On June 22nd, Razom IT held a panel discussion with two Ukrainian startup co-founders—Oleskandra Rohachova of Ink Hunter and Ostap Kovalisko of BookBuses—who made their way to New York via the Entrepreneurs Roundtable Accelerator (ERA). Founder and Managing Director of the ERA, Murat Aktihanoglu, also joined the panel to share insights on joining an accelerator program in NYC.
The ERA is a NewYork-based technology accelerator and seed fund that has run two 4-month sessions each year since 2011. Since then, their 70 alumni have held 130 follow-on rounds and raised more than $100 million in collective venture funding. Murat spoke directly to Ukrainian startups interested in participating in program’s like the ERA, advising founders to apply to as many accelerators as possible in order to get noticed. One of the greatest advantages of being enrolled in ERA, he said, is that long after the program, ERA continues to be invested in companies’ success by offering assistance or mentorship when needed.
Oleksandra Rohachova, co-founder of Ink Hunter, is currently enrolled in an ERA session. Her company produced an app (that has been downloaded over two million times) that uses augmented reality to let users try on tattoos in real time before inking a permanent image. Ink Hunter was born when Oleksandra decided to participate in a hackathon in Kharkiv dedicated to augmented reality.
Ostap Kovalisko is a recent grad of ERA and co-founder of BookBuses, a B2B platform for renting charter buses. His company wrapped demo day with the ERA this past May. BookBuses plans to expand beyond the US market by the end of the summer; they also plan to have part of their team operating from Ukraine, in addition to opening several offices around the world.
Both founders shared their stories of getting into the program and their expectations for the accelerator. Ostap highlighted that being part of ERA was and continues to be an amazing experience, since the program has a huge network of high-profile mentors. Oleksandra remarked that she was impressed by the enormous number of meetings and shared experience she gathered, which can be scaled for her own company.
Razom IT volunteer Nick Turchak moderated the discussion. Nick is an energy engineer and renewable energy expert based in NYC. He was involved in well-known media startups that originated from Ukraine and co-founded Homemoney.ua.
You can watch a recording of the meeting at the Razom YouTube Channel.
The RazomIT speakers series is made possible by the generous support of the Self Reliance New York Federal Credit Union and by the work of Razom volunteers.