An update on Ukraine from Aleksandr Volodarsky

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I’m kind of sad about this interview because joining me is someone who I’ve watched in the startup community for a long time, who I’ve become friends with. He’s been in Ukraine and I’ve watched him deal with what’s going on there.

Aleksandr Volodarsky is the founder of Lemon.io, a developer marketplace. Recently, we’ve been talking in private and he said that he’s up for talking about the situation publicly. I’m really honored to have him on here to learn how he’s handling this crisis.

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Aleksandr Volodarsky

Aleksandr Volodarsky

Lemon

Aleksandr Volodarsky is the founder of Lemon.io, a developer marketplace.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, they’re freedom fighters. Um, I’m kinda sad about this one. Um, joining me is someone who I’ve watched in the startup community for a long time, who I become friends with. He’s he sponsored my podcast and I’ve known that he’s in Ukraine and I’ve kind of watched him deal with what’s going on as Russian army.

Is going in the Ukraine and we’ve talked in private and he’s, he said that he’s up for talking public. I’m really honored to have him on here to talk about what’s going on with him and his team and the country and, and how he’s handling it. Because frankly, I don’t know how I would handle things in a crisis like he’s facing right now.

His name is Alexander . He is the founder of lemon.io They call themselves a marketplace for vetted engineers. I prefer matchmaking service. The beauty about them is that there’s a human being who will talk to you. And then if there’s a match and they could find you a developer, they’ll make the match.

And if it doesn’t work out, there’ll be like the, the old Yenta and make sure that you find another one. Anyway, that’s what they do@lemon.io. I invited him on here to talk about it, and I was not feeling comfortable about doing an ad, but I told him that I owe one to one of my sponsors. Andrew, you’ve got to do it.

And so I will, it’s for sending blue the email marketing company that, um, I’ll explain later why it’s so different from all the other email marketing companies. And later recommend that you go to send and blu.com/mixergy, Alex, where are you right now?

Aleksandr: Israel.

Andrew: You got out after the tank started coming in.

Aleksandr: Yeah. Uh, we, uh, I wasn’t Kia when it happened and we didn’t have tanks over there yet. uh, but yeah, we, we, uh, vacated, um, the day after everything started, uh, the missiles coming and sirens.

Andrew: Is your company up and running now you’ve had developers in the Ukraine. I know for a long time.

Aleksandr: Yeah, we, we still have maternity developers in Ukraine. We opened, uh, uh, six months ago, we opened to all the countries, uh, but we were kind of lazy, lazy going to other countries because we were very comfortable in Ukraine. but yeah, companies running a lot of developers, um, advocated to the rest of Ukraine and they’re safe and able to work.

Some of them, they’re not, um, those who are not, there.

are some people who volunteer a lot. There’s some people who are mobilized but in reality we had a lot of clients came up to us saying that we still want to keep paying developers who are mobilized or are not available for work.

And that is just an amazing thing to do. And we very grateful for that. And we also joined them. We just cancel the fees for those transactions that are being developers who are not.

Andrew: Let me pause on that. So you’re saying if one of your clients has a developer in the Ukraine, either they are saying that they will pay the developer, despite the fact that the developer can’t work in some cases, or if they’re not doing it, you’ve said that you will also pay the developers and other people.

If they, for some reason are unable to work where they are.

Aleksandr: Um, we cannot be developers if their clients are nothing, but we are able to find them other jobs we’re working. You know, there are.

some developers who lost their projects, not just because of the war, just, you know, they, you know, someone stopped the project or just the project is finished. So working around the clock to find them jobs.

but, uh, If a client wants to pay developer, uh, even though they’re not working, we are just not charging any fees and we are paying every employee who is not available, even though they’re not available. If we S if we will set paying developers who are coordinate available and their clients, can I pay them?

I think we’ll just go to zero, like in just a couple of

Andrew: because your marketplace is so big, right? There’s so many developers who are on the platform. Got it. Okay. So there’s a distinction between the developers who are on the platform. You’re helping them find work. And then there’s also the people who are working at lemon, who are keeping the company going, even if they aren’t able to work right now, you’re just going to keep on paying their salaries.

Aleksandr: Well,

Andrew: Got it. Okay. Why didn’t you leave before we kind of had a sense that something was going on or something potentially could happen.

