The winner of the first round of the acceleration program is a startup that can reduce the carbon footprint in Košice

[Acceleration program]

The penultimate evening of June in Kulturpark was dedicated to an event called Demo Day. It was the final event of the first year of the Challenger Urban:Creative acceleration program.

The event, which was officially opened by the mayor of Košice, Jaroslav Polaček, was the culmination of two months of intensive work by the eight teams involved. Their task at Demo Day was not easy – to present their projects to the jury and the audience in four minutes and compete for 10,000 Euros. The main criteria were innovation, feasibility, the benefit that the startup will bring for the city, and what progress the individual teams made during the acceleration program.

The audience also voted for their favorite, and in the end, the 21Games team won with their GAMEFAIR project. A group of students with a passion for gaming and eSports is trying to build a stable brand of their own gaming event in Košice.

The ultimate winner was a team with academic background with their eZelené mesto project. We asked Peter Feciľak, a representative of the best startup, some questions.

Can you tell us more about your startup? How can it help the city of Košice and its inhabitants?

Not limited to our city, there is a problem of high energy inefficiency of buildings, including those owned by the city. The building manager usually does not have the appropriate tools and data to identify sources of waste. Our startup, eZelené mesto, comes up with a technological innovation that can recognize electrical appliances in the building and thus help the administrator to identify its weak points. Saving electricity then goes hand in hand with saving money.

Thanks to our solution, we can achieve up to 15% savings in city buildings. As a result, tens of thousands of resources can be saved each year. The city is full of such opportunities, which can ultimately be reflected in new playgrounds, events, or various social projects.

Why did you decide to join the acceleration program?

It was a challenge that raised the question of whether our technology can help the city solve a problem. We wanted to find out if the city can be our customer. The acceleration program has allowed us to get an answer to this question.

How did you find the Challenger Urban:Creative acceleration program in terms of its content? Can you tell us about its course?

It was intensive work that brought exactly what the acceleration program is about – we identified a specific customer and segment, the product, learned how to raise funds and be sustainable, and how to grasp it all as a potential business. On the way to a successful product, startups need to realize many things and formulate them clearly. The acceleration program is great because it deals with all the essential elements of this mosaic in the form of workshops.

Each project had its strengths and weaknesses. We had the opportunity to learn from the more experienced and the more skillful—both from mentors and from other startups in the acceleration program. The workshops were an ideal place to find out if we had mastered the area or needed an expert’s help. Confronting our approach with coaches and gaining independent feedback was a stepping stone for us to work on ourselves.

What awaits your startup in the future?

We are at the beginning of our journey. This will be followed by piloting with the city and confirmation that our solution, as we designed it, will benefit our customer – the city. Subsequently, it is possible to talk about replication to other cities and potential growth.

Who would you recommend the acceleration program to?

Anyone who needs to get feedback on their idea wants to understand the startup world better and find out what attributes their solution should have. And of course, to anyone who wants to work on themselves and their idea.

In the Challenger Urban:Creative acceleration program, a total of 30 startups with the potential to bring innovations to urban services to increase the quality of life of the people of Košice will take part. The next open call will be published on the website in January 2022.