“Why should I be nice to them? I’m the one with the hamburgers.” ~a McDonald’s trainee in the former Soviet Union in the 90s
Prominent Ukrainian capital investors and business angels discussed their algorithms for investing in Ukraine’s tech industry at the Lviv IT Arena conference on Oct. 1.
And all agreed that the process of investing, either in big tech companies or small startups, could be made simpler and easier if the government did its part by passing better laws and improving the economy.
The help of investors is almost always needed to develop young companies, according to Horizon Capital CEO Lenna Koszarny. She compared California’s Silicon Valley, the desired destination for many IT startups, with the Earth’s highest mountain and said, “If I needed to climb the Everest, I would go with a guide.”
But the creation of partnership between investors and entrepreneurs is not entirely dependent on figures and business plans, she said.
“We look, first of all, at the entrepreneur, at the spark in the eye. We look for passion, we look for energy,” Koszarny said. “Investing is both art and science.”
Digital Future CEO Oleksii Vitchenko agreed: “People are the most important asset in any startup.” However, he said that there’s another important thing startups should have to attract his attention – companies should be focused on global markets.
“We want to invest into something digital that can compete globally,” Vitchenko said.
The Oct. 1 investment panel discussion at the conference was focused on details of putting money into companies, and, according to managing director at HP Tech Ventures Vitaly Golomb, the final goal isn’t only to earn money after investing.
“We’re investing in a third technology revolution,” Golomb said.
Meest Express has been doing this too, but they are a poorly run, backward company with rude, incompetent customer support and no vision or drive.
Called NP Shopping, the service helps users purchase goods from U.S. internet-based retailers by bypassing the requirement that сustomers have a U.S. postal address.
A mail-forwarding service works by providing an intermediary U.S. address for customers. Purchased goods are mailed to the intermediary address on the customer’s behalf, and then shipped on to their final destination. As a result, users from outside the United States are able to buy goods online from e-shops that only ship to U.S. postal addresses.
Nova Poshta’s NP Shopping offers just like that. Well, almost.
It buys goods from various U.S. shops like Amazon, eBay, Walmart by itself, charging an additional 7 percent of the cost, and delivers them to Ukraine. While ordering and paying for a delivery, users have to copy the URL address of the product and paste it into a box on Nova Poshta’s website. There isn’t even a requirement to sign in.
As soon as the company receives the customer’s shipment at its U.S. warehouse, it forwards it either to one of its Ukrainian outlets, or to the customer’s own home address by courier. Deliveries are supposed to take five working days or less. Parcels are limited in size to 122 centimeters in length, 102 centimeters in width, and 110 centimeters in height
If the parcel is lost, Nova Poshta promises to refund all costs.
In order to get, say, a gadget from Amazon that costs $100 and weighs 1 kilogram, customers will pay Nova Poshta $113 in total. However, if a product costs more than $165, customs clearance will cost an additional 35 percent of the excess sum. So, for example, an order for an item priced $1,000 and weighing 1 kilogram will cost $1,367.
– After a short-lived decline in 2014, the Ukrainian IT sector demonstrated record growth in 2015. Not only did the market regain its strength, it significantly exceeded the activity level of any previous year, according to UADN’s report.
– The investment market reached an unprecedented $132 million in total volume in 2015, demonstrating a 240% growth from the year before, when the market shortened by over 55%.
– The growth of investment volume in 2015 was mainly the result of three large-growth stage deals, while early-stage investments slightly decreased.
– Startups oriented to the local market are likely to continue facing difficulties connected with the contraction of the Ukrainian economy and its currency fluctuations. However, there are also a number of winners that profit from such market conditions, including leading e-commerce players.
– Globally-oriented startups attracted more investments in 2015. Many of the teams have moved to their primary product markets, raised follow-on funding from international sources, and kept their R&D teams in Ukraine.
– Foreign investors kept interest in the Ukrainian tech sector, making or leading more than 40% of the deals in 2015.
– In 2015, Ukraine saw the trend of well-known foreign companies acquiring domestic startups, offering global products, continue. The year’s largest acquisition was that of the Looksery image-processing app by Snapchat for a reported $150 million.
