THE Crossroads | A Platform for Startups and Investors

THE Crossroads | A Platform for Startups and Investors

Georgia launched THE Crossroads on 21 April 2021 during the press conference. As part of the initiative, hundreds of startup founders, investors and heads of international companies will visit Tbilisi on 1-3 September.

THE Crossroads is the name of a new platform that was created in Georgia with the aim of developing and strengthening the startup ecosystem and establishing a regional startup hub. The first major event associated with the new Georgian brand will be held in September, when various Startups, Investors and other key enablers like Government bodies, Regulators, Accelerators, Incubators, Academia, Mentors, Thought-leaders, Corporate Innovation Lab, and various other service providers will have an opportunity to get to know each other and establish business relationships.

According to THE Crossroads Co-Founder Nikoloz Kobakhidze, Georgia has the potential to establish itself as a regional startup hub due to its geographic location. “One of Georgia’s most significant resources is its intellectual potential,” Mr. Kobakhidze states. A few years ago, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA) initiated a programme for funding startup ideas to support the development of the country’s startup ecosystem, which has seen dozens of new startups being founded in Georgia each year.

Creating a startup company does not automatically mean that it will thrive. “In fact, 97% of the startups in the ecosystem fails. Our aim is to lower this number. The most effective way of doing this is to share information, experience and to involve all the stakeholders,” explains THE Crossroads Co-Founder Swethal Kumar.

“The expectation of most of the founders is to get funded by global funds like Sequoia Capital, Lightspeed or even Corporate Venture arms like Google Venture, but if you have to attract these global funds to the region, you need to show regional’s capability, talents, market opportunity and innovations. THE Crossroads platform is built to provide that opportunity and create a trustworthy connection between startups and investors,” Nikoloz Kobakhidze adds.

The pandemic has accelerated progress in the field of technology and digitalisation. It was during the pandemic that Nikoloz Kobakhidze and Swethal Kumar came to the idea of creating a platform where startups would present their idea and product/service, meet investors, and establish potential partnerships.

Attendance and participation in THE Crossroads event is open both to Georgian and international startups. Participants will include companies from the Caucasus region, Central Asia, Middle East, the Baltic States, Central and Eastern Europe, India, the US and Latin America. The event will attract various local and international speakers and experts to share their experience and knowledge in a series of panel discussions, workshops, and other formats.

The event will include an exhibition where startups will present their ideas, plans and strategies to international investors. The registration process for project presentations has started, and will be open until 30 June. According to Swethal Kumar, startup incentive programmes are successfully operating in various other countries, and he is certain that The Crossroads would create attractive incentive programs for startups with the support of Government and other key enablers that will yield good results in the region.

“I firmly believe that our platform will do well in Georgia, and the relationships established between the startups and investors will prove fruitful. We have created incentive programmes for startups in the past. For example, The model is very successful in attracting international startups and investors to the UAE market. We therefore decided to develop a similar ecosystem in Georgia, and why not? Local startups are innovative and full of interesting ideas. Georgia has great potential to create a good landing platform for global startups to catapult to neighbouring region such as Central Asia, Eastern Europe, Baltic, and not to forget Middle East and Turkey,” Swethal Kumar states.

International partner for the September event is CPL Events and its Founder Linda Pereira, who is based in Lisbon where the Web Summit is held, one of the world’s largest technology and startup conference, which hosts approximately 70,000 guests annually and plays a key role in development of business tourism in country.

Founders of THE Crossroads are also expecting guests representing top Silicon Valley accelerators. Discussion have already been kicked off with Microsoft for Startups, AWS and other global ICT Hubs. Partnerships with other large corporates have already been established. These include the SoftBank Robotics and Festo corporations, which are leading companies in robotics and industrial automation. The event will also be supported by the UN Centre for AI and Robotics. The participation of technological education centres, universities, IT parks and innovation centres are also notable in the planned event. “We wish to invite people such as the successful Georgian FinTech platform Founder Mikheil Lomtadze, one of the creators of Skype, the Founder of FARFETCH and founders of other renowned ‘unicorn’ companies to the event,” Nikoloz Kobakhidze says.

By establishing THE Crossroads platform, its founders expect startups to expand internationally, facilitating development of technology industry in Georgia, attracting foreign investment, establishing new businesses and most importantly, creating jobs.

Nikoloz Kobakhidze believes that September’s event will be significant for the tourism sector, as hundreds of visitors will come to Georgia. He also expects transactions to materialise between investors and startups, which will be very important for the country’s economic development. THE Crossroads is supported by the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia – GITA being a focal point, who are ready to contribute towards the successful implementation of the September event.

According to Swethal Kumar, Georgia has attracted interest from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, Hungary and the UAE, where the number of new startups are growing each year.

“THE Crossroads was founded in Georgia, and the first event will take place in Tbilisi, although future host-countries will be selected based on relevant selection process,” Nikoloz Kobakhidze explains.

Founders of THE Crossroads are sure, that the new platform and planned event will lay the foundation for the establishment of international corporations in Georgia, paving the way for the country’s economic development.

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