In 2021, Ukraine’s startup environment was thriving. The homegrown company, Grammarly grew rapidly and was valued at $13 billion; Amazon, Glovo, Revolut, and Solarisbank built offices in the country; and the country’s IT industry rose by 36%.
With the beginning of 2022, things changed. Vladimir Putin declared war on Ukraine this morning, as explosions were heard near key cities, including Kyiv.
With all the chaos in the country at the moment, everything is uncertain. What does this crisis mean for company owners, investors, and employees in Ukraine?
Founders and Investors on The Ukraine Situation
Source of all interview quotes: www.sifted.edu
“I’m Ukrainian and of course, I’m worrying about the situation. But I believe that these circumstances will make us stronger. My personal credo now: Keep calm and carry on,”Yaroslav Prygara, cofounder of remote working space startup Remo
“The events of recent days have in some ways raised the level of anxiety, but not enough to throw everything down and flee.”Dmytro Kuzmenko, executive director of the Ukrainian Venture Capital and Private Equity Association (UVCA)
“This is not a situation anyone wants to find themselves in, in our time. However, the only thing that will help you stay calm and collected is actually talking about it, staying informed and having a plan.”Sergey Tokarev, founder partner at Roosh,
The economy of Ukraine has seen a mixed impact from all the recent happenings.
“Right now I’m worried about the economic impact of the situation we are already witnessing, rather than about military impact. We are monitoring the situation every day very closely. But the fact is that Ukraine is losing $2-3bn every month due to war threats. Since 2014, the Russian aggression has cost Ukraine 19.9% of its pre-conflict GDP annually.”Dominique Piotet, CEO at Kyiv’s UNIT.City
UNIT.City is the biggest innovation park in eastern Europe where 140 businesses are based, including companies that have a clientele from abroad.
Investors and customers have business continuity plans. MacPaw’s servers, for example, are kept in cloud services that are not attached to any physical location in Ukraine. Clients are being sympathetic and supportive.
“At this moment, the actual impact on the business operations has not been substantial. But that’s for now. The real impact is yet to be seen.”Konstantin Vasyuk, IT Ukraine Association.
Looking After your Ukranian Team
Many Ukrainian firms have remote-first teams, which reduces the impact on at least some of their workers.
In terms of safety, those with teams in Ukraine appear to be adopting a similar strategy: explain a plan, keep everyone up to date on the situation, and offer financial and relocation aid if required.
“For each team member who is currently located in Ukraine, we are providing financial aid to assist with increased expenses during this time, including temporary relocation within Ukraine or abroad if that is someone’s personal choice.”Vadim Nekhai, VP of design tech company, Vista
“The moment the conflict intensified we communicated the company’s plan for the worst-case scenario, with potential relocation to Lviv, a 10% bonus from each employee’s annual salary, as well as guides for dire situation preparation for our employees to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. We have upcoming lectures from our head of security and external visitors on how to filter media and differentiate between propaganda and actual news. But like any psychologist will say, if you’re worried it’s hard to rid yourself of it, and all you can do is have a plan. We are keeping our team informed, aware and prepared.”Sergey Tokarev, founder partner at Roosh
Finmap will have regular evening calls with their team to discuss what the company will do in an absolute emergency situation. MacPaw has coaches for their team members who can help anyone suffering from increased stress during such times.
Sigma, a Swedish-Ukrainian software business, is willing to relocate any of its employees in Ukraine who are feeling insecure to Hungary, Poland, or Sweden. Field Complete, a software-as-a-service firm, has also given its staff the option of temporarily relocating to its offices in the United States or Lisbon, though the company claims that most have decided to stay in Kyiv. Awesomic, a business-to-designer app, says it has evacuated “a few persons… who were near to the conflict to safer places,” while Influ2, a marketing platform, says 25% of its staff are interested in relocating to safeguard themselves and their families.
Hiring Challenges In Ukraine
“We see that international IT companies are actively opening new positions and hiring developers in their Ukrainian R&D offices.”Veroslava Novosilnaya, СEO and founder of PR firm Slova Tech PR
“The situation with hiring hasn’t changed — there is still a huge demand for IT specialists on the market.”Oleksandr Yatsenko, managing partner at family office BRISE Capital
“It is a bit harder to hire new employees because in unstable situations people are trying to get stability — at least at work — so they don’t want to change jobs.”Ivan Kaunov, Founded, Finmap
For live updates on the Ukraine situation, follow Rustam Ahverdiev, COO, DistantJob on Instagram. Follow Think Remote on Twitter for the latest news about Ukraine and the work situation in the country.
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