As you read this, I will be returning from my 20th trip to Ukraine. “What about the polar bears??” I hear you say. Rest assured, all carbon has been offset and I haven’t bought any bear skins. This fantastic expedition to the ends of Europe has been a mammoth effort that even Ernest Shackleton would be proud of. Similarities between his expedition and ours include snow, soup and not much else. Although thinking about it, Shackleton didn’t have to fly Ryanair. I guess my knighthood got lost in the mail.
I’m still slightly surprised that we’re here, and we’ve got this far. It’s worth noting that the decision to expand into Ukraine was not purely an economic one. When Jacob and I first landed in Kyiv, we were greeted with the warm hospitality and friendly nature that has remained constant throughout most of our experiences in the country. Nine months later I am confident we made the right decision, and continue to look at cities beyond Kyiv for further expansion.
To summarise Vitamin D in numbers; in a little over nine months we’ve gone from two freelancers, to ten full time team members with a further three part time specialists on hand. That’s not bad. Furthermore, in Kyiv, we recently expanded from 55m2 of serviced office space to a much more comfortable 140m2 purposefully designed studio. This represents a significant investment into Kyiv and provides an ideal launchpad for future projects.
Personally, I have spent a lot of time on the ground over here. Someone surprised me yesterday by asking when my ‘next trip to London’ was, and looking at my diary they wouldn’t be wrong to assume I was based here. While staff numbers have grown, so has my time spent in Kyiv. I was on the ground for thirteen of the last fifteen weeks, with intermittent trips to London for one or two days to take client meetings.
In the new year I hope to reduce the amount of trips taken and spend longer periods of time over here. This confuses some of the team, who don’t understand why anyone would want to move somewhere that frequently drops to twenty below freezing. Kyiv is vast and has a character of its own, and even nine months on it still feels like an adventure.