Oleksandr Rolskyi, CEO newage. agency, a Kyiv-based digital agency, tells us about the current situation in Ukraine’s digital societies. Oleksandr shared his experience of crisis management and running the company through war.
First of all, how are you and your family doing?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: We are as fine as we could be under such circumstances. By the end of February, I had moved with my family to the Western regions of the country. But now the situation looks stable, so we’ve come back home to Kyiv.
And how are your colleagues and employees?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: Many of them have returned to Kyiv too. We’re even thinking about renting an office again.
Tell me, please, about your work. What newage. agency does and how it innovates?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: newage. — is a digital advertising agency. We specialize in display advertising, and we have done a lot of research to analyze ad effectiveness and impact.
Our work is based on our methodology of Comprehensive Analysis of Display Advertising. With it, we can deeply analyze the display effects of advertising and track delayed user actions, such as post-view and cross-device conversions.
We’re a not-so-big company, but our business model is based on each employee’s deep expertise and professionalism.
How the war affects your business, and how did you get through?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: Most of our clients were Ukrainian advertisers. So one day, our services have become irrelevant to them. For the first days, the main task of every Ukrainian was to save their family, not advertising.
We paused work, but in 3-4 days, employees started to write to managers on their own and to ask for work — just for the distraction. So we continued working.
The first task was to find new clients. We tried to get some orders from the UpWork website, but it wasn’t too effective. Just one of ten clients replied, and even half of them were not coming to arrange calls.
So we gave up with freelance websites and started to write directly to “competitors” from Europe. All our employees, from accountant assistants to senior traffic managers, get the task of collecting contacts of foreign digital agencies. Meanwhile, the founders and I started to write emails and contact C-levels on LinkedIn. We suggest partnerships and help with any tasks they need.
We asked for work and offered professional help. We had sent several thousands of emails and contacted ~1000 people on LinkedIn by the end of March.
Western agencies have responded very well to our requests. We were entrusted with tasks or even entire projects, and thanks to this, we were able to pay the salary for April from the company’s income.
What do you do now to stay in the game?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: We have enough projects to pay salaries this month – all the income will go to it. So we are working hard to have projects, clients, and money next month.
We realize that the war will not end tomorrow, not even the day after tomorrow. It’s like a marathon. And now we need to find a reasonable rhythm and just keep running.
What are the lessons learned?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: Now more than ever, I feel the power of my actions and their social significance.
We do not just work with foreign clients, we export services and bring currency to the country.
Communicating with colleagues and customers, we do not just agree on campaigns, we represent the country. If today our interlocutor decides that Ukrainians are cool, tomorrow he can take in refugees or donate them.
Even such a basic thing as continuing to work is of great importance. Since we all work, we do not burden the state with social benefits for ourselves, and this is important.
Now all Ukrainians are working to win, and digital is our line of national defense.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: We have learned to work remotely much better than during the pandemic. We discarded unnecessary processes and updated the workflow with fasting. We started using the new Task Manager Worksection, tidied up the calendar, and created a clear process for agreeing on when – through Calendly.
To help with English, we use Grammarly – it is very helpful in written communication.
Your final thoughts?
Oleksandr Rolskyi: Ukraine will win. We rent a new, cozy office in Kyiv, near the subway. We will work a little, save money, and go to a summer corporate party in Ukrainian Crimea.