For the last three months, startup founders who took part in ITMO Accelerator’s program went to webinars from experts in various industries, worked with their tracker (or mentor) on improving their products, and polished their presentations. Demo Day marked the end of the program, when the results of three months-worth of work were evaluated.
This season, over 400 startup teams applied for the program – with only 52 passing the selection. The startups were chosen based on several criteria: the project’s implementability, its competitive strengths, suggested technological innovations, and potential, as well as the professionalism of the team. 21 best-performing teams reached the final of the program, where they presented their projects in front of investors and shared the results of their work.
“It was possibly one of the most spectacular demo days of the last few years. This batch of participants was exceptionally strong, goal-oriented, and motivated – this is clearly demonstrated by the impressive presentations. The invited experts gave high praise to this season’s startup projects.
“I was especially happy when the finalist suddenly started to express sincere gratitude to the team from ITMO Accelerator when they were waiting for the results of expert evaluation. This was priceless feedback – such emotions are impossible to fake. I feel that we are doing something good, we are moving in the right direction,” says Alexey Solomatin, head of ITMO Accelerator.
The expert board brought together specialists from different industries: Vitaly Yanko, mentor at Startup Wise Guys and Batlic Sandbox, executive partner at SoftwareLead Pro, partner at Insta Ventures; Vadim Baranov, member of the iHarvest business angels club, frequent participant of the Horizon 2020 program, and graduate of the NAP program in Helsinki; Alexander Alkhov, founder and CEO of Courseburg, a specialist in marketing and promotion on Russian and international markets; and Dmitry Fialkovsky, senior investment manager in the New Industry Ventures foundation.
“ITMO Accelerator usually selects great projects that are a pleasure to work with! And this time was no exception – each team is strong and has much potential to develop further. As a venture investor I can say that I will definitely keep in touch with several teams keeping in mind potential future investments,” says Dmitry Fialkovsky.
Three startups were selected as winners based on expert evaluation. The projects were compared based on the novelty of the idea, their business models, commercial potential, and predisposition to exponential growth.
Studying abroad – no intermediaries or upcharge
The third place was taken by Applystudents.ru, a service that allows its users to apply to universities abroad directly and with no extra payments. The platform also helps choose the academic program, create an application form, and send the required documents all on one website.
“I used to be rather sceptical of accelerators, I didn’t really understand what they were meant for. The last three months at ITMO Accelerator gave me a clear understanding that such a program is a great additional motivation to work on your project. You have no chance to surrender after you’ve put so much time and effort into it, and the accelerator helps you build up the pace of development. Moreover, at the Accelerator I was also able to work with the tracker, Maksim Makarov. It was the best benefit of the program – to have the chance to receive help from someone interested in your project, who also has more knowledge and experience, as well as sees your project from another angle. For instance, I was really underestimating CustDev that turned out to seriously alter my project. It might seem like something insignificant to those who have a lot of experience in implementing projects, but it is actually not true for startups. The program at the Accelerator was very intensive and I am more than satisfied with the results: we advanced the development, created an MVP and a marketing plan, took third place at the Demo Day, and will soon be getting ready for scaling,” shares Vladislav Efimov, founder and CEO of the Applystudents.ru project.
Parking space sharing service
ELS Access, a startup that supports shared parking spaces took second place. The startup helps its users to rent parking spaces for various periods of time with a special app.
“I want to thank our tracker Kirill Kovalev, who organized meetups with other teams and helped us structure the work of our team. We received valuable feedback and a lot of useful information from Kirill’s European colleagues,” says Evgeny Voronin, head of development at ELS Access.
Virtual fitting rooms
The first place was taken by EasyTry, a startup with virtual fitting rooms. The app allows retail platforms to cut down on bounce rates for purchased goods by allowing customers to try on clothes online.
“It’s not our first time at the Accelerator – we came third at our previous Demo Day. Given the limitations of the online format, this year’s event went wonderfully. We really liked the questions and comments of the invited experts,” adds Daniil Andreev, CEO of EasyTry.
Impressions from project trackers
Startups mentors, referred to as trackers, also play an important role in ITMO Accelerator. Kirill Kovalev, co-founder of Maria 01, Europe’s largest startup hub, worked with EasyTry and ELS Access projects.
“Based on the interest it gauged, this Demo Day could be compared to the most spectacular games of this year’s Euro 2020. Every project demonstrated a great level of readiness to enter the international market and potential to be successfully scaled. EasyTry, the winner of this Demo Day, offers a radically new solution for e-commerce that would increase user engagement, average purchase size, and number of conversions thanks to virtual try-ons. I would keep track of the projects ELS, airtasks, Chatix, and Metrica that were also presented on Demo Day. They are planning to enter the global market in the next few months,” shares Kirill Kovalev.
Maksim Makarov, a business manager with seven years’ experience in the field of power industry, was a tracker for the project Applystudents.ru.
“I would like to thank ITMO Accelerator and startup teams for their incredible work and for this unique opportunity to learn new skills and develop your network. I am impressed by the ability of startup teams to overcome major challenges on a daily basis – the ability to bounce back day after day is what sets apart a truly successful startup.
“I would also like to add that the teams spent a lot of time interacting with each other and sharing their experience, which is extremely valuable for them. I wish every participating team to keep up the good work – all their challenges are only starting now,” concludes Maksim Makarov.
Though this season is over, a new one will begin very soon – already this fall. You can find out about the start of the new program at ITMO Accelerator’s official website.