This article is written by Tatiana Siyanko, Organizer for SW Kiev Women.
When Vika Zhurbas-Litvin, our Kyiv events geek, approached me in July 2013 proposing to make a leap of faith and organize something unprecedented in Ukraine – a Startup Weekend for women, I considered it, to put it mildly, an incredibly courageous idea.
In September (as luck would have it) I happened to be in San Francisco witnessing Vika’s hypothesis being validated. If San Francisco can have a Startup Weekend for Women so can Kyiv! The benchmark was set high (Kyiv is not San Francisco) but who cares!? Challenge accepted.
We soon found out that our ambitions to inspire women entrepreneurs in Ukraine were more challenging that we had originally thought. We had to postpone the event twice because of:
- Local sponsor skepticism (this was the first event of it’s kind in Kyiv)
- Strenuous searches for a location
- A hard time finding enough tech savvy and startup oriented female participants (we ended up including men as well)
- Massive amounts of political instability ( a revolution took place 3 days before the planned dates)
In the end, the Startup Weekend went off without a hitch and Kateryna Degtyar, our third event organizer, helped tremendously in making this event a success.
Here is quick video-summary of the 54 hour marathon and a recap of the startup weekend winners (featured below).
Winner: Art Poster www.artplakat.co
Polina Omelchenko, Founder & CEO:
“Art poster is an online service that helps create event posters in just a few seconds based on predesigned templates. With Art Poster all you need is to choose the template, upload images and add the information. You can print it at home, share on social media or send to printing house. Our startup will help our customers save time, money, and will make our city more visually neat.”
First runner-up: Kim Budu http://kimbudu.com
Lena Khil, Founder & CEO:
“Kim Budu (translation: what I will become), is an educational project aimed at helping kids discover the professional world of adults. During such online and offline trips, real companies, factories, hospitals will open their doors for children to inspire and entertain them with stories of people who find joy in their work. We want kids to be happy with their life choices, especially the most important decisions of their grown up life – their occupation.”
Second runner-up: BoreBlender http://www.BoreBlender.com
Marina Podstrigich, Founder & CEO
“Our service BoreBlender – a spontaneous meetup organizer – is a tool that allows users to find spontaneous company in any location; meet new people with similar interests; get inspiration from friends’ activity ideas; and receive discount deals. We truly believe such a service can be a new standard of social discovery.
Startup Weekend was supposed to take place last Friday in Ukraine’s capital city, Kiev. The event was postponed because the residents of Kiev and surrounding areas were in the midst of overthrowing their government.
As this before and after picture of Kiev’s Independence Square (Maidan) shows – Ukraine is going through a dramatic transformation. The level of violence, anger and sadness is known only to those surrounded by this destruction.
“What frustrates me most is, I don’t think the change in leadership will dramatically alter our situation in Ukraine,” says lead Startup Weekend organizer, Tatiana Siyanko. “I do not see a strong person in the opposition who can lead the Ukrainian people.”
Siyanko believes that Ukraine has become a playground for the political interests of Russia, the European Union, and the United States. Ukrainians have finally had enough.
Siyanko lives in Kiev with fellow organizer, Kateryna Dehtyar. Both were planning a Startup Weekend Women’s addition with the purpose of inspiring hope, change, and progress for the women of Ukraine. But last weekend’s violent protests changed that.
“It is a heart-breaking and heart-opening experience,” says Dehtyar. “My flat is full of friends who are participating in the protests. Guys who came from other cities to defend Maidan are using my bathroom, they need to be fresh.”
According to Dehtyar, while bullets rip through protester’s tents, the community is working together to supply food, clothing and medicine.
Dehtyar goes on to explain how her friends are coming to the aid of protesters. A popular radio DJ has created a central storage for medicine and a yoga teacher is offering free calming meditation for those who need it.
In Startup Weekend tradition, the community is coming together to support one another.
“Send us positive energy,” asks Dehtyar. “In this situation, love is the only way out.”
*Startup Weekend Kiev will be postponed until further notice, but it will return.
See the rest of these extraordinary images HERE.