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Where there is no law, but every man does what is right in his own eyes, there is the least of real liberty
Henry M. Robert

Ukrainian Silicon Valley to start from small business

Young Ukrainian IT-company won the competition of startup projects in London showing the best results among 6,000 participants from all over the globe
11 September, 2012 - 00:00
Photo by Mykola TYMCHENKO, The Day
Photo by Ruslan KANIUKA, The Day

Every year a competition of startup projects from around the world Seedcamp takes place in the capital of Great Britain. The victory in the competition brings recognition and support of the best international invest funds and private investors. In addition to this, the winner receives considerable non-material investments – improves the image and credibility of the business project. This year nearly 6,000 companies from all over the world took part in the contest and there were defined only four winners. One of the winners is the Ukrainian startup project TRData. By the way, the young company founded in 2009 is the only company from Ukraine to ever win this contest.

“This was our first experience of opening the door to the world of venture capital. We all were terribly anxious and I am really glad that finally this experience turned out to be enjoyable. Seedcamp, apart from a small investment and free exclusive services worth over 100,000 dollars, is some sort of a quality certificate in dealing with any potential investor and a powerful school of ‘combat skills’ for startups. Besides, the fact that we are one of the four companies selected from 6,000 others is very comforting in itself,” says director of the company Anton PASIECHNIKOV to The Day.

TRData’s main business is the financial and information terminal for professional traders – bankers, fund employees, and treasury employees. Over a hundred bankers are already using the system. Besides, over a hundred bands and financial organizations keep the companies database updated with their information in real time mode. “We collect, analyze, and provide data about very complex markets in real time mode. Such product is the main source of income of the financial empire of Michael Bloomberg – owner of 22-billion fortune and the mayor of New York. One day, speaking to young entrepreneurs at a conference Bloomberg encouraged them not to be afraid of challenging big companies. We were not present at that conference but took the challenge,” explained the director of the company.

Interestingly, the two founders of the company – Anton Pasiechnikov and Serhii Kotliarov – were the graduates of the London Business School, where the two have met. At that time they came up with an idea to create a handy information system for traders, which would provide them with the same kind of service Bloomberg and Reuters offer, but at a lower price. It was decided initially that the new company will be Ukrainian. “Our company was founded in the UK, but since both of us were born in Ukraine it was decided to organize the product development in Kyiv. Ukraine also became our first market. Therefore, we consider ourselves to be a Ukrainian startup,” explained the founders of the company. The team was formed of young and active Ukrainian experts and the company tried to provide them with optimal working conditions – “atmosphere and culture that exists only in Silicon Valley.”

“Our employees have free working schedule, an opportunity to work from home, fridge with free beer and beverages in the office. There are minimum formalities. We always try to meet the needs of our staff, consider each person working with as our partner. People in our team treat us the same. It is important, because we have huge amounts of work, therefore, it has to be interesting and enjoyable,” said Pasiechnikov.

Now, after winning Seedcamp 2012 in London the young company received a “package” of tangible results: direct access to investors, experience exchange, training for investment rounds, coverage in blogs and in leading online publications on technology. “The workload is huge: practical advice and individual trainings, negotiations with funds, private correspondence with new acquaintances. Only in the first two days of Seedcamp we met over a hundred great people, spoke with them, and got some advice,” director of TRData shared his impressions. The company plans to use the estimated 50,000 euro of investments for its development, in improving the product, and regional expansion.

The victory of the Ukrainian startup has brought positive results not only for the company itself but, to some extent, also to the Ukrainian business. “Ukraine is a great country with huge potential and rich in resources, both natural and human. I think that our victory is another proof of the feasibility of this huge potential. I will be awfully glad if I get to know that through us some investors will change their attitude towards Ukraine for the better,” said Pasiechnikov. “If not to go into details, Ukraine is a well-known country and the overall image of the country is still more positive than negative. Representative of one of the largest venture capital funds has told me recently that Ukraine is a great country with lots of smart people. In general, people in the West (as well as in the East) expect more nice victories from Ukrainians.”

Another problem with some companies is that they are not only unwilling for trying to win, but they are even not trying to meet the global standards in their work. If you want to become a player on the international level you have to follow the rules that are completely different from those customary in Ukraine. Some simply don’t believe in their own power or are not willing to deal with difficulties.

“Development of a technology startup is a terribly hard, both mentally and morally exhausting 24/7 year-round job. It would be much easier never to start anything like this. And even after you start it you can easily quit and get back to your normal life. I think that Ukrainian companies do not try hard enough and do not believe in themselves. Often Ukrainians give up interesting ideas too soon and get discouraged for no good reason. Steve Jobs once said that it is not a problem that too many people start their own companies, the problem is that too many people do not stick to them later,” summed Pasiechnikov.