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Turning Adversity Into Opportunity: Yurii's Entrepreneurial Journey

Updated: Mar 14

In February 2022, Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, forcing more than 6.3 million Ukrainians to seek refuge abroad. As of 2024, millions of Ukrainians are spread throughout EU member states – 4.2 million to be exact. Yurii Filimonchuk is an IT engineer, who has been involved in tech and programming, in one way or another, almost all of his conscious life. Before the war, he lived in Kyiv, but after the invasion, was forced to flee and seek refuge in the Netherlands. He explains how “the war, in addition to huge upheavals, also brought a lot of realizations”. He tells us how it helped to change his views and reservations, giving him the courage to follow his goals, regardless of the risks. 

Therefore, after arriving in the Netherlands, Yurii found himself with an opportunity to join Delitelabs and finally give his ideas a chance to be further developed and polished. Delitelabs proved to be a huge step in his entrepreneurial journey, as it gave him the space, tools and resources to learn how to shape and manage a business in the Netherlands. He shares how he had already built a business before, “but it was spontaneous and not well thought out. In the end, I had to close it down”. So, Delitelabs was the right opportunity for him, a place where he could improve his entrepreneurial skills and refine his idea to develop it, and one day, implement it successfully.

“While working on the project with Delitelabs, my puzzles were coming together more and more. Everything that was in my head was written down, formed into presentations and calculations, analyzed, forming a better picture for me and a clearer direction of development. And I really became much more confident in my idea and in myself as an entrepreneur,” Yurii adds.

Yurii at Delitelabs Showcase and Graduation event.

One of Yurii’s key challenges involved developing his business idea from a SaaS platform connecting cooks with customers to a food preparation and delivery service offering high-quality frozen meals weekly. This transition presented a challenge for him as it moved the focus entirely into the food sector, an area where he lacked relevant experience. Nevertheless, he learned to leverage his technical and analytical skills and to seek assistance from others, noticing how expertise can be achieved through collaboration and productivity.

This transition in his business idea would have not been possible without Yurii’s mentor, Jan-Willem Burgers, a business developer and investor who helped him further refine his idea. Yurii tells us how “Jan helped me a lot with shaping the idea and understanding risks and opportunities. Even though he doesn't have experience in the food sector, his constructive feedback and advice gave me a lot of insights and inspiration”. 

Yurii and his mentor Jan-Willem Burgers at Delitelabs prototyping event.

“Being a mentor for Yurii was a great experience. He was interested in a type of business that I normally don’t focus much on as an investor: food services. While I was skeptical at first, I think he now has hold of an idea with real potential. In fact, something that could really scale very well. The experience has confirmed for me again how important having a good sounding board is to startup founders. While Yurii had great ideas, it just required a bit of push back by a mentor for them to come out clearly. I am really glad how things have progressed, and glad that I could offer a small contribution” - Jan-Willem Burgers, business developer and investor. 

Yurii with other UP Collective graduates and their mentors in Delitelabs Showcase and Graduation event.

In addition, Yurii describes how the biggest personal challenge he had to overcome throughout the program was public speaking. He discusses how “although public speaking is usually not directly related to running a business, it is something that an entrepreneur should be able to do. After all, you need to be able to communicate your ideas to other people, build a team, and find partners''. Overall, Yurii describes his experience in the program as an inspiration and drive to realize his ideas and unleash his own potential.

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