Made in Emerging Europe

Made in emerging Europe: Bunnyshell, EBRD fintech accelerator, free Estonian e-residency for start-ups

Emerging Europe’s start-up scene is thriving: new money and new ideas are coming onto the market all the time. To keep you up to date with the latest investments, innovations, movers and shakers, each Monday Emerging Europe brings you a round-up of the region’s start-ups which recently closed financing rounds, sealed partnerships, or dropped new innovations.

Bunnyshell: Romanian EaaS platform eyes North American market

Bunnyshell, a Romanian Environment-as-a-Service (EaaS) platform, has raised four million US dollars in new funding. The investment, from Early Game Ventures (EGV) and RocaX Ventures will be used primarily to expand into the US. market.

Bunnyshell creates copies of the production environment, no matter how complex the architecture and what services are used. It automatically creates new environments with each retrieval request as part of the development lifecycle, to develop, test, demonstrate or to deploy an application in the client cloud. Bunnyshell’s EaaS includes availability rules for resource cost management, as well as automatic updates to avoid drift issues.

“We plan to focus more on the North American market and help more CTOs and engineering leaders release and resolve bottlenecks faster,” says Alin Good, co-founder and CEO of Bunnyshell.

“The complexity of modern software architecture with native cloud services, security policies, datasets and more makes managing the environment a complex process that requires multiple DevOps engineers. We created Bunnyshell so developers could focus on delivering code and so organisations could deliver faster without having to hire dozens of DevOps engineers.”

In addition, Bunnyshell also announced the appointment of Shani Shoham as Chief Revenue Officer.

“Working with technical directors and vice presidents for technology in previous positions, I saw first-hand the challenges of environmental management, so when Bunnyshell approached me, I was immediately interested,” says Shoham.

“Developers spend almost a fifth of their time managing the environment, and this has been a bottleneck for many of my clients. EaaS is an analgesic for any organisation with more than two or three dozen employees, regardless of vertical. As long as you have a container app, you will benefit from it.”

Bunnyshell’s latest financing follows a 1.1 million euros raise last year, also from Early Game Ventures.

EBRD launches regional accelerator initiative to support development of CEE fintech ecosystem

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is continuing its partnership with Startup Wise Guys (SWG), one of the leading start-up accelerators in Europe, with the launch of a new programme named “Fintech 5”. It will be organised as a five-month intensive accelerator in Bucharest, Romania, in which start-ups work with the SWG team, EBRD staff and fintech experts.

Fintech startups from across Central and Eastern Europe are invited to apply for this international accelerator programme, the fifth organised by SWG and the second collaboration with the EBRD.

Fintech 5 will feature on-site training and advice on company building and sales in Bucharest, home to a multitude of active start-ups, venture capital investors and incubator and accelerator programmes. This will allow start-ups from across the Baltics and Central and Eastern Europe to benefit from the city’s critical mass of existing start-ups and investors.

The EBRD also recently launched its Star Venture programme in Romania, leveraging a network of mentors and advisors to channel bespoke advisory services and industry best practices to start-ups.

The Fintech 5 programme is supported by TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund.

It is a full-time programme, with selected start-ups participating in a mix of online and in-person modules, product sprints and one-to-one mentoring sessions. Applications close on 2 June, and the programme will start on June 27 and run until November 2022. Up to 10 selected start-ups will then receive up to 90,000 euros investment with a potential follow-on investment.

This partnership between the EBRD and Startup Wise Guys follows the success of the Fintech 4 programme in 2020 in Vilnius, Lithuania. Several start-ups which completed that programme also achieved sizeable additional external funding following investment by SWG.

“We are delighted to continue our cooperation with SWG on developing the fintech ecosystem in Central and Eastern Europe. The support of the TaiwanBusiness – EBRD Technical Cooperation Fund has been key for enabling the deployment of new technologies, driving innovation and growth in EBRD countries of operation. Supporting the digital transition is a key part of EBRD’s long-term strategy. Therefore, we are pleased to be scaling up our activities in Bucharest through our partnerships and EBRD’s Star Venture Programme, launched in Romania last month,” says Alex Pivovarsky, director of EBRD Capital and Financial Markets Development Team.

“Having invested in close to 50 fintech start-ups, we have witnessed amazing talent from the region and the impact these startups can make to the digital economy. This is backed by the high appetite of investors – already, we have already seen two exits from fintech start-ups in our portfolio and a number of series A and B rounds. We chose Romania for our fifth fintech programme because it is a country we believe is poised for hyper growth in the startup space in the coming decade. We are doing this in a new partnership with EBRD after a successful collaboration in the last fintech programme in Vilnius, Lithuania,” adds Cristobal Alonso, Global CEO at Startup Wise Guys.

Estonia offers free e-residency to Ukrainians

The Estonian e-residency programme, together with a group of business service providers, will compensate the start-up fees to all Ukrainian citizens who apply for e-residency and establish a private limited company in Estonia over the course of this year.

The Estonian e-residency programme, launched in December 2014, provides foreign nationals secure access to digital services offered within the Estonian e-governance ecosystem. The e-residents are effectively digital residents of Estonia – they have an ID card that ensures access to digital services, but the e-residency status does not give them right to permanently live or work in Estonia.

“Due to the war in Ukraine, its people are facing an economic crisis. To date, almost five million refugees have fled from Ukraine to neighbouring countries, including entrepreneurs and freelancers. Since Estonia is the only country in the world that offers foreign nationals a special programme for setting up and running their businesses online, we have decided that it is our duty to help the Ukrainians,” says Lauri Haav, the managing director of the e-residency programme. 

The Estonian e-residency programme will reimburse the application fees, amounting to a maximum of 130 euros, to all Ukrainians who have applied for e-residency since February 24, 2022, and to those who apply for the remainder of this year.

Nine companies have also joined the campaign: Magrat, e-Residency Hub, XOLO, 1Office, Companio, SuccessHub, Thompson & Stein, Enty and eFinance. If Ukrainian e-residents decide to set up a company in Estonia through one of these service providers, the new e-residents will have their company establishment fees – 265 euros – paid by the chosen service provider.

Estonia currently has over 5,200 e-residents form Ukraine, with every third of them setting up a company in Estonia. To date, Estonia has welcomed 90,000 e-residents who have established around 20,000 new companies.

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