Alex Iskold is “one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet,” he says. He is the co-founder and managing partner of venture capital firm 2048 Ventures. Prior to that, he spent five years at TechStars as the New York City General Program Manager, investing in and supporting over 100 startups. Over the years, he has also built up a huge network of contacts, contacts that he uses for the second time in two years.
For the first time, Iskold and fellow venture capitalist Minda Bruce called on these friends and acquaintances to organize and donate directly to families in need of financial assistance at the start of the pandemic, a type of human blockchain such as New York Times federal support. The mechanism described it before it started working. In the end, says Iskold, the group was able to give $3 million to about 1,000 families.
Although they had no intention of doing it again, Iskold is now in the process of rebuilding the group and Project 1K has been asked to provide much needed assistance to Ukrainian refugees to revive the previous operation. Those who have fled the country, as well as the families who remain trapped inside, are suddenly out of work, and a growing number of them have no place to call home.
Like many viewers around the world, Iskold is stunned by an invasion that was unimaginable a month ago but has already displaced more than 2 million people and caused more than $100 billion in damage.
But it’s also personal. Iskold is Ukrainian. He spent the first 19 years of his life in the countryside and still has many cousins, friends and acquaintances. (The second cousin and her family are said to have fled almost immediately, while the other desperate remained because they have sons and husbands aged between 18 and 60 and are therefore not allowed to leave the country.)
Not surprisingly, the Iskold network heeded the call for help. Since he tweeted 11 days ago that he was resurrecting the 1K project to send money to Ukrainians, a network of 30 volunteers ranging from developers to data analysts has become a way to spread the word and help funders and recipients. . reach each other.
As Iskold explains: “The most powerful thing we have created is a distributed network. [that quickly enables] Sponsors and families to register. Those interested can find the form on our website. There is an easy verification process for sponsors and a strict verification process for recipients with priority for families. But once the sponsor and family are approved, they will be matched and the sponsor will receive a text or email with instructions on how to fund the family. [the only money transfer service] smart.com.
Donations made in $1,000 increments are tax-deductible, but for those who want to donate large amounts and get tax credits for them, Iskold says the group is part of an organization called OpenCollective.com that uses it as their ” tax sponsor. . (For example, to sponsor families of five or more, Project 1K sends a donor with instructions on how to donate to OpenCollective; money is sent to families via this vehicle.)
More volunteers and donors are needed. The pop-up organization, which Iskold called “a razor focused on helping families with more than three children,” including women who are either in war zones or otherwise displaced with their children, may already have more demand than this. . “We have a ranking algorithm and soon we will fund 1,200 families,” he says. “But we have 12,000 candidates and we can’t fund everyone; We just don’t have enough. ,
There are “many use cases” for how money is distributed, Iskold said, crediting Ukraine’s banking system for continuing to operate in a state of total chaos. Some families used the money to move to safer parts of the country; Already other countries outside of Ukraine are using it as an emergency measure to feed their children. In all cases, families are in a very precarious position.
Iskold says: “We heard from some families that they send us absolutely crazy pictures of them sitting on the couch, and the next day the bombs completely blew up their houses, and they have nowhere to live, and they need to live. find out how they can get out of this place [not much more] than t-shirts. ,
The stories follow him. “I thank you and cry all the time,” he says. Even worse, he knows that his vast and enthusiastic network can’t do much. “We hear about a lot of issues that we can’t help with, like military ammunition or medical supplies.”
Every day he worries about people he knows, especially if they are hard to find. “You know how you see the green dot [on your smartphone] And sometimes not?
Meanwhile, he does what he can – and makes a dent. Since the relaunch of the 1K project, people have donated $1 million to more than 800 families, “extremely helping refugees” who left everything in an instant.
Unfortunately, this need seems to be balloon-ready. “When families move within Ukraine and are lucky enough to move to refugee centers,” says Iskold, “a lot is arranged for them. When they are not in the refugee center, they need food, they need help.”