Blitz with the winners of the Ukrainian Startup Fund’s DemoDays #2

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 – FRAMIORE, CITTART, Mate Academy – raised from $25000 to$50000 each for development and bringing them to the next level.

We are proud to showcase the selected startups with their BigData, EdTech, e-commerce, ecology 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.

FRAMIOREUkrainian brand of sustainable clothing.

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

FRAMIORE is a Ukrainian brand of sustainable clothing. We host in-house production with an R&D center for research, testing, and innovations in textile technologies and clothing designs. 

FRAMIORE creates long-lasting wear for women, offering high-quality clothing at a lower cost than similar brands committed to sustainability. We use innovative fabrics and technologies to produce each item and minimize our carbon footprint.

Our brand is also transparent: we are honest with our customers about who made the clothing and how. To produce outstanding and sustainable clothing, this is how a business should look. It is also strategic in improving the image of Ukrainian manufacturing in the eyes of our global customers and partners (as being sustainable and transparent can be a new norm).

Textile and fashion industries are some of the biggest threats to our climate. Over the last two years, people began taking an interest in sustainable, eco, fair, and transparent fashion – making sustainable wear no longer a niche product. If looking at numbers, only in Germany the segment grew from 16,3 mln to 129,1 mln euro in one year.

Not to be misunderstood, FRAMIORE consciously chooses to make clothing responsibly and desires to spread the idea that sustainable fashion and conscious consumption should be the new norm. The simple idea of jumping into a new sustainability trend was never a reason to kickstart our brand.

During the pandemic, most people cut their expenses, which caused us to see a decrease in sales. On the other hand, many consumers across the world started to overthink their buying habits: they wanted to buy less, look for new brands, and be more responsible for their purchases. It has been a sort of win-win situation. Businesses like FRAMIORE have a few challenges now, but a conscious consumption culture is starting to trend (which is great for the future).

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

We are planning to scale mainly in Great Britain and Germany, as these two countries have the most impactful and developed sustainable community and culture of conscious consumption. Another big priority in the USA.

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

We plan to spend 34% of the raised investments on sewing equipment and the technology needed to make our production lean and sustainable; 42% for hiring pros to join our team and expanding to improve the way we work and communicate; and 24% for marketing needs to bring awareness to the FRAMIORE brand and all the great initiatives we are carrying out.
This strategy will increase our manufacturing capacities up to 50% and help make a way to the European market. By the end of the year, we plan to cooperate with 25+ independent sustainable shops and creative spaces across Europe, as well as sell online to at least 7 platforms for sustainable fashion brands.

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

From our experience, there are three key lessons FRAMIORE has learned from pitching our idea to different grant programs:

  1. Your idea should sparkle: judges should love it immediately, as soon as they hear about it.
  2. You should believe strongly in your idea if you want others to believe in it too (and invest money to try it out).
  3. You should have a strategic plan and calculations for how to turn your bright idea into a profitable business.

Oh, and there is one more thing – if your startup is an export-oriented product, you should have a team that is experienced in global markets. Otherwise, it can take excessive time and gobs of wasted money to figure it out by yourself.

Cittart – online marketplace for art (BigData)

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

Cittart is an online marketplace that makes direct sales of art possible; it brings transparency to art sales, which are often ‘vague and mysterious’, and benefits both sellers and buyers by enabling:

  • sellers to have a large sales channel to present and promote their art
  • buyers to have a place with a simple search, transparent pricing, and purchase safety

How crises impact our business? Positively. Everything is moving to digital. Big incumbent players are currently cautious about making radical online moves, which creates opportunities for us.

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

We plan to launch, test, and adjust the product in the domestic Ukrainian market. The 2nd horizon is to scale it up on the major art markets (USA, UK, and China). However, if the Ukrainian launch, where the art market is weak, ensures stable demand, we can adjust our strategy to target other countries with smaller art market size and currently weak online sales  

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

To be honest, we don’t have specific numerical KPIs in place. Our main goal is to launch the viable product ensuring initial sales under all constraints we have, including the budget. It means we try to be pragmatic with all our costs. To give a perspective, every time we need to invest in something, we ask ourselves questions like ‘do we need to spend money on this/that feature now, or it’s nice-to-have but can be postponed?’, ‘will this cost help to make initial sales?’, ‘what are the alternatives?’, etc.  

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

  • Stay calm and confident. If you are invited to a pitch, this means the experts are already interested in your project and want to learn more.
  • Don’t be afraid to lose and bring the mindset that this is a chance to get valuable feedback.
  • Pitch to a friend, but imitate the real setting. Create a logical and strong storyline.

Mate academy – the online platform that trains people to become software engineers, free until employment  (EdTech)

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

Mate academy helps people to get their first job in tech in just 4-5 months. We train people to become software engineers free until employment than they pay us a percentage from their salary only after they get a job in tech (ISA – income sharing agreement). We’ve received 20K+ applications in 2020 alone, which is a great indicator that we are building something people want. COVID crisis made a lot of people reconsider their careers, which is suitable for Mate academy. However, future employers in tech are not hiring aggressively now, which makes us do our job even better. Our incentive system pushes us to do the most excellent educational product on the market, and 500+ employed graduates with an 85-90% success rate is a great piece of evidence that the company is on the right track.

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

Mate academy has the potential to scale 10x in Ukraine alone. However, the team has ambitions to be a global company and prepares to scale internationally. Great Britain and India may be the next targets.

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

Mate’s single KPI is Mate student’s success rate. Mate academy can be successful only if the Mate’s graduates are successful. It’s in the company’s DNA. Raised money makes it possible to accept more students and develop additional features on an educational platform to serve more people simultaneously.

  1. Recommendations for startups – lifehacks for winning pitch

  • Build something people want. If you create value, the money will follow.
  • Don’t optimize for pitch, always optimize for your business.
Read more about the Ukrainian Startup Fund program and apply now!
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