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Accelerators in CIS

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

We are concluding the series of articles about the world ecosystem of accelerators with companies that have their headquarters located in 15 countries, which previously were a part of the Soviet Union, and now those are 15 independent countries of Eastern Europe. They don’t form any group but they depict differences both in ways to get financing (for example, “petrodollars” in the Russian Federation), and in ways of inclusion into European context (for the Baltic States).

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Numbers and Facts

As of today, Crunchbase has information about 61 companies (25 of them have at least one investment) in the Accelerators category, and their headquarters are located in the countries, which appeared as a result of USSR disintegration. Almost half of the companies in the TOP-10 are represented by Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, along with accelerators from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Ukraine, which correspond to the level of startup ecosystem development in these countries. Minsk (Belarus) and Astana (Kazakhstan) have companies with one concluded deal, and others still cannot boast of an advanced ecosystem for the development of technological entrepreneurship.


Accelerators in CIS

Post-”Soviet” accelerators

The very first name on the list is IIDF incubator from Moscow, which very well may have appeared in our previous article about European accelerators, and it could have even taken one of the top-spots. The accelerator was founded in July 2013, and over 7 years, it managed to invest in 432 teams, still any of those haven’t completed a successful exit yet. This metric is kind of an effective anti-record among accelerators. Accelerator and Fund are working with teams at Pre-seed, Seed and Stage A investment stages, investing from 2.5 to 324 million Rubles (approx. $35 thousand to $4.5 million). IIDF specializes in projects which deal with internet technology, software development and e-commerce. In November 2017, the accelerator organised Russian Startups Go Global, and in summer 2019, it was one of the sponsors for EMERGE conference.

The second name on the list is taken by another active (even by European standards) accelerator — Startup Wise Guys, which was founded in 2012 in Estonia, Over the 8 years, 177 startups have gone through its 12-week acceleration program, and 3 of those startups have completed successful exits. The accelerator focuses on projects in such industries as software development, SaaS, IT and financial services. VitalFields, a “graduate”-startup of Startup Wise Guys accelerator, was sold to The Climate Corporation in November 2016. The startup was creating a user-friendly digital system for managing farmer fields. EpicList from Berlin, another successful startup, which has gone through Startup Wise Guys acceleration, and was sold to Vaude company in November 2015. They created an application, which allowed planning and sharing activities and trips around the world. StepShot — a Ukrainian startup from Vinnytsia and the third successful program-“graduate”. They were creating user-friendly technical documentation, manuals and step-by-step guides. UiPath from New York bought StepShot in August 2019.

Russian accelerator Sberbank-500 takes the third place in the list with 33 investments and, as well as, IIDF — without any successful exits. The accelerator is relatively young as it was founded in 2017. In the framework of its 10-week acceleration program, teams can work on marketing and develop their own product. The accelerator focuses on projects in the field of information technology, software development, education and e-commerce.

HappyFarm, an accelerator from Kyiv, enters TOP-4; it was founded in 2012 and up until now it has active status on Crunchbase. However, it almost went belly-up back in 2016–1017 (with this, was created in 2009, so this indicates that Crunchbase data isn’t up to date). According to Crunchbase, HappyFarm has 25 investments and 1 successful exit — Newzmate startup, which was sold to Piano Software company in November 2018.

iDealMachine, a startup from Saint-Petersburg, rounds out the first half of our list; it has 22 investments and no successful exits — same story for all Russian accelerators. The accelerator was founded in 2012, and among its priority industries, there are robotics, food startups, education, traveling and consumer goods. The duration of the iDealMachine acceleration program is 16 weeks.

Sixth place belongs to another accelerator from Saint-Petersburg — Start Fellows, that was founded in December 2011, as a subdivision of VKontakte, but it was closed after Pavel Durov left the company. The accelerator managed to invest in 19 companies and doesn’t have any successful exit. It focused on internet technology, search system development, mobile application and software development.

The next place in the list is taken by Overkill Ventures from Riga, Latvia. This acceleration program has 18 investments and just as well, no successful exits as for today, according to Crunchbase data. With this, this accelerator is “the youngest” in our today’s review, it was founded in 2018 by David Ventzel and Peter Marculans. In the framework of its 12-week acceleration program, the teams, which are focused on B2B-market, have possibilities to find their product-market fit. The accelerator focuses on software development, AI/ML solutions, SaaS products and information technologies.

A Lithuanian StartupHighway from Vilnius takes the eighth place. It was founded in 2011 and it has managed to invest in 14 teams and has one successful exit. With this, as well as HappyFarm, the accelerator is considered active but the last deals were closed in 2016, and news were lastly posted in 2017–2018. The “graduate” of the program with a successful exit is Funderful startup; it was acquired in January 2019 by RuffaloCODY company from America.

Superangel— an accelerator from Tallinn, takes the pre-last place in our TOP-10 list. Same to Overkill, it was founded in 2018 but can already boast off with 13 project investments but still with no successful exit. The accelerator has thrice invested in teams, who deal with AI, transport and IT; the overall pool includes 10 different industries. In February 2020, the accelerator announced its intention to invest another €750,000 in the development of technology startups. Its acceleration program lasts 52 weeks, which is even more than the previous record of 48 weeks, which was set by European accelerators.

The last one in our list of the most active accelerators is taken by another accelerator from Kyiv — GrowthUP. It was founded in 2010, and 13 teams have gone through its 16-week acceleration program, and one of them has completed one successful exit — that’s Jeapie startup, that has created API technology for push-notifications; the project was acquired by Modify company in 2015. With this, Nikolay Savin, one of the partners, left the accelerator in September 2016, and Denis Dovgopoli — the second partner of the accelerator, is now dealing with another project called Unicorn Nest. The accelerator website does not work, and the last Twitter post is dated by the Summer 2016.


Accelerators in CIS

What shall we expect from the Eastern Europe

At first, it is worth noting that new teams and faces should come to replace the first wave of accelerators in this region. The Russian market of active acceleration programs occupies a third of the entire rating, and those companies that have left the game have set the stage and fueled interest for new accelerators in this region. It is worth noting that Startup Kazakhstan (Kazakhstan) and TechMinsk (Belarus), which have one investment each, according to Crunchbase data, clearly do not cover the entire market of technology entrepreneurs in these two countries. So, we should wait for a new rapid development of both accelerators and startups in the post-Soviet countries market, which we will continue to write about in our Startup Jedi project.

18 Aug 2020


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