Stories 15:35 17 Aug 2020

Life after war: how a veteran started his business and creates educational toys for children

No wonder psychologists call entrepreneurship one of the best rehabilitation methods

War changes. Some, when they return, cannot communicate with family and friends, lock themselves in four walls, some get lost in a peaceful life, don't want to adjust even to civilian clothes, some hope for benefits and expect special treatment. And someone doesn't expect gifts from fate or the state, surround themselves with books, gains new knowledge, skills and profession.

Success stories that can be heard about veterans always inspire respect. The more of them, the more likely there is a chain reaction; if someone could start something radically new for themselves, then I can. The eyes are terrified and the hands do. No wonder psychologists call entrepreneurship and doing business one of the best methods of rehabilitation.

Vadym Boiko, who worked in law enforcement before the Revolution of Dignity, has been at the forefront since the beginning of the war. Back in 2014, he went to defend Ukraine as part of one of the volunteer battalions at the call of the heart. Returning home from the front, to the city of Ovruch, Zhytomyr region, coincided with the beginning of this year's quarantine.

Вадим Бойко Овруч

Into a peaceful life with grand plans

Before leaving Azov, Vadym Boiko thought for a long time about what to do in civilian life. He didn't want to return to the pre-war profession but wanted to create something material with his own hands. Another condition was to become independent, to work for oneself. He went through and studied many options, and later stopped at the production.

About a year before his dismissal, he began to buy the necessary equipment: tools, machines, raw materials, and other things needed to implement his plan. Before the leaving army, there were affordable premises, a very ordinary garage near the house. "That's how it happened," says Vadym, "that literally on the first day of my civilian life I had a lot of work to do because I started furnishing my workshop."

Вадим Бойко Овруч

The equipment of the mini-shop took about a month. But, according to Vadym Boiko, he had to learn a lot on the go, because before the war he'd never held even a primitive tool in his hands, "couldn't batter in a nail," and here he needed to master machines with software that people with the appropriate education doesn't dare to step forward to.

In the process of learning, there was a need to train. And then Vadym's wife told him about the busy boards.

"I have three children, so I had an understanding of what toys should be. At first, my family and I looked at these boards only as curiosities. One day it occurred to me that there were no such busy boards that I wanted. In commerce, they are all similar to each other, like twins, with the same colors, with the same filling, quite unpretentious shape. My partners and I decided, having a CNC milling cutter in our arsenal, to try to make such busy boards that we would like to play with ourselves. And we succeeded almost immediately."

Вадим Бойко Овруч

What is a busy board?

The name speaks for itself: busy board. And indeed, with this board, the child will be busy for a very long time.

The game panel usually contains various elements that help the child learn to control their fingers and acquaint them with the world around them with the things that are found in everyday life. The first development boards, remotely similar to the modern busy boards, appeared a hundred years ago. Italian educator-innovator Maria Montessori suggested making a stand with a variety of household items that a child should learn to use in everyday life, but with which they're often not allowed to play because of their danger. So, dealing with the locks, switches, sockets, various fasteners, and laces placed on the blackboard, the children researched and tested all these items, as well as got acquainted with their direct purpose, and parents could no longer worry about their safety. Over time, the filling of the boards became more difficult. New, more modern items were added to the surface, which also contributed to the development of fine motor skills in the baby and helped them learn about the world. But there are no limits to perfection.

Вадим Бойко Овруч

Vadym Boiko considers the date of birth of the RozvytokVB2 brand to be May 14; on this day his small team opened a community page on Facebook, where photos of the first products, busy board, and flipcharts, appeared.

"Our busy boards," Vadym introduces his products, "are almost handmade, most of the parts we make ourselves. Therefore, we can beat any combination, mixture, filling, color, and everything else. Each part is modeled, cut, adjusted, and polished personally. Is it long? Very much! You can look at any of our models, and just imagine that for the sake of child safety, each part is cleaned by hand, painted, and then securely screwed. For understanding, assembling one busy board takes at least three hours with well-trained hands. Not faster. We are very attentive to every inch of our products because it is designed for the youngest children, you can use our busy board from the first year of life."

Вадим Бойко Овруч

Both children and their parents are delighted with the bright, originally filled developmental boards of Ovruch masters. About 40 products were made and sold in three months. Not one is the same! The company also adds a flipchart to the busy board set, a magnetic model board. Vadym considers it another of his know-hows because there are no such offers in the market of educational toys.

Who is the RozvytokVB2 team?

"The three of us. We're all childhood friends, classmates, we have known each other for more than 30 years. I invited the guys to join to implement my ideas, they agreed. For which I am very grateful because I myself wouldn't do it all. I fought alone, but one of my partners has the status of a person with a disability, so our project can rightly be called social."

Currently, besides busy boards, Vadym Boiko's workshop produces a lot of educational goods for children. All kinds of boards (slate, magnetic slate, flip-charts, double-sided, whatever you want at the request of the customer!), shelves of various configurations, children's lamps. School stands, calendars, textbooks.

Вадим Бойко Овруч

One of the recent orders is several maps of Ukraine for one of Kyiv's schools in the form of puzzles. "60 control programs. Two weeks of selection and modeling," Vadym is proud of his work, "25 different colors, each region is separate, the main rivers are listed. While we were working on these maps, I learned so much about the geography of Ukraine. For children, it's just a bomb!"

Most often, the workshop is approached with individual orders for development modules, which are either nowhere to buy, or when a person wants something similar to what they saw on the Internet, but with improvements according to their imagination or preferences. And these, according to Vadym, are the best customers.

"We really like things when you have to think hard to do something that not only no one has done before, and, at first glance, it's unclear how to recreate this fantasy. But no complaints from clients yet. So we succeed! Although we guys are well aware the ideal is still far away and you need to learn every day. Every little victory over your ignorance is extremely inspiring, it's the best part of the work. When guys from service with whom I fought call, they say: well, how could you even think of that?"

Вадим Бойко Овруч

Several models were made by the masters for free, for large families, and the children's ward of the local hospital. But quarantine became an obstacle. If the guy were able to come and hand over their products to the family in need of help, the kits that were planned to be delivered to the hospital are still in the warehouse, because the department is still closed. "But this will not stop us," Vadym is sure. "As soon as the children's ward resumes its work, we will definitely bring our toys there because it is part of my idea. Children need to learn and develop. This is the foundation of our statehood."

Вадим Бойко Овруч

And what's next?

"Learn, learn and learn. We want to improve. At first glance, it often seems that every fool will do that. And when you do, it turns out it's not so simple. But we will stubbornly move to the ideal and beyond. We intend to go on foreign platforms eBay and Etsy, we plan to further expand the range, but we must not forget about our initial, non-toy, business project (because currently, it is more "project" than "business"). After all, we have to master the main products, for which we started working together because our whole workshop is a full cycle of my planned production."

Вадим Бойко Овруч

Vadym Boiko didn't receive a single hryvnia investment. He relied only on his strength. To be confident in his success, he was helped by faith in friends, a carefully thought-out development strategy, educational lectures on entrepreneurship, and more than one broken pencil when writing many options for business plans.

"It's real to start production from scratch," says Vadym. "The main thing is to understand exactly what you want and what you need for this. Now I realize that if I didn't have large-scale plans, which I immediately began to implement, it would be difficult. Thanks to this, I had no post-war stress. Where can it come from when you have a family, three children, your own business that needs to be put on its feet, and all this on the first day after arriving from the war? I have no right to lose. It may sound a little pathetic, but that is my peaceful destiny."


If you have found a spelling error, please, notify us by selecting that text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

Leave a Reply

Spelling error report

The following text will be sent to our editors: