Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 33-year-old Andrey Klen and 34-year-old Alex Neskin, co-founders of design firm O0 and internet-connected laser-toy maker Petcube, took action to protect their staff. They helped more than half of their 50 employees relocate to western Ukraine and Europe, before Klen himself had to resettle in Lviv.
Petcube has become a fully remote company and is supporting its employees, including those who have enlisted in the Ukrainian army or joined local defense groups. The company has also made a donation of over 1.5 million hryvnia ($50,500) to the Ukrainian defense and continues to make monthly contributions.
In April, the Spend With Ukraine campaign was launched, featuring over 100 Ukrainian brands ranging from security companies to entertainment apps. Every company approached by O0 was enthusiastic to join the effort, according to Neskin, who cites a sense of unity in the face of disaster as a strength of Ukraine.
Klen and Neskin’s teams are promoting the campaign like a new startup, using platforms like YouTube, ProductHunt, and Y Combinator’s internal message boards. They aim to raise awareness of the significance of small companies in supporting Ukraine’s economy, even in the midst of war.
“If you spend with Ukraine, you are supporting the economy. The companies are spending money building and supporting the army,” Klen says. He points out that while armies win battles, economies win wars.
Adds Neskin: “We need to help our economy and turn it back on, because of course, all money that goes into Ukraine will help Ukraine.”