Andrey Klen, the co-founder of design firm O0 and Petcube, a maker of internet-connected laser-toys, along with his co-founder, Alex Neskin, took action to keep their businesses running when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began. They helped more than half of their 50 employees in Ukraine relocate, most to western Ukraine and some to Europe. When a bomb fell close to Klen’s home in Kyiv, he moved to Lviv near the Polish border. But bombs soon started falling there too. Petcube has become a fully remote company, paying its employees a full salary and donating to the Ukrainian defense.
Along with other Ukrainian companies, Petcube has also earmarked continuing monthly donations from its employee paychecks and its own profits. The two co-founders then launched the “Spend With Ukraine” campaign, showcasing more than 100 Ukrainian brands and products, from security company Ajax Systems to fashion brands and entertainment apps. Every company that O0 approached was eager to be part of the effort, as there is a sense of unity in disaster among Ukrainians.
The design firm created the campaign in less than two weeks, even with many employees displaced or living in war-torn areas. For some, the effort provided a much-needed mental boost, as work can be a good antidote to feeling down from the constant news cycle. The campaign was widely publicized through a well-produced YouTube video and various online platforms, including ProductHunt and Y Combinator’s internal message boards. Klen and Neskin aim to raise awareness of the significant economic impact of small companies in a country under martial law. By spending with Ukraine, people are supporting the economy and helping the country, as all money invested in Ukraine will help turn its economy back on.