When Viktor Danko was a student at Kyiv Polytechnic Institute in Kyiv, Ukraine, he started working at a rental company where he learned about audio and technical equipment rental. Several years later, in 2008, Viktor and his brother, Andrey, started their own company, Rider Rent, also in Kyiv.
Danko was born and raised in the Cherkasy region of Ukraine and then the family moved to Kyiv when he was young. He and his wife both studied in Kyiv and have two children, an 18-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter. His son, Alex, also started working at Rider Rent part-time when he was 16 and has been involved as a member of the company’s lighting crew.
Rental Management — with the cooperation of James Auerbach, American Rental Association (ARA) vice president, event segment — spoke via Zoom with Viktor and Alex on March 14, 2022, about their life and the business prior to the invasion.
Rental Management: What do you like best about being a Ukrainian and having Kyiv as your home and where you do business?
Viktor: In the show business market in Kyiv and Ukraine, we have very good, quality specialists and very good service. When we work abroad, we can see that the service and specialties are better here. We are thinking about going abroad to do business, but every time we think about our country, we stay home. All Ukrainian people love our country, our friends, our people and our partners, and we ultimately decide to stay home stay in Kyiv and have our business here.
|Rider Rent crew on the scene at a live event in Ukraine
Rental Management: What inspired you to start a business that offers equipment rental for events?
Viktor: When I was a student, I tried work in other companies — an office or a radio station. I went every day to the same room to do the same work. It wasn’t interesting; it was very boring. When you work in a rental company, you have a new experience every day with creative people, artists and people who like the rental life the same as you. I think everyone would love this business.
Rental Management: Where did the name Rider Rent come from?
Viktor: I have another business called Adequate Production that develops, manufactures and installs scenery for concerts, corporate events, presentations and exhibitions. My good friend and partner in that business, when we were starting the rental company, said, “What do you do in your business?” I said that we were doing technical riders for artists, which means we provide the information the venue needs for the performance, such as setups onstage and backstage and a lot more. And my friend, who is a very creative man, said, “Rider? That’s a good name.” Our partners in our market laughed about our name, but after one or two years, they said, “Yeah, you have a very good name and both [words] are about your position.” And we say, “Yes, we are both.”
Rental Management: Can you describe the services that Rider Rent provides and what kinds of events you are involved in?
|The Rider Rent team
Viktor: We create technical conceptions and multimedia shows for our clients. Our clients come to us and say, “We are going to have 1,000 people, we have some artists, and we have this location. We need something great.” We say, “OK, give us seven or 10 days. We will deliver a very creative concept for your event; you take it to your clients and show it, and if they like it, we can do it.” We have three lines in our business: The first is concerts and festivals; second is technical support for business events; and third is online events. In 2020, when the coronavirus (COVID-19) started, we were the first company in Ukraine to start online events. We built a studio in our storage in Kyiv — we have a big, 1,000-sq.-m. storage space — and we started online events for our clients.
Rental Management: What kinds of equipment do you rent out to your customers?
Viktor: Sound, light, stage and video equipment. We are the official rental partner for L-Acoustics in Ukraine, we are the official sale partners for Panasonic Projectors and we have other stage equipment.
Rental Management: Do you work mostly with companies inside Ukraine, with visiting companies, or both?
Viktor: Most of our clients are event companies from Ukraine, but many of their clients are international companies like Microsoft or Google. We have a very good portfolio with international companies.
Rental Management: Do you have a specialty that you are particularly well-known for in the Ukraine events industry?
Viktor: I think we are the best in online events because we first started it — we created an online platform and a resource for online events in very good quality not only in Ukraine, but in Europe. I think, too, we are the best in business events and that we are one of the best in design and visualization in creating events in Ukraine.
Rental Management: How far do you travel to service events — is it limited to the Kyiv region, or does extend to other parts of Ukraine or even beyond Ukraine’s boundaries?
Viktor: Most of our market is in Kyiv, but when our clients have events in other regions, we go there — like Odessa or Mariupol. Mariupol is a city that is now destroyed in this war. We had three big festivals every summer in that city. It was a very beautiful city, but now it is destroyed.
Rental Management: What do you like best about working in the event rental business?
Viktor: I like good, quality sound and lights because when I go to concerts and the sound is bad or the lighting setup is bad, I don't enjoy it. I pay the money and spend the time to see and hear my favorite artist, and when I hear bad sound or see bad lighting at shows, I want to cry. When we do our service, we try to do it at a very high level and when we can provide that, I am happy. The second thing is, with some event planners, we start with an empty location and maybe some idea. And when we realize the event, our ideas, our creative sense and our visualization, it becomes a great show. When I see that, I am happy and not only me, but all the guys and girls on my team — they like what they do.
|Viktor (left) and Andrey Danko, March 2022
Rental Management: How does your company compare in size with other event rental operators in Ukraine?
Viktor: We are not the biggest. I think we are in fifth or sixth place in Ukraine. If we are talking about quantities of equipment, we are not so big. I think there are maybe 10 or 15 big companies and then maybe 100 to 300 small companies.
Rental Management: How many employees does your business have when it is at its full staff level?
Viktor: I have 36 employees now — technical staff and back office.