In 2021, 1 month before the war started, I left Ukraine for a trip that lasted for 1.5 years. During this time I wanted to contribute to Ukrainian victory, but I nor the soldier nor the hacker, or the public figure. But I am a businessman. I knew I can’t contribute to the Ukrainian victory, but I can contribute to its economy in the post-war period.
“How to make Ukraine become a top world economy after the war is over?” – this is a question I asked myself and the KavunUA was the answer.
Ukraine needs leaders and innovators
In a post-war period Ukraine will have a lot of issues and big money will be dedicated to solving those. Workers will be inspired by victory and businesses will have a generational opportunity to transform their country. To do that successfully we need leaders and innovators. Without a doubt, real estate, transportation, and logistics would need innovations. But the fuel which will be powering the future Ukrainian economy is IT.
I have been working in Ukrainian IT since 2018. I know the Ukrainian IT market from the inside out and there is a lack of leaders and innovators. The Ukrainian market itself is very small, and building any kind of product for it Ukrainian IT market is not profitable, there is just a few people who a ready to pay for services online. Most of the IT efforts in Ukraine focused on outsourcing and outstaffing and I found it a problem.
When you study in IT college, your obvious path in Ukrainian IT is to find a job in the company, grow to senior engineer, and each year travel to a new country and enjoy life. My opinion definitely was impacted by an informational bubble I grew up with but that is a path of majority. And I want this path to change.
This is the path of low ambitions. This is the path that says you can’t achieve much because your parents are not owning a business and are not cousins of a president. This is the path which popular in socialistic countries but unacceptable in fast-growing capitalistic countries like the US.
From selling talent to using it
After 2 years of working in IT, I realized that I don’t wanna work in a company in which I have no shares. Simply because I care too much about the things I am working on. I am using the best years of my life to build the thing which will hopefully help millions of people and I wanna be appreciated for that when the company becomes successful.
Most of the IT talents in Ukraine are working as contractors. Contractors are not getting appreciated with shares. Contractors are getting paid well for the job they are doing and most of the time they are shadow geniuses behind the biggest startups like Airbnb and Lift. Big, already-established companies will not give up their shares that easily, especially to offshore developers which can be easily afforded with cash. The only way to get a piece of the pie is to target smaller fish, pre-seed, and seed-stage startups.
India had a dark past with highly dense poor citizens exploited by Britain. This country started very low but the strategy which they used in their economic growth is astonishing. In 30 years from being one of the purest countries on earth, India has become one of the richest ones.
There were 3 simple steps that the Indian government did for that.
Make English a mandatory language to know
Make IT trendy
Make startups trendy
This strategy is so simple and so powerful that African countries like Uganda also started using it and now. Now more than 50% of the Indian population speak English and every one of them dreams of starting a startup. Every second startup I talk to has India’s founder, co-founder, or early employee and India now is the second biggest startup hub in the world.
Ukraine has skipped step one and is now on step 2. Everyone thinks that IT is trendy, but mostly, cause it pays good money, not because it opens up opportunities for starting a startup, so we are not in stage 3 yet. Once everyone switches their phone to the English language the impact of a Western internet will make Ukraine achieve step 3 and now IT will become a driver of innovations. This process will happen naturally but will take dozens of years. I wanna see the Ukrainian economy strive at my age, and that is why I have a plan on how to facilitate this transition.
How KavunUA makes Ukraine a startups Capital
“To make someone do something you have to make this something desirable”. So, the goal of KavunUA is to make English and startups being desirable widely in Ukraine. KavunUA currently operates as a freelance marketplace. There are mass layoffs are going on in the country and any kind of job is going to be desirable. Because KavunUA is connecting freelancers directly with clients, the salary there is about 50% higher. But there is one catch, you need to know English really well.
Being a freelancer is desirable because it gives you a job, flexibility, and high pay. To become a freelancer you need to know English, so English is highly desirable. To make English desirable I am first making freelancing desirable. I am actively writing blogs, talking to people about my story, initiating new projects, and spending thousands of dollars to promote Ukraine as a freelance capital in the US market to attract more clients.
The other part is startups. KavunUA is a startup-oriented freelancing platform. We are working exclusively with startups and even our business model is uniquely designed for that. The biggest obstacle for startups is finding long-term co-founders and employees. Using freelance platforms is a big no for them because the terms of usage are not allowing freelancers and client to engage in a long-term direct contract. Especially with equity split. I removed this rule from KavunUA’s terms of usage and made long-term relationships a part of the platform.
If the client is interested to bring a freelancer as a partner, employee, or co-founder, he can do it at any time. To make this system sustainable and prevent cheating, KavunUA will still charge fees for the next year of direct work. Saying that, KavunUA operates under a unique dual business model which is sitting between the freelance marketplace and a hiring agency.
This makes KavunUA a desirable place for early-stage startup founders to look for talent. By working with these founders, Ukrainian specialists will build relationships and reputations in the industry. They will also learn how to be a founder, how to innovate, and how to start a thing that millions of people will use. A knowledge-sharing mechanism that was hardly possible for Ukrainian developers is now widely available.
Speaking with US founders and watching their success will make startups desirable.
KavunUA is a startup with hardly proven business model. However if this business model will prove to be working, in the next 10 years we will see Ukraine becoming the startup capital of the world. There is only 1 real success story needed to launch hype over the startups. Only 1 Ukrainian founder has to become a billionaire to make the trajectory of startups desirable, and I bet, there will be many.
I have been coding for the last 5 years, which might be described as "a proven track record" or "delivering consistent results" on LinkedIn. I am currently on a mission to enslave humanity with the power of gambling.
My skills include writing, re-writing, tweeting, startup founding, mixing cocktails, full-stack engineering, and watching the same isekai over and over again. Proficiency ranges from excellent to absolutely awful.