2019 Seedstars World Tour in Tbilisi

Seedstars is a group of private companies that came together with the goal of impacting emerging markets through technology and entrepreneurship. They currently work in emerging ecosystems in 75 countries in five regions, and have been operating the Seedstars World Tour since 2013. Although the organization is based in Switzerland, the name comes from a Mexican proverb: They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.

This weekend, the Seedstars World Competition is coming to Georgia for the fifth time. Through the competition, styled as a World Tour, Seedstars aims to educate entrepreneurs, find the best talents, and the best ideas. On Saturday, June 29, approximately 30 of Georgia’s most promising young startup companies will participate in a boot camp designed to better prepare them to attract and grow investments. The ‘How to Get Investment Ready’ bootcamp will be led by mentors and entrepreneurs who can share their experiences with their younger peers, and will be organized around several key topics, and divided by sector. Then on Sunday, June 30, around 10 of the strongest startups will be selected as finalists travel to Borjomi to pitch their businesses and vision to potential investors.

Eligible startups are those who have a minimum viable product ready to present, who have raised less than 500,000 USD in funding, and who can demonstrate the potential for regional and global scalability. Startups in any field can participate, but the major of contestants worldwide are in the technology sector, including financial, agricultural, educational, healthcare, and energy-related technologies.

The finalist startups who pitch in Borjomi will all receive access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness program. The program is a new idea from the organization, which is shifting the competition’s focus this year more in the direction of education and strengthening startups that may not be ready to attract major investors at the international competition at this stage. Investment Readiness includes the ‘How to Get Investment Ready’ bootcamp for selected startups on Saturday and one-three months of free access to the online program, which allows startups to plug into a network of peers and investors and watch a library of helpful webinars on hard skills for entrepreneurs. This year, the idea is that “not just the first-place winner gets something, but all the finalists will get content and access to the Seedstars network that they can use,” explains Daria Khlopova, Seedstars’ Community and Events Manager for Eastern Europe and Central Asia. The new education-focused model has already been implemented in Serbia and Azerbaijan with positive feedback.

The first-place startup from the Borjomi pitch competition will win, along with three months of access to the Investment Readiness program, a trip to Kazakhstan in December to attend the Eastern Europe and Central Asia Seedstars regional competition. The five-day event will be primarily focused on learning, including subject-focused boot camps and working with mentors. The startups who are then deemed ready, from each of Seedstars’ five global regions, will go on to the global summit in Switzerland where they will pitch in front of investors to win a grand prize of $500,000 in equity investment, among other awards. Even the startups who are not invited to the global summit will have the opportunity to meet with investors at the regional competition.

Agahuseyn Akhmadov, Seedstars Regional Manager for CEE says, “The stakes are higher than ever as we’ve been in this ecosystem [in Georgia] for more than 5 years now and know there are companies in Georgia developing high-quality products. We are looking for the best and will take them with us to Switzerland in 2019!”

Seedstars’ partners in Georgia this year include Alliance Group Capital, USAID, the Business Information Agency, the Georgian Venture Capital Association, Borjomi Likani, the Partnership Fund, Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, and Startup Georgia. The judges for this year’s pitch competition in Borjomi will be: Agahuseyn Ahmadov, Giorgi Danelia, Deputy Executive Director of the Partnership Fund, R. Michael Cowgill, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Georgia, and Aieti Kukava, CEO of JSC Alliance Group Holding.

Kukava explained his company’s cooperation with Seedstars, saying “We are actively pursuing growth and development of innovative companies in Georgia. One of the main purposes of the Georgian Venture Capital Association (GVCA), founded by us, is to make capital attraction easier for startups…[We aim] to discover new fields and encourage innovative projects, that means investment attractiveness in Georgia, growth of entrepreneurship and international competitiveness of the country.”

Those interested in attending the pitch event on Sunday can register online at: https://www.seedstarsworld.com/event/seedstars-tbilisi-2019.


By Samantha Guthrie

Photo: Seedstars

27 June 2019 14:08