Belarus-founded technology company PandaDoc, which moved to Ukraine in 2020 during the protests against dictator Alexander Lukashenko, has become a “unicorn”, bringing its total value to $ 1 billion, according to Mikita Mikado, its co-founder.
The company does not disclose how much money it raised during the last round of investments. Forbes estimates PandaDoc’s investors, Canadian company OMERS Growth Equity, US-based G Squared, and smaller mutual funds have invested up to $ 100 million in the company.
In August last year, PandaDoc raised around $ 36 million, which, according to the startup analytics website, brings its valuation to $ 255 million PitchBook. The company has nearly 20 investors, including the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and Microsoft’s M12 venture fund.
Founded in 2013, the company sells software that enables its customers to create, share and sign official documents online. PandaDoc employs around 360 people and works with over 30,000 small and medium-sized companies in 130 countries. In the past few years, sales have increased 63%, but the company plans to double its growth.
PandaDoc is now based in San Francisco. It has offices in Portugal, Poland, the Philippines and the Ukrainian capital Kiev.
“This additional funding will enable us to continue innovating, expanding our team and expanding our global presence,” said Mikado in the company’s statement released on September 22nd.
The pandemic is the right time for PandaDoc to enter new markets and attract customers from different industries as companies around the world now prefer to manage documentation online. PandaDoc competes worldwide with services such as DocuSign, Eversign, DocSend and GetAccept. Ukraine has its own version, AirSlate, which is rumored to have become a “unicorn” in the US
The most common business model for this startup is a subscription. PandaDoc, for example, charges its users $ 19 or $ 49 per month and offers free services such as the electronic signature.
According to Mark Shulgan, managing partner and head of OMERS Growth Equity, PandaDoc’s service is in demand in the opinion of investors: it enables companies to increase efficiency, reduce costs and accelerate their growth.
“We are very excited to support Mikita Mikado’s ambitious vision and look forward to supporting him and his team in this further development,” said Shulgan.
Connections with Ukraine
2020 was a challenging year for Mikado and the other company founder, Sergey Barysiuk. Last August, PandaDoc joined the mass protests in Belarus that began when Lukashenko announced the results of the presidential election, which many believed were rigged.
Mikado and Barysiuk started an initiative to raise money for law enforcement agencies who wanted to quit their jobs so as not to support Lukashenko’s regime. In September 2020, police raided PandaDoc’s Minsk office, arrested some of its employees and accused four of them of fraud. The company had to pay $ 1,466 to free her and close the case.
But working in the country flooded with mass protests, torture, searches and internet outages has not been profitable for PandaDoc’s business. Mikado decided to relocate its employees to neighboring countries, including Poland and Ukraine. Almost 140 technology freaks from Kiev, Odessa and Lviv are now working and PandaDoc would like to hire more.
Mikado said Ukraine is a convenient market for Belarusian tech freaks because of a cheap 5% income tax for private entrepreneurs, a visa-free regime between the two countries, and a similar language and culture.
“The PandaDoc story in Ukraine continues because it’s a cool market and there are a lot of talented people working here,” said Barysiuk.
The company wants to close its office in Minsk because there are no more employees there. “PandaDoc is probably the world’s first unicorn in exile,” said Kirill Golub, Belarusian venture investor.
Although PandaDoc will not have a direct impact on the country’s economy after the closure of its Minsk office, the fact that it will be the first Belarusian startup to reach a $ 1 billion valuation is important, experts said.
Aside from PandaDoc, Belarus-based EPAM and Wargaming became “unicorns” many years ago, but EPAM is a publicly traded company while Wargaming never officially announced its rating, so PandaDoc is “the first real unicorn from Belarus,” the said Investor of the company from Estonia Ragnar Sass.
“The last 12 months of PandaDoc have been without question the biggest roller coaster imaginable. But despite all the adversities and real struggles, the company is growing faster than before, ”said Sass.
The Kiev Post technology coverage is sponsored by Ciklum, ELEKS, Intellias, Intetics, Itera, Parimatch Tech, SimCorp, SoftServe and TECHIIA. The content is independent of the donors.