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Why Ukrainians are worth any donation for tech education

We asked Dima Malyshenko, a Berlin-based but originally from Ukraine start-up co-founder, to share his life story and thoughts on how to support Ukrainians. Read here about Dima's inspiring way to the tech industry, how he became friends with Beetroot Academy and why he decided to donate to our Tech education fund.

Somehow, I felt a big future for tech when the Internet connection was provided in my dormitory

I'm from Kramatorsk, Donetsk region. I studied in Kharkiv and was supposed to become a radio-electronic engineer, but in 2001 I understood exactly what I wanted to do. It was the time when the Internet “appeared” in our dormitory. I liked what was happening there and felt a future was behind it. So I switched to web development. I bought some books, and for the next two years, I had the luxury of free time to study without having to work. 2003 I graduated from the university, and within one month, I found my first work as a PHP developer. I was the happiest junior developer who was paid for the work he liked. I remember my first salary — $250 transferred via Western Union from the USA — was like a fortune. Back then, there were no web developers among my friends. Compared to nowadays, it wasn't that hype. But for me, it was evident that this was a future. I told my friends that all the companies I knew would need a website or should be represented online somehow. And I wanted to be a part of this evolution.

Starting my career in tech

Pink Floyd, my lifetime project, and three kids 

I was always a fan of the music of the 70s, and Pink Floyd was my favorite band. But there was no website dedicated to Pink Floyd in Russian or Ukrainian. So I decided to do that on my own. I reached out to the person who did the official newsletters about Pink Floyd to help me with that, and long story short — I made a website, and it turned18 recently. This fan website is the most extended project in my life, but I switched it off because I didn’t want to contribute to the Russian-speaking community anymore. The most crucial thing is the following. Remember I mentioned that person who worked on the official newsletters about Pink Floyd? She is currently my wife, and we are bringing up two kids. We used to make jokes that we actually had three kids — our first one was the Pink Floyd website.

Pink Floyd fan website

From a web developer to a start-up founder

After two years of work in Moscow, I was back in Kyiv. I didn't like living in Russia, so moving back to Ukraine was obvious. At this time, I stepped out of web development, and in 2007 I started my own business. All went well, but the political regime of Yanukovych reminded me of Russia, so we decided to move to Poland and work remotely. Since 2014, when the war started, it has been impossible to run my business in Ukraine.

And after a 7-year break in web development, a dozen hours of upskilling, and 60 interviews, I have found a new job in Berlin as a senior back-end developer. Now in 2022, I'm a co-founder of the tech startup countX, and all my engineering team is from Ukraine.

How I met Beetroot Academy

It was a coincidence and proof that networking rules. One of my colleagues, Alex, also works as a teacher at Beetroot Academy, so I've heard a lot about this online school. When Alex introduced me to Dmytro, CEO of Beetroot Academy, I was ready to start our partnership. He told me about the fundraising campaign on a mission to help Ukrainian people affected by the war start a new career in tech. So I couldn't stay away from it and donated for scholarships — the less I could do in these challenging times. Now seven women from Donetsk and Luhansk regions are studying at Beetroot Academy, and I’m happy to be their mentor.

Sync with Natali, my mentee at Beetroot Academy

Why I support tech education for Ukrainians

Ukrainians, especially men who are out of the country, live with the feeling of guilt. My life is safe, but my three classmates are now fighting against Russia, risking their lives. People try to find their own way to help Ukrainians win this war, overcome the consequences and rebuild the country. So do I. 

I already had an idea of investing in tech education. That is where I can contribute as a professional and entrepreneur, so I chose to support the future of Ukraine this way. Many Ukrainians affected by war want to enter the tech industry and need an opportunity to do that. Tech education is one of the most impactful and cost-effective ways to help Ukrainians restore their lives and fight poverty after the war ends. I believe our country will be the next tech cluster after Silicon Valley in the USA and Bengaluru in India. Moreover, I want many Ukrainians to be a part of that success story. I contribute to it by donating for scholarships and would like to encourage others to support Beetroots Academy’s mission.

Dima Malyshenko
Co-founder and CTO at countX