IT Arena 2018: Uniting Global Tech in Ukraine
For the fifth time at the end of September Lviv is becoming an epicenter of technology, innovation, and business. The reason behind this is IT Arena 2018 – one of the biggest tech events in Ukraine & Eastern Europe. On September 28-30, IT Arena brought together more than 3300 attendees eager to find out the latest tech trends, learn about sex tech, VR games based on Stephen King books, implementation of 5G in Ukraine, myths about blockchain etc. Attendees of IT Arena 2018 had a unique chance to listen to and network with eхperts from Facebook, Tesla, Google, eBay, Samsung, Gitlab, Taxify, SAP, etc., observe the most innovative products developed by Ukrainian startups and spend a great time with like-minded people. In 2018, the co-organizers of IT Arena included Lviv IT Cluster, Intellias, ELEKS, Startup Depot, and LITS.
Happy birthday, IT Arena
In 2018, IT Arena marked five – a benchmark, not all tech events make through. From a local event with a few hundred visitors, IT Arena has grown to be one of the most prominent European tech conferences. The fifth edition of IT Arena has gathered a record number of attendees, the geography of visitors is also rather impressive: USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Australia, Qatar, Portugal, Norway, Canada, etc.
Before the conference officially opened on Friday, speakers and executive ticket holders had a chance to meet Lviv City Mayor – Andriy Sadovyi at a welcome reception held at Ratusha Restaurant, the very heart of Lviv’s old town. Having congratulated everyone present on the occasion of IT Arena’s fifth anniversary, Andriy Sadovyi expressed his best hopes for the development of innovative entrepreneurship in Lviv.
The conference started with a spectacular opening ceremony. For the second year in a row, it was hosted by Arina – IT Arena’s mascot, the female prototype of artificial intelligence. Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO at Lviv IT Cluster greeted the audience from the screen and encouraged everyone to dive into the atmosphere of technology, innovation, and business. The ceremony was interrupted by a sudden call from Arina to everyone present: the hostess reminded everyone that the future is inside. That was a surprise from the digital partner of the event – lifecell.
“The future is inside every one of us, inside this event, inside this city, and this country. Our philosophy lies in the fact that we are creators of the future. This conference will always be about the future, as technologies have a huge impact on it. IT Arena is a project of Lviv IT Cluster, it’s our child. As all five-year-old kids, it already has its own personality and friends. In the same way, every year our conference attracts more and more new friends and partners, becoming a truly global event,” Stepan Veselovskyi, CEO at Lviv IT Cluster describes the main concept of IT Arena 2018.
“IT Arena aimed to create an enriching event for the tech community to increase the quality of professional growth opportunities and networking possibilities,” comments Andriy Krupa, the Acting CEO at ELEKS. “With the tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm behind this project, the event is bound to succeed. I want to say thank you to all the dreamers who started this conference and everyone that puts a lot of effort to make it a reality every year.”
Vitaly Sedler, CEO & Co-Founder at Intellias and Michael Puzrakov, СОО & Co-Founder at Intellias shared their thoughts about co-organizing such a huge event as IT Arena: “Being a co-organizer of IT Arena gives a great opportunity to invite speakers and share our vision of information technology development through them. On behalf of Intellias, Igor Starepravo, Senior Delivery Director at Intellias and Sebastian Gier, Product & Service Designer at BMW gave talks. Both speakers have an extraordinary experience in the automotive industry, which is one of our key expertise. The unique opportunity to share knowledge and experience in this domain is one of the reasons why we have joined such a big and important event,” comments Vitaly Sedler. “IT Arena may be considered the best tech conference in Ukraine in terms of quality professional content. It unites more than 3000 attendees: successful Ukrainian and foreign engineers, entrepreneurs and investors, and provides great networking opportunities. Personally, I think that the combination of different formats: talks, meetups, and workshops is very successful. In addition to visiting interesting lectures, you can also meet Ukrainian startups,” shares his impressions Michael Puzrakov.
Product management guru, Blockchain, SexTech, and the first Ukrainian startup unicorn
In addition to three traditional tracks (Business, Product, Tech), Startup track has been added to IT Arena program in 2018. The first day of the conference was opened by Thabet Alfishawi, Growth Product Manager at Google Assistant. The Product track was crowded with people who wanted to hear his insights of managing teams at Google. Estonian entrepreneur Martin Villig, Co-Founder at Taxify, delivered a talk at Startup stage. Martin revealed the secrets of Estonian economic development: how such a small country became a startup heaven with the biggest number of unicorns per capita.
Josh Twist from Facebook, former Principal PM at Microsoft shared useful insights about Facebook Analytics and talked about the specifics of working with data. While startup founders, product and project managers listened to business tips, Dmitriy Zaporozhets from GitLab took the stage at Tech track. The CTO of the first Ukrainian startup unicorn talked about simplifying the development processes with Auto DevOps.
Igor Karpets, Head of Enterprise Sales at Grammarly talked about email marketing strategies in one of the most successful Ukrainian startups. He also shared tactics he uses to communicate with foreign clients and to enter the American market.
Cassie Kozyrkov, Chief Decision Scientist at Google Cloud proved that working with Big Data is not that complicated. Cassie showed how one can use Data Analytics for choosing wine, proving that with data analysis even in simple everyday decisions. Stephanie Alys, Chief Pleasure Officer at MysteryVibe represented the most controversial and promising industry – SexTech. Stephanie spoke on how modern technologies are currently changing the pleasure industry and stressed the importance of sex education in schools.
