In this episode, I was honored to talk with Ann Datsenko, the Head of Operations at IdeaSoft, a Ukrainian IT company.
IdeaSoft is a custom software development company established in 2016, with a development center in Kharkiv, Ukraine. A while ago, IdeaSoft merged with Sigma Software Group while securing their identity, structure, and approaches. This Ukrainian IT company started to help people in Kharkiv by providing free food deliveries to people in need and giving help to elders and children. HelpKharkiv, a charity organization made by IT companies IdeaSoft, Sigma Group GenPro and Scalarr, has already helped more than 6000 evacuated citizens.
Hear the story of Invasion of Russia to Ukraine - how it was started, does Russia bomb civilians and get to know the current situation in Kharkiv - by listening the story of Ann Datsenko.
Also, in the podcast, we talk about the future of Ukraine as Silicon Valley and how the Ukrainian government made paying taxes voluntary and crypto legal after the invasion started. Discover the future opportunities of opening an IT company in Ukraine - knowledge of English, low taxes, online banking system, and more!
More info about the speaker:
Ann Datsenko - https://www.linkedin.com/in/anndatsenko
IdeaSoft website - https://ideasoft.io/
HelpKharkiv website - https://www.helpkharkiv.org/
How you can help Ukraine - list of proven charity organizations is below:
Artem Daniliants: Ukrainian government made crypto illegal right in Ukraine.
Ann: Ukraine can be very attractive in terms of its tax system.
Artem Daniliants: Everybody and the grandma in Ukraine knows that good salaries are in IT
Ann: Most part of Ukraine becoming Silicon Valley of Europe.
Artem Daniliants: They say that Ukrainians are bombing themselves they're saying that no city was ever harmed or damage is that absolute bullshit.
Artem Daniliants: Hi, guys Artem here with another Daniliants Ventures podcast. We have a very interesting episode, we have an here from ideas of she's head of operations at IT company in Ukraine. And we will be talking about situation in Ukraine, but most importantly, how IT companies are dealing with this incredible crisis and how some of them are even striving and trying to help the community around them. So Anne, thank you very much for joining. I really appreciate your time. Welcome to the podcast.
Ann: Thank you for invitation and for this amazing initiative. I really appreciate it. Thanks.
Artem Daniliants: Thank you. Thank you. So can you tell me a little bit about yourself? And maybe a little bit about your company, just and obviously, where are you right now? And are you okay, and how is your company doing?
Ann: Yes, I'm currently in Germany. So I'm in a safe place. Yes. And I'm fine and working remotely from here. And as you said, I'm the head of operations at IdeaSoft. I've been working in this company for almost six years now. And started as a UI/UX designer, and then over the years, have gotten to this position. And it was very interesting because I started this new position two weeks prior war. So being the head of operations during this war period was challenging, but still, yeah, we have managed to deal with everything. And our company is a full stack software development IT company.
We've been on the market since 2016. We provide a blockchain development or UX design, quality assurance, like everything you need to do a digital project, basically, into 2021, we became a part of Sigma Software Group. It's Ukrainian Swedish company, with over 9000 people all over the world and to celebrate Ukraine. Immigration Law Group has one of the strongest HR brands so we became a part of this group and into southern 22. Again, the month before war. We also bought a company event here in a desktop course. Guys are focusing on web 3.0 development and to gay men, Metaverse, etc. So we have three wide experience. And our main domain basically is blockchain development. In tech development, as well, we're working with secret depository centralized, decentralized exchanges, all kinds of wallets, different kinds of blockchains, etc.
So pretty wide and blockchain expertise. And of course, when war started, it was very challenging. Even though we had a business continuity plan, we were preparing to all the situation because, you know, we heard different views. And when we asked, and we knew that something like this could happen, so we have the city plan. But you know, like you're in this war, we have to readjust on the way. And right now we are working at full capacity. But he had to take two days off in the beginning of the war, because we were advocating first full of people from Kharkiv - our head office wasn't hard give. We were evacuating people from Kharkiv to Western Ukraine. And over the next two or three weeks, we also were evacuating people from Kyiv and other cities to the safe place in Western Ukraine. So of course, our productivity capacity during these first two, three weeks were lower. But I think in three or four weeks, we restored like 90% of our capacity. And I remember that the first day I used my laptop, and I was working again, it was Sunday, I guess 26th of February.
So the first, the first chance we had to start working the use of laptops, we started our coordination plans, etc. So as of now, everyone is working at full capacity. We have a lot of people that move abroad. So we have people in Germany and Poland and Hungary in different countries. We also have a lot of people in Western Ukraine in some places we ever created, like 99% of our employees we have we still have a couple of places they stay to Kharkiv for they own reasons, personal reasons, some of them has to have secret family members or other reasons to stay in Kharkiv. But everyone else was implicated. And we have restored our full capacity and continue working on projects, delivered projects, onboarding new clients. But of course, we're doing it from different places and remotely, and this is a new reality. But still, we were working almost as previous.
Artem Daniliants: Okay, so that was scary. So you have some people left in Kharkiv.
Ann: Yes, a couple. A couple of a couple of employees still stayed in hockey.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah. So I'll be asking stupid questions but you You know, do they have internet? Do they have a way to keep safe to stay safe?
Ann: As safe as they can stay in the situation? You know, are we in contact all the time. And, for example, I last week I had a call with one of his girls, or are still staying in Kharkiv, like people, unfortunately can be used to everything. So when I asked her, How are you doing, you should build like a coin ever since fine. They're religious. And with a woman being advised on the two sides, like everything is okay. They have internet, they have food supplies, water, we also have this organization as a nation that can help them with this. She's working, of course, she had to arrange a little bit of working schedule. So for example, in the middle of the day, you can you need to go too far, because it will be closed early and other stuff. But she is working as usual. And but we have only like two or three people in Kharkiv right now, everyone else must feel bad for them.
