Artem Fedyaev ’12 knew there was an opportunity waiting for a disruptive solution.
“Every time we went [back home] to Russia, family and friends wanted us to bring something back – Apple items, or special shampoos from CVS – they couldn’t find there,” explains Fedyaev, who also watched other Bryant international students buy consumer goods to take home to their families. “So many people around the world don’t have the access we do in Europe and the United States - we’re spoiled."
He and his wife and co-founder, Daria Rebenok, were named to the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 list for their innovative startup, Grabr, which has, to date, benefited an international peer-to-peer marketplace community of more than 500,000 people.
Grabr.io matches international travelers with natives who seek products they can’t get locally. Shoppers post their desired products. Travelers respond with an offer, and both agree on terms of in-person delivery and compensation. Once the product is delivered and accepted, the traveler is compensated through the Grabr platform.
“[In class] we looked at big companies like Starbucks, and I got inspired. I wanted to build something of my own.”
The San Francisco-based company facilitated the delivery of products to 72 countries last year, with no marketing or advertising beyond word-of-mouth. While not yet profitable, the 35-person startup, which launched in 2016, has secured more than $14 million in venture capital. Sales grew threefold between 2017 and 2018, and are projected to do the same this year, Fedyaev says. He’s learned that building a strong team is essential for any startup to grow. “Be very smart about who you hire,” he advises. “You’re hiring long-term.”
His Bryant International Business degree program helped shape his entrepreneurial desire. In class, "we looked at big companies like Starbucks, and I got inspired,” recalls Fedyaev. “I wanted to build something of my own.” In fact, as students, he and his roommate John Michael Gonzalez ’12 developed a social discovery browser, mywebroom, which earned attention from Google’s Daydream VR platform. Though that venture didn’t persist, Grabr is today enabling a new kind of commerce worldwide.
The most popular items on Grabr? Apple products, naturally, but Grabr facilitated the delivery of more Stanley tea thermoses than iPhones in Argentina last year. Average compensation per trip is around $200, and Fedyaev says he and his wife earn enough to pay for their flights when they travel to and from Grabr’s offices in Buenos Aires, Moscow and Sao Paulo. How does Fedyaev use Grabr? “I collect wines … and ask people to bring me wine from New Zealand and Argentina.”