#StartUpSelfie #11

Silicon Drinkabout Skopje is a casual weekly meet up of folks working in tech startups or doing creative digital stuff in Macedonia. It takes place every Friday and at one of this gatherings in my hometown the Pioneers of the Balkans team joined us to meet the MKstartups community.

I must admit that when I first met him I was unaware who he is and what he does, but after our initial conversation I was thrilled to learn more about Jürgen Furian the Co-Founder of Pioneers and share his story.

“Everything started right after my studies back in 2009. Coming from a small town in the southern part of Austria, me and my friend Andreas wanted to start a project, where you have a place for meet-ups and as an individual you can share your idea and meet journalists, mentors etc… Since we saw that there is a big interest, after a while this project switched into an event format. The first time we organized it as an event, we got the Microsoft offices for the weekend and to get the journalists to come we needed to explain better that startups are the future. Even though in the first two years we weren’t making any money, we saw the potential and kept on going.” – says Jürgen.

This is the first time that Pioneers is organizing a program for the Balkan startups. Since we are days before the PioneersOfTheBalkans grand finale, I was eager to hear about his experience.

“Nowadays, wherever you are based you have the chance. Take it from Bellabeat coming from Croatia and if you could do a flying car from Bratislava, than there’s no more to add. The excuse that coming from this region it’s hard to start a business and succeed internationally, is no longer valid. It might be harder in the begging, but now, we are more connected than ever. Also, not everyone can be or has to be an entrepreneur. Remember that on your journey, there would be many roller-coasters and it is not going to be easy. But if you are passionate about something, you want to do it for the right reasons and purpose, when you feel a fire in your belly, than go for it and do it! And I highly recommend to everyone, Be Curious, look outside the box and beyond the horizon.” adds Jürgen.

The Pioneers team doesn’t stop here and looks beyond the horizon for sure, that’s why I wanted to know first hand about their future plans and when was the moment he felt most proud of doing what he does.

“We are definitely working on expanding towards USA, Asia, the middle east and the MENA region. We really care about growing the brand and the impact we could have to as many startups as possible. The vision is to have  all the tech innovators connected to a network that will help them to succeed. In the following period I would like to get to that stage where I can help entrepreneurs to build their dreams, to make connections and create bigger network for this community. There are so many moments when I feel proud of doing what I do, one that tops them all is when we switched the dates for the Pioneers Festival from October to May and managed to organize it impeccable with limited amount of time, thanks to the whole team behind it. So yes, I am the most proud of the people that I work with on a daily basis.” – says Jürgen.

It is a real pleasure talking to Jürgen, whenever we meet. I would like to wish great success to all startups that were part of the PioneersOfTheBalkans programme and on another note, the Pioneers team has a new approach for the next Pioneers Festival 2016, where you can apply to be among 500 startups and get a once in a lifetime experience. Looking forward to May and meeting Jürgen again so we could do a #StartUpSelfie part 2 and catch-up.

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Till next week,


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