Edited and prepared by Oscar Michel, Masters in Journalism, DCU

Interesting interview with Marija Rucevska, TechChill CEO announcing the next TechChill event.  

TechChill is the leading startup event in the Baltics, bringing together the most promising startups from the region for two days of inspiration, deals and networking. It’s the best place to get the first glimpse at the booming tech scene in the region, checking out the ideas being made here, together with other international investors, entrepreneurs and tech enthusiasts. But at the heart of it, TechChill is a non-profit that brings together the tech and startup communities from the Baltics, Nordics and Eastern Europe, helping ambitious ideas meet smart capital and help them grow and succeed.

When is it on?
TechChill happens every February, so we like to say it’s the event that begins the startup season. The dates for 2018 are February 8-9, and the first early bird passes are out already – we have many new and exciting things planned!

How many years has it been going?

This will be the 7th year for the event already, since it’s almost as old as the local community itself. At first, it started out as a meetup of like-minded geeks, growing out of TechHub Riga members discussing their ideas – and now it’s huge international event.

What was the inspiration to start it?

At first, it started out as a meetup of like-minded geeks, growing out of TechHub Riga members as informal networking meetups. The first startup ideas were forming in Riga, and we saw that we needed a local event, as a reason to bring more people here, and attract more attention to what’s happening here. So we started our own event that would bring the tech giants to us and serve as a launch pad for fresh, young and ambitious local companies. TechChill is also one of the most visible examples of how fast the Baltic tech scene has been growing. Just a few years ago it was just a few people in the room, mostly Latvian founders and a few investors. Now it has grown to a pan-Baltic event, a meeting place for startups teams from across the region, and in February we expect to host at least 1500 attendees.

What exciting things can people look forward to for the 2018 version?

We have a few news things coming this year, and that we definitely look out for! First of all, we will focus on making sure you can meet everyone who matters. That means bringing here around 350 of the most interesting startups from the Baltics, Nordics, CEE, Ukraine, Belarus and Russia to Riga to meet with global investors.

The agenda on stage will be the main focus, as we will aim to share in knowledge, inspire present and future startup founders, as well as discuss the current trends, ideas and also challenges. We want to see speakers with real, raw and true stories to share, so the two-day agenda across two stages will feature around 80 speakers, with experienced founder stories, partnerships with a purpose and solving challenges with tech. Some of our first speakers include the Mighty Eagle of Angry Birds and founder of Slush Peter Vesterbacka, Co-Founder at Eventbrite & Partner at Index Ventures Renaud Visage, Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Hardware Club Barbara Belvisi, Venture Partner at 500 Startups Sheel Mohnot, Investment Partner for Microsoft Ventures Itxaso del Palacio.

What opportunities are on offer for people / startups / investors and companies attending?

Most importantly, TechChill is the best first stop for investors to discover the next great and promising startup teams, as well as mingle with other investors, speakers, key players and influencers. Startups can expect to meet with investors and business angels, build valuable contacts and partnerships. Investors and startups will be up for personally selected matchmaking, and we expect investors from across Europe and beyond flying in, including such our friends from Startup Sauna, Startup Wise Guys, Index Ventures, InReach Ventures, 500 Startups, Hoxton Ventures, Techstars, StartupBootcamp IOT, Hardware Club, Change Ventures, and many more.

We will also be changing the Pitch Battle format to give stage time to more early stage startups from the region. Working together with our community partners in the Baltics, Nordics, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and CEE, we will pick 50 promising early stage teams from the region to pitch directly to investors during TechChill, as well as the  both from recommendations as well as an open call for applicants.

Entrepreneurs will find TechChill to be an excellent place to catch up on all the latest developments in global innovation and technology, make meaningful business connections and get direct access to promising talent. Aside from the main stage agenda, attendees will be welcome to explore the Startup Expo showcasing the best ideas and products, Job Fair showcasing the best tech companies in the region looking for talent, and some of the several side events as there will be bountiful opportunities to mingle with just the right people you are looking for.

What tips would you give to people attending to get the most out of it?

Three key tips for everyone attending: first, for maximum networking success, do your research beforehand! Check out who’s coming, who are the people you want to meet and ideally reach out to them beforehand. Our matchmaking app is also a great way to see who’s there and connect directly to the people around you. Also, make sure to attend all relevant TechChill side-events, because that is no doubt the best way to make connections, whether those are investors, partners or just new friends.

For those looking to get the ultimate insider access, we recommend using existing connections (and making new ones on the go). And definitely do your research beforehand – know your investors from your hustlers!

How can people book tickets / when does it usually sell out?

Last year our tickets sold out before the event, as our attendee numbers surpassed all expectations and venue capacity as they more than doubled from the year before. Next year, we expect to host around 1500-2000 attendees at a brand new venue, so we suggest you get your passes sooner rather than later. Early Bird passes for 99EUR for both startups and general attendees give full access to two days of agenda as well as a series of side events and two afterparties, and will available until October 4th. If you’d like to be reminded about October approaching, all you have to do is sign up for our extra-non spammy newsletter and we’ll let you know.

Anything else you’d like to add / we should have asked?

Yeah, we bet you’re wondering what makes the Baltics so awesome? Well, the region has always been a historic crosspoint between East and West and the tech industry is currently reinvigorating this tradition in the digital age, with plenty of talented entrepreneurs with global ambition and resourceful developers being scouted by global companies.

Riga is practically booming with young people with outstanding ideas, good infrastructure and life quality, one of the fastest internet speeds in the world and easy access to any capital in Europe. Latvia’s tech scene also provides an unparalleled mix of reasonable startup costs, access to international entrepreneurial talent and capital, startup friendly regulation and excellent geographical connections. And TechChill is your one-stop shop to access the entire Baltic tech ecosystem.

If you would like to have your company featured in the Irish Tech News Business Showcase, get in contact with us at [email protected] or on Twitter: @SimonCocking

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