Based between Barcelona, Paris & Kyiv, Kevin Markowski is a serial tech entrepreneur, a recognized expert in community engagement and digital marketing. Currently, Kevin is co-founder & CEO at Spitche, a Consumer Marketing Technology for E-commerces, and MeltinLab, a Digital Marketing Summit. He’s also an advisor to several startups and brands as well as a French Tech Kyiv board member. Recently, Kevin became the TechUkraine Country Representative in France and Spain.
TechUkraine: Tell us a bit about yourself – who you are, what kind of projects you develop, and why you start working with Ukraine.
Kevin: I’ve been a Tech Entrepreneur for a few years. I launched several startups, and the current one is called Spitche. It’s a Consumer Marketing Technology helping e-commerces identify their top consumers within their community, turning them into engaged ambassadors on their full consumer journey, and optimizing the brand marketing & CRM strategy based on the generated data.
The HQ is in France, and my team has been based between Barcelona (Sales & Marketing) and Kyiv (R&D) since 2017.
I decided to work with Ukraine since I found a highly talented pool of engineers ready to solve any tech challenge.
TechUkraine: How does the Ukrainian tech ecosystem look from an expat’s lens? Key strengths and weaknesses of it.
Kevin: The Ukrainian tech ecosystem is attractive for many reasons:
- First of all, let’s be honest, the cost is cheaper than in Western Europe and North America. But this is not the main reason which is the quality of engineers here.
- It’s straightforward to find great talents, even from junior or middle profiles. There is a complete understanding of the technology, which is sometimes hard to find in other countries.
- Many providers already deliver great products worldwide, and a couple of unicorns or famous startups from the West have their entire R&D in Ukraine.
The current weaknesses:
- The age of this ecosystem which is quite still early and very focused on engineering versus marketing.
- There are a lot of outsourcing/outstaffing companies and not enough (yet) product companies.
- The next challenge for this ecosystem would be to create more startup founders to accelerate innovation ownership in Ukraine.
The future maturity of the tech scene will attract more international investment and investors.
TechUkraine: What do you tell about Ukraine and Ukrainian tech for your international friends and partners? Could you share 3 key messages for the EU audience that represent our country?
Kevin: I often recommend my tech entrepreneur friends to take a look at what’s going on in Ukraine. Things are moving fast, and Kyiv has all the skills to become a tech & innovation leader city in Europe and worldwide. The 3 key points that I could highlight are:
- deep understanding of technology and innovation
- easy access to a massive number of on-site talents already mastering all the processes from any company stages
- A solid European mindset is easier to manage than having teams in other parts of the world
TechUkraine: Which benefits and features can our developers, and tech specialists provide for the global digital economy? In which sectors are Ukrainians the most expert, influential and high-skilled?
Kevin: It’s a vast topic, but today I can see cool stuff in many sectors and industries such as agriculture, marketing, retail & e-commerce, smart city, financials/banking, blockchain, AI, etc.… We can directly see the impact on the global economy because these innovations don’t stay in Ukraine. Most local startups go abroad to the US or West Europe for fundraising and scaling their business.
Also, the invention made in Ukraine can be directly managed and financed by foreign companies (for example, our technology Spitche is developed in Ukraine and used by retailers and e-commerces from 10+ countries).
TechUkraine: What France and Spain could offer for Ukrainian startupers, innovation companies? Why should they land and scale over there and vice versa? Could you recommend some lifehacks?
Kevin: First of all, Western Europe, including France & Spain, is a direct market for Ukrainian startuppers. They want to go to the US most of the time because the market is more significant, but so is the competition. In terms of scaling and marketing, Europe is way easier from Ukraine and not only proof of concept.
It’s also easier to implement a team of experts depending on the countries (in my example: financials in France, marketing & sales in Spain, and tech in Ukraine). In terms of time difference and possibility to meet, it’s way better than North America.
Also, Europe is a huge market in terms of business, tricky sometimes because of many cultural differences, but tremendous still. If you target fashion or cosmetic industries, for example, we have many global leaders based in Europe.
Since global brands are based in almost any country in Europe, some emerging markets in East Europe are used by western brands to A/B test technologies. It’s sometimes even easier to sell your product in those emerging countries and get a powerful case study before contacting the HQ in Western Europe. In this case, Ukraine can be excellent to pre-validate your product-market fit.
Part of the business, Western Europe also offers a bunch of financial investors ready to help at any stage of the startup (business angels, VCs, etc.), especially from major tech hubs such as Paris, London, or Berlin.
TechUkraine: Last year La French Tech, the benchmark institution of France innovations, announced opening an office in Kyiv. Tell our readers more about it, plans, and ambitions as you are a French Tech Kyiv board member.
Kevin: French Tech is a labeling initiative from the French Government to help french tech companies grow in the local ecosystem worldwide. You can find French Tech in any big city and – with a bunch of french experts in different fields – we decided to launch the Ukrainian chapter one year ago led by Dominique Piotet, CEO at UNIT.City.
The main missions of French Tech Kyiv are still under construction as it’s still young. Still, we want to help french tech companies better connect with the local tech ecosystem by empowering content, knowledge sharing, events, and business collaborations. The idea is also to help Ukrainian companies meet & collaborate with French (Tech but not only) Companies in Ukraine or abroad.
To build this bridge, we already started to set up a first community and a couple of events that will go stronger in the following months. We’ll make sure to communicate all our news with you guys, and we’ll be glad to welcome TechUkraine’s readers and community to our next events!
Our ambition is to grow a powerful community interested in both Tech and French-Ukrainian relationships.