Last week was brightly saturated with a number of widely discussed events in the world of startups and entrepreneurship. On November 11th -12th Slush in Helsinki gathered the record number of startups and investors with the total number of attendees up to 15000, thus shedding light on European ecosystem once again. Almost at the same time, on November 12th, Astana became the center of innovative development in Asia, attracting specialists from Europe and America. We would like to give you a short summary of these significant occasions and introduce the winners of startup competitions, the companies that now have the entire basis to become international giants.
1700 startups vs. 800 investors
“The next Google could be born in Helsinki – try hard enough, try long enough”, – Ilkka Paananen from Supercell said about Slush 2015. Most of the Slush attendees visited Helsinki in order not only to see the thriving startup scene and to feel the general vibe of teaching or learning how to do business, but also participate and get noticed. So many outstanding people, keen investors and obsessed entrepreneurs came to Slush, that it was necessary to plan important meetings in advance. It is difficult to say how many new investment deals were made during these two days in Helsinki, but for sure a big number of new generation companies were given a good supportive start.
Of course, the winners of pitching competitions attracted most of the public attention. Thus, the Slush 100 pitching competition announced its winner on November 12th. This was Australian company known as CareMonkey who received 650 000 euros as the main award. CareMonkey represents a risk management system, processing medical data and safely keeping it available on mobile devices. Your data is entirely private and can only be shared with the people you trust. Several months ago, the guys won the pitching competition in Melbourne during Slush Down Under. CareMonkey had to compete with quite strong startup teams in the finals: Astro Digital (USA+Russia), PlugSurfing (Germany) and Velmenni (Estonia).
Astro Digital, Russian-American startup proudly took the second prize at the pitching competition and was given an exceptionally positive expert feedback. Headquartered in California, Astro Digital is a platform providing access to satellite data. The service is of high value to numerous individuals: from national security services to farmers watching their lands. Astro Digital also offers API to build your own services and applications using the satellite data they provide. Yekaterina Kotenko-Lengold, a graduate from Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and Skolkovo Open University, presented Astro-Digital at Slush conference. In total, 45 startups from Skolkovo participated in Slush 2015, 20 of which reached the semifinals, 4 teams were shortlisted for the finals.
Estonian semifinalist Velmenni demonstrated a wireless communication device, able to transfer data at light speed (so-called visible light connection). Another competitor of the Slush 2015 winner – PlugSurfing project – came up with an electric vehicles’ charging solution. PlugSurfing network is already widely used by 15 000 Europeans, who downloaded this app in order to find the nearest charging station and pay the service with one click.
A lot more interesting projects attended Slush, but it would take too long to give details on all of them. We can confidently say that Slush has become a major attraction in startup world, gathering the most outstanding companies and tech leaders from the whole planet.
$ 25 000 to counterfeit identification service
Techconnect Astana proved to become the biggest tech conference in Central Asia. 150 investors, more than 150 startups, 45 international experts attended Techconnect, all they came from different corners of the world (CIS, EU, US, Central Asia) in order to participate in great discussions, check on Kazakhstani entrepreneurship ecosystem and feel the pulse of startup environment created by international teams. This truly innovative event was organized in Kazakhstan for the first time and set its main goal to deal with attracting as much investments as possible. Numerous outstanding investors expressed their sharp interest in the local startup community, which they know so little about. However, judging by common impressions, there is still no 100% confidence in potential million deals: the local ecosystem has a range of problems to solve in order to become really attractive to foreign capitalists. Still, investors provided valuable feedback to startuppers, some of them even agreed to discuss possible partnerships in the future.
Kazakhstani service Wipon won the main prize during Startup Battle at Techconnect 2015. Wipon developers presented a mobile platform protecting customers from potentially dangerous or bad-quality products. All you need to do to perform a check is download a free app, scan the product’s barcode and wait for the info. Who will benefit from Wipon? Customers caring about their health and money, manufacturers wishing to tackle frauds and governments fighting against shadow economy. Wipon service is now available in three languages and constantly gaining power: developers already cooperate with public and controlling organizations in Kazakhstan and plan to launch the system for Internet trade, to reach eBay and AliExpress. For now, Wipon checks only alcoholic beverages, but soon the team will advance the service to check pharmaceuticals, food, tobacco, cosmetics and household chemicals. Wipon received $ 25 000 as the winner of Techconnect 2015 in Astana and will spend this money on further platform development.
In total, Techconnect Startup Battle gathered 10 competing teams from Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Poland, Russia, and Kyrgyzstan. Initially applications also arrived from Greece, Serbia, Czech, Azerbaijan and many other countries. Numerous startups were highly evaluated and given professional feedback.
Of course, Techconnect conference is far from such grand tech events as Slush or Web Summit. But it’s a very promising start for the local ecosystem, located on the border between West and East! The conference was given a lot of media attention and got a positive feedback from foreign experts. Small changes lead to big achievements. Techconnect in Astana is one of the initial changes to take place in this Eastern region, bringing world capital and expertise to the local entrepreneurship community.
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