Kaunas Startup Aciety: we are about to enter a continuous phase of development
Photo: “Kaunas Startups”.
The three co-founders of Aciety, Aismantas Bulanavičius, Dovydas Bulanavičius, and Tomas Pagirys, had the opportunity to try out a number of cities and their business opportunities – from the US and South Korea, to Latvia and Kazakhstan. But nevertheless, they stayed in Kaunas, where several years ago, they successfully participated in Kaunas startups program, returning to it today as the founders of the prizes and those who lend a helping hand to colleagues developing innovative ideas. So, this time we offer a conversation about Kaunas startup Aciety with its co-founder Aismantas.
What is Aciety today and who are the people behind it?
Aciety is a platform for programming services and licensed products that brings together more than 1,250 companies from across Europe. We help clients find solutions to emerging technological challenges – from a specific team that will create a solution from scratch to an existing product that perfectly solves a problem after some small works of integration. Currently, our team consists of 10 employees plus 5 ambassadors (representatives in certain countries). We are looking forward to new members joining us in January and then we will enter the continuous development phase.
Recalling the history: how and in whose head the idea of future startup was born and how long did it take before the first tangible product was made?
The history of Aciety can be divided into several stages. The first contains the birth of an idea and freelancers. In 2010, when working as a project manager for freelancers, I had the goal of creating a job that I liked – which wouldn’t depend on a specific location – and also give this opportunity to others. It didn’t take long to see how difficult it was to find a reliable team of freelancers. This is how the first Aciety idea was born, which came into existence in 2011 – it was a platform for proven freelancers from Europe, connecting them with clients with complex needs from around the world.
Photo: Aismantas Bulanavičius.
After a few years, we noticed that working with freelancers doesn’t get us into the segment of complex and big projects, so we decided to stay with the programming companies only, and that is how the second B2B phase started.
In the third stage, we had to solve the chicken and egg problem that emerged after we noticed that our suppliers (programming companies) receive a lot of orders that they cannot handle themselves. This is how the Aciety customer exchange program was born, making the process of yoking up the suppliers profitable – a new supplier meant new customers (that aren’t served by it).
Last year, in stage four, we launched ready-to-source products – SaaS (Software as a service) and complete code license solutions. We noticed that many of our customers’ problems can be solved much faster and cheaper by recommending the use of existing solutions and tailoring them to their needs.
In the same year of 2018, the world’s first smart discount coupon was also launched. As with service providers, we wanted to make the process of yoking up of the product companies profitable. This is how the Aciety coupon – TAP – was born which we get the right to introduce into the market by signing new product contracts. Due to reverse factoring, coupon allows customers to receive large (30-70%) discounts although billing companies receive full payment.
How is your company today in terms of numbers?
We are the largest platform for Eastern European programming services and products, bringing together over 1,250 companies with over a hundred thousand developers. Over 200 companies are active members of customer exchange, exchanging the unsuitable customers for the right ones.
Although we only launched it a year ago, Aciety TAP coupon is already accepted by over 30 companies with over 70 products; we have signed more than 7 million Euro TAP coupon commodate contracts.
Aciety is one of the first crowd-funded companies in Eastern Europe. We unite about 50 investors who have provided approximately 150 thousand euros to finance us. In 2014 we won the Brilliant Young Entrepreneurs competition (15 000 EUR) and in 2017 and 2019 we received the European Union cluster export activity financing.
In 2016, when the business was just beginning to accelerate, we won the Kaunas startups competition (18 000 EUR) and this year, we thank the city with the same amount of money as the founders of the prize. I am very pleased with the work done by Tadas Stankevičius and his team – the ability to unite Kaunas startups and raise the city internationally. We feel honored to be able to contribute.
Why did you choose Kaunas as a home for your startup?
After living in the US, England, South Korea, Kazakhstan, and Latvia it became clear that each place has its pros and cons in terms of personal and professional life. Although we were developing Aciety with Dovydas Bulanavičius and Tomas Pagirys while living in different countries, later we gathered in Kaunas to continue our work.
In my view, Kaunas offers a “buzz” of a city that is big but not too big, a rapidly developing startup ecosystem and slowly-emerging yet untapped talents. Also, greenery! The biggest disadvantage in all big cities was the gray concrete but Kaunas isn’t lacking in greenery.
If you could give a short piece of advice to people who are just starting out and are just thinking about a startup, what would it be like?
There is often no need to start from scratch. As with plastic, paper, and other recyclable materials, we suggest that you do the same with code. You shouldn’t start with a puzzle on how to create everything from scratch, but rather think about applying existing things to your niche. It will be cheaper and faster, and you will be able to focus on sales, rather than needlessly diving into an often long and drowning start.