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Country Guide

Georgia

Georgia
Dachi Choladze

Guest Editor

Dachi Choladze

Founder and CEO at Pulsar AI

David Dachi Choladze is the founder and CEO of Pulsar--a company that develops conversation automation powered by machine learning. Pulsar is the first tech startup from Georgia that has successfully raised US$1 million+ seed capital in Silicon Valley. Previously, Dachi founded two other technology startups: loyalty program “Cherrytea” combined benefits and charity for customers and was part of the VEGA Startup accelerator where it received initial funding from the Bank of Georgia. Prior to founding Cherrytea, Dachi founded “Bewize” to help students find universities and study programs abroad that would fit their criteria and capabilities, as well as receive scholarships.

Guest editors are local ecosystem leaders: successful founders, investors, or thought leaders. Have someone in mind? Nominate a country guest editor.

Disclaimer: all content within the Startup Ecosystem Summary and Editor’s Guide sections is written by and reflects the personal perspective of the guest editor. The guest editor is not responsible for content within the Country Snapshot and Community sections, as much of this content is compiled from external sources and does not necessarily reflect the guest editor’s view.

Startup ecosystem summary

Key Startup Cities

Tbilisi, Zugdidi, Telavi, Batumi, Kutaisi

Connected Country Ecosystems

United States, Israel, Estonia, Germany

Differentiators

  • Ease of starting/managing a business: same day registration and friendly tax laws
  • Stable political situation in the region
  • Industry focus: low volume-high value consumer manufacturing including food & beverage along with industrial design
  • Affordability: ease of doing business regulations, preferential market access, low levels of corruption, low cost labor, low cost “green energy,” access to all types of cargo transportation (by sea/air/road)
  • Young population: young, skilled and competitively priced labor force; more than 60% of the young population know English. Average monthly salary in 2016 was US$400

Challenges

  • Weak talent pool: small volume of human capital and a weak educational system
  • Small Consumer Population
  • Lack of access to both domestic and foreign private capital
  • Government regulations surrounding insolvency laws

Editor's Guide

Introduction

At the crossroads of the Middle East, Asia and Europe, the country of Georgia is a strategic business location ideal for forging international partnerships, and is developing quickly under new leadership. 

Georgia is a rapidly developing player in the global tech space, investing heavily in its innovations and technological advancement. Former Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze was instrumental in pushing for the country to become a major player in the global startup community, starting programs that foster growth and reducing the business costs in the country. Tax exemptions benefit R&D activities while the government is providing generous grants for its startup industry.

Currently, the banking and payments technology industries in Georgia have enjoyed a lot of success and support. However, as associates of the European Union, Georgian regulators are trying to align their rules with EU rules around these industries, and this has caused some slowdown in the process. 

One of the biggest advantages to Georgia from an enterprise perspective is the ease of doing business. Entrepreneurs in Georgia can get an application to start operating their business in a single day. Additionally, the costs associated with running a business, including low cost of labor relative to other countries, makes it an especially attractive place to do business.

Outlook

Unlike neighboring countries Azerbaijan and Russia, Georgia has no natural resources that its economy can rely on. As such, Georgia’s goal through 2025 is to build the foundation to seed incentives and assets for innovation. The country’s aim is to create a cutting edge technology-driven economy that will foster more innovation and progress in the region. In working towards that goal, the government and its partners are employing a variety of mechanisms, including: updating policies and regulations to encourage entrepreneurship; diminishing development-related risks; enhancing the financial procurement process; upgrading quality standards; building business linkages; cultivating the talent pool; promoting tech uptake in the region; and enabling access to financing. 

Initial efforts to achieve this will focus on high-value manufacturing and industrial design as leading industries and support other industries by its momentum. Key challenges need to be overcome in educational systems in order to cultivate professional talent pool and enable access to research and finance. A number of government and private initiatives are addressing these challenges and translating them into opportunities through educational reforms in the STEAM fields, creating accelerators and incubators, providing grants to innovative ventures and supporting the building of entrepreneurial community.

