U.S. business magazine Forbes has placed Ukrainian tech startup wizard Ivan Pasichnyk on its list of 30 of the most successful people in Europe aged up to 30 years in the Industry sector.
Called “30-under-30 Europe,” the list includes 300 young leaders, creative inventors and go-getting entrepreneurs from Europe in 10 different sectors. But Ecoisme CEO and co-founder Pasichnyk, 28, is modest about the honor, and says Forbes nominated him only because of his team, not personal achievements.
“The whole team was working hard. Everyone deserved recognition,” Pasichnyk said in an interview with the Kyiv Post on Jan. 26. “All four co-founders have equal shares in the company. The chief executive officer is just a more public person. It’s part of the job to be the company’s face.”
The Ecoisme team was created in Kyiv in 2013 during a hackathon – an event in which computer programmers and others involved in software and hardware development thrash out and implement software ideas. At the event, Pasichnyk and like-minded enthusiasts came up with a new approach to the concept of smart housing and electricity consumption.
After that hackathon, the team started working on their own and managed to attract $100,000 in funding from T-Venture, early stage venture arm of Deutsche Telekom. One of the terms of the deal was to establish a corporate body with the T-Venture subsidiary in Krakow, Poland.
“T-Venture wanted us to be mobile and able to go to any country fast” if any conference or meeting with investors is needed to be attended, Pasichnyk said. “If we were registered in Ukraine, imagine what it would be like having to apply for a visa for the UK or the U.S – It would take ages,” he said.
Now half of the Ecoisme is in Poland and half in Ukraine, bringing life to the project. It’s building software and hardware that plugs into fuse boxes in houses and gives a detailed overview of their power usage, making consumption of electricity more efficient and more eco-friendly.
“That’s simply our lifestyle,” Pasichnyk said. “We were just doing what we’re wild about, and then – bang! – we got it (recognition).”
The first thing that came to my mind right after the results came out is that “we will have even less time,” Pasichnyk said.
However, despite the fact that the Forbes list has drawn lots of attention from the local and international media to Ecoisme and its CEO in particular, Pasichnyk does not believe that international recognition can help the company promote their device more quickly and more successfully.
“We got media attention and a few useful contacts after publication, but that gave little to the project,” Pasichnyk said. “Well, mum and dad are happy,” he said, adding that it was impossible to create a startup without having a sense of humor.
Ivan Pasichnyk speaks to the Kyiv Post about the Forbes Europe 30 under-30 success list on Jan. 26. (Photo credit: Konstantin Chernichkin)
Sense of humor aside, Ecoisme, since its launch has collected award after award. The young company, with a staff of about 12 people, has already won several prizes, including Best of Innovation 2016 at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, local rounds at global startup tournaments 1776 Challenge Cup and Seedstars World, which were both held in Kyiv in 2015, and first prize on RWE Utility Day at the largest and most internationally represented computer expo CeBIT in Hannover the same year.
Moreover, Ecoisme has launched a campaign on crowdfunding platform Indiegogo in 2015 and was backed by 598 pledgers, raising $67,732.
Persistence is also key in the startup game, Pasichnyk told the Kyiv Post. “We apply for different challenges almost every week and fail 10 times more than win,” he said.
Despite the fact that all the members of Ecoisme have residence permits for Poland and can easily move out of Ukraine, the majority still live in their motherland.
“I never thought of leaving Ukraine. Registering the company in Krakow was just one of the conditions of our contract with T-Venture,” Pasichnyk said. “I have more acquaintances in Ukraine. It’s more comfortable here, and much cheaper.”
“By the way, it’s a funny thing, but after establishing a business in Poland and getting into the Forbes list, people have started to ask me for money,” Pasichnyk said. Our media, in their turn, “portray me as an extreme guy or even playboy.”
But Pasichnyk said he still uses ridesharing communities to travel, and eats convenience foods from time to time. An ordinary person himself, he says anyone has the chance to emulate his success.
“I’d like people in Ukraine to comprehend that everything’s achievable and that it’s possible, for example, to learn programming languages even if you’re not good at math,” he said.
Pasichnyk is also a firm believer in the new direction his country has taken. He supported Ukraine’s Revolution of Dignity and camped out on Maidan Nezalezhnosti with other activists during the protests. He also was in the team that developed the first Ukrainian 3D printer. As for social initiatives, Pasichnyk with his friends opened a hacker space – a community-operated programming workspace – in 2012 in Kyiv.
“I always try to do something for Ukraine,” he said. “There are many good initiatives here.”
This story first appeared in The Kyiv Post.