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We were recently tipped off to an article in AIN about the status of business incubators in Ukraine. It offered a nice overview of the scene there, but we decided to go a bit further and do a post on GrowthUP, which is the leading startup incubator / accelerator in the country.
There is little doubt that GrowthUP has become the leading incubator in Ukraine since it was established by Denis Dovgopoliy in 2008. Based on the chart which accompanies the article, GrowthUP has 300 projects since it was established, compared with a handful from each of the other incubators in the country. That is not to say that the other incubators have been unsuccessful, of course. Having been founded at least 3 years prior the establishment of the other incubators and having attracted $15.5 million (11.9 million euro) in investment, GrowthUP has simply developed into the primary incubator in the country. For each project, GrowthUP offers up to $50,000 in financing in exchange for 5% equity and after the graduation the best teams receive additional $25,000, or the 50 percent of the follow-on round. The BVU Group, which was also founded by Dovgopoliy, is one of the main investors in the incubator. At various time Dovgopoly’S efforts were supported by Viktoria Tigipko, the founder of the Ukrainian venture fund TA Venture, Alexander Olshanskiy, and Vitaliy Yanitskiy.
For the purpose of this post, I wanted to provide some background on the accelerator and then to highlight some of the more successful projects that passed through their program in recent years:
Endorphin – A service which takes data about your social-media connections and offers an insight into their attributes and personalities. Perhaps valuable as a networking tool because it offers the user an idea of potential connections based on information that they put into the social-networking profiles.
KitApps – This startup allows event organizers to take their event guide and turn it into a mobile app for iOS and Android. Organizers fill in the details for their events and then let the team at KitApps go about building them the app they need. They’re focused on conferences and events for now, but their site indicates that they will soon be extending their service to include restaurants, real estate, schools, and news organizations. This startup launched its service in June 2012 and has already attracted customers such as Disney, MIT, Stanford, Cisco, Michelin, P&G, and Reed Exhibitions. To date, they’ve helped to create apps for more than 200 conferences.
Zakaz, founded by Yegor Anchishkin, offers a pretty straightforward grocery-delivery service. However, Anchishkin says that Zakaz has found a way to improve upon the delivery process by hiring independent food-pickers and incorporating proprietary technologies, such as FMCG real-time photo-scanners, an e-commerce engine, and last-mile logistical routing. Basically, this startup has attempted to popularize online grocery delivery by attempting to create a level of trust between the customer and the grocer. At the moment, this service is only available in Kiev, Sevastopol, and Borispol. Zakaz succeeds where the famous dotcom flop Webvan failed.
TicketForEvent – This is a startup we mentioned a few months ago when they obtained $3 million (2.3 million euro) in funding from Abele Ventures. The service allows companies to retain control of the various aspects of the ticket-selling process for their events. They can create a registration page, control the type of ticket sold and the sales-period, etc. The site was founded by Hennadiy Netyaha, who is the CEO of the ExpoPromoGroup and is also behind HotelsForEvent. Also Alexey Lazarenko of car-ride sharing service Podorozhniki and Ruslan Sinitsky (Jelastic, backed by Runa Capital) have collaborated with the incubator.
Encouraging from the chart, however, is the fact that although GrowthUP has established itself as the leading incubator in Ukraine, 5 other incubators and startup accelerators began operations in the country in 2012 and 1 in 2011. EastLabs, Founder Institute, Wannabiz, HappyFarm, and iHUB all opened locations in Ukraine in 2012 and Polyteco in 2011. Founder Institute and iHUB are incubators with international branches, but are just moving into Ukraine. Further, EastLabs is a Ukraine-centered accelerator, but is backed by Viktor Pinchuk, who is one of the wealthiest men in the world with a net worth of approximately $3.3 billion (2.54 billion euro).
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