A Toronto-based financial tech startup is building a business intelligence platform that will be a boon to e-commerce sellers around the world.
Paperstack was founded in 2021 by CEO Assel Beglinova and CTO Vadim Lidich to help e-commerce entrepreneurs manage and grow their businesses. The platform assists online sellers in automating bookkeeping, visualizing cash flows, and making better supply chain and marketing decisions, and is available in early access on their website and on the Shopify App Store.
Beglinova and Lidich came to Canada as international students in 2012 and 2013 respectively and met while studying at Seneca College in Toronto. Both worked in the financial sector after graduation before launching their own companies as entrepreneurs.
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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the pair realized that small business owners needed more tools to help them with their financial decisions.
“While running our own businesses during the pandemic, we got shocked by the inequality of resources available to those who want to build a successful company in 2021,” Beglinova told Daily Hive. “While working in the bank, I was helping customers who could not afford to hire a Private Wealth Advisor or a Fractional CFO to help them make better financial decisions. I felt that millions of other people including small business owners could benefit from financial insights being more accessible and so set out to build a platform to accomplish that.”
According to Lidich, there are around 40 million online merchants selling through platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Etsy, and WooCommerce.
“Managing and growing an e-commerce business could be overwhelming,” Lidich added. “It takes a team to track revenues and expenses, analyze product profitability, and project cash flow as well as product demand. However, without properly understanding the financials, it will be impossible to make informed business decisions.
“We help e-commerce sellers make use of that data to help them manage and grow their businesses more effectively. We unlock potential for e-commerce founders by helping them grow and reach revenue goals.”
Investors have also seen the potential in Paperstack. The company raised $250,000 in pre-seed financing last summer from 18 angel investors.
“Investors who participated in our pre-seed round include employees from Shopify, Clearco, and Wealthsimple,” shared Beglinova. “Since then we received investments from Techstars, as well as welcomed more investors who are Techstars alumni, banking executives, and employees at leading tech companies.
“The funds have been used to attract talented individuals who have been helping build Paperstack platform as well as launch our beta program. Paperstack has grown to a team of 12 amazing, smart, and driven individuals.”
This past fall was a busy time for the company. Paperstack was approved to be listed on the Shopify App Store, bringing their “Fractional CFO” to over 1.8 million online merchants that use the platform.
Beglinova and Lidich were also accepted into three tech entrepreneurship programs: Communitech’s Fierce Founders Bootcamp, Google for Startups Accelerator – Women Founders program, and Techstars’ Equitech Accelerator.
“Getting accepted to prominent accelerators has enabled our company to tap into an unparalleled network of advisors, investors, distribution partners, and customers,” said Beglinova. “Less than 3% of women receive an investment from venture capitalists. And it’s incredibly rare for a venture-backed tech company to be run by a female CEO who immigrated from Central Asia.”
“What those accelerators provide, first and foremost, is a level-playing field: an opportunity to be taken seriously by investors and mentors who are not used to investing in immigrant or female-led companies. Yet, being accepted is only the beginning. We then go to work proving every single day why we deserve to be a ‘unicorn.’ From customer acquisition to fundraising, to product development — these accelerators have made it possible to learn and apply best practices to our own company.”
As part of the Techstars’ Equitech Accelerator, Beglinova and Lidich will be showcasing Paperstack during Demo Day in February to thousands of venture capitalists, corporate partners, and potential investors.
“We love helping our customers and seeing the impact of Paperstack,” said Lidich. “There is nothing more rewarding than supporting small businesses around the country who are fighting every single day to stay afloat during the pandemic.
“We take pride in creating impact. Not the kind of impact that billion-dollar companies take for granted but the kind that keeps families and immigrant-owned businesses around and delighting their local communities despite all the setbacks and hardships of 2021.”
And though the company is just a year old, Beglinova and Lidich have big plans for Paperstack.
“Our goal is to empower 40 million e-commerce sellers around the world to compete with brands like Nike, Apple, and Zara,” said Beglinova. “Just because you are a ‘small business’ doesn’t mean you can’t.”
“What was reserved for a select few is now available for all the e-commerce sellers thanks to technology we are democratizing here at Paperstack. And our hope is that we get to continue to do so for many years to come.”
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