The Sharing Economy in the stories of Clickable Agency, WEBSPARK, and UKAD. How did teams stay intact?
The Ukrainian IT sector has always been known for its innovation and adaptability to change. Thanks to talented professionals and visionary 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 deals and extending existing partnerships. As a result, Ukrainian IT companies have seen their export opportunities and access to international markets restricted. The loss of talented professionals and the dispersion of teams within the country and beyond have also become pressing issues.
There is a pressing need to reevaluate business strategies. This, along with the recession and the war, and the partial relocation of teams, has created new challenges for businesses. Consequently, approaches to services and ways of supporting companies within the community have taken on a significantly new direction.
In the summer of 2023, this inspired the Kharkiv IT Cluster to launch a new project, “IT Cluster in the Cloud” with support from the USAID Competitive Economy Program in Ukraine. The project’s goal is to support small and medium-sized IT companies that have partially relocated their teams across Ukraine and the world.
At present, the Kharkiv IT Cluster is a shining example of how a community has grown stronger despite relocation, challenges, crises, and war. The community includes more than 270 companies and partners. So, what lies behind the resilience of Ukrainian IT companies?
Team retention and job preservation
Preserving teams in different cities and creating safe spaces became the top priority for IT companies. The future performance of contractual obligations and the ongoing stability of IT companies depended on this.
Since February 24, each company sought ways to support their teams. However, unity, sharing, and coordinated efforts within the community allowed them to react swiftly and effectively to challenges.
The Sharing Economy helped unite teams located in different regions and create shared workspaces for employees.
During the war, Clickable Agency, a creative agency, had to adapt to new realities, including air raid alarms, blackouts, and missile explosions.
“During this time, we managed to retain a team of over 60 people. In the summer, we started hiring new employees and created comfortable conditions for those who remained in Ukraine,” said Oleksiy Lukashevych, CEO of Clickable Agency.
During power outages, the Odessa team had the opportunity to visit an office equipped with a generator and internet access. The company always remained connected, thanks to a well-established communication process in remote work conditions, a skill everyone had learned during the COVID pandemic.
“Our Office of Resilience is located in a convenient and developed area of Odessa. Among the benefits, there’s the sea nearby, and in safe times, you can enjoy beautiful views,” added Oleksiy.
The idea of creating an office emerged as soon as emergency power outages began. Clickable Agency established a comfortable office with a generator, stable internet, and comfortable workspaces for those who wanted to work in the office.
Communication with clients was maintained at the highest level, and response times remained consistent — a testament to the strategy of business continuity. The team now works with the Ukrainian and European markets and serves clients from the USA and Israel.
The team continues to attend international events, such as SiGMA Serbia and SiGMA Malta, the largest gaming conferences where professionals from the iGaming industry worldwide gather. They also undertook patriotic projects, including designing a website for the Ukrainian Association “Dzherelo”, aimed at helping Ukrainians and introducing foreigners to our culture.
In addition, Clickable Agency’s specialists believe that creativity is one of the tools of resilience. Therefore, they launched a charitable digital initiative that successfully combined the idea and creative aspects. They created an NFT collection about the heroism of the Ukrainian people, their resilience, bravery, empathy, and creativity.
“Each token is an exclusive work that reflects the artists’ vision, expressing hope for our speedy victory and a return to a carefree, happy life in every city in Ukraine,” emphasized the developers.
WEBSPARK prepared for the war. The company’s most valuable asset is its employees, so the key aspect of Business Continuity Planning (BCP) was to protect people, including evacuation, providing information, and preserving jobs.
“We had a Plan B, but our goal was never to evacuate our employees from Ukraine. I, as the founder and CEO of WEBSPARK, am also in Ukraine and have no intention of leaving. From the first days of the ‘Russian peace’, we worked on evacuating our employees, and the task was successfully completed. Only those who wanted to stay in Kharkiv remained. Many of our guys stayed to help the people of Kharkiv. I am proud of them!” said Yevgen Katrych, founder and CEO of WEBSPARK.
Since the beginning of the massive Russian invasion, WEBSPARK started helping the people of Kharkiv. The numbers regarding their charitable efforts speak for themselves:
- Evacuation of 500 Kharkiv families.
- Purchased and delivered 10 tons of humanitarian aid to Kharkiv within the first days of the hostile invasion.
- Acquired and distributed over 1,500 military turnstiles of the CAT type among Kharkiv’s military.
The company is dedicated to winning within its specialization. Using their resources, WEBSPARK created an API service that displays statistics of enemy losses, known as RussianWarship.rip. It collects data from the official website of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. By integrating it into their website, users can automatically receive and publish this data.
The WEBSPARK team also created the eTurnstile service, whose mission is to provide each Ukrainian defender with a quality turnstile, as it can save lives. The team continually checks and updates information on the quality of military turnstiles.
“There are other initiatives as well. We help our military and the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration in the information space, but this is not a public story,” Yevgen Katrych added.
WEBSPARK did not leave its hometown and created a hub for safe work for IT professionals in a format convenient for them.
During a blackout, 20 WEBSPARK employees returned to the office, proving that they are a resilient team that continues to work and overcome all challenges and difficulties together. They are unbroken because they continue to support their families, the Ukrainian economy, and the Armed Forces of Ukraine.
UKAD was forced to leave its native space in Kharkiv and seek a new refuge where UKAD professionals could safely and effectively carry out client projects.
Finding office space in Kyiv became the next challenge after evacuating the team from Kharkiv because installing a Starlink and generator required specific features on the premises.
“We joined forces with our friends from Kharkiv IT companies and created a shared IT hub for our employees,” said Denis Maksymenko, CEO of UKAD.
UKAD’s workspace was located in a modern business center in the capital. In addition to critical work-related necessities like a generator and Starlink, the team had access to things that provided support and inspiration, such as table tennis tables and a gym.
“We really hope that the generator and Starlink won’t be needed again, but we are prepared to stabilize our work as quickly as possible if necessary,” shared Denis Maksymenko, CEO of UKAD.
Why sharing preserves talent?
Despite the fact that in times of war, challenges for IT companies are mostly similar, each team’s relocation story is unique. Sharing safe spaces from the first days of the full-scale invasion provided and continues to provide the opportunity to quickly synchronize with the entire Kharkiv IT Cluster community, make rapid decisions, and ensure that the team’s work doesn’t stop.
That’s why the Kharkiv IT Cluster community continues to grow even in conditions of military escalation. It continues to grow, communicate, create networking platforms, including online, and collectively make decisions on key IT issues. Thanks to the “IT Cluster in the Cloud” project, cluster services for support, protection, and strengthening the export capacity of companies have become possible without geographic limitations because a true community is united by principles, not geography.