On December 14th, Seedstars World, the biggest startup competition focused only on emerging markets, closed its annual tour in Europe & Central Asia with the Seedstars CEE Summit 2018 conference, powered by Luminate, for more than 500 participants, from more than 25 countries. Startups, entrepreneurs, investors and other stakeholders such as media and general public went through three days of intense training activities (December 12th to 14th), including a Seedstars Growth Bootcamp, the Game Changers Forum, the Civic Tech workshop, an Investor’s Forum, keynotes and pitching sessions.
Game Changers Forum
The first two days of the Summit took place at Unit.City. During the first panel (moderated by Andrii Degeler from tech.eu) Andrei Komarovski (Sector X Accelerator ), Jeffrey Donenfeld (Boomtown Accelerator), Alena Kalibaba (Chasopys) and Cristobal Alonso (Startup Wise Guys) discussed the “Do’s and Don’t’s of Running an Accelerator”. The importance of follow on investments within the equity model is a clear common ground for all these players, as well as (startups focus alert!) the importance of media and outbound strategies when it comes to dealflow sources. On this matter, Donenfeld added: “top dealflow source? personal recommendations and networking. If you have a startup that you think is great, I’ll book a call right away. I value personal recommendations the most". Another valuable piece of advice to startups came from Andrei Komarovski, who said that “if the startup is not coachable, it makes no sense to provide acceleration.If you are to build a pilot, you need to be disciplined, organized and be available to work 24h.”
The second panel, “Community Building: how to keep it growing & growth bottlenecks”, with Ieva Upenience (Baltic Sandboxl and Seedstars Ambassador for Latvia), Inna Stelmakh (UTEW), Viktoria Abed (Digital Women), Kirill Mazur (Unit.City) and Margo Lazarenkova (Emerge), focused on the transversal regional challenges that community builders face, across ecosystems, when trying to build and keep the ecosystems together. Communication, knowledge base, preparation and mindset issues were the most common highlights among the panellists. You can watch the full discussion of this 80% female panel here.
Civic Tech Workshop
This year, Seedstars and Luminate aimed at fostering tech projects, practices and topics around Civic Tech issues, with a special focus on transparency and efficiency in the relationships between the government and citizens. The first part of the Civic Tech workshop was dedicated to the regional and Ukrainian scenes, with Krzysztof Madejski (TransparenCEE) and Anastasia Sylenok (1991 Civic Tech Center), respectively. "Civic tech is a process. It's about being inclusive, user-centred, agile, and being open to different types of collaboration", Madejski defined. Jane Klepa (1991 Open Data Incubator) shared an interesting overview of the lessons learned in Ukraine. According to her, the non-sustainability of the business models, lack of data or data quality issues and the blurred definition of product ownership between governments and organizations on the field, are the main challenges faced by civic tech startups in the country these days. However, for Klepa, there are some very successful cases, such as donor.ua, 007 data team, PatentBot, Youscore (among others) and some trends already on sight for next year: “infrastructure, eco/environment and health care will be the most trendy verticals and we will assist to an increment of investment on the business models”, she says.
During the last day of the Summit, all attendees participated in deep discussions and learned key insights from a star-filled speaker and mentor line up.
Olena Boytsun, from Luminate, the main sponsor of Seedstars CEE Summit and one of the biggest investors in the civic tech sphere (more than USD 140 million committed so far), launched the concept “Economics of Democracy”, the CEE regional priority of the organization for the next years. “There is a market, customers and investors, for civic tech companies”, she said, while leaving a call to international investors to come to Central and Eastern Europe: “It would be great for more flexible capital to cover the region, as it contributes to many aspects of the ecosystem development”.
During the panel “Venture in the Emerging Markets: Challenge or Opportunity”, among other useful tips for startups and entrepreneurs, Suresh Patel (ISEO Ventures) left a specific piece of advice about how they should present themselves to the venture market: “When you are a startup, don’t do this machine gun approach to the venture environment. Try to make a list of VCs investing in your sector”.
