iHUB – Innovation Hub for startups

iHub – is short for Innovation Hub which is a unique business incubator for IT startup companies in Ukraine. iHub is a place where the brightest young minds can work together in a productive collaborative environment. We offer A-class office environment with everything you need to start a business so that you can focus on building up your own business and turn your dreams into reality with the help from our international network of experienced experts, mentors, entrepreneurs and investors. Using our global network which spans over 40 countries. We help young startup companies find international partners and investors to propel their businesses further. iHub is a place where dreams really come true when it comes to business.

iHub is situated in the very heart of Kiev, at Lvivska Square, a few minutes walking distance from Hyatt, Intercontinental and Radisson Hotels. We are located on the 3rd floor in a very modern office building as you can see on your left. We have the whole 3rd floor to ourselves which amounts to a total of about 800m2 of class-A office space freshly renovated and furbished to provide comfortable working and leisure  facilities for young entrepreneurs on their quest to setting up their own business ventures. Our mission is to provide the best quality innovation infrastructure in which a startup team would only have to focus on building their business and would have everything necessary  to do so, taking into consideration the financial constraints most startups face at the early stages of their development. We always adhere to the best international standards and practices in everything we do.

We welcome startups to apply to iHub at any stage of their development, starting from the earliest stage of concept or idea to a working product or even an incorporated business with positive cash flows. We focus primarily on the team, looking for the best and brightest minds, and only then on the specific product or service they are trying to build. We have a strong believe that it’s not necessarily the product which matters the most, but rather it’s the team and the talent behind the product which is of the greatest value and which is the by far most important asset a startup company may have.

iHub is virtually and physically split into two separate sections, as vividly depicted on the adjacent picture. In the center of the floor we have our business incubator which is an open space area for collaborative co-working environment which is best suited for the early stage startups. Around the business incubator we have our business accelerator facilities, which provide more privacy and are aimed at somewhat more developed startups which in most cases have already secured either pre-seed or seed stage investments. Hence each of the two sections of iHub is aimed at startups at various levels on development, starting from the earliest stages essentially with a basic team and a great idea, to startups with a complete team, incorporated company, raised capital and even possibly some cash flows from their business activities.

The business incubator, as briefly explained above, is dedicated to the most early stage startups, which may only have a team or part of their team assembled, some idea of a product or service they wish to build a business around, maybe an alpha prototype, most commonly they have not yet incorporated their company and don’t yet have any professional investors involved (excluding  triple-F investors – friends, family and fools). We consider these as teams rather then startup companies, and our job is to help them assemble the remainder of their team to cover all key talent areas, to find experienced advisers which will help them with the bigger picture, to help them incorporate their business in the way most suitable for their specific situation, to assist during all stages of development of their product, advising on possible pivots which may be necessary, help in gaining early adopters in all of our 40 countries of operation, getting them up to speed with understanding how investors thinks and may value their business, and last but not lease to help them find professional sources of capital to take their startups to the next level. Essentially we will be there for you everyday at every stage of your professional and business development, making sure you success in the end.

The business accelerator on the other hand is aimed at more developed startup companies. In most cases these will be duly incorporated legal entities, with a fully assembled team of founders and early employees, with a working product or service prototype, which has been tested and already has some early adopters in at least one or more likely several countries, and in most cases such startups would have already secured pre-seed or seed investment rounds and would be working towards a series-A round. In many cases, we would take in a team with just an idea to our business incubator, where over the course of some time their startup and their team would mature, and would be able to move to the business accelerator. For us this would be a natural progress of business development, although there are cases where startups may apply at a later stage of development and would be ready to proceed directly to the accelerator, skipping the incubator all together. All of these cases are closely accessed by our team and treated individually. The main goal for us is to provide all the necessary infrastructure, knowledge, expertise, advise, support and network for your startup company to succeed. We plan to launch the accelerator sometime during the first half of 2013.

