Aside from the innovation industry, startups, future ideas, and potential investment opportunities, this time, listeners got a glimpse behind the scenes at a company that is unique globally. This company took on the complex task of breaking down single-use plastics and turn them into organic sludge in 6-8 weeks while ensuring that no harmful substances are released.
Vespucci Partners is a Hungarian venture capital fund that primarily seeks out innovative startups in the growth phase and also supports such startups in the eastern European region. As was stated at the beginning of the show, they primarily aid startups that have the potential for growth and market expansion on the American market through risk financing, smart capital, and additional support. Vespucci Partners’ most remarkable success story so far is full of such potential.
“Poliloop is more than just a company. It’s a vision, a technology, a way of looking at things that we are trying to shape,” said Liz Madaras.
But what is their solution about exactly? Liz Madaras and her co-founder Krisztina Lévay came up with a technology that breaks down single-use plastics. The two young women spent all their free time researching, and it is no exaggeration to state that today they are in contact with the world’s biggest companies.
Poliloop’s story began when the team wanted to be pioneers in their field and dedicate their new way in service of environmentalism. In the time, it became apparent that plastics would become the starting point of their research.
“The problem with plastic is that it’s an artificial material that nature cannot recognize," she noted.
Before finishing university, they rented a laboratory where they worked between and after classes and on weekends, often for 14 hours a day. In the end, they came up with a biotechnological procedure – a bacteria cocktail – that breaks down single-use plastics such as PET bottles and food packaging materials into organic sludge within 6-8 weeks, without releasing any harmful materials. On top of this, the material created when the plastic is broken down can be used again, thus taking part in a circular economy.
"Of course, in order for our world-class invention to make it to investors, we needed partners who could offer us substantial help in key areas. That’s how we met Vespucci Partners, to whom we were introduced by a friend of theirs. Following this, Poliloop’s team took part in the TechStars Demo Day event, which was organized by Vespucci Partners for us. We were introduced to the venture capital fund professionals, and we found common ground immediately," Madaras explained.
"In the end, the CEO of Techstars, one of the largest accelerator networks present in 64 locations, Vijay Tirathrai, was the one who noticed us. As we found out from the show, aside from the biotechnological innovation, Vijay Tirathra also appreciated the team’s deep professional knowledge and the fact that they clearly understood the needs of their potential partners," she added.
The team is capable of not only dreaming up but also implementing their vision was noticed by Júlia Sohajda who said that human factors are exceedingly crucial in the case of startups.
There are many different projects at Poliloop as quick scaling is important in both a technological and business sense. The goal is to expand through investment and become an international startup.
In July, the news that Poliloop took second place in the CleanTech category at the SelectUSA Investment Summit was announced. SelectUSA Investment Summit is one of the most prestigious startup events in America, where companies that targeted the world’s most important market have an opportunity to introduce themselves.
“Poliloop’s team competed in America, which resulted in many interested parties. We see Poliloop as a great unicorn candidate. Now we are concentrating on introducing them to next round investors, thus ensuring that when they reach the next level, they will be able to increase with a Series A capital funding,” said Júlia Sohajda, revealing their plans.
“No money means no innovation, so I encourage my fellow researchers to start businesses,” said Liz Madaras referring to the fact that in exchange for professional help and investment, Vespucci Partners received minority holdings in Poliloop.
“You can’t change the world on your own; you need partners and supporters. We must employ professional and legal offices so that we can enter different markets. The new business and multinational point of view that Vespucci Partners provided to us are essential,” said the co-founder of Poliloop, who received the Manager of the Future award in 2020 at the Manager of the Year Award Ceremony.
Every startup needs to find the appropriate investor, just as every investor needs to find the startups closest to them. Vespucci Partners makes its decisions along with three major criteria which differentiates them from other investors: on the one hand, it is important for a startup to have a globally scalable business plan and on the other for the products and services in question to have a distinct advantage on the American market. Finally, it is essential for this competitive advantage to be secured through vital technological innovation.
“We are constantly looking for startups similar to Poliloop with strong technological innovations that have an ambitious and future-oriented team who have the ability to complement each other and implement their ideas and vision. We expect a finished technological solution with minimal market validity. Companies that are ready to enter the world’s largest and most exciting market so that they may compete in front of the whole world," concluded Júlia Sohajda.
In the second episode of Hibrid Startupper Júlia Sohajda discussed how the Budapest-based venture capital, Vespucci Partners helped Hungarian startup Haris Digital excel in the U.S. market. Haris Digital’s award-winning production digitalization solution can be installed in practically 24 hours – a sensor examining the vibration and movement data from machines – which can “smarten” up any machine or equipment, which allows them to provide helpful information to the manufacturers within 15 minutes. This is done through IoT sensors and artificial intelligence-based algorithms, which transform the vibrations and movements of the machine into digitally recorded information.