Show Me Your Traction: Highlights From IT Arena Startup Competition 2019
For the 4th time, IT Arena gathered the most talented and innovative tech entrepreneurs at its Startup Competition. From 45 semi-finalists, the jury members had to choose 10 best who competed for the main prizes. The main prize – $10,000 went to London-based Ukrainian startup – Legal Nodes.
The 2019 Startup Competition prize fund reached a record of $96,000. This year startups from 9 countries took part in the competition: Ukraine, the USA, the UK, France, Spain, Latvia, Belarus, Poland, and Germany. Out of 150 startups which applied for the competition, only 45 startups were selected to the semi-finals, 10 of which pitched their ideas at the Startup Finals in front of thousands of attendees, speakers, and the jury.
The jury included 10 tech experts:
- Marty Kaszubowski, Executive Director of the new Center for Enterprise Innovation, Old Dominion University, CRDF Global representative
- Paweł Maj, Investment Director at bValue
- Warren Haber, Managing Director of Exoventure, CRDF Global representative
- Andrew Pavliv, CEO & Founder at N-iX, Member of Lviv Tech Angels
- Boris Guitton, Head of Digital and Innovation Department at Credit Agricole
- Hugo Augusto, Managing Director at Techstars Lisbon
- Michael Puzrakov, COO & Chairman of the Board at Intellias, President of Lviv Tech Angels
- Bas Godska, Founder & General Partner at Acrobator Ventures
- Emanuele Volpe, Chief Innovation Officer at DTEK
- Andriy Sorokhan, Venture Lead at u.ventures
Legal tech, HR tech and e-commerce meet in the finals
Legal challenges are one of the biggest problems of why startups fail. To prevent a company from a failure Legal Nodes – the winner of the Startup Competition 2019 came up with a solution – an online assistant that helps companies to define their legal needs. How does it work? Customers choose a legal service they need via the platform. Then the assistant connects customers with a legal expert who helps companies solve their issues. Legal Nodes helps clients to automate legal work and reduce costs that would be spent on the in-house lawyers. Besides the main prize – $10,000 from CRDF Global and IT Arena, the startup got a certificate for an acceleration program from Sector X, a travel grant from Cardpay, and a 1-year coworking space for the whole team from Platforma Coworking.
“We have won amazing prizes that will allow us to invest in the further technological development of Legal Nodes as well as into marketing. The business travel grant will allow us to increase awareness about Legal Nodes abroad whereas we hope that various mentorship sessions we were awarded will allow us to put in place a comprehensive sales strategy as well as prepare for the round of financing. We are also very excited that we are now going to have an office!,” comments Margarita Sivakova, CEO and Co-founder of Legal Nodes.
Two startups shared the second place – Nuka and PatentBot. PatentBot is another legal tech startup, which makes the trademark and copyright registration process fast and simple. The startup’s team built a bot that helps you check the trademark and get your trademark certificate in few clicks avoiding paperwork and weeks of waiting. The team uses blockchain to keep all the data safe. The bot already works in the EU as well as in 6 other countries: the USA, Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, China, and Kazakhstan. PatentBot received a $5,000 grant by CRDF Global, 3 mentorship hours from 1991 Open Data Incubator, mentorship from bValue and spot in Online Pre-Accelerator for the next Startup Wise Guys Selection Bootcamp. Nataly Vladimirova, CEO and Co-Founder of PatentBot says the team is going to use the prizes for marketing to convert more customers and to learn something new through mentorship.
Make way for the young
This year Startup Competition will also be remembered because of the youngest startup founders at IT Arena history. Most of those who visited Startup Alley tried on an LED mask that reproduces real emotions. The founder of the Qudi mask is a fifteen-year-old Mykhailo Chumachenko. Mykhailo presented a programmed mask at semi-finals.
Another startup from teenagers is a stationary phenomenon – Nuka. The startup is founded by 17 years-old Katya Mychalko and Nikita Vladykin, and 21-year old Eugene Shylo. Despite the founders’ age, Nuka has already made some buzz internationally, having raised a total of $150,385 in Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaign. The startup produces eternal stationery – a notebook with a metal pencil that you can use as many times you want. Nuka has received a $6,000 grant by CRDF Global and shared second place with Patentbot.
Tech that helps businesses grow
Apart from the three winners, other startup finalists haven’t been left unnoticed. NUWORK Inc., an HR platform for entry-level hiring process automation, won a travel grant from u.ventures. Skyworker – an IT product that allows companies to hire employees by building their own tech community, received a mentoring session at the Le Village, a talent incubator by Credit Agricole, and a business trip from Center for Entrepreneurship. Oyper, an AI tool that makes social networks and movies shoppable, won mentorship from TA Ventures & 1991 Open Data Incubator and a fast track to CES selection process from UVCA. Comin, the solution that empowers content at e-commerce websites, got a fast track to CES selection process from UVCA and mentorship from 1991 Open Data Incubator. Plerdy, a multifunctional SaaS solution for conversion improvement, received a certificate for Digital Marketing School & Product School from Startup Depot. Zirity team which developed an AR online try-on tool for glass retailers will be mentored by TA Ventures & 1991 Open Data Incubator. uTrigg, a service for personalized marketing, also got mentorship from 1991 Open Data Incubator.
Bas Godska, Founder & General Partner of Acrobator Ventures shares his thoughts and tips for startups: “What I liked about the competition was promising contestants in the finals, and good jury composition, who asked relevant questions. I advise Ukrainian entrepreneurs to focus on making world level products and keep learning. Don’t be afraid of embracing international smart money. Aim for Western revenue, contact funds like Acrobator.vc for support with building a digital bridge between East and West, and never give up!”
Ivan Dmytrasevych, CEO & Co-Founder of Startup Depot Business Incubator, which coordinated the competition this year, is confident that the quality of startups has increased compared to the previous year: “I can highlight 3 positive trends of the IT Arena Startup track. The startups focused on global problems, that work on both Ukrainian and international markets. The number of foreign startups who took part in the competition increased, we received applications from Belarus, Poland, the UK, the USA, Germany, Spain, Latvia, and France. Finally, the startup level is way higher, which is evidence that the startup ecosystem in Ukraine is growing.”