An astounding number of American technology companies employ engineers in Ukraine, but you would never know it. Most don’t have formal offices in Kiev, preferring to hire people through intermediaries.
Many companies would prefer to not publicly acknowledge these employees exist given that “outsourcing” is a dirty word in in U.S. politics. But given the continuing crisis in Ukraine, now is the time to stand up and speak out. Many companies might think they are powerless to do anything but wait out the crisis – but they’re wrong.
It’s a year since top Ukrainian venture capitalist Yevgeny Sysoyev produced his first overview of Ukraine’s top-100 startups. A lot has changed since then, and many more people are now familiar with the complicated geography, politics and economics of his country.
The Ukrainian startup ecosystem is still comparatively small, with a maximum valuation of just $2.5 billion. However, despite its infancy there are a number of reasons to pay attention to the Ukrainian startup scene.
State support in Ukraine would boost the market for IT services to $10 billion a year, said Ukrainian lawmaker and presidential candidate Sergiy Tigipko.
“Today Ukraine is manufacturing $1.5 billion worth of IT products for export annually and that market is growing by 30%. Therefore, if we create incentives, in the next two or three years we can bring $10 billion worth to that market,” Tigipko said during a visit to the Odeskabel company on Wednesday.
A plan by a group of IT entrepreneurs in Ukraine to help the nation’s economy grow during and after the current political crisis has received backing from Virgin boss Richard Branson. In March 2014, the Ukrainian IT industry set out a list of actions the new national government should take to protect the sector amid political turmoil.
Torben Majgaard, CEO at IT services firm Ciklum, wrote a letter to Ukraine’s economy minister Pavlo Sheremeta, calling for united action to ensure the IT industry in the country emerges from the turmoil stronger.
TA Venture Managing Director and IDCEE organizer Viktoriya Tigipko: “Kiev is an entry point for international VCs for Central and Eastern Europe”
Not only is Mrs Tigipko one of these exquisitely educated and beautiful ladies one can meet in Kiev, she also is an inexhaustible source of ideas and energy when it comes to innovation and venture activity. In a mere three years, she has transformed a Kiev event, IDCEE, into the international face of the East-European startup and venture scene. Meanwhile, her fund TA Venture has invested in dozens of startups in Europe and as far away as Brazil and India.
Just a few days before the opening of IDCEE 2013, the business woman presented to East-West Digital News a contrasted picture of the Ukrainian high-tech industry and shared her vision of her country’s digital future. She also unveiled behind-the-scene details on how she came to the venture industry and how IDCEE started and grew, as well as key facts and figures on TA Venture.