The sharing economy as a key tool for resilience in the Ukrainian IT Business during wartime: examples from SevenPro, MobiDev, and VEC-UA
The Ukrainian IT sector has always been known for its innovation and the ability to adapt quickly to change. Thanks to talented professionals and enterprising leaders, it has become a significant player in the global market. However, the ongoing war in Ukraine presents new and extraordinary challenges for this industry.
Foreign investors and clients have become more cautious in making agreements and extending existing partnerships. Consequently, the opportunities for Ukrainian IT companies to export and access international markets have been limited. Talent loss and the dispersion of teams across the country and beyond have also posed significant challenges.
There is a pressing need to reconsider business strategies. This, along with the recession and war, as well as partial team relocations, has created new challenges for businesses. Consequently, approaches to services and methods of supporting companies in the community have taken a fundamentally new direction.
In the summer of 2023, this inspired the Kharkiv IT Cluster to launch a new project called “IT Cluster in the Cloud” with the support of the USAID Competitive Economy of Ukraine Program. The project’s goal is to support small and medium-sized IT companies that have partially relocated their teams across Ukraine and around the world.
Currently, Kharkiv IT Cluster is a shining example of how a community can grow stronger despite relocation, challenges, crises, and war. The community brings together more than 270 companies and partners. So, what is the secret to the incredible resilience of Ukrainian IT companies?
Sharing and coworking in IT Companies
The concept of the Sharing Economy is closely linked to the resilience and sustainability of participant companies. This approach has become a key tool for the recovery and development of the Ukrainian IT business during times of war. A networked approach, or the sharing of resources, is not merely a mechanism of exchange or access; the sharing economy is a philosophy that focuses on mutual assistance, sustainability, and optimization. This approach reduces costs, increases profitability, and promotes an economy based on collaboration.
Every IT company has its unique story. Each story is a priceless case, offering personal experience and a narrative of change and challenges. This is firsthand experience from the inside, which can and should be shared and learned from.
How blackouts did not stop Kharkiv IT Cluster
SevenPro, a software development and technology consulting company, embraced the principles of the Sharing Economy from the very beginning of the full-scale invasion. They continued renting their main office in Kharkiv, which was used by colleagues from unsafe areas of the city who lived there with their families and pets. At the same time, the underground parking was transformed into a bomb shelter to ensure their safety and protection.
Throughout this time, the office continued to serve its original purpose, as some team members chose not to leave Kharkiv. In the summer, employees started returning to the city with the genuine desire to finally meet and communicate with their colleagues in person.
As the fall approached, it became clear that rocket attacks were not going to stop, and the absence of electricity and the internet could significantly impact business operations. Therefore, preparations were made to make the workspace ready for potential blackouts.
By September, the Kharkiv office was fully equipped with everything necessary for comfortable and uninterrupted work, including the installation of Starlink and a generator. In addition, the SevenPro team actively negotiated and made agreements with their partners for office sharing in other cities across Ukraine. This led to the creation of coworking spaces in Lviv and Dnipro.
Many colleagues were located in Kyiv. Therefore, in November 2022, the company opened a new office in the capital, which was also equipped with a generator and Starlink.
For employees who did not live in Kharkiv, Kyiv, Lviv, or Dnipro, the company offered relocation to cities where “Hubs of Resilience” were established, providing a safe environment for working alongside colleagues in the office.
From the onset of the escalation, MobiDev, a software development company, had team members located in different cities, and they managed to maintain uninterrupted workflow even in the most challenging conditions.
After February 24, 2022, a new goal emerged for the team: to ensure a 100% supply and establish safe working spaces.
One of MobiDev’s hubs was created in the basement of their Kharkiv office. Initially, it was used as a bomb shelter, but today, the hub’s doors are always open to the team in case of emergencies.
The office in Chernivtsi operated fully and became a refuge for many IT professionals from other cities who had to leave their homes due to the invasion. Some of the team members continued to work in the Polish office.
The company not only supported its employees but also actively responded to colleagues’ requests, seeking ways to ensure the continuous operation of the Ukrainian IT industry in the future. They actively shared resources, including coworking spaces and equipment, enabling resource savings and business stability even during wartime.
Blackouts did not stop the business. Specialists located in different cities across Ukraine worked in coworking spaces leased by the company. Despite the challenges, MobiDev continues to meet all agreements regarding supply and ensures an uninterrupted work format.
“Each token is a unique work of art that reflects the artists’ vision, conveying hope for our swift victory and the return of carefree happiness to every city in Ukraine,” emphasizes the developers.
The Story of VEC-UA — a shining example of a Ukrainian Company Continuously Advancing Towards Victory for Ukraine! From the first days of the full-scale invasion, VEC-UA’s office in Lviv literally became a home for the team (even for their pets) and a hub through which foreign colleagues transmitted Starlink, medicines, food for war victims, and even military equipment. The VEC-UA space had everything necessary for comfortable living: food, warm clothing, and hygiene supplies, and it was equipped with everything needed for accommodation. All VEC-UA offices in Kharkiv, Dnipro, and Lviv were immediately equipped with generators and Starlink. The team independently acquired everything necessary to continue working and stay in touch with each other and with clients.
During the challenging blackout period, the company did not lose a single client and continued to deliver its services with high quality. Moreover, the company is expanding its range of services and adding new team members to its roster, unafraid of the approaching winter.
Why is the sharing economy the key to resilience?
In times of war, every resource is inherently limited. Shortages extend beyond just spaces or teams, which are sometimes challenging to maintain. Mutual aid and collective decision-making based on the experiences of community companies are what drive the growth and development of the technological business ecosystem.
Today, the Kharkiv IT Cluster community continues to expand. Thanks to the “IT Cluster in the Cloud” project, cluster services for supporting, protecting, and strengthening the export capacity of companies have become possible without geographic constraints.
The community of the Kharkiv IT Cluster is united by principles, not geography. Shared spaces, resources, and the ability to connect colleagues to safe cities create opportunities for rapid adaptation and mitigation of external risks.
Sharing preserves jobs and supports the IT industry in challenging conditions. Shared spaces provide the opportunity to innovate together, establish partnerships, fulfill orders on time, and scale activities despite all obstacles.