Aleksandr: Yeah. Um, yeah, to be honest, um, it happened on a Thursday morning, 5:00 AM and on Wednesday night at 6:00 PM, I just came back from vacation from my parents and my oldest son. And, uh, while you know, it was 6:00 PM. We went to sleep. My parents took a train and they were in the train to hard-code. That is mostly hit.

So we were not even left the country. We came back the night before to the country from the vacation. Um, but at that time it was not obvious if this is just hype or this is real danger or, you know, or they’re just trying to find us to, to do, to, to get something. And, uh, the first, the first reaction, our reaction to that, it was, let’s not panic and we should have panicked.

We, we did all this. Um, we did all those plans that we’re going to educate people. It’s something happens, but the reality we should have done this much, much earlier and kept people in the west or outside of Ukraine. And, um, it would be, yeah, I just, you know, thinking about this over and over that I should have done that.

And, uh, we didn’t, we didn’t expect anything to happen actually.

Andrew: You know what I wonder if also part of it is that things are just going so well. Like tell me about lemon. How close was it getting to its revenue goal? What was the latest revenue goal? We watch you climb to a million in revenue. Then we want you to climb to what 10 million you were on the process of getting to.

Aleksandr: Yeah, we missed that goal. Uh, last year we had like a big goal of 1 million this year. We had a, uh, a goal to become a majority source of income for Southern developers. Uh, but, um, it was in the, in the, in the beginning of the year. Right now we don’t care about those. We don’t

Andrew: you missed your goal of reaching a million in revenue last

Aleksandr: No. Two 10 million

Andrew: 10 million, right? How close did you get to it?

Aleksandr: we got to 6.8 almost seven. Yeah. So

Andrew: So I wonder how much of it was you were climbing. Yes. You are struggling to hit that 10 million lofty goal, but you were growing pro uh, it was, it was a self-funded company. The world was paying attention to you. The tech world was right. Was it that things were going so well that it was hard to believe that it would stop?

Aleksandr: Um, not really what we’re just reckless.

Andrew: Oh, really?

Aleksandr: Yeah. And also like we were w we saw the patterns that Russia did before, to other countries and our country, like they would try to, uh, they will try to occupy one of the territories, um, that is like, uh, closer mentally to Russia. And they did this into, in 2014 where the study actual war, uh, but, um, And we thought like, if something going gonna happen, this is going to happen.

We didn’t realize, you know, we were never at war. We don’t, we didn’t know what’s going to happen. And we had all this, you know, plan to, if something happens, we can organize a bus, put people to the west, uh, random, I don’t know, a big, uh, uh, vacation place and we’re gonna just work there, you know, without any trouble.

But when everything happened, we realized like, uh, first of All the roads are blocked because everyone is going, um, on the west. It was overcrowded too. You cannot rent anything. And also most of the people wanted to stay with their families and go to their families. They didn’t want to go with our coworkers at the time.

So we were pretty dumb about, you know, assuming that we will be able to organize anything. Um, yeah.

Andrew: All right. I’m curious about how you handle this and how you decided to. To make the moves that you did, let’s get to the day that you realized something was happening. You went to sleep after vacation. There was a

Aleksandr: After a few days in Barcelona, we came back to a peaceful Ukraine. Uh, yeah, there were sirens at 5:00 AM that I didn’t hear. I, I sleep wherever off. Um, having two kids, you, you sleep very well. You have to,

Andrew: How many kids you have

Aleksandr: I have two.

Andrew: to? Okay.

Aleksandr: Um, and we woke up in the morning, we saw, we saw, we get a message from school that the school is closed and we’ll help hope for the best.

We still didn’t understand what’s going on. Um, and we turned our messengers and it was so like all the messages that, um, there was sirens and missiles and. It was really, I think I, two hours after everything started and by the time we realized we need to go and I didn’t have, I don’t, I don’t own a car. I live in the city.

Um, and, uh, we just, you know, I live around few blocks. There’s stores. There are shops everything over there. Uh, my kids go to school and they. The bus picks them up near the, near the bus. So I don’t, I don’t own the car. I took a car from him from a friend too, just in case we need to go anywhere. And, uh, but at the time that, uh, we realized we need to go with all the block, all the roads were blocked.

