Editorial Office of Innovation House is figuring out where to find the team, place of work, equipment, money and expertise to create a prototype, if idea is the only thing you have.
The search for like-minded people is a sensitive matter, where there is no Single Rule Book. Not only specialized events of interest are suitable for networking, but also hubs and labs, where you may find conglomeration of equipment and people, who already work in this field, and under the aegis of which thematic events are being held.
Thus, for instance, if you want to find team and expertise for augmented and virtual reality field projects, you shall turn to Sensorama lab, and shall attend events organized by the team as well. Lab affords free access for the gifted experts to the equipment and technologies, and trains them. In Sensorama you may work on your own projects or integrate into one of the lab projects.
If idea is the only thing you have, you shall search for the team in special focus hackathons
The source of fruitful contacts for those, who makes something with their own hands, is Kyiv Maker Faire. Yuri Vlasyuk, Kyiv Maker Faire organizer, is deeply involved in makers community development. In addition to this big festival, smaller scale events are being held on a regular basis. Yuri gathers information about them on a separate resource.
Pavlo Poltoratskiy, CEO at EJaw gaming studio, recommends to search for the team in special focus hackathons, if idea is the only thing you have. There you may make friends with like-minded persons and to see them in operation, in work on specific projects. Pavlo Poltoratskiy recommends Casual Connect hackathon, which has this year returned to Kyiv, for the gaming industry. However, hackathons may become the staff source not in gamedev only. Kyiv holds events in the field of blockchain, Data Science, virtual and augmented reality. You may follow the calendar of events in relevant section on DOU, for instance.
During the last few years coworkings popped up like mushrooms after a spring rain. The result is that in every Kyiv city district you may find your own coworking, several coworkings with some interesting specialties also exist.
Kyiv city has a range of hackathons with interesting specialties
This, Zelenka – is a place for parents, where there are nannies who can look after kids.
“Creative Quarter” in “Gulliver” and “Platforma” in “Leonardo” – are coworkings in class A business centers in the upper mid-price segment. Besides, they may be prohibitively expensive for the newcomer inventor, who has no finished product and sales. Moreover, “Platforma” has first, better known, coworking within the territory of “Art-zavod”, which is in the mid-price segment.
Data Hub – is the first coworking network in Kyiv. Premises are located close to “Shuliavska”, “Olimpiiska” and “Palats sportu” metro stations. They portray themselves as cheap coworkings. In addition to the price, peculiarity of these institutions is the same infrastructure – access to Wi-Fi, printers, etc. Since recently Data Hub is holding activities in the marketing field that may be attended by coworking residents.
“Chasopys” – the oldest Kyiv city coworking, which is in the mid-price segment too.
IHub, Hub 4.0 – coworkings in the mid-price segment with an eye to technological startups. The first one is located at Khreshchatyk St. The second one – in Podil district. In both districts events, dedicated to innovations and technologies, are often held. Organizers try to form community around their institutions.
When it comes to hardware startup that needs a prototype or MVP, then, depending on the product primary audience, circulation and work experience with materials and electronics, creator has several options.
“When it comes to product that may be sold by millions all over the world, and it shall look and work impressively, then you shall turn to engineering companies and design engineering bureaus. ARTKB is the most famous bureau at present time. They have expertise of introduction into the world market of very powerful products, successful Kickstarter-campaigns, contact details and network of acquaintances that may also help, support, provide one-of-a-kind expertise, – Yuri Vlasyuk recommended. – When it comes to “calm” product, then in Ukraine it is not so hard to find workshop, where it will be manufactured.”
According to Yuri Vlasyuk, there are good metalworking workshops, workshops that work with concrete, wood and other materials in Ukraine. In general, ecosystem already exists, and it keeps on expanding. Workshops may be open, closed and partially open for the other persons. There is no point in advising specific places, since, from expert experience, even workshops having bad reviews are able to make high-quality product for the person, who knows his needs fairly well.
But if inventor does not really know what shall be done, then even good craftsman will not be able to help him.
