To support the development of entrepreneurship in Moldova, the Tekwill project organizes multiple events and projects dedicated to training Moldovan entrepreneurs. Moldovan startups that are developing innovative products and services are able to benefit from several opportunities.
One opportunity in particular is Startup Academy Bootcamp, an accelerator program which recently set 11 experts in the field to meet with local entrepreneurs in Chisinau. Eight startups entered the online bootcamp which served as an excellent scaling tool, given that startups have been offered absolutely free access to an entire ecosystem of business founders, investors, and consultants. The bootcamp has been organized by the Startup Moldova Program, implemented within the TEKWILL project with the support of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Sweden.
Ana Chirița, director of the TEKWILL project: “The idea we started from was to offer entrepreneurs a useful experience and to contribute to the creation of networks of knowledge and inspiration for entrepreneurs. This program provided participants with a complex set of workshops from which they learned about the principles of starting a business, identifying, and exploring the benefits of target markets, gaining access to finance, etc. The bootcamp is an excellent opportunity to gain hands-on knowledge from professionals in the field and to establish connections with Startup Academy organizers, partners, and mentors, who have guided participants to grow their business quickly. Thus, we contribute to the acceleration of local entrepreneurship, and startups that have the courage to adopt innovations and use their ideas intelligently, and later will be able to build businesses with local, regional or international impact.”
Startup Academy Bootcamp – a platform for connecting startups with investors and experts in the field
The participants in the 2020 edition of Startup Academy Bootcamp had the opportunity to improve their skills and entrepreneurial knowledge with 11 qualified mentors: four local mentors and seven international mentors from Romania, the Russian Federation, the Czech Republic, Georgia and Hungary. Among them is Răzvan Atim, the representative of UiPath – the startup that became a “unicorn” whose value was estimated at 10.2 million dollars in 2020. Over the course of three days, the young entrepreneurs presented their businesses and received personalized feedback, resulting in improvements to their development objectives for their startups.
Alina Rozanova, Executive Director, TouchPlatform, Georgia: “Several aspects are extremely important in presenting a business so that we can persuade investors: focus on the chosen field, be stable and with rapid growth potential, profit – we must be able to demonstrate that the money invested will bring profit, we also mention about the market analysis, exact figures, because the statistics show that investors are more willing to allocate finance to companies that already have a prototype product/service. The team also plays an important role, investors pay attention to the team and the founders of the business, they aim to be involved, sincere and ambitious. And the icing on the cake – the pitch. A crucial aspect is the impeccable presentation of the business plan, and exact arguments on the financial needs and use of funds.”
For those looking to expand into new markets, Europe is undoubtedly a platform full of opportunities, experts suggest. Last year, around 2,300 startups were set up in the EU, most of them in fields such as Tech, Greentech or Fintech. In a study conducted in 2019, 64% of European startup founders said they prefer Europe to launch their business, to the detriment of other continents. The most powerful startup ecosystems can be found in the UK, Germany, or France. The founders of startups consider that talent and value for money are the main strengths of Europe.
Tamás Békási, Project Manager, eitHealth: “Expanding your business in the EU is an important and courageous decision. But you need to look at a few things, such as energy resources or fintech that are different in each country, before choosing your target audience. You also need to be aware of the GDPR restrictions for that country. In recent years, social entrepreneurship – projects focused on climate, health, agriculture has been encouraged and you will find many public resources that will fund your idea.”
Other interactive sessions included workshops on topics such as customer retention strategies, the art of presenting, market/investor research methods, fundraising strategies, and economic units (costs, revenues, profit). At the pitching workshops, both the entrepreneurs and the mentors browsed the creative ideas and reformed what a startup needs to build and offer a captivating pitch. At the end participants presented their ideas in front of a panel of experts.
Dumitru Albot, co-founder of SMARTEST: “There is no success that appears overnight. It all depends on your perseverance and dedicated time, years of trials and tribulations, which, in the end, will give important results. Startup Bootcamp is the system that can significantly reduce the learning trajectory, but also accelerate scalable results, and this helps you to have more clarity in the journey through the sphere of entrepreneurship.”
Discover the startups!
Startups participating in bootcamps are among the most active and innovative startups in the local entrepreneurial ecosystem.
- Teleportravel – an online travel platform where any traveler can promote routes so that other tourists can find new and unexplored places in Moldova. The project provides the opportunity to every tourist to share their own tourist experiences with other enthusiastic travelers via the Teleportravel platform which contains an online guide and Messenger.
- Agricos – an online marketplace for local producers and small/medium farmers where they can sell their products directly to consumers. Farmers also have the opportunity to sell directly to B2B consumers and earn at least 15% more, receiving orders without leaving the farmland.
- WOOP – a transparent and reusable protective mask which aims to solve the communication and pollution problems that occur after using current surgical masks meant to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 virus. More than $150,000 is needed for the mass production of the WOOP mask which is why the team of inventors has launched a fundraising campaign to launch the innovative product.
- EAGRIASSIST – a web trading platform that unites local agri-food farmers and commercial actors for the development of trade in agricultural products.
- SMARTEST – an educational platform with the help of which high school students assess their knowledge gaps to better prepare for exams. SMARTEST combines psycho-pedagogical best practices with IT solutions for maximum efficiency in training students and provides psychological preparation before passing the exams.
- Appzi- an easy-to-use feedback tool that helps entrepreneurs find suggestions and feedback about their products. The given feedback can be useful to the entire design or development team using the Appzi feedback management portal.
- iBeauty – an application through which reservations can be made for beauty salons/shops. ibeauty evolves the practices of the beauty industry and reinvents the way Moldovan consumers see the beauty industry.
- Kickly – an online application that facilitates sports associations to create high-quality graphics at lower costs by using predefined templates that will facilitate the creation of graphic images.
- ro – online educational platform for individual guidance, which uses web conferencing tools designed for students and teachers. Built on the model of crowdsourcing, the platform aims to combine educational content and correlate the material of different school subjects with current curricula.
- Life – It is a digital platform for virtual wine tastings. Being located anywhere in the world, Gustos.Life users can invest, resell and finally, offer a gift of any brand of wine produced globally with a simple click.
About the TEKWILL project
Startup Academy Bootcamp, part of the “Startup Moldova” Program, took place between September 30 and October 2, 2020. It is implemented by ATIC within the TEKWILL Project with the financial support of the United States Agency for International Development and Sweden. “Tekwill” was created in 2017 as the Center of Excellence of the ICT sector in Moldova, with the main purpose of aligning the field with current market requirements. Aiming to contribute to increasing the competitiveness of the IT industry and other strategic sectors of the economy, the center has expanded its fields of activity, becoming in 2019 a complex nationwide project, with the slogan “The revolution begins!” The basic objective of the TEKWILL Project, as a platform dedicated to the progress of the IT sector, is to ensure a major impact on the economic development of the country, by improving the entrepreneurial and educational capacities of society, but also by increasing the research and development potential of education institutions, in line with the demand in the IT market.