Um, people actually stay for 20 hours, even more on the road that usually takes like six, seven hours, uh, to the west. And I didn’t want to go because. First of all, I’m not very experienced driver. Uh, secondly, uh, I didn’t, uh, w we really knew that there was a promise to get guests, and I just didn’t want to stop be stuck on the field somewhere with two kids, no food, um, and just no gas and just, I don’t know, you know, I wouldn’t know what to do.

So we want to bomb shelter in a synagogue. We had a bomb shelter, and we stood, stayed there until. And then the, and the situation on their own got worse and worse because more people were going more people going. Uh, and, Um,

I said probably would have to stay here because we wouldn’t be able to get to, to anywhere.

Um, and, uh, but at some point there was a message that they announced. And at that time, I realized that there is, it’s a good chance for us to leave, because if there’s a curfew for, for a night, the road’s going to get free. And if we leave the first thing in the morning, uh, we will be able to get on the, you know, some kind of free road, but, you know, at least not blocked for 20 hours.

And I was right, right before curfew went outside of the city and state, uh, in the, in the. Near Kiev. And as soon as curfew, uh, actually 20 minutes before coffee ended, I risked it. We just went outside and we just draw. Um, and the road was, uh, there was like two hours of, of traffic, but the road was pretty, you know, pretty, pretty, pretty free.

And we could get to the west.

Andrew: Okay. Where’d you go? What’d you end up.

Aleksandr: We went to Reno. Where’s my, um, my wife’s mother. Um, and we stayed there for, for, for, uh, for a day and a half for Shabbat. Um, and my, my parents that who was driving from Harcourt for 20 something hours, uh, And, uh, there were lucky also to get out because it was already tanks in, in Horcoff.

Uh, and it was bumping hard. And we were thinking to go to the bomb shelter that in the subway, or to go outside of the city, I told them to go outside of the city because this is like the last chance. Uh, and they went the left and they were very lucky to go because, um, my. Uh, because first of all, it was almost impossible to get up to the city, um, for a long time after that, and also, uh, 30 meters from their house.

If there’s a tank academy, there was In few days after that, it was pumped really hard. And, um, the, the building like near lakes is right now there. And, uh, uh, they were very like have to go out. And we met there in Ravenna. And after that, we went to another restaurant city and another was in city.

Andrew: In what country

Aleksandr: No enrollment is, is, is in, is in Ukraine. So

Andrew: still in Ukraine and that’s. Oh, got it. So you’re just going from there. Just keep moving in the west, moving west through Ukraine, trying to get to another country as I understand it.

Aleksandr: yeah. How I wanted to advocate the family and the, um, there was a leave, um, that border with Poland and it’s the traffic there on the, on the, on the, on the, on the border was like, I think something like 30 hours. you could stay on the border for 30 hours to cross it. So I said, we’re not doing that. So I went, uh, I went to another city where it was pretty open, so we would cross the border with my parents, uh, and, uh, go in, not in hungry.

And we went to Budapest. Yeah. And next day we flew to Israel.

Andrew: Oh, got it. Okay. Yeah. There’s a tiny border between Ukraine and Hungary. Um, that’s where you ended up and then how hard was it to get a flight?

Aleksandr: Flight is, you know, you go to Skyscanner book, a flight?

Andrew: So they wasn’t mobbed with people who are all trying to get out the way that you were. It wasn’t anything like that. It was once you got to Poland, it was just like being back in regular society.

Aleksandr: we went to hungry and, uh, over there, uh, first of all, yeah. Uh, first of all, uh, I don’t know, you know, I know that Poland is very helpful, but Hungary is also very helpful. They gave extra trains for people who wanted to get to Budapest. And there were a lot of people who were giving up food on the train station.

And like a lot of volunteers who try to help us translate whatever’s happening. So it was very helpful, you know? Um, and in Budapest, showy, my wife has like far family, so we stayed there and, uh, getting a flight was easy, but the whole trip took us almost a week to get from, from Kiev to, uh, yeah.

Andrew: Did you feel any, any guilt you showed your CTO in military fatigues? Right. Getting ready with a weapon, getting ready to go and fight. Did you feel any guilt leaving when he and people like him were staying.

Aleksandr: Um, yeah, I saw my CMO marketing marketing director. Because he was mobilized one of the first ones, one of the origin years. And he were mobilized the first ones because they were already in the war in 2014. Um, at that time I felt a lot of guilt. Uh, but my, you know, my test number one was getting up to get my family out of there as soon as possible.

