The material was provided by Dmitry Dosov, the Seedstars Ambassador in Belarus and the founder of The Heroes Media. In the article, he shares his experience of bringing the Seedstars World Competition to Belarus and sheds light on the backstage of the Seedstars World Competition in Minsk.
The Startup Ecosystem in Belarus
Out of 202 countries, Belarus ranks 55 globally, based on the strength of its startup ecosystem. The most vibrant startup city is the country's capital Minsk that serves as a meeting point for tech talents and hosts the most significant entrepreneurial events in the country.
Belarus has the strong technical expertise and is home to large outsourcing companies and R&D centers such as EPAM, iTransition, Viber, etc. Also, successful startups like MSQRD, Flo, FriendlyData, and PandaDoc were born here and are known globally. However, the investors' community is still nascent, and international startup competitions are quite rare in the country.
That's why I decided to partner with Seedstars and bring the largest startup competition to my home country. Moreover, The Heroes has a Factory division aimed at helping teams to test their ideas by creating prototypes or MVPs and validating them on the market. Definitely, this cooperation could have been beneficial for both sides - Seedstars network and a local startup community.
How to Get Media Onboard
Being experts in public relations, The Heroes Media team provided significant support to the promotion of the Seedstars Minsk local competition in 2019. Thanks to the well-known Seedstars brand and the prize fund of USD 500K, we managed to get all the large media to publish the event press-release, which gave us a broad reach across Belarus. More than 90 startup teams registered to the competition thanks to the information distribution of the press release and word of mouth. According to investors, this is about ⅓ of all startups in the country that have an MVP. I must say, it was an incredible result for a first-time event in Belarus.
In addition to this, we closely cooperated with multiple tech media and invited them to the event, and after the competition, released a report to the rest of the press with the results of the competition. The winner of the Seedstars Misk got a chance to represent its startup at the international Seedstars Summit CEE taking place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, on November 22, and later, at the global Seedstars Summit in Lausanne, Switzerland, in April 2020.
In Search for Partners
Thanks to the hype created in media, it was much easier for the organizing team to talk with potential partners, because Seedstars Minsk was ringing out. At the same time, we clearly understood what we could offer to our partners. It was access to the most proactive part of the IT community and potentially large early-stage technology businesses.
First of all, we requested to Atlant-M Britain, which is the largest car dealer in the country. They kindly provided us with the venue for the final at the Land Rover Center, which automatically raised the status of the event for those who had not heard anything about Seedstars before.
The second partner was the largest telecommunications operator in the country A1 Belarus. They wanted to export their cloud solutions for business, and seed-round startups which are likely to become international projects ideally suited this purpose. As an example of how A1 Belarus collaborates with startups is their certificate for cloud computing to the winning startup Skinive, which recognizes most common skin diseases with the help of artificial intelligence.
We paid great attention to the issue of maintaining the health of startup entrepreneurs. So, our partner evo wellness club provided the female finalists with a relaxing weekend by the pool with gyms and gifts. At the same time, male winners were invited to the closed club of our partner's SPA Riviera.
Throughout their work, startups face legal issues. This issue was resolved by the local partner Borovtsov & Salei Law Firm with the speech at the bootcamp and the certificate for the consultation to the winner.
Business Incubator helped us to maintain the bootcamp and provided us with a placement called 210 metrov. Our another partner Happy Office partner which arranges the largest Belarusian IT companies' offices was responsible for the furniture for a considerable number of guests.
Organization of the Event
In The Heroes team, we have experienced large-scale event organizers with an excellent matchmaking network among contractors. By offering a promotion on The Heroes Media in exchange for their services, we were able to remove most of the organizational responsibilities of Seedstars representatives, make the event stand out and attract key entrepreneurs in the country.
To Sum Up
As a result, we managed to bring to Belarus the largest startup competition in emerging markets, collect more than 90 applications, host a bootcamp, and gather 200 top managers and CEOs of various Belarusian companies at the final event at the Land Rover Center.
Moreover, the entire path of the event from the announcement to the post-release was accompanied by publications in all major media outlets in the country with total coverage of about 10 million unique users.
We managed to implement an unusual format in which two concepts of our media The Heroes and Seedstars were combined: we presented startup entrepreneurs as heroes. We had the gorgeous Land Rover venue, live music, a buffet dinner and representatives of the Belarusian businesses who could become investors of local startups.
We realize how much effort every entrepreneur puts into his/her work. Very often they forget about their own wellbeing and rest. As organizers, we aimed at putting entrepreneurs in the center of the event and provide them with the holistic experience when they can learn, collaborate and compete while having a chance to relax with their peers
We sincerely hope that this momentum will encourage the local startup to move forward with their entrepreneurial journey and join the next editions of the Seedstars World Competitions in the upcoming years.
Apply to the Online Seedstars World Competition 2020/21 and compete to be one of the 10 startups selected for a USD 50K growth program investment with a Global Winner getting up to USD 500K in investment.