PIRATE Summit: Ukrainian Tech Conquers The Unique EU Startup Event

On the 6-7th of September, we visited Pirate Summit in Cologne, Germany, – Europe’s largest invitation-only conference for early-stage startups, investors, and corporate executives.

After 2 years, PIRATE Summit had finally backed in person to celebrate the 10th edition of the event in one of Cologne’s most unique locations, Odonien. The event brings together the movers and shakers of the digital world, creating meaningful connections.

Let’s discover how the Ukrainian tech scene was presented at the event.



Founded in 2010, PIRATE Summit is a conference specifically designed for entrepreneurs on their journey. It focuses on real life experiences, authentic connections, peer learning, and is characterized by its festival-like atmosphere. An environment for people to let their guard down, engage in meaningful ways, renew old friendships, start new ones, and just be themselves. Every year, 1,000 curated participants from around the world join.

PIRATE Summit 2022 in numbers:

  • 1,000 participants
  • 100+ Investors
  • 100+ Speakers
  • 50+ Nationalities
  • 100+ applications for the female founders program
  • 200+ Tickets donated


PIRATE Summit thrives on interactive formats and P2P learning. That’s why at the PIRATE Summit, every participant is a potential speaker. Everybody coming to the event has a story to tell and insights to share. They are listed under the commonly known name ‘speakers’ but a more fitting description might be ‘participants that host a session’.

  • Entrepreneurship is Personal Development: Lessons in Self Sovereignty by Marvin Liao, Chief Investment Officer at Sukna Holdings
  • Community as a business model by Mia Maja Hansson, Founder, CEO, Teacher at Kitchen Collective
  • The 5 elements required to build a 21s century company by Brant Cooper, Co-Founder and CEO at Moves the Needle
  • Successful Founder = true allrounder? YES and NO A perspective of a serial Entrepreneur by Farina Schurzfeld, Managing Partner at AndRobin
  • Metaverses – What next? By Mike Butcher, Editor-at-large of TechCrunch

And many others. 

Ukraine is in the spotlight 

Within the first day of the Summit, 24 startups walked the plank and presented the pitches in front of the jury at the Captain’s Deck.

The “Walk the Plank” pitch competition is an international startup contest where each year selected startups step on stage to fight for what they believe in: their vision. Each startup pitches their product for 3 minutes & then they have 2 minutes to answer questions from the jury.

Three brave Ukrainian founders participated in the competition:

  • Alyona Mysko from Fuelfinance, platform provides startups’ founders with financial reports, financial planning and plan-fact analysis.
  • Karolina Attspodina from We Do Solar, a smart solar system for your balcony. 
  • Julia Ovcharenko from Numo ADHD, mental health app with reward & support system for people with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Karolina and Julia became the top 5 finalists with the best pitches among the 24 startups of the competition – the most international, sustainable, and female ever!

Karolina Attspodina from We Do Solar became the winner of the Walk The Plank pitch competition 2022!

Ukrainian tech ecosystem is ON

During the second day of the conference, Ukrainian tech ambassadors presented the resilience and potential of the country’s innovation sector within the panel Mayday, Mayday, Mayday, tech community overboard!”

  • Lyubov Guk, Blue Lake VC, shared the opinion of why it’s so important to invest in Ukrainian startups now: “it’s actual impact investments for the future.”
  • Alyona Mysko shared insights about the hard-earned lessons from growing Fuelfinance X2 in three months during wartime: “Priorities: safety of the team; help Ukraine win the war; keep growing and build the company.”
  • Olga Afanasyeva, Head of Kyiv Branch Office at ELEKS, overviewed the technologies that helps Ukraine during wartime: drone army, meta history museum of war, sirens gallery, etc.

During the discussion “What are the best ways to support the Ukrainian tech ecosystem right now?” were finding the approach of the support the Ukrainian tech and startup ecosystem needs right now and how each of us can contribute. The founders and VC shared stories from perspectives of actual situations to come up with a shortlist of suggestions you can use yourself and share with others in the communities. Ihor Ovcharenko, Founder & CEO at Scal8R, sum up the meeting: 

Keep investing in Ukrainian startups, #SpendWithUkraine – buy products and services by Ukrainian creative minds, support founders, spread the word about the war.


