Culture
Kaunas IN
2021 07 30
Accelerator as a link bringing the startup community together

“Startup work often looks like a journey into space with a spaceship still under construction, where work takes place both inside and outside,” Romanas Zontovičius says. He is the coordinator of business pre-acceleration program Evolut 4.0, which has been organized for several years now by Kaunas Science and Technology Park (MTP). The program helps accelerate businesses and their ideas, has dozens of alumni with their success stories and creates sustainable connections between members of the entire Kaunas startup community.

 

Evolut 4.0 program designed for companies and startups developing a product or a service helps them enter the market and drive sales as smoothly as possible. The developers of medical, educational, legal, and financial technology solutions, including the ones that can be adapted to a smart city, are invited to apply to this Kaunas MTP pre-acceleration program for the third year in a row. Everyone who wants to improve their project or commercialize innovations developed together with teams of scientists are welcome to apply too. Of course, as in every competition, only the teams or individual business developers with the greatest potential and enthusiasm are selected.

“We very clearly understand that it is fashionable now “to do something” with startups and very often it is even easier than developing your own startup. With this in mind, we first and foremost try to make sure every team and every developer gets as much personal attention as possible to the specific task or issue that is most important to them at that moment. On the other hand, it is a two-way street: the task of the startup is to get the maximum knowledge from our mentors,” R. Zontovičius says.

Especially since there is an unprecedented opportunity for startups to choose from programs offering a variety of acceleration activities. Due to the pandemic, most acceleration programs around the world have moved onto the personal computer screens and became available to an even wider audience of developers. If you want, you can join the Silicon Valley program, you want something else, you join Kaunas MTP. And the blurred boundaries of physical space also helped Kaunas residents to attract the stars of foreign startup communities to their program: investors, consultants, mentors from Estonia, the USA and Israel, who were able to participate remotely.

One of the biggest values that motivates one to choose Evolut 4.0, which is curated by Kaunas locals, is the bringing together and strengthening of the local startup community and, most importantly, preparing the team to attract the first investments. The aim is always to acquaint the developers with the Kaunas MTP innovation community – those who have experienced the excitement of new beginnings, challenges, successful and not very successful attempts. Business mentors, entrepreneurs and teams of product development experts help build momentum. By concentrating on the essential stages of product development, applying marketing and sales promotion models that are effective in today’s markets, the participants are ready to introduce themselves to investors at the end of the program. The teams ready to attract investments are one of the several factors by which accelerators around the world are ranked.

“We are not afraid to experiment, and the investment in our startups and the interest of investors in our teams only confirm that we are moving in the right direction. As a non-profit organization, we have the rare privilege of focusing much more on the progress of the start-up, the personal development of the founder, not necessarily expecting a quick return on their investment,” R. Zontovičius says, reminding that  Kaunas MTP organization has recently turned 23 and many companies related to the park are successfully working for the benefit of Kaunas and the whole of Lithuania – the alumni of the program attracted about 0.5 million euros in investments.

 

Successful alumni of Evolut 4.0 on values and gained advantage

The organizers emphasize the individual approach to each participant of the program for a reason. In addition to the different areas that startup creators, who joined the program, focus on, their own achievements and team levels differ. Therefore, each participant’s experience in the accelerator equals different benefits and values, which are best attested to by the alumni of the program.

 

EmPlastrum

EmPlastrum, a startup founded in 2019, developed a unique engineering innovation for the treatment of psoriasis – a patch-like flexible portable modular device with integrated UVB LEDs. Startup founder Aurimas Mazuras says that he decided to join the accelerator Evolut 4.0 in search of team members. “At that time, I was alone with the idea, there was a lack of knowledge about the development of startups on a global scale. So, in this program, I not only gained knowledge but also met the current team members who are responsible for product development now. At this point, we have already received more than 150 thousand euro from the European Structural Funds, we have created several iterations of the prototype, which have been tested by Santariškės Hospital’s dermatologists, and we will soon start clinical trials. In terms of accelerator in general, I would positively evaluate lectures and various workshops, which not only provided a general understanding but also refined the goals of EmPlastrum, making it easier to plan and implement the work later.”

 

GetFix

Another startup, GetFix, created in Šiauliai, was looking for solutions on how handymen and those in the need of their service could find each other better and increase the flow of returning customers. Last year, the startup participated in the remote Evolut 4.0 program, which helped refine the presentation of the business model and get acquainted with a wider circle of investors. According to Benas Dobrikas, one of the co-founders of the startup, he was inspired to join the program after realizing that experienced mentors and specialists can help answer many questions, “The startup development process is full of testing and trials, so having very limited resources, you want to minimize wrong decisions. We have heard before about Evolut 4.0 pre-accelerator, the list of startups from previous years and solid mentors were also impressive. Interestingly, when registering for the Evolut 4.0 program, we considered our startup GetFix to be more of a hobby, we only devoted time to it after work. And today we work full time on developing the GetFix. We have also attracted an investment of 100 000 euros, which allows us to move much faster. We use the knowledge gained during the Evolut program for effective project development. The knowledge of marketing and refining the business model was especially valuable to us.”

 

CHRG Network

Meanwhile, the CHRG Network team won the main prize at the Evolut 4.0 pre-accelerator – a week in a BAJ Accelerator program in New York conducted remotely. According to the team, the New York event surprised them with participants that have an impressive net worth. The pre-accelerator was attended by strong teams looking for over 20-million-dollar investments. As the co-founder and CEO of CHRG Network Rokas Danusevičius says, “I think that the value of accelerators depends on the contacts that each program provides. And the biggest help comes after acceleration. For example, BAJ Accelerator appoints a representative/contact person who monitors the progress of the startup and to whom we have to send reports on our achievements every few months. He also contacts the representatives of investment funds, provides them with information about our activities and how they are improving. It is extremely valuable to have such a representative partner, who acts as a high-level sales manager, allowing us to be seen and noticed by investors. After winning Evolut 4.0 and obtaining an opportunity to participate in BAJ Accelerator program we also felt as if we have received a quality label that helps to establish direct contacts with investors.”

 

The hybrid Evolut 4.0 business pre-acceleration program will launch this fall. Depending on the situation, it is planned to include live meetings that would help establish a closer connection to mentors. And it doesn’t matter if you are a beginner developer or a team that has already reached the stage of product change, has paid customers and first investments. Having an extensive network of Kaunas MTP mentors, the organizers undertake to help each participant climb up the skyscraper of their success.

Source: Photo by Kaunas Science and Technology Park