Artem Daniliants: And I guess, smaller cities are safer right now, when it comes to Ukraine. And then obviously, cities like Ivano Frankivsk can leave there also can be considered semi safe, even though they're quite bigger. But were you able to make payroll? Are you paying people salaries and everything? So
Ann: Yes, of course, we even gave everyone some payment in advance when the war started on the 2-3 day, because we are allowed that people need additional money to move to, to buy gas for the cars, etc. And also within as usual, we had no delays in payments. And thanks a lot to our clients and partners, some of them in the beginning of the world, some of them even paid in advance to some scope that we haven't realized yet. Fortunately, everything is fine in terms of payment so all people get their salaries as usual
Artem Daniliants: And there is no interruption in the payment system. So you know, people can still receive money to their bank accounts, right? They can use their their payment cards, Visa, MasterCard, they can use it. And I guess in safe areas, people can go shopping, they can purchase supplies. And now that we're talking about supplies, you have an awesome initiative that your company is spearheading? And could you talk a little bit about that? Because I think that's pretty awesome. Besides obviously paying payroll and helping your people get out, you try to help a broader audience. And could you maybe talk a little bit about the initiative that you're spearheading?
Ann: Yes, of course. In the beginning of the war, I was to be dealt with Peter, he stayed in the Kharkiv and he had these things for the first three weeks of work. And he started as an initiative like to help our employees first of all to help them to evacuate them and their families to help those people who stayed for the first couple of weeks in Kharkiv with different supplies food etc. And then other companies joined us and now we have this initiative HelpKharkiv with a softer sigma and Gen X color companies to the United our reporters, it raises some first Intel organization. We also some volunteers who are not even employees, they do so they join this organization and they are working as right now. They're working extremely hard in delivering all this humanitarian help to people. It's mostly concentrated on Kharkiv region because it's very close to Russian border.
And this part of Kharkiv that is closer to the border is basically destroyed, it's ruined. And there were so many people who stayed at their home without eating at sub zero temperatures in the basement. So they are provided and that was one of the close to the medicine with the food with water with any supplies. They can they are also helping medical specialties we have donations from all over the world from our clients, partners friends, just people who would like to help a person just go to the support. Now also they work with different hospices to see children and elderly so yeah, they try to target and target region because it's all started for our city but we have a small villages and towns in Kharkiv region. Very bad situation right now. And of course our location. As of now I know that in this organization, we have allocated about 6000 people. So we started from IDs of employees and then we expand like we were ever creating everyone people from other companies from hardship, comments relevant was showing contracts of our guys that were volunteers and asking for help. Guys were looking for bosses organizing everything. So I think they have done tremendous work and they are still doing their legacy this group of people will take part in helping everyday.
Artem Daniliants: So, Did I hear correctly that you actually evacuated like 6000? People?
Ann: From Kharkiv? Yes. So this organization? Wow,
Artem Daniliants: That's that's a lot. That's a lot of lives saved. Possibly. That's, that's amazing. And do you find it yourself? Do you fund the company or the the initiative yourself? You mentioned that there are other also donors. But mostly, you started the initiative and you paid at least for the lion's share of the cost?
Ann: As organization it started with the for IT companies, I guess. Yes, Sigma, GenPro and Scalarr. It's our partners, our friends. So when we started doing this work as a beginning, we felt like they joined us, we expanded our our forces that way. But we collect innovation and funding from like all over the world. You need to have like a lot of a lot of resources to handle all this work, all this support all this medicine, all this gas. And you need actually to pay to this bus drivers who are delivered all this stuff every day and support these people as well, because they need some money. So we're collecting donations from different different countries.
Artem Daniliants: So if I want to donate to help support this awesome initiative, obviously you have a website. I can probably like you accept also donations from abroad, right? Yeah, maybe crypto PayPal, credit cards, all that good stuff, right? Yes. Because you're a blockchain company in the sense of, I'm sure you connected, you know, crypto, like, yeah, one of the first payments, probably you accepted. That's pretty awesome. That's pretty awesome. So if you think about your company, right, and so you still continue working for your clients? Right? Of course. Yeah, of course, as you mentioned, you're almost at 100%. Productivity currently. And it's awesome to hear that your customers are helping you. But I will bring a little bit of like a curveball to you. And I know that some of the IT companies, they have worked actively with Russian clients. Yes. Right. So and it's a bit tricky situation right now. I think a lot of companies have stopped, like doing any kind of projects with Russian customers. And when you think, does it sector in Ukraine, did it get political now? Are companies taking a stand? Or like, how is that messy situation doing?
Ann: Very interesting question to be honest. In terms of our company, fortunately, we didn't have any Russian customers, because we're working for us market as well. uribl. So all our clients not? To be honest, I didn't know the position of other IT companies. I haven't had a chance to communicate with my colleagues so closely about this question. But I think that I think that probably they are they are not alone. Continue working with these companies right now. Because you know, it's a tricky in terms of people as well, when something so awful happens in your, in your city in your country. And you can see like people from another country they just came and tried to destroy everything. On an emotional level on a human level, we can understand how anyone can collaborate on any way with the people from this country from this aggressor.
So I don't know for sure. But my personal opinion, I think that most IT companies, they stopped working with this Russian client, because first of all, you supported the economy. They are paid taxes from this money and this tax, and they don't own this military equipment and up to the army as well. And on the moral level, I'm sure that a lot of Ukrainian, IT especially so they want to work on this project. They wouldn't like to work with this projects for such company. So I think at this point, yes, it could be a be political, but from my own perspective, like it's understandable. It would be very weird for us to work with companies from aggressors country and support the economy. So I think that yeah, it couldn't be the case, but I can understand why.
Artem Daniliants: So basically, many IT companies, at least you think so I have cutting ties with Russia. And customers do they have any? Okay? How about another conflicting feeling that I'm sure a lot of people are feeling right now. So, just a little bit about maybe myself. I actually have people working for me in Ukraine, and enjoy and always worked in Ukraine in wonderful, deep and wonderful city of Kharkiv, which is my favorite city in Ukraine. And Kharkiv is very much Russian speaking city. And I had, I wouldn't say, I think it was never, I think like very pro Russia. But I think it was pretty neutral. Right? Like before everything horrible started happening. It was pretty neutral. And Kharkiv was amazing, because it has a lot of young people, because there are universities. And I think IT sector is very strong in Kharkiv. Yes. But what do you think will happen after the war? Because, you know, it's really weird to be in Ukraine. And, you know, speaking Russian, do you think that will actually change the culture will actually change long term? And how will those Russian speaking cities, what will happen to them?
