Rapid user growth in seven countries has led high net worth investors to back UENI for the fourth time. The London-based website and online tech company has now raised $30m in total and is throwing the gauntlet down before the tech giants
UENI, whose mission is to ‘make all of the world’s businesses visible online’, has gained $12M from high net worth investors and entrepreneurs.
The company was founded by husband and wife team Christine Telyan and Anh Pham Vu after the couple struggled to find a dentist online. The pair set out to tackle a lack of online visibility for small businesses and UENI now provides a free website and Google My Business listing to small businesses, following a five-minute sign-up.
Since launching its ‘freemium’ model in August 2018, which makes revenue through paid services such as a custom domain name, professional email address and enhanced search engine optimisation, it has attracted over 350,000 users. UENI’s product offering is growing to include ecommerce and curated third-party services that small businesses need to grow, such as business bank accounts, insurance, and payment processing.
UENI’s latest funding round, completed in October 2019, involved 36 private investors, with 95 percent of the money coming from 10 backers.
Among the named investors are Michael Hartweg, co-founder of Leonteq Securities AG, a Financial Services and Fintech company listed on the Swiss Exchange and entrepreneur Thierry Manni, former chairman of Novares Group (Mecaplast Group) and founder of Stajvelo, a high end electric bicycle producer in Monaco.
“This is a massive endorsement from our angel investors. Our existing investors have been impressed by our growth and are backing us to do more,” says CEO Christine Telyan.
Telyan points out that the company has not had the need for institutional investment so far. However, with very ambitious growth plans to bring millions of small businesses online in the next few years, institutional investment could be on the horizon, she says.
“Our growth has been more like a consumer app rather than a service for businesses and entrepreneurs,” she continued. “We expect to have 600,000 users by the close of 2019 and two million by the end of 2020.”
UENI is currently signing up over 3000 businesses every day, with substantial demand in markets such as Mexico, India and Brazil.
“There’s a lot of demand for what we do. Growing markets such as India, Brazil and Mexico are fuelling our growth. The US is also a very exciting market with over 500 businesses joining every day,” says Telyan.
“Internet search is still dominated by major brands and we want that to change. Meanwhile, well known website builders aren’t that effective as most users abandon the process part way through.”
“We know our customers aren’t techies or designers, they just want something that works. So we’ve created something super simple for them which ensures they complete the journey and actually setup a website.”
UENI currently operates in the United States, Canada, UK, Spain, Mexico, Brazil and India. The majority of its 60-plus staff are based at its headquarters in Hammersmith, London. UENI also has offices in Prague, Czech Republic as well as Dnipro and Kiev in Ukraine.
The latest funding round of $12m means UENI has raised $30m to date from business angels. The company gained its first investment of €1.75m ($1.95m) from business angels in 2015. In September 2016 it raised €9.125m ($10.1m), a funding round in March 2018 brought in €5.7m ($6.3m).
“Our mission is to make all of the world’s small businesses visible online,” says Telyan. “Our investors see the market potential and so this investment is a major validation of what we’ve done so far.”