The Startup-Express

A start-up bootcamp onboard a train
Startup-Express in Georgia
© Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation for Freedom

Start-up Express was a 3-day boot camp, which took place on board the Tbilisi-Batumi-Tbilisi express train and in the City of Chakvi, Adjara. This event was organised by Tbilisi Startup Bureau in collaboration with Friedrich Naumann Foundation South Caucasus. The Bootcamp's objective was to help the start-ups bring their ideas from the beginning stages to the next level. 

The Tbilisi-Batumi express train took off at 8:00 am with 25 participants. Nine teams were created and onboard they immediately started working on their innovative business ideas. The focus was to make an action plan for launching their business ideas. 

Being on the train participants were 'isolated' from the outside world, a unique venue without distraction and full focus on work. Onboard the train they were given all the necessary tools and support required for the successful execution of the project objectives.

Moreover, the organizers invited leading entrepreneurs, experts, and consultants to share their experience with the participants, mentoring and giving them constructive feedback. Particular focus of these exercises were the skills training on how to make better presentations and pitches, evaluating modern trends in tourism and hospitality industries, as well as data visualization in the digital field. The training also included real-time fact-checking of the details the teams provided for their projects.

On the last day of the event, the participants pitched their start-up ideas to the judges for their final feedback. Later, on their way to Tbilisi, they were allowed to present their final pitches. 

During the project, teams developed some amazing concepts, which they are now trying to turn into reality.


Some examples:

"Black Tomato Hostels"

The idea of Black Tomato is to integrate five main components hostel hospitality: moderate prices, high-quality and friendly services; a central location; a nice-retro interior and hip environment; and areas for socializing. Bringing these five components together in one space was a novelty for the market and is the key to the success of this new brand.

After participating in Startup Express, international investor Michael Kerschbaumer - Managing Director of STS Hospitality Service Georgia, contacted Elene Ramishvili and Mariam Zamtaradze, founders of "Black Tomato Hostels" and participants of Startup Express, and requested a meeting, as they expressed interest in their business. 


WineCrawl/Taste of Tbilisi

The service consists of curated walking tours through local wineries. After the Startup Express, the participants were able to evaluate market and competition, where they decided to change their approach. The new approach lead them to contact new potential partners and wine cellar owners who were open to the idea of partnership first. The start-up is now aiming at expanding their network and creating new experimental routes for its clients.



Authors: Gurieli Koiava, Tbilisi Startup Bureau & Iago Tsitaishvili, Communication Officer of FNF South Caucasus