Focus Industries

Editor’s choice of the industries with the most potential for technology disruption and growth.

Event TechTo accommodate Georgia’s growing nightlife scene, innovations have emerged in online ticketing and event management.
FintechOpen banking has facilitated user data for businesses, leading to innovations in peer-to-peer lending and personal financial management products.
HospitalityIncludes management systems for boutique hotels and hostels and building new facilities as an all-inclusive cultural hub concept which is helping the local economy and community. This has increased communal gatherings and facilitated tourism.

Featured Tech Startups

Editor’s choice of the country’s top 10 emerging tech startups.

Startup Showcase

Editor’s pick of which ‘Featured Startup’ is especially worth following and why.

Singular started as a B2B SaaS company in 2012 in Georgia with the mission to revolutionize the stagnant iGaming gambling industry. The business quickly grew and now has a team of 120+ people with headquarters in Malta, and regional offices in Estonia, Georgia and Macedonia. Today, Singular is a B2B supplier of a best-in-class online gambling platform, with a world renowned sportsbook, bespoke remote gaming server (RGS), poker and live casino games. Existing partners include top gaming operators around the world with millions of players using the platform daily. With the ability to deliver tailor-made solutions optimized for large scale operations, Singular is considered as one of the very few premier suppliers worldwide of iGaming gambling software.

Talent

Editor’s perspective of the maturity level of talent in the ecosystem.

  • Technical TalentAdvanced
  • Marketing TalentAdvanced
  • Experienced TalentModerate
  • International TalentModerate

Culture and History

Editor’s commentary on how the country’s culture and history have impacted the ecosystem.

The country of Georgia has an incredibly rich history. As one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Georgia has gone through many eras from ancient times until now, from enjoying its status as a powerful medieval kingdom to going through periods of Persian and Turkish rule.

Leading to modern times, the republic was incorporated into the Soviet Union in the early 1900s and then broke free of its rule first in 1918; the union retook Georgia in 1921, maintaining its control until the 1980s when the USSR collapsed. Georgia declared its sovereignty in 1989 and independence in 1991. Even today, 20 percent of the country is occupied by Russia.

Through all the geopolitical turmoil, Georgians have shown themselves to be fighters who can persevere through thick and thin, a history that informs their hardworking and innovative approach to business. The Georgian people are known for their pride in their heritage and warm hospitality. The country has become a destination for its natural beauty, ranging from snow-capped mountains to clear blue oceans all in a small geographic area. This, plus being a cradle of wine with a rich wine growing culture and cuisine, makes it little wonder so many entrepreneurs and investors want to make their new homes in the area.

Interested in becoming more involved in this ecosystem and connecting with local ecosystem leaders? Let us know.

Country Snapshot

Economy

Startup funding
Startup funding
US$1.1 million (2018)
Standard of living
Standard of living
Global rank: 126
Innovation
Innovation
Global rank: 48
Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship
Global rank: 77
Annual GDP growth
Annual GDP growth
4.8% (Global avg. 3.0%)
Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business
Global rank: 7
Ease of starting a business
Ease of starting a business
Global rank: 2
Research and development
Research and development
0.3% of GDP (Global avg. 2.3%)
Contract enforcement
Contract enforcement
Global rank: 12

Sources

Startup Funding: Guest Editor
STANDARD OF LIVING: International Monetary Fund - GDP per capita (PPP)
INNOVATION: Global Innovation Index
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Global Entrepreneurship Index
ANNUAL GDP GROWTH: World Bank
EASE OF DOING BUSINESS: World Bank
EASE OF STARTING A BUSINESS: World Bank
RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT: World Bank
CONTRACT ENFORCEMENT: World Bank

Society

Population
Population
4.0 million
Government
Government
Semi-Presidential Republic
Stability
Stability
Global rank: 58
Internet usage
Internet usage
62.7%
Smartphone usage
Smartphone usage
N/A
Literacy
Literacy
100%
Population under 15
Population under 15
20%
Median age
Median age
38.1

