By Dite Gashi (2009 - 2010, Kosovo, hosted by American Councils PO in Austin, TX)
Since finishing my education in 2014, I have started three high-tech companies. I co-founded Bitsapphire, a consulting company that works with advanced cryptography and blockchains. We managed to get Kosovo on the blockchain outsourcing global map before crypto became so famous. Next, I founded Decissio, a company that ranks which companies are more likely to perform successfully in the future. It is mainly used by investors all around the world. We were chosen, among others, to do an evaluation and analysis for the famous American tech-festival SXSW based in Austin, Texas, which was where I was placed as a YES student during my program years!
Finally, I have founded Blocknify, an electronic signature solution that allows businesses to sign contracts with each other online while preserving their data. Many internet companies today use, sell, and exploit your personal data for their gains. We simply don't take any of your data, thus creating a high trust environment where business can flourish. I aim to create digital products and services that will make people's life easier in a large scale.
I believe the projects we started have created more than 40 jobs in total. I've always made sure to involve inexperienced yet motivated young people so they could learn more, especially programming. Also, I have worked with several YES alumni, some of whom I have hired, others have served as advisors, and I have mentored a few more.
For me, YES has always been an extended family where we are all bound by a special experience that is the exchange year. We can be very different but on our core we do have that strong component which allows us to relate to each other in a good level. That inspires me and the ability to give back what others gave for us.
During my YES year, I not only improved my English, but I also learned that I am tougher and more resourceful than I thought I was. While in the U.S. I gained the go-getter mentality that allowed me to manifest my entrepreneurial talent to help myself, my community, and all stakeholders. I also managed to learn how to relate to people from different cultures, especially Americans with whom I have continued to work throughout my ventures. I believe that without YES most of what I have achieved would not be possible for me. I put in the work; however, YES was the catalyst for it all.