Posted: 3 years ago

Georgian Startup on International Market – Echolize to Enter Moldova and Romania

Georgian startup company INFLUENCE.GE is getting ready to enter the global market after the company attracted various grants and investments of GEL 1.5 million in 2019. Negotiations have been completed with Moldova and Romania.

The startup has already prepared its website in the Romanian language. The mobile application will be also introduced soon. The startup also plans to enter Ukraine and attract a reliable partner to this end.

At this stage, INFLUENCE.GE cooperates with such major companies as Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Samsung, L’Oreal, Liberty Bank, and many other companies. The startup serves foreign clients in Belarus and Kazakhstan. The company has held influence-marketing campaigns in the USA too.

INFLUENCE.GE launched 4 years ago. When reading the book, Young Startupers Contagious – Why Things Catch On, Ladi Gabunia and Giorgi Tushurashvili decided to create a company that would connect influencers with companies. The book narrates virus marketing and discusses the case of one company that used to send its new product to customers for testing and these people used to actively spread the information on products among their relatives and friends. Gabunia and Tushurashvili substantially studied the international experience and made sure that similar influence campaigns worked successfully in many countries.

As noted by Ladi Gabunia, they started doing the influence marketing with the empty pocket in one room of their parents’ office in 2017. They opened an agency, but the public interest was very low and the startupers spent 8 months to upgrade the awareness of both parties. They started working with brands. Besides TV channels and social networks, they also offered companies to involve prominent figures in advertising campaigns. Simultaneously, they started meetings with famous persons to explain that they could receive additional incomes. In 8 months the business turned successful and started bringing real benefits.

“In a year, we realized that the agency was doing many unnecessary things, including, sending reports, searching influencers, communicating with them. Therefore, we decided to develop a platform that would simplify our business substantially, including for influencers and brands”, Ladi Gabunia said

Based on this new strategy, the agency managed to save 70% of the time and energy and make a concentrate on business development.  The agency started working to attract grants. In December 2017, the startupers applied for the GITA grant and won this grant. They contracted Ukrainian specialists to develop the mentioned platform, but the raised funds sufficed to create only a prototype that could not work efficiently. Simultaneously, the agency continued successful operation and the prototype helped them attract foreign investors. 

In 2019, INFLUENCE.GE participated in the global startup foundation competition. At the pitching that was held at Business and Technology University, they met with Israeli investors, and the Israeli guests approved this idea. After this, the Georgian startupers applied to GITA’s bigger grant project too and attracted approximately GEL 1.5 million. All the resources were spent on developing technical aspects. The startupers developed a new platform and introduced a mobile application for influencers in February 2021. Thanks to this application, influencers can see the tasks for brands, business samples, and solutions and file out applications on the platform.

“In practice, everything runs in the automated regime and this factor substantially simplifies the business. As a result, our agency does not spend time on establishing communications. We only intervene if creative management is required. Consequently, our resources are spent on future development and entering foreign markets,” Ladi Gabunia said.

The startup will enter Romania and Moldova in the near future. This was a complicated process. The Georgian startup launched an operation with representatives of one of the foreign creative agencies at one of the international events. As for Ukraine, at this stage, the company has no domestic reliable partner in Ukraine. If the company fails to find the due partner, INFLUENCE.GE plans to enter the Ukrainian market independently as part of the new stage of development.