78 hours show, karaoke after-party online sauna: this was EMERGE 2020

By Guest Author | emerge | June 6, 2020

115 speakers, 7 time zones, 78 hours of live streaming (five simultaneously working streams at a time), 174 startups — a brief description of EMERGE 2020 in numbers and facts. Indeed, EMERGE 2020 became one continuous experiment to both the team and the guests of the conference.

“We started preparing for the conference about six months ago,” said EMERGE organizers Margo Lazarenkova and Alina Bezuglova. — For several years, we have already gained experience, have our own hacks, tips and tricks, and have an overview of the online platforms we liked the most and the best to be used for the EMERGE concept and tasks. Literally, in 2.5 months we had to adapt our event to the current situation and create a completely new conference from scratch. The online event has completely different logistics, production, work with contractors and volunteers. Therefore, we are proud that we were able to gather such a wonderful composition of speakers from top world companies – Coursera, Tesla, Dropbox, Netflix, SoundCloud, TransferWise, Farfetch, Google, Facebook, NVIDIA; funds – Flint Capital, Atomico, Hoxton Ventures, Acrobator Ventures, TA Ventures. We provided our attendees with tools for networking and even organized afterparties. Speaking more about the afterparty, EMERGE guests had an opportunity to listen to the DJ sets that were broadcasted directly from the Hooligan bar, sang in karaoke and even had an informal chat in the sauna.”

It should be noted that the team of 10 people have been hard-working to make the event the best as possible, where within the team there is only one guy. All team members live in 6 countries, 7 cities and the whole team almost has never met before. The organizers were also assisted by 30+ volunteers from four countries.

In terms of views, the most popular streams were FUTURE and UNICORN. This year the FUTURE stream has been focused on the issue of the pandemic and its impact on society. The most awaited talks by Gideon Lichfield, editor-in-chief of MIT Technology Review, and guru Deepak Chopra were warmly received by the audience. Deepak Chopra’s talk has been moderated by the famous American Ashtanga Yoga teacher Eddie Ster, who had the Belarusian roots. Deepak’s talk at EMERGE 2020 was also broadcasted on Linkedin, which reached around 50,000 views.

The second most-watched stream was UNICORN, which has been attended by the founders of such unicorns as MailerLite, Miro, PicsArt and, of course, startups – participants of the EMERGE CHALLENGE contest.

This year, the organizers received 504 applications from startups from 34 countries. 174  startups participated in the EMERGE CHALLENGE. Startups ranging from creating party masks to deeptech analytics were a part of the contest. 50 startups from 15 countries went to the semi-finals, 10 startups from 7 countries reached the final.

The Latvian-based cleantech startup Digital Marine was the winner in the social tech nomination category and received $1000 cash prize from Chivas. Digital Marine is developing a system for optimizing fuel consumption for ships based on artificial intelligence and big data. In particular, it improves route planning of the ships. The interesting fact is that the startup got its first client in April this year, and after in May the team signed an agreement on cooperation for the next 2 years with 600 vessels.

The winner of EMERGE CHALLENGE and a prize of 10,000 euros was received by the Russian-British startup Inovat, which offers the easy in use digital process of VAT refund for travellers. Obviously, the current method of VAT refund has long been outdated and it is extremely inconvenient. Often travellers have to stay in lines at the airports to manually fill out many complex forms and receive the tax refund. In addition, this process lacks transparency; and huge hidden fees are usually applied to customers. The study done by the startup shows that due to this inefficient process, at least 65% of the required VAT has not been returned to foreign travellers.

This year the EMERGE CHALLENGE partners were the Flint Capital venture fund, the telecom operator MegaFon, and VTB Bank.

In addition, the syndicate of investors of the Belarusian network of business angels. The Angels Band has chosen a startup in the EMERGE pipeline and is ready to invest in it  50,000 euros. Angels Band selected the company Fantasy Invest from St. Petersburg, which develops a mobile game about promotions. The application uses real market data and turns them into an exciting game. Users can observe the market, choose stocks without buying them, and earn prizes if they make the right choice.

“It was my first time participating in EMERGE, albeit virtually, — said Alex Golod, one of the participants of the syndicate. — Representing Angels Band both as a Judge for the EMERGE CHALLENGE and a Startup Mentor, I was quite pleasantly surprised by the quality and maturity of the participating startups. There were several startups in the EMERGE pipeline that were quite “investable”, even using stricter US standards.  Special thank you to EMERGE organizers, as they managed to pull off a world class event in the virtual format, with a little advance notice for the preparation.

The Angels Band screened well over 100 startups, and shortlisted 8 of them that were a good fit for our investment thesis. As a result, we signed a term sheet with Fantasy Invest –  an innovative startup that allows future investors to participate in the stock market in a new way, with elements of gamification. Mikhail Gavrilov is an excellent experienced Founder, with an impressive track record, and we believe that he is capable to scale up Fantasy Invest in the challenging US market environment”

The leading investor in the transaction with Fantasy Invest will be Cyrill Golub.

We also note that in the near future those who purchased the paid tickets will have access to watch videos anytime they want. If you haven’t participated in the event, but want to listen to the relevant use cases, like Coursera and Dropbox and learn how they confront the crisis during the pandemics, you can purchase video recordings of the conference. 

This option is already available on the site.