“The event was cancelled because we literally had people shot in the streets,” Siianko said. “Our energy was more needed in the fight for democracy. To be frank, it was the most terrible time during my 29 years on this planet.”
Despite all the problems going on in their country, Siianko and her fellow co-organizers are still determined to put on the weekend-long hackathon designed for female entrepreneurs interested in creating a startup.
There are numerous obstacles in their way, of course. Ukraine is still far from stabilized, with the Crimea government most recently voting to secede from the country to join the Russian Federation. Despite the fact that there is a hope for a reestablished government and a presidential election slated for May, Siianko said it’s been difficult to attract sponsors for the event.
“Ordinary people and businesses feel very insecure about the future,” she said.
The first Startup Weekend event in Ukraine was held at the nation’s capital back in the fall of 2012, and many more have been held around the country since. Siianko had her first Startup Weekend experience one year ago at another Kiev event, where she became enthralled with the idea of the mini hackathons. Later that summer Siianko helped organize an event in Odessa.
There are currently 50 people signed up to attend the rescheduled women’s event from March 28-30, with mentors, coaches, and participants coming from Russia, Belorussia, Moldova and Kazakhstan.
Siianko said she’s optimistic that everything will go on as planned barring another uproar in the streets of Kiev.
“I hope there will be no war,” she said. “I consider Russia my brother country with whom we have common past and common future, the same religion and similar cultures.”
Startup Weekend is a non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle.