TechUkraine Changemakers: Jane Klepa

Jane Klepa – Executive Director at 1991 Open Data Incubator

Co-founder & CMO at SPREAD, co-founder of Urban Space 500, Startups mentor and adviser. Lecturer and trainer at KSE Business Education and IIB (MBA programs)

“Elevator pitch” – ID (short resume – who, what, where) 

SocialBoost is a Ukrainian tech NGO founded in 2014 (by Denis and Victor Gursky) that develops technological projects with high social impact. The organization’s mission is to connect the tech startup community with the government to solve pressing Ukrainian challenges in various fields such as participatory democracy, open data, legal tech, or government transparency. 

Relying on an in-house team of software engineers, SocialBoost creates its own tech tools for streamlining government processes and strengthening civil society. For instance, in 2016, the organization launched a participatory budgeting tool for Ukrainian municipalities, which enables citizens to propose projects for solving specific community needs and vote on the most relevant ones. The selected projects then become integrated into the local authority’s budget. SocialBoost’s participatory budgeting tool has been used in more than 80 Ukrainian municipalities, where it engaged 1 million citizens in voting on more than 5000 project applications. 500 of these received funding for implementation.

SocialBoost not only creates its tools but also supports other initiatives through the 1991 Open Data Incubator. It is an equity-free non-commercial startup incubator that develops and supports Ukrainian startups. Most of these startups make the government more transparent and accountable, and give a huge field of opportunities for the public to access the data, analyze it, make journalist investigations. Since launch, more than 160 Ukrainian startups have graduated from the Incubator’s programs (open data, FinTech, LegalTech, etc.), have collectively raised more than 1,8 million $ in the venture, private or grant investment.

“Bootstrapping” – When did you start “tech&innovation life” and why? What was the challenge of the sphere?

I’m a business person. Because of my background – my projects (huge technological international conferences, exhibitions, and working with investors and startups). But at one time, we’ve met with Gursky brothers, starting our partnership with them in my previous work. And now (almost 3 years) I’m an Executive Director at 1991 Open Data Incubator. 

“Ninja/Rockstar” –  How do you change the ecosystem?

In 1991, startups grow with the help of the leading mentors from Ukraine and overseas. Mentors offer teamwide and personal consultations on business development, marketing, IT, and data-related topics.  1991 is a place for startups, state bodies, and businesses to come together and collaborate. We work with state agencies at all levels, advocating startup-government cooperation. Same with business: we encourage pilot projects on corporate innovations (like Mastercard and OTP Bank). 1991 alumni go to prominent accelerators (Starta (USA), SWG (Estonia), Y Combinator (USA), and new markets after our support.

“Moat/Value proposition” – The most prominent projects, achievements you are proud of.

This year (Nov 29, 2019) SocialBoost also inaugurated 1991 Mariupol – the center of startup development in the East of Ukraine.

‘Tech for good” – The next big thing you predict in the next decade for Ukraine

I’m sure there’s a real opportunity in Ukraine, in spite of the poor business climate, endemic corruption, and mountains of regulation and red tape that remain in place. In 1991 Open Data Incubator, civic IT initiatives get a chance to become real startups and to build lasting collaborations with IT companies, ministries, and municipalities.

E-services should be created in the synergy between state, civil society, and IT market. The main thing the state should ensure is access to data through the API. Our vision: Digitally. In cloud. Free via API

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