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Why Ukraine and Belarus are becoming tech havens?

When domestic talent markets hit saturation point, where do you turn?

The dominant challenge of western tech leaders, especially in the startup and SME sector, is talent: where do you find the right talent to scale your firm when the talent market is so stretched? The pandemic may have upended a lot of traditional industries but not so tech: from junior developers to COO’s, there are shortages across the board as the world turns digital and remote.

The beauty of tech is that it was one of the first industries to take full advantage of the globalised nature of co-working. Developer teams have for years been collaborating, forming companies, and creating incredible services and products from offices and homes around the globe, using swift internet speeds and innovating team management software to drive industry forward. 

Those same tech outliers were thrust into the spotlight to help rapidly digitise huge parts of the global economy in the wake of COVID-19, and now remote working and hybrid workplaces are the definition of the new normal.


Eastern Europe is, as many companies are now witnessing, an untapped gold mine of tech talent. A number of prominent companies have either been founded, or are outsourcing their developer and tech workloads, to this technically proficient haven of talent. Ukraine and Belarus are leading this wave of innovation.

Here are some of the most exciting tech companies based in Ukraine and Belarus that are taking the world by storm!


Reface

A sign of the dispersed nature of tech talent and ideas generation is personified in Reface’s explosion onto the app scene in early 2021. Ukraine-based Reface - downloaded now over 27 million times - are incorporated in the USA, but based in Kyiv. 

MSQRD & Loona

MSQRD’s purchase by Facebook was a sign of things to come for a tech collective from Belarus. The team moved onto creating Loona, a now-ubiquitous sleep tech app, and have established VC backing from London and US based funds.

Grammerly

The Ukraine based digital writing tool raised $200 million in funding, and is now over a billion dollars and has upwards of 20 million users. 

Prisma

Back in 2016, Prisma was, like MSQRD, flying up the app charts, and is now Prisma Labs: a range of AI and user generated photo editing apps that have been featured in the New York Times, Bloomberg and the Guardian.

Why Eastern Europe?

“The European tech ecosystem is rapidly maturing, and although undoubtedly a challenging year for all, 2020 saw record amounts of VC investment in Europe’s rising stars”. 

This quote exemplifies how Central and Eastern Europe are becoming not only sources of tech talent, but increasingly investment worthy.

The reason being is talent: CEE has an untapped tech candidate market that is, finally, being realised as both competitively aware and passionate about tech ventures, and highly skilled. 

Investors are realising - 42 billion euros’ were invested in CEE Tech in 2020. This innovation cannot ignore the talent underpinning the establishment of VC-backed companies in the region, and a huge part of that is labour costs, which are significantly lower that American or Western European levels.