Every technology ecosystem has an origin story. In North Macedonia, the development of the entire technology scene started with just a few companies.
Software development company Seavus was one of them. Founded in 1999 in North Macedonia and Sweden, it is one of the oldest IT companies in the Balkan country and has strongly influenced the development of its IT industry over the past two decades.
While in its early days North Macedonia’s IT industry relied primarily on the outsourcing of IT services, this also formed the core of Seavus’ core business operations.
In 2001, the company established its main development center in Skopje and has since recorded impressive growth.
Today, the company has more than 1,000 employeeswith 17 offices in ten countries, and its portfolio includes global telecommunications operators, banking and financial organizations and various technology companies.
At the end of 2020, the company also joined the largest Czech ICT holding company, Aricoma Group, marking a new stage in its development.
“As before, we will continue to invest in the training and professional development of employees, in order to continue to be a company made up of true experts from various areas of the ICT industry. I have always believed that employees are the key to success and our partner is aware of this and considers employees as the value and strength of the company,” said company founder Igor Lestar shortly after the ‘acquisition.
A large number of IT talents pass through its ranks
With this in mind, given the number of IT talents who have risen through the corporate ranks over the past 20 years, Seavus’ role has also proven crucial to the development of North Macedonia’s tech ecosystem .
Many former Seavus employees became entrepreneurs and went on to found their own startups and businesses. Today, we can also speak of a “Seavus mafia” in North Macedonia, similar to the famous PayPal or Alibaba mafias for example.
With key people such as the CEO Kocha BoshkuToday, Seavus’ footprint is felt in almost every segment of the country’s technology industry.
Some of these spin-off companies, such as the software development company ITgma, have also become their direct competitors. Founded in 2009, ITgma thus enriched the technological ecosystem of North Macedonia by creating healthy competition in the IT sector which was only beginning to develop at the time.
There are examples such as Synami, another software development company established in recent years. Previously, the company was a division of Seavus, working on project management software tools and products.
Building on the extensive experience of its predecessor, Synami now aims to replicate this success, showing how new IT companies can use the foundations of what Seavus has already achieved.
Our research also found entrepreneurs such as Gligor Dacevskianother co-founder of Seavus who later founded software product company Doxteam, or former employees turned entrepreneurs like Marko Bočevski, who is the founder of the successful open source company Keitaro, or Dusko Murtovskyco-founder and CTO of software company Vision Dynamix.
Traces of Seavus in the current startup scene
There are also those alumni who were in the business from the very beginning and have now created startups that are making waves on the national scene, like Alexander Ackovski and his exciting HRTech startup Konceptiva, which aims to redefine the way companies train their employees.
Filip Kerazovskythe CTO of Task ‘N Go, a to start up which works on automation solutions for existing task management platforms, was also part of Seavus during his previous career, while Finqup, a portfolio management company application and another rising star of the Macedonian startup ecosystem, also has a co-founder, Dime Galapchevhailing from the ranks of Seavus.
Entrepreneurs and Women in technology ambassadors such as Monika Rizovska, one of the founders of the initiative Ways2Helphave also been part of different departments within Seavus, such as the Seavus Education and Development Center.
The company also has its own Seavus Accelerator, which seeks to support startups at all stages of development, across verticals such as fintech, AI, blockchain, gaming and e-commerce. The accelerator has been active since 2011, and over the past three years it included more than 45 startups in its programs.
Present what the development of a startup ecosystem is
For ecosystem experts like Jakob Modeer of the Swiss Entrepreneurship Program, the Seavus case is crucial – this is what developing a startup ecosystem is all about.
“It is about creating a virtuous circle whereby successful entrepreneurs recycle their resources (knowledge, money) into the ecosystem, thus supporting the next generation of Macedonian entrepreneurs. If this happens, we can talk about a transformational change in the system, where the ecosystem is not only “pushed” by public money, but it is actually “pulled” to the next level by know-how , networks and private capital,” said Modeer, program manager for the Western Balkans at Swiss EP, tells The Recursive.
However, Modeer adds that such examples can achieve their goal if they are also followed by other entrepreneurs and companies.
“On the other side of the coin, if successful Macedonian entrepreneurs do not step up and recycle their knowledge and wealth, then we will be stuck in a sad cycle of underperformance. In my opinion, the power and responsibility to change the paradigm of the startup ecosystem now lies with Macedonia’s own entrepreneurs,” adds Modeer.
And although Seavus has played a crucial role for the country’s young ecosystem, there are also other success stories on which North Macedonia can build its IT industry, emphasizes ecosystem builder Igor Madzov.
“Although Seavus is one of the oldest players in the technology ecosystem, we should also not forget companies such as Fx3X, Doxteam, Haselt and IWM Network. Then there is the YES Incubator and Innovative Center Bitola, the first entrepreneurship hubs that started 10 years ago and have contributed to the development of companies such as Codewell, Smsadvert, 4Virtus and others. Madzov emphasized.