On June 18, five Ukrainian tech startups had the opportunity to pitch their products to a VC and investor group of 60 people in New York City. The event was organized by Razom IT and the US Department of Commerce SABIT Program.
The non-profit Razom has provided young Ukrainian entrepreneurs a venue to engage with a New York audience since 2015 in an effort to help develop the tech startup ecosystem in Ukraine. The SABIT IT program also started in 2015 to bring tech entrepreneurs from countries of the former Soviet Union to the U.S. for training and networking.
The 2018 program, which runs from June 12 to June 30, includes stops in Wash., D.C., New York, Denver/Boulder, and Silicon Valley.
Of the 18 participants this year chosen from about 300 applicants, seven were from Ukraine. Five were chosen by Razom to do their product pitch.
You can watch their pitches in this video.
Daria Ozimko, Razom Operations Director, and Lyuba Shipovich, Razom Vice Pres., were the hosts for the evening.
The VC/investor panel included:
- Roman Ozimko, an experienced Senior Consultant in Sia Partners, a global management consultancy with a VC fund.
- Sean O’Connor, a product-marketing manager who has worked with a number of startups and public companies to launch and scale digital products. He currently works at Cellarius.
- Vikas Luthra, an experienced mentor, advisor and investor to various internet startups in enterprise e-commerce, FinTech and Big Data mining and Analytics.
- Alex Merhle, an entrepreneur and former Licensing Counsel for a patent licensing company he is now helping to drive sustainable economic growth and development in Ukraine.
Tanner Johnson is an International Trade Specialist and a 16-year veteran with the USDOC who heads up the SABIT IT program.
“The goal of the program is to promote the development of relationships between the American and Eurasian IT Startup ecosystems and also among the countries in the program,” he said.
Fostering relationships between U.S. IT service providers and program participants is also important, he underlined.
Tech startups from Ukraine have played an important role in the program in the past: “In 2017, out of 16 participating startups, eight were Ukrainian”, said Johnson.
There are seven Ukrainian tech startups in the 2018 group. Two of them, TechNovator and Raccoon Technologies, did not pitch on June 18.
Some past program graduates have been accepted into prestigious U.S. tech accelerators. Thus Hideez, a Ukrainian cybersecurity startup that had participated in SABIT IT in the spring of 2017, was accepted in the fall of 2017 into the highly competitive 90-day Mach37 cybersecurity seed accelerator in Virginia.
- Podcast interviews with senior executives of Hushme and TechNovator can be heard here.