Ann: Very interesting question. To be honest, we we have spoken with my friends about the situation with language because I am myself from the central Ukraine. So in my native city, we speak some kind of dialect, it's mix of Ukrainian and Russian. And when I moved to Kharkiv 15 years ago, I started speaking Russian because everyone is Russian culturally, and historically, it was fine. And to be honest, I don't think that it's about language, because for example, Canada has two languages. It's fine. Switzerland has not one language as well, officially, and everyone is doing great with this. And culturally, I think there still will be people who speak in Russian, but it doesn't mean that they are not patriots, they are they are willing to try something like that. I have dozens of acquaintances that are speaking Russian. It's like family language, let's say the trade because they were raised in arguable in other regions, but they are they they Petros, they love Ukraine. They don't want to be saved by Russia, and all of this, all of this stuff.
So I think there still will be some people who speak Russian language. But of course, of course, we can see. Because a lot of times in our company as well, we were speaking before the war, you realize the switch to be understandable. People tried to show the position as well. You'd like to speak the native language, we can understand. But I think that some group of people still will be speaking in Russian, especially in eastern regions. But again, it doesn't mean that they are not robbing Ukraine or something like that. But culturally, and historically, I think that some parts will, it was it'll stay this this way for sub regions.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah. So basically, next time, when I come visit Kharkiv, which I'm very excited to do very soon, hopefully. So all of a sudden, you know, everybody will not forget Russian?
Ann: No, of course not. Because it's historically, like people were raised in families who were speaking to grandparents, were speaking Russian and parents, etc. But I think historically, it will stay even though a lot of people switched.
Artem Daniliants: Right. So and the reason why I brought up this, this question, obviously, is that I have amongst my friends, a lot of Russians who have migrated, well immigrated, migrated, they're not birds. They emigrated to Europe, right. And some of them are actually looking to move to Ukraine and help rebuild Ukraine. Right? Join IT companies start companies. And some of them have been talking to me like openly and saying, like I'm afraid to, to be I'm afraid that people will think that I speak Russian and I am, you know, the aggressor, you know, will, will I feel this kind of race, racist tension and so forth. And I've been talking to them and I said that, as long as you're supporting Ukraine, supporting Ukrainian values, you're contributing positively to the society. Most likely nobody will care about the language. And I think it's very good to hear from you, right.
That's pretty much the case. Or at least, that's how you feel obviously, you know, talking to Your colleagues and talking to other intrapreneurs, and so forth. But one thing that I want to really know about is you became head of operations, like prior to the conflict, like you mentioned, like a week or something. Right? So like, a couple of weeks before a couple of weeks. Okay. So basically, that's kind of like trial by fire, right? I mean, like, people just throw you into the fire and like, Okay, you do your thing. So could you maybe tell a little bit about, like, about the events? Right, when in the morning, the shelling started, like, what went through your head? What did you do? What kind of work day was that?
Ann: Yeah. Okay, no problem. It wasn't work day. We had a day off. Let's say that we went to court. Yeah, I remember that. I got up at 6:30. Because my mom was calling and it was too early for her to call. And she was crying and saying, Dear, you should get off. The war has started and I was like, what, what are you talking about and sleepy. I have a lot of work to do today. But then I realized that she was very scared. And she's gone from Central. As I said, I'm from Central Ukrainian, middle of the country. And she said that they canceled today work at school today. And she stayed at home and they are all watching news. And Kharkiv has been hard to have these under bambina, etc. But I haven't heard anything. And when I get up I get up and started looking for some news. And there were already communication in our workshops, who everyone was like, Okay, what are we going to do next? According to our plans?
What are the next steps, so our channels was active in telegram. And then I heard the sound so this vulnerable, like it was far away, but it was very, very vivid sound and I vividly remember that I was scared because I've never heard something like that before. And to be honest, still the last minute, like I personally, I was sure that every bit like all these, all these rumors in Chester, they tried to scare us. It's a political game sub kind of leverage and other stuffs inflation. And for the first couple of weeks, I was like, oh my god, it's happening. But I'm under stress, fortunately, so I packed my bag, like in 15-20 minutes, I was chatting with our C level folks. We've done my friends and our Head of Business Analysis department. And I went to her house because I don't own a car. And she does and we decided to work together. And our first plan was, so people who own cars so they can use the cars and maybe take someone on board into their cars. And our first stop was Poltava according to all the plans and everyone who wanted to allocate these first day, because not everyone wants to go somewhere else like probably it's for a day or two and everything, that'd be fine.
They like should a little bit and then go away. But no and at first day, about 60 employees, if I'm not mistaken, come to office. So we organized the bus and this bus, I don't know probably doesn't move cars or something like that. Our location was on Poltava city we had to some safe place that we prepared for this case, and everyone was moving there to this city. And it was it was scary, of course but it wasn't under, you know, active war actions at this day because the first date was just some Bombay at the Jubilee Airport, in Kharkiv region, but after a couple of hours they started shooting through the city as well. And it took too long because usually you can move from Kharkiv to Poltava in two hours by car and we were going for 10-12 hours because huge traffic jams a lot of people moving, it was too long, the whole day we were moving on this trip. And then we had a plan how to move from Poltava Ukraine Of course it's a one broad so we had to stop some points and we were moving with these cars and we've been fossil people and at this time as I said there was a video with the status Park he started organizing all this application.
