Ukraine-born David Gilgur, the founder of Vimes Consulting, has established an early-stage startup accelerator for Ukrainian companies in London called Blue Lake. Vimes has been working closely with Ukrainian startups for a number of years and previously organized an annual London-based event where selected Ukrainian startups pitched to UK early-stage investors.
Gilgur points out why he started the accelerator. “We saw there was a gap with Ukrainian startups which were technically often very proficient, but when it comes to things like presentation or fundraising would often lack those skills that US or UK tech companies had. I and my partners decided that it was time to take the next step and produce the Blue Lake accelerator.”
Blue Lake plans to provide entrepreneurs with greater exposure to international markets and fundraising advice. The accelerator was set up in the summer of 2019 by Gilgur and his Vimes partner Lyubov Guk. The program lasts 12 weeks and offers an initial investment of between £15,0000 and £30,000 (about $16,000-$33,800). It provides startup support including office space, workshops and networking.
The culmination of the 12-week session is presentations by the startups at the Blue Lake Demo Day in London and Kyiv to early-stage investors.
Is there a charge for the accelerator program? “We have adopted an individual approach,” says Gilgur. “In exchange for our investment, we take between 3% and 7% of equity. When dealing with early stage startups, the differences can be quite significant. So, we decided to take it case by case.”
Why would a Ukrainian startup want to go to London to participate in the Blue Lake accelerator? In Gilgur’s opinion: “outside of the US, London is the place to be. It’s probably not suitable for all startups, but when it comes to things like FinTech, SAS, biotech, blockchain and AI, London is the leading place. Especially in Europe, it is the place to find clients and a well-established tech ecosystem.”
In the fall of 2019, the first group of 10 Ukrainian tech startups were accepted into the program. According to Gilgur, Blue Lake is focused less on fundraising and more on taking a product to the market. “People forget that the purpose of a startup is not just to be that fundraising machine, but to generate a product. So, we are sensitively focused on finding clients and going to the market, validating the product, validating the idea or service, spending time with clients and analyzing their feedback.”
Blue Lake’s March program in London was postponed due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but it is expected to be rescheduled later in the year. You can find and submit an application for the accelerator online.
- You can listen to a recent podcast interview with David Gilgur on Made in Ukraine Tech Startup Edition.