Ihor Ovcharenko, Founder & CEO Scal8R

As an ambassador of Pirate Summit since 2018 (the inception year of the Ambassador program), I was happy to attend the very first post-pandemic event in 2022 to celebrate the tenth anniversary. A couple of highlights:

  1. The Ukrainian delegation was the biggest among other countries’ delegations due to the tremendous support of the organizers (most of the Ukrainian entrepreneurs received a scholarship to attend the event for free). 
  2. Multiple stages welcomed Ukrainian speakers, who rocked the stage: Olga Afanasyeva, and Alyona Mys’ko, to name a few.
  3. So glad that Ukrainian founder Karolina Attspodina won the leading startup competition – Walk the Plank, with her We Do Solar company. 

I hope to keep pace and bring the biggest delegation next year with the best entrepreneurs of our strong, independent, and glorious country – Ukraine.

Karolina Attspodina, CEO & Co-founder, We Do Solar

Pirate Summit has created one of the most embracing and open-minded entrepreneurial communities I have ever seen. Once I stepped into the venue, I felt that I was among “my” people – ambitious, inspiring, action-driven, and supportive. Additionally, I was so pleased to see that almost half of the presenters were women, and 4 out of 5 finalists were female tech entrepreneurs.

Andrii Degeler, Head of Media at TNW

Ukraine definitely had a significant presence in the agenda at this year’s Pirate Summit, including a side event and several great talks and campfires. An issue I’ve noticed is that the Ukrainian tech ecosystem is becoming just another element in the long list of “endangered” ones, and in doing so loses the nuance and distinctiveness. One illustration of this was an event where founders from Ukraine and Belarus talked about their challenges in short succession, which to me personally came across as tone-deaf.

Olga Afanasyeva, Head of Kyiv Branch Office at ELEKS

This year there was a huge support for Ukrainian founders and tech people at the Pirate Summit – from opportunities to showcase our startups to providing a scene to be a keynote speaker. That is important not only for Ukraine, but for the global community too as we have great innovation and tech that ensures sustainability of the world’s development.

Ivan Kychatyi & Nikita Overchyk, co-founders UAtalents

The Pirate Summit is definitely a special experience, where the crowd is relaxed and you can develop a deeper connection to both founders and investors.

The latter is especially important during these times for Ukraine. We were able to build some good connections with Impact and VC funds for UAtalents and we noticed that more Ukrainian projects stand firmer on the ground with their business models and reach to sustainable funds. This is a very positive trend since the early days of the ecosystem so we hope to contribute more to it.

Lyubov Guk, London-based Blue Lake VC 

My message to the investment community was simple – invest in Ukrainian founders today, do not wait until ‘after the war’. Some of the founders fled, and some stayed in the country, but all of them have something in common – they keep building and delivering incredible results regardless of what is happening in their home country.

At Blue Lake VC a portion of our funds is dedicated to founders from Ukraine whom we are helping to come and build the companies of the future here in the UK. I would like to invite all the VCs from my network to do the same or join us.


The Ukrainian tech industry demonstrates remarkable fortitude, leadership and it’s all about people: Oleksandr Kosovan (MacPaw), Aleksandr Konotopskyi (Ajax Systems), Yaroslav Azhnyuk (PetCube), Stepan Veselovskyi (Lvoiv IT Cluster), Artem Borodatyuk (Netpeak), Oleg Gorokhovskyi (Monobank), Dima Shvets (Reface), Valery Krasovsky (Sigma Software), Yegor Aushev (CyberUnit.Tech), and many others absolutely outstanding Ukrainian founders who keep working, driven by a passion for supporting the teams and country in the toughest times.

We haven’t another choice – just to double the efforts to protect our people, defend the values of democracy, save the country, defeat the enemy and gain victory to become a successful example of improvement and leading an innovative nation worldwide.

TechUkraine thanks personally Manuel Koelman and all PIRATE Summit team for partnership, special invitations, attention and support for Ukraine!

Thanks to all Ukrainian participants and international friends for #StandWithUkraine: Igor Ovcharenko, Alona Mysko, Lyubov Guk, Olga Afanasyeva, Anastasia Sylenok, Ivan Kychatyi, Tanya Chaikovska, Andrii Degeler, Dmytro Kukharev, and many others.


Support Kyiv-based TechUkraine team here.

Post details