So the first day I think we're located about a two maybe people boss in the cars with the with families, wives, husbands and pets as well. And the second third day and etc we were taking different demands of people and when we evacuated everyone from idea so, like not even been directed to doing this here I started joining other companies just people not from IT sector and it became always became important number ration to help people move they come from Kharkiv region. So the first day, we were moving for 10 or 12 hours, I think we left hockey in car was my colleague and her boyfriend and son, about 10am in the morning. And we get to the top of our region about to have a pm or something like that. So the whole day, we were moving to this first location. And second day, we're also where everyone were on the road. So I think in short day, we got to this first safe place in western Ukraine. So first two days, it was Thursday and Friday. We weren't working at all. But on Monday, it was 28th of February, we started recovering everything and everyone who could join, work day delivering something started working. Meanwhile, we were dealing with the oldest coordination operation location stuff. So something like that.
Artem Daniliants: Wow, that's quite quite quite a day, to be honest. But you had some plans already in place. Right. So you, as you mentioned, Before, you had already some action plan. You obviously have something like Slack or teams, right? Yes. Where where you communicate. So everybody basically came in and told about their situation, right? And you did a headcount probably and started talking, who is moving, where and where are you going and so forth. But how about your clients? Did you did you send did you send a worrying email? Like, I'm sure some of your clients were like, were watching news guys, and were in shock. What the hell is going on? Yes,
Ann: Yes, to be honest, I started receiving messages, like 7am in the morning that day or something like that. But it wasn't like, Oh, my God, I'm going to deliver our product or not, not everyone was like, and we're so sorry. It's happening to your contract, let me know if we can count help any way we can. Everyone was so supportive. It was to be honest, even though it just works. But it was very meaningful at that moment, because, of course, we were scared even though we had plans. We, we we were acting, to advocate to all these people, etc. But still, we were scared that it's not something you can you can deal with quickly. So clients were texting us from the early morning, but it was supportive messages. And we said that we need to take two days of assault by the end of this week, Thursday and Friday, because we need to deal with all this emergency of vacation. And everyone was like, Okay, no problem. Take your time. Let us know if you need to postpone some deadlines. Everyone was very supportive. So yeah. They were worried about us. And we have dozens of this messages and emails in telegram slack everywhere.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, yeah. So customers were pretty understanding. Yes, yes. Yes. Yeah. Yeah, I've seen. I've seen it across the board. People were really passionate about helping and somewhere. Some of my clients even asked me right away, like, where do we send money? Like, yes, like, where? Yeah, where can we donate? You know, how can we donate and what kind of stuff you need and so forth. And I think Ukraine United a lot of people, you know, because it's just, you can't look at the pictures and situation and feel anything else besides just urge to help in some way that you can. That's awesome. That's very, very, very interesting. And if you mentioned by the way that your company works with Blockchain, right. And obviously blockchain is such a buzzword. It seems that everything soon, maybe my milk carton will have a blockchain technology. So make sure that it came from the right origin, right. Yeah. So basically, when it comes to blockchain, what kind of projects or projects do you work with? What what type of work do you guys do? You mentioned full stack, but then again, full stack means everything and the grandma, you know, it could mean anything. It could mean you know, right from the aches, you know, from the atom that you can create the computer and then you program so could you talk a little bit about your company's profile, because maybe some of the listeners will be interested to hear about your company. What do you do?
Ann: Of course, we work with different type of projects. For example, we created a lot of centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges, crypto wallets, custodial noncustodial, wallets, everything in between, I mean, very popular. Right now. NFT platforms, Dao platforms, as well. We work with different blockchains Ethereum Bitcoin family, Solana, Emir, polka dot etc. So a variety of possibilities that you haven't blockchain we can we can deal with this. And this full stack means that we can cover blockchain development as well, as well building smart contracts and everything that you need to, to support all this kind of project as well. We have some content developers quality actually in the designers, business, Anneli. So normally, Blockchain devs, but everyone, so you can build the project from scratch. So for example, you say, I would like to create, I don't know, anti platforms, to sell artworks to support Ukrainian army, for example, because it is also a popular case right now. So we can, from this great starting from business analysis, gather all the requirements, writing all the specifications, and continue with your content, Blockchain development, QA and design with everything great to deliver you this product. Ready to ready to work. So yeah, we can cover all the stages.
Artem Daniliants: Awesome, awesome. I just recently purchased the ledger called wallet, and it supports NFT. So actually buying NFC to support Ukraine sounds really interesting. Could be an interesting way to load my ledger, maybe with some cool NFT content. Okay, well, that's that sounds really, really good. So if you think about a blockchain in general, I think Ukrainian government made crypto legal, right in Ukraine. So first of all, it's awesome. And I've heard I've heard from my guys that you can actually pay for utilities, like your house utilities, in crypto in Ukraine. And I thought like, Oh, my God, that is pretty awesome. It just an amazing, amazing development. And I think Ukrainian security organization started accepting crypto really quickly, and got a lot of money. So do you think that now that crypto is legal in Ukraine, do you think there will be obviously after the war after you know, you know, government kind of takes a breath, you know, and just after a moment starts rebuilding process? Do you think this legalization will enable some sort of like crypto innovation, do you think maybe they will some, some companies will actually like establish in Ukraine because of this, because like mining is legal now, right? If you use electricity, and you pay for it, and so forth, and like you don't use government electricity, or do any kind of shady stuff, if you just create mining operation in Ukraine, it's all legal, you pay taxes and so forth. Do you think it's a good move when it comes to enabling innovation long term?
