Despite government raids Kharkiv IT start-ups continue to strive
With the fast growing Ukrainian IT industry, the eastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv is becoming yet another hub for nurturing young talent. And this space, where IT entrepreneurs work, connect and exchange ideas is a new addition to the Kharkiv IT scene.
Here we meet Yevgeniy – one of the co-founders of this IT hub. He tells us about the facilities, which they have around.
Apart from the co-working space, which offers conference rooms, reception services and, as a bonus this husky named Apachee, brought here by a couple renting the space, this place also has two floors of conference facilities, and a bar – everything one needs to work and create.
Yevheniy Shipka, Kharkiv IT hub facility co-founder: "What we are trying to achieve with this building is to shape-up the eco-system for the start-ups. Right now we have about 5-7 events each week. We have almost half of our co-working space filled with guys, who are working on their projects, their start-ups."
Photo source: fabrika.space
And this Kharkiv start-up is already large enough to rent their own office.
Ihor Khomenko, Kharkiv IT start-up chief technology officer: "Now we have about 45 people. We started as a students' team, we were 5 people 7 years ago and we built mobile applications for outsource and then we decided to build our product."
And as it appeared this product became very successful. So successful that the company decided to open an office in London - to be closer to the potential new clients.
Taras Filatov, IT start-up founder and director: "The NextWeb called us ‘What's-up in a box.' What we do is – you take quickblox technology, add it to your smartphone mobile app and then you add communication, such as instant messaging, chat and video calling in any context."
Taras is a founder and one of the directors of this Ukrainian IT start-up. Which is already hardly a start-up. The company has grown from 5 people to 45 with offices opened in Kharkiv and London and about to close an investment deal for more than 1 million US dollars.
And the company is dreaming big:
Nate Macleitch, IT start-up director: "...And then probably in the later part of next year we're gonna look to raise a larger amount of finance in silicon valley as we're gonna open up offices there and then open offices also in India, because we're seeing global demand for the product."
With success stories such as this one the Ukrainian government should be promoting and supporting the local IT industry in any way possible. But instead last year the IT companies in Ukraine were raided by the law enforcement agencies.
Back in Kharkiv we meet with Alexander Medovoy to talk about these raids, which were no more than a shake-down.
Alexander Medovoy, Kharkiv IT cluster chairman of supervisory board: "This was a common story for Ukraine in 2015. There were about 10 to 12 different cases in different regions and Kharkiv was just one of them.
Kharkiv IT cluster is a local association of IT companies in in this eastern Ukrainian city, which, following the raids, is fighting to bring the perpetrators to justice:
Alexander Medovoy, Kharkiv IT cluster chairman of supervisory board: "We have this as a goal – to stop…actually to start prosecuting them. Because this is the only thing. If this person is prosecuted, this will be a good signal for everybody else: that no, guys, there's no way to continue these dirty games."
If the government of Ukraine indeed wants the country to be seen as a global IT player, it should not just talk about the IT industry in its promo videos, but make sure that none of the government agencies hinder this sector, or any other for that matter.
This is Volodymyr Solohub, Dmytro Orlov and Serhiy Alekseev reporting from London and Kharkiv for Ukraine Today.