Last week, I attended the BigCommerce Partner Summit in Austin, TX. There was so much great energy among the partner community, along with insightful information and incredible networking opportunities. What was most redeeming about the event however was how much love and support this community showed toward the people of Ukraine.
Kristina Potoska Shares Her Story
Kristina Pototska, Manager of Product Management at BigCommerce from Ukraine attended the event and addressed the crowd.
"I met a lot of you six months ago. Two days after I got back to Kiev, I woke up at 5am from huge explosion right near my house," said Kristina.
She added, "During this 6 months, we've been living, working, celebrating birthdays, weddings under constant shelling, missile attacks. And basically, everyone I know--my friends, family has lost something. It's either a job or home or people they love."
Kristina mentioned that BigCommerce has 106 employees in their Kiev office. Four of them were currently fighting for Ukraine forces. Her family, friends and teammates were back in Ukraine along with 30 million people who are struggling daily to survive in a war zone.
Sergei Ostapenko Receives Humanitarian Award
Kristina had the honor of presenting the first BigCommerce Humanitarian Award to Sergei Ostapenko. After he received a standing ovation from the crowd, Sergei spoke sincerely and humbly about the miraculous work he and many others including his business competitors are doing through his organization Mira Action to raise money and provide supplies for Ukraine.
"Life is real," said Sergei. "We sometimes think that we work in the digital space, and that our digital lives are detached from real lives...But real is a combination of physical and digital. So this digital space where we are gives us incredible opportunities to actually improve everyday lives of people and to save lives. It's real."
Sergei was quick to acknowledge others who have helped support him.
"This award actually is not to me. I think this award is to all of you good people who are supporting this fight," he said.
He reminded us all that the war in Ukraine continues, despite other news stealing the headlines these days.
"You open the websites today and Ukraine is somewhere like in the secondary pages there. People get used to tragedy. People get used to a lot of things. But it's as real as it gets there today. And each one of you can do something real to save lives."
Sergei's goal was to raise enough money in donations from the partner summit attendees to purchase one or two ambulances from Finland and have them sent over to Ukraine.
Within several hours after he spoke, the BigCommerce community donated $17,000 to Mira Action and Sergei committed to have his company Mira Commerce not just match, but double the donations. This resulted in raising a total of around $55,000 to buy "...not one, not two, but FIVE ambulances from Finland and have them delivered to Ukrainian hospitals to save people's lives."
"This Mira Action is as real as it gets", said Sergei.
Brent Bellm, BigCommerce CEO
Brent reflected on the current situation in Ukraine by asking himself some important questions: "What really is it we're trying to accomplish in our careers? What is the biggest measure of satisfaction and fulfillment from the jobs we are all in?"
He highlighted the remarks from Kristina and Sergei and pointed out that for many of us, the most meaningful contributor of value and growth and fulfillment from our careers to our lives are the challenges we overcome.
"The last two years we've had a pandemic that we've all had to lead through. We're probably in a recession right now. There's a war going on, right? That affects some of us very intensely."
He pointed out that there are not only 106 BigCommerce employees in Ukraine, but the recent BigCommerce acquisition of Feedonomics has a tie to Ukraine in Igor Roizen, Chief Scientist at Feedonomics and his sons Brian and Robert.
The day continued with speakers, networking and lots of great feelings for all who attended the event.