The European Startup Conference 2022: Ukraine is here to do business!

Hosted online from Ukraine, the first-ever European Startup Conference connected 2,314 attendees and highlighted Ukrainian Startups.

“Ukraine is here to do business!” was the central message coming from panel discussions, interviews, and startup pitches featured in The European Startup Conference 2022. Either illustrated directly or proven through examples, the business leaders and speakers at the Conference shone a light on the various ways Ukraine’s tech startup ecosystem remains competent and resilient, even during this challenging period of war.

On December 7th 2022, The European Startup Conference 2022 took place online, hosted live from Ukraine. The non-profit event was co-organized by Startup Network Europe, Startup Wise Guys, Brella, Ukrainian Tech Ecosystem, Ukrainian PR Army, and Unit.City. The event’s primary aim was to connect Ukrainian Startups with European and other International Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, and business partners, to help the Ukrainian tech ecosystem grow and develop.

This goal was certainly achieved — The Conference’s Speakers Program attracted over 900 unique viewers during the livestream, and the Online Networking Program attracted over 2,300 participants, with close to 600 individual meetings scheduled between attendees on the Brella event platform. Furthermore, 6.1% of attendees were based in Ukraine, while many more were Ukrainians who moved abroad after the war began.

Why Ukraine?

According to the event’s co-host Adam Fulham, Founder of Startup Network Europe, this event was hosted online from Ukraine for two reasons:

First, Ukraine has an amazing track record when it comes to Startups. Ukrainians have founded companies like Grammarly, PayPal, and even WhatsApp. The country is also home to at least 1,800 Startups and 252,000 Tech Experts.

Second, Ukraine is a democracy, and democracy is the most beautiful thing in the world. As Europeans, we should do everything we can to help a European Democracy that has been invaded by a European Dictatorship.

Speakers: European Startup Leaders

During the European Startup Leaders Panel, Startup Ecosystem Leaders from seven European Countries shared their experiences and advice on the various challenges startups might be facing in 2022. Some of the topics covered included how early-stage startups should approach fundraising, how startups should manage stock options for employees, how startups should seek support for legal & other bureaucratic issues, and more.

Notably, commenting on the current startup environment, Lucien Burm, Chair of Dutch Startup Association, pointed out that times of crisis might have some positive implications for startups since startups can be more flexible and faster at tackling key societal challenges than larger corporate competitors.

In terms of how the current crisis has impacted the investment world, there is now greater attention moving toward earlier & seed-stage investment. According to Burm, this is partially due to the consideration that early-stage startups are likely to have a life span which would last beyond the current crisis, and can be “lifted up” in the economic upturn afterwards.

Later in the event, there were speakers from the Ukrainian Startup Ecosystem, including the leaders of TechUkraineUkrainian Startup Fund and The Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association. International Investors and Founders of Ukrainian Scaleups also took part as speakers.

Fireside Chat with Steve Wozniak

Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak has Ukrainian ancestry. After visiting Kyiv in 2017, Wozniak said:  “In my life, I’ve planned to do four things, and one of them is to visit Kyiv”.

It was a special moment to have ‘The Woz’ join the Conference virtually, and connect with the live audience. During the Fireside chat, Wozniak answered a number of questions from the event hosts in Ukraine, covering topics ranging from his journey with Apple to his views on the current tech industry.

Ukrainian Startup Pitches

The European Startup Conference 2022 also included a pitch competition for outstanding Ukrainian startups to showcase their business. The selection process was moderated by Startup Wise Guys, the biggest early-stage investor in Ukraine.

37 companies applied to the pitch competition, and 13 companies pitched in the pre-selection pitch days. Finally, on December 7th, five companies were selected to pitch live in front of the jury and the international audience. The companies selected were the following:

  • Releaf Paper is the world’s first manufacturer of sustainably made paper from fallen leaves!
  • Cardiolyse provides Medical grade AI analytics for heart health.
  • Party.Space is a B2B metaverse events platform for remote teams and online communities.
  • i3 Engineering home automation system makes homes smart without smart devices.
  • Fintellect is a no-code finance automation tool helping IT teams stay profitable with the power of open banking.

Furthermore,  27 startups have been invited to Startup Wise Guys’ free Online Pre-Revenue program for Ukrainian startups, which will take place in Q1 2023.

Hosts, Partners and Speakers

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