One Year Later: How Startup Competition Finalists Are Doing
Last year we evidenced a fierce battle between 50 best startups in Eastern Europe. Almost one year has passed and we decided to find out how the Startup Competition finalists are doing. Looking at their achievements, the theory that only 2% of startups succeed has failed.
UATag came up with the idea of how to deal with fakes. They invented a unique physical tag to verify the authenticity of a product, protecting it from counterfeiting. The tag cannot be copied thanks to a unique pattern created by the glass cracks.
Taras Rodtsevych, CEO of UATAG talks on their participation in Startup Competition 2018 and whether it was helpful: “We enjoyed our experience at IT Arena Startup Competition last year. We won $5000 from CRDF. Besides, at IT Arena we met an investor attraction specialist, who joined our team. By far we have found a strategic investor and now we’re in the process of signing an agreement. The most interesting part for us was 30-minute meetings with mentors, where we learned how to pitch our idea, what to focus on. It would be better if jury members had an executive summary about the startup because 3 minutes is not enough to fully grasp the concept of a project. The projects which offer generally known solutions win in this case because it’s difficult to evaluate properly something completely new. Most jury members didn’t get the idea of our invention, even though we tried to make it simple. What was really important for us was traction validation from the organizers. It is easier to draw charts with potential clients than to reach them.”
The interactive LED backpacks called PIX made a splash last year. Margaret Rimek, CEO at Pix Inc. shares a success story of her startup after the IT Arena 2018: “The event was very useful for us because of several reasons. First of all, high-quality pitching school. We really appreciate the training before the pitch, we received honest feedback on our presentation. That helped us to structure the material, cut off the unnecessary information from the pitch and most importantly present our product in front of a test audience first, which helped us to notice what works best. Besides, we met a few investors from the USA, who gave us feedback about our product. We also won few prizes: $5000 for AWS, Travel Grant for $2500, and mentoring sessions from Concepter and 1991 Open Data Incubator. We used all of them: thanks to the travel grant we visited CES 2019 in Las Vegas, where we met many partners and signed many contracts.
We launched campaigns at Kickstarter & Indiegogo and raised about $338,000. We produced 4,000 backpacks and started to develop e-Commerce and retail sales strategies. A few days ago we launched a Kickstarter campaign with our brand new product – interactive backpack for kids – Pix Mini.”
The legal tech startup which is building AI-driven document automation, AxDraft took part in the Startup Competition for the second time in a row. This year was a breakthrough for the AxDraft team, as later it raised $1,1 million investments. We asked Yuriy Zaremba, the founder, and CEO of the startup about why he decided to return to IT Arena and how it affected the startup’s success: “There are 3 reasons why we came back to IT Arena: great jury, growth of our product, desire to win. The quality of competition raises every year. When we saw the jury members and attendees of the 2018 conference, we definitely wanted to take part just to meet those people and demonstrate them our product. And also we came back to win.
We won many prizes and didn’t have time to use all of them. However, we used a travel grant to fly to New York for Y Combinator interview. We also won Starta Accelerator certificate which gave us a place at Sputnik coworking space, where we registered our company.
One of the certificates was an invitation for preliminaries at Rockstart accelerator in the Netherlands. We were selected for the acceleration program and at the same time, we were invited to Y Combinator. It was important for us to choose Y Combinator, but we still have friendly relations with Rockstart. Y Combinator helped us to improve our business model and to find clients in the US. We wouldn’t raise such big investments from Silicon Valley VC without Y Combinator. Our product has grown, the market expanded, the number of clients tripled. I can’t say all of that is a result of IT Arena, but it definitely played a role in our success.”
We also asked people from another side of the stage. One of our jury members, Jane Klepa, Executive Director of 1991 Open Data Incubator shared her view on the changes of Startup Competition. “Most of the Startup Competition 2018 participants were startups of high level. The competition is a great possibility for startups to pitch their projects in front of many experts. It is more than brand awareness, it’s a potential sales channel, as you never know who is in the audience: advisors, clients, investors. It’s a great way to check the hypothesis and validate the new features at the Q&A session. We’re glad that most of our startups used their prizes and came to 1991 Open Data Incubator for mentorship. Sometimes we conducted online mentorship sessions, as I involved international tech experts, considering the market and demand.”
Moreover, the winner of the Startup Competition 2018 Liki24.com has raised a $1 million of investments. The Ukrainian startup created a platform that brings medical products, doctors, clinics, pharmacies, insurance companies, and clients together. Liki24.com is willing to completely change the way of traditional drug search and delivery. Read more about Liki24’s success story here.
Early-stage startups from all over the world still have an opportunity to join Startup Competition 2019. Few prizes for this year’s event have already been announced: $10,000 from IT Arena, Product School & Digital Marketing School certificates from Startup Depot, mentorship program from 1991 Open Data Incubator, Genesis Investments and TA Ventures. Stay tuned for more valuable prizes. Fill in the application form and be ready to rock the Startup Competition stage.