Other highlights of the day were the fireside chat with Michael Weber (Seedstars) and Andrii Degeler (tech.eu) and the “Women in Tech” panel, which left the confidence in the idea that women entrepreneurs in Ukraine are taking the stage.
Seedstars World Ukraine
Captain Growth, the first proactive marketing AI which helps businesses analyze marketing data from multiple channels, provide recommendations and tools for the automatic implementation won “Best Startup in Ukraine” after a great pitch before a jury panel composed by Olena Boytsun (Luminate), Bas Godska (Acrobator), Max Kuznetsov (Horizon Capital) and Adriana Collini (Seedstars Investment Team).
“The Summit is a huge inspiration for our team. Here, people give us feedback and appreciate what we do, and in such a way, they help us stay motivated and keep things running even during hard times”, Dmytro Bilash, founder of Captain Growth.
In April 2019, all CEE finalists will travel to Switzerland to represent their countries at the Seedstars Summit, a week-long training program, conference and pitching competition. The trip is part of the prize for having won their Seedstars World local competitions and will have them competing with 65+ finalists from all over the world for the title of Seedstars Global Winner and up to 1mn USD in equity investment and other prizes.
One of the highest peaks of the event was the keynote by Christoph Sollich, aka. The Pitch Doctor, which sparked the room with a brilliant presentation about his new product. You have to check it out.
The Seedstars CEE Summit also counted with the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Ukraine, Unit.City, Chasopys and Radar Tech.
"They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds." - Mexican proverb
Seedstars is a Swiss-based group with the mission to impact people’s lives in emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship, with a particular focus on the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. Seedstars connects stakeholders, builds companies from scratch with public and private partners and invests in high-growth startups within these ecosystems. Seedstars aims at fostering impact investing and impact entrepreneurship over the world. Through different activities, that range from startup scouting, events organization to company building and acceleration programs, Seedstars has built the world's biggest community of changemakers in emerging markets. Seedstars group includes the largest startup competition in emerging markets (Seedstars World Competition), the Entrepreneurship Forum for Emerging Markets (Seedstars Summit), physical entrepreneurs hubs (Seedspace), acceleration programs (Seedstars Growth), teaching & training programs (Seedstars Academy) and an investment entity with a startup lab and a fund (Seedstars Investments). Some of Seedstars main partners are Enel (Energy), School of Management Fribourg (HEG Fribourg) & TRECC - Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities (Education), BBVA (Finance), Tag Heuer (Fempreneurship, Time Saving and Innovation), Merck (Health) and Continental (Mobility).
ABOUT SEEDSTARS WORLD COMPETITION
Seedstars World is the world's largest startup competition in emerging markets. It has been five years now that Seedstars Team takes off every year for a 9-month world tour and scouts for the best early-stage startups in 65+ countries, organizing 100+ events. One winner is selected to represent each country visited, and is invited to attend one of the 5 Regional Summits, reuniting all local winners of each region to network with regional investors, mentors and corporates. Local winners are also awarded the chance to represent their countries at the Seedstars Summit, the competition final happening in Switzerland, where startups compete for up to $1M in investment. The Seedstars Summit is the flagship event of Seedstars, filled with breakout sessions, panel discussions, specialized workshops and the best minds from emerging markets.
Luminate is a global philanthropic organisation focused on empowering people and institutions to work together to build just and fair societies. It was established in 2018 by Pierre Omidyar, the founder of eBay. Luminate works with its investees and partners to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to participate in, and shape, the issues affecting their societies, and to make government, corporations, media, and those in positions of power more responsive and more accountable. Luminate does this by funding and supporting innovative and courageous organisations and entrepreneurs around the world, and by advocating for the policies and actions that will drive change across four impact areas: Civic Empowerment, Data & Digital Rights, Financial Transparency, and Independent Media. Luminate was previously the Governance & Citizen Engagement initiative at Omidyar Network and is now part of The Omidyar Group. To date it has supported 236 organisations in 18 countries with $314 million in funding.