Imaguru was also forced to relocate due to the repressions. Following the Belarusian entrepreneurs, Imaguru opened an office in Vilnius and now plans to expand to offices in Warsaw and Kyiv. Imaguru signed a partnership agreement with Google for Startups.
«The past year was quite challenging for all startups. Lockdowns have affected everyone. At first, there was a negative impact but then many startups actually discovered new opportunities, including us. Thanks to lockdowns, our very conservative niche market, the cinema industry, started changing quite rapidly — much faster than it was originally anticipated. Historically, Hollywood has been pretty conservative. However, due to the pandemic, they had to start switching to digital format in order to adapt to new realities. At first, it was hard for us to work in the industry but it became easier afterwards.
Ihar Mahaniok, VC investor and business angel:
«The pandemic has changed our relationship with investing online. Within the last two years, it became an absolute norm. Now I can invest even without seeing the founder in person, after just talking to them in Zoom. Of course, it doesn’t change the fact that in-person meetings do help to know people, and if I am able to meet someone in person, I always do that».
«Now the global economy is growing, and VCs have even more funds to invest. Therefore, now is actually the perfect time to found a startup. Plus, right now we’re seeing the rapid growth of AI and ML technologies, which will change our lives within the next 20 years significantly. This is why I encourage everyone to use and apply these technologies. This period is a perfect place to start».
Narrative BI ($1,2M) USA
Another reason for higher investment volume is the growth of the VC market in the region and worldwide. Despite the deliberate steps to shut down business in Belarus, the Belarusian ecosystem continues to develop as part of the European and global ecosystem. In 2021, the volume of investments in startups also increased in Europe. At this stage, it also exceeds the volume of rounds raised by Belarusian startups. For example, Lithuanian startups raised more than 400 million euros, while startups from Latvia raised 247 million euros.