As 2022 is getting underway, one of the biggest trends being discussed in the venture space is whether the internet industry is entering a new age, called Web 3.0, in which decentralization and virtual reality will take the connected world to an entirely new level.
Whether that move is inevitable or not, time will tell. However, from an investment point of view, one of the biggest angles of opportunity is to bet on solutions that commoditize technology at the tail end of an innovation wave, easing adoption for less innovative industries that hold lots of patient and deep potential.
And so in analogy to Web 3.0, if it is imminent, now is the time to look at which juicy bits of Web 2.0 are still left to be disrupted. Way back in the Web 2.0 heyday of 2011, Silicon Valley investor Marc Andreessen famously declared that “software is eating the world”. And indeed; if we look at the space of digitizing and automating classical business processes, there is a cloud-based or app-based solution for literally everything.
But the truth is that there are still a lot of areas that barely scratch the surface of digital and online automation. This is true not just here in Bulgaria, where your average local car rental company manages all of their orders via WhatsApp or Viber, or where restaurants keep track of takeout orders via Google Sheets, or even pen and paper. It’s also true on a worldwide scale in industries like trucking, or event planning, where attached spreadsheets, chat messenger logs, and the 1970s e-mail technology are still at the core of workflow processes.
And this is exactly where one of our latest portfolio additions at Vitosha, Dexycon, comes in. It seems like a telltale sign that the founders, Silyana and Zanni, first met each other virtually in 2020, at the height of the first Covid-19 lockdown, during an online hackathon for pandemic response, called Hack The Crisis. Zanni is a veteran of the technology scene in his two home countries, Bulgaria and Austria, where he co-founded and led a number of startups as CTO, and also was on the board of the NGO that organized the hackathon. Silyana had been with several startups and IT companies in business roles, and took part in one of the 150 hackathon projects, ending up as one of the winners to her own surprise.
Shortly after the hackathon, Zanni told Silyana about his low-code API management concept, that had been on the backburner for some time, and Silyana fired up with ideas on how to pivot it to a platform, which would provide a low-code environment for swiftly building cloud-based custom process automation, for anything that’s under the radar of mainstream, large ERP, CMS, and CRM solutions.
And thus in 2021, Dexycon was born. The product is based on the premise that businesses between 10 and 200 employees have processes as complicated and elaborate as large corporations, but that currently available business automation solutions all cater either to the under-10 or over-200 range.
When I asked Zanni for an example, in our first conversation, he said: “It’s simple. Look at the app of one of Bulgaria’s best-known restaurant chains, in which you can order takeaway or delivery. I know the story there, it took 6 months and EUR 50,000 to build the app and the backend for that. With Dexycon, we’re offering the same functionality in 1 month, and for a subscription of between EUR 100 and 200 per month.”
And according to Silyana and Zanni, it’s not just restaurants. Their current limited release has around ten clients, which include another mainstream restaurant chain, a large agricultural distributor, a chain of automotive repair shops, an event platform, and a number of professional services providers like mid-tier law firms and accountants.
The secret sauce behind Dexycon is a modular setup, where product development is largely outsourced to the client. As Zanni explains, “most of the time our clients either have an app without any meaningful backend, which their creative agency upsold them as part of the marketing work, or some kind of process tool which their accountants offered them, that has no connection to the customer service workflow. Or very often, just a website that no one even remembers who made it. With Dexycon, we build blocks that allow non-engineers to connect various databases and interfaces, which then become templates that our other clients can implement for their needs”.
It’s much easier said than done of course, but Silyana and Zanni’s combined experience stems them optimistically. With a fully remote team of 6, a fresh capital injection from Vitosha, and deep experience with building and selling similar but custom-made solutions across Central and Eastern Europe, Dexycon’s founders are looking forward to a pivotal 2022 for their company.
“We’ve spent an entire year carefully selecting and analysing client personas and their needs, building the first concept automation modules that came out of that research, validating price points, and building a team and a community of engineers and non-technical specialists for implementation”, says Silyana. “Our aim for 2022 is to roll this out to dozens of paying customers across many industries, and to regear Dexycon for growth across Europe with enhanced product and customer experience. We believe there’s a multi-billion-euro market out there just in Europe, and we are adamant we can take a good chunk of it”.
And that’s exactly the kind of dessert that we at Vitosha are thrilled to deliver some ingredients to. After all, if the next decade is all about businesses switching to tokens and avatars, as the current Web 3.0 predictions go, those that will survive to thrive in that environment have to switch to scalable cloud infrastructure and delivery today. A premise that Dexycon is delivering on, and that we couldn’t be more happy to support here at Vitosha.