Kyiv-based, Fuelfinance, has achieved a $1 million raise in seed funding. Investors in the raise include Markus Villig, CEO and founder of Bolt, and John S Kim, CEO and co-founder of Sendbird.
Fuelfinance is a financial management tool for startup founders and financial teams, with tools that streamline bookkeeping, profit and loss statements, financial planning scenarios, economic analysis, and dashboards. The target market for the product includes early-stage companies by providing a more affordable offering than what is currently available.
While this may seem like a typical fintech story, much of Fuelfinance’s team is still based in war-torn Ukraine.
Finextra spoke with Alyona Mysko, founder and CEO, to discuss the reality of a youthful fintech trying to find its feet in a warzone, the challenges they’ve faced along the way, and how they see their future unfolding.
“It was challenging. My co-founder Yaroslav Azhnyuk and I had our strategic session one week before the war broke out,” Mysko comments.
It was in that meeting the two decided to start fundraising. Fuelfinance had been a bootstrapped and profitable business for the last two years and decided to raise funds for new product development.
“We planned our launch of our new website and our new product exactly on the 24th of February, so this launch was postponed,” Mysko adds.
Despite world events causing their delays, Fuelfinance still managed to launch the product and website in March of 2022, and saw success throughout the year. On the day of their launch, they became the number one ‘product of the day’ on Product Hunt and were shortlisted for the Golden Kitty awards in January 2023.
Mysko and Azhnyuk decided that “no matter what is going on we want to create our product. We want to create a great financial product for all companies across the world to help them with their financial management. We decided that was our key goal and we were going to stick with it.”
However, just as they began to turn their efforts back to fundraising they were faced with another world event, the economic downturn in the US market – a key component of their initial strategy. “We saw how investors changed their conversation and started to ask more about economics. We were profitable as a bootstrap, so it was a great point for us.”
Their success story is hard to ignore given the severity of the challenges they have faced.
Elaborating on these challenges, Mysko explains: “We had to relocate the team to a safer place. We had priorities to provide a safe place to work, we had to provide electricity, we had to provide Starlink. It was a good stress test for us to understand that we could deal with that very fast. We were still able to continue with the development of our product and hiring new people. Everything is possible when you have a really strong mission and idea. It’s also really important that we have a really great team and we support each other in this situation. I should say now that we are ready for all unpredictable situations.”
Before the war, 80% of their team were Ukraine based, and this has now shifted to 50%, but this is a high number considering the situation. They have managed to triple their business throughout 2022. When asked what the next steps are, Mysko comments: “I want to have millions of companies as our customers all over the world, because I believe that great financial management can help these companies hire more people and develop themselves in a profitable way. I also believe that efficient financial management in companies leads to GDP growth in different countries and that’s why we have this strong mission.”
She furthers that with these key goals in mind, they are “hiring more people, working on our marketing and sales strategy, developing our products to have much more integration and automation, and overall trying to make the best product for our customers so they can finally fall in love with their finance.”