– Growth-stage deals emerged as a new transaction class, accounting for $100 million of the total investment volume. Among notable new growth-stage investors was George Soros, who promised to commit $1 billion to Ukraine, with the tech sector figuring on his priority investment list.
– The 2014-2015 period was marked by a government push for reforms. The IT sector played a major role in the design and implementation of some of the most widely recognized and successful reforms, including those addressing deregulation and e-government.
I changed a flat tire yesterday, and today went to get it patched. Cost to have the tire fixed? 65 uah ($2.60).
I had a free coffee while waiting.
Cool software solution for transparent gov’t contracts.
This CEO is an acquaintance of mine.
“We (the Dutch farmers – ed.) have the knowledge in agriculture which we can apply here on a big territory. I am a son of a farmer, so for the Dutch farmers Ukraine is like a dream: you have so much very fertile lands, you can improve your production so much and you can really make big steps forward.” Ir. J. H. (René) Kremers says, Difco International director.
The company participated in an annual international exhibition of the innovative solutions in grain business “GrainTechExpo – 2016” which took place in Kyiv this February.
YouAppi, a San Francisco-based startup that has developed a Big Data-driven solution for mobile marketing, has raised $13.1 million from an international consortium of investors, including Ukraine’s Digital Future.
Also participating in this Series B round are Click Ventures, Emery Capital (Russia), Global Brain (Japan) and Hawk Ventures (USA), Israeli funds Glilot Capital Partners and 2B Angels, as well as AltaIR Capital and Flint Capital, two funds operating essentially from Russia and Israel.
Flint, Glilot and 2B Angels had already put $3 million in YouAppi’s Series A round in October 2014.
The funding will be used to enhance YouAppi’s products and accelerate growth in China, Japan and other growth markets, while moving the company’s headquarters to San Francisco.
Initially based between Israel and New York, the startup also has offices in Beijing, Berlin and London.
Launched in 2012, YouAppi “enables the world’s leading apps to find the right customers at the right conversion price across countries and verticals, based on post-install event analytics.” Its proprietary predictive algorithms can “analyze the usage habits of 1.5 billion users of 3,500 mobile apps and sites.” These include The New York Times, Pandora, EA, Orbitz, Zynga, Yandex, Wayfair, and Viber in 200 countries via 100 billion impressions monthly, the startup claims.
In Asia, YouAppi works with Baidu, UC Union (Alibaba Mobile Business Group), Sungy Mobile, Apus, NewBornTown, Kika and Bandai Namco, as well as global YouAppi clients. The company expects its Chinese revenue to double in 2016 from 10% to 20% of its global revenue.
Top IT companies in Ukraine
rank/company/offices/number of specialist/growth in second half of 2015
1 EPAM Киев, Харьков, Львов, Днепропетровск, Винница 4400 +500
2 SoftServe Киев, Харьков, Львов, Днепропетровск, Ровно, Ивано-Франковск, Черновцы 3891 +44
3 Luxoft Киев, Днепропетровск, Одесса 3730 +3
4 GlobalLogic Киев, Харьков, Львов, Николаев 2672 +111
5 Ciklum Киев, Харьков, Львов, Днепропетровск, Одесса, Винница 2335 +44
. . . .
Two months ago I welcomed a delegation of European investors and tech entrepreneurs for the informal 3-day WEF/YGL/GS Ukraine Discovery Tour in Kyiv. I met them at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January and invited to Ukraine despite skeptical views on the “country in war.”
These views weren’t surprising because of the Russian propaganda that displayed the war with the purpose to scare off all business people and investors.
“So how is it in Ukraine? What’s going on with businesses? What was it like before the war?” – these were the first questions I was attacked with. So I told the story straight and fact-full. . . .
We have over 2,000 startups, about 100 global R&D centers, more than 500 outsourcing firms and 100 e-commerce companies. All of them add up to over $5 billion industry’s volume worth as of late 2014. The figure could be higher if it wasn’t for the economic downturn.
Creating an enterprise software startup with 20 people on the team working for at least 2 years would take $10 million if it was in the U.S. In Ukraine, the same team for the same time span will cost 10 times less. Just think about it. It is possible to raise $1 million in the U.S., develop the product here and then return with the developed product to sell it in the U.S. . . .
There are more than 50 Ukrainian companies with valuation of $20-100 million that operate globally.