Ann: Of course, I think it's amazing. And I think that we are very, I take weak in this kind of stuff. Because Ukraine has Minister of digital transformation. As far as I know, it's not like usual case for other countries. But we have the whole ministry that are working on this digital digitalization, and all this transformation for our country. And all the scripts The story also about new abilities for business for IT business as well. And I'm sure that it's going to attract a lot of companies, entrepreneurs and investors to our country. First of all, because we have very good I think compared to other European countries' tax systems, we don't have such high tax rates, like in other countries. And while crypto is, crypto is legalized, you have such a lot of possibilities to build your own company and to conduct different transactions in our country. So I think it's very, very good and promising steps for our IT sector. And as you said, probably even though it's going to be like a big part of Ukraine, becoming Silicon Valley of Europe, because crypto is like you can't I can't imagine our modern world without crypto without blockchain without all this processes. Web 3.0 is developing. So it's our future. And we need to we need to adjust to this future. And I'm very happy that Ukraine is very modern in this in this kind of decisions.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, yeah, of course, working for a blockchain company, I think. Yeah, of course. You have to tell the company line and say blockchain is amazing of course, of course. But yeah, I definitely agree that it's a great move. And I think Ukraine in general, has been just kicking ass when it comes to media and using digitalization and its opportunities. I mean, I mean, the war is horrible and so forth. But Ukraine, the use of Twitter, social media, you know, crypto just, it's been just so so amazing. I think there are some like really smart people doing PR and coverage for Ukraine and thinking about what opportunities digital tools offers. So I think that's been like fascinating to watch from the sidelines. And I think I think one of the reasons why Ukraine has such a strong support around the world is that I think Ukraine is winning the social media war easily, easily. I mean, in the sense that in like, they're using social media to empower, you know, people to tell their stories. And I think just anywhere you look right now, it's just positive sentiment. So I think the word is spreading really, really quickly, which is amazing. But you mentioned taxes, and there are only two certain things in life. It's, you know, death and taxes. Right. So you mentioned that in Ukraine, the taxes are fairly low. So what does it mean? Is it like, zero or 20%? What is it? I live in Finland, where taxes can go up to like 50%? Like personal taxes? So yeah, you know, we live with that. But what about Ukraine? What what is the taxation system there?
Ann: Basically, Ukraine has two types of tax systems simplified. In general, simplified, the system is paying 5% of income. So all money the company earned during some period, if the company isn't VAT payer added tax, and 3% plus VAT for ratepayers. So this type of system can apply to companies with an income approximately Jews, so then 3600 universe, and general system for those who earn more means paying 18% of the profit. So this type has a little bit more bureaucracy than the previous one. But like you can find great accountant in Ukraine, great financial company, they, they will handle everything. And also you can reduce there as individual entrepreneurs to start business in Ukraine. So individual entrepreneurs today, they pay 5% of income, there are different groups of these entrepreneurs. Basically, compared to European rates, and as far as I know, are done in Germany. And here it talks about, again, 45% to 5038. They have a lot of like very difficult complex systems, because a lot of conditions, but still comparing to 5% or even 18% in Ukraine, it seems like very big difference. So I think Ukraine can be very attractive in terms of its tax systems. And also you can open a new company like registration will take about two days. Of course, you need to provide a lot of documents. So which will take a couple of weeks. But still, it's not like four month, you know. So yeah, I think our tax tax system is very, very good.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, but I think you have bureaucracy system that is maybe not so good yet. So maybe Ministry of digital transformation. We'll work on that. Because I think a good example is Estonia, where you can do everything remotely. You have your e-residency, and so forth. So I think maybe someday we'll come to Ukraine, maybe they're already thinking about something similar where, because I think Ukraine will want foreign companies to establish their offices in Ukraine, I'm sure they will consider making the process easier because now I think, without an accountant who speaks Ukrainian and knows the system, I don't think you can open a company if I'm completely honest.
Ann: Yeah, no, of course, as I said, you need to hire some people to help you with this. Because, unfortunately, right now, I don't think that our overseas municipal and governmental services are availability which, so of course, we need to hire Ukrainian accountant or some financial company that can handle everything. But still I think that we are, we have very good experience in terms of digitalization, as I said, and I'm comparing for example online banking in Ukraine and here in Europe and oh my gosh, even I haven't related to create are so progressive in this way. Because you can do everything I can find my utilities from my mobile application or in the bank, I can even open account for my interest in developer individual entrepreneur, like company. Yes. So also from my phone from, from my bank, or from my bank application, etc. It's like we have a lot of services, online banking in Ukraine, I think is amazing. It's very, very convenient. And I believe that's probably in the nearest future. We're gonna digitalize all these processes, legal processes of opening companies, or entities in our country, as well as it's going to be easier.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, I really hope so. I really hope so. And I think the government in Ukraine did something like, like, really weird, but in a good way, from first of April, they made paying taxes, almost like voluntary. Yeah. So you don't have to pay taxes if you don't, if you can't, right, yes. And they reduced VAT to like 7%, from like, 20. And basically, that was an amazing move. I mean, why do you think that happened,
Ann: Because a lot of people lost their businesses, lost a job, like maybe someone lost completely, you know, in hockey, for sure. In other cities that were struggling. And some people, of course, they lost capacity, or customers, and they can cover all the costs of war. So I think it was to help our business to deal with this difficult period. And we also have this decrease to taxes for the IT sector. But still, you can pay, you can pay previous rates, or you can, you can send this difference to the army, you can donate it to artists needs. And I think it's amazing because they they give this ability to people who are struggling right now, to save on taxes, to handle the situation. And for those who are working as a company, because it is like the biggest donor to our economy right now. And during this war period, and foreign companies, we can provide our taxes as usual as previously, or at least a domain to Ukrainian army. And
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, that's, yeah, I've never heard that the government told its citizens that guys, you know, it's optional. If you can't, you can't. It's pretty amazing. And I think a lot of people, it removes additional worry, because now there are other reasons to worry. So when you remove taxes, it's a big help, right? I mean, I don't have to fill out paperwork, you don't have to worry about it. If you can't, for some reason, handle taxes. That's, that's pretty amazing. So if you think about it, you mentioned that IT companies are one of the few, you know, industries where I guess, business is going as usual, more or less, maybe like, I don't know, 80 90%. But companies that have worked for outside customers, you as you know, Israel, EU, they are able to continue working maybe not as efficient, not as productive as they were before. But they were, they were able to stay resilient and survive, which obviously helps by paying payroll and paying taxes and so forth. So why do you think, why do you think in Ukraine, there are so many IT companies, I mean, people don't know this, but a lot of the software that we use every day has been created in Ukraine. And the way that I learned about this is that when the war started, a lot of the companies started sending out newsletters, saying like, Hey, guys, just so you know, our software is made in Ukraine, you know, if you can support Ukraine, please support it. And I started to realize that this software is made in Ukraine and this and this service, and this is well, and I was really amazed. So why do you think there are so many IT companies in Ukraine? What why there is such a boom?
