Blitz with the winners of the Ukrainian Startup Fund’s DemoDays

In cooperation with Ukrainian Startup Fund, a country-wide investment program that funds the most talented Ukrainian entrepreneurs, we start a series of articles with the winners of USF Demo Days. These technological teams – AeroDrone, FINMAP, NUWORK, Legal Nodes – raised $50000 each for development and bringing them to the next level.

We are proud to showcase the selected startups with their AgroTech, BigData, LegalTech, FinTech solutions – meet the winners! See the full list.

Let’s discover what the projects are about, where they are going to scale,  what kind of KPI’s are on the agenda.

AeroDrone – complex solutions based on drones (AgroTech)

  1. Which problem are you solving? Is it the right time for your product? How crises impact your business segment?

Today we are 7bn people, soon we will be 9bn, and the food demand will double by 2050. Unfortunately, the resources are getting scarce, the arable land area is diminishing, the clean water is getting hard to use for growing crops, and soil quality is not getting better. So the key question that our technology address is how do we grow more crops with fewer resources.

On the other hand, if we look at the crop technological cycle from seeding to harvesting, crop protection has the most significant impact on the crop output. Experts say that 50% of the crop depends on proper protection and nutrition. We started thinking about this technology after we realized that the current crop spraying technology didn’t change for 50 years. The same heavy and slow tractors go in the field and spray 100s of liters of waters with just a few liters of pesticides per hectare, damaging the plants and poisoning underground waters.

AeroDrone develops and manufactures unmanned aircraft DR-60 to protect crops by spraying pesticides and micronutrients, leveraging ultra-low volume spraying methods. Our drones can spray 3 times faster than ground sprayers flying at 100kph, at the same time reducing operating expenses by a factor of 5 (DR-60 needs just 100ml of fuel/hectare vs. 1.2 liters for ground sprayers). Flying above the crop DR-60 doesn’t damage the plants, and everything that is sprayed stays inside the field due to a fully automated process.

The COVID-19 pandemic did have an impact on our business; several projects and leads were postponed due to quarantine on the customer’s side. I’m confident that this is deferred demand and that projects will resume after quarantine is over. We didn’t have quarantine, but our team maintains social distancing being remote and working in isolation at our technical premises.

  1. Where/In which countries/markets are you planning to scale? 

We see that demand for our DR-60 drones is very high in the agriculture intensive markets like Eastern Europe, North America, LATAM, and Asia. We shipped a few units last year to the USA and Canada, but tangible negotiations are in progress with customers from Brazil, India, and Australia. One of the entry barriers is local drone legislation that we have to take into account. Drone certifications with local authorities are required before we can ship the first unit. Last year we got SFOC from Transport Canada, and this year we are working with the FAA on certification of DR-60.

I was surprised to see that the demand for our technology spans full outside of agriculture that I overlooked previously. This year we kicked off several projects in other sectors like energy, logistic, and mapping. DR-60, an unmanned platform for different civil payloads, has unique advantages and can fly up to 6 hours non-stop, carrying up to 60 kg of payload and delivering it from point A to point B that can be up to 600 km apart.

  1. What are the KPIs of spending the raised money/investments?

In the early stages, the key is not to overload your very limited resources with many KPIs and reporting. The standard KPIs for investors and other stakeholders reporting include Sales and costs performance, Return on Investment assessment. For new projects and investments that we are engaged in funding, we forecast Net Present Value and Internal Rate of Return. What we are tracking is the relevance of our technology that includes drone operations performance, flight planning software usability, and the payload effectiveness to the customers. These KPIs include satisfaction with our technology, qualitative feedback from the customers to our R&D team. These parameters are tracked and updated regularly and discussed with the in-out dev team as well as with investors, customers, and partners

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

It’s not very difficult to build the pitch if you have technology that you know very deep, understand what problem does it solve for the potential customers and can articulate its benefits vs. others. MVP is a great tool to validate your technology and get early feedback before you start pitching the investor. When building the pitch deck, imagine if you were the investor and think what you would like to hear on the pitch. Simple 1 min video works really well; it’s better to show how it works on the video than show 10 slides with a bunch of data. Dry run before you pitch to the investor; ask your friend or relative to listen and ask if they understand every detail. Rework your pitch if something is unclear. And finally, practice, practice, and practice, especially if you need to develop your presentation skills.

