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Elena Ruchko from The IT Crowd Kharkiv: It is always easier to get new friends and business partners when you have some cool project

Elena Ruchko, International Marketing Manager at Promodo.com and the Organizer of The IT Crowd Kharkiv

Today we want to tell you about The IT Crowd Kharkiv project, which already became the big event-platform that helps IT-specialists and IT-employers find each other as well as communicate in a cool, informal atmosphere.  We were talking with an incredibly positive person, the co-founder of the project Elena Ruchko. Lena is also an International Marketing Manager at Promodo.com along with being the Organizer of The IT Crowd Kharkiv.

– Lena, please tell us more about the project. We know that Mila Lukashenko was the founder of it from the very start, is she also engaged in this activity? There is information that she went to Australia and gave you control over The IT crowd. Is it true?

The idea of ​​the IT Crowd Kharkiv belongs to Mila Lukashenko, the organizer with an incredible personality, who will not leave anyone indifferent. I’ve known Mila for more than 7 years, I danced in the group under her leadership and took part in several projects she organized such as free photo projects, Girls on Rails and others. When Mila launched The IT Crowd Kharkiv, I also came to the meeting. I did not quite understand why I did it, but felt it was something interesting and worthwhile.

Before leaving for Australia, Mila held 8 meetings, and then announced the search for a new organizer to give the whole project to. Just at that time, I had a strong desire to organize something, some kind of a local project that would gather cool people and would be linked with marketing in IT. I even shared this idea with Mila, but I did not agree to her proposal to take over the project “The IT Crowd Kharkiv”. I refused because I thought that I’ll not be able to deal with so much workload. However, after a month and a half everything changed radically. Rather spontaneously, in a Skype chat, I offered Kate Karaptan to organize meetings of“The IT Crowd Kharkiv” together.

So, Mila gave us all rights for the project, remaining its honorary founder. We can also add to this status that now Mila is the author of а cool blog, in which she talks about her travels in Asia, and instragram account about her life in Australia.

– What education do you have, what did you do before the project?

I have an interesting mix. My first education is in banking, then I also finished Pedagogical University with a degree in “English”. I have changed more than 8 jobs – was a banker, an English teacher, coach and administrator of the dance-and-fitness club, taught Russian language and also was engaged in the import of goods from China. I just did not like banking from the first day, so I was trying to get off this path, learn English and get into IT.

– What is the main goal of your project? What is the important thing about your work?

The initial goal was creating a platform for informal communication and exchange of experience between IT specialists and IT companies in Kharkiv, so IT companies can present themselves and fill in the vacancies for those who want to find a job, it’s a chance to get acquainted with HR specialists in an informal atmosphere, or make new friends.

Now we have more goals like making more narrow focused and specific events. Primarily we work as an information hub: informing subscribers and fans about interesting and useful events held in Kharkiv related with IT. Currently we are also engaged in creating the “Road map for IT specialists” – collecting stories and advice of those, who are already working in IT, in order to draw up a rough plan of steps and actions for the beginners about jumping into the IT-sphere.

The main thing in our work is enjoying what you’re doing. After all, it was our main motive when we started. There are especially good game events, with fantastic atmosphere, leaving a cool so-called “aftertaste”. We wish to do more events just like that to repeat that feeling.

– What were the challenges you were faced with in the beginning?

Oh, together with Kate we are recalling our start with a smile. We even joked that we looked like sectarians, who come and surprised people by talking about the IT Crowd Kharkiv. I remember the second 48Hackaton held in Kharkiv: Kate and I looked just that way (smiling). After about half a year, we came on the third 48Hackaton and almost all have already heard about our project. That is when we felt a huge difference.

The second problem was the lack of experience in the organization of meetings of such kind. First of all, we did not know what was the main motivation for people to attend the event, and therefore spent a lot of time and effort on things that eventually turned out to be secondary.

– How do you choose the topics for conferences/intensives?

We love communicating with speakers of our events as we get a lot of information and ideas from them, which we them inclement in our work. Thanks to our audience – sometimes we get very touching reviews and we are so pleased with these.

– What companies have you collaborated/worked with?

At the very beginning, The IT Crowd Kharkiv already managed to hold events with companies like GlobalLogic, Ciklum, DataArt, QualiumSystems, MobiDev and others. This is a huge achievement of Mila and I’m still wondering how she managed to do it. Kate and I are most proud of such startups as Pics.io, Looksery, Luciding, Gitlab, speakers from Epam, Gameloft, NikaEntertainment, that participated in the The IT CrowdKharkiv.

Our network of partnerships is constantly growing: we already have information cooperation with several large IT companies of Kharkiv and we are planning to have joint events with some of them. The partners of one of the last events were Microsoft and Upwork.

– Are there any plans for new projects for IT specialists?

Yes, of course. We have many fresh ideas, and want to make everything right away. The only limitation is the lack of time. As I have mentioned we want to do more narrowly focused events for experts in a particular sphere, perhaps these will be more closed and private events. I will gladly provide you with more details after we make several events. The second direction is a collaboration with IT-cluster of Kharkiv. The focus of our activities coincides with the objectives of IT-cluster, and therefore we may create joint events. And, of course, a new step in extending the format of The IT Crowd Kharkiv is the collaboration with StartupCrashTest. We made a  StartupCrashTest Kharkiv by a franchise of Kiev StartupCrashTest. We organized these events in collaboration with Eugene Shpika and Vitaly Fish. The main features of these events is the active role of the audience: everybody can say what they like or do not like about the startup presented and also give advice. Trial crash-tests we conducted in early August, the next crash-test will be on September 4th.  I’m inviting everybody!.

– What tips can you give to our readers, based on your experience?

Investing time and effort in a free, social project or a project that does not give you instant cash equivalent in exchange is worth it! But the project must be striking, of course. To quickly express themselves, make it nice, and easily accessible. In our case The IT Crowd Kharkiv meetings were free and everyone can go, it helped us get a big audience. The positive purpose of our events and the high level of organization also helped us to bring valuable and perspective partners.

It is always easier to get new friends and business partners if you have some cool project which you are involved in. So, it is easier to introduce yourself and be remembered, you will always have the topic for conversation as well as the foundation for the next meeting and future cooperation.

– Lena, thank you very much for sharing with us your positive mind-set and for your incredible attitude. It is hard not to notice that you have a real passion for the things you are doing. We wish you luck and rapid development! Kharkiv and Ukraine needs such projects for growing the new generation of skilled specialists, willing to make our life and country better. 

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