Ann: First of all, I think because we have a lot of smart people. Like your credit, it's not a small country. Yeah, obviously, as you said, we have a lot of universities, so a lot of strong programs, and a lot of young people who are in IT sector, even like I don't know, in the 80s and 90s. So when they're still studying at university, they started programming and learning new languages, etc. So basically, we have a lot of human resources, a lot of people who can provide the expertise. And also I think, why investors strive to open company in Ukraine because probably we have also very good rates in terms of salaries, you know, comparing to European or USA market, so you can get a lower price ISIS with the project like people with a good expertise, like team who can dedicate it to your project and cover everything, or you can open company or your r&d center in Ukraine. And, yeah, it's not, it's not only cost effective due to taxes, due to salaries, due to everything, but also very good expertise, because I know that we have a lot of a lot of smart guys. And yeah, maybe, maybe that's why you crazy so far, so popular for IT companies?
Artem Daniliants: I think one of the reasons, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but one of the reasons is that everybody and their grandma in Ukraine knows that good salaries are in IT. Yeah, actually, yeah, you're right. Yeah, everybody. So so I know a lot of people who are like, you know, I've been a cook, or I've been this, I've been there, but now I'm looking at it. And usually they start with something like a junior front end developer or QA or something like that. And already as a junior a salary in it, they probably can earn, you know, more than, you know, some other some other profession that they might be passionate about. So I think there is a lot of drive and desire to be in it, because it's very prestigious, I think in Ukraine, right? Good salary, good offices, bosses, who are usually not jerks, because, you know, they have flat I think structure, right, flat hierarchy, and IT companies and it is more chill and you know, companies earn more money, so they invest more into their employees.
Ann: Maybe not, I would say that we have like in some maybe a government or some factories, or some government organization, they have this old directive style of leadership, you can't actually influence if you had the boss, that is George Weissman type of leaders facilitative leadership, because we're actually interested in that our people will be growing and getting better at a skill so they don't feel safe, they recognize and welcome to the company. So we have like, for example, in our company, we have the whole framework of a performance review and gradual updates, etc. So that's why it's such a big difference. Because when you come to IT company, not only you will have a good salary, like bigger than restaurant or any other place, but you will also have this facilitative leaders that you will have opportunity to grow to learn something new. And as you said, Good office, all this usual stuff. You can't have an article. Oh, yeah.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, so you get good coffee, you know, a little bit of mocha latte, some cookies, and then office parties and, you know, company trips and all that good stuff. You get the you get the good treatment. That's yeah, that absolutely makes sense. And I think in hurricane specifically, I think hurricanes, I think was really good when it comes to it. Because in Kharkiv if there are a lot of young people, a lot of smart people, and also Kharkiv is not Kyiv. So the rates are better a bit and it's easier to find maybe office it's it's maybe a bit cost effective. And Kharkiv is not very far from Kyiv, you can take a train. I think like what like four hours, maybe. Four hours by train, basically by cars. Pretty much the same.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, and, and Kharkiv has an airport, a very small one. A very cute one, but still an airport. So you can actually fly and I think visa flies to Ukraine as well. Well, it used to fly so visa I think flies from Estonia for like 20 euro or something so you can get very very quickly to Ukraine obviously not now due to situation but otherwise, yeah. How is English in Ukraine obviously in IT companies I know personally that a lot of companies actually pay for English courses and try to make sure that their personnel speaks English but amongst young people or IT sector in general, do you think my question is if I'm a foreigner, I don't speak Ukrainian. Will I be okay? with English, if I want to establish a company,
Ann: To be honest, it could be a little bit hard, especially like in Kyiv situation is better, in particular a little worse, if you're talking about hotels and services, taps, etc, It's fine. But for example, you can come to some coffee house or restaurant and you will have a difficulty to, to order something in English because not everyone is speaking English, unfortunately. So service sector, it's not good in terms of English as you said it, like everyone is speaking English. On a very high level, because we are communicating with clients with customers all over the world, it's a requirement. But from the perspective of different kinds of services on the ground is going to be difficult. Of course, you can always find, for example, lawyer, company or accountant, there will be a debate device in English, and they can help you with all the requests and deal with everything. But it's not like when you came on the street and you talk to someone in English, you will have a lot of answers. But still we have a lot of students we have we had at least for a lot of Korean students in heart giving Ukraine and these guys they always speak English. So it helped to increase our service level or miscommunication because these guys, they rent apartments, they actually are leaving in the city for like four or five years. Well, they studied in the university universities. So it's getting better. But yeah, it's not. It's not a perfect unfortunately.
Artem Daniliants: Well, yeah. I mean, it's nowhere perfect except in English speaking countries, right? Yeah, I mean, sure. Now living in Germany. Now living in Germany, I'm sure you see that not, not everybody speaks English in Germany as well. But maybe without any personal details, how did you end up in Germany.
Ann: It's not a secret, I can share personal details, we were working from Western Ukraine for some time, and then realized that still, we have to handle a lot of stuff and get involved in western Ukraine, because a lot of people move from eastern part, from Egypt to Western Ukraine. And as women we've had, I'm talking about my, my friends and my colleagues had a follow up business department, we've had this ability to move abroad because men are not allowed those who can join army. So some of them are not allowed. Some of them have, of course, legal cases, they can move abroad as well, but some of them should stay in the country right now. So we just decided to move abroad, because first of all, we can have like more comfortable situation for staying, and we can have stable internet. And it's going to be more productive for us to manage and coordinate everyone. Now also, we knew that a lot of people will be moving to us as well. So we need to help them. And we have amazing clients and partners who also helped us during this process. For example, we moved to Germany and our partners, they provided us with the apartment for two months when we can figure out what to do. And yeah, we just decided to first of all, we moved to the border and move on to Budapest.
