“We’re passionate about establishing a globally recognized company based in Poland.“ Interview with Certifier
Recently, Ukrainian-founded startup Certifier, which designs a system to manage digital credentials through a certificate builder, templates, emails, security, and analytics, raised $700,000 from Movens Capital, FundingBox Deep Tech Fund, Black Pearls VC, and DEPO Ventures. Now, the company is focused on building an API-first platform and developing products that cater to the specific needs of larger entities. AIN.Capital talked to the startup’s co-founder Vlad Turak about the recent investment and future plans.
Tell us about your startup? How did you come up with the startup’s idea? What was the reason/motivation behind it?
The idea for Certifier started when we (with Sergey Butko, the co-founder of Certifier) first discussed the issue of digital rewards. We noticed that we had a similar vision were interested in this topic.
On one hand, we saw a specific problem – automating the process of issuing certificates, badges, and various awards. On the other hand, people have always loved receiving recognition for hard work. In the past, it was mainly medals for participating in wars, but nowadays, it’s about certificates, credentials, and achievements in online games. We realized that this area needs to change as we move from physical to digital documents.
Tell us please a bit more about the product. How does it work?
In the past, organizations wanting to offer digital credentials usually had to create these services in-house or use outdated software designed for other types of document management. This was really time-consuming. Certifier provides a streamlined and automated solution, saving these organizations the effort and resources in this area.
“Certifier’s products are designed to be versatile, addressing the timeless desire for recognition. Our solutions are tailored to meet the unique needs of digital certificates, diplomas, badges, and achievements across various use cases, industries, and companies.”
How many investments did you manage to attract in total? Why did you decide to attract fresh investment?
Certifier operates like a typical B2B SaaS company but also has elements of a B2C marketplace. At this point, it’s not a capital-intensive business. From the company’s inception until now, we’ve raised a total of $1.3 million. We raised about $500,000 during the pre-seed stage in 2021/2022, and recently secured another $700,000 in a seed round.
Our current focus is on building an API-first platform and developing products that cater to the specific needs of larger entities. We sought the recent $700,000 to help us reach these objectives.
How quickly did you manage to close this round? How long did the negotiations with the investors last?
We started discussions with some investors as early as February of this year. By May, we had received the initial commitments from participants in the round, and the negotiations spanned about a month in July. So, from the time we began preparing investment materials and engaging with the first investors to the signing of the agreement, it took us 7–8 months.
Since launching in 2020, Certifier has over 400 international clients, including Avon, Stanford Medicine, University of Illinois, Oxford School District, and Salesforce. What makes your product attractive to top customers?
While the concept of digital credentials isn’t novel, what differentiates Certifier is our unique approach. We’ve meticulously reviewed over 50 potential competitors to ensure our solution is distinctive.
We aim to outshine the competition with a product-led growth model that prioritizes low-touch sales, top-notch APIs, and leveraging network effects. Our collective experiences and insights have allowed us to identify market gaps, leading us to craft a superior product.
How many people are in your team, and how many more do you want to hire?
Currently, Certifier’s team consists of 12 full-time members, with the majority being part of the product and technology team. Our philosophy leans towards maintaining a small yet highly skilled team capable of producing an outstanding product.
So, in the upcoming year, we don’t anticipate a significant increase in team size – we expect to have around 20 members by the end of the year.
Tell us more about Certifier’s future plans.
We’re still in the early stages of our journey. That’s why a significant portion of our resources is dedicated to product development.
“As part of our product evolution, we’re making an “up-market move” by partnering with larger organizations and corporations. Moreover, we’re passionate about establishing a globally recognized company based in Poland, capitalizing on the strengths of our region,”
Badges have been used for millennia to validate skills and achievements. With the transition from physical to digital mediums and the rise of online education, we recognize a unique opportunity in this domain.