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UNICORN 2023: What’s next?

The finals of the UNICORN Startup Contest have just finished. After training, mentorship, and exposure to global business practices, startups presented their projects to the jury for careful evaluation and choosing the best of the season. So now, Sigma Software Labs, the driving force behind UNICORN, is ready to reveal the results. 

Highlights of the contest:

  • Global participation: Over 130 teams from many corners of the world applied for the competition.
  • Mentorship impact: A total of 30 mentors, carefully selected by us, conducted more than 50 sessions, imparting knowledge to startupers on crucial aspects of business development.
  • Competitive edge: The prize fund, comprising $8,500 in cash and over $10,000 in non-monetary rewards from 12 partners, added a competitive edge to the contest, aligning with our commitment to fostering innovation.

Contest Winners

UNICORN jury members and founders of top-3 selected startups
UNICORN jury members and founders of top-3 selected startups

1st Place:, a platform for project management with advanced cost management features, receiving a cash prize of $3,000.

2nd Place: SplineCloud, an open web platform for knowledge exchange and management in engineering, securing a cash prize of $1,500.

3rd Place: Adminix, an optimization platform for business operations through convenient automation, advanced artificial intelligence, and serverless technologies, earning a cash prize of $1,000. Additionally, they received an extra prize from SID Venture Partners of $3,000.

The total value of non-monetary prizes from contest partners exceeded $10,000. Our partners, including Sigma Software University, SET University,,, Finmap, GeekPay,, IDealers, Techosystem provided offers for participating startups.

The awards ceremony

Mikhailo Fedorov welcome speech during the USF Startup Awards

The contest’s finals and awards ceremony took place during the major event of the Ukrainian startup ecosystem — the USF Startup Awards. Finalists presented their projects to key figures in the industry, including Yuliya Danilenko, the editor-in-chief of Speka Media, Andriy Zaikin, founder and CEO of YEP Startup Accelerator, Diana Rakus, Head of IT education projects at the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Daria Yaniieva, investment director at Sigma Software Labs, Galyna Isakiv, SID Ventures Partners, and Valeriy Dobrovolskiy, Head of USAID’s Competitive Economy Program (CEP). Almost 200 representatives of the Ukrainian ecosystem attended the final pitch, which took place at the UNIT City in Kyiv on December 7th, 2023. 

UNICORN jury members: D. Yaniieva, A. Zaikin, Y. Danilenko, D. Rakus, V. Dobrovolsky

In addition to investing, we at Labs support a separate track for the development of Ukraine’s tech community because such powerful projects are born in synergy. The updated concept of UNICORN is not about just figures, but about the potential of the entire ecosystem, uniting founders, mentors, and investors, sharing experiences, and expanding the network. A special achievement of the season I see in the emergence of new Ukrainian teams, participated this year— combining entrepreneurial mindset and tech background, our founders continue to create incredible products. We set ambitious goals for the next seasons — to make UNICORN the #1 program for tech startups in Ukraine.

— Daria Yaniieva, Investment Director at Sigma Software Labs

Key achievements of the season:

  • Global experience: Applications from 130 teams, where 70% represented Ukraine, while the remaining 30% came from other countries. 96 teams were allowed to the semi-finals and received mentorship support. Only the top 10 startups had the opportunity to pitch their ideas during the final Demo Day.
  • Such programs are extremely important for early-stage startups. This season, thanks to mentorship support, one of the teams managed to find their first customer during the program. Another startup made a pivot in its development, so it is to come back next year with an updated concept and new results.
  • Networking fusion: This season was held in a hybrid format — with a basic online program and onsite gatherings. Thus, three networking events in Kyiv during the program brought together over 350 participants.
  • The UNICORN promo reached cinemas! The catchy video unfolded across two cinemas in Ukraine: Nicolsky in Kharkiv and Respublika in Kyiv, reaching more than 22,000 viewers within the country.

Support and partnership:

Cool projects are born in synergy. This season, the Ukrainian Startup Fund and SID Venture Partners have become powerful co-organizers, uniting efforts and networks. Besides that, UNICORN received support from government institutions, the business community, and the media. Supported by the Ministry of Digital Transformation, Ministry of Education and Science, Sigma Software University, SET University,,, Finmap, GeekPay,, IDealers, Techosystem, and other esteemed organizations, we collectively made the contest to new heights.

What’s next?

Next year, we plan to significantly expand the scope of the UNICORN Startup Contest. We commit to assembling an even more distinguished group of mentors, identified partners, and organizers who will contribute their experience and knowledge to the development of startup teams.

Our goal is to become a proven leader among programs for Ukrainian technological startups, so the UNICORN Startup Contest will go beyond just competition, and evolve into a platform for development, knowledge exchange, and a strong network, bringing together tech entrepreneurs, mentors, and investors, accelerating the growth and together contributing to the ecosystem’s success.