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Sergey Tokarev: IT in Ukraine is still working and has a big potential

The war in Ukraine launched by Russia affected all the industries, and the Ukrainian IT sector is also facing challenges. Before 2022, the industry was thriving and promising. However, in Q1 2023 exports of IT services fell by 16 percent compared to the same period the previous year. Sergey Tokarev, a co-founder of tech company Roosh, explains what is happening now in the Ukrainian IT and what should be done now.

After the large-scale invasion, the Ukrainian economy was damaged and Ukrainian companies lost many contracts and investments.

This situation is quite logical as foreign companies and investors consider compliance risk and the possibility that the company or its employees can be affected by the war. Plus, there is also a world tendency of large-scale layoffs in tech giants and slowing down the development of IT caused by global economic shifts.

According to Sergey Tokarev, Ukrainian IT is still effective yet requires active promotion abroad.

“It is important to convey to the international community that the Ukrainian industry has adapted to the war conditions: specialists give 200% and generate new technological solutions, so military operations do not affect the quality and timing of work. If we can put the focus on this, we will get contracts back. This is especially important for IT companies that are currently located in Ukraine,” Sergey Tokarev says.

Because of the war, many Ukrainian tech companies that wanted to remain competitive in the international market had to move their offices and employees abroad and develop their networks from scratch. Some of these companies moved the whole of their stuff abroad, some still have an office in Ukraine. There are also emerging new companies founded by Ukrainians and located in other countries.

Sergey Tokarev stresses that this tendency is not bad as it promotes Ukrainian IT abroad, allows Ukrainians to enter the international market, and gives Ukrainian companies a chance to attract investments.

According to Sergey Tokarev, it is important to attract investment to those IT companies and startups that decided to remain in Ukraine. It is also essential to develop Ukrainian venture funds so they can invest in local tech companies. At some point, it is already in progress, but Tokarev hopes that over time it will become a stable trend.

Among new Ukrainian startups, there are quite a lot of MilTech startups. Sergey Tokarev believes that such companies will keep on appearing since defense solutions in technology are a priority now both in Ukraine and some other countries. It means that such startups are likely to find funding, especially because there is an opportunity to test all the innovations almost immediately.

Another aspect that Sergey Tokarev stresses is the importance of tech education. Once young people graduate, they should clearly understand what they can do and where they can apply their skills and ideas. This can be achieved through studying real-life cases and applying knowledge in practice. For example, SET University that is founded by Tokarev, allows its students to work with real tech companies and check their ideas.