Ukrainian IT sector received a bit of hope that good changes are coming in 2015 after the parliament elections this October. Five former tech industry players received parliament member mandates and became IT sector lobbyists at the legislative level.
Luckily for the industry, the lobbyists have different background and represent different parties. Olha Belkova (Petro Poroshenko’s Bloc) was a managing partner of East Labs Business Accelerator and Viktor Halasyuk (Liashko Radical Party) was president of Bionic Hill innovation park in times of its active construction.
Leading Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA has just announced its yearly ranking of the most influential individuals in the local Internet scene. The final list was determined by a committee of experts, comprised of 33 representatives of various sectors of the online community.
In order to compile the rating, the experts were asked to name the five individuals who most strongly influenced, both positively and negatively, the development of the Ukrainian Internet sector in 2014 (businessmen, public figures, etc.).
US entrepreneur Andrey Akselrod: “We’ll continue to do business in Ukraine if possible because the country has a strong technical workforce”
If you’re wondering whether African disease outbreaks, Ukrainian instability and Syrian civil war could have an effect on your business, you’re not alone: A September 2014 survey of business executives by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. discovered that 80 percent of responders believe geopolitical instability in the Middle East and North Africa is either very likely or extremely likely to upset the global economy in the next year. And the executives most likely to be worried are those in North America and Europe, due to concerns about tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
Andrey Akselrod, co-founder of the New York-based translation technology firm Smartling, keeps a close eye on Ukraine even when he’s not there overseeing Smartling’s facilities abroad. Akselrod, who was born in Ukraine and has lived in the United States for 20 years, staffs two offices in Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk with about 40 software development and support staff.
Business angel practice — a term that covers a variety of individual situations and approaches — has grown slowly but noticeably over the past few years in Ukraine. Not only did the political tumult of this year not stop this development, 2014 even saw the creation of a dedicated association, UAngel, along with that of UVCA, which gathers venture capitalists.
UAngel chairman Natalia Berezovska shares her vision of this emerging practice, its challenges and prospects. This analysis is an excerpt from “The Deal Book of Ukraine,” a report on the Ukrainian venture and startup scene to be released later this week.
“While the traditional sectors are in crisis, IT is undoubtedly the most promising field,” say Ukrainian investors
Because of the complex political and economic situation in the country, made even more complicated by the military actions in the eastern part of the country, investment in Ukrainian startups fell in 2014. According to Yevgen Sysoyev, managing partner of AVentures Capital, the total volume of investment in Ukrainian projects this year has been significantly lower than the volume reached last year, which was equal to $80 million.
However, many Ukrainian VCs remain surprisingly positive about the local investment opportunities. Interviewed by investment platform Startup.ua, they provided their opinion on the current market trends and prospects and explained their own strategies in these troubled times. Ukraine Digital News is offering the most significant excerpts from these interviews.
Last week Looksery, a startup originated from Odessa, Ukraine, with offices in San Francisco, released its first mobile app, which has already gained popularity in Mexico, Ukraine, Greece, Russia, Brazil, Chile and some other countries. Designed for iOS devices, the application enables users to simulate their appearance for a photo or video chat in real-time.
You can make the face thinner, change the form of the skull, eye color, or skin color, apply one of the filters, or choose a 3D avatar (as in the screenshot below). The app also has a built-in messenger, which allows users to share their “doctored” images with friends. Additionally, users can share photos and videos through Facebook, Instagram, and Vine.
U-Start founder Stefano Guidotti: “We see Ukraine as a key part of our global, tech-oriented family office network”
Following the merger of IDCEE, Ukraine’s leading tech event, with U-Start, Stefano Guidotti explains the recent trends in family office investment strategies and their growing interest in startups across the globe.
The Italian businessman also shares his vision of the Ukrainian tech scene and the way it can be connected to global investment flows.
Prominent Ukrainian entrepreneur Alexander Olshansky and partners have opened a business incubator in Ukraine called Voenkubator, which can be translated as “Armincubator.” The project is planned exclusively to develop startups that show promise for the military and intelligence fields, Ukrainian tech blog AIN.UA reports.
Voenkubator targets startups that develop information processing and retrieval, image processing, monitoring of public places and work with large sets of data. In addition, hardware startups will be chosen to develop drones, simulators and terrain observation systems.
I started my career in a company called “MIND CTI”. It is an Israeli hi-tech public company, traded at NASDAQ, NY. In several years, I became the Chief Architect. One of my activities there was to set up an R&D-center for the company, at that time in Romania. I started with five guys and after five years I had 230 guys there. I said to myself: “If I’m so good in doing something like that, why do I do it for another person? I can do it for myself”.
But at that time Romania joined the EU, so it didn’t make sense to do it there anymore, because the prices started to go up, and the good developers started leaving Romania. So I started looking for other locations in Central and Eastern Europe. That could be interesting for me. And I decided to start my company in Ukraine. The talent pull in Ukraine is much bigger than the one in Romania, the education system is better, the prices seemed right.
Kyiv City State Administration is working with Igor Shoifot, chairman of Ukrainian Happy Farm incubator and the U.S. representative of TMT Investments, to open a co-working space in Kyiv, where startup teams will be able to work on their projects free of charge. Existing spaces in the Ukrainian capital charge anywhere from $70 to $200 per desk per month.
“Startups mostly happen not thanks to investors or rich people, but young guys who can’t even pay for a co-working space. Therefore they have to work from home, but projects worked on from apartments don’t survive. Silicon Valley’s concept of startups made in a garage is there for a good reason,” Shoifot told the Kyiv Post.