Ad Tech Rediscovering Ukraine At IT Arena This Fall

Ad Tech Rediscovering Ukraine At IT Arena This Fall

by , Featured Contributor, August 24, 2023

One of the world’s most important technology events, IT Arena, will be kicking off in Lviv, Ukraine on Sept. 29. The three-day conference will be celebrating its 10th anniversary. This year’s event is particularly important as it returns to its full, in-person format after scaling down in response to the global pandemic and the outbreak of the full-scale war. It is also a testament to the extraordinary resilience of the Ukraine people, its leadership, and its business and industry community.

The ad-tech industry has deep roots in Ukraine, with a significant amount of the programmatic digital ad stack having been built by Ukrainian developers these past dozen years or so.

I am honored to be a speaker this year, with a presentation entitled “Trillion Dollar Global Ad Industry Undergoing Digital Transformation: A Product Roadmap Built for Ukraine Development.” The ad industry is set to go through an enormous transformation over the next few years, and there’s no question Ukraine developers, companies and entrepreneurs can play a big part in it.

The mission of the trip is much bigger, however. I am incredibly fortunate to be partnering with Marty Kratky-Katz, the co-founder and former CEO of Blockthrough, the ad-block-revenue-recovery company that sold to Eyeo last year.

Marty and I are going to IT Arena to help bring visibility to the resilience of the Ukraine tech community and to help grow tech jobs and entrepreneurship in Ukraine.

Marty, who has roots in Central/Eastern Europe and strong connections within Ukraine’s software development sector, was a co-panelist with me on a standing-room-only IAB Ukraine event held in Kyiv in June. That event was created to help build bridges between the U.S. ad-tech community and Ukraine’s digital ad and tech services communities, highlighting the great partnerships that have been built in the past and understanding and overcoming war-related challenges that caused some companies to pull back from Ukrainian development.

This time, Marty and I also want to help promote technology start-ups in Ukraine, a passion for both of us as start-up founders. We will be spending several days each in Lviv and Kyiv meeting with tech investors, start-up incubators and entrepreneurs to learn how we can make a difference. We have already put together a small syndicate of like-minded, experienced entrepreneurs who have volunteered to help with mentoring, business development and making direct seed investments in Ukraine-based startups.

Although we come from ad tech, our scope is broader than that. After all, Ukraine is a hotbed of development in key areas like AI, e-government, foodtech, cybersecurity and military/defense tech as well.

If you track the fast-developing world of AI and large language models, you know well that Ukraine is one of the world’s epicenters for its development Students of its universities are behind many of the most important projects in the world, whether it was the seminal Google scientific paper that spawned OpenAI, AI-driven sports books, or brand chatbots driving conversational search for marketers around the world

Finally, we hope to help others know the unusual “normalcy” that is life in much of Ukraine today. Ukraine is open for business. The war is horrific and it has impacted everyone in the country, but the people of Ukraine know that their soldiers are fighting this Freedom War for everyone — not only to ensure the survival of Ukraine, but its future as a global technology leader and one of the most important growth markets in the world.

The people of Ukraine are doing everything that they can to keep the country’s economic engine running in spite of the horrors of war. We all must help them in this endeavor. Our politicians and military leaders are doing their part. We business leaders must do our part.

Want to come along with Marty and me? Let us know in the comments below or reach out on LinkedIn. We’re happy to have others join. Interested in learning how you can help Ukraine start-ups? Reach out the same way.

Want to help Ukraine win the information war in the first truly real-time, digital conflict of its type? We recommend donating to CFC Big Ideas,  the extraordinary strategic communications firm working pro bono for the Ministry of Defense. Marty and I are both making donations. Reach out and we can put you in touch.

Want to help the people of Ukraine with humanitarian donations? We recommend the$1K Project and United24.

Finally, watch for updates here in late September and early October, as Marty and I share with you our learnings and our experiences with the incredible people of Ukraine as they happen.

I are going to IT Arena to help bring visibility to the resilience of the Ukraine tech community and to help grow tech jobs and entrepreneurship in Ukraine.