Ukrainian startup ReplyApp has attracted $350,000 from investment company Digital Future and $50,000 from seed fund WannaBiz to develop its automatic email service on the U.S. market.
ReplyApp’s founder, Oleg Bilozor, 29, says the money will help the company accelerate recruitment for offices in several countries, which in turn will speed up the startup’s growth.
“We will develop our offices in Ukraine and Canada,” Bilozor told the Kyiv Post in a phone interview on March 17.
Since neither the Ukrainian nor the Canadian markets are “proper for selling our product,” those offices will just help “reinforce our positions on the U.S. market,” which accounts for 80 percent of the company’s client base, he said.
The startup is designing an online service to automate personalized emails and follow-ups. ReplyApp connects directly to a user’s email server, thus, all messages look like they’ve been sent manually, and replies come straight back to the user’s own inbox.
The CEO of Ukraine’s Digital Future investment company, Oleksii Vitchenko, told the Kyiv Post that before investing in ReplyApp, some of Digital Future’s portfolio companies had “tried out” the automatic email service on their own business models.
“The tool developed by ReplyApp allows a sales agent’s work to be automated. It solves problems better than the analogues in its narrow niche,” Vitchenko said on March 17. “Moreover, since they’re oriented to western markets, they meet our requirements.”
Digital Future usually invests in e-commerce startups in seed, A and B stages, giving preference to ones oriented to global markets.
ReplyApp initially asked for $200,000-250,000 in investments. But according to Vitchenko, investors think that in order to secure a good place on the U.S. market in the future, the startup needs to “jump on the bandwagon.” Hence, the extra investment they have pumped in is needed “right now.”
Vitchenko refused to unclose the percentage of shares the investors will have in the startup after the deal is completed. Bilozor, however, said he would still hold a major stake.
WannaBiz managing partner Vadim Rogovskiy Junior told the Kyiv Post that his decision to co-invest, even though the company already had a lead investor, was a chance for WannaBiz to take a slice of a reasonably mature startup at a low cost.
“We made up the shortfall in investment,” Rogovskiy said on March 17. “So we enter a budding project at its youthful stage, but with a small check.”
“In my view, Bilozor has done quite a lot, especially regarding his choice of market and the (company’s place) on it,” Rogovskiy said.
Born in Dnipropetrovsk, some 100 kilometers from Kyiv, Bilozor at the age of 23 moved to Vancouver, Canada. In 2010, he founded TAGO, a QR code management and analytics platform. The company became successful and its product is now used by companies like Adidas, Cisco, Bosch, Schwarzkopf, and Boeing.
Bilozor founded ReplyApp in 2014. Currently, he and the startup’s development team are working in Ukraine, but the company’s sales departments are located in the United States and Canada.
This story first appeared in The Kyiv Post, a partner of Ukraine Digital News.