In brief, the services which are provided at iHub (both at the business incubator and accelerator) may be listed as follows:

Physical infrastructure:

  • fully equipped modern A-class office in the heart of Kiev
  • open space office area which creates excellent collaborative co-working environment (business incubator)
  • individual offices for more developed startups with more privacy (business accelerator)
  • excellent leisure areas for rest, networking as well as hackathons
Training, mentorship, advise:
  • experts, mentors and advisers working with the teams on daily basis
  • regular visits of international experts, mentors, entrepreneurs and investors
  • business management advise and advise on preparing a viable business plan
  • advise on business incorporation and other related corporate matters
  • training on how to pitch to professional investors and prepare excellent investor presentations
  • sector specific advise, pivoting and proof-of-concept tests of the product or service
Early adopters, global network, events:
  • help in gaining early adopters and initial traction for the product or service
  • providing access to a large base of early adopters in 40 countries worldwide
  • introductions to numerous partner business incubators and accelerators in 40 countries around the world
  • regular hackathons with startups from our global network of partners worldwide
  • regular startup crash test events to test your startup in some 40 countries from our global network
Conferences, investors, partnerships and global reach:
  • access to over 16,000 unique investors worldwide from our global network
  • access to over 2,000 successful international startups for advice and partnership opportunities
  • access to investor conferences in over 40 countries worldwide, both as presenters and participants

In certain special cases, with the most promising startups and the very best teams, we will consider providing either pre-seed level grants or pre-seed / seed investments. Again these will be accessed by our team and each and every startup will be approached individually and everyone will have the opportunity to pitch for a grant and/or for an investment. This can be considered as the highest level of quality approval of a given startup and of a given team, if the startup will be admitted into iHub and also receive early stage funding in the form of an investment or a grant.

Now, let us move to the question which by now must be on your mind – so how much does this cost and/or how much equity of my startup do I need to give up for such services and infrastructure? You will be surprised, but the answer to this question is very simple! Unlike other incubator/accelerator programs currently present in Ukraine, we do not require you to give up any equity of your startup when you join iHub. This makes the decision making process for the startup much easier when you are deciding to which business incubator or accelerator to apply to. Also this gives the startup in question the freedom of choice and movement, as we don’t take any equity the minute you cross our door step, so even after joining iHub, each startup is free to leave anytime they wish and take a different route should you feel that iHub is not for you, without any financial obligations or ties! But as you are entrepreneurs you must know that there is not such thing as “free lunch”. In this light of this, and to motivate our residents even further, we have introduced a service fee, which is 399UAH/month/person. This is the one and only fee you will need to pay for each person / working place at the iHUB. This is a very small fee compared to the costs involved in running iHUB.  So just to sum up, the cost is as follows: we take 0% of your equity and you pay 399UAH/month/person service fee. We will however provide you with a grace period of 1 month for each new startup team to test out how it will be to be a part of the iHUB community, before paying any money!
For each startup which successfully applied to iHub and was admitted to become a resident, together with the startup team our expert team sets up a set of milestones which the startup needs to fulfill along their development path. These milestones are created individually for each respective startup, reflecting the product or service they are building, their respective development stage, and many other factors. The idea behind this approach is to help each startup clearly define what needs to be done and to put strict deadlines when each respective job has be completed. From our own experience we know that it is very easy to lose track of the big picture and only focus on a small detail forever and waste a lot of time and resources. We will help you to make sure you don’t lose your focus, and don’t lose the motivation to work hard and stay on schedule. This approach is primarily useful for the startup team itself, but we also use it to gauge the progress of each team and to make sure that everybody is working hard and not wasting time unproductively. The number of milestones and how often they will be placed in time, as well as, how far ahead in time, will all depend on the specific startup and will be decided upon individually together with the startup team. These milestones should in no way be considered as a test which the startup needs to pass, but doesn’t want to, but rather as a turn by turn map which the startup needs to use to progress as a business. We have one goal which we wish to achieve which is to make sure our resident startups succeed, and in the light of this there is only one firm requirement which we ask for from our resident startup entrepreneurs – to work hard.  Should any given resident discontinue to work diligently on moving their startup forward, stop fulfilling the set milestones, and/or lose focus or interest in this startup all together, their performance will have to be reevaluated by our team to decide weather or not to revoke his or her residency at the iHub. Should such a circumstance take place, in due time and with ample notice we will notify the person in question that he or she will no longer be able to use the iHub facilities and services and will be required to free up the hub and open a space for someone new.
The final question you may still have on your mind is how do I get here? Well that’s very easy, all you need to do is to apply online by submitting a very short online application form which you will find here: application form. We will review you application as soon as possible, and if the form will meet our selection criteria, we will invite you for an interview, so that we will be able to meet you in person. 
All of this is possible thanks to our amazing partners who provide an amazing level of support and assistance in our hard work. Thanks to our close cooperation with SIVA (Norwegian State Development Agency), jointly we have been granted a grant by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Norway, which assists in facilitating much of our work here in Kiev. We also have numerous other partners which are also very valuable to us and contribute to our work, and we are of course very grateful to all of them as well.