John San Filippo
Ukrainian Dev Shop Relocates to Keep Doors Open, Economy Going
By John San Filippo
From 2002 to February 24, 2022, Knubisoft operated a successful development shop headquartered in Kharkiv, Ukraine. The company specializes in banking digitalization, mobile development, business automation, web development, cloud solutions, augmented reality, virtual reality, e-auctions, crypto exchanges, and trading platforms. Services also include app migration to the cloud, general technology consulting, digital transformation, technical support, research and development (R&D) office setup, user experience (UX) consulting, data security, quality assurance (QA) and testing, and crowdfunding. Additionally, the company sells proprietary software products.
Business as Usual
Most of Knubisoft’s customers are in the fintech or financial services space. According to CEO Den Burenok, about 80% of Knubisoft’s customers are located in the United States, with the other 20% spread mostly across the United Kingdom, Israel, Germany and Portugal. The company continues to grow and add new customers, mostly through word of mouth.
“We specialize in a fintech and decentralized finance custom development,” Burenok told Finopotamus. “However, we also have a trading application that Alex (Gnidash, the company’s chief technology officer) developed that can process more than half a million transaction per second. Based on this technology, we developed a different application for crowdfunding, and from there a cryptocurrency exchange platform.” Burenok added that the company also developed its own digital banking platform.
The company currently boasts about 80 employees and Burenok claims there’s normally no shortage of skilled technology workers in Ukraine. “We have a lot of technical universities and every year, our universities graduate more than 20,000 people.” He said that, when hiring, in addition to solid technical skills, he looks for an outstanding work ethic and a good command of the English language.
Burenok explained that most of Knubisoft’s revenue comes from custom development and staff augmentation. “We provide a lot of project-based development for startups,” he noted. “When a potential client comes to us with an idea, we can provide full cycle development, including user experience and user interface, design consulting, development, and maintenance testing.” He added because Knubisoft has developed a strong reputation, companies from other countries feel comfortable using a Ukraine-based company for staff augmentation.
And Then the Russians Invaded
“We all woke up in absolute shock on February 24,” said Chief Business Development Officer Olga Tuchina. “Nobody actually expected any of this.” She added that people assumed there would be some formal notice from the government if evacuation were necessary and they would have at least a few days’ notice. Such was not the case. Everyone had to move quickly. The company had a business continuity plan, but given the circumstances, they couldn’t fully implement it.
“We broke up in the morning and we had to somehow save our team,” she said, “but we also had to think about our families and our friends. It’s been a nightmare.” She said the attacks were so severe the very first week that all business operations had to be put on hold as people tried to decide whether it was safer to leave or stay in one place. At first many chose to stay.
As the situation worsened, Internet connections became less reliable and customers became more panicked. The company’s management finally concluded that evacuation was the only option.
“Some employees have moved to other countries like Romania, Poland, Germany and so on,” said Gnidash. “Others moved to the Carpathian Mountains. I relocated to Lviv. I don't plan to leave my country.” He noted that about 30% of the employees left the country and while there are plenty of safe locations at the moment, looking ahead, nobody can be sure whether “that Putin guy” will decide to use chemical or even nuclear weapons.
According to Gnidash, it’s become harder and harder to stay focused as the situation has deteriorated. “I’m connected to all the news channels possible,” he said “I try to read everything possible, from Russian news, Ukrainian news - every possible news source.”
“All our employees understand that it’s the link to international investments that will help Ukraine renew its economy and fulfill both military and humanitarian needs,” added Burenok. “That's why we continue operating, with all our developers and managers currently working from safe places.”
“We continue working as we understand that it's extremely important right now to maintain the economy of our country,” added Tuchina. “To pay taxes, to support the volunteers. We focus on helping our people mainly right now. We would like to use a high percentage of our profit to share with trusted volunteers and the army who are the men and women who right now bravely protect us. Our sector is pretty much stable right now, so who will do this instead of us?”
Burenok added. “If we can continue to work and operate and make these projects, we can donate more. This is our main idea at this moment.”
“I'm really thankful to my company,” said Tuchina. “They give me this opportunity to work during this really hard time. I'm really motivated and our entire sales team is highly motivated right now to talk to people and share the truth because some people still believe in the [Russian] propaganda. It's a big tragedy for both nations.”
Burenok said that the trials and tribulations caused by the Russian invasion have only confirmed the credo by which he’s always guided Knubisoft: “Success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm.”