Amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Andrey Klen and Alex Neskin, co-founders of design firm O0 and internet-connected laser-toy maker Petcube, prepared their employees for relocation. Over half of their 50 employees based in Ukraine were relocated, with most going to western Ukraine or Europe. Klen himself had to flee to Lviv after bombs fell near his home in Kyiv. Petcube, now a fully remote company, is paying its employees full salaries, donating to their local defense groups, and earmarking monthly contributions to the Ukrainian defense.
In early April, Klen and Neskin launched the Spend With Ukraine campaign with a YouTube video featuring Ukrainian startups offering a variety of services, products, fashion, and technology. The campaign’s website features over 100 Ukrainian brands, from security company Ajax Systems to entertainment app Reface. All Ukrainian companies approached for the campaign eagerly joined, according to Neskin, who says unity in the face of disaster is a strength of Ukraine.
The Spend With Ukraine campaign was created quickly despite the displacement of employees and the ongoing war. Klen says the effort gave a mental health boost to those involved and that supporting the Ukrainian economy through spending is crucial to winning the war. Neskin adds that all money invested in Ukraine will help the country. The campaign was widely publicized through platforms like ProductHunt and Y Combinator’s internal message boards. Klen and Neskin emphasize that small companies like those in Ukraine play a crucial role in supporting the economy, even during martial law.