We stayed there for a couple of days just figuring out where to go next, where we did the best place for us to sleep inside start working and we stayed off for four weeks in Vienna, and then to Germany foreign born. So a lot of co working spaces here a lot of ability to to work productively, remotely. So yeah, and a lot of our people also in Germany, I was talking to my colleagues, I know they're people in Essen in Munich, in different small cities, you know, around Berlin a lot of people in Poland, of course, in Hungary. Yeah. We ended up in Germany, at least for now, I'm not saying that it's for forever, because I feel more flexible right now. And we can just take our suitcase and go to another city.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, and I think you mentioned that Ukraine has mobilized its forces. So if you're, if you're, you know, service age, like military service age, you're not allowed to leave the country if you're a man. If you have disabilities or some other exception, you know, that is approved by the government, you can leave the country and I know some people have, you know,
Ann: You can also leave if you father or like with many children or you have to stable relatives that you need to take care of.
Artem Daniliants: Like, for like social or humanitarian reasons why like social reasons, family reasons, you can also leave your country, which that is awesome. And now that you're in Europe, you don't have to worry about visa, right?
Ann: Yes, I need to register here, for example, and I will get a visa for one year. And to be honest, yeah, everyone, every everyone around us is very supportive. It's very pleasant. So on anyone asked by prominent, say Ukraine, like, Oh, my God, seriously, how can it help? Do you need some help? Maybe accommodation? Or you need some recommendations here? Do you have good servers? Do you have a nice place to stay, etc? So yeah, we can have visa for one year here. But to be honest, I think I'm not going to stay like enregistrer in Germany. I think they're going to move to another country. Probably hospital. And maybe I won't registered there. But I know that some of our people they already registered even though Hungary's it would be all of these countries, Poland, Germany.
Artem Daniliants: So where do you want to go? Lissabon? Lissabon? Oh, okay. Okay. Okay. I haven't been there. But I guess the reasons are, it's pretty warm. Yes. Yeah. It's pretty nice. For sure. Yeah. But basically, for you the whole Europe is open, right?
Ann: Yes, yes, we can move to any country we want. We can register there. We have like 90 days that we can we can figure out what to do in this during this line?
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, find a commendation just, you know, get settled. And then you have to register, right?
Ann: Yes. And then you have to register and you will get one year visa for how to say it's not refugees. It's a little bit another side stage, I
Artem Daniliants: Guess. It's like, like a refugee or immigrant status, right?
Ann: Something like that for a year. And then they can make it longer institution have like up to three years, or something like that? And are you allowed to work?
Artem Daniliants: Are you allowed to work depends
Ann: On my request. For example, if I say that I don't have any income, and I can, like work, I can ask for social support for some money for coverage of my rent. And as far as I know, in this status, we are allowed to work so we can work. But I'm for example, I'm gonna apply on any social support. I've done a lot of people who actually did it. So I'm just need to I just registered and they say like, I have a work, I have income taxes in Ukraine, I just need to illegal status to stay here for some time. And when I pay my rent and do everything by myself, I just need to leave the status. Yes. So
Artem Daniliants: When you register, when you register, you continue paying taxes in Ukraine, right? You don't pay them in Europe?
Ann: Yes, to be honest, I don't know details for all the countries. But as far as I know, it will be someone for example. You don't need to pay additional taxes inside the country. So if can provide with a document that you're working with a company in Ukraine, and I'm paying taxes on Ukraine for some period, for sure. I don't do pay taxes in Portugal. As far as I know, I don't know how to get on base for Germany. Yet, I haven't I haven't had a chance to, to investigate this question yet.
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, I think I think it depends on the country. And I think this has been like a, like a protection measure measure where they give you quickly like one year visa, and they have like medical health they provide you as well, right? So they cover your medical expenses if you have some which is awesome. But yeah, it depends on the country. But so far, how you like in Germany.
Ann: Now Germany is very nice. It's very, it's very nice. Very clean. Everything's fine. A lot of people I've seen that people share target speaking English, so it's very convenient for me, but you know, probably because of all of the situation it feels like Kharkiv is so amazing to see our streets our office and we separated with my college friends we have very heavily like corporate culture. So basically that's why it's a little bit difficult. That's the most important thing is feel safe to run from silence.
And again, concentrate 100% on the board of a company and no employees and I think it's most important right now.
Artem Daniliants: Have you been resident?
Ann: No unfortunate not but I've been to Amsterdam. Oh, well, okay.
Artem Daniliants: Of course. Yeah, Amsterdam is awesome. Amsterdam. Amazing, especially during summer I guess. But I'm from German cities, I visited Dresden, and I liked it. I think the most it's small, and beautiful city with an amazing art gallery, like an amazing art gallery. So that was was a pleasure to visit. But why do you want to move to Lisbon?
Ann: First of all, we have some colleagues there to be to be called each other. And we already know that we can probably work together in office, on apartments with apartments. They have offices, for example, we can work together, we can see each other offline, and it will be nice. And also, as you said, they haven't responded figures. And I really, I really live by this energy and bond is to be honest, a bit small for me. So I need more action. So that's why, but to be honest, the main reason is that we can be closer to your colleagues and it will be nice to be connected.
Artem Daniliants: Of course, of course. And soon we're going to wrap up, but one thing that can't really escape my mind is that some people, well, especially, obviously, the Russian side, they say that Ukrainians are bombing themselves. You know, they're saying that no city was ever harmed or damaged. So you, you know, been living in hurricane. What can you tell me is that absolute bullshit?
