Startup Whelp wins the best startup title in the Startup Fair Pitch Battle competition
Last week an impressive number of startups and investors gathered at Startup Fair. Connect 2022, the long-awaited major international startup event in Lithuania, during which as many as 40 innovative businesses competed for the title of the best startup. Whelp, a startup founded in Azerbaijan and now operating in Lithuania, which is an artificial intelligence-based customer service platform, won the tough Pitch Battle competition.
“We are pleased to see that the Startup Fair. Connect 2022 event, this year held for the tenth time, has returned to its pre-pandemic state – yesterday almost 1 300 participants, including startups, investors and other professionals, gathered under the same roof. Every year we receive more and more attention from both Lithuanian and foreign members of the startup ecosystem, and international investors are scouting for our startups even more intensively – this year the event was attended by a record number of over 200 investors. During the event, there were intensive meetings between startups and investors,” says Roberta Rudokienė, Head of Startup Lithuania.
This year, as many as 140 startups from 28 countries around the world – Lithuania and other European countries, the United States of America, the United Arab Emirates, India, Taiwan, Singapore and others – have expressed their interest in taking part in the Startup Fair Pitch Battle competition. Applications were received from startups operating in healthcare, EdTech, FinTech, energy, food, gaming and other fields.
The jury selected 40 of the most promising startups with the highest potential to grow into thriving businesses to pitch at the Pitch Battle startup competition during the Startup Fair event. Each startup had 3 minutes to pitch its business idea to the jury composed of Lithuanian and foreign investors. 10 startups with the best scores from the jury made it to the final and competed for valuable prizes in total worth more than EUR 40 000 from SME Finance, Cloudvisor, Httpool, Funderbeam, Triniti Jurex, Vinted, Tesonet and TechBBQ.
The first place and the main prize of EUR 7 500 from SME Finance went to Whelp, a startup based on artificial intelligence-based customer experience management platform that allows companies to automate the sending of messages to customers. The startup offers a personalised customer service experience that can help automate up to 60 per cent of customer enquiries. Startup founder Seymur Rasulov started this business in Azerbaijan, then continued in the United States, before moving to Lithuania last year and further expanding into Europe. Whelp was also awarded the joint prize from Startup Fair. Connect 2022 partners: EUR 5 000 for the advertising budget from Httpool, EUR 5 000 for Funderbeam services, EUR 4 000 for Triniti Jurex services, mentorship from the founders of Vinted and Tesonet, and a trip package to TechBBQ.
The special Triniti Jurex prize of EUR 2 000 for legal services was won by Tipit, a Lithuanian startup that has developed a card reader allowing transparent tipping of service staff using a bank card, a phone or a smartwatch. During the event, four more startups – 10X Immersive, BOLDR, MarkID & Mark Sing, Turing Drive – were awarded Cloudvisor prizes of USD 5 000 in AWS credits.
The Startup Fair event has been organised by the Rapid Development Division Startup Lithuania of the Innovation Agency (formerly Enterprise Lithuania) for the tenth year in a row. This year, the event has been held live and streamed remotely. Further information on the event is available here: www.startupfair.lt. A video recording of the conference is available here.
Unicorns Lithuania–the association uniting start-ups–estimates that there are 766 start-ups operating in the country. Their total number increased by 4% in a single quarter.
‘Start-ups operating in Lithuania have been growing steadily and make the whole system grow. The fact that we are witnessing growth even during these tense times–the ongoing pandemic and the war that has broken out–shows that the whole community is sustainable. The number of employees is growing steadily every quarter and so does the amount from taxes going to the Lithuanian budget. The average salary in start-ups has increased by 15% in a year and has reached EUR 3026’, says Inga Langaitė, head of the association Unicorns Lithuania.
Lithuania is a perfect place for women to join tech industries as the country is one of the fastest-growing centres of life sciences in Europe and has a vibrant ICT, financial technologies, video game, and laser sectors. The start-up community, which has already exceeded one thousand companies, attracts talents from all over the world to innovate and think about solutions that can contribute to a global change for the better in many spheres, ranging from gene editing to solving circular economy challenges.