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Parimatch Tech at Web Summit: What Other Countries Should Learn From Ukraine

17.11.22
10 min to read

One of the Parimatch Tech activities at Web Summit this year was the "Growth and Development Despite the War" panel. This discussion was related to Ukrainians' business unique take on overcoming issues and staying strong despite war-related challenges. Speakers covered topics such as the changes in the IT industry and business development in Ukraine during the war, some new approaches and shared their vision for the future. 

The speakers of the panel were:

  • Oleksandr Usyk — Ukrainian professional boxer, world champion, and Parimatch Responsible Gambling Ambassador;
  • Evgen Belousov — Deputy CEO at Parimatch Tech;
  • Nataliia Hilevych — CEO at Parimatch Ukraine;
  • Oleksandr Bornyakov — Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine;
  • Vadym Voitiuk — Principal Solutions Architect at AWS.

Changes in the Ukrainian business environment

Natalia Hilevych emphasized unity and trust between businesses and the state, competing companies, brands, athletes, foundations, and people in general. According to her, those who could not get common ground for months and years now are united. 

If earlier it took us months, now we have many cases when in the morning we have an idea, in the afternoon we have a team, in the evening we receive funding, and the following day we begin the release.

Oleksandr Bornyakov confirmed that point and said that despite all challenges, the state supports the IT industry, for example, startups. Most Ukrainian startups manage to go to the following stages of financing. The government helps them with this through communication with western partners, attracting capital and allowing them to attend events such as Web Summit to present themselves and get capital for future development. But, according to Oleksandr, the Ministry of Digital Transformation could afford more help to the IT sector.

Talking from a business perspective, Evgen Belousov admitted the wartime risks concerning the Western partners of Ukrainian companies. But on the other hand, he sees how Ukrainian teams work every day, their passion, and desire to achieve results, thereby confirming the quality of developed products by Ukrainian specialists. 

“To understand this level of motivation, you need to see our channels in Slack, other work group chats and e-mail threads. People are very motivated to work because they don't know what will happen tomorrow and want to ensure their financial stability. Another not-so-obvious point is stress. And the best medicine against this stress for Ukrainians is their job. It is in the nature of Ukrainians not to wait for something, but to solve problems by themselves.”

As for the emergency measures, they are developing on the go. For example, to prevent Ukrainian offices from troubles with electricity and internet due to Russian missile attacks on Ukrainian infrastructure, Parimatch Tech provided backup generators and Star Links. 

Vadym Voitiuk mentioned the phenomenon of the immediate expansion of Ukrainian businesses. According to Vadym, businesses were pushed to go outside to Ukrainian bordering counties. Because their user base moved there, their customers still use Ukrainian credit cards, they are still willing to help, and they are still willing to spend money in Ukraine. And this geographical shift doesn't affect them a lot. Of course, such models couldn't be applied to every company, but some consider further development in central and western European countries not for relocation but for expanding business. And this trend doesn't relate to digital native business only.

“It (the war) created a situation of immediate expansion. We saw a similar situation for Ukrainian startups and middle size enterprises. They just said:  "Ok, if we can't expand here, in Ukraine, we need to expand elsewhere." It is a compelling case of pressure when you are not going to think about expansion in 2023. No, you will think about expansion tonight. And until tomorrow, you need to find a supplier for your services.”

What other countries should learn from Ukraine right now

Oleksandr Bornyakov, Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine

For example, the digital government ecosystem. Estonia was a showcase for us; we learned a lot from them and built similar things ourselves. But at some point, we outgrow them, not only because the Ukrainian market is more extensive than the Estonian. Technology changes very fast, and our mobile-first concept formed the basis of the government’s technology transformation strategy. Focusing on services available on your smartphone is something other countries could learn from Ukraine because there is not such a vast ecosystem in other European countries where you can do almost anything.

Evgen Belousov, Parimatch Tech

The aggressive business environment in Ukraine creates a competitive atmosphere where you need to fight for customers. That's why we have better services, for example, in restaurants and better internet providers. The balance between service quality, cost, and the time you spend is definitely something Western countries could learn from Ukraine.

Vadym Voitiuk, AWS

Ukraine is a very young country. Many services here, such as postal and telecom services, were born from the experience of other countries. Unlike Western European countries, we do not have such a legacy of generations. For example, there are European countries where telecom operators have been working since the 80s: some of these countries still have internal roaming when you move from one region to another. In Ukraine, no one remembers what internal mobile roaming is.

When discussing the will to create the same service as "Nova Poshta" in France, you lose sight of one crucial aspect—you will have to "cut off the old tales". And if we talk about Western companies, they usually don't make these cuts because they value stability. No one comes to Ukraine for stability. Ukraine is a growing market and turbulent business environment; it is a country of opportunities, a land of growth, and, I would even say, a country of adventure compared to Germany. It appears to me that closer economic connections with Ukraine will soon lead to stable European countries adopting the Ukrainian experience of ditching the baggage of a legacy with no value.

Nataliia Hilevych, Parimatch Ukraine

Don't postpone it, do it today. Managers used to plan things like that: "I'll do it tomorrow when I get some sleep" or "I'll finish it next week when the ideas come to me." But now, every manager says, "I will do it today because I don't know what will happen tomorrow. I don't know if we’ll have electricity when I wake up." Doing things today has become a new habit for the Parimatch Ukraine team and every Ukrainian.

What to expect in Ukraine

"The answer to the question of what Ukraine will be like in 10-20 years has already been partially answered by the students who came to the Maidan in 2013 and said that we should be part of the European family. I see Ukraine as a part of the European family, especially considering that we have already received candidate status."

Oleksandr added that within ten years, Ukraine would become an expert in building digital government services, and the Ministry of Technical Transformation would start sharing its experience with other countries: for example, with Estonia, Poland, the countries of North America, Africa, and others. Potential partners keep their eyes on what is happening from that perspective and are interested. The Ministry of Technical Transformation already has experience in refactoring and reengineering public services. More than 20 million users use the "Diia" app—potential partners see this, and they understand that if so many people use it, the developers of these services know what they are doing.

So, right now, all Ukrainians are doing as much as they can. And we are doing as much as possible and a little more. We are not going to stop, and we will rebuild everything that the aggressor destroyed ten times more beautiful. A Mexican proverb says: "They wanted to bury us, but they didn't know that we were seeds." And the aggressors are just fertilizer for our seeds.

stated Oleksandr Usyk, Ukrainian professional boxer, world champion, and Parimatch Responsible Gambling Ambassador
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