors
  • Hardware Startups is event organised by SPARK business park and intended for young entrepreneurs, startups and IT companies, IT students and those who think about starting their own HW startup.
    Crowdfunding workshops at SPARK business park are planned as events that gather experts from that area to share their knowledge and encourage people to start new startups

Yearly Or Major Events, Festivals, Conferences:

Startup Weekend Mostar – Startup Weekend is a global network of passionate leaders and entrepreneurs on a mission to inspire, educate, and empower individuals, teams and communities. It’s a great event to share ideas, form teams and launch startups in only 54 hours. INTERA Technology Park organizes Startup Weekend twice a year, 3 of them were organized so far and next is planned for April 2016. So far interest and feedback from participants but also mentors and guests was great – few startups have been formed and continued work on their project in INTERA TP incubator.

Need A Place To Work In Mostar?

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Co-working Spaces In Mostar:

INTERA Technology Park Coworking Space– If you are an independent professional, entrepreneur, startup, member of dislocated/virtual team or the traveler, an individual or team who work in a classic office and want to periodically refresh working environment, explode the daily business routine and move the boundaries of normal working environment, INTERA Technology Park coworking space is a place for you. It’s a first coworking place in Mostar, providing dynamic and motivating environment with reasonable prices, within 5 KM away from the city centre. Coworking facilities include: office desk with locker, 24/7 access to your office, meeting/conference room, Wi-fi and Printer/copy machine/scanner. This is a great opportunity for you to meet right people and form a team, find potential business partners, attend workshops, etc.

Take Care Of Your Financing In Mostar

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Incubators:

  • INTERA TP incubator is composed of 3 phases: pre-incubation, incubation and post incubation. Pre-incubation teams, individuals or teams with business idea, can stay up to 3 months and use space, training and consulting services for free! Public call for admission is permanently open. You can get professional support services according to your needs and level of development of your business idea, expert assistance in describing business idea and references of the team members, advice in preparation of the business plan and effective presentations of the idea, more detail on technology/service; partners; initial customers; competition; financials; timelines; milestones. The program is sponsored by Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and you can stay 3 to 6 months for free. What’s next? You can use incubation phase and stay in INTERA Business Incubator for three years period and start your company in a good business environment, with networking, solid team-work, and access to information, business training, consultancy and promotion. Incubation phase is also opened for any company registered less than 2 years and knowledge based. INTERA Incubator offers cheap furnished office space, business consulting, training services and meeting rooms.

Accelerators:

  • SPARK business Park offers expert guidance, excellent services and connections with investment partners, intensive mentoring and educational program, space and equipment for work, assistance for breakthrough on international market and connections with investors. They also offer valuable scholarships as well as possibilities of direct investments in their business growth. Main goal is to provide different possibilities for accomplishing their potentials. Those possibilities are consisted of services and privileges for selected candidates. This approach was chosen based on market research and observed need for covering basic expenses in initial phase of development of project ideas, and also expenses required for effective market entrance in acceptable time frame.
  • SuperFounders is a unique modular startup accelerator program for concept and prototype stage startups, designed to deliver market and investment readiness to pre-launch tech startups in several different sectors: Internet of Things, Consumer Mobile, Business Cloud, Fintech and commerce, Energy and cleantech and Life science. The program consists of masterclasses and permanent coaching by industry related mentors, on weekend long workshops, online sessions and local coaching meetings in five different cities: Skopje, Thessaloniki, Novi Sad, Podgorica and Mostar through partnership with INTERA. Demo Day will be held at the Balkan Venture Forum Zagreb, presenting to selected active investors. The top 5 startups will be offered 7-14 days of curated business development tour at one of the top European accelerators.

Grants & Subventions:

  • INTERA Technology Park Incubator offers grants to startups amounting to 2.500 Euros on yearly basis for different categories such as participation in conferences and fairs, initial startup package, human resources development, business visual design, R&D and consultant services.
  • SPARK accelerator offers scholarships amounting from 10.000 to 100.000 Euros through services and licences and direct investments of 500.000 Euros
  • Federal Ministry of Development, Entrepreneurship and Crafts opens call for grants for startup companies up to 4000 Euros on yearly basis
  • 2015 Federal Service for Employment started their Startup Subvention program with benefits for startups reducing the company registration expenses and tax obligations for hiring new employees in the period of 2 years
  • Innovation Programs provides Start Your Business training for business plan development, also enables refund of company registration expenses to anyone who finishes training successfully
  • Startup Academy is an innovative learning- by- doing model of developing business idea into a company organized in INTERA Technology Park in cooperation with incubators in Banja Luka and Tuzla. Currently 1st cycle is being implemented and the new call will be opened in December 2015. After the Demo day, winners receive 5000 € to use for their idea development and a ticket for Pioneers Festival 2016 in Vienna.
  • LINK, Association for Entrepreneurship and Business, provides CREDIT Guarantee Funds which aims to provide members of their fund loan guarantees. Credit lines are focused on young people and Small Businesses.

More Advice In Mostar

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Currently Mostar doesn’t have some kind of official service which would provide all necessary information regarding administrative, legal and financial issues for startups. You should go in many different institutions, usually in multiple occasions, and speak with many different people before you could obtain all necessary information.

LINK, Association for Entrepreneurship and Business, provides services of Business consulting in the field of advice on the registration of economic activity. Besides that, Head of legal and administrative department in INTERA Technology Park and business advisor for this questions for startups in INTERA incubator is always willing to share those information to all current but also potential future startups in incubator. Welcome!

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Last updated: August 1st, 2016

The guides are like startup communities – they contstantly change and grow. Make sure to check for updates and if you have something to add to one of them or want to publish one for your city, get in touch right away! And don’t forget to enrich the startup ecosystem by creating your company profile at StartUs!

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