And that’s what I did. And of course, there’s that it’s not about feeling guilt. It’s about. Being helpless and, you know, um, and just thinking that you get out okay, you’re safe. But what about the rest of the people? We have people who are mobilized. There was another person actually, you said CTO, but our CTO is being mobilized as we speak right now.

Um, and, uh, just thinking that, um, you know, those people. You know, are on the front and through other people, we have few team members who are in bomb shelters, still living in bomb shelters, in different cities, in her zone, in Horcoff, uh, in the village there, Sue me, um, you know, those last two seats are occupied with Russian military and yeah, it’s just, uh, thinking like, like I loved them, but from the other side I read the post from one first, my person, I don’t know him, but he is very smart saying that that.

You know that if you get out or if you’re on the west of Ukraine and you’re safe, you have to run an economy because the water is very expensive and you just have to run an economy. You have to, um, you have to make money, uh, send it to army. You have to spend money on local vendors and. And so they can keep paying their people.

And that’s what we did. I’m working 20% around the clock just to be able to support people from our team who are not able to, uh, to work or mobilized or volunteer or in bomb shelters or just stressed. We have a lot of people who just work part-time because you know, it’s war it’s, even if you’re safe, you’re, you’re still stressed.

We have people even outside of Ukrainian core, just. Going nuts about their family. And that’s just amazing. Um,

Andrew: So you’re feeling like maybe you’re better use of your, of your body and your time right now is to make sure that they’re taken care of by paying salaries, by checking in with people, by making enough money that you can control.

Aleksandr: Yeah. And I’m useless with a gun. I said, you know, I don’t think I’ll be any use and, uh, Again, like, this is what I realized when there was a same time when I just thinking clearly, but sometimes like, you, you, you speaking with someone and I was like, how are you doing? And they’re saying we’re in the front or we are in bomb shelter.

And I was like, wow. Like at this time I feel really guilty and, uh,

Andrew: Yeah.

Aleksandr: yeah, nothing to do with it.

Andrew: felt, I felt guilty even doing this interview because I don’t want to feel like I’m exploiting what you’re doing. I don’t want to feel like I’m exploiting what’s going on over, over in Ukraine. I just, I don’t know. So that, there’s a, there’s a sense of guilt.

Aleksandr: you’re telling the story and this that’s one of the things that has to happen during war. Um, and because, uh, So many things are happening and people have to know to be able to relate or to be able to help. Uh, we see so many amazing stories when people helping and how do they know about this? They don’t want me for media and people like you.

Uh, they know how to help what to do. What is useful. What’s not useful. For example, um, someone cited, um, booking Airbnbs on, on for people who are in those cities and. You know, they’re just helping directly to those people. And someone started talking about it and a lot of people said, started doing it. I think something like few solvent bookings that happen on booking.com for people who never want it to go to Ukraine.

Just want it to

Andrew: They’re just buying places. There is a way of getting money to the locals. I told you before we got started at my kid’s school has a parent who has chickens. And so they’re just taking the eggs from the chickens and they’re saying. The leave and by the school, people can pick up these fresh eggs, pay what they want, and then the way that she’s going to get it to Ukraine is she’s going to just buy an Airbnb that she’s never going to use as a way of getting money out to people there.

Aleksandr: That’s amazing. And how people do know that know that they know through those stories they know through, through people like you. So you’re doing a lot. There is, there is no place for you to get to, to, to be guilty. But me being an Ukrainian Jewish, Ukrainian in Ukraine and leaving is kind of, you know, just running, living everyone behind that’s that’s kind of struggles again.

I’m not saying that’s a struggle. I don’t want to, I don’t want to. Uh, I feel even more guilty saying I’m guilty just because like I’m, I’m fine. I’m, uh, I’m safe. My family said we have place to stay with our friends. Uh, we have it, you know, things to eat. We, we still have jobs, so we’re very lucky, you know, opposite to people who are You know, at some point, Yeah. At some 0.1 of my team members just wrote me. I was like, w we will keep in touch with everyone every day and show me, I’m still in the bomb shelter in her son. And, you know, the food is just ending. And I don’t think there is a way to get more food. And you feel like very, very helpless at this time.

