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How a mentorship program can help a startup: CEO Knopka on Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine

December 15, 2022

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Product certification in Europe, developed marketing strategy for the Nordic countries, new contacts, new markets and eventually, possibly new investments. Ivan Osadchyy, CEO of the startup Knopka, which offers a patient care automation system for hospital beds, talked about the open perspectives and real steps of his startup, which became possible thanks to the victory at the Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine program.

About the Empowering Future program

Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine is a Ukrainian-Finnish project initiated by Ukrainian Future, a business incubator of the Junior Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. The mentorship program from business leaders of Ukraine, Finland and Estonia was one of the first programs (after a full-scale russian invasion) in Ukraine to support startups whose products and services can help Ukraine in the war and post-war reconstruction. The work on the project started in April and lasted for several months and included 2.5 weeks mentorship program with an online pitch, the winner of which – startup Knopka – received a grant of €10,000 of direct funding and more than €30,000 for services. As Ivan Osadchyy said, 6 months after the end of the program, the work continues. But we can already talk about significant results:

“Thanks to the program, we were able to optimize costs for the protection and certification of our system in Europe; we adjusted and we were able to focus our plans for development on the market of the Nordic countries. And also – received at least 15 “warm” contacts with investors and venture capital funds in Finland through the mentors of this program. The direct advice of one of the mentors was as follows: if you want to attract a round of venture investments, you need to get on the radar of investors and funds for at least six months. And thanks to the program, we started doing it. Therefore, I advise everyone to take a closer look at the future program from Ukrainian Future, which will most likely take place in 2023″, – CEO of Knopka advised.

How the grant was used

Grant funds received from the general partners of the project – consulting company Greenstep – the startup team directed to the certification of its product in Europe. Currently, this process is at the final stage – the relevant documentation is prepared and Knopka can prepare marketing and label its product as a certified medical system. As for the service grants received from the Finnish venture capital company, the consulting company Miltton, the legal company Lexia, as well as the transnational cloud platform Amazon Web Services – not all of them have been used yet. Finalized grant from Miltton only:

“The Miltton team did two great things for us. The first is a market analysis for each Nordic country, and the second, taking into account the peculiarities and problems that exist in the health care system in their markets, they helped us formulate key points and a marketing story that will be clear to their users, their hospitals. For us, such market research and such communication, which they offer us, make the next steps as easy as possible. This is a big cool result. The grant from Miltton was €7,500. They worked with us for several months. The result is an excellent document with which we are already working”, – Ivan Osadchyy said.

From (grant €7,500) the work has not yet started, but as CEO Knopka assured, they are in contact and there is an understanding of what the cooperation will be. According to Ivan, their startup plans to do “homework” first, so as not to waste the venture fund’s time and give them quality results that can be built into the investment strategy for the next round of funding. Knopka already has enough achievements – their product works in several hospitals in Ukraine and Poland, this year the startup won “silver” at the IT Arena Startup Competition (Lviv), presented its stand at MEDICA 2022 (Dusseldorf) and got into the Ukrainian delegation at Slush 2022 (Helsinki). The team plans to collect existing achievements, challenges and plans for the future in an updated presentation so that investors can immediately see the potential benefits of investing in innovation.

A grant for Amazon Web Services ($10,000) will be used later. Regarding the Lexia service grant (€5,000), the company provided several trademark consultations. Within the framework of the grant, Knopka plans to start work on a service agreement with customers and, possibly for an additional estimate, to work out partnership and distribution agreements, which currently require high-quality legal formalization. According to Ivan, the Lexia company provided them with an exhaustive list of what legal documents should be prepared before the investment round – a kind of check list with 30+ points, which the startup is currently preparing so that future investors have answers to all their questions.

“At a medical exhibition in Germany, we got acquainted with a powerful Finnish company that manufactures pulse sensors, and later agreed on cooperation with them: to jointly offer hospitals the protection of patients on a medical call. This is our already implemented functionality, when the nurse will see that something is wrong with the patient, it will be able to monitor his pulse. And this company does the latter as professionally as possible – they have tens of years of expertise in building such solutions, they are a global giant of such devices and systems. We are planning a contract with them, and I think Lexia can help us with that. Here, too, the Ukrainian Future program helped us, because we would have spent much more time and money to understand who to turn to for legal support in Europe,” Ivan Osadchyy believes.

Meetings at Slush 2022

At Slush 2022, Ivan had the opportunity to talk with Mikko-Pekka Hanski – the head of one of the most famous insurance funds in Finland, Yleinen työttommöyskassa YTK, and the founder of the investment company Ministry of Good Spirit – a community that provided €10,000 in direct funding to the winners of the final pitch of the program. Mikko-Pekka, as well as Hannele Mennala (business professional, member of the Advisory Board of Ukrainian Future), and Vitalii Lisovyi (director of the Ukrainian Future business incubator) are the founders of the Ukrainian-Finnish startup support project Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine.

“Mikko-Pekka came to our side-event, I told him about our activities, we talked about Ukrainian startups, why we should invest in them now. We feel great support from him. He saw the results of the program participants – our results, the results of Igor Klymenko (CEO of the startup Quadcopter mines detector – a quadrocopter-mine detector for remote detection of explosive objects, the best student in the world according to the Global Student Prize). It seems to me that this impressed him, motivated him to invest his time in knowledge and networking for other Ukrainian startups from various industries”, – Ivan believes.

He is convinced: thanks to the Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine program initiated by the Ukrainian business incubator, Finland has seen that it makes sense to give a chance to Ukrainian startups. And he hopes that the example of the Knopka startup will inspire Ukrainian startups to participate in subsequent similar projects. After all, their story, which began at the Empowering Future Entrepreneurial Ukraine mentorship program in the summer of 2022, is still ongoing:

“I think that the results of this mentorship program, which lasted 2.5 weeks, will “radiate” to us at least until the summer of 2023 – this is me directly talking about the steps that are a consequence of Empowering Future. We will always remember that our startup is the result, including, of the support of this program and the mentors it gave us. And we urge all startups not to waste time and to follow all the updates, because Ukrainian Future takes the hand and leads to where it needs to be”, – Co-founder and CEO of Knopka Ivan Osadchyy concluded.

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