The most fierce startup battle in Ukraine took place last weekend (September 28-29) at IT Arena. Two days of pitches on the Startup Stage and demonstrations on the Startup Alley ended with the award ceremony of 11 teams, which received impressive prizes. The main prize of $ 10,000 granted by IT Arena went to a team called Liki24. The prize fund of the Startup Competition 2018 totaled $ 70,000.
150 projects had participated in the selection phase of the Startup Competition since May. Startup Depot business incubator organized the entire competition and managed all the stages. 50 teams made it to the semi-final, which took place at IT Arena. The jury selected 10 finalists who had the opportunity to pitch in the final on the main IT Arena stage. One more finalist was chosen by a public online voting. The People’s Choice Award went to Travelpost, a C2C project, which develops a crowdshipping platform for the worldwide deliveries. The startup creates an alternative to expensive international logistics companies capitalizing on the traveler community potential.
The Startup Competition jury included:
Boris Guitton, Head of digital business development department, Credit Agricole
Jane Klepa, Executive director, 1991 Open Data Incubator
Evan Madden-Peister, Mentor, Starta Accelerator
Darya Demchenko, Business Development, CardPay
Greg Banas, CEO/Partner, Ad Ventures
Marty Kashubovskyy, Executive Director of the new Center for Enterprise Innovation, CRDF
Serhiy Nozdrachev, Serial Entrepreneur, KMBS
Rune Theill, CEO, Rockstart
Andrew Pavliv, CEO & Founder, N-iX
Vlad Tislenko, CEO, Concepter
Kiryl Mazur, Head of Ecosystem & Partnerships, UNIT.City
Semyon Dukach, Managing Partner, One Way Ventures
John Sung Kim, CEO, JetBridge
Matt Wallaert, Chief Behavioral Officer, Clover Health
Nick Bilogorskiy, Cybersecurity Strategist, Juniper Networks
“The competition was very well organized, the criteria was tightly defined, and teams contained their pitch to the time limits so the competition moved smoothly and was fair. All-in-all, I thought that all of the competitors were prepared and ready to compete. Beyond that, some of the startups had really strong concepts, solid traction, and great potential” – Evan Madden-Peister, Venture Partner at Starta Ventures, Judge Startup Competition.
“We were really impressed by the level of the Startup Competition organization: starting from the qualifying stage up to the finale. The criteria transparency and the evaluation system process, the level of the jury – everything was impeccable. We regularly attend a variety of events all over the world, therefore I can frankly say that the scale of IT Arena impressed us even more than Collision Conf, for instance. We did not expect to receive so many prizes, but our rewards embodied a certain symbolism. Liki24 has global ambitions, we are now planning to launch in Poland, and later we envision the USA as our primary market, so we will try to make the most out of the awards received” – comments Anton Arvinsky, CEO Liki24.
The second prize from CRDF Global – $ 5,000 travel grant went to UATAG. The team designed a unique physical tag to verify the originality of a product, protecting it from counterfeiting. The tag cannot be copied thanks to a unique pattern created by the glass cracks. The startup envisions their main markets as premium retailers and museums that seek to protect artwork. UATAG also received Cardpay vouchers and 3 hours mentoring from 1991 Open Data Incubator.
CRDF Global, IT Arena Startup Competition partner, has handed over 3 travel grants for $ 2500 to the AXDRAFT, Funlight, PIX Backpack teams. The Edtech startup StudyDive received prizes from IT Arena co-organizer, Startup Depot Business Incubator: Digital Marketing School and Product School invitations, as well as an invitation from the KMBS Executive Development Program, and a Cardpay voucher. StudyDive plans to create a Booking.com for offline education. The StudyDive team is working on a peer2peer network for offline learning and certification, which is expected to be launched globally.
Esper Bionics plans to improve the lives of 5 million hand amputees around the world. The team is developing a bionic prosthetic arm and a solution, helping to control all types of prosthetic hands (existing and the ones by Esper Bionics): a bandage with superficial muscle sensors and a neuromuscular implant. The startup plans to certify its invention. Esper Bionics has won 8 hours of mentorship from Techstars Berlin.
A $ 5,000 credit for Amazon Web Services from the hubraum was awarded to the PIX Backpack team. The startup has designed a customizable LED backpack and a mobile application. A smart accessory allows you to transfer images, widgets, animations, and even games from the app library to the backpack front. In addition, the user can upload a custom content. Pix Backpack also works well with 8-bit games such as Arkanoid, Snake and Tetris. The team also received other valuable prizes from partners.
One of the startups took part in the IT Arena Startup Competition for the second time, which is allowed by the terms of the competition. AXDRAFT is building an AI driven document automation, which allows drafting a perfect document for lawyers and non-lawyers in just 4 minutes. The startup got an annual membership in a New-York-based coworking Sputnik Space, a direct ticket to the Rockstart AI program selection days, an invitation to Rockstart World Summit AI and other gifts.
“We took a part in the Startup Competition for the second time this year. Our product has shown a triple growth during the last year. We have also acquired new customers like Carlsberg and British American Tobacco. This positive dynamics encouraged us to participate again. The event has totally met our expectations, and we have noticed a higher event’s level this year: both, the competing teams and the jury”, says CEO of AXDRAFT Yuriy Zaremba.
A positive traction remains a great advantage in the Startup Competition – positive product sales or active service subscriptions. All the finalist teams had a proven business model. For example, one of the finalists, Funlight, an immersive attraction for shopping malls and theme parks will soon open at Lavina Mall in Kyiv. The startup received a $ 2,500 travel grant and other gifts.
The platform for converting 2d images into the CAD models and AR/VR experiences, VRnet.io has reached the finale and was awarded a mentorship program by 1991 Open Data Incubator and a two-week trip to the Silicon Valley by Startup Embassy.
“We have been positively surprised by the level of competition. Some of the partners and judges increased the prize value right in course of the finals. This year’s Startup Alley could barely fit all the great projects, which we wanted to showcase their product at IT Arena: 50 Ukrainian developments, 5 of which strictly hardware, were presented” – Ivan Dmytrasevych, Startup Competition organizer, CEO at Startup Depot Business Incubator.
LOOQME is another finalist of Startup Competition 2018. The startup is working on a platform for effective communication and PR budget optimization. It is functioning at the intersection of the media market and sociological research. The team has also received prizes from partners and positive feedback from judges.
The fourth edition of IT Arena Startup Competition gathered fifty outstanding teams, which were rated by the world-class jury. “I was impressed by the thoughtfulness of the problems founders here are addressing. These aren’t simply the replicas of previous startups, but attempts to turn over a new ground,” says Matt Wallaert, one of the jury members. Matt is working at Clover Health HQ in New York. Startups participating at IT Arena have an opportunity to introduce their projects to a wider audience, receive a constructive feedback from an expert jury, and discover new opportunities thanks to gifts from partners.