And, uh, and thinking like whatever I have right now, like whatever, you know, I feel guilty. Okay. Like just shut up and do your job, you know, help people and, uh, donate the rest of the.

Andrew: All right. You’re donating your profits now for the foreseeable future to the army. Uh, you’re paying your people. I wonder, at what point and how you formulated your plan, you are leaving. You’re you’re dealing with your family. I know what it’s like to even get my family to go on a, on a day trip somewhere.

You know, there’s all this chaos and uncertainty, but meanwhile, you’re living your life. You don’t know when you’ll be able to come back. And at the same time, you have to figure out what your plan is for the company, how you’re going to pay people, how you’re going to budget out. How did you do all that?

Aleksandr: Um, we, we are, uh, first of all, before everything started, we gave people a two months of salary advance. So we gave them cash in case something happens. You know, God forbid the banking system collapsed and they cannot get their cash. So we told them, uh, use the money to get cash and have it on you in case something happens and you need to use it.

Um, but now we just, uh, you know, banking system is working, uh, and we’re able to pay them and, uh, just, um, um, just live our lives. We made.

Andrew: did you figure out how’d you come up with your plan of I’m going to pay people. I see our budget where you’re sitting down at all and looking over your budget and making sure you had money to pay people. Were you making sure. That you could survive. What was the, the process of coming up with that plan?

Aleksandr: yeah, last year it was profitable. So we just didn’t care about that. Um, we, we didn’t care, spending more time on, you know, just doubling our payroll and, uh, no, we just thought again, like what are essential things to do? If something happens, first of all, people have cash, you know, Whenever anything has happened.

If you have cash, you are much safer than the rest of the people to get to places, to buy things. And it’s very important. Uh, the second thing without. If anyone needs help. And, uh, and, uh, and also like we started paying twice as, um, twice, twice as more often to, to developers. So before that, we pay out once a month, uh, and now we are making, doing pay payouts, uh, twice a month.

So people have enough cash all the time. And also if something happens at least had payouts two weeks before that. Um, and the second thing that we thought of is if something happens, how do you get out and where do you go if you need help? And we established a place in one city on west coast, Lviv. If, if something happens, there is no connection in any help, just go to this address and we will be there and we will meet there and we’ll help you to find the commendation food or whatever you need.

Those are two things after that, you know, week after that, when after the start of a full-scale. We with, you know, without like, what is important right now, because before that we thought like, we need to get people. Now we thinking like, you know, we need to win a war and how can we do this? The only way we can do this is just keep donating and supporting people who are in the front Overland tiering, or there’s a, uh, there’s army.

There is a territorial defense, and, you know, there are different. A lot of different needs that there are, um, um, for refugees, you know, so much things to help. So like doing the swore, we need to what we can do. You know, first of all, we’ll let anyone to volunteer to, to the cost that they want to volunteer.

Of course, uh, you know, no one wants to volunteer 24 7 because they also want to work. Well, let people do that. You know, there was one guy who was, um, in the city near Kia and he’s just, um, uh, driving like at least few hours a day. He’s driving around the city, delivering medicine, delivering food, helping people, elderly people.

So how can we help? Which is, you know, um, we send all the profits to, to win the war to the victory and, uh, and let people with.

Andrew: I, um, I asked you before we got started, I said, you think it’s okay if I do the ad for sending blue? And you said, yes, absolutely. You’ve got to just keep business going. . so And here’s the reason that I like sending blue. The problem with email marketing software is that they charge way too much money, but they don’t do it in the beginning. They charge you very little, if nothing, sometimes nothing at all. Well in the beginning.

And then once you get your email list growing and you’re stuck with them and it becomes a pain to take your email list and move to another provider because all your tags are in there. All your systems are already using it. Everything is in there. You’re stuck and then you pay whatever they want you to pay and it’s, it seemed like it would be insignificant when you start, it would seem like it would be far off in the future when you had those big.

Yeah. In the beginning, it’s nothing. And then it just ratchets up. And then by the time it’s really expensive and it’s not good email service, you’re kind of stuck. And you say, I’ll deal with other issues that are more significant than this, and I’ll just pay them whatever they want. The thing that sent him blue decided to do was charge reasonable in the beginning and then charge reasonable throughout your experience with them.

