Disrupting European Toll Roads: A Startup’s Journey From Ukraine To Cyprus 

by Marios Roussos

Travelling from country to country by car can be highly demanding and with random tolls a hellish environment for drivers is created all over the world. One startup with a base in Cyprus wants to change the way we pay for tolls, fines and how we move around.  

The eTOLLs EU, a startup founded in a country devoid of toll roads yet poised to revolutionize how Europeans navigate their highways. Denys Dmytrov, CEO and the visionary behind this disruptive venture, shares with The Future the insights into the genesis of the idea and its transformative potential.

His story started long ago in Ukraine, and over 7 years, the company helped 2,5 million Ukrainian drivers to pay their traffic fines, processing 8 million euros from drivers to state budgets.

“After the invasion started, I left Ukraine by car, and I was driving from Odesa to the Czech Republic and that is how I faced the problem myself. In each of the 5 counties I stopped at a petrol station, and struggled with toll payments, language barriers and mixed traffic rules. I bet some of you still think you have to buy a physical sticker and put it on your windshield” he recounts.

“I engaged my team to create a prototype and we released a toll payment app which helps drivers to enjoy their travelling without any barