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Continuing projects during wartime: a talk with KindGeek clients

7 Mins read

On February 24, 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine. The Russian attacks are horrific atrocities and have caused a lot of destruction, and heartbreak. Being a Ukrainian company with a main office in Lviv, the KindGeek team completely and wholeheartedly stands with Ukraine. So do all of our clients and partners. 

For KindGeek, support from our clients has been invaluable these days. Not only did we not lose or postpone any project, but also many of our current and former clients donated to Ukrainian charity funds and hosted Ukrainians in their homes abroad. 

In this interview, we talked with Sean le Tissier, a British entrepreneur and founder of CoffeeKing, and Joe Postle, Head of Product at Jaja Finance, a British neobank. They have been wholeheartedly supporting our teams and Ukraine since the outbreak of the war. 

Do you remember the 24th of February? What was your reaction when you learned that russia invaded Ukraine? 

Joe Postle, Jaja

Yes, I do remember it – very vividly. I think it’s one of those moments that you will always remember where you were when you found out the news. aking up and seeing the news was obviously very shocking. There’s particular footage that I remember of vehicles going across the border, and that will always stick in my head. And obviously, initial emotional shock, as everyone had.

But initially, the first thing I thought of was obviously the KindGeek team, and wanted to check if they were all safe. Our approach over the last few months is ensuring that the team is well and we’re supporting in whatever way we can, although sometimes accepting we are very limited in terms of what we can do to support.

Sean le Tissier, CoffeeKing 

Yes, of course, I remember it. It’s very clear in my head. What did I think at the time? Obviously, it’s very devastating to see what is happening now anywhere in the world, especially somewhere I’ve grown a little fond of. I know the country, I know some of the people, obviously, like your people from your company. So it was disbelief. 

There’s some irony within the answer and within the question of what did I think and do I remember it. Because basically, we engaged with KindGeek to develop an application for us knowingly you’d already had declarations of war with Russia, the annexation of Crimea that happened in 2014, and everything else. So the feeling from KindGeek and the feeling from the community or the people from Ukraine, from my point of view, when we engaged with you guys to do the work for us, I didn’t see that being an issue at all. 

Disbelief is the right phrase. But there’s a lot more that went through my head at the same time – from concern for everyone I’ve met and the people that I haven’t met, because I know what war means. It’s a terrible thing. So, yeah, I mean, I feel devastated for you guys. Really devastated for Ukraine. Yeah, slightly unbelievable, really. And I think I can’t expand on that. It would probably be upsetting for everyone, really, if that makes sense.

Your business in some ways depended on the Ukrainian company. How did you feel at the beginning of the war? 

Joe Postle, Jaja

We were incredibly assured by KindGeek’s formal response and giving us the direction on how you wanted to continue to operate. I think it would be very easy for us to respond in the wrong way. 

We didn’t want it to be a reason for us to stop working together. And we were very glad that that’s the approach that KindGeek wanted to take themselves and continue to operate. For me personally, the one way I can see us being able to help the most is to continue working with you and provide that stability and allow you to continue working and support the effort in your own way. 

Sean le Tissier, CoffeeKing 

We’ve invested heavily and we have committed ourselves to work with KindGeek in Ukraine or from Ukraine. Being reliant on the Ukrainian company, clearly, we had questions, as I say, when the invasion happened, obviously, there was a concern for people, but our investment and everything that we’re doing with your company, my people, a lot of people put a lot of effort into a lot of things. 

What did I feel? I suppose, hope that this would end and that it would go away as quickly as it’s happened. Knowing the sort of soul from the people I’ve met, the resistance that the Ukrainians are still giving, you know. From my point of view, of course, I was concerned, but I was also confident that things still continue and we had conversations about it. Of course, we have to. But at the end of the day, we want to stick by you guys. So that was the sort of primary thought and decision with that.

In terms of KindGeek, has anything changed about our cooperation?

Joe Postle, Jaja 

Very little. When I was thinking about this, the only thing I can think of is actually I feel like the team is actually closer now, after the last few months. I feel like I know people more personally than I do just professionally, which is really nice. But, very little in terms of the way we’re working together.

Sean le Tissier, Coffee King 

No, obviously with the invasion, it’s understandable that there would be a change initially, which we accepted was going to happen. It’s something that would have flashed through my head that was the very short-lived and KindGeek, I would like to say, reassembled itself very quickly. And so the answer is no.

