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CEO and co-founder of EVO, a graduate of the School of Strategic Architect  Kyiv-Mohyla Business School  Mykola Palienko told how his company manages not only to stay afloat during quarantine, but also to launch new products and maintain business profitability.

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EVO is a Ukrainian food IT company. Their projects are the largest marketplaces for online shopping -,,,,,, electronic document management service - Vchasno, a platform for state and commercial auctions - Zakupki. They help entrepreneurs grow their business and simplify online shopping. Every second online shopper in Ukraine buys something on their platforms.

- First, we agreed to discuss the transformations that have taken place in EVO over the past three years, and then - the virus, quarantine, the beginning of a new global crisis and, as I understand it, the beginning of new unexpected transformations. Tell us what is changing today in e-commerce, consumption of goods and services?


- E-commerce has already changed twice during this time. As soon as restrictive measures were introduced, the demand for sanitizers, masks, buffs, respirators and cereals on the marketplaces increased sharply - people tried to stock up in advance.

It lasted, literally, one and a half to two weeks, and then everyone started to return to normal life, adjusted for the situation, of course. They buy less clothes and everything that could be put off. Demand for fitness equipment, garden and vegetable products has resumed. Sales of goods for creativity have increased significantly: paintings by numbers, educational games, designers. Preserved - on food.

Today it is difficult to say how the situation will develop further - no one understands what will happen to the purchasing power of our citizens. Will people be able to keep their business or job, will people have money for anything other than food?

Your business - marketplaces and trading platforms. How does the situation in the country affect your company as a whole and individual projects -, Vchasno and others?

E-commerce generally feels good - it is one of the stable sales channels during the crisis in the world. We observe how operators in China, the United States and other countries react, we borrow their experience.

Most of our projects show little growth. The Internet is one of the few means available to buy not only food but also something else. For example, order services - food delivery, cleaning, master. People need to close their needs and they do it online.

The number of documents that companies sign online through the Vchasno service has also doubled. It is now possible to switch to electronic document management in a few hours, it is convenient and legal, but old habits often prevent businesses from using modern opportunities. Quarantine revives this process - under the influence of circumstances, businesses move the work of accounting in remote mode.

Today, even part of the state structures is moving to a remote mode of operation, which has caused a little chaos, because they are not used to such a mode. But they quickly learn to work. Simplification of some purchases, including goods to combat the pandemic, also helps them in this. Now it is easier for the state to buy various means of protection for doctors and hospitals, including in Prozorro Market through the platform.

We are also waiting for an increase in the number of transparent tenders. From mid-April, public procurement from 50 thousand hryvnias will take place through the Prozorro system with the help of electronic platforms (until April 19, purchases from 200 thousand hryvnias were mandatory in the system).

What new challenges do you think await your industry, what have you prepared for, and what could become a kind of black swan? How fast and flexible can your organization transform when needed?


In most cases, we do not change something drastically, but only adapt to the situation. Adaptive system. In conditions of dynamic demand, we respond to challenges and shift the emphasis accordingly.

With the introduction of quarantine, the demand for delivery has sharply increased, post offices and couriers can barely cope with the load. We wanted to help. We do not have our own couriers, but in our ecosystem there is an online service for ordering services - "Boar". Here people find specialists to perform any task - to repair, repair, deliver. Tens of thousands of people ready to carry out courier orders are registered here. We made a separate application in a week - Delivery of a Boar to help people to receive purchases from shops, medicines from drugstores, anything faster and more conveniently.

We saw the problem of acute shortage of masks, respirators, antiseptics, gloves - hospitals can not quickly find quality products at an adequate price. Therefore, on the site created an open online database of importers, manufacturers of medical products. That hospitals did not spend time on senseless searches and bought necessary at market prices directly.

Due to the increase in demand for food, launched Prom-deli - a separate section with food on the marketplace, including from grocery supermarkets with day-to-day delivery.

Several more solutions are under development. They are made by joint teams of different projects. It is important to be flexible: reallocate resources when urgently needed. But no less important - to continue to do what is necessary.

Three years ago you studied at the School of Strategic Architect at kmbs. Do you use an ecosystem approach in business?

  Our projects are, in fact, an ecosystem. We unite suppliers of any goods and services with buyers and customers by means of platforms and accompanying services. We create an environment where they are comfortable, safe and profitable. We ourselves act as an arbitrator, a kind of connector who builds trust between the participants, helps to implement agreements, facilitates them as needed. And, in principle, thanks to this, hundreds of thousands of orders a day take place on our sites. At the same time, we do not physically make any shipments. This is done by those sellers and suppliers who have entered our system and work according to our rules.

All services essentially live within our EVO ecosystem and interact with each other. We have more than 10 projects, each has its own leader and team, but there are common services for all - HR, internal IT, office space and more.

Were you sure that the transformation process would not harm the business?


We were convinced that we wanted to make the monocompany, which was 5 years ago, something bigger. We sought to create a number of related products related to each other. And there was a risk of reproducing unnecessary processes. We experimented and learned.

In most cases, we do not change something drastically, but only adapt to the situation. Adaptive system. In conditions of dynamic demand, we respond to challenges and shift the emphasis accordingly.

For example, at the start we had several projects and a lot of common resources - including development, marketing. Eventually, they began to fight for these resources, conflicts arose - who needs more. As a result, projects began to draw resources from the common ecosystem to themselves. So, later, everything that was needed for development and smooth operation went into the business.

The functions necessary for the efficiency of service operations will remain common.

Any transformation is a consequence of one of three factors: the response to internal changes and challenges, external stimuli and threats, or the third - a hybrid mixture of these two factors. What was the case with your company?


In our case, it is a hybrid system. I would not say that we live in a special mode of transformation, because we are, in fact, evolving and constantly changing and evolving.

Development is change, adaptation to the realities and needs of the market. Now we see that the market is changing and we need to adapt. Although, not as we imagined at the end of 2019 during our strategic sessions. All our plans are now being adjusted. I think this is happening now in all companies.

What is the most difficult thing to adapt to during this most difficult process?


Overcoming inertia is the hardest. When you change something, you usually have a stable system that resists in every way. To cope with this, you need to make a lot of effort. But when a new process is started, the same inertia helps maintain momentum and maintain speed.

How to effectively manage change in the transition to a new business model and even during a crisis?


Flexibility is most needed. It is very important to adapt, work with a team, try to keep key specialists and resources. It is important to see new business opportunities and launch new solutions. And when it's all over, and it's about to end, you'll be stronger and get more new opportunities than those who expected.


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Daniel Pink is the author of four world bestsellers. His books have been translated into 34 languages. In 2013, Daniel was included in the list of the best business thinkers Thinkers 50.

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