Startups Under Fire: The Remarkable Resilience of Ukraine’s Tech Sector


In February 2022, Ukraine’s tech sector was booming. Between 2016 and 2021, the nation’s IT exports tripled to almost $7 billion a 12 months, based on the IT Affiliation of Ukraine. Its universities have lengthy been a formidable manufacturing line for STEM expertise, and 1000’s of those younger graduates helped Ukraine first turn out to be Europe’s again workplace, stocked with builders and designers working for worldwide shoppers, after which an innovation heart in its personal proper, with a circulate of cutting-edge startups: From deep-tech and robotics to translation and AI.

The conflict ought to have ended that. Russia’s full-scale invasion has killed or injured tens of 1000’s of civilians and troopers, a lot of them pulled from abnormal lives onto the entrance strains. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their houses and at the moment are scattered throughout Europe and past. Russia has focused infrastructure, knocking out energy and telecoms and threatening to chop Ukrainian companies off from their clients and backers abroad.

And but, the tech sector has not simply survived however thrived: By the top of 2022, Ukraine’s IT exports had grown practically 7 per cent, even because the economic system shrunk by nearly a 3rd. These are the tales of how 4 startups have survived, however they’re only a pattern of the 1000’s of acts of extraordinary resilience, defiance, braveness, and cooperation in Ukraine’s tech sector.

“Music is a really highly effective instrument.”

As a PhD pupil in quantum physics within the dying days of the Soviet Union, Andriy Dakhovskyy would cover bootlegged vinyl of western rock music in his room. “I used to be fortunate to not be caught by the KGB,” he says. “When the Soviet Union fell and you might simply go to a document retailer and purchase Led Zeppelin, one thing vital was lacking for me. The sensation of exclusivity, of being underground.”

Dakhovskyy spun his forbidden love of rock right into a profession, ending up establishing Common Music’s first workplace in Kyiv, and turning into a central determine within the growth of Ukraine’s music trade in its anarchic post-Soviet revival. He bought Elton John onto Ukrainian TV and produced Kyiv’s first rock opera. As we drive by means of central Kyiv, he factors out the nightclub he ended up operating, sort of accidentally, after being satisfied to put money into it by a buddy in want of a mortgage. It’s now closed, battered first by Covid, then by the conflict.

In 2020, Dakhovskyy launched Djooky with enterprise companions in Ukraine and the US, primarily based on a perception that much less well-known recording artists—notably these from outdoors America—get a uncooked deal on platforms like Spotify, the place solely a small variety of high-profile musicians make good cash. “The music trade is closely, closely monopolized and centralized,” he says. “I do know the system … and I couldn’t change the system from inside.”

Djooky is a market the place followers can basically purchase shares in artists, serving to them to construct a profile, with the potential to revenue from their success. When the Eurovision Music Contest was canceled as a result of pandemic in 2020, the corporate launched its personal Djooky Music Awards, letting followers vote for his or her favourite track in an enormous multinational competitors that attracted artists and listeners from everywhere in the world. The platform has 200,000 registered customers, submissions from artists from greater than 140 international locations, and has held 15 profitable auctions.

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