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News article4 March 2024European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency5 min read

Entrepreneurial Resilience Amidst Adversity: Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs and the Inspiring Story of Iryna Savytska and the “Bank of Memories”

It all started in December 2021 when Iryna Savytska met the team of the local EYE contact point LLC "CIVITTA UKRAINE" in Kyiv at an event organised by the Ukrainian Startup Fund. After that, Iryna decided to participate in an Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs (EYE) exchange with host entrepreneur Alexander Vidmar from Slovenia. She wanted to gain insights into her business's target markets in the EU and understand customers' sentiments and entrepreneurial practices in the region. Due to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, she had to postpone her endeavour and, after a phase of reorientation, decided to do this EYE exchange remotely.

EISMEA: How did you learn about the EYE programme and how would you describe the support from your local Intermediary Organisation?  

Iryna: A friend of mine had done her EYE exchange in Portugal. She told me how helpful it was for her career. At the startup event in Kyiv in December 2021, the team from Civitta explained me the rules of the programme and what they can do for me. After that, I was convinced that the EYE programme would work for me, too. Civitta then found the best suitable entrepreneur match for me in a very short time. Within some weeks the exchange was set up and I was ready to engage.

 EISMEA: Due to the critical situation in Ukraine, you could not do your exchange in person – which is atypical for EYE. What was your core motivation to do it and what are the conditions to make a remote collaboration successful?

Iryna: I think because I am not a beginner in business creation, I was very dedicated to making it work. I also received all possible help from my host and helped him. I knew I needed to finalize the product ASAP and start selling and get investments. I knew I would need to shut down if I failed, so I was working very hard. I wanted to save my baby "Bank of Memories" – so I really had a very strong motivation. It worked out. Maybe I was in fear of losing my work and results and failing this chance, that's why we were working harder. Alex (my host entrepreneur) is also very supportive and wanted to make it work for me. He's a very kind man. When I needed to go to the U.S. for a business trip, he made sure to organise meetings for me. He’s been a great help and has become a friend for life.

In essence, you need to be determined to really succeed and do all efforts to make it happen. Also, the nature of my business requires a good deal of work online and remotely. So, while I would have certainly liked to do at least a part of it in person, the remote version worked out for both of us.

EISMEA: What is the EYE exchange's biggest impact on you personally and your business?

Iryna: EYE had a profound impact on myself: I made friends and benefitted from a supportive environment. I had the chance to ask awkward questions. Sometimes we do not want to show that we are not familiar with this or that. In the EYE community, I can ask all former new entrepreneurs for advice or help.

EYE also meant a boost for my start-up: EYE is a community I can meet, ask questions, and offer my product. If I want to expand to a new country, I can ask for advice. In figures, the EYE programme has helped the Bank of Memories to acquire about 1,000 new active users. I was also able to integrate two payment systems online. Thanks to the host entrepreneur’s hint to apply to Seier Capital, Bank of Memories raised EUR 50.000, allowing us to make our first sales.

EISMEA: Can you share an example of your company’s clients?

Iryna: The Bank of Memories serve to ensure secure data storage of any kind, including creating family trees. We have clients from many countries, including Denmark or Germany. Of course, we are eager to expand further.

EYE success story UA Iryna 1


EYE success story UA Iryna 1


EYE success story UA Iryna 3


EYE success story UA Iryna 4


We ensure that Ukrainian people’s memories are kept safe for generations to come, in relation to the war and beyond. We started our project for Ukrainian families and digital memorials for people they lost in the war in 2023. We felt that not only Ukraine needs this. President Zelenskyi has recommended our solution for Ukrainians. Our partners are the House of Europe, USAID, and the Embassy of Germany. We have served more than 1000 Ukrainian families as a part of our NGO project. 

EISMEA: Where do you stand now and how can a success like you inspire others?

Iryna: Now I am driving sales, trying to get noticed and build my brand. We are a small team, including my husband Andii Melanchyk, co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the company. First, we need to ensure our business survives. After I stabilise it and have stable revenues, I could be a good host entrepreneur mentoring aspiring entrepreneur myself. Being an alumnus, I continue building my network of entrepreneurs, I am glad I can share my experience and factors for success with future entrepreneurs. I will gladly remain part of this community. Maybe my contribution can be a piece of the puzzle to make Ukraine and Europe stronger and more entrepreneurial for future generations.

Company profile:

The Bank of Memories is a private digital memory storage ecosystem that safeguards life stories for generations to come. Based on blockchain technology, it features a family tree and future messaging. After the EYE exchange, Iryna has been continuing to develop her start-up. In 2023, she was recognised as an exceptional founder of the year by the European Institute of Innovation & Technology (EIC Digital) and also became a finalist of the EIT Community Red Kalyna Award.

They are also partners in the creation of the NGO "Memories of Ukraine", an initiative that unites technological innovation with civic initiative to preserve Ukrainian cultural and historical heritage.

The interview was conducted by Ms Iryna Savytska, CEO and co-founder of the start-up Bank of Memories (sector IT) and Ralph Diestelhorst, EISMEA’s Programme Coordination Manager for Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs who is also the Ukraine Focal Point for the SME pillar of the Single Market Programme (SMP).

Iryna is one of thousands of new entrepreneurs that have benefitted from the Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs. The programme celebrates its 15th anniversary in March 2024. EYE promotes exchanges of Ukrainian new entrepreneurs via 5 specific projects. At least one Ukrainian business support organisation is involved in those.

EISMEA’s gratitude go to Ms Alina Rudnytska, Senior Business Consultant at LLC “Civitta Ukraine”, Kyiv, for having facilitated this interview.

If you want to follow in Iryna’s inspiring footsteps and engage in an Erasmus for Young Entrepreneurs exchange, you can find out more about the programme and how you can participate on their website.


Publication date
4 March 2024
European Innovation Council and SMEs Executive Agency