Moreover, Ukrainian workshops are still unable to deliver the uniform quality, and even tried and true craftsmen have batches of worse and better quality. For instance, you may find 3D printer and vinyl cutter in America House Kyiv, such premises having equipment as DIY Lab, Lampa, Troya Lab etc. are open for the makers. Vlasyuk is gathering contact details of open workshops here.
Inventor shall know for sure what product he needs to be made
There are several labs in Kyiv, where you can puzzle out materials or even make the first innovation specimen with your own hands. Branches of international Fab Lab network that promotes science and makership, namely – Fabricator in UNIT City or Izolab in IZONE spaces (but this lab is mainly focused on the field of arts) are located within the city precincts.
Fab Lab laboratories are the places, where advanced equipment for the treatment of wood, metal, plastic, and other materials is placed. On numerous occasions “fablabs” have rare equipment. This is where workshops are held, during which you may master the equipment or find out the materials nuances, doors open days are held there as well. Each laboratory has its own rules, but obligatory condition is that you shall as least sometimes hold free event or open doors for all the interested people. Moreover, Fab Lab employees – are technology enthusiasts and often great on several related areas – for instance, development, makership, design, and they may help with many-sided expertise too. In Fabricator you may work subject to prior registration. It is popular among business representatives, students, scientists and ordinary people who have their own ideas.
As we already mentioned above, in Sensorama lab you may also get access to various and often expensive equipment for the work with VR and AR.
IoT Hub, laboratory-accelerator focused on hardware startups is located within “Platforma” premises . In addition to workplaces, equipment is also located here. You need a prototype and a minimal team to get into IoT Hub.
The money and the expertise
Ukrainian investment market is not like the Valley market or Western European market, and it can be bad in some ways and even good in some ways – it is quite easy to interpret and navigate in it.
In 2017 Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA) published online brochure with brief overview of all the investors that may be source of financing in our country – UVCA Investor Book 2017. The list includes more than 40 companies, Ukrainian and foreign funds, as well as accelerators and incubators are among them
First and foremost – investors are interested in global market products
Ukrainian investors have no specialization in a strict sense, it’s not that someone invests only in Fintech or IoT. It’s not that Ukrainian startups are specialized in some direction too. But the experience of recent years shows that that the most famous on the world stage were the Ukrainian hardware projects (iBlazr, Solar Gaps, Hidee, etc.), as well as projects in the artificial intelligence field (Viewdle, Grammarly). Michael Ryabokon, COO at Noosphere Ventures and member of Supervisory Board of UVCA confirms the interest in hardware startups.
First of all, investors are interested products for the global market – successful purely Ukrainian startups are thin on the ground, as country’s domestic market is small. In addition to the project and direction, investors apprise team, product growth potential, business model. Most of investors in Ukraine are ready to invest in projects at the stage of Seed and Early Stage – Round A and B, in projects that already have MVP and preferably – first sales. Moreover, there are several “angels” ready to invest at the stage of idea – drawing a cheque for about $10,000. However between these stages they invest with less pleasure. Moreover, it is hard to get cheque for more than $500,000 in our country.
When it comes to top-priority directions, Noosphere Ventures, for instance, is interested in space projects and breakthrough technologies, 1991 Open Data Incubator is looking at projects where data is used. In general, funds say that Big Data, IoT, fintech, adtech, ecommerce, social games are also directions of great interest.
GrowthUp, Aventures, Digital Futures, WannaBiz, TA Ventures invest massively in Ukrainian projects. Specialization of particular fund may be checked in UVCA Investor Book 2017.
In these latter days domestic innovators get increasingly frequently in foreign accelerators.
Platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo may also become the source of financing for the youthful project. Startups from our country more often than not turn to crowdfunding. In addition to money, campaigns provide the excellent opportunity to assess the potential interest in the project on the part of the audience. According to UVCA, the last year turned to be rather successful for Ukrainian projects in crowdfunding platforms. 83% of the campaigns have raised funds.
The bottom line
Ukraine has already passed the stage when country had no infrastructure designed and suitable for startups. But what we currently have – is far from the level of advanced countries of Europe and Asia, and much less far from the Silicon Valley. Ukraine has no pure and simple support of IT field products at the country level and at the level of large ecosystem projects. However, you are free to work and accomplish identified goals using existing existing possibilities.