And that’s why a lot of people that I’ve told about sending blue have signed up, especially consultants who set up multiple clients with email marketing software. So if you’re out there and you’ve been in email marketing for a while, then you understand the problems that I’m talking about. And you’re looking for an email provider that will give you tagging that will give you a if then scenarios that will give you all the things that you need.

Really go look at the feature set and a reasonable price that will stay reasonable through the life of the software. Then go check out, send in blue.com/mixergy. If you do that, you are a, we’ll give you even a bigger discount than they already have send in blue.com/mixergy is a way to get started and really keep it in mind.

Next time, one of your friends says that they’re going to start an email campaign, or they’re going to finally build that email list that they need. Tell them how to start, right. So that they’ll gonna, they’re gonna be happy throughout the life of their email. I’m sending blue.com/mixergy.

Aleksandr: I’ve been there to the situation where you you’ll pay at the beginning, um, with excellent, um, email platform, but also messaging platform. I’m not going to name names, but, uh, at the beginning it was like, um, Yeah. this is the price. And then like, oh, this is a little feature, a little feature. And then we added like something with like,

a $7 per month bill.

And It was kind of hard. And the, and the cost of cost of moving to another platform is, is pretty.

Andrew: It is, it’s a, it seems like you own your email list so you can move them anywhere, but the software gets embedded into your site. It gets embedded into the transactions that you have. So someone buys you automatically have created a tag in your email. Anyway, it becomes a pain. And then sub stack is the one that people were in love with for awhile free email software.

And now they’re starting to shift their, their readers from email to the sub stack app. If they just keep becoming another email provider, they become too, uh, too commoditized. And so now they’re moving their readers into the app. And so now you’re no longer using them for email using them for them, deciding where you go anyway, send them blu.com/mixergy.

one of the things that I’ve noticed that you did was you started to say, all right, we will start expanding now, will you help us? And I’ve noticed that people are now sharing your job openings. People are talking about on Twitter, that you’ve got, um, that you’re recruiting from Cypress, from Greece, you’re recruiting, Croatian developers, and so on.

Aleksandr: Yeah, we, yeah. W marketplaces in general, a very dependent on.

supply. And, uh, you know, there is always the, one of the hardest question in the world, you know, the purpose of life and balance between supply and demand in the marketplace. Um, so, uh, The, um, we very much depends on supply and we cannot supply from Ukraine as, as much as we could before.

So we decided to open it into more countries and to double down on the countries that were already opened. So we opened already open to something like 26, um, countries. And, uh, we’ll keep expanding your home.

Andrew: Overall is your revenue down or.

Aleksandr: Um, it was up in February a little bit and I think it will be a little bit down, but yeah. Again, um, I don’t care about, I mean, all I care about to be able to cover the, to cover the, um, the salaries and to be able to donate before we had like very ambitious plans. Now we want to grow of course, and we’re going to work on that, But if not, it’s okay.

I’m not going to be pressuring my team right now. You know, it’s just not worth it.

Andrew: But you’re seeing that revenue is going down. How much in March versus February or last year, mark.

Aleksandr: It’s very hard to tell because, um, we, our revenue depends on, uh, the, um, amount of hours that developers worked. So what we’re seeing now, um, for now it’s, um, it’s a little bit down, like maybe a 5%, uh, but, um, what’s gonna happen in the next two weeks. I don’t know.

Andrew: Why do you think it’s been down just solely.

Aleksandr: Again, I don’t know. Um, it’s hard to tell because some, um, some of developers, even though they were not working, they had to report for the, for, for the clients who wanted to pay them no matter what to be able to pay. Um, uh, but, um, We spoke to all developers and our clients, and it doesn’t seem, there’s a huge shift.

So some people couldn’t work for the first week because they had to move and it was pretty painful for the, for the whole country, uh, not just for, for us to move, but for, for everyone. But now people are, you know, back to realize and. You know, with war occupies most of the time, most of your attention, but so you need to work.

You need to live your life. You have relatives who need help. You need, you know, neighbors who need help and, you know, you just have to do that. So it’s not major, but again, like I cannot see the full picture because it’s so little, so little time, you know, past right now. Um, it’s um, well a little bit, um, I, I lost the track of time, but, um,

Andrew: How are you staying in touch with your team? Are you still doing your weekly calls?

