London-based tech company UENI is launching over 300 websites per day, with hairdressers, plumbers and small shops among those finding a way to compete with the world’s biggest brands.
“Our mission is to make all businesses visible online. We are a digital agency for the masses,” says UENI CEO Christine Telyan. UENI provides a free website and Google My Business listing to all small businesses that sign up for its service. The business also provides paid services such as a custom domain name, professional email address and listings on trusted, high traffic maps, directories, and social media sites.
UENI’s ‘freemium’ model now sees more than 300 businesses sign up per day – an increase of 100% since the beginning of 2019. "We want to level the playing for small businesses. For consumers, this means far greater choice when buying locally. For our customers, it means more trade and business growth. As for big businesses that have been taking their customers for granted, watch out.”
The inspiration for UENI came about in 2014 when Telyan was tasked with finding a dentist for her husband, Anh Pham Vu, who was returning from a business trip with severe toothache. She went online to find a local dental surgery but was surprised how hard it was.
“I thought it would be easy but actually it took quite a while and a number of calls to find and book a dental appointment for Anh,” she recalls.
The bad experience stayed in the minds of Christine and Anh and led them to realise that, if dentists were hard to find, so were many other types of businesses.
“Whenever we need to buy things, the first thing we do is search the internet. But by and large, search results turn up chains and franchises, and many small businesses are invisible online.
The couple researched the market and discovered that over 70 percent of small businesses lacked an online presence. Existing options, such as website builders, require time as well as knowledge that many small businesses unfamiliar with online publishing don’t have, such as content writing or SEO
In December 2014, Christine and Anh set up UENI and shortly after quit their jobs to focus on its development. In 2015, the company gained its first investment of £1.5mn from business angels. As of 2019 the company has raised a total of £15mn in funding.
“Being online is now so much more than just having a website,” Telyan says. “But it’s an area many need help with, as most don’t have the skills to create a full online presence or the budget to hire an agency.”
“We now have over 300 people signing up with us each day. In order to do this, we use a lot of automation but nonetheless we are delivering a personalised product to every user. Also, we have a team based in the UK who oversee every website before it goes live.”
The London-based company currently operates in the UK, France, Spain, the United States, and India.