Spotlight, the most dynamic startup competition in Eastern Europe, has opened its applications

Deniza Cristian 07/06/2022 | 09:40

Founders of the most aspiring early-stage startups from Central and Eastern Europe can propel their businesses to success through the Spotlight program and competition. Between June 7 and September 1, startups can enroll in the program on How To Web site. 


The Spotlight Program & Competition, part of the How to Web Conference, has been a driving force for startups in the region for 10 years already, and it also represents a unique chance to leverage business opportunities. Bringing together investors, startup founders and an audience with a thirst for innovation, How to Web creates the ideal growth environment for these startup companies.

After two years in which this program took place online, Spotlight revives the entrepreneurial spirit of the Eastern European technology scene and highlights matchmaking, collaboration and investment opportunities for the most competitive startups. Over 50 mentors and top investors have already confirmed their presence in the program.

Spotlight 2022 Criteria

The Spotlight 2022 application session is open from June 7th to September 1st. The organizers expect more than 250 applicants from Central and Eastern Europe, who will be analyzed according to their potential for innovation and scalability. After the first selection stage, about 40 startups will enter the Spotlight matchmaking program. In the race for the grand prize, 20 of them will take the stage at the How to Web conference.

Startups that can enroll in this program and competition must have a lifespan of fewer than 5 years and with less than 1 million EUR in investment. For registrations, visit the dedicated page:

“At this year’s edition, we want to see agile startups that address current, challenging and far-reaching issues that can make a difference in the marketplace. As before, Orange will be with the participants by supporting and facilitating access to new customers and partners, national and international. Spotlight is a good opportunity for them to make their products known, to receive relevant feedback and thus take the first steps towards investors”, says Monica Obogeanu, Startup Programs Manager, Orange Romania.

Top Benefits for Startup Applicants

Direct interactions with global investors, matchmaking sessions or an exhibition dedicated to startups at the How to Web Conference are the top benefits for startup participants, in addition to the experience on stage and the chance for the grand prize.

Spotlight debuts with over 50 mentors and leading investors in the world of technology, who will offer over 200 1:1 meetings. This year’s teams will be able to connect with experts from the marketing, product, media and public relations industries, sales, design, and operations, as well as with investors from well-known companies.

Dan Lupu (Earlybird Ventures Capital), Mirela Mus (Product People), Ondrej Bartos (Credo Ventures), Bogdan Axinia (eMag Ventures), Monica Obogeanu (Orange Romania), Horia Velicu (BRD – Groupe Société Générale), Dan Oros (Google for Startups), Cătălin Dediu (FintechOS) or Enis Hulli (500Startups), are the first examples of mentors and investors to whom Spotlight participants will have direct access.

Spotlight finalists will have the opportunity to share the How to Web 2022 scene with renowned experts, founders and investors, as announced at the conference. Matt Lerner, Founder Core Startup Strengths, Erin Staples, Senior Community Advocate Orbit, Hristo Borisov, CEO and Co-Founder of Payhawk, Cathy White, CEW Communications Director, Sergiu Negut, FintechOS Co-Founder, Christoph Auer-Welsbach, Kaizo Co-Founder, Carlos Espinal, Seedcamp Partner or Andrew Michael, CEO of Avrion and host of, are some of those who will complete the conference agenda. Discussions will be moderated by experienced journalists such as Mike Butcher, Editor at Large Tech Crunch, Irina Obushtarova, CEO of The Recursive or Andrii Degeler,

The value of the investment award granted in last year’s Spotlight edition was 350K EUR. The winners were able to enjoy the next stages of growth of their business.

The finalist teams in the Spotlight program and competition over the past three years have raised about $25 million in funding so far. Alumni Spotlight includes: Marionette (Y Combinator Alumni), TypingDNA (funded by the Google Gradient AI fund), InnerTrends (500 Startups Alumni) and other teams that have made remarkable progress such as MediJobs, Neurolabs, Machinations or Cartloop.

“Winning Spotlight brought us an extra validation that the product is working and people believe in our vision and roadmap. We are really grateful for the opportunity to make amazing connections and gain valuable feedback which came at the right time and boosted the growth of Cartloop over the following months”, said Lisa Popovici and Andrei Negrău, the founders of Cartloop – the winning startup of the Spotlight 2020 edition.

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