Oct 19, 2022
The Success Story of BILLZ – a Retail Startup from Uzbekistan
Not so long ago, the Uzbekistani retail startup BILLZ raised $650,000 from Sturgeon Capital and Quest Ventures.
We’ve contacted Rustam Khamdamov, the CEO at BILLZ, to find out the startup’s success story – from the days of launch to attracting investments on VentureRocket Eurasia.
Tell us a bit about the history of BILLZ. How was it launched?
Actually, the would-be BILLZ team was partially ready long before the platform was launched. Initially, we worked on the research and development of an Estonian CRM solution for Ucell. We came up with an idea of setting off our own startup in 2016. In 2017, we launched BILLZ – an online platform for sales automation.
How does BILLZ differ from similar solutions?
Client-wise, we help not only to automate sales, but also increase traffic, guide an offline business in going online, and even consult and train a client’s staff. In addition, we provide an opportunity to fund clients (up to $20,000). With investors in mind, we focus mostly on being a partner- platform.
How did you find out about the VRE platform? How did the cooperation with the team influence your development?
We met a part of the VRE team at one of the startup events organized in Kazakhstan. The team actively helped us raise capital – from deal matching by introducing us to many investors, including Quest Ventures, to structuring the deal itself.
Why did you choose Sturgeon Capital and Quest Ventures?
The communication with Sturgeon Capital and Quest Ventures went very smoothly from the very beginning. Besides, we decided to focus on international investors, as they are very different from the local ones in terms of their approach. We know that Sturgeon Capital and Quest Ventures will help us correctly evaluate the product, think globally, and therefore enter international markets faster.
What changed after you got investments on VRE?
The investments helped us change our strategy and technically improve our product. We switched to new technologies: the new stack not only helped us implement multiple currencies and languages on the platform, but also significantly improved our hiring success rates. The very thinking of the team also changed a lot: now, we focus on global markets and pay great attention to the operational stuff and boosting our traction.
What are your plans for next year?
We want to increase traction in Kazakhstan, as well as enter new markets – Southeast Asia and the countries of MENA. Currently, we are not planning to start a new investment round: the main task is to increase the runway so that BILLZ can operate longer without attracting VC funds.
Please, give a few tips to startups on finding the right investors and building a product
🟣During the period of stagnation and crisis, we recommend revising startup budgeting scenarios.
🟣 Our main criteria for building a startup are your traction, the circumstances in which you are operating (the situation within the market and the country itself) and, of course, the client (improving the product according to the requirements of your client).
🟣We advise startups not to be afraid of using any investor search channels – any networking events, Linkedin, TG groups, platforms like VRE are a great opportunity to find the right investor.
🟣When communicating with investors, it is very important to do your “homework” well – prepare a good pitch deck, clearly understand why you need the money (preferably for the next 3-5 years) and what your plans are.
If you are a tech startup with an MVP and traction in place, register on the VRE platform.
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