Startup of the Day: Ukraine’s Zeely, a sales-growth mobile app

Zeely was founded by Ukrainians Dmytro and Yaroslav Samoiluk, and Alina Bondarenko, who were previously included in Forbes’s 30 under 30 list of young leaders in Europe. The startup develops AI-powered app designed for small and micro businesses to increase their online sales. Zeely’s solution can create a landing pages, build advertising campaigns, and provide app-based client-management tools. The startup has recently secured $1 million in a seed round led by Ukrainian VCs Vesna Capital and Angel One Fund.

In the Startup of the Day column, Alina Bondarenko, the co-founder of Zeely, shares more details about the startup’s idea, its product, and future plans.

The Startup of the Day column on AIN.Capital is dedicated to tech projects from all sectors that originated from the CEE countries. If you would like to introduce your project, please fill in the questionnaire.

Tell us about your startup. How does it work?

Zeely is an AI-powered app designed for small and micro businesses to increase their online sales. With our app, entrepreneurs can start selling their products or services from a phone in just 10 minutes. The application is multifunctional, with all functions working towards a single goal: to increase the user’s online sales.

  1. Zeely’s AI creates a landing page. This page is designed to be highly converting and to be the ideal platform for launching an effective advertising campaign. AI fills the site with texts and images and selects catchy phrases that attract attention and stimulate purchases.
  2. Zeely builds advertising campaigns. It allows users to create Facebook and Instagram ads with ready-made ad content in a few clicks from a phone. Thanks to this, entrepreneurs can significantly reduce advertising costs. We have calculated that if an entrepreneur pays $1500 to an advertising agency, approximately only 30% of this amount is actually spent on the advertising budget. The remaining amount is spent on specialist salaries. We have automated this process so that entrepreneurs can invest the entire advertising budget in actual advertising, minus the cost of a Zeely subscription.
  3. Zeely provides app-based client-management tools. The requests from potential customers appear in the built-in CRM system. It stores contact information that potential customers have left on the website and allows users to write, call, sort, create notes, etc. Entrepreneurs can view analytics, check the effectiveness of ad campaigns, and make decisions about future ad strategies.

How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?

Each of Zeely’s co-founders has worked extensively with micro and small businesses in the field of digital marketing. Despite being the primary driver of new job growth, small businesses face significant disadvantages such as lack of scale, brand recognition, reserves, and limited resources.

Our mission is to assist these businesses in attracting new customers and generating revenue by providing user-friendly tools to build web stores and run marketing campaigns with a short time to value (thanks to our AI).

How long did it take to reach the prototype or MVP? What did you encounter?

We created a Zeely account on the App Store in 2021, and back then the app had very, very limited functionality. The official launch took place in August 2022.

When exactly did you launch your product? Or when the launch is planned?

The app was launched in August 2022.

Tell us about the stratup’s business model. How do you monetize your product?

Currently, the app is monetized through monthly subscriptions, which start at $19.99. In the near future, our users will be able to make sales on their websites. Some of our users already have access to the app version with Stripe integrated, which is a solution for accepting and processing payments. Soon, this will become another source of monetization for us. We are working to provide our users with integration with more advertising platforms.

Currently, Zeely helps clients set up effective Facebook and Instagram ad campaigns that drive leads and sales. Google, TikTok, and other ad channels will be added soon. It will also create additional ways to monetize the product.

What are your target markets and consumers?

We focus on helping small and micro businesses. These are the largest group of entrepreneurs driving the economy in many countries, and yet they have the least technical capabilities for online sales.

Most of our clients are now service entrepreneurs. Popular categories are car services, beauty services, cleaning services, etc. We have over 100 niches in our app now, and most of them are of the service industry. Currently, 80% of paid subscribers are in the US and the UK.

If the startup has already launched the product, what are the results: metrics, income, or any clear indicators that can be evaluated.

The monthly revenue is over $50,000 and is growing by 150% every quarter. This year, we expect to reach $3 million in revenue. The speed of adding new subscribers has doubled thanks to the automated customer acquisition process.

We also track our clients’ results: the conversions they receive, the number of applications, etc. We do this because our LTV, retention, etc., directly depend on the performance of our customers. The more clients earn, the more profitable it is for them to stay with us.

What about your team? How many people are working in the startup? If you’re looking for new employees, indicate whom exactly.

Our philosophy is to have small, efficient teams. After the investment round, we hired a few more great developers. Currently, the team consists of 11 people, and we complete all tasks efficiently. These are all result-driven people, and this is the team that we are growing extremely fast with.

Have you already raised any investments? Provide us with more details on each funding round: the amount, investors, the purpose of the investment.

We have raised $1 million from Adrian Slywotskyy, Vesna.Capital, Murat Abdrakhmanov, Angel One Fund, Imaguru Ventures, ZAS Ventures, and American & European angels. We will use the funds raised to integrate with TikTok and Google, payment systems, and to expand AI capabilities. We are going to release features that will allow AI to automatically create advertising settings for promotion on Facebook and Instagram.

In the fourth quarter of 2023, we will launch a new round of investments. We expect to raise over $5 million.

What’s next? Tell us about your future plans.

We are gradually implementing our roadmap and introducing the planned functions. We strive to increase the number of subscribers as well as the number of our customer’s success cases.

Our global goal is to become the #1 tool for launching online sales and attracting customers to small businesses from the phone.