Ukraine’s Tech Sector Shows Remarkable Resilience

Ukraine's Tech Sector Shows Remarkable Resilience

Ukraine’s Tech Sector: Thriving Amidst Adversity and Resilience

Ukraine Technology

In February 2022, Ukraine’s tech sector was experiencing a boom. The country’s IT exports had tripled between 2016 and 2021, reaching almost $7 billion annually. Despite the full-scale invasion by Russia, which resulted in massive casualties and displaced millions of people, Ukraine’s tech sector not only survived but thrived. By the end of 2022, IT exports had grown by nearly 7 percent, even as the overall economy contracted by almost a third. This unexpected resilience and success can be attributed to the extraordinary acts of courage, defiance, cooperation, and resilience displayed by startups in Ukraine’s tech sector.

Rocking the Music Industry: Djooky’s Unique Approach

Andriy Dakhovskyy, a former PhD student in quantum physics, found solace in western rock music during the Soviet Union era. His love for music eventually led him to establish Universal Music’s first office in Kyiv and become a key figure in Ukraine’s music industry. Dakhovskyy later co-founded Djooky in 2020, aiming to provide lesser-known recording artists a fairer platform to showcase their talent and profit from their success. Djooky operates as a marketplace where fans can buy shares in artists, helping them grow and gain recognition.

Despite the challenges posed by the pandemic and the ongoing invasion, Dakhovskyy remains determined and passionate about Djooky’s mission. He recently pitched the startup to international investors in Warsaw and the US, emphasizing the emotional connection that drives Djooky. With 200,000 registered users, submissions from artists in over 140 countries, and successful auctions, Djooky represents a unique blend of record company and fintech startup.

Awesomic: Innovating Amidst Chaos

Founders Roman Sevast and Stacy Pavlyshyna experienced the very real threats of war firsthand when they drove out of Kyiv on the first night of the conflict. As the Russian forces closed in, they had to make a crucial phone call to their US bank manager for payroll support, all while a Russian attack helicopter buzzed overhead. Despite the chaos, their startup, Awesomic, which matches businesses with designers and developers, continued to grow. They managed to evacuate employees from besieged cities and keep operations running smoothly.

Sevast and Pavlyshyna’s resilience and adaptability allowed them to navigate the challenges posed by the war. Their clients stuck by them, and the company bought generators and Starlink terminals to ensure uninterrupted work. The founders remain confident in their ability to overcome obstacles, and despite the turmoil, they opened a new head office in Silicon Valley.

Howly: Thriving Amidst Uncertainty

Howly, an online concierge service, faced the constant need to adapt due to the war. Their office was abandoned twice, and the team frequently relocated to areas with power and internet access. Employees displayed remarkable dedication, with some delivering results even amidst airstrikes and missile attacks. The company diversified its services to include legal advice, and their CEO, Slava Matskov, emphasizes the extraordinary level of cooperation within Ukraine’s tech industry, with companies sharing resources and supporting one another.

BetterMe: Balancing Success and Patriotism

Victoria Repa, founder of BetterMe, prepared for the war by equipping the office with generators and water-treatment equipment, ensuring the team’s ability to work despite disruptions in infrastructure. BetterMe, a health and well-being app, experienced growth in revenue and headcount throughout 2022. Repa believes in the importance of supporting the country and its people and has made mental health products available for free to all Ukrainians. She is determined to keep the company Ukrainian and hopes that in the future, young people will build businesses and create a new Silicon Valley within Ukraine.

Ukraine’s Tech Sector: A Tale of Resilience and Hope

Despite the turmoil and devastation caused by the war, Ukraine’s tech sector has not only survived but flourished. Startups like Djooky, Awesomic, Howly, and BetterMe exemplify the resilience, defiance, and cooperation prevalent within the industry. Their ability to adapt, innovate, and maintain a positive outlook serves as a testament to the indomitable spirit of Ukraine’s tech entrepreneurs.

Looking ahead, these startups and many others in Ukraine’s tech sector are determined to blaze a trail of success, turning the country into a new Silicon Valley. With an abundance of talent, innovation, and a strong sense of patriotism, Ukraine’s tech industry remains steadfast in its commitment to driving progress and making a positive impact both within the country and on the global stage.

This article appears in the September/October 2023 edition of WIRED UK