We, growth hack and investment fund Acrobator, operate in Eastern Europe for over 10 years. So… we can assure you that many things you’ve heard about Eastern Europe are simply wrong. We chose this region on purpose and here are 10 facts why Eastern European tech founders really make things happen. Spoiler: sorry, no drunk bears playing guitar involved!
- Talent pool
Eastern Europe historically boasts great engineering talent. According to a recent report by Coursera, Russians, Belorussians and Ukrainians have the highest skill proficiency in Tech and Data Science among their 65 million learners from 60 countries.
- Global recognition in the Tech domain
For example, Ukrainian developers rank 5th among the best software developers in the world, with an average score index of 93,17%. If compared to Europe, Ukrainian software developers take 4th place. (Skillvalue 2019 Report)
- Tech Education
Only Russia and Ukraine combined already generate more than 500 000 engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates per year. Moreover, in cooperation with local software development companies, regional IT clusters regularly launch educational programs at universities and set up innovation labs at colleges and schools.
- Language proficiency
Most Eastern Europeans know English well. For example, 85% percent of Ukraine’s tech workers report having an intermediate or higher level of English proficiency. Moreover, the majority of software development and IT outsourcing companies in Ukraine offer free English classes for their employees.
- Low entry cost
For example, Kyiv (Ukraine) and Ljubljana (Slovenia) are named among the top three European hubs providing value for money. Consequently, Western VCs may get a bit better bang for their buck compared to for example Silicon Valley. Also R&D costs tend to be a bit more competitively priced than elsewhere. Thus, it may be easier for founders to start in Eastern Europe.
- Great environment for early stage
According to Wired, before early-stage startups would fight to be part of London’s buzz, they are now turning to Estonia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania as cheaper, less risky locations to make their mark. Eastern Europe serves as less risky playground, with access to a stable talent pool.
- Readiness to move in later stages
According to the Startup Heatmap Europe 2019, over 75% of startups in Lithuania, 71% in Estonia and Poland, and 62% in the Czech Republic have legal entities, employees or investors abroad. About 55% of European founders establish international locations within the first year of running their startup, while CEE boasts an even higher rate.
- Resilience and Scalability
Growing up in an often less comfortable environment than their Western peers, the often more resilient founders of Eastern Europe-rooted startups manage to succeed at a global scale having less issues to adapt to new environments when moving West.
- Cultural Compatibility
Ukrainian developers aren’t just executors. They’re open to challenges and confrontation, get personally involved in the projects they’re working on, and are interested in facilitating their success. 60% of Ukrainian developers spend extra time developing their skills: they read educational materials, attend courses or IT events.
- Gender equality
Countries in Eastern Europe are far from having a perfect gender balance in the tech communities, but according to Atomico’s fourth ‘State of the European Tech’ report, the top 10 countries for female participation at tech-related Meetup events across the region is dominated by countries from Eastern Europe (Lithuania — 28%, Latvia — 26%, Ukraine — 25%).
Instead of a thousand words, some unicorns and soonicorns with founders originating from the region: