On December 11, the Ukrainian Startup Fund held its 18th Pitch Day to select startups for state financing. The event took place online and due to quarantine was held remotely, using a service for video conferencing – Zoom. 10 startups made presentations (pitches). All of them are at the seed stage (each of them applies for state grant funding in the amount of $ 50,000).
The event began with a greeting from the Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine Oleksandr Bornyakov, who announced the launch of the Fund’s Acceleration Grant Program:
“Just yesterday, the USF Supervisory Board voted to expand the vector of our funding. With the new year, applicants for the Grant Program, whose applications scored 10 points or more, will be able to receive not only the usual pre-seed and seed development grants, but also new grants for acceleration programs in both Ukrainian and international accelerators.”
Then the floor was given to the representatives of the accelerators accredited by the Fund, each of whom told in detail about his accelerator.
The first was Kate Bunina, Managing Director of Europe & US Market Access Center:
“Our startup accelerator is based in Silicon Valley and focuses on helping international companies such as you are with global market access to Silicon Valley. For the last 10 years, we have helped over 1500 startups from over 30 countries to raise capital from investors and sign customer contracts. 50% of these startups were successful and nearly 20% have raised over 1.5 billion dollars from venture capitals and angel investors from Silicon Valley. Our partners such as governmental agencies, universities, and corporations love working with us because we customize each program, find programs for early stages and later stages – all scales that you can imagine. Our programs were normally in person, but then the Covid happened. And we switched everything online. And we are really happy to tell you that more investors are available. Silicon Valley is not much of a destination already. It is more about the network. Our network has more than 500 investors from Silicon Valley and big corporations, including mentors that can help startups to improve their business.”
Then David Gilgur, Founding Partner at Blue Lake Accelerator took the floor:
“We are a UK-based accelerator with the mission to scout, invest, and help to unlock value in the undiscovered, high potential, startups. It will be fair to say that we know the pains and issues that Ukrainian startups and founders face. And let’s be honest: these are numerous. But we also know opportunities and promise that Ukraine startups have been offered. This is the reason why we are here. With our team’s combined 15 years of regional experience, our goal is to find, invest, and link Ukraine’s startups with the UK’s tech scene helping to grow the future tech giants. We see real potential and real goals. In terms of our program and Blue Lake itself: we are obsessed with go-to-market success. The whole program, our mindset, we are centric about it. Funding is important, we do support startups and invest in them, but it is all about finding a first customer, entering a new market, and developing a product-market fit. We have built an amazing network, Europe-centric, especially the UK of over 50 mentors, industry experts, top names in the corporate segment with one goal in mind – help our startups to achieve potential and find new markets.”
Elena Malitskaya, ISE Group Acceleration Leader continued:
“ISE literally translates as innovations startups entrepreneurship. On the one hand, we are a Ukrainian provider of corporate innovations for big business, and on the other – a startup accelerator. We are like a bridge between the corporate world and the world of startups. On the one hand, we teach corporations how to innovate, choose startups and pilot them, and on the other hand, we raise the level of startups so that they can work with corporations. That’s what we’re focused on.”
Giulia Imperatrice, Program Director at NUMA New York joined from New York:
“Numa is a global accelerator network with offices in New York and Paris. We started working 20 years ago and now have 60 companies worldwide. We have experts of 5 different nationalities.”
President Steinar Korsmo presented Seed Forum Global:
“All our team members are entrepreneurs, professional business angels and they are ready to assist you. Seed Forum acceleration program consists of 10 steps that will make you ready for an international market launch. And there are 5 additional steps that will assist you during your market launch. I will just simply say that if you are ready for the international market if your team is also consisting of not only technical competence but also commercial competence, a good definition of your market niche if you have good enough intellectual property, strategy if you have built your traction if your business model enough scalable and you have well enough financial strategy.”
The next was Dimitri Podoliev, Founder iHUB:
“IHUB is one of the oldest Ukrainian accelerators, which has been operating for over nine years. We have three offices in Ukraine and one in Moldova. Our specialization is startups in the early stages of development, which we help raise their first capital. One of our graduates is the famous Preply. Today in Ukraine the number of startups is very high and our goal is to start turning this number into quality. That’s why there are accelerators that will accompany the team on their difficult journey.”
