It took a war for many of us to realize the skills of Ukrainians. The country is full of technology talent with impressive educational credentials and a strong work ethic.
I interviewed in early March the co-founder of Whidegroup, a Magento and Shopify focused development firm. Earlier this month, we published an insightful piece from Serpstat, an Odesa-based search engine optimization company.
This interview is with Alyona Mysko, the founder of Fuel, a cloud-based financial platform located normally in Kyiv. Fuel provides essential ecommerce accounting and financial services for not a lot of money.
The entire audio of our interview is embedded below. The transcript is edited for clarity and length.
Kerry Murdock: You’re the founder of Fuel, a finance platform based in Ukraine.
Alyona Mysko: Yes, we launched the company two and a half years ago. Fuel is a financial department in the cloud for startups, especially ecommerce. We provide accounting, financial reporting, analysis, unit economics, projections, market analysis, and more to help business owners make good decisions.
We combine a proprietary financial tech platform with finance and accounting professionals who analyze clients’ data and offer insights.
Murdock: Say I’m a merchant who sells running shoes online. How can Fuel help my business?
Mysko: We start with financial reports. We’ll assemble your data from different sources to help you understand the key elements, such as profitability and cash flow. We’ll then analyze the number of products you have, accounts receivables, accounts payables, and expenses coming due. That’s the first step.
For the second step, we’ll help you understand the sell-through of each type of shoe and its profit margin. In our experience, profit margins vary in products such as shoes based on demand and competition. This type of analysis will help with inventory planning, too.
The third step is to review your selling channels, such as marketplaces and your own ecommerce site. Which channels are most efficient for your shoes? We’ll help uncover that by looking at each channel’s sales volume, selling costs, and margins. We can help set prices to maximize profits, and we can determine inventory needs, which of course impact cash flow.
Importantly, we’ll communicate those insights in an easy-to-understand 24/7 dashboard. An owner can quickly make decisions from that info — what to sell, for how much, and where, now and in the future.
That’s what we do. We love helping merchants grow their businesses.
Murdock: You mentioned unit economics. Can you expand on that?
Mysko: Unit economics looks at a single item, a single SKU. So, one pair of shoes. How much revenue and margin will you receive for the single pair? What are your selling expenses, such as the cost of acquisition and general overhead?
Murdock: Fuel’s customer dashboards are appealing.
Mysko: My background is as a chief financial officer. I understand the challenges of founders and CEOs. They don’t have time to read reams of reports or crunch a lot of numbers. So we convey the essential info in words and graphs in a very basic way to provide insights for decisions.
For ecommerce companies, for example, the essentials are typically daily, weekly, or monthly revenue, gross profit, unit sales and margin, and cash flow. We’ll show all of that by channel and SKU. An executive can look at the dashboard for 15 minutes and make necessary decisions.
We have affordable subscription pricing, as low as $1,000 per month.
Murdock: Your platform is very impressive. Let’s shift gears and talk about the war. Where are you now, in mid-April?
Mysko: I’m in western Ukraine. Our company is normally located in Kyiv. We have 23 employees, all in Ukraine, although some have left the country. Others are serving in the armed forces.
My priority when the war started was to ensure the safety of employees. Fortunately all of them are safe as you and I are speaking. That was the first challenge.
After that, we are renewing our work. We started that in the second week of the war. It was complicated because team members were in the process of relocating or they didn’t have WiFi, or they were in bomb shelters.
But we’ve adapted now. I’m still having many one-to-one meetings with all employees to support them and their families. We still have much internal communication. We have to run our business and serve our clients. We are doing that.
Plus, our country needs financial support. Ukrainian businesses need to remain viable. Employees need salaries. Most of Fuel’s employees are still in Ukraine. We’re working hard on Fuel while volunteering and helping military forces and other businesses.
Murdock: Anything else?
Mysko: Thank you for this interview. All of Ukraine needs help. For anyone listening to this, please donate or buy Ukrainian products and services. An easy way to do that is at SpendWithUkraine.com. My friends created it.
All of us are grateful for the support.