In addition to speakers representing global brands, IT Arena 2018 has attracted a lot of international media eager to explore the Ukrainian tech market and meet local startups. International media representatives included: Forbes PL, Forbes CZ, Tech.eu, The Next Web, Gazeta Wyborcza, Start-up.ro, spidersweb.pl, and others.
Educating the new generation of innovators
In addition to IT Arena, one of the conference co-organizers, Lviv IT Cluster works on a number of other projects, including the modernization of tech education at local universities. More than 700 students are currently studying IoT, Robotics, Cybersecurity, AI, and other majors at 3 universities in Lviv. IT Arena has held an inauguration ceremony for freshmen students. Speakers have delivered a motivational speech for the young generation of tech enthusiasts, and best students have been awarded with gifts.
A few dozens of Ukrainian tech companies were represented at the event’s Expo Zone. Everyone could observe new products and take part in a number of giveaways: people got a chance to win an iPhone X, electric scooter, ₴ 100 000 discount for a new apartment, PlayStation, drones, etc. Besides, all attendees could test drive the newest Audi Q8 model.
Mentorship on the run with Semyon Dukach
The keynote speaker of IT Arena 2018 Semyon Dukach started the second day of the conference with his personal story of an ambitious MIT student won more than $4 million in Las Vegas casinos with his university team. Later he became a successful entrepreneur, investor and founded his own Troublemaker Award for the most interesting and inspiring startups, ideas and or even pranks. Dukach has once given the award to Gregory Mustang Wanted, a roofer from Kyiv, who painted a star on Moscow’s skyscraper in blue and yellow colors. The award was also received by Nadya Tolokonnikova, a member of the scandal band called Pussy Riot. According to Semyon, he invests rather not in a company, but in people with burning eyes and driven by an exciting idea.
On the third day of the conference, Semyon initiated a morning run with startup founders. Waking up early in the morning after a party is hard, especially for a run. But who would miss a chance to be mentored by a successful investor and entrepreneur? While running he gave bits of advice for young startups and shared his priceless knowledge.
In addition to the morning run with Semyon Dukach, another marathon was held for the conference attendees on September 29. The most active ones ran a total of 28 km. Everyone who ran more than 10 km, received presents from Ivan Babiychuk, VP of Engineering at EduNav. Those who passed the mark of 21 km, won a personal training with Oleksiy Syutkin, master of sports in triathlon. Moreover, extreme lovers could try rope jumping at IT Arena, by taking a jump right from the stadium roof.
The third day of the conference was held in the city center. 40 meetups took place at the eight atmospheric locations in the old town. While enjoying an informal atmosphere, attendees could listen to talks about VR technologies, blockchain, cooperation of IT & media, relationships with investors and sales techniques for startups. The meetup format was implemented by IT Arena two years ago. Attendees enjoyed an opportunity to combine learning with exploring Lviv’s beauty.
$70 000 for Ukrainian startups
The most promising Ukrainian startups competed in the fierce startup battle for valuable prizes and acceleration programs in the world’s best incubators, such as Starta Accelerator, Techstars, Rockstart and 1991 Open Data Incubator. The prize fund of Startup Competition 2018 totaled more than $ 70,000.
The main prize – $ 10,000 from IT Arena was given to the team of Liki24. The startup focuses on the pharmaceutical market, estimated at $ 3 billion in Ukraine and more than $ 300 billion in the United States. Liki24 is a platform that brings medical products, doctors, clinics, pharmacies, insurance companies, and clients together. Liki24 pledges to completely eliminate the problem of drug search and delivery. In addition to the main prize, the team received an award from Starta Ventures – a trip to the New York accelerator and the annual membership in the Sputnik Space coworking at Manhattan, as well as a direct ticket to the Polish Prize finale. The Polish Prize program allows foreign startups to set up a business in Poland.
The second prize from CRDF Global – $ 5,000 travel grant went to UATAG. The team designed a unique physical tag to verify the authenticity of a product, protecting it from counterfeiting. The tag cannot be copied thanks to a unique pattern created by the glass cracks.
The platform for converting 2d images into the CAD models and AR/VR experiences, VRnet.io has reached the finale and was awarded a mentorship program by 1991 Open Data Incubator and a two-week trip to the Silicon Valley by Startup Embassy.
Techies & parties
Productive IT Arena days ended with loud after parties for all attendees. On the first day of the conference, the party was held at Pravda Beer Theatre, one of the best breweries in Europe according to The Guardian. Executive ticket holders had a chance to network at Tech Lounge, held at a fancy Park. Art of Rest. The second day of IT Arena ended with Futureland Festival, a real celebration for all electronic music lovers.
The festival was headlined by Juicy M, one of the best female DJs and a Ukrainian by origin. Amazing light show and loud beats have left the audience stunned. IT Arena 2018 ended with a rather chill afterparty Silicon Drinkabout edition, which allowed attendees to network with speakers and share their impressions about the event.
The organizing team of IT Arena has already started to work on the next edition of the conference. Hold your breath for 4000 attendees, more platforms for networking and a special guest – a Hollywood star…
IT Arena 2018 in key figures:
- 3300 attendees
- 100 speakers
- 150 media representatives
- 100 volunteers
- 40 meetups in 8 locations
- 40 hours of networking
- visitors from 25+ countries