“Defend the country and save the company”. How the Ukrainian startup Legal Nodes operates during the war

Legal Nodes develops a legal platform that helps innovative tech companies solve their legal needs all in one place. Before the full-scale war, Legal Nodes was a partner of over 100 companies, a lot of which were Ukrainian businesses. After two months, the startup lost about 20% of its customers coming from the Ukrainian market, so there was no time to waste, and they decided to expand in foreign markets by launching a web 3 legal product line. Now they are back to their pre-war traction.

Margarita Sivakova, Co-Founder and CEO at Legal Nodes, had a conversation with AIN.Capital about how the startup needed to adapt its workflows to wartime and how its team supports our country’s fight against the aggressor.

Legal Nodes team

Did Legal Nodes prepare for the full-scale war? Was the team ready for it?

After all international media wrote about a threat of the full-fledged Russian aggression against Ukraine, other founders and we made a strategic meeting to find out what would be our next steps. I also have spoken to founders of several startups who shared their plans regarding the war if it would come. At that time, nobody, including us, believed the real war would happen. However, everybody has prepared for the worst case. So we did.

We developed a plan with different scenarios and our reactions. Then we also called all our team members to know where they were (our team is entirely decentralized — 22 people within the whole Ukraine), if somebody planned to leave, where their families were, etc. That calls have confirmed nobody wanted to leave Ukraine; everyone was ready to stay. The team didn’t change its decision after the peak panic in media when they all announced the invasion “was coming the very next day.”

For our part, we paid salaries in advance so that our team members could have some cash for an emergency. In addition, shortly before the war, we conducted a small team-building event to encourage our workers.

How fast did you manage to restore the workflows and return to work during the war? What were your first-priority goals?

We resumed our normal working cycle a few days after evacuating our team to the best-possible secure locations. During the first days, we all focused on the security of the families and relatives of our teammates. We have been in touch with our team, coordinated the evacuation of our girls to Europe, spoke to our international partners, and posted on all possible social media about what was happening.

Our team started to fight on two fronts at once: defending the country and saving the company. Our marketing department shared the information about the war and corresponded with the media and our partners; our engineers joined the cyber army of Ukraine.

At the same time, our legal department contacted every founder of Ukrainian startups that were clients of Legal Nodes to find out who required our aid. We also launched a communication campaign with foreign banks that started blocking our clients’ accounts because of the war.

Then we sped up our work, launched a new website and a blog, and introduced two new legal products for startups and our first product in a new category — Web 3 Legal — that is now available on Product Hunt.

How is your team? Did you cut some stuff or salaries?

Our main priority always was the security of our team. We neither cut any salary nor fired anyone. That was out of the question. On the contrary, we thought about how to protect and help everyone. Our teammate responsible for Data Protection joined the Territorial Defense Forces, and we did our best to support him. We didn’t fire him and wait for his return on board when there would be peace.

Could you tell us more about volunteer activities? What is your role in the fight against Russia?

Our team members continue to do unbelievable things:

  • a girl from our team survived the Russian occupation of her city and started the charity NFT project “Ukrainian Madonna,” dedicated to Ukrainian women who got raped;
  • we collected and delivered food to our warriors;
  • our Armed Forces got night visions, thermal scopes, tactical bags, and knee pads purchased by our company and delivered with the help of our teammates;
  • in collaboration with Finmap, we created a big web portal to help Ukrainian entrepreneurs enter foreign markets.
Legal Nodes team:
1 — Vlad, joined the Kyiv territorial defense, 2 — Ilona, launched an NFT project to support Ukrainian women victims of rape, 3 — Vika, organized fundraising for camouflage nets.
Image credit: blog of Nestor Dubnevych, co-founder of Legal Nodes / Medium

For our part, we support our team financially and morally; we provide them with free psychological aid from a proven specialist who works with us at the moment.

Tell us more about the startup’s work during the war. How did you manage to survive these two months? What new services/products did you launch?

During the full-scale war between Russia and Ukraine, we have significantly restructured the processes of working with foreign countries. We have completely updated the site, launched a closed beta platform, published about ten articles, made the migration of our blog to another technology, and even kicked off a new product for Web3.

How many clients did Legal Nodes have before the war, and in what markets? How did they respond? Did new ones appear during that time? What is the situation with clients now?

Before the war, we had more than 100 companies working with us, most of them from Ukraine. We continue to work with Ukrainian clients who have returned to work as quickly as we have.

Regarding our focus later on, we started to enter international markets more actively, and we are now attracting international clients through our focus on the Web3 segment. We already see this as a good opportunity for us, and there will be some great news and more products coming soon.

What was the reaction of the investors?

The investors have supported us. And we are truly grateful to them for that. One of our early investors has been buying night vision equipment since the first day of the war, and our team helped deliver it to soldiers who needed them. Another investor, along with LIFT99, donated dozens of cars to our defenders. They have been supporting Legal Nodes and the country with connections and finances. And that’s not all the things they have been doing jointly with the organizations they are involved with.

Share Legal Nodes’ plans. What will you do next? How will you develop the product?

Before the war, we planned a phased entry into international markets, but now we want to enter them as quickly as possible and attract new customers. We plan further development of Web3 Legal products and thus create a whole new category of legal services and specialists. For this purpose, we are building up the muscle of our legal team and actively attracting international partners.