“We started our venture capital arm a little more than a year ago with a strategyto invest in tech startups, preferably with Ukrainian roots. We invest in them during the Series A stage or join later on in the fundraising process. These companies now comprise about 70% of our portfolio.” – said Makar Paseniuk, managing partner of ICU
ICU Venture Capital has so far invested between $200,000 and $1 million in each start-up and has seven start-ups in total in its portfolio. On top of providing the investments, ICU also works with the startups on their strategy and supports them through their next round of fundraising.
“The start-up sector represents one of the most promising areas for Ukraine to showcase its talent to the world. A new generation of highly educated and creative Ukrainian engineers are driving this growth and that’s why we invest in the enormous potential of Ukraine’s startup companies. This is in part to change the current narrative of Ukraine to the world and showcase the many positive developments in the company. Our aim is to shine a spotlight on the incredible talent pool we have, either by supporting a Ukrainian founder of a startup or by showcasing the talents of the local engineers. We are helping bridge that gap for investors to support this nascent and highly competitive industry. Without a doubt, this will have a very positive impact on the overall development of Ukrainian market,” Makar Paseniuk concluded.
ICU’s venture capital investment portfolio currently consists of 4 companies with Ukrainian roots as well as 3 international projects.
According to Makar Paseniuk, investments into technologies created by Ukrainian engineers include:
Petcube – A leading Ukrainian technology company that keeps people connected with their pets. Its first product, Petcube Camera, is an interactive pet camera with real time video and built-in laser pointer. It allows pet owners to see, talk to and play with their pet from their smartphone. Petcube has offices in San Francisco, Kyiv and Shenzhen and has won the Europas Award for the Best Hardware Startup in 2014. The company has emerged as a technology leader, claiming a new category of Connected Pet that’s defined at the intersection of Internet of Things and Pet Care.
Hideez – A Ukrainian company that produces identity and access management solutions for business and personal use. The gadget generates unified digital keys for wireless authentication, password management, and RFID locks. For instance, Hideez Key is a clever combination of a password manager, physical authenticator, and access token with Bluetooth and RFID capabilities. The company has offices in Kyiv ad San Francisco.
3D Look – A Ukrainian startup developer of technology that creates a 3D model of a human based on just two photos. The product borrows from many different fields; computer vision, machine learning and 3D matching technologies to process and measure the human body from just two photos from any mobile device with high accuracy. 3D Look’s technology provides online consumers with a personalized shopping experience, and provides businesses with data on what their customers are looking for. The startup was founded by two Ukrainian entrepreneurs from Odesa – Vadim Rogovskiy and Alex Arapov. They co-founded the business together with London based Ivan Makeev, one of the biggest machine learning experts in Europe and US-based Whitney Cathcart – afashion and business strategy expert. 3DLOOK has offices in San Mateo (U.S.) Kyiv, Odesa (Ukraine) and in London (U.K.).
Apostera – Apostera is a pure Automotive software product company with the vision of bringing mobility world that we all leave today to a new area of unavoidable tomorrow – area of autonomy. Apostera’s solution merges the virtual and real worlds helping drivers understand in an exact way where to make a maneuver, therefore making the driving experience more enjoyable, safe and carefree. The Company was established by Ukrainian Team of experts in Automotive, Navigation, Machine learning (AL), Computer Vision (CV) and sensor fusion technologies. Today with over 70 employees worldwide, HQ in Munich and offices in Kyiv, Odesa, Saint Petersburg and Shanghai, Apostera is delivering AR solution to production for several luxury European OEMs.
The three international projects with investments from Makar Paseniuk and ICU include:
Xelba – A Startup founded in 2017 that delivers hardware and software tools to help companies – from large enterprises to innovative SMEs – to transform the way that they deploy and integrate cutting edge Internet of Things (IoT). A new venture from a team of serial entrepreneurs and tech industry veterans (like Rakesh Gandhi from Apple) is based in London and is striving to be the world leader in making the future of connected technology accessible and available.
Smart Commerce – The company’s products empower consumer packaged goods brands like P&G, Unilever and Nestle to own and drive their customers’ buying experience. SmartCommerce provides the shortest path into the shopping carts based on the shoppers’ choice of retailers while collecting data and actionable insights along the way. Using big data, the company combines digital marketing platforms to deliver a seamless commerce experience for customers, fitting all innovative pieces from different sources into one place. Shoppers can discover products anywhere, then simply select their preferred retailer for direct cart transfer and order fulfillment. Wherever they are, customers are always just one click from any retailer cart. The company has offices in Atlanta, Barcelona and San Francisco.
Good Money – An online bank founded by Gunnar Lovelace that provides the best-in-class banking and financial services, while democratizing ownership to its customers and directing 50% of profits to social and environmental impact. Good Money plans to install a zero fees ATM network worldwide, as well as not charge for overdrafts or minimum balance. Good Money is based in the U.S.
“ICU plans to further develop its venture capital division and invest in exciting new startup companies,” says Makar Paseniuk.
ICU is a Kyiv-based firm which has been for 10 years the largest fund manager and broker/dealer of Ukrainian assets.
For 2015-2019 ICU was annually recognized as the Best Investment Bank of Ukraine by Cbonds news agency which covers CIS markets.
ICU actively develops its international business as the Ukrainian equities market remains relatively small. One of the main investment vehicles of ICU, the CIS Opportunities Fund, has cast its net wider and returned 18% net of fees since its 2009 inception. The fund was recognized by Bloomberg as the Best Multi-Strategy Income Fund in 2012.
ICU managers more than $500 mln assets of its clients and is headed by two managing partners – Makar Paseniuk and Konstantin Stetsenko.