Do you think the productivity of the project team was somehow affected by the war?

Joe Postle, Jaja 

Not particularly. I’ll admit at the beginning, from a planning perspective, we did replan and assumed a drop in productivity. We did that to ensure that we were managing expectations on our side, but also to help the team balance their work with everything going on.

We did push out some plans, but actually, I’ve not noticed a significant drop in productivity. We are planning more realistically than we probably were, which maybe highlighted that we were being a bit too over-optimistic before.

Sean le Tissier, CoffeeKing 

No, on the contrary, we’re at the point of launch. Progress has grown, and the team has grown. That’s been applied to our application. So we’re at the point of ready to launch, and the application is ready to go to the public market. That is what we’ve been trying to do for quite a long time now. The team has grown from a KindGeek point of view, productivity is up and we’re at the critical mass point of launch. There are no issues. I am very happy with everything and KindGeek managed very well, considering the circumstances.

Did you have to implement a disaster recovery plan? 

Joe Postle, Jaja  

We’ve taken steps to mitigate some risks. The way we envisage working with KindGeek and how we want to work in the future is a hybrid model of KindGeek engineers and team members working alongside Jaja team members. We did take steps to accelerate some of the recruitment of those Jaja team members just to be able to ensure that we have people should there be a scenario where the team is temporarily unavailable, so we can continue. That’s the only approach we’ve taken to ensure that we have mitigated any risk, but certainly not as extreme as disaster recovery because we knew that the KindGeek team would be around. 

Sean le Tissier, Coffee King 

For sure. Obviously, as I say, many things flash through my mind at the same time. So obviously, I had asked all the questions with my team. Do we have redundancy? Do we have a backup? Where is the data? What are the source codes, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

So we just checked. We didn’t make a decision to do anything else. We just checked to make sure that should anything adverse happen, irrespective of whether we wanted to or not, can we continue our business in KindGeek. The people I’m dealing with on a day-to-day basis were exceptionally helpful. 

Sometimes you would deal with some companies where they turn around and hide information to retain the clients and reliability. Everyone at KindGeek was very open and the reassurance was coming from the team at all times. Of course, we looked at disaster recovery. Of course, we looked at being able to continue with our project. But have we made a decision to do anything but stay with KindGeek? No. 

Do you want to share anything else with Ukrainians?

Joe Postle, Jaja  

Obviously, I see the news, I see the awful things that are going on, and being able to talk to people who are Ukrainian, people who are still in Ukraine every day just provides me with a different perspective of what’s going on. Life is continuing. 

It’s so nice to be able to have the opportunity to have that perspective. And whenever I talk about the war with friends and family, I always talk about the KindGeek team and provide that view that you don’t really get on the news, because obviously, the news focuses on a lot of the bad.

It’s easy for me to say, but the kind of determination, strength, and courage you guys are showing as a nation is just really inspirational. And I think it’s teaching the world quite a lot of good. The team’s continued commitment throughout the situation is incredible. And I look forward to being able to come and visit Lviv and I hope it is very soon. I really do. 

I have some friends who used to live in Kharkiv, now they live in Lviv and some outside of Ukraine. I’ve worked with previous companies, worked with people, and always knew the Ukrainian people were strong and resilient. But you are proving it more now. 

Sean le Tissier, Coffee King 

I think it’s very sad what happened. And I suppose my only message is to stay strong. It’s pretty much it. Personally, I’ve been involved in fundraising and donations. I’ve had a Ukrainian couple come in and looked after them, gave them accommodation. In my view, I think that the West should be doing a lot more. I’m not a politician, so I can’t influence them. I wish they would and they should, but they’re not. The message to your people is to stay strong. 

We will continue to stay with KindGeek until the KindGeek telescope cannot support us or provide a service. So I have no issues. You have my loyalty. We’re very impressed with everything you guys are still doing and have been doing and hopefully will be doing with us. It’s a long-term relationship that I want to continue. 

I think the message to anyone out there listening to this is that also believe that Ukraine and the Ukrainian people are honorable, proud, and continue to do what they say they’re going to do. To think that people are just running for the hills or whatever is also the wrong message. The support can come in many, many ways. Obviously, governments are helping where they feel it’s correct. But people like us, working with people like you, you should also stay strong, too. That’s for sure. 

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