Tech News March 25: Renegade Russian-Born Founder of Telegram Explores Going Public: FT


💸 Renegade Russian-Born Founder of Popular Messaging App Explores Going Public

Russia-born founder of messaging service Telegram Pavel Durov told Financial Times he’s thining about an IPO, in a rare interview for a reclusive founder who generally prefers to communicate through his Telegram channel or shirtless Instagram photos of himself. The Dubai-based app has 900M users now vs. 500M in 2021, Durov said, noting he hopes to become profitable “next year, if not this year.” Durov, who is the full owner of Telegram, has emphasized independence and free speech in building out the platform since 2013, but has come under scrutiny for lack of moderation as his platform grew in popularity around the world. He’s considering going public now, including following Reddit’s example of selling stock to loyal users. [Source: Financial Times]


🇪🇺 EBRD To Invest Up to $10.8B in Ukraine Over Next Five Years

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development’s (EBRD) Vice President Jürgen Rigterink highlighted the bank’s focus on five key areas of support for Ukraine, including energy security and business assistance, amidst the crisis caused by the war. With the decision to boost capital by $4.3 billion (€4 billion), the EBRD plans to leverage this amount to invest around $10.8 billion (€10 billion) in Ukraine over the next five years, aiming to provide substantial financial assistance beyond donor support. [Source: Forbes]

🏦 Over Two Years Ukraine Received $1.7B in International Investments

During the two-year full-scale war with Russia, Ukraine received a total of $1.7 billion in international investments, with $1.2 billion invested in 2023 alone, according to Nataliya Shapoval, head of the KSE Institute, at the Ukraine Business Compact (UBC) Workshop. The influx of investments, which included contributions from 43 global companies such as Bayer, Carlsberg, and CEMARK, underscores the resilience and attractiveness of sectors like IT, defense, and agribusiness, with opportunities totaling $292 billion in key sectors such as energy, transport and logistics, agriculture, “green” metallurgy, and critical materials. [Source:]

💻 Tech Startups to Receive Up to $10M from Roosh 

Ukrainian tech group Roosh Ventures is partnering with Canadian venture builder Tiny Studio to establish Roosh X, focusing on investing in European and US tech startups with check sizes from $0.5 million to $10 million. Targeting businesses with annual incomes of $5 million or more, Roosh X aims to provide financing and operational support for startups in machine learning, AI, gaming, fintech, consumer and entertainment apps, and digital marketing sectors, particularly those not yet ready for traditional private equity funds. [Source: InVenture]

🤝 Ukraine Introduces New Mechanism to Help Investors

The Ukrainian government has approved a regulatory document essential for initiating state support for high-investment projects, offering tax and customs benefits, as well as compensation for infrastructure construction and network connections, according to Minister of Economy Yuliya Svyrydenko. With around $76 million (₴3 billion) allocated in the state budget for such investors, support can reach up to 30% of the project investment, available for endeavors valued at $12.9 million (€12 million) or more across various sectors like processing, transport, healthcare, and tourism. [Source: UBN]


🔥 More than 1000 Startups Raised $2.2B in 2023, CEE 2024 Report Says

Last year, CEE (Central & Eastern European) startups attracted approximately $2.2 billion (€2.1 billion) in VC investment, with over 940 funding rounds across 114 cities. Domestic investors proved crucial, but emerging markets like MENA and Asia are also increasingly involved with funds such as Ukrainian Horizon Capital and Polish OTB Ventures leading investments.The CEE startup ecosystem overall has flourished, as a combined enterprise value reached around $230 billion (€213 billion) in 2023 which represents a 2.4x increase since 2019. Despite a funding dip in 2023, the region rebounded with three new unicorn startups in Q1 2024, indicating ongoing growth and innovation. [Source:]

💲Lithuanian Fintech Scene 2023 Overview

In 2023, Lithuanian fintech startups saw a significant decrease in venture fundraising, securing only around $5.9 million (€5.5 million) compared to $73.4 million (€67.9 million) in 2022, as highlighted by Invest Lithuania‘s Fintech Landscape report. Despite this, sectors like regtech, green finance, and DeFi attracted investments, with payments, financial software, blockchain, and cryptocurrencies emerging as the most active areas, reflecting the sector’s appeal to both local and international investors. Find more details in the report. [Source: BalticVC]

