TechTalks is an initiativetaken by Innovation Directorate part of DPTIIDH, featuring local entrepreneurs helping to strengthen our ecosystem. By inviting founders to answer five questions, we want to highlight the most inspiring stories and patterns of our ecosystem. We hope that by giving startup founders a space to share their knowledge and experience, we will all learn and grow together.
How has your career helped you with setting up your start-up?
In more than 17 years, my work experience in projectsd and public, private, local, regional and international entities have directly impacted my professional formation and intuition as an entrepreneur.
Since the first years, in childhood, I have shown a specific interest in managing challenges thanks to creativity, education, work and perseverance to achieve professional objectives to realize what I have always wanted, the freedom to change, improve and impact on myself and then everywhere and everything that surrounds me wherever I am. For this reason, in 2002 I chose to study at the University of Tirana, Faculty of Economics, Business Administration, which acquires skills in management and communication, as well as a Master’s degree in Economic Diplomacy at the Mediterranean Academy of Malta. I started the first academic steps by taking the position of Assistant Lecturer in the branch of Business Communication and Entrepreneurship in the Department of Management and Communication for SMEs at the Faculty of Economics in Tirana. To advance my career, I thought of myself as a business. Of course we can read about painting, color palettes, but only when we get in front of a canvas and start painting, we can put our knowledge to the test and really understand our abilities.
Focused on objectives, productivity, always looking for new challenges, realistic, insistence on sustainability and continuity, passion, very curious in continuous education, attentive to learning from failures, analysis and continuous research have helped me to legalize, I apply and reapply to Innvest, and recently to Imaa.
What have been some of the biggest challenges for you?
Every difficulty that comes before us in life has a specific purpose and whoever manages to understand it in time and has the right flexibility to turn it into an opportunity, has a long road to success ahead. This means another challenge, more opportunities and more work for a better result. But in the end, whoever works with passion and climbs the stairs one by one, after each achievement there is another goal, another plan-project, another lesson, another success.
Starting a business was a logical extension of the professional work I’ve been doing, so the transition seemed pretty easy. In fact, the challenges have not surprised me as I was and still am well prepared that I can have before me not only one, but many solutions based on integrity, independence, flexibility, creativity and my vision. I truly believe that experience is my best mentor. I love the day-to-day aspects of it. In an ever-changing world, innovators take the path of uncertainty to explore, innovate and create. In this way, challenges turn into opportunities! Whatever the challenges, they in themselves make life a dynamic venture, and such has been life these years at Innvest and Imma!
Today, we still continue to insist and motivate startups and independence as young entrepreneurs as I understand their ambition and appreciate the initiatives they take day by day, if they have a clear business plan and most importantly, with a long-term vision. Day by day we are more than motivated and optimistic to nurture the rising stars that are many innovative and brilliant ideas at INNVEST seeing them as a powerful collection of innovative voices creating lasting impact in our country and beyond.
What have been some of the biggest wins of your engagement?
Integrity, impact and sustainability. But the biggest victory for me is the TEAM. A team that conveys and communicates values from which they have space to be themselves, to express their opinion, to have decision-making and to seek continuous education and their professional development, this is the essence of the culture at Innvest and Imma. My personal and professional success is closely related to the success of my colleagues, who are also the pillars of the company, Majlinda and Kristi. Undoubtedly, I am also very proud of my departed colleagues and their successes in life.
Currently, the team :
1- manage a wide network of more than 185 INNVEST members,
2- manage and coordinate over 40 innovative local, regional and international projects,
3- manage over 35 agreements signed with local, regional and global partners;
4- train over 190 “intrapreneurs” – teams from the largest corporations in the country and region by Imaa;
5- manage the employment of over 50 talents near corporations and companies in our country by Imaa.
Projects and successes are the main factor in everyone’s motivation. Today, thanks to the good name of Innvest as reliable and impactful partners, cooperation withInnvest and Imaais highly sought after by national and international entities.
What are the most innovative products you have launched on the market?
