Beetroot Academy is a nonprofit social enterprise. We were founded as a spin-off of Beetroot—a Swedish-Ukrainian IT company with customers around the world. While Beetroot helps clients build dedicated teams of developers and designers in Ukraine, Beetroot Academy helps people get these kinds of jobs.
This is our founding story.
After a 1600 km road trip from St. Petersburg, two Swedish friends Gustav and Andreas arrive in Kyiv on the September 16. Other than passports, a rusty Lada 2015, and a vision to improve their new home country, they don't have much with them. In less than 24 hours, however, the work space is secured: a small, practical room at a friend’s office. This room becomes the first headquarter of Beetroot, and the home for our entrepreneurial vagabonds.
Beetroot was founded in Kyiv, but opportunities brought the young company to Odessa in February 2013. Maybe they just wanted to be closer to the sea, who knows.
Two entrepreneurs rented a small office and started picturing their future. In their dreams, it was full of talented, motivated people. They could almost feel the home-ish atmosphere of trust and support. They dreamt of having teams that wouldn’t be afraid to bear responsibilities and candidly share their opinions. Of course, they also had some thoughts about good ol’ pub nights, but that’s another story.
Slowly, these ideas started turning into something that we now call “Beetroot culture”. Probably, because of this unique culture, the Beetroot team kept growing steadily. Today we have more than 200 upbeat and cheerful people in three cities across Ukraine — Odessa, Poltava and Kyiv — and we keep welcoming new talent on board.
Ukraine enters another challenging chapter of its history. The Euromaidan shakes the entire country and hopes run high, when all of a sudden the country ends up in an international conflict. The war in Eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea force a lot of people to abandon their homes and search for better lives in safer areas. Beetroot decides to take their experience in IT and invest it in Beetroot Academy - an initiative that is good for both society and business.
With help from SIDA—the Swedish agency for development cooperation—Beetroot does a bit of research on how to create jobs in smaller Ukrainian cities. Eventually, we decide to launch a WordPress course in Poltava. The picturesque city is home to a significant amount of Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and Alexey Kaluzhniy, the first Beetroot Academy teacher and reigning European champion in Front-End development, happens to live here as well. Poltava is an ideal breeding ground for what lies ahead. The results are positive - a large share of the graduates easily find jobs in the IT sector after the course. Because of the high potential among the students, Beetroot also decides to open a development office in Poltava.
We win a UNDP tender in Poltava and Odessa for teaching IDPs. The new course focuses on preparing front-end specialists for the labour market, and to make sure they get employed in local IT companies. A total of 60 students graduated as part of this UNDP partnership and 70% found a job in IT.
2016 - Beetroot Academy is now open in three Ukrainian cities: Kiev, Odessa and Poltava. The main business, Beetroot, is doing well, and the team is discussing how Beetroot Academy can grow.
Despite strong results and an exceptionally high employement rate among students, the school hasn't generated income, and the question is whether or not it ever will? The team makes a bold decision and decides to fully shift to a non-profit model, meaning that making profit from the academy is no longer a goal. All money made from tuition fees are ear-marked, forever, for re-investment into improving learning and teaching conditions. This way, Beetroot Academy can maintain a huge advantage over the competition - which will often cut costs and quality for the purpose of pure monetary profit.
New courses, including Web Design and Back-End are launched this year following new needs and market demand.
Early in the year, Beetroot Academy opens in Chernihiv and Kramatorsk. The organization enters a new stage of growth and investment, which is reflected in how the organization grows and receives international recognition. The results start showing by summer, when new academies launch in Zaporizhiya, Nikolaev, Mariupol and Ivano-Frankivsk, leaving us at a total of 9 academies. But we're only getting started. We are on our way to open up 20 schools across Ukraine - and help people get ready for great careers.