🦄 VivaTech’s Top 100 Unicorns Ranking, Eight in CEE

Viva Technology, the Paris-based annual tech conference, released its annual Top 100 Next Unicorns ranking, identifying Europe’s most promising scale-ups likely to achieve a valuation of $1 billion or more. The list identifies eight Central and Eastern European companies from Ukraine, Hungary, Poland, Austria, Finland, and Czech Republic, from mobile DevOps and online tutoring to EdTech and fraud prevention. These companies include Hungarian-based Bitrise, Polish-based Brainly, Ukrainian Headway, Czech-founded Mews, Austrian-based PlanRadar, Hungarian SEON, and Finnish Supermetrics. [Source:]

🗺️ Huge Innovators Map Highlights Corporate Role in Supporting Regional Startups

Huge Thing and PFR Ventures have released the third edition of the Huge Innovators Map, featuring 29 corporations in Poland, such as Orlen, Bank BNP, and Rossmann, showcasing a diverse range of industries including energy tech, cleantech, fintech and more. It further highlights a trend of corporations being more inclined to support fully developed products. [Source:]

📄 Fintech Investments at Its Lowest Since 2017: KPMG Report 

Last year global fintech investments dropped to $113.7 billion, marking the lowest level since 2017, with investors exercising caution amidst a high-interest rate environment and persistent inflation. KPMG’s Pulse of Fintech report highlights the decline in investments across key regions, with the USA showing resilience. Other sectors like payments, proptech, and insurtech experienced slight growth, indicating shifting trends in the fintech landscape towards profitability, B2B solutions, AI adoption, and embedded financial products. [Source:]


🎮 Swedish-Estonian Crypto Rogue Games Raised $1.4M

Crypto Rogue Games, a studio based in Sweden and Estonia, has secured around $1.4 million (€1.38 million) in funding led by Merit Circle and Avalanche, with participation from SNZ Holding, CoinFund, Lyrik Ventures, Devmons, and others. Founded in Umeå in 2021, the studio is developing a web3 role-playing game called Naramunz set in a post-apocalyptic steampunk universe. With the new funding, it plans to organize a beta test in June 2024 to expedite game development. [Source: BalticVC]

💰Estonian Cloud Banking Platform Received Investment from Citi Ventures

Tuum, an Estonian cloud API-based core banking platform, has secured additional investment from Citi Ventures, a fund of US banking group Citi, following a previous round in February 2024, totaling over $27 million (€25 million). Founded in Tallinn in 2019, Tuum’s platform allows financial institutions to swiftly introduce new credit products, payment options, or banking cores to customers, with Citi Ventures aiming to leverage Tuum’s API-first approach and modular platform to introduce its solution to key stakeholders within the bank. [Source: BalticVC]

💵 Latvian-born Business Angel Invested in Three US-based Startups

Garri Zmudze, co-founder of Latvian LongeVC, has recently invested in three US-based startups, including, a telemedicine service turned business management platform for mental health practitioners;, a technology membership platform fostering real-life communities for women; and, which focuses on accelerating life extension technologies through decentralized communities and novel legal systems. Zmudze, known for his investments in biotech, longevity, and pet sector technologies, typically invests between $50,000 to $150,000 per startup and previously founded the Latvian health tech startup Longenesis. [Source: BalticVC]

⚖️ Estonian Work Management Software for Law Firms Raised $757K

Crespect, an Estonian startup founded in 2022, has secured around $757,000 (€700,000) in funding from both existing and new angel investors, including business angel Sergey Anikin. Led by CEO Lauri Minna, Crespect specializes in work management software tailored for law firms. It plans to use the investment to enhance AI capabilities, product development, and market expansion while also benefitting from Anikin’s guidance as an advisory board member. [Source: BalticVC]

🔑 Estonian Home Rental Startup Secured Over $2M in Series A

Rendin, a Tallinn-based home rental ecosystem startup, has raised nearly $2.1 million (€2 million) led by Tera Ventures to fuel A-round preparations and expand into new markets starting in April. Founded in 2019, Rendin aims to streamline landlord-tenant interactions through technology, insurance, real estate agency, and legal services. The company plans to become a pan-European platform for safe renting with additional investments on the horizon. [Source:]


💵 Fintech Flowpay Raised $2.2M in Seed Round 

Flowpay, a Prague-based fintech startup, has raised around $2.2 million (€2.1 million) in a seed investment round led by Techstars, Soulmates Ventures, and DEPO Ventures. Founded in 2021, Flowpay utilizes predictive AI models and Embedded Finance to streamline financing for SMEs. The company aims to scale beyond the Czech Republic with the newly acquired funds. [Source:]

🏛️ E-governance Services Aggregator Expands to the USA

Ukrainians have launched, a free aggregator of American e-government services, simplifying access to services categorized by industries. Founder Igor Nikolaiev highlights its role in addressing trends like collaboration with the private sector and bridging the digital divide, with plans for European expansion and ongoing updates to comply with governance laws. [Source: TechUkraine]


✈️ Cargo Drone Airline Received $10.8M from the European Innovation Council

Dronamics, a Bulgarian-founded cargo drone airline, secured around $10.8 million (€10 million) equity investment from the European Innovation Council (EIC), building on a previous $2.7 million (€2.5 million) grant from the Accelerator program in November 2022. Dronamics aims to democratize airfreight and reduce shipping costs in emerging markets with its flagship Black Swan cargo drone, which offers faster, cheaper, and more environmentally friendly transportation solutions. The funding will be used to set up and initiation of commercial operations after the competition of the flight test program. [Source:]


📝 Warsaw Equity Group and Vireo Ventures Sign Investment Agreement

Warsaw Equity Group (WEG) has finalized an investment agreement with German Vireo Ventures, focusing on European B2B startups in the climate tech sector. With undisclosed funding, the deal marks WEG’s last investment in a VC fund, aligning with Vireo’s focus on electrification and decarbonization solutions, enhancing opportunities in the high-tech and cleantech space. [Source:]

🌐 European DeepTech to Receive Funding from Polish OTB Ventures

OTB Ventures has closed its Fund II backed by the NATO Innovation Fund (NIF), amounting to $185 million, to invest in European deeptech startups. Founded in 2017, OTB Ventures focuses on early growth, high-tech startups in critical sectors like SpaceTech, Enterprise Automation & AI, Cybersecurity, and FinTech. The fund, supported by a consortium of investors, prioritizes Series A investments while also supporting disruptive technologies with both civilian and defense applications. [Source:]


⚽ Fan-powered Football Talent Platform Secured $1.78M in Funding

Nordensa, a Cluj-Napoca-based startup, raised around $1.78 million (€1.65 million) in a seed round for its fan-powered football talent platform. Empowering fans to support players aiming for major clubs, the company plans European expansion and adding new sports with notable support from its Advisory Board and Manchester City Football Club’s Head of Marketing. [Source:]


📉 GoDays Startup Attracted $490K in Investments

Funds from the second investment round for Kazakh startup GoDays will help it expand into South Korea and Japan while enhancing its scientific capabilities. Participating investors included international and Central Asian funds like 500 Global, Domino Ventures, Aloqa Ventures, venture investor Murat Abdrakhmanov, and business angels Anvar Bakiev and Asima Abdrakhmanova. GoDays, founded in June 2022, offers an AI-based tool that predicts and prevents employee burnout, collaborating with major companies like Shell and Toyota in Central Asia, South Korea, and Japan. [Source: Digital Business]


✒️ WeRise Startup Accelerator Begins to Accept Applications

The Fintech Association of Uzbekistan, with support from The Stirling Foundation, has launched the WeRise startup accelerator to foster the country’s startup ecosystem, focusing on social and educational initiatives addressing pollution, women and children’s welfare, and education technology (EdTech). Ten selected participants will undergo training and pitch their ideas to investors on April 25. The top five projects have the opportunity to secure funding ranging from $1,500 to $15,000. Applications for participation in WeRise are open until April 10, and interested startups can also register for Investors’ Day separately by sending an email to [Source: Spot]


❌ Russian Companies Banned from Accessing Some Cloud Services

Starting March 20, Microsoft, Amazon, and Google will limit access to their cloud services for Russian companies due to EU sanctions against Russia, affecting their ability to use these products or access data stored within them. The decision, prompted by restrictions on software supply outlined in the EU’s 12th sanctions package adopted in December 2023, may impact regular users who rely on services like Google Drive, Gmail, and Google Docs if data isn’t stored locally in Russia. [Source:]


🍐 Pear VC Seeks a New Investment Associate 

Pear VC, a Menlo Park-based venture firm, is hiring an Investment Associate for their AI and Enterprise team. This role involves sourcing investment opportunities, conducting due diligence, and supporting portfolio companies in areas like AI, DevTools, Security, and DeepTech. The ideal candidate should have 2+ years of technical experience, subject matter expertise in AI/ML or related fields, and strong communication skills. [Source: Pear VC]

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