To finish the inaugural Next Generation of Entrepreneurs for Ukraine Lecture Series, UCL School of Management hosted a Pitch Day Competition this week. 10 very talented participants from the Lecture Series pitched their exciting start-ups.
Participants were competing for cash prizes of £1,000, a fund they will use to invest in their businesses and accelerate growth. For many teams, this was a first-time experience, either pitching to such a large audience or pitching in English.
We welcomed guests from within UCL and the wider business community, including some experienced angel and VC investors. This gave participants a platform to present their ideas to an audience of experts in a variety of industries and practice essential entrepreneurial skills such as raising funds, pitching and networking techniques.
We were delighted to be joined with a live link directly from Ukraine by our keynote speaker Kostiantyn Koshelenko, the Deputy Minister of Social Policy of Ukraine for Digital Development, Digital Transformation, and Digitalization. “This lecture series … is an important step towards recovery of the prosperity of Ukraine … your ideas and projects have the potential not only to strengthen the economy, but also to improve the well-being of every Ukrainians. And I want to assure you that the Ukrainian government fully supports your efforts”, said the Deputy Minister.
With only five minutes to pitch, our entrepreneurs faced a real challenge. Despite this, they rose to the occasion and delivered excellent pitches. There were some excellent business models from cybersecurity platforms, mental health initiatives and consultancy to innovative medical technology - there was a lot to choose from.
Reflecting on the quality of the pitches and start-up ideas, Entrepreneurship Education Lead at UCL School of Management, Pierre-Jean (PJ) Hanard said: “Over the last 7 weeks, our participants have demonstrated their capability of channelling adversity into innovation. Their start-ups have the potential to not only disrupt various industries but also to contribute significantly to Ukraine’s economic growth. These start-ups are more than just businesses; they stand as testaments to resilience. This is why our closing event is also a celebration of the unwavering spirit and determination of our participants in the face of extraordinary challenges. Our School takes great pride in supporting entrepreneurs on their journey and we look forward to seeing their businesses flourish”.
Three prizes were awarded during the event: Best Pitch and Best Idea, chosen by the judging panel, and the Audience Choice Award, voted for by the attendees. Our judging panel consisted of well-established entrepreneurs, founders and leaders in the entrepreneurial space. The judging panel Diana Kocheva (Founder of London Tech Community), Lyubov Guk (Founding Partner Blue Lake VC), Viktor Gurskyi (Partner at 1991 Ventures) and Jerry Allen (Director of Entrepreneurship at UCL Innovation and Enterprise) deliberated intensely and struggled to select just one winner for each category.
The panel of judges awarded the Best Pitch to Don’t Lie AI, a cybersecurity platform that that seeks to verifies the truthfulness of news and identifying fake propaganda narratives in just 30 seconds. The app, founded by lecture series participant Eldar Agaev, Lyubomyr Boyko, Larysa Chernenko and Max Tukanov, aims to disrupt the digital media space and help users find reliable and trustworthy information in seconds.
With so many brilliant ideas, which would support multiple efforts to rebuild Ukraine across a variety of sectors, it was hard to select just one winner, but in the end, the healthcare start-up Vitalizer, took home the prize.
The device works by enriching cells with oxygen to increase the body’s internal reserves and improve performance. The team behind this innovative idea Oleksandr Diachenko (founder and leading engineer), Kateryna Diachenko (CFO), Anastasiia Oliinyk (CEO) and Vita Shafinska (CMO), are already applying their idea to help support Ukrainians affected by the war and are working with the Ukrainian military having provided devices on a voluntary basis.
Co-Founder and CFO Kateryna Diachenko said: “It was a great experience, I feel very proud that we have been recognised for the best pitch, it’s amazing!”
Audience Choice Award
With all finalists delivering excellent pitches and their passion for their idea shining through the Audience Choice Award was a hard one to choose. In the end, the prize was awarded to mental health support start-up, Harmony Me. The platform supports Ukrainian women dealing with the consequences of war and immigration through online mental health exercises to cope with stress, anxiety, and obsessive thoughts.
A big congratulations to all our winners and those who pitched on the night, we are excited to see how your businesses grow.
As the Lecture Series comes to an end, Lecture Series Lead, Natalaiia Hrytsiuk said: “Throughout the Lecture Series, participants worked intensively on their start-ups, each aiming to contribute to the rebuilding of a prosperous Ukraine. They tackled pressing issues such as combating propaganda, disinformation, cyberattacks, and providing psychological support to those in need. Witnessing the participants’ perseverance and hard work week after week has been truly inspiring. Today, as the cohort receives their certificates, I feel privileged and proud to have been part of this journey. Beyond this series, our participants have formed a community of talented entrepreneurs. I firmly believe that together, we are shaping a bright future for Ukraine and its aspiring entrepreneurs.”.
THE NEXT GENERATION OF ENTREPRENEURS LECTURE SERIES
Learn more about this unique initiative and keep up to date on application deadlines for the second edition of the lecture series.
For further information please reach out to the Executive Education team directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.