Ann: Of course, 100%. I have friends, I have family in Ukraine right now. This morning, my mother was texting me then in my small city, my native CPA in the center of Ukraine. They had bombed in like military airport or something like that. I have friends who had been staying with me for the first two weeks or more, they were texting me like, oh, my gosh, we lost all the glasses and all that apartment, every window was broken. It was very scary. It's not like all the stories that would have been ourselves. Other bullshit. And we have I have colleagues, most the close relatives, colleague of mine lost her sister because of another colleague of mine to reach these carrots in my Eco for a month. And it's it's really stories that you not hear from some people you're closer. To be honest, a couple of weeks ago, I met men on the street here in Bonn, who told me the guy who's Russian, but like many years ago, told me like Mariupol it's, it's a fake? No, it's a fake. It's like it's a Photoshop. I have a colleague who had a nervous breakdown, because her parents were there. We were talking to each other on the phone. It's not a fake. It's a real situation. So all the stories I know that this is part of this hybrid war. But definitely one because
Artem Daniliants: Yeah, I completely agree. Just when I say you know, it's a bit different when you say it, because obviously you live through those situations and you have connections and I noticed that telegram became very important, right. During this whole life. Many people don't know, but telegram was huge in Ukraine, then people started organizing chats and support chats. And it became like a lifeline when everything else was kind of like in shambles. And there was chaos everywhere. People were self self organizing, they created like hard gift charts. And they were asking for help and so forth. I think telegram played a big role in helping Ukrainian people like self organize, and they have been amazing at that. So so like, why did they go to telegram all of the sudden, like, why not? Like, I'm just interested as a digital marketer, why not like Facebook groups or whatever.
Ann: As you said, like telegram it's very convenient and easy to use. And, for example, at work, we have a lot of Slack channels with our clients. But in our internal communications we have, we have work generally, because it's faster. And you said, a lot of people in Ukraine are using telegram and even governmental organizations. So for example, if I open right now, my telegram chat. I have chats from you Is there a digital transformation from our government, from our president, like all these official chats, and channels, and it's not only about people self organize themselves and communicate it is also required. But also, we receive a lot of news through telegram I have, like all the content, all the news that I digest, on Telegram, I like selective couple of chat that I trust in a chance to see what is going on. And also, when you're in Ukraine, you receive a lot of messages about terrorists alone, in Telegram, like, Here, go to the go to the basement, because like, every day, you receive all this messages from indifferent. Like it could be one chat for like, always saying it could be divided to cities and regions. And when I was saying, I, I've seen a lot of information about tyrants, institution intelligence. So even though you're seated in the basement, and you can see all of the sirens in telegram you can receive in a couple of minutes like alert is gone every single time it didn't go. Very important channel of communication for people receiving official information you can trust, even though it sounds a little bit weird, because it's telegram.
Artem Daniliants: And are you planning to like, I like when situation comes down. And obviously, we hope for a sweet victory by Ukrainian forces. And we want the obvious aggressor to suffer the consequences of doing this horrible, horrible atrocities that we have seen. So when situation comes down, do you think you are some of your colleagues do you think many people will choose to go back?
Ann: We have been talking about the day bond when abroad, as far as they know. The friends with the colleagues, everyone is so going to go back to rebuild part of their again, office and we're all always joke. That, okay, we're gonna we're gonna go back, we're gonna fix everything that we need to have this Friday, as we had previously worked together, and you just Unfortunately, due to this awful situation, we just have a new appreciation for your city for a places for things that you take for granted. So as far as I know, a lot of us were going to go back to Ukraine to work again in a heartbeat. To be honest, I'm not planning so even best right now. Because this last five or six weeks, I come to realize, you have very short time here that you can plan for right now. But in general, I would like to go back to my apartment with my CPA, and work from there.
Artem Daniliants: Family still in Ukraine, right? Yes, yes.
Ann: And I have which is the tax right?
Artem Daniliants: Yeah. Well, I really hope this will end soon. But then again, things are moving so quickly and changing so quickly. You can't really, you can't make any kind of prediction. You just have to do I guess, like everybody else now does wake up, check the news, and make your decision. But based on that you can't really trust. You can't make plans more than like a day or two. Especially I'm sure in Ukraine, that's the situation for sure. So thank you very much. And before we go, before we go, what is the best way to support like, people are watching the video, they're thinking, wow, it's, you know, horrible. I don't want to and I want to support Ukraine. So what do you think are the best ways for a foreigner who believes in us or somewhere like you? What is the best way currently now to support Ukraine and Ukrainians from your perspective?
Ann: From our perspective, talking about some donations, I think is better to donate to somebody from any terrorist organization because in terms of military I feel like a lot of conference duties on the governmental level. By the right a lot of volunteers and innovation. In hierarchies and Steve and others seated the babies held by medicine by the food turbine gets eaten I would like to donate to some point, I'm gonna zation a lot of information online, on Ukrainian that you can do directly to some organization, or example, in terms of business. So I think the best way to support to work with you, because I know that a lot of companies for accounting that it would be hard to hire Ukraine on it, guys, I can probably say that IT sector working. Like I can't say perfectly because it's not working fine. And we deliver when we have new projects, and I'm not talking about our company in the audit gradient. But if you can, if you would like to order something, don't be scared to, to work with the grain and the guys, because everyone is very motivated to to work in right now. And it's it helps to feel normal, all this work in process. So also the second best way to support the work with the trading companies buy products or services from them. And I think that's the main the main point.
Artem Daniliants: That's amazing. That's amazing. Yeah. So basically, continue working with Ukrainian companies. If you haven't before, check them out. And we'll leave some links. In the description. Obviously, we'll leave links to your organization so people can support your organization by starting maybe new projects with you. We will leave links to your charity organization, your initiative to help people in Harkey so people can donate there, and will live links, all sorts, so maybe some directories of IT companies in Ukraine so people can see besides you, obviously, of course, some other companies as well, because maybe they want to do something else besides blockchain. Yeah. And obviously, we'll leave some maybe maybe there are some director directories of charity organizations and so forth. So we'll leave links to those as well. But thank you very much. And it's been a pleasure. You have been a wonderful guest. I'm really, really glad you're safe. I'm glad to hear that your colleagues are safe. And hopefully, this nightmare will be over soon. And maybe maybe who knows. We might even bump into each other in hurricane because I definitely yeah, I definitely plan to go back and visit that amazing city. It had an amazing park, amazing park that unfortunately suffered from the bombing but I think it will be rebuilt and it will be even better and more beautiful. And I will be seeing couples walking by kissing in the park and having kids they're playing. I really I really enjoyed my time in Harker. So I definitely looking forward to go back. Thank you very much again, and we'll have all the links in the description. So thank you and have a wonderful, wonderful day. Thank you for this moment with us.
Ann: Thank you. Thank you