The Current Wave: New breed of Ukrainian tech entrepreneurs seek success in global markets, Part 5

A successful Ukrainian tech company lends helping hand to startup entrepreneurs

As a schoolboy, Vlad Tislenko dreamed about starting his own company. “My father is an entrepreneur and he motivated me a lot. I’m a geek myself. I like products, gadgets.”

The dream came true in 2013, when Tislenko launched Concepter, a consumer technology company. The startup’s first product, iblazr, is a wireless flash that attaches to a smartphone to produce higher quality photos. The product quickly became a hit in European Apple stores and later in Walmart and Best Buy as well.

Concepter continued to launch hardware and software products for the mobile market. Although incorporated in the USA, its R&D operation is located in Unit.City, a well-known innovation park in Kyiv (Kiev).

Over a period of a few years, the company evolved from only developing its own products to helping other tech startups bring their products to market and raise funds.

“We really love to work with entrepreneurs and help them come up with the ideas and launch them. So we decided to reposition our company as a venture studio,” says Tislenko.

“We established our accelerator where we invest money in startups and help them launch their products,” he explains.

Thus, the company has raised more than $1 million over the past years to develop not only its own products, but also those of other entrepreneurs. Examples include Futo (a portable air mattress), Delfast (an e-bike with a 236-mile range on a single charge) and City Jacket by Riot Division (a versatile jacket that adapts to any weather or environment).

Concepter’s Product Idea Accelerator (PIA) started in July 2017 with a partner, Biosphere, an Eastern European market leader in the home care market. The program was funded with $100,000. Five companies were chosen out of 70 applicants to participate in its first session in 2018.

The program is divided into three parts:  market research is done to determine the viability of a startup’s product idea; entrepreneurs are helped with creating an MVP (minimum viable product) including mentoring by technology experts; and, a Kickstarter campaign is set up for the product to raise needed funds to enter the market.

Participation in PIA is not limited to Ukrainian companies. During the first PIA Demo Day in May 2018, Nuka (Ukraine) and Protect My Bike (USA) received $20,000 each as the top two startups chosen among the 5 participants from Ukraine, Finland and the USA.

Overall in 2018, Tislenko says that Concepter incubated 10 companies out of 150 applications, and invested in three of them.

Most recently, Concepter helped to choose six Ukrainian tech startups, which were selected to attend the annual Computer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in  January 2019 and exhibit in the UA Tech Expo Zone.  The Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA) and the Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF) jointly sponsor this booth space.  Concepter will also exhibit in the UA Tech Expo Zone in January.

When asked about what is the greatest challenge faced by a startup company, Vlad replied: “it’s all about people… to build the right team, motivate them, provide the right vision and help them realize their ambitions.”

  • You can listen to a recent interview with Concepter CEO Vlad Tislenko here
Topics: International, Kyiv, News, People, Regions, Startups
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