"Business Angels and Venture Investors Network" (BAVIN) is the sole business angel and venture investor association in the Republic of Belarus (East Europe and Central Asia). It is a public network that brings together early stage investors, professional VCs and regional entrepreneurs with their new business ideas and start-up ventures.
Business Incubator at BAVIN
BAVIN opened its door to entrepreneurs and venture capitalists in November of 2010. Now it is one of the most popular incubation networks in the ECA region with 14 angel investors. It is dedicated to uniting capital owners and owners of business ideas without intermediaries, as well as promoting and supporting angel and early stage investment, fostering innovative start-ups with high growth potential, providing excess to smart money to get ideas off the ground.
As of August in 2012, 203 companies applied to BAVIN network with their business plans and passion for ventures. At the moment there are 34 selected companies in pre-incubation, five under incubation, and another four graduated out of incubation.
The companies being incubated at BAVIN are selected according to business focuses and angel investors’ interests. Essentially BAVIN focuses on various business practices, which include Information and Communications Technology (ICT), agribusiness, media, logistics, energy, sports/travelling products and services, retails, manufacturing and many others.
“BAVIN is a relatively young organization but it enjoyed the success in matching entrepreneurs and investors in various sector. In the future, BAVIN would extend the incubation services to BAVIN University, BAVIN venture fund and other business”, said Valeria Sudilovskaia, Executive Director of BAVIN in the interview.
Incubation Environment in East Europe and Belarus
There are 15 physical business incubators in Belarus now. But it is not enough to develop the incubation environment for entrepreneurs because there is a lack of mentoring support and access to seed and start-up finance in this sphere both in Belarus and in East Europe.
Support from infoDev and Regional Network
The support from infoDev is most significant. It offered trainings and lectures from various events and initiatives infoDev organized in the past years. The global incubator network also shared business information, good practices and professional advice, technical assistance, and grant for co-financing of BAVIN’s virtual incubator projects.
BAVIN also receives training and information support from EBAN (European business-angel network) as a member.
Alreay curious about the incubators at BAVIN? The Hostel Traveler project recently developed at BAVIN will give you a better understanding of the entreprenuership incubated in this network.
This interview was conducted in May 2012 with Kseniya Kurus, a Belarusian student who received BAVIN’s business-angel Alexander Knyrovich’s investment $ 50,000 for their ART-HOSTEL ‘TRAVELER’ start-up project.
Hostel Traveler Project
Kseniya Kurus, the founder of Hostel Traveler, checking out the newly designed hostel logo
iDisc: Is this the first company that you have started, and what drove you towards it?
Yes, it is the first company that I have started. I wanted to create a real European style hostel. This is the place for those who cannot afford a hotel but still want to enjoy a quality stay while travelling. Thus, I wrote this business plan and was trying to find potential investors.
I began to look for investors while attending start-up events where I could present my project-creation of hostel in Minsk. BAVIN’s business angel Alexander Knyrovich showed interest in my idea.
On May 12, 2012, we finally opened a comfortable and unique hostel called Belarus Art-Hostel TRAVELER in Minsk. The 36-bed hostel has five dorms, a shared kitchen, and three bathrooms. Hostel TRAVELER is the first in Belarus to join the International Federation of International Hostel (IYHF), the professional association of about 80 youth hostel chains.
Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, breakfast, bed linen, city maps and guides, X-Box game consoles here. Hostel also has tennis courts, volleyball playing ground and other sports facilities. Hostel TRAVELER not only provides comfortable accommodation, but also various entertainment programs – wine party, Oren Air, movie screenings under the stars, exhibitions and other events.
iDisc: How did your business-angel Alexander Knyrovich help or participate in Hostel TRAVELER’s development?
We are business partners now. Alexander Knyrovich not only provided the investment, but also gave us business advices frequently. Oftentimes he uses his personal business network contacts to help with our business development.
iDisc: How are things going in the hostel now?
Within one month of the opening, the hostel reached its financial return on investment even. In the first week of operations, we hosted Latvia’s swimming team of 36 persons and a group of Russian tourists - 29 persons.
iDisc: How would expand your customer community?
We put advertisements in global hostel websites such as hostels.com, hihostels.com, hostelworld.com, booking.com, hostelbookers.com and others. We also had marketing pieces in media outlets and social networks.
iDisc: Are you planning to expand your service and do you see any obstacles in doing so?
Yes, I am planning to expand the business. There are a lot of discussions going on in terms of price, service, location, and market competitiveness. We expect that the initial investment will be paid off in time as planned. We will then consider scaling up the project and increase the number of hostels.
iDisc: What is your message to start-ups and entrepreneurs beginning their business?
As an entrepreneur, one must be determined. Enjoy what you are doing and know what you want from life. You should not be afraid of taking risks as well. If you have reached out to potential investors, you should also be prepared to answer different their questions – get READY.
Learn more about BAVIN please click here.