Founded by the Belarusian businesswoman Tania Marinich, Imaguru opened during the Global Entrepreneurship Week Belarus on November 18, 2013. Back then, a startup hub was rather an unusual name for the entrepreneurship community in Belarus. 8 years ago, our community characterized Imaguru as a business club where people aim to develop their professional and entrepreneurial skills. The name came from the phrase "I'M A GURU," and was organically transcribed by Belarusian entrepreneurs as Imaguru.
In 2014, Imaguru was named the Best Startup of the Year at the Business Internet Conference. Within a few months of work, Imaguru earns trust throughout the startup community and is now organizing a multitude of educational events, including Business Breakfasts, TechMinsk Accelerator, startup competitions, hackathons, development courses, meetups. Imaguru's coworking space is now 100% filled and even has a waiting list. The office is open from 8 am to 10 pm every day, with no weekends. Yuri Gursky receives an award for Mentor of the Year. Imaguru continues to grow, preparing for another office expansion.
In 2015 Imaguru finished repairing other vacant spaces of the Horizon-owned building and almost doubled its space. More space for coworking, meetings, events, and more opportunities for a new audience. In the same year, Imaguru started entrepreneurship courses for teenagers, TeenGuru. Intensives, vacation courses, design classes, international visits and study tours to other countries were still not enough for the scale of the entrepreneurial spirit that has settled within the Imaguru walls. That same year, Imaguru was one of the organizers of the first-ever international startup conference in English, Venture Day Minsk. In the same year, MSQRD was born at Imaguru during the Garage48 hackathon.
In just 6 months after the Imaguru hackathon, MSQRD was acquired by Facebook. At that point, the whole world started paying attention to the Belarusian startup ecosystem. Tech geniuses with a passion to change the world are born here, supported by Imaguru. Many Imaguru events are hosted in English because the Imaguru team understands that the startup community can grow only through the development of the VC ecosystem. In 2016, the first angel investor network has been formed in Belarus, becoming the foundation of the Belarusian Business Angels Network, BBAN AngelsBand.
In 2017, Imaguru started the Business Angel Academy through which the most active and famous business angels were born. For the first time in history, the Global Entrepreneurship Week Belarus is opened with the foreword by the Premier Minister of Belarus A. Kabiakou (it was made possible thanks to the efforts of Siarhei Rumas, ex-Chairman of the Board of the Development Bank of Belarus. This year, Imaguru also invites stars of the global startup ecosystem — for instance, Peter Vesterbacka, ex-marketing leader of Angry Birds. Media worldwide now talks about the phenomenon of the startup movement in Belarus. In 2017, Imaguru was officially defined as a startup hub, as this term was already familiar for Belarusians.
In 2018, Imaguru organizes international hackathons, startup competitions in London, Tallinn, study tours to Finland. Imaguru continues to promote the potential of Belarus in the global startup ecosystem. Ex-Imaguru resident Mikhail Rumiantsau met an investor for his startup FriendlyData at Venture Day Minsk. By the end of 2018, we all heard about another Belarusian success story, when an American company ServiceNow bought FriendlyData. It's already common for Imaguru to organize excursions for international delegations and guests of Minsk around the free and innovative startup hub, available to all. International guests invited by Imaguru include Mike Butcher, TechCrunch editor-in-chief, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations Cihan Sultanoglu, Minister of Economy of Finland Kai Mykkänen, and others.
In 2019, Imaguru goes through another expansion and is investing in repairs and remodeling of the third floor at the building owned by Horizon Holding. It means more attendees, more events, as well as more education and innovation. Imaguru organizes study tours to the US, UK, Finland, Spain. Founded at Imaguru, Belarusian accelerator TechMinsk becomes the first equity accelerator and VC fund in Belarus. The same year, TechMinsk becomes one of the few European partners of Google for Startups.
Imaguru meets the challenges of 2020 with dignity. In April we organize Venture Day Minsk online, attracting over 4600 attendees. In summer we hold startup hackathons, adopting the program of the TechMinsk accelerator for an online format, including the educational courses for investors. Imaguru has managed to adapt itself and now helps other companies to do the same. Coworking space became a safe place to work, and event spaces have become studios for online webinars and conferences. In August 2020, Imaguru could not keep silent about the lawlessness that crossed all boundaries of the "social contract" between the Belarusian dictatorship regime and the country's citizens. The Presidium of the Coordination Council of Belarus was elected at the Imaguru. Tania Marinich, CEO and founder of Imaguru, joined the core team of the Coordination Council, leading the business group. In the company of other active and talented leaders, many initiatives have been launched in order to help the business community, including To Business! Helping Repressed Companies, Belarus Digital Future movement: conference and hackathon. For the first time, the Global Entrepreneurship Week in Belarus was opened by the Leader of Belarus, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya.
Despite all the difficulties, including the political crisis and the pandemic, within 3 months Imaguru has started another TechMinsk accelerator program, picking the eight most promising startups. Together with the Coordination Council, Imaguru also kicked off the Belarus Digital Future hackathon. In 2021, Imaguru also successfully educated 80 female business leaders on how to implement innovations in their companies, within the framework of Innovation Lab by Women. Additionally, Imaguru held a series of events for female leadership in the technology and VC business, Women IT Week, as well as a remote entrepreneurship program for teenagers, TeenGuru. Imaguru educated teachers, kicked off Imaguru Startup LAB, accepting 16 teams with new startup ideas. Imaguru announced a conference for supporting the startup community and Belarusian VC investors Venture Day Minsk, which will take place online on April 29, 2021.
On March 5, unidentified men wearing masks broke into the Imaguru office, kidnapped the event attendees, blocked the exit, and took all detained to the police station.
On April 16, Horizon Holding informed Imaguru about the unilateral office lease termination.
April 30 is the last day of work for the Imaguru Startup Hub.
Imaguru signed an agreement with Google for Startups to grow European startups based on Imaguru hubs in EU cities and capitals.
Imaguru Vilnius is open at Vytenio, 18, 5th floor, where the team will continue to develop educational programs for startups, build communities of talented startup founders, organize networking events, and continue investing in startups. Today Imaguru has offices in Vilnius and Madrid. A new office will soon open in Warsaw.