17 May 2022

Ruined cities will be rebuilt. Developers need to get ready early to keep pace with post-war revival. Arsentiy Lyashenko, MIM-Kyiv graduate and founder and CEO of the ProfInstall engineering company, and Oleksiy Smirnov, creative director and partner of the Tabasco Agency and co-initiator of the Re: Create UA project discussed urban renaissance in the MIM. Economic Front Episode. 

- Ow is business faring nowadays?

Arsentiy Lyashenko: Our initial financial position was quite sound. That’s why we could support our employees in February – March. We started our attempts to restart operations in mid-March. Most of our properties in Kharkiv, Sumy, Mykolaiv, and Kyiv oblasts were suspended. We have renewed our activities in Sumy. We are nearly over with our project in Myronivka. Most of our customers suspended construction but in April we managed to renew nearly 50% of our projects. We even won two new projects, one in Kremenchuk, and the other one in Kyiv. Our people are ambitious, motivated, and relatively young. Most of them are very proactive. No wonder, we are renewing our work. 

Oleksandr Smirnov: Overall situation in the industry is poor. It shrank by five times. Many clients suspended their activities and we took the consequences. We are a creative business, in B2B services, so we depend on our clients’ mid-and long-term perspectives. On the other hand, some companies are continuing their operations. As marketing and communication experts we have been well aware of the informational dimension of the war. So, we joined the efforts. Was struck by people and their readiness to work. Sometimes, we managed to attract more people to the project than we have ever had to work in the agency. Volunteering and governmental projects aimed at Russia's derogation and charity are our top priorities.

- What is Re: Create Ukraine about and how does it work?

Oleksandr Smirnov: We aim to design a future Ukraine. It is a cross-road of creativity, construction, development, vision, futurism, and art therapy. We lack positive emotions and are overwhelmed with negativity. So together with Victor Andrusiv from the Institute of Future, we decided to try and visualize the reconstruction of the damaged buildings. We launched the initiative and soon started receiving so many inquiries and messages from all over the world. So far nearly 60 creators from the US, Bulgaria, Portugal, Latvia, Georgia, Israel, and Ukraine offered their projects. 

We managed to kill two birds with one stone we helped people to become hopeful instead of painful. 

We canceled the deadline because people have been sending us their projects of the newly ruined buildings. Every two weeks our jury selects the best works. It is our way to nurture creativity, and taste and to show the challenges of future renovations. 

- How does our construction and development sector prepare for the urban re-building?

Arsentiy Lyashenko: Construction companies are facing new opportunities. Everything ruined in several months will require years of reconstruction and sound funding. Everything is changing. We will have new demands, sources of finance, contractors’ requirements, etc. The companies will have to change internally. Secondly, our company like many others needs to scale business. We are developing our strategy, new organizational structure, marketing platform, set aside reserves, and many other things. We are looking at what we need to be able to do more projects simultaneously and run them better without compromising our quality. 

We reviewed the cases from the countries that went through the restoration and developed our concept of the ProfInstall ReNew sub-brand and identified our niche. We can rebuild schools and hospitals, so we are recruiting to complement our expertise and provide turn-key solutions. We are also creating the roster of our future designers, foremen, and project managers. We are proud to keep 80% of our team and started hiring a COO and CFO. If any MIM-Kyiv alum is interested, welcome!

- What are you going to do with the ideas of the future urban revival?

Oleksandr Smirnov: We are running an open platform, so we are offering our ideas for the revival. We would be happy if our ideas are useful. Communication and helping people to become more optimistic are our main priorities. We are hoping that we can inspire a good and doable project. But we are not in the competition with architectural bureaus. 

- How do you see the future of the construction and development sector?

Arsentiy Lyashenko: We have enough people working in the industry but we lack the skills critical for implementing up-to-date projects. The good thing is people are ready to learn. I do not think that many companies have enough expertise to implement projects commissioned by international companies, donors, and funds. We know that first-hand. We are mastering the European and the US standards of work. Those who can meet those standards will thrive by rendering services to richer clients with more ambitious projects. 

For more information visit the record of the discussion.