How Modeliks became the most funded Macedonian early-stage startup

What is Modeliks?

“Modeliks is a business and financial planning tool for small and medium enterprises and startups. The tool lets users make a complete business financial plan, ready to be presented to investors. In addition to creating business plans, Modeliks can also be used to monitor the progress of the plan through automated dashboards”, explains Blagoja Hamamjiev, co-founder and CEO of Modeliks.

As a veteran in the financial industry with more than 20 years of experience, Blagoya Hamamjiev has been trying for a long time to find a solution to one of the biggest problems faced by those who work on financial planning – the two months period that’s needed to prepare a basic financial plan.

The reason for this is in the process itself, which is also one of the most important segments for the beginnings of any business.

A business plan consists of two main components – the textual explanation of the business itself, the potential issues and possible solutions to those issues. Then there is the analysis of the market, pinpointing the ideal buyer, the analysis of the competition, as well as the creation of a marketing plan that involves promotion and sells.

The second component is the financial part. After the operational part is done in written form, the logical transition would be to shift those operations into the financial part of planning. The integration of these two components is why it costs both time and resources.

“We always start from scratch; we need to prepare the structure of a business plan, pave the ground for certain sections, do the necessary research, and we also need to create a financial model in Excel. To be able to make a solid and professional model that instils confidence in the investor, one needs to be quite knowledge both in Excel and finance. For me, as an expert in financial modelling, it takes me more than two weeks to make such a financial model – to enter all the parameters with thousands of formulas, to make graphs, tables, etc.,” Hamamjiev explained.

Less time for planning and more time for implementation

Driven by those reasons and using his own experience from the industry, he came up with the idea of simplifying and shortening the time for the preparation of financial plans and their presentation to investors.

Thus, Hamamjiev created the concept for Modeliks back in 2014 when he was working for the global consultancy firm Ernst & Young in Dubai. There, he was responsible for creating financial plans for technology and retail clients.

“Those years I was constantly thinking about the idea, and the initial reason was that, as a director at Ernst & Young, I was making business plans for various clients from the Middle East. In doing this, I realized that for every business plan we start from scratch and it takes us a good two months to prepare all aspects of what that business plan should look like, just so that we are able to start entering all the relevant data. For me, it seemed illogical that we should constantly waste two months on such preparations,” he says.

The initial realization of the idea came in 2021, after Hamamdziev returned to Macedonia.

“What we defined as the main goal of Modeliks is to enable customers to start with already existing business plan and financial model templates. That is, within one, two or three weeks, they should have a complete business plan and shorten those two months of preparation,” he emphasized.

Search for the right business partners

The first step after his return from Dubai was to find the right co-founders for the business.

Starting a business by yourself is quite difficult, and I think you need at least one more partner with whom you can discuss the topic, motivate each other. If you have to take care of the whole process and start the business yourself, it is very difficult,” says Hamamjiev.

So, he found his co-founders in Modeliks in German entrepreneur Hans Nicholas Huy, who is currently the head of products, and investor Camilo Schöpesberger, who also entered the fold.

After the initial details have been agreed upon, Hamamjiev and the co-founders begin to validate the idea through designs and presentations of what main problems will Modeliks solve. As he says, what was crucial to start developing the startup was the feedback they received from more than 30 potential customers.

The next challenge was to find the technical partner; with that, the plan for Modeliks can finally come to fruition.

“None of us are programmers, and this is about technology development; that’s why we needed a technical partner. We talked to more than ten different software development companies. But what was important for me was to have our technical partner also be a co-owner in Modeliks. Because it’s one thing to work with an IT company that has our software developed, and another to have a partner that’s also a co-owner who is driven by the same goals. And our goal was to make a high-quality software and a world leader in the market,” explains Hamamjiev.

So, as a technical partner, the company Target Group from Macedonia became the fourth co-founder.

It took a total of 14 months to develop the software, that is, to reach the initial version of the tool.

“If you don’t have a detailed specification for the software design, when you get to the software development part, a lot of ambiguities appear and the process slows down to a crawl. So we worked on the design for four months and then we moved on to the actual development. In total, it took us 14 months to come up with the product, which is quite a serious tool, with a long list of functionalities that are needed to make a professional and business financial plan,” says Hamamjiev.

The first Macedonian startup with an investment of one million euros in the pre-seed phase

The sole process of soliciting investors for Modeliks started in 2022, and came to a conclusion at the beginning of 2023, with a pre-seed investment of one million euros. With this Modeliks became the most funded Macedonian startup in the early stage.

To get such an investment, it was crucial for Hamamjiev and the other co-founders to have a big network of contacts and access to investors.

“Investors invest in the person who runs that business, and then they invest in the possibility of that business succeeding. We were fortunate enough to have enough experience, knowledge and network to get investment. I presented the idea to about 20 investors, 17 of those invested – the reason was that these people knew me personally and they were ready to invest,” he says.

The main problem then was how to get the first customers, mainly because Modeliks operates in a world market where there is global competition.

“This is a process that we are still working on. When you first appear in this kind of market, it is necessary for the world to see you and to get to know you. Therefore, you need to have huge visibility, be open to people trying the product and leaving feedback about the software. One of the things I underestimated in terms of marketing strategy is how easy or difficult it is to get into global PR publications where Modeliks will be able to be marketed. Our main goal now is to be seen as one of the best software in the world,” Hamamjiev explained.

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