Business networking is becoming an important part of our daily life. In order to facilitate the process of finding the relevant contacts. Finnish entrepreneur Niko Porkka together with a Ukrainian team of developers from Lviv created a startup meshly. Right now, the founders are looking for investment for further development.
I started my first company when I was 18. It was in sport’s management and marketing. I moved already at a very young age into the doing digital businesses, first in marketing, then software and now focusing on mobile. The opportunities related to digitalization have always been my biggest passion. In between being an entrepreneur, I did a career in consulting for five years – it was good school to learn how many different businesses work, but also made me understand being an entrepreneur is the most interesting track for me. I jumped back to be an entrepreneur by founding "Lapioworks" – a Finish company operating in the field of venture building. We build up startups that are always based on something that we called "mega-idea". We are always looking for mega-trends on the market that we believe to have great potential and then start building a business based on that.
We have done different type of startups during the last years and always focused on something that we share a big passion within our team and where we see great potential. Meshly is a great example of that, we see the need for people to be connected with interesting opportunities and new, relevant business connections. It's something that we need ourselves and have seen no really great solutions on the market so far.
Looking at the rise of mobile technology during the last years we thought about how we could connect mobile technology and business networking together. As mobile is the main platform, it obviously needs to be able to handle "business interactions", which means that people can communicate and book meetings. Also, how can we make the communication flows much smoother – that’s very interesting. That's basically what I'm currently focused on, my current entrepreneur activities are very much around meshly for now. Of course, I'm looking at new ideas and great people all the time. Later this year we also plan to launch one or two new startups and look forward working together with Ukrainian teams to build something great.
We started developing meshly late 2014. Later that year we made the first beta-version of it and got a very good response from different markets with good interest also from international investors. Users joining meshly said that it was very interesting for them. We decided to take in some angel investors to develop the opportunity further. We raised € 150K (about $165K) of venture funding from prominent Finish angel investors.
Since then we have been building the product towards being a truly comprehensive business networking tool. Now we have launched it officially in May 2015 for iOS and Android, during a conference in Finland. Since the launch, we are seeing very positive growth with the community. We are growing every day, more and more people around the world are signing up. We have users from the USA, from all around Europe, Asia etc.
Opportunities – it’s something that makes us unique in the business networking market. You can easily post an opportunity and also catch an opportunity just with one swipe and click.
Currently, we offer meshly for free. But in the future we are going to also introduce a premium model. It means that our users will pay a small monthly fee for using meshly.
We have our developer team and the whole product development in Ukraine. We have been working our own Ukrainian team since April 2015 and are very happy about how things work so far. At the moment we have a small development studio in Lviv.
We have a very positive feeling about Ukrainian IT talents and are very committed in working together with Ukrainian startup talents.
At the moment we are also looking for more venture funding for up to $500K. We are also interested to find local Ukrainian investors and business-angels to work together with us. We are very open to work with local investors, because I believe to built a very healthy ecosystem for startups in Ukraine – it's an important part to have good investors and people around, who really believe in the potential of the market here. We are very happy to see also the connections being established with Ukrainian investors. This very much applies also to our future ventures, so we’re always ready to talk and see, what can be achieved together.
We are definitely planning to do long term business here with Ukrainian startups and hope to be able to support and work together with the Ukrainian startup ecosystem and see it rise and attract also foreign investors. There is great potential for Ukraine becoming a really interesting market for building startups, as there are great talents here. Basically, it's all about having a healthy ecosystem with people from various backgrounds and talents, good angel and early-stage investors supporting new ventures.
I hope, in a couple of years we will be with meshly a leading global player in business networking and communications sector, which means that people will use meshly as their primary tool to interact in business. That's our vision and the goal we are working towards.
By Mila Lerner / InVenture Investment Group