Tech, Trends and Top Talent: ‘Connect Ukraine’ Festival Became Hub for a Creative Generation


Science and Innovation, Ukraine

In Kyiv, a recent three-day forum ‘Connect Ukraine’ gathered IT specialists, owners of small businesses and entrepreneurs. The event was aimed at boosting Ukraine’s tech industry, which is now considered one of the fastest growing industries in the country.

Ukraine’s tech industry is one of the most promising sectors of its economy. However, it still needs to develop its quickly burgeoning talent, and entice young programmers and developers to stay in Ukraine, rather than moving abroad. This means developing a robust and friendly start-up culture in Ukraine.

That’s the aim of Connect Ukraine, a three day forum, hackathon, and workshop — meant to inspire and strengthen the Ukrainian IT and start-up culture.

“The goal of Connect Ukraine is to show people in this part of the world, that there are more ideas and more ways to do things, more ways to lift up your strengths, and more ways to procreate and to to make new projects together,” says Padraig Purcell, Connect Ukraine Organizer.

The festival hosted many notable speakers in the start-up world, especially from the global hub of start-up and tech — Silicon Valley. Amit Pradhan, general partner at JetVentures, discussed his excitement of being in Ukraine and what Ukrainian start-ups can offer:

“I’m very drawn to events that bring people together to try and achieve a greater purpose… And one thing that we do very well in Silicon Valley, is we can package stuff really well. So when I see start-ups pitching in Silicon Valley, sometimes business models might be crap, and sometimes they might be tackling problems that are so utterly stupid, and yet, the way they present it will be so slick, that you’re drawn to it. And I find that with new ecosystems where the talent pool is amazing, the energy is amazing. I’ve met such wonderful people! I’m totally in love. I’ve got connections on Facebook and Linkedin with so many people that I want to work with!”

Connect Ukraine didn’t only bring in experienced entrepreneurs from Silicon Valley, but also native Ukrainians — who believe in their country’s potential. At a blockchain hackathon held at the event, teams of developers embarked on a 48-hour, non-stop coding frenzy to prove their talent in IT and computer technologies.

“We have a few goals. First of all, it is evaluation of the market in Ukraine, because we came here not long ago. We are based here, but most of our clients are worldwide, and we never really explored how qualified developers and teams are in Ukraine. We had no idea. So, this is first goal. Secondly, we are trying to find interesting projects, that we can help to attract some investment from invest funds. We have expretise in a certain topics, for example, like InsureTech, FinTech. I think we are capable of finding something worthwhile. And, of course, if some teams would provide intersting solutions, they will go through our field, which means how, basically, good the team is. Can they actually think business in long term? Not just attracting investment… I think that Ukrainian and Russian developers are the best I’ve seen. First of all, in terms of fundamental education, which now often lacks in other countries. Then discipline, ambition,” says Yurii Miliutin, organizer of the Blockchain Hackathon.

Shadi Al-Lababidi, another organizer of the Blockchain Hackathon adds:

“The quality of devs here is probably some of the best in the world. And also when they work with American teams, their English level is very professional as well. So it’s incredible, it’s incredible opportunity, and at the moment, the talent is being sucked for outsourcing for big foreign companies in America, so the talent is being wasted in my opinion. We want to give them the opportunity to be entrepenuerial, and create their own businesses.”

While start-ups and small businesses in Ukraine still face issues in the form of corruption and raiding, the Connect Ukraine organizers are hopeful that events like these will build confidence amongst developers and entrepreneurs — and display Ukrainian talent to a global audience.

“I’ve seen that there is so much talent here, there is so much creative capacity. So many very, very talented individuals here! And also talented people that are doing start-ups, doing different businesses. So, it has been really, really good and I think there are many, many talented people and it’s very special because it’s so untouched, and not many international people has been here. It’s very cool,” hares his thoughts Christoffer Bertilsson, Connect Ukraine Organizer.

Ultimately, Connect Ukraine was the first of its kind, but its organizers hope it won’t be last. Meanwhile, Ukrainian entrepreneurs and developers can count on increasing international attention for their skills, ideas, and talents.

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