Pioneers

Go East 

Words: Teresa Reiter
Photo: 
DAVOR VISNJIC/PIXSELL

The economic situation is dismal. But necessity is the mother of invention. Hence the abundance of startups from a region that once produced geniuses like Nikola Tesla and which today wants to be associated with creativity, not war - Part 2 - Sizem, Solaborate and more     

Solaborate, Kosovo

Facebook, LinkedIn, Xing and all the others weren’t good enough for the Kosovo brother and sister team Labinot and Mimoza Bytyqi. He was an electrical engineering and IT graduate and she a former JP Morgan financial consultant – together they wanted to plug the gap between social and professional networks, so they created a sort of hybrid called Solaborate.

Pioneers

Facebook for companies Labinot Bytyqi and his sister Mimoza have developed a platform
that combines the requirements of company intranets with the joys of social networking. Now they’re working on the hardware to go with it

© Solaborate

 Their goal was to create a central portal to make various tools and services available to tech entrepreneurs, while also making it possible for them to network and work on joint projects in real time – and thus build an ecosystem around their products and services. While Solaborate has some basic functions in common with traditional platforms, namely chat, status updates, document sharing and job searches, its developers have placed great emphasis on a user-friendly infrastructure to enable the sharing and editing of software demo versions. The company was launched in Prishtina in 2012, but now has fully relocated to Los Angeles. The first complete version for Windows has been available since 2014. The 35 members of Solaborate staff are working on mobile apps for iOS and Android as well as other functions. And the Bytyqi siblings are making mysterious allusions to an initial hardware product which will “shake up” the traditional online real-time collaboration landscape.

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Solaborate explained 

Sizem, Croatia 

Sizem loves breasts… and the truth. Ana Kolarević from Croatia has created an app that tells women their ‘true cup size’.

Pioneers

The perfect size Studies indicate that 90 per cent of women wear the wrong bra. Ana Kolarevic wants to change that

© Davor Visnjic/PIXSELL

The problem is that different manufacturers use different sizes which then vary from continent to continent. which is confusing and leads to people buying the wrong size. So to avoid that happening, Sizem tells every woman the size she needs for every type of bra. This is done on the one hand via a special measuring system and on the other through close cooperation with the manufacturers. 

Ana Kolarević is proud that her bra-size calculator is the only one of its kind, “which takes into account the most obvious things, like breathing”. The tool then gives its result: the maximum and minimum size you can wear of that specific bra type.

Disaster App, MACEDONIA

When Vasko Popovski, the Disaster and Climate Risks project manager at the UN, was confronted with the catastrophic effects of the 2013 floods in Macedonia, the first thing that gave him a headache was the lack of opportunity to communicate with the local population in real time.

Pioneers

Lifesaver: mobile phone Earthquakes, floods, storms – Vasko Popovski’s app warns people of natural disasters and dangers in real time. But the greatest danger is the app running out of money

So the man who describes himself as an “information freak”, designed a smartphone app which makes it easy to quickly spread news about floods, earthquakes and severe storms. Using detailed maps, users can retrieve precise information on the intensity of the disaster in a given location and at the same time get tips on escape routes, the emergency services and the level of danger. Thanks to an additional early-warning system, users can alert others to danger too.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) thought it was a wonderful idea and gave Popovski $10,000 start-up capital. His idea was then brought to life by a team of IT professors and students from the University of Skopje and is currently undergoing tests. The UN website calls the app “revolutionary” and says that it will make an important contribution to public safety.

AVANTGARDE BIKES, SERBIA

In some cities in the Balkans, venturing out on a bike in the hellish traffic is bordering on an extreme sport experience. And yet ever more valiant heroes and heroines are giving it a shot. Their wheels maywell come from Avantgarde Bikes in Subotica. This town on the Hungarian border was already the epicentre of Yugoslav bicycle production back in the 1960s. And no wonder, for its flat streets and general lack of inclines make it something of a Dutch-style cycling paradise. Cyclists now account for a third of its traffic. 

Founded in 2013 by a Serbian dentist called Jaser Badawi, Avantgarde Bikes was the first company in Serbia to specialise in single-speed and fixie bikes. With simple designs and prices that are still affordable in acknowledgement of the country’s low average wages, Avantgarde Bikes has racked up early success and hopes that its jaunty Serbian bikes will catchon elsewhere in Europe too.

Pioneers

Reinventing the wheel Avantgardist Jaser Badawi’s (left)minimalist design fixie bikes built in Vojvodina cost 25,000 Dinar, or €200. The bikes come in colours including neon yellow and copper. Wooden handlebars are available on request 

© Avantgarde Bikes

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