After a very successful project implemented by Innvest and Pro SEED Albania, GIZ “Stage to Start Strong – Bridge to Scale up”, at the beginning of 2022, the results were concrete, with immediate economic, social and sustainable impact. In just a period of 90 days, 22 young people from 30 talents involved in this pilot project were hired in the 10 most prestigious ICT companies in our country.
Therefore, Imaa initiated to digitize its newest service, in the establishment of an intranet platform “IMAA Talent Acquisition” in Albania as the right virtual meeting place for talents or students looking to be employed by the most prestigious companies in Albania that are looking for talents. The 12 soft skills training curricula for the ICT sector receive special attention.
Innvest this year is also expected to bring its 4th edition, INNVEST Summit for the Balkan region on October 12-14 in Tirana! Innovative ideas and angel investors will have the opportunity to support or develop joint projects. Innvest is influencing our ecosystem as a catalyst in the approach between entrepreneurs and innovators, where between them there will be direct meetings and rounds of negotiations. The digital fair as part of the summit continues to be another innovation of INNVEST Summit, which welcomes its entire network and guests to the digital exhibition with the most innovative products and services of companies as well as the ideal meeting place between young innovators, talents, start ups, innovators and national and international companies. Many other innovative projects at the same time such as; Innovation in Tour, Revolutionary Art, etc
What are some of Innvest Fund specific needs?
Impact comes first in our vision. As I mentioned before, the biggest challenge remains education on the need for INNOVATION, not seen as a need but as a necessity. In this part, the help and support of all private and state actors is needed to educate the new generation about the necessity for innovation, innovation, digitization, continuous and sustainable innovative education, as well as innovation as a whole that the market brings in every sector and aspect to make life simpler and unique experience in services or products for the consumer in Albania.
Another need is the support of the central government to support the appropriate legal framework, regulatory normative acts, or their improvement in promoting the development of innovation, so that all services or products are digitized and based on a unique experience for every citizen.
In 2019, we as Innvest, together with Tirana Municipality, presented 10 success stories as an incentive for youth self-employment based on success models that have innovated in every sector such as; architecture, technology, bio-cosmetics, digitalization of tourism, etc
We very much hope that other municipalities will follow the example of Tirana Municipality in the direction of digitization and promotion of self-employment or motivational incentives that have a social and economic impact in Albania.
Why did you choose Tirana to establish and grow your business?
Tirana is my hometown, the capital of European youth this year! As the capital of Albania, Tirana is a great city of youth and endless possibilities.
The target audience of Innvest and Imma are mainly young people, those who are actors and promoters of innovation and you can easily find all of them in Tirana. This is characteristic of the creativity that is offered in our capital, which you find in every corner of it. Tirana is the place where all the actors and factors of an active ecosystem with a concrete impact are connected, but we cannot leave without mentioning the fact that the headquarters of our main partners and clients are also located in the capital. Even the “INNVEST Summit” for the Balkan region this October will be held again in Tirana from 2018.
What are INNVEST’s objectives for the next 3 years?
The network of angel investors at Innvest fills a critical gap in impact investing in our country. Since, angel investors are often the first to recognize, research and finance promising new businesses with social and environmental impact goals.
Because experienced and successful entrepreneurs aim to support startups and young entrepreneurs, they can serve not only as investors but also as mentors, bringing expertise and practical guidance along with a financial investment.
Together with the team, we will continue to build a network that brings people together to create the right influence and impact required in innovation. Being with concrete impact is a special place of INNVEST.
Also, in our near future, the objectives are to create a multifunctional space as the meeting place of a diverse community of Innvest members and partners who collaborate to build the world of tomorrow. This meeting place will be for all emerging innovators to meet and explore innovative products or services, in creating a unique place with brilliant minds where art, culture, technology, infrastructure, architecture, laboratories, science, AI, innovation, business opportunities, and creativity are coming together in one place. Innvest will continue to bring together leading entrepreneurs, investors, innovators and policy makers from across the innovation spectrum to address national and regional economic challenges.