Working as a startup in the Ukraine
The 42-year-old Ukrainian Vladimir Liulka is the CEO and co-founder of the CV VC portfolio startup Blocksport. Many of his employees work in Ukraine and experience the war.
How did you experience the beginning of the war on February 24, 2022?
Fortunately, I wasn't in Ukraine with my family at the time. But of course, I have many friends, family, and work colleagues in Ukraine. It was a shock at first; we were all petrified. We called each other to see if we could help anyone. But after two-three weeks of chaos, we returned to work and started delivering the services to our customers again.
What happened? How were you able to continue working?
What else should we have done? Sit and wait? No, we definitely didn't want that. Employees in Ukraine need to maintain business operations, and the Ukrainian economy needs to help as ever. We need to generate as much income and investments for our country these days.
As CEO, what can you do for your employees?
The most important thing is to support them financially and on time. We didn't cut the employees; we saved everyone in our teams. At the same time, we try to maintain a permanent connection with the employees in Ukraine. It's not primarily about work; it's about personal things. We are like one big family, we know where and whom to call in case of an emergency if our colleagues stop answering. And, of course, essential: sending relief supplies, generators, inverters, and power banks.
Have many of your employees fled?
I would say 5-7 percent. Men between 18 and 60 are currently not allowed to leave the country, which is probably why not so many have fled. If the women and children want to escape, then we see if we can find a place for them - whether in Switzerland, Slovakia, or Spain, depending on the possibility. Fortunately, we have already helped accommodate a few colleagues and are ready to support others.
What have you learned from the war so far?
You always need a plan B. No matter how small, every company should always have enough basic things in stock to get by for a month without electricity and shopping facilities. This includes water, cash, food, and power banks. Until the Russians invaded, we didn't believe there could be a war. This naïve belief was fatal because it left us totally unprepared.
How has the blockchain community been able to help you and Blocksport during this time?
It was and still is very important for us that the business continued. And it was able to, thanks to the various investments. At the same time, I was always able to access the network of the blockchain community. They not only helped with donations, but in some cases, I was also able to arrange accommodation for my employees' families. That was fantastic.
How do you manage to remain so optimistic despite everything?
The strong hope. Belief in Ukraine's victory keeps me so optimistic. In addition, Christmas will soon be upon us, a joyous festival. We must get on with our lives!