Finmap – online service of financial accounting (FinTech)

  1. Which problem are you solving? Is it the right time for your product? How crises impact your business segment?

 We are SaaS for financial analyses and accounting for SMEs in developing countries. Business owners in those countries, like in Ukraine as well, have a lack of knowledge in financial management and analyses. So, we developed a clearly understandable app helping them with his type of work. In fact, crises impacted our business more positively for long-term vision. Now, more than before, entrepreneurs should make the right business decisions with a strong analytical basis. 

  1. Where/In which countries/markets are you planning to scale?

 We are most sealable for emerging markets, such as South American countries, CIS, and Africa. For now, we have clients from 12 countries. It is a good confirmation of our hypnotize. So we could well scale in those markets.  

  1. What are the KPI’s of spending the raised money/investments?

Some smart people developed an ideal approach to resume a KPI of spending money. It is ROI (Return of investments). And we use it on an everyday basis. From marketing budget to software development expenses. In fact, we also know how every feature’s ROI, because we are tracking how it impacts any of our business-model figures. 

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

Being very clear with yourself and others. Fill all forms with deep involvement. Try to do your best, not your fast way. Be transparent with the jury and open to any criticism and new views, but also stand on metrics and ideas that you already tested and got results. Proof yourself and others that you are the best option to invest in. Show the jury what a great case it will be if the decision to invest in your company. Play a win-win model only. And good luck!

Legal Nodes – matching ideas with reliable legal solutions (LegalTech)

  1. Which problem are you solving? Is it the right time for your product? How crisis impact your business segment?

Legal services delivery is outdated and very dependent on hourly fees that sometimes reach hundreds of dollars per hour. Moreover, law firms usually spend as much as $12,000 per lawyer annually on client acquisition. Later, those costs are included in the client’s checks. As more businesses would be looking to move to the Legal Process Outsourcing Model for decreasing their legal budgets, we plan to help them with our legal marketplace. 

  1. Where/In which countries/markets are you planning to scale?

The UK is the primary market we are aiming at right now as most of the international tech companies in Europe are incorporated there. It means that working on different markets simultaneously requires different legal support, and Legal Nodes aims to help such companies with multi-jurisdictional legal tasks.

  1. What are the KPIs of spending the raised money/investments?

We plan to increase the accuracy of the Legal Nodes matchmaking algorithm as well as to provide businesses with initial legal consultations based on the type of legal work they are looking for. Currently, it is implemented by way of generating legal task lists.

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

Train your pitch as many times as possible before the pitch day with the timer. Write the list of questions that you might be asked during the pitch and prepare the answers. It will help you feel more confident when discussing your project with the judges.

NUWORK – CRM-system for HR (BigData)

  1. Which problem are you solving? Is it the right time for your product? How crises impact your business segment?

NUWORK allows big companies to save up to 70% on the hiring process through lining up candidate applications from all possible channels (job sites, social media, messengers, and even OOH with a QR-code) by a chatbot.

At a time of cost-efficient solutions and massive lay-offs in HR departments, NUWORK as a service becomes handy in a day-to-day routine of businesses, ensuring great results in conducting the first round of screening.

  1. Where/In which countries/markets are you planning to scale?

  • At stage 1, we plan to scale to Kazakhstan, Belarus, and Uzbekistan.
  • At stage 2, we plan to scale to Poland and other EU countries.
  1. What are the KPIs of spending the raised money/investments?

We have set 3 main KPIs that include active SaaS users, paying clients, and the number of carried out interviews.

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

A good pitch is all about preparation and listening to the feedback from the targeted audience. It’s always important to be ready to adapt a pitch according to the audience being presented to.

Read more about the Ukrainian Startup Fund program and apply now!
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