Sources

POPULATION: Worldometers
GOVERNMENT: The World Factbook
STABILITY: Global Innovation Index
INTERNET USAGE: International Telecommunications Union
SMARTPHONE USAGE: Newzoo
LITERACY: World Atlas
POPULATION UNDER 15: World Bank
MEDIAN AGE: The World Factbook

Community

Active Investors

Bank of Georgia (Country-wide): Offers business loans, micro loans, agro loans and a program for the successful realization of women’s businesses in Georgia. (Source: Bank of Georgia)

Credo Bank (Country-wide)

Crystal (Country-wide): A dynamically growing, local micro-finance organization that promotes the development of micro and small business sectors in Georgia. (Source: Crystal)

ProCredit Bank (Country-wide): Finances small and medium-sized businesses that have a long-term development plan. (Source: ProCredit Bank)

incubators

C10 (Tbilisi): A startup program affiliated with Caucasus University that helps students turn their start-up ideas into prototypes in short order. (Source: C10)

Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Center (Tbilisi): Improves the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Tbilisi State University through supporting facilities and establishing startup processes. (Source: Knowledge Transfer and Innovation Center)

Spark Georgia (Tbilisi): A government-led hub for entrepreneurs without access to resources that can facilitate the transformation of a business idea into a business plan and be prepared for its success. (Source: Spark Georgia)

TBC Startaperi (Country-wide): A TBC Bank program designed to support startup development and stimulate new business startups. (Source: TBC Startaperi)

University of Georgia Startup Factory (Tbilisi): Dedicated for the startup ideas that aim to completely change or launch a new product, process or service on the global market. (Source: University of Georgia Startup Factory)

Zoomout Pre-Accelerator (Tbilisi): Helps Georgian startups develop their product and branding, and, most importantly, helps present it to global accelerators to enable startups to continue working in the world's leading accelerators. (Source: Zoomout)

accelerators

Startup Georgia (Tbilisi): Supports the development of start-up businesses in Georgia. The amount of co-financing of Startup Georgia ranges from GEL15,000 to GEL100,000. The total budget of a particular project is not limited. (Source: Startup Georgia)

Startups Raising Capital

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Startups Hiring

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conferences

Datafest Tbilisi (Tbilisi): The first annual international data event in South Caucasus supporting cross-sector and cross-border cooperation, strengthening communities and inspiring individuals to pursue and explore opportunities created by data and technology. (Source: Datafest Tbilisi)

Seedstars Tbilisi (Tbilisi): Networking and training event with Seedstars team and external mentors. (Source: Seedstars Tbilisi)

meetups

Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN Georgia) (Country-wide): Helps celebrate, understand, support and connect entrepreneurs and those who champion them. (Source: GEN Georgia)

Horizon Georgian Meetup (Tbilisi): For any individual willing to gain knowledge or get involved in the development of blockchain networks and systems. (Source: Horizon Georgian Meetup)

Government Programs

Enterprise Georgia: Promotes an entrepreneurial culture throughout the country by stimulating the establishment of new enterprises and supporting the expansion of existing operations. (Source: Enterprise Georgia)

Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency (GITA): Promotes commercialization of knowledge and innovations, to stimulate using them in all fields of economy, to create an environment for the growth of innovations and high-tech products and to develop high-speed internet nationwide. (Source: GITA)

Partnership Fund: Established on the basis of consolidation of large state-owned enterprises in the field of transport, energy and infrastructure. (Source: Partnership Fund)

Non-Government Organizations

Creative Development Center: Empowering young Georgian entrepreneurs through education surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship. (Source: Creative Development Center)

Start Business Solutions: Aims to promote and create as many new business ventures and products as possible, thereby contributing to community development. (Source: Start Business Solutions)

Tbilisi Startup Bureau: Organizes startup events for local companies.

Universities

Business and Technology University (Tbilisi): Promotes innovative thinking to help students create a competitive company. (Source: Business and Technology University)

ISET (Tbilisi)

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