Ukrainian Startup Conquers International Markets By Saving Shoppers Time and Money

Speeches Shim

Monday, November 16, 2020
Anna Karmazina and her team.
USAID’s Competitive Economy Program

Costless, an Android and iOS app, helps grocery shoppers save money and time by comparing prices and finding hot deals. The app checks details on products and stores, provides shoppers with a savings calculator, and makes it easier for them to order online and track their spending history. Anna Karmazina, Costless’ CEO and founder, says the company’s purpose is to “help save the planet’s resources by decreasing overproducing and waste.”

The idea for creating the application came to Anna while shopping. After visiting several supermarkets, she noticed that she could save 20 percent to 40 percent if she paid more attention to prices. She and her colleagues started to manually monitor prices in different grocery stores, which was quite inconvenient. Working for an IT company, they realized that the best solution would be to create a special app.

Establishing a new startup requires new skills and approaches. For Anna, the eō Incubator program, supported by USAID’s Competitive Economy Program, looked like the perfect place to develop her skills thanks to the promised help from American mentors. Anna and the Costless team applied to the four-month eō Business Incubators program, and were accepted on their second try. The program is both comprehensive and exhausting. It includes a one-week bootcamp with 10 hours of intensive daily activities guided by a team of experts from the United States, the UK, and Ukraine). The boot camp concludes with a 48-hour “sprint” weekend of non-stop working sessions,  tailored lectures, and workshops.

“Costless got a huge boost from being part of the USAID eō Business Incubator program,” explained Karmazina. “The first thing I noticed after joining eō was our team’s transformation. We became more collaborative and solid while working during one of eō's 48-hour sprints, improving our pitch deck, building our product, and challenging each other." 

After completing the Incubator program, Costless raised $10,000 from Digital Ocean, an American cloud infrastructure provider. The company took another step forward when they received an invitation to participate in the coveted online Y Combinator Startup School.

Ask Karmazina what the USAID eō Business Incubator Program did for this very Ukrainian startup and her answer is straight forward: “The program focused our efforts, and we successfully secured our first client!” 

USAID also supported Costless in participating in two international trade missions, one to London Tech Week and one to the Tenth Annual Startup Grind Silicon Valley. 

“That trip was an important way to connect with potential investors and customers in the U.S.,” Karmazina noted of the time spent in Silicon Valley.

At London Tech Week, Costless raised $70,000 in investments and generated $145,000 in sales. 

Today Costless is rated one of the Top 50 Ukrainian Startups in 2019 by the IT Ukraine Association. Thanks to USAID, Anna and Costless are prepared as never before to assure the long-term success of their company. Now they look forward to generating more investments and sales. “If you truly love what you do, you will achieve your goals,” Karmazina said.