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London-based 1991 Ventures joins the increasing roster of Ukrainian startup VCs.

U.K.-based limited partners Venrex and Samos Investments are supporting the launch of a new VC focused on investing in startups led by Ukrainians, both within and beyond the war-torn country. The LPs have gained recognition for their involvement as early institutional investors in the highly successful early-stage startup funds Seedcamp and Entrepreneur First.

Denis and Viktor Gursky, two Ukrainian brothers who have gained recognition for their successful management of incubation and accelerator programs in Ukraine, founded 1991 Ventures.

Launching with a £15 million ($18.8 million) fund, this U.K.-based VC aims to invest in the promising startup talent of Ukraine and Central Eastern Europe (CEE).

Despite the ongoing battle against a brutal invasion by Russia, Ukrainian startups continue to thrive, as we discussed in a recent article. It may seem unconventional to invest in these startups given the circumstances, but they have proven to be resilient.

The Gursky brothers have a track record of supporting over 200 startups from 2016 to 2024 through their incubator, Social Boost, and their 1991 accelerator.

Several of them were from Mariupol, a town that gained fame for its courageous battle against Russia. It was from Mariupol that their team successfully relocated to safety. We have supported a number of startups, such as AXDRAFT, eTolls, and Osavul, in various industries, including legal tech, toll payment apps, and cybersecurity.

During an interview with Denis Gursky, a founding partner of 1991 Ventures, he expressed his belief in the abundance of untapped talent in Ukraine and Central and Eastern Europe. My brother, Viktor, and I are eager to establish a pipeline of top-notch dealflow for that purpose.

He mentioned that the LP backers of the fund have a strong interest in exploring opportunities in Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine.

Gursky also mentioned that Ukrainian founders face significant challenges when trying to access the London market. We aim to offer them pre-seed or seed funding to help them access larger rounds in the future and grasp the potential of the U.K. as a springboard to global funding.

However, 1991 Venture won’t be the sole Ukrainian-born fund competing for the attention of fellow founders.

Additionally, there is Roosh Ventures, a Ukrainian VC fund that has provided support to Reface AI, a face swap app with over 250 million downloads, as well as Deel, a payroll solution that allows businesses to pay individuals in over 150 countries.

The co-founders of outsourcing companies Sigma Software and IdeaSoft also launched SID Venture Partners and the Datrics product.

Oleksandr Kosovan, the entrepreneur behind MacPaw, and Andrii Dovzhenko founded SMRK in 2013, and since then, they have made strategic investments in Osavul, Deus Robotics, Aspichi, and Prengi.

Flyer One Ventures has provided support to various companies, including Vochi, Allset, and PromoRepublic.

The highly visible Viktoriya Tigipko leads TA Ventures, one of the most well-known and influential Ukrainian VC firms on the international stage.

According to Crunchbase, it has invested in over 200 startups, with 15 of them being from Ukraine, and has successfully exited 42 of them.

In the coming years, we expect a significant number of tech companies in Ukraine to focus on “dual-use” or defense-related products. For example, nearly 200 companies in Ukraine manufactured drones last year, a significant increase from just seven in 2022.

Juliet P.
Author: Juliet P.

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