Leveling the Playing Field for all Ecommerce Sellers: A Conversation with Paperstack’s Cofounders

Aug 19, 2022

Assel Beglinova & Vadim Lidich, co-founders of Toronto-based startup Paperstack, are the epitome of entrepreneurial spirit and immigrant success in Canada. 

Paperstack is a fintech startup and a Techstars Equitech Accelerator program alumni. Their mission is to support e-commerce merchants with working capital financial insights they need to grow their businesses. Paperstack facilitates access to working capital (ranging $5,000 - $500,000) and strives to empower overlooked merchants who are more than capable of success - given the right amount of help getting started.

Both first generation immigrants, Vadim and Assel arrived in Canada with a single suitcase, a few hundred dollars, and a lot of ambition. Vadim moved to Canada from Ukraine in 2013, and Assel immigrated from Kazakhstan in 2012. After spending a few years working in finance and banking, Assel and Vadim decided to join forces to tackle one of the biggest problems for e-commerce sellers globally: access to working capital.

Paperstack’s core product, which allows merchants access to greater working capital, helps sellers on platforms like Shopify, Amazon, Etsy, and WooCommerce purchase more inventory, invest in advertising, hire more talent, and launch additional products. The company also offers a unique dashboard that allows new businesses to easily track their business metrics and analyze their market position. In addition to these products, Paperstack has invested heavily in supporting their community by providing financial insights, hosting monthly coaching sessions for their clients, and creating mentorship opportunities for community members. 

Prior to Paperstack, Assel spent several years working in banking. She saw thousands of customers applying for capital, and first-hand experienced the outdated processes and underwriting procedures that traditional financial institutions have put in place. Banks just weren’t built to service the internet economy, and so Assel decided to take everything she learned and launch Paperstack. 

Meanwhile, Vadim spent years in technology, launching a series of technology companies in PropTech, FinTech, LegalTech, and eSports industries. He built several marketplaces, including a mortgage lending platform that facilitated over $450mil in loans during his tenure. That experience empowered Vadim to see the true potential the technology can have in enabling overlooked communities access additional capital they needed to grow. He joined Assel as a co-founder & CTO in 2021, to create a better way for merchants to access working capital.

By creating a platform that provides capital, analytics, and insights structured exclusively around early stage e-commerce merchants, they generated demand in working capital, allowing them to turn to providers of capital and negotiate preferred rates and repayment terms, passing those savings directly to their customers. Their mentorship programs and dashboard help to increase the chance for success of their clients, thus minimizing defaults and maximizing returns for their lenders. These component parts come together to form a complete package for entrepreneurs who are looking for insights and funding in the e-commerce space. 

We had a chance to speak with Vadim and Assel recently, and asked them a few questions about their unique story and values.

Q: Tell us about your company. What problem are you solving and how do you solve it?

Paperstack is a platform that provides e-commerce merchants with micro-loans and financial insights, to help them grow. We provide $5,000 - $500,000 loans to e-commerce merchants who make less than $1 million a year, focusing on 84% of the e-commerce market that is currently under-served by both traditional institutions and fintech lenders. Our mission is to empower one million online sellers with financial tools and resources over the next decade. 

But we also help our clients succeed, by offering them a community of other merchants that can lean on, providing them with access to financial insights, and inviting experts and coaches to speak to them on the subject of marketing, supply chain, distribution, and more. We are not just a working capital provider - each client gets the full support of our entire team.

Q: What do diversity and inclusion mean to you?

Diversity and inclusion means looking beyond pedigree, resume, what you look like, or what you believe in. It's about allowing individuals from all walks of life to come together and contribute in a meaningful way, without trying to fit in. This is how a true diverse and inclusive environment should make people feel.

Q: What do you consider the best thing about your Techstars experience?

The community that supports us through thick and thin. We love our Techstars family!

Learn more about Paperstack at Paperstack.us.