On December 10, the Ukrainian Startup Fund celebrated the second anniversary of its activities, on which occasion a special event was organized in Kyiv — USF Annual Meeting 2021. We talk about the key points and outcomes on the basis of its results.
What was interesting?
Future funding of the Ukrainian Startup Fund. The Minister of Finance of Ukraine Serhiy Marchenko has revealed information on the USF financing in the 2022 state budget: the amount will be UAH 50 million. «The fund has demonstrated its effectiveness, as a number of Ukrainian startups that have received grants have already scaled up to global markets. That is why we will continue to support Ukrainian innovations», he added.
Ukraine’s national record for the longest-running pitching of startup teams has been set. As part of the event, there was the largest pitching of startups in the history of Ukraine, which was officially recorded by representatives of the National Register of Records of Ukraine. In general, 121 teams took part, a list of which can be found at this link. Each team had 1.5 minutes to present their ideas or products.
The results of two years of activity of the Ukrainian Startup Fund. One of the key panels of the event was dedicated to the current results of the Fund’s work. The results were presented by the CEO of the USF Pavlo Kartashov. The full version of the presentation can be found at this link.
At the outset, there were only two support tools for startups: $25,000 for pre-seed grants and $50,000 for seed grants. To date, the range has expanded significantly and now includes: grants of up to 10 thousand dollars for acceleration in Ukrainian and international accelerators, innovation vouchers of up to 10 thousand dollars for participation in powerful international events, the program «Corporate Innovation» with the European Business Association; which helps to mark startups and corporations, as well as various non-financial opportunities, including educational programs, bootcams, hackathons, demos and more. In total, the startup can receive from the Fund up to 95 thousand US dollars.
In Ukraine, the formation of new startups remains stable and does not stop even after two years, from the start of accepting applications. To the date of the event, the Fund received more than 4,000 applications from startups, of which more than 200 received funding totaling $ 6.3 million (UAH 166.9 million). According to statistics, every second-winning startup has already attracted additional investment, totaling about $ 30 million.
Expanding of the Fund’s main event — PITCH DAY. Starting from 2022, investment partners, including venture funds TA Ventures, iCLUB, Flyer One Ventures, BRISE Capital та JKR Investment Group will join the pitches on a permanent basis. Their goal is to increase attention to Ukrainian startups and promote them among potential investors. In addition, Flyer One Ventures jointly with JKR Investment Group will additionally reward the winners of the pitches with free mentoring sessions with their venture investors.
«For young startup teams, PR is a not less important component of success than grants. At the fund, we have already witnessed situations when some startups refused our funding due to investment. This is a good sign and that is why we want to deepen this area of work», said Pavlo Kartashov, CEO of the Ukrainian Startup Fund.
Clear demonstration of the abilities of young Ukrainian startups. Postello, the graduate of the grant program of the Ukrainian Startup Fund created a speech with the help of artificial intelligence for the Deputy Prime Minister — Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Mykhailo Fedorov. You can watch the original video in the official telegram of Mikhailo Fedorov at this link.
Announcement of a new initiative Cyber/nnov8. This program aims to promote the development of Ukrainian projects specializing in cybersecurity. Cyber/nnov8 will support entrepreneurs and startups to build products and services that in turn will help businesses effectively address their cyber threats. The full presentation can be found at this link.
«Many people know that Israel is a world leader in cybersecurity. However, very few have heard that 40% of Israeli development in this area is made by Ukrainians! 🇺🇦 Moreover, Ukrainian cybersecurity experts are often the first to capture, respond to, and study the most complex cyber threats», said Sviatoslav Sviatnenko, CIO, DPO at ISSP.
Jointly with our Fund, Cyber/nnov8 will provide grants and investments, technical expertise, testing and piloting sites for new technologies and services, and assistance in entering local and international markets.
The book presentation. The book «20 Ukrainian startups: success stories» was presented. The first book at the initiative of the state, dedicated to the success stories of the latest national technology companies and their founders.
«When we were offered to sponsor this book, I agreed without hesitation, because I got acquainted with some of the heroes personally during my studies at the university. These startups have grown in front of our eyes and are worthy of being remembered. I hope that some of us will also be lucky to get our names into papers in the future», said Arkady Vershebenyuk, an expert of the Ukrainian Startup Fund and a partner in JKR Investment Group, the official sponsor of the book.
