Slush 2022: “Most Ukrainian start-ups didn’t go out of business”

Among the delegations present at the Slush 2022 event in Helsinki, the Ukrainian stand inevitably drew attention. One of the spokespersons for the startup ecosystem in Ukraine at Slush, Yuri Kozil, CEO and co-founder of Evolve created in 2018 (2020 according to Crunchbase), explained to us that we support the development of start-ups and individual entrepreneurs. , but also digital companies. It should be noted, however, that this Ukrainian association that presents itself as an NGO – in France all associations under the 1901 law are non-profit – is an offshoot of Evolve-IT Consulting, a computer services company based in the UK United with teams of developers in Ukraine for Kiev. “After the start of the war, we began to work more actively to help Ukraine and, more specifically, to rebuild the country and support business,” Yuri Kozil explained to us. Asked about Evolve’s status, the latter told us bluntly that the NGO is independent, without support from the Ukrainian government and could not be compared to an organization like Business Finland or FrenchTech.

“Over the last two years, we have seen a huge growth of Ukrainian startups. The traditional industry of new technologies in Ukraine is software development. However, we have seen the last two years one before and one after Covid. During the pandemic and before the war, entrepreneurs wanted to launch startups more than software development companies. And of course, when startups were created with the return of war, it had a negative impact on their business prospects. At the same time, the important thing is that – as recent studies indicate – the majority of Ukrainian start-ups have not closed down and are continuing their activities. They continue to operate in this way, despite the challenges they face and the financing difficulties, insecurity…”

Great help from Azure, AWS and GCP

Evolve therefore supports budding entrepreneurs and start-ups. As Yuri Kozil expects, “We expect more and more startups in Ukraine, like Grammarly with its solution that helps to communicate in English. Its headquarters are now in the United States, but it was founded by Ukrainians, and they still have several offices in Ukraine at this time. Second example from the start-up Respeecher, which worked with Lucasfilm to synthetically recreate the voice of the actor who played Darth Vader and that of the young Luke Skywalker in the Disney series The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett. Respeecher relied on archival recordings and a proprietary AI algorithm to create new dialogue from old voices.

Asked about the contribution of cloud giants – mainly Azure and AWS – to the Ukrainian digital ecosystem since the beginning of the war, the leader explained to us that AWS was very active even before the war. “But now we also have the support of Google, which gives subsidies to follow up with some Ukrainian startups, which is, of course, great support.” To keep working, startups can rely on cloud computing providers, but they are adapting to new work routines. “When there is a power outage, people go to work at night, for example, sometimes, when there is a power outage at home, they go to a mall that has the lights on [grâce aux groupes électrogènes]🇧🇷 Unfortunately, of course, it became much more difficult because of the Russian bombing of the energy infrastructure. So people have to go to a space where they have wifi and internet to work and then go home. Of course, the problem is that it’s completely unpredictable now because we had a big missile attack the day before yesterday. [le mardi 15 novembre]🇧🇷 Then, of course, software can be delayed, and so on, because suddenly there is more electricity.” Yuri Kozil manages to remain positive despite the situation in Ukraine, “this problem we are talking about, infrastructure, energy and internet, we manage, we adapt. We have great, talented people, but we would really like to get more funding.”

survive the war

“We are trying, first of all, to show Ukraine’s strength, to show that business remains strong, although being a start-up entrepreneur is difficult in itself and even more difficult in Ukraine because of the war, but our compatriots are still fighting. They are still fighting. they fight in the army on the front line. And so our companies are fighting for their survival, and our organization, Evolve, is fighting to support entrepreneurs and introduce Ukrainian entrepreneurs to the world, “says the leader. “From our point of view , as a non-profit non-governmental organization, we see that the support was important, but that it was mainly used to support the Ukrainian government budget. But for us, as an organization, we need more partners, and more projects to be carried out on the ground 300 to 500 start-ups would be declared today in Ukraine, this variation in numbers is due to companies inactive due to the war.

Leave a Comment