With those who deny the global environmental crisis now being in minority, sustainability continues to be one of the hottest topics in 2020. Entrepreneurs are now striving for better, cleaner, and more nature-friendly solutions. From smart window blinds to eternal stationery, Ukrainian startups definitely deserve a special mention.
SolarGaps is a Ukrainian startup developing smart window blinds – they not only block sunlight coming to your house but also generate solar energy. The idea to combine solar panels and wide horizontal blinds came to Evgeniy Erik, Founder & CEO of SolarGaps, when he saw how sunflowers follow the sun. The solar panels track the position of the sun, and adjust respectfully, optimizing the absorption of sunlight.
Placing solar panels on the roof is a great solution if you live in a house, but what if you live in an apartment but still want to contribute and choose alternative and cleaner sources of energy? SolarGaps brings green energy to people who live in big cities. According to SolarGaps founders, 1 sq. meter of the blinds provides enough energy to charge 3 laptops.
The startup has recently received €1 million funding from Horizon 2020, a program of the European Commission. The funds from the program will be directed primarily to the development and commercialization of B2B projects. SolarGaps is planning to launch pilot projects for B2B sector as well as update the application for managing blinds systems in office buildings and hotels.
SolarGaps describes their main focus as the US markets but the product is now starting to sell in Europe – Germany and Spain. SolarGaps blinds can also be bought in Ukraine, with a special price being offered to Ukrainian customers. SolarGaps founders claim that an average Ukrainian owner can recover the costs of the blinds in 4-5 years, and for citizens of other countries it could even take less time. The startup’s target audience is tech-savvy people who are concerned about environmental issues and who are unable to place solar panels on the roof of the house.
NUKA – is a Ukrainian startup that has received a lot of media attention in the last few months. The startup founded by a team of two 17-year olds and one 20-year old offers a product that seems to be eternal stationery. The notebook and pencil that comes with it will literary serve you forever.
The team has always been fans of stationery – they started off just thinking about producing nice notebooks with unusual design. However, in the process, the idea to create an eternal notebook was born. Founders made the first prototypes in a garage which belongs to their friend. It took about 4 months to perfect the design and find the right formula to make the infinite pencil.
The notebook made of synthetic paper is waterproof: you can use a regular pen for writing, splash it with nuka magic eraser and erase everything. The pencil doesn’t require sharpening or lead refill, and can easily be attached to the notebook with the help of an in-built magnet. Founders do not disclose what is the technology behind the eternal pencil. However, they found inspiration when learned that during WW2 soldiers used lead bullet shells for writing. The team made a lead prototype but ended up being disappointed. The final product uses a completely unique metal alloy.
NUKA is currently live on Kickstarter. 1 day before the end of the campaign, the startup has already managed to raise $130k. You can buy the notebook and pencil on Indiegogo for $79, and when mass production in China begins the retail price for a set of eternal stationery will be $89.
Earlier this year NUKA has displayed its product at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. The startup has also won $20,000 at an accelerator program. At the moment, NUKA is already valued at about $1 million.
The world is currently facing a catastrophic shortage of water. The scale is threatening: according to the UN report published in 2016 in 15 years, the shortage of drinking water will reach 40%. Nowadays, a shortage of clean drinking water can be observed not only in dry areas of southern and eastern Ukraine but in the western part too, which has never happened before. FlushWave strives to help people consume water rationally, preserving it for future generations and our planet.
FlushWave has identified the key market segments, where the system’s pay-off period should last no longer than 2-3 years (with a 5-year operation time). These are HoReCa, first of all, fast food chains, government organizations, dorms, gas stations, business/fitness centers, train/bus stations, ports, airports, etc.
Currently, FlushWave is sold in Ukraine, with future plans to expand to Europe – primarily to countries with expensive water utilities and developed culture of responsible consumption. The basic price of the system is ₴10,000. The system is easy to install, but the installation cost is calculated on a case-by-case basis. At the moment, Flushwave systems are being installed in one of the largest restaurant chains in Lviv.