The solemn part was completed by Denis Gursky, Head of Board SocialBoost:
“1991 is a Ukrainian program that has been existing for five years. It emerged as an act of goodwill from international donors who would like to change the situation and connect startups with the public sector. The program began with open data reform, but then expanded to other topics such as fintech and infrastructure. And next year, this list will be supplemented by cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. Our program has raised more than $ 2.5 million, which allows startups to be trained without leaving a stake in an accelerator.”
Who is the jury made up of?
- Kateryna Degtyar. Chapter director at Startup Grind Kyiv.
- Roman Viliavin. Partner at Promodo.
- Igor Rusnak. Strategic and Development Officer at OTP Bank.
- Mykhailo Khaletskyi. Senior Investment Analyst at Simpact VC.
- Roman Kirigetov. Co-founder & CEO FlashBeats, founder of Kabanchik and Crafta.
- Valeriy Dobrovolskiy. Expert at USAID Program “Competitive Economy of Ukraine”.
- Maksym Beshleul. Founder and CEO at MedicalLife.
The main criteria for evaluating projects at the seed stage are team, market, product, the feasibility of financing, strategy. In each category, a maximum is 5 points (in total maximum is 25). The passing score for a recommendation to the Supervisory Board for a grant is 15 points.
This time the audience award according to a vote in the telegram channel was gained by the startup SEMCS by Mosquito Control.
SkyMe team received a special prize from Artem Makeyev, Managing Partner of Unit School of Business, in the form of a scholarship for free education at the School of Entrepreneurship.
According to the results of the Competition Сommittee’s assessments, the following startups rating list was formed (from the highest score to the lowest):
- SEMCS by Mosquito Control. A smart eco-friendly mosquito control system that protects from mosquito bites and cleans outdoor territories from mosquitoes.
- Amperia. Set for laboratory work in physics in schools. A modern approach to the classic topic, which fascinates children, helps to ask questions, and stimulates finding the solution.
- SameKey. Cloud access control system, which can be installed on any door in any facility.
- Apiway. No-code integration platform and b2b software marketplace, where you can find and purchase different software for your business and connect these apps between each other via API, for free, without coding.
- Creative Practice. Educational and career ecosystem for professionals and companies working in the field of creative industries (design, marketing, IT, advertising, game development). Our system combines opportunities for training, creation, and distribution of educational content, as well as employment and search for professionals.
- Activechat. Combines a live chat tool with smart AI-powered virtual assistants to help customer care teams help their customers better. With Activechat, your smart AI assistant is ready in minutes and keeps improving forever. Our mission is to put the power of conversational AI into the hands of customer service leaders all over the world.
- SkyMe. Consists of two complementary products in the market of mobile repair services. The first is a marketplace with delivery of spare parts and equipment. (b2b market, for repairmen) The second is a high-speed delivery service for mobile device repairs. (b2c market, for mobile users). The last, in our opinion, is able to completely change the traditional understanding for mobile repair services market.
- PatentBot. Easy chatbot which helps SMB’s to protect their intellectual property all over the world in 5 clicks and 10 min.
- nect WORLD. Enables business professionals to be confident in their day-to-day operations with hassle-free, secure, and reliable Internet for their laptops.
- VR Inn. VR-tech company focused on enterprise training solutions development which are partially tailor-made and at the same time uses a VR Inn Growth platform to deliver, manage, and control training of employees. With a mission to rebuild existing training methodologies using the state-of-the-art technologies available today and deliver the best practices to such industries as automotive, manufacturing etc.
At the USF Supervisory Board meeting, which will take place in the near future, it will be decided which startups will receive grant funding.
We remind that according to the results of the 17th Pitch Day eight startups at the pre-seed stage were funded: Supplio, iCardy, AssayMe, Recoshelf, Reelly, BloggerMall, Chargeback Optimizer, and Advisera.