Nikita Polatayko, an advisor to the law firm Aequo, which also acted as a partner of the book, in turn said that although the work is dedicated to the recognized success stories of existing startups, it was created for future generations. Success stories are a good opportunity to inspire young teams, as well as show some details on the path to becoming a successful startup.
Printing, page making, and editing of the book were performed by the Laboratoria publishing house. Its founder is Anton Martynov, for whom the stories of startups turned out to be personal, because at the same time with the publishing business he created his own startup Librarius. «It was difficult to gather all the startups to one denominator, as well as to understand for me the IT ecosystem, which is not as pathetic and conservative as the publishing house. Editing this book was not only interesting but also useful, because I am going through the thorny path of a young startup», he commented on the work on the book.
The panel discussion was also attended by Andriy Klen (co-founder and CMO of PetCube), Dmytro Voloshin (co-founder of Preply), Dmytro Lysytsky (co-founder and CEO of Influ2), and Oleksiy Orap (co-founder of YouScan).
MICROSOFT is taking an active interest in Ukrainian startups. This was stated by Jan Peter de Jong, CEO of MICROSOFT Ukraine, which actively involves startups in the program of Microsoft for Startups — Discovering opportunities. According to him, Microsoft is expanding very fast, which encourages the company to work more closely with local players, including the USF. «We have great programs that can really help each of the projects: we not only provide tools but also teach how to use them to scale, reach extra markets and the hearts of your customers», he added.
Answering the question of what he thinks about the Ukrainian ecosystem and the dynamics of its development, Jan Peter is convinced that it is not always easy here, but creativity is a national trait that permeates everything. Everywhere in Ukraine, you can meet people who want to create something, earn money and start a business.
Among the predictions that will shape the Ukrainian ecosystem, he singled out data that are extremely important. «Even if the business is about fashion or art, you need to use all possible data. You need to make sure that you can analyze with the help of algorithms, machine learning – everything you will not see at first glance, even from the tenth one. This is where the field for competition among companies: data, analytics. Data is your largest asset. Learn the patterns and use them, get closer to your customers and you will be successful», he said.
USF Awarding 2021. At the end of each year, the Ukrainian Startup Fund traditionally awards teams of startups and experts for special achievements in certain nominations. This time the winners among the experts are:
- Nomination: Ecosystem Builder. Alexander Yatsenko, Managing Partner of BRISE Capital.
- Nomination: Pitch Legend. Vadym Rohovsky, Head and Founder of Startup School Online.
- Nomination: The Strictest Expert. Yuriy Sereshchenko, Managing Partner of Quarter Partners.
- Nomination: The Kindest Expert. Kateryna Degtyar, Director of Startup Grind Kyiv.
- Nomination: University Lead. Andriy Zaikin, CEO and Founder of YEP.
- Nomination: Angel of the Year. Arkady Vershebenyuk, partner in JKR Investment Group.
- Nomination for the highest number of evaluated applications. Anton Melnyk, an expert on the development of the startup ecosystem of Ukraine at the Ministry of Finance.
- Nomination: Web Summit Star. Olesya Malovana, Chapter Director of Startup Grind Dnipro.
- Nomination: The most Accurate Expert. Olena Mazhuga, Investment Director of Flyer One Ventures.
- Nomination: The Audience Choice. Alexander Yatsenko, Managing Partner of BRISE Capital.
The winners among startups are:
- Nomination: The Audience Choice for the best pre-seed startup. Re:zume team.
- Nomination: The Audience Choice for the best seed startup. Dots Platform team.
- Nomination: The Best Woman-led Startup. Команда Mosqitter.
- Nomination: Proactive Startup. Caretech Human team.
- Nomination: Growth of the Year. Awesomic team.
- Nomination: Social Impact Startup. ComeBackMobility team.
- Nomination: The Youngest Startup. QUDI team.
- Nomination: Investor’s Bestie. UPSWOT team.
- Nomination: Pitch Day Score Leader. VR Inn team.
- Nomination: Breakthrough of the Year. EFFA team.
See you next anniversary!
The Ukrainian Startup Fund is a state fund initiated by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine. The fund’s mission is to promote the creation and development of technology startups in the early stages (pre-seed and seed), in order to increase their global competitiveness. The process of selecting startups for grants is competitive: companies are evaluated and selected by a board of independent investment experts.