As Gen Z turns into their early-to-mid 20s, a new generation of business owners is coming online. Many of these new entrepreneurs do the vast majority of work on their phones. This is especially true in emerging markets like Latin America, where SMEs comprise 99.5% of firms in the region. In Mexico, for instance, 97.4% of businesses are micro-enterprises.
But although small businesses are generally considered to be the primary driver of new job growth, few have the technical capability to spin up decent branding and an online presence. While platforms such as Wix and Squarespace have made it easier to do this, these are primarily aimed at desktop users.
This is perhaps why, with Gen Z coming on stream, we are now seeing mobile-first startups appear to cater to this new wave of businesses.
Thus we’ve seen the funding of mobile-first website builder Univer.se, which raised $47 million from Google Ventures, General Catalyst and Addition.
Zeely’s offering has now caught the eye of investors into its new $1 million seed round. New backers include Ukrainian VC Vesna.Capital, Angel One Fund (a Ukrainian fund), Imaguru Ventures and angels Murat Abdrakhmanov (an investor in Udemy), Adrian J. Slywotzky (a partner at Oliver Wyman) and ZAS Ventures.
Zeely plans to use this new investment to implement its integration with TikTok and payment systems and the expansion of their AI’s capabilities. The company claims it will reach an ARR of $3 million this year.
Zeely says that its app can generate a web store quickly on a mobile, as well as allow a business to promote itself across social media platforms quickly and easily. It claims its AI-driven platform can automatically generate text and visual content for web stores and ad creatives, as well as analytics and client-management tools.
Zeely’s users are so far spread across the U.S., U.K. and emerging markets such as Brazil and Mexico. It says, typically, the app is used by companies in the service sector such as beauty and care, car detailing, coaching, home care, along with retailers and merchants.
A monthly subscription price starts at $19.99, however, says co-founder Alina Bondarenko (CCO): “Most of our Latin American users opt for the free version of our product, which offers a lot of functionality. In the future, we plan to introduce more affordable pricing plans for the LatAm market. Currently, 80% of our paying users are from the U.S. and U.K.”
Zeely is currently testing a beta version of Stripe’s API integration to enable users to accept various modes of payments.
“Other platforms tend to have drag-and-drop website builder’s but these often lack promotional tools, which we believe are crucial for generating customers. We provide our users with the ability to advertise through Facebook, Instagram, and other channels — all from their mobile devices in minutes,” added Bondarenko.
Zeely’s team of 11 consists of Bondarenko and co-founders Dmytro Samoiliuk (CEO) and Yaroslav Samoiliuk (COO). Dmytro, the technical founder and CEO of Zeely, previously ran a digital marketing agency in Ukraine.
Investor Murat Abdrakhmanov said in a statement: “I am glad to join the ambitious and very professional Zeely app team. It’s a great product and already has very convincing traction.”