Aleksandr: Uh, yeah. And yeah, we, we do not a lot of, not a lot of people come, uh, at least last time it was something around 50% of people came. Um, and then we recorded love messages for them and for the people who, who could make it. And. I also do followups in slack for all the people who couldn’t make it so they know what’s going on.

Um, and our amazing HR she’s in touch with everyone all the time. And I think she’s one of the most amazing HRS don’t please don’t have hunter. She’s not going to go anywhere. Uh, but she’s in touch and she’s very empathic and that she’s helping a lot.

Andrew: How are your kids doing?

Aleksandr: Uh, want to say, okay. But I see them acting out sometimes. Um, at the beginning it was just like where they were excited about the trip. Even though they knew about the war, they heard the sirens, we were in bomb shelters. Like two days we were in bomb shelters, like every couple of hours. Um, but I, um, you know, they talking about the word.

Like any other grown up person, especially my oldest son. Um, but, um, yeah, I think, um, again, they’re much, much luckier than, than, than a lot of people, so

Andrew: And they’re integrating into school there. They’re not missing their home.

Aleksandr: Um, oh the Mr. Home in France a lot. And talk about, they talk about this a lot, especially my youngest. She was in the kindergarten and she’s not in kindergarten here yet. And she’s just devastated. She was, she loved it so much

Andrew: Um,

Aleksandr: But all of a sudden he went to school, he knows Hebrew a little bit. So he went to school here and he seems doing fine.

Again, you don’t know what’s really going on, even that you talked to them, it’s hard to tell. They seem fine, but in reality, what’s was going to yellow.

Andrew: Yeah. Sometimes you don’t even know until later on what the impact is.

Aleksandr: Yeah. First of all, for example, my oldest son started talking like a baby sometimes. Uh, and I think just it’s a form of, uh, of, of acting out a little bit.

Andrew: Yeah. What about you? How are you dealing with things? I’m imagining you’re working a lot

Aleksandr: Yeah. And it feels the same

Andrew: and what

Aleksandr: if it keeps me sane. Uh, I I’m fine. I, uh, Again, like the hardest thing I had to go through is one of week of road and it’s okay.

Andrew: So then what are you doing with your time now? Like if you’re, if you need to work, I see that you’re on all the time. I think I emailed you and I get a response within minutes, um, which I felt shocked by as you were traveling, you were able to do it. Where are you spending your time in the past? You were like the number one cheerleader for the company.

You are the person who is constantly tweeting, writing your email, checking in with people. What are you doing now?

Aleksandr: I am doing the same, but also we, we have to black queer, we have to make an, a lot of decisions as we go, because you know, a lot of things are happening. And we spend time on this. And, um, a lot of people cannot work. So we have to repurpose our load, our workload, um, and trying to manage this and taking some of tux on myself.

And, uh, this is like, that’s a lot of work, you know, I spend time with, with, with, with family, um, because my parents also stressed. They lost their home, uh, and. Kids too. So I spend time with them, but the rest of the time we tried to work and contribute to company.

Andrew: All right. The website is lemon.io. If somebody goes there right now, they’ll be able to get a developer that’s ready to work.

Aleksandr: Yeah. Um, even from Ukraine, but, uh, we’re trying to focus right now to another country.

Andrew: Okay. All right. I know I’ve sent people over to you. You, people are incredibly fricking responsive. There’s, it’s just, it’s, it’s so fast and it’s so personal. And then I, uh, and then you jump into the messages too, and I’ve always admired that about the way that you work, that you’re so available. And I know how tough that is.

Aleksandr: I’m mostly available on Twitter. So if people want to talk, ask, or do something, um, I’m open on Twitter. Medium’s open.

Andrew: Alright, cool. lemon.io. And then what’s your Twitter handle? I always type you into my search bar when I need to find you. Oh,

Aleksandr: at well dark.

Andrew: I do not like that name and Twitter because it’s not your last name. It’s not your first name. What does Vala dark mean? Is it just a shorter version of your

Aleksandr: yeah, someone gave me this nickname when I was a kid.

Andrew: Villa Darik on Twitter and of course you can just Google him and find him and see him@lemon.io. And I appreciate you coming on here and thanks so much and we’ll just keep staying in touch. Okay.

Aleksandr: Okay. Thank you, Andrew,

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