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1991 Ventures in London joins the growing list of VCs aimed at Ukrainian startups

1991 Ventures in London joins the growing list of VCs aimed at Ukrainian startups

1991 Ventures in London joins the growing list of VCs aimed at Ukrainian startups

U.K.-based limited partners Venrex and Samos Investments are this week backing the launch of a new VC primarily aimed at investing in startups led by Ukrainians inside and outside the war-torn country. The LPs are better known for being early institutional investors in the successful early stage startup funds Seedcamp and Entrepreneur First.

1991 Ventures is the brainchild of Ukrainian brothers Denis and Viktor Gursky, who are better known for running incubation and accelerator programs inside Ukraine.

The U.K.-based VC is launching with a £15 million ($18.8 million) fund to invest in both Ukrainian and Central Eastern European (CEE) startup talent.

Although some might say investing in Ukrainian startups is crazy when the country is in the battle of its life against a brutal invasion by Russia, as we covered recently, two years after the invasion, Ukrainian-born startups are still faring well.

The Gursky brothers previously backed more than 200 startups between 2016 and 2024, via their incubator Social Boost and their 1991 Accelerator.

Many of those were out of their hometown of Mariupol, made famous after its heroic battle against Russia and from where its team managed to relocate to safety. Startups backed to date include legal tech startup AXDRAFT, European toll payment app eTolls and cybersecurity company Osavul.

Over an interview Denis Gursky, founding partner of 1991 Ventures, told me: “There is a wealth of untapped talent in Ukraine and Central and Eastern Europe… My brother, Viktor, and I want to create a pipeline of high-quality dealflow to that.”

He said the LP backers of the fund, “are very interested to tap into Eastern European and Ukrainian specifically.”

Gursky also said: “It’s very hard for Ukrainian founders to tap into London. So we would like to provide them with pre-seed or seed funding so that they can… access larger rounds in the future and understand how the U.K. can be a springboard to global funding.”

But 1991 Venture won’t be the only Ukrainian-born fund vying for the attention of their brethren founders.

There is also Ukrainian VC fund Roosh Ventures, which has previously backed Reface AI, a face swap app with 250 million-plus downloads, and Deel, a payroll solution that enables companies to pay people in 150+ countries.

Additionally, SID Venture Partners was launched by the co-founders of outsourcing companies Sigma Software and IdeaSoft and the Datrics product.

SMRK — launched in 2013 by Oleksandr Kosovan, founder of MacPaw, and Andrii Dovzhenko — has invested in Osavul, Deus Robotics, Aspichi and Prengi.

Then there is Flyer One Ventures, which has backed Vochi, Allset and PromoRepublic, among others.

Finally, TA Ventures is perhaps the best known and most active Ukrainian VC internationally, headed up by the almost-ubiquitous Viktoriya Tigipko.

It has invested in more than 200 startups, including 15 Ukrainian ones, and made 42 exits, according to Crunchbase.

Many of the tech companies Ukraine will produce in the forthcoming years are likely to be either “dual-use” or related to defense. For instance, almost 200 companies produced drones in Ukraine last year, up from seven in 2022.

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