FlushWave is currently looking for investments that would allow launching the product on European markets. The startup’s long-term goal is to become a global company and develop a number of universal systems not only for water preservation but also for desalination. FlushWave aims at preventing freshwater resources and ecosystems degradation and saving clean, accessible water for the next generations.
Delfast is a Ukrainian electric bike that can run for 380 km on a single charge. The company started off back in 2014 as an eco-delivery company in Kyiv. The team wanted to offer online shops an option of fast delivery, but making it environmentally-friendly was the highest priority. Founders tested lots of bikes from various companies, yet none of them fulfilled their business needs. That’s how the idea to build Delfast was created.
Sustainability has been at the core of Delfast from the very beginning. The team is sure that green transportation is the future and aims to accelerate the transition to this future.
All Delfast bikes are assembled in Kyiv, using lots of parts made in Ukraine. However, the batteries used in Delfast are American, and engines – made in China.
Delfast is mainly targeting people who are bike enthusiasts, have an eco-friendly mindset and are willing to cut on petrol expenses by switching to an electric vehicle. The US has been Delfast’s main market and the team sees the most potential there. Still, the EU and Scandinavian countries show growth in the adoption of electric vehicles and founders cannot let this remain unnoticed.
At the moment Delfast offers several models of their electric bike. The primary model Delfast Bike costs slightly below $4000, which might be a rather high price for a Ukrainian consumer, but a very competitive price in the US or the EU when compared to competitors. Delfast is currently based in Kyiv. Ukrainian clients are welcome to test-ride a bike before deciding.
Two years ago, Delfast launched a Kickstarter campaign and skyrocketed to raising $165,000 instead of the pledged $50,000 goal. However, as any startup Delfast is actively seeking investments to fulfill the demand they’ve generated. The company needs the resources to produce and deliver the number of bikes that our customers demand. The ultimate goal of Delfast is to build a proprietary end-to-end e-bike factory. At the moment, Delfast is working on large-scale contracts with B2B and governmental bodies.
Effa is a disposable paper toothbrush. Founders call Effa “the cleanest toothbrush ever” – the body of the toothbrush is made of sugar cane paper and laminated with corn starch nano-layer. Effa comes in an individual eco-pack, which dissolves in the water and with an in-built toothpaste – in the form of a tiny pill. The toothbrush bristles are partly made of castor oil and partly of an innovative Nylon 4 to minimize the harm to nature. Founders wanted to use paper bristles to make sure Effa leaves a minimal eco-footprint, but according to the World Dental Association, nothing but synthetic bristles can be used in toothbrushes.
The idea to create Effa was born when one of the founders realized that hotels use massive amounts of disposable toothbrushes that are immediately thrown away. Statistics show that personal care products are among the world’s largest environmental polluters: hotels and airlines only throw away about six tons of disposable toothbrushes daily. A regular plastic toothbrush takes 500 years to decompose.
Now the price is $1 for the end customer and 60 cents for the distributor, depending on the size of the order. The minimum order is 5000 pieces. Effa team is just launching the manufacturing, so the costs are pretty high still, but they are expected to get significantly lower so the price could be lowered as well. Unfortunately, Effa is not yet sold in Ukraine, though, the startup is currently negotiating offers from a few Ukrainian distributors.
The team is hoping that in the near future Effa will replace plastic toothbrushes in hotels, airlines, cruise ships, etc. – as they are the primary users of disposable toothbrushes and are seeking for new sustainable solutions. Moreover, Effa is also targeting prisons and public hospitals as their clients of the future, when manufacturing costs will get lower and they could compete on the government procurement market. Effa is focusing on both the US and Asia, the first startup’s clients are based in the US, Japan, and Korea. In the long run, Effa would love to bring the product to stores and supermarkets to allow every family to have the Effa toothbrush in case, for instance, a guest decides to stay overnight.
Effa has recently won the competition for innovative businesses or projects in the fields of sustainable energy or resource efficiency Clim@ held in Frankfurt. In 2018, Effa has won an acceleration program at Starta Accelerator in New York. At the moment, the startup is in the seed round of fundraising of $150K, and is negotiating with Ukrainian, US and EU VCs and private investors as well.