Keeping the IT business going during the Russian invasion

Keeping the IT business going during the Russian invasion

Ukrainian businesses continue to operate amid Russia’s invasion of their country and are determined to continue as part of a national effort not to be overwhelmed by threats from the east.

Software development service provider Redwork An example: After Russian tanks rolled into Ukraine, killing all of its employees, the company had to act quickly.

Konstantin Klagin, its founderOn his way home after a holiday in Sri Lanka, he learned that Russia had invaded his homeland while changing flights to Dubai.

While in Dubai he had to change his plans and move to Berlin, where he previously lived and owned a flat. He has not yet returned to Ukraine.

Founder and CEO of Klyagin Ukrainian software development company Redwork, which focuses on software development as a service (SaaS) for enterprises. It was set up by 24-year-old Claggin in 2005 and now serves international customers with SaaS development services built on the Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure clouds.

The company started in Zaporizhzhia and opened an office in Kyiv in 2010. Its workforce includes developers, DevOps specialists, project managers, user interface (UI) designers and every other role needed to build and launch a full-scale SaaS operation, Claggin said.

It was Feb. 24 this year when, on a flight home to Ukraine, Clagin had to think about helping his family and workers get to safety before thinking about his business.

“When I arrived in Dubai to change flights, the media was full of reports of the attack,” he told Computer Weekly. “I listened to Vladimir Putin’s speech and realized that I am not going to Ukraine.”

Keeping the IT business going during the Russian invasion

“I listened to Vladimir Putin’s speech and realized that I am not going to Ukraine”

Constantine Clagin, Redwork

Klagin said the most shocking sight for him was the Russian tanks crossing the border just 80 kilometers from the city of Kharkiv, where he grew up and had family.

“I never went back to Kiev in February and I’ve been working remotely ever since,” he said. “I arrived in Dubai, realized that Russia had invaded and there was no way back as the airspace was closed.”

Clagin had previously lived and worked in Germany and had a flat in Berlin, so he decided to move there. His girlfriend, who was pregnant with their first child, soon joined him.

After five months in Berlin, they moved to Lisbon, Portugal, where Kliagin had a large group. “Lisbon was considered an important Web 3.0 hub and many Ukrainian entrepreneurs came here,” he said.

His parents are now safe in Berlin, but his business, with 80 employees, remains in Ukraine.

Klagin himself plans to return to Ukraine as soon as possible. “When it’s safe and the war is over, I’m going back to Ukraine the next day,” he said.

Keeping the IT business going during the Russian invasion
Redwork team

Meanwhile, Redwork has continued to operate at full scale after a temporary lull, while the company and its employees adjust to the new realities facing Ukraine.

“At the beginning of the invasion, there was a lot of uncertainty,” Claggin said. “Many companies were moving entire operations to the west of the country but there were major difficulties including housing shortages, so we decided to do it in a decentralized way.”

This is where the firm’s remote working experience during the Covid-19 pandemic has helped. “We told everybody that they would each get $2,000 in cash or whatever form they wanted, to pay for their security, or they could use their own money and we would compensate them,” Claggin said.

Almost all Redwork staff accepted the offer. “Most teams are working remotely with only 10 to 15 people in the office every day since the pandemic,” Claggin said. “Our people either went to the west or the center of the country.”

Then, on February 28, Claggin wrote an email to his employees asking if everyone was safe and what they needed to work. “I said let’s continue to work because in that situation it was important to have an income for everyone and also for the economy of Ukraine,” he said.

Claggin said that in the first week of the attack, 20% of the company’s staff could work, by the second week it had reached 80%, and by the end of March it was 100% operational. “And we continue to hire people,” he added. “We didn’t let anyone go without a natural grudge.

“We are gaining people because there were better people in the market who were just victims of their employers panicking and letting them go. We have been able to select the best minds and talent to grow the company.”

The company lost two employees when they joined the Ukrainian military.

According to Claggin, Redwork is doing more business now than before the war. He believes he focused on business to stop thinking about the turmoil in Ukraine. “I found it a refuge from the war and it worked because I got five new clients, 25 employees and the business grew,” he said.

The company lost no customers after Claggin contacted each of them separately to assure them that work would not be disrupted.

In fact, redwork isn’t Claggin’s only business. Since 2021, he has also invested in a company based in Zaporizhia that produces drones for civilian use with a focus on industrial settings. IZIVIZThe company is known as, is still in its startup phase, but has undergone a transformation during the war.

“The business was closed for months, but we decided to help the army prepare their drones and provided the drones for free,” he said.

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