The market for startups, as well as for venture capital, is filled with ideas of uniqueness. Such a conclusion, at least, can be drawn from topics covered in Ukrainian media. The first transaction, the first capitalisation, the first international project – these things are all good for headlines, but really these steps are still just the first in a much longer process. At the same time, venture investment is developing and gradually moving from a territory of risk-takers towards one of a recognisable market.
Venture capitalists say they need more openness and exchange of experience. I fundamentally support this initiative and have also repeatedly spoke about it. Innovations are good in development, but a business model itself develops only in an open competitive field. A closed and excessive autonomy are signs of bottlenecks, which will be complete failure for a global market. After all, when investing in new projects we need to think about their applicability not only in Ukraine, but also beyond our borders. Conversely, we should also give attention to finding interesting foreign initiatives and understanding how they can be used by us. In this kind of situation, business tasks are fulfilled, and social functions are the development of an innovative economy and the inclusion of local players in the international context.
Another important aspect of the venture capital market is reputation. And this is also formed in a professional environment. Expert understanding of the topic, specialisation – each of these are the results of a transparent interaction of players. A model in which investors search out startups remotely is not going to prove successful. Moreover, a player who works this way is often suspected of unscrupulousness or a desire to hide something: a dangerous signal both for projects and potential partners. As such, clearer mechanisms of interaction with investors are needed, such as analysis of his contact network, which this leads to an efficient investment of funds.
Against this backdrop, the role played by TA Ventures can be seen to be that of one of the most stable and long-standing market players. Their iClub (Investor Club) initiative is presented as a closed club, but it gives anyone who is seriously going to work in the market of venture capital investments the opportunity to participate. This format helps maintain fair competition for projects and develop ethical approaches. In the Ukrainian context, where, for many years, different businesses evolved contrary to such principles, this is a fundamental step forward.
I would also like to note the pragmatism of this vector. In Ukraine, we are very fond of talking about attracting investment from Europe or the United States. But Western investors will never go where there is chaos instead of free market principles. The creation of a market for venture capital investments according to international standards could be the key innovation we need to work on. Some advice: do not look for your own special way in the dark. Set up mechanisms foreign partners, who have no understanding of the local context, might see as their own.
From such decisions everyone will win: both young inventors, investors themselves, and the economy of the whole country, eventually. It might also be good to have such an approach taken up by other industries as well. This path integrates us into a world context that is more reliable than accepting declarations and decrees.