Александр Колб
The author of the blog «The Big Fish»
3 minutes for reading

“I started blogging ‘The First Million is the Hardest’ when I didn’t have a penny”, – Lubomir Ostapiv, founder of the iPlan service

"I started blogging 'The First Million is the Hardest' when I didn't have a penny", - Lubomir Ostapiv, founder of the iPlan service
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Lubomir Ostapiv is a financier, investor, founder of iPlan service and “Family Budget” social project. The iPlan service helps to create an investment plan depending on the needs of the individual and the “Family Budget” increases the financial literacy of Ukrainians.

On the “Big Fish” Youtube channel Lubomir tells about the peculiarities of investing in Ukraine and abroad, how much money you can start with and whether investing in eco products is promising.




I started the “First Million is the Hardest” blog when I didn’t have a penny to save. I said to myself, “I’m going to tell people once a quarter what I put away and how I did it. I’m going to show people that as an ordinary entrepreneurs, you can make a million”.

I was working in IT at the time, and my income was tied to the dollar. I thought I would reach that amount in 4-5 years, but in 2 years I had an accumulated million. It was a furor! How so: a man writes openly, with charts of money! The blog became very popular, people were reading, watching videos, thanked me. And I realized that there was a demand for it.

Family Budget grew out of that blog. Now I have 10 authors who volunteer. They host Youtube and Instagram, and they also do content for the site.




I worked as a CFO and then got tired of corporate life. Together with my partner Vyacheslav Maslennikov, we created iPlan, a financial advisory app adapted to Ukrainian realities. People pay from $400 to $1,500 a year for a subscription.

Our key difference is that you can’t bring us money and say: “Here’s your money, manage it”. We do a risk profile of the client, we help define goals, but all decisions are up to the user. Our task is to help him do it as wisely and with the minimum fee as possible.




One option is to invest in a pizza chain. For example, the MonoPizza project. It is a franchise, but it doesn’t mean that you will deal with a particular point. You kind of go into all the pizzerias in the chain at the same time.

Legally, you’re buying stock in a fund that owns the private limited companies that run the operations. That corporate investment fund pays you a dividend. You pay 10.5% tax, but everything is fair.

As for the possibility of investing in the West, until 2017 we lived in the Middle Ages. In 2017, the NBU allowed to open accounts abroad. Now the limit is 200 thousand euros per year.

You have to have a legal source of income to do so. Of course, there are few guarantees in any investment, and you are always at risk. But keeping money on deposit makes no sense. The deposit just closes the liquidity.




There is a simple rule: if you want to earn more, take more risk. Having invested in McDonalds, you will not get 10% per annum. Maybe 5-6%, maximum – 8% in good times. In Ukraine and 20% in currency you can get: a high-risk country. If you want to safely build long-term savings, you have to invest in Western companies. If you want more, at least 10-15%, take a risk, invest in Ukraine.




To make a stable profit, you need to find an investment company. You will be given a choice of 500 largest businesses in the United States. You buy shares of the fund with a paltry commission. And that’s it. If you’re a retail investor, it’s best to buy your own interest.

You can buy companies from all over the world: Japan, EU, China. The fund gives 10% per annum. The solution seems very simple, it lies on the surface – go ahead and do it. But, of course, it’s not all that simple: the fund may grow or it may fall. During the Coronation Crisis, U.S. stocks fell 30% in two months.




I used to think you could start with 10 thousand dollars. Today there is a brokerage company in Ukraine called Art Capital. They do not even have a subscription fee. A person can start with 2 thousand dollars.

But there are people for whom investment is contraindicated. These are mega-conservatives and conspiracy theory buffs who believe the dollar is about to collapse or America is about to fall apart. They would be uncomfortable with classic investments. They’d rather have a house in the country and a stew in the cellar.




There is a megatrend: the number of people on the planet is growing, and it means that Ukrainian land will be valued. I have found a farmer friend who will buy land for himself and me. Eco is on trend: even Microsoft has decided to be carbon negative, which is when more CO₂ is removed from the atmosphere than is emitted. They are planting forests in order to contribute, at least on a company level, to the preservation of the environment.

In Ukraine, ESCA Capital lends to farmers, transporters, and small businesses. They support the UN Sustainable Development Goals – the same access to financing in rural areas. IT people are mentally global, and there will be a demand for this among them.

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