UENI - Get Your Business Noticed With a Free Website

The number of internet users is increasing constantly. According to Global Digital 2019 reports, internet users are growing by an average of more than 1 million new users every day since January, 2018. As per the report, there are currently 4.39 billion internet users and the number is increasing daily. Now, most people turn to Google to find goods and services. In such a scenario, it is essential for every business to have an online presence.

However, according to GoDaddy 6 out of 10 small businesses do not have an online presence. Many small businesses either have the time or monetary constraints, or lack of know-how, due to which they have not built their online presence. This leads to a loss of business as these small businesses fail to attract a huge chunk of potential customers looking for their services and products online.

To solve this problem, UENI a London based startup has come up with the motto of making websites affordable to even the smallest and newest business. UENI was founded by Christine Telyan and Anh Pham Vu in 2014. UENI is one of its kind free website builder. Its mission is to help local business owners get discovered online by creating website free of cost. UENI is now also offering its services in India.

We interviewed UENI co-founder Christine Telyan to understand how UENI helps small business in taking their business online.

UENI Highlights

Startup Name UENI
Headquarter London
Founder Christine Telyan & Anh Pham Vu
Sector Business Services
Founded 2014
Parent Organization UENI Limited

About UENI
UENI - Industry Details
UENI - CEO/Founder
UENI - The Idea and Starting Up
UENI - Launching Startup
UENI - Name and Logo
UENI - Business and Revenue Model
UENI - Funding
UENI - Customer Acquisition
UENI - Challenges
UENI - Competitors
UENI - Awards & Achievements

What is UENI

UENI is a website builder service that provides a low-cost, ready-made web presence especially designed for micro and small businesses that enables them to get discovered, look more professional, get found by new customers and grow their business. The business only needs to spend a few minutes to signup and can launch for no cost whatsoever. UENI also takes care of hosting needs by providing free website hosting.

UENI is distinct from both the ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) website builders and the digital agencies offering bespoke solutions. The DIY solutions require the business owner to take the time to decide what information to put on the website, what text to write, what images to include, and what design to choose from, UENI recognizes that many business owners do not have the time or the skills required to design and populate a rich, high-performing website or to manage and maintain it. Moreover, business owners typically struggle to publish their up-to-date business on the key channels that matter for getting discovered online, such as Google My Business and Google Maps. UENI does this for the business as a standard part of every package, for every business that signs up.

Unlike the bespoke agencies, UENI offers the basic website free and from there, offers additional services at a very minimal cost.

With UENI, customers will receive a website which contains the information that customers search for when looking for local businesses online. UENI can boost the business’s impact online through affordable online marketing, by building and keeping up to date the business’s information listings on 20+ trusted, high-traffic platforms, maps, and social media sites.  

We saw that the biggest pain points for small business owners were that they don’t have much time to build their online presence, they don’t have much money to spend on digital advertising, and they don’t want to deal with the complexity of getting online today. So we built something specifically for small business owners - Christine

UENI - Industry Details

According to the latest World Trade Report by the World Trade Organization, micro firms--businesses with less than 10 employees - constitute the majority of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSME’s) in all countries. Moreover, 85% of micro firms operate in the services sector. These businesses rely heavily on word-of-mouth to advertise and the process for reaching new customers is often slow and difficult to scale. UENI focuses on MSMEs that need help getting extra exposure by going online and appearing in local search engine results.

It is impossible to establish the total market size, due to the fact that unregistered businesses (self-employed and independent workers) are several times more than the registered ones. For example, in India in 2007, there were fewer than 1.6 million registered MSMEs and 26 million unregistered MSMEs, that is about 17 unregistered MSMEs for every registered one according to an IFC report.

Historically these business owners had only two options. The first is the do-it-yourself website builders, which require the business to invest both time and money to create a website with very little external help, very often with unsatisfactory results.

The second is digital agencies, which are able to accommodate any bespoke needs but have in most cases a prohibitive cost for a micro or small business.

However, now with UENI the small businesses have a third and much better option of getting a readymade website free of cost.

UENI - CEO / Founder

Christine Telyan and Anh Pham Vu are the founders of UENI.

UENI co-founder Christine Telyan is a graduate from the London School of Economics and Harvard Business School. She previously worked as an oil trader and established new trading flows in the European and Asian markets.  

Anh Pham Vu is an MBA from Harvard and speaks 12 languages! He previously was a senior director at a major European Private Equity Fund and prior to that, a management consultant. His experience includes investing in tech companies, building business plans, leading operational and IT carve-out teams, and serving as a board member of portfolio companies.  

UENI has an international team of 45 people, based in the UK, Czech Republic and Ukraine.


UENI - The Idea and Starting Up

It all started with an agonizing toothache. Anh was in Paris, and suddenly a terrible toothache bothered him. He did not know any local dentist and had no idea where to find one. This experience though horrible was a blessing in disguise. Anh and his wife Christine realized how having online presence was beneficial for both small businesses and customers. There was a big gap as 86% of consumers now search for goods and services online while most businesses are not available online.

