Image credit: Immigram / UKTN
Late last year, startup event Slush awarded a €1m prize to tech talent relocation platform Immigram. Amid a flurry of criticism over the decision to give the top prize to a London-headquartered company founded by two Russian passport holders, Slush swiftly revoked the award. Now, for the first time, Immigram CEO and co-founder Anastasia Mirolyubova opens up about the “devastating” impact the controversy had on her and her business.
Speaking to the UKTN Podcast, the Immigram chief reveals the physical and emotional toll the situation had on her. Mirolyubova says she received death threats, lost 7kg in weight, and took a hiatus from social media.
Immigram scooped the top prize at the Slush 100 Pitching Competition in November 2022. However, Slush faced fierce backlash for awarding the prize to a company founded by two Russians amid the country’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. Slush said it revoked the win “in light of new information” about the “extent” of Immigram’s “operations in Russia”.
Mirolyubova, who has lived in London since 2016, tells UKTN Podcast host Jane Wakefield that allegations Immigram has operations or pays some taxes in Russia are a “total lie”.
“The backlash of what happened at Slush was huge and it was devastating, both for me and also for the company,” says Mirolyubova.
She adds: “At the same time, the reaction of the Ukrainian, Estonian and Polish communities is totally understandable. The war is happening, Russia is invading Ukraine and at the same time the prize was given to the founder with the Russian passport.”
Mirolyubova co-founded Immigram in 2020 to assist IT and tech professionals with relocation across the world, navigating schemes such as the UK’s Global Talent visa.
During the final episode of season two of the UKTN Podcast, Mirolyubova explains that Russians who have left their home country are not being welcomed “even if they are against the war”.
Away from Slush, Mirolyubova reveals which tech roles are in-demand, the staggering gender divide in visa applications, and Immigram’s plans for 2023.
Listen to the full episode here, along with all previous episodes of the UKTN Podcast.