With most of the world’s investment capital focused in a few key places, markets such as Moldova often get overlooked. Situated between Romania and Ukraine, this small eastern European country with a little more than two million inhabitants, still has a young ecosystem full of potential.
The country’s geographical and political positions have made it a “virtual bridge” between the West and the East. Moldova has economic agreements with both the European Union (EU) and the Commonwealth of Independet States (CIS), allowing them certain leeways and benefits on both sides. The population is often multilingual which means that entrepreneurs from Moldova can serve many global markets and there is a strong diaspora in major hubs around the world. The combination of these factors makes up for an unique entrepreneurial system.
International organizations and investors have recognized the opportunities within the country and the local government is working on building an innovative ecosystem as well. Seedstars has been organizing local events within the Seedstars World Competition in the capital Chisinau since 2016. Every year startups from all around the country apply for a chance to pitch their solutions and win a ticket to the regional and global stage of the competition. Over the years, we had the chance to hear from the most promising entrepreneurs working to make Moldova a better place to live and work in and combat issues such as a rapid population decline and high unemployment rates. Here are some of the startups that were a part of the Competition and where they are now:
- Fentury Fentury was the first Moldovan winner of the Seedstars Chisinau local competition. It is a personal finance advisor app where users can manage all their accounts from a single place and receive proactive advice on areas that can be improved. Fentury supports over 2,500 banks and is used in 75 countries worldwide. Since the competition they have also pivoted towards a B2B product called SaltEdge which enables businesses to connect with end-customers’ bank accounts from across the globe and has been featured in The Fintech Power 50 Cohort Members and Influencers 2021.
- Retently Retently helps businesses increase their revenue by reducing churn and improving customer retention. They offer a variety of products for a better customer and product experience and have worked with over a thousand companies.
- Codifun Codifun provides online and offline solutions to educate youth code while gaming, using innovative learning methods to teach design, animation, developing, 3D printing and software testing. They have had over 9000 students so far.
- MedicalTourismReview This HealthTech startup is the biggest database of clinics and hospitals worldwide with over 5000 medical institutions from 109 countries in their database. MedicalTourismReview is helping patients find the most effective affordable and accessible treatments in a variety of medical fields by offering information and reviews, and is a place to reach international customers for clinics and hospitals.
- Shelfalytics The team behind this startup provides solutions for real time data analytics from the shelves with their modules, sensors and cameras, directly to producers, retailers, and distributors.
- Babymoon The winner of the second edition of the local competition was Babymoon, a startup that developed a smart baby carrier which enables parents to communicate with their child’s doctor, prevent illness, and optimize their parenting.
- Gustos Life Gustos Life is a wine ecosystem platform offering a variety of IT solutions to wine marketers, such as a mobile marketplace, SaaS solution that implements blind tasting by experts, a system for online management of your wine collection, tech solutions for organizing wine tastings etc. They have recently been recognized as one of the top startups in the wine industry.
- FunEasyLearn FunEasyLearn is a free and offline language learning platform that helps any user learn a foreign language from their mother tongue. They offer courses in 34 languages taught in 62 mother tongues. Using science and game-based methods they adjust the learning experience to personal interests, knowledge level and learning abilities of every user. The app has been downloaded 60 million times and has about a million active users every month.
- Staf.Online The 2020 local winner from Moldova was Staf.Online, a global job board that connects employers and job seekers in a transparent and accessible way. They offer jobs across the EU and in seven different countries.
- Fastboss OU Fastboss is developing an AI Voice Assistant APP that helps users generate business documents even when out of office by using automation. Their solutions help the sales team focus more on customers and spend 35 % less sales time.
- Smartest This online platform helps students and educational institutions accurately evaluate their knowledge and potential gaps in several school subjects. The platform can also pinpoint specific learning needs of a student and track their learning progress.
The variety and success of previous contestants shows that even though Moldovan startup ecosystem might still be developing, the potential is there and the local government and foreign partners are seeing entrepreneurship as the way forward . The 2020/21 Moldova Local Competition was supported by SDC’s Optim project. Optim “Opportunities through Technologies and Innovation in Moldova’’ is a project of Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC, implemented by Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation.
This event as well as other related to developing entrepreneurship with Startup Moldova are organized with the support of developing partners USAID Moldova, Government of Sweden and in the framework of Tekwill project.