So, UENI began with a mission to help the end consumer, who today lacks choice when looking for web designing and hosting services online. Now UENI has emerged as one of the best free website builder with features such as a basic readymade website which is listed on popular platforms like Google Map and Google My Business.

We realized that it was important to get more businesses online (first across Europe and then globally) so that they could be discovered. This would benefit the independent business owners, who are central to local communities, and the consumers searching for the cheapest, nearest, or best rated local business.  

UENI - Launching Startup

UENI had a humble launch.

UENI was launched from the living room of our house in early 2015. Everyone was using our coffee machine and dining room table -

In 2015, UENI app was started where end users could find, compare and book the cheapest, nearest or best-rated local business provider. UENI partnered with communities (like fitness centers) to help propagate its ‘local search engine'. Today UENI is a B2B solution to get small businesses visible online with services like creating a basic website free of cost and free hosting. The company relies on a range of marketing channels: referrals, social media, paid search.  

Even as UENI's approach shifted, the company's mission was always constant, to digitize small businesses to make them discoverable. In the coming year, UENI plans to return to their original approach and launch a B2C platform that helps address the core customer problem that Anh and Christine identified back in 2014 to help customers discover small businesses online.    

The name UENI is inspired by ‘You and I’.

The name UENI remains a point of interest because it is often mispronounced. You say it you - en - eye, like You & I. The name is meaningful because our business is about connecting businesses and customers, connecting you and I. Of course, we stumbled into the name unintentionally: when we first got started, it was the shortest pronounceable domain name that we could afford.

UENI - Business and Revenue Model

UENI operates on a freemium business model. It provides a basic service for free and prompts the user to upgrade at key moments of their business growth.  

While the starter plan is free. UENI's current pricing is $ 9.99 per month for the 'basic plan' and $ 19.99 per month for the UENI's 'Plus plan'. One is eligible for discount if he takes annual plans.

UENI - Funding

UENI has raised a total funding of £16.6 million over 3 rounds from angel investors.

Date Stage Amount Investor
October 2015 Seed €1.9M Angel Investors
September 2016 Angel €9M Angel Investors
December 2017 Angel €5.7M Angel Investors

UENI - Customer Acquisition

In July 2018, UENI launched a massive campaign offering a free website for every business, for which it got immense customer response.

Together with the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce, we flooded the city with a bold offer: a free website for every business. During the month we ran this campaign, you could find UENI on billboards, Radio, TV, media, promotional letters and postcards and, of course, all over the internet.

UENI is currently signing up over 600 new businesses every day, worldwide and expects to reach the 300,000+ users in 2019. UENI decided to scale-up this success by expanding this offer nationally to all the UK. UENI expanded its services to India and the USA in 2019.

UENI marketing campaign

UENI - Challenges

According to Anh and Christine, as they were from a non-technical background, building a technical team was a challenge for them.

The key was really to find a few champions: people with the tenacity we had as founders, to create clear technical priorities and to drive activities in the company on the tech side to deliver what the business needs. This created the right focus and has attracted the right kind of people for a growth company.

UENI now has developers in the UK, Czech Republic, and Ukraine.  

Another challenge faced by the company was balancing growth by setting up the right infrastructure and managing that growth responsibly. Anh and Christine along with the tech team have to plan and work constantly to meet the growing customer demand. As per the UENI founders, the traction of their product in the market has given the team powerful energy to build the systems required to continue to grow at increasing speed.  

UENI also faced challenges while pivoting from a B2C search platform to a B2B solution. The company also shifted from a direct sales model to 100% digital acquisition of customers. These transitions had to be handled tactfully as with these pivots, product, marketing, and operations all required changes

The pivots were sound and the learning make what we do today a lot richer. In fact, a lot of the work done previously is the foundation for improved strategies today, but when you make these shifts it’s difficult for the company, and as founders, we needed to keep the team focused and committed to our mission which has not changed.

UENI - Competitors

No other product in the market offers the same service as UENI. There are automated website builders such as Wix, Weebly or GoDaddy that produce generic content, often not relevant for a given business, and there are web agencies that produce a highly customized and costly web presence. So businesses are stuck in the middle, between a time-wasting webpage and a very costly web presence often out of touch with the business needs. UENI stands as the alternative: a low-cost, custom-made, quick solution that completely understands the needs of a micro/small business owner.

UENI - Awards & Achievements

UENI's free websites have received positive reviews from many small business owners. UENI has been shortlisted for the 2019 Customer Service Excellence Awards in the category ‘Best Customer Engagement’. The ceremony will take place later in the year.

Website - UENI
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About Chayanika Goswami

Chayanika is an MBA in Finance and a trained Digital Marketer. SEO and content writing are her hobbies turned profession. She is a rover. In her free time, she loves traveling and cracking jokes.