During my tenure at 500 Startups, I came to understand that founders must brace themselves for daily disappointments, and anything less is considered a good day. Unfortunately, the military crisis in Ukraine presented us with more significant challenges than we had anticipated. As a significant portion of our business was tied to the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), our growth expectations for 2022 were profoundly impacted.
Before the conflict, we had built a robust client base, with many clients in Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia, and secured a significant partnership with WPP Group. We were the only MetaAds optimization partner whose solution worked, which led to us gaining trust among clients of WPP Group, and we grew from zero to thirteen clients within the WPP GroupM agency group in just six months.
However, just after the New Year's Eve corporate party, we began preparing to raise Series-A funding, only for everything to take a turn for the worse. In a single day, Meta was banned in Russia, and our clients had to leave the CIS. This sudden change had a massive impact on our business, leaving us with frustrated employees, operational issues, and the need to support our Ukrainian colleagues in moving to Canada and Barcelona for safety reasons.
As a result, our revenue dropped by over 50%, which was worse than even our worst-case nightmare projections. Despite the challenges, we were able to attract highly skilled individuals from agencies that were forced to dissolve, giving us access to their extensive experience and knowledge.
To overcome the crisis, we realized that we needed to create products that could provide substantial value to customers worldwide, not just those in specific regions. As a result, we expanded into diverse international markets, which led to a remarkable threefold increase in revenue. Nevertheless, we remain mindful of the challenges that persist in the aftermath of the conflict.