Awesomic co-founders Roman Sevast and Stacy Pavlyshyna were preparing for the full-scale war when very few believed it would actually happen.
Several months before Russia invaded Ukraine, they evacuated Awesomic employees who lived close to the front line. Sevast says it was "one of the best decisions" the company had made since its foundation in 2019.
"We had everything prepared and under control," Sevast told Flyer One Ventures. "We knew what to do."
Having provided everyone's safety, the co-founders had to think about the future of Awesomic, a service that matches web designers with online businesses. How to save the team and grow your business in 2022? The co-founders had to find the answer.
"It would be a pity for each team member if the war killed the startup," Sevast said.
Supporting the team
A study shows that some mental issues — especially PTSD — affect between a third to one-half of adult refugees.
Given that many Awesomic employees had to leave their homes to flee the war, the company started providing its staffers with free psychological sessions and unlimited time off.
Additionally, since the first days of the war, the company added two features to its app. It introduced daily check-ins, a tradition that still exists. "You answer some questions so that we understand if you are okay or need help," Sevast said. "We started tracking the answers and proactively helping our people."
Another thing: Awesomic added the "Send Gift" button that allows its customers to donate money to designers they like and support Ukrainians this way.
A recent survey shows 37% of Ukrainian startups have gotten smaller since February 2022, losing employees (some left, some had to be let go). Awesomic, in turn, has grown.
The startup was actively hiring people at the beginning of 2022. Sevast and Pavlyshyna saw that many professional designers started losing their jobs and they decided to hire them. As a result, they have grown from 70 to 150 employees.
Since the start of the year, Awesomic has also doubled its revenue.
In February, 95% of Awesomic employees worked remotely from Ukraine. Now it's 50%.
"In the past, we'd say we work for the whole world remotely from Ukraine. Now we work from 17 different countries — but still for the whole world," Sevast said.
Sevast and his team do their best to bring Ukraine's victory closer. Since the beginning of the full-scale war, Awesomic has donated Hr 3 million (about $81,000) to various causes, including through the Come Back Alive foundation.
Some of the company's employees help directly on the front line — they serve in Ukraine’s Armed Forces.
There were many hardships the Awesomic team had to face in 2022, but the key lesson Sevast took from this year is to believe that anything can come true if 1. you believe in yourself and 2. you focus on the right things.
"I felt that when some of my childhood friends started serving in the military," Sevast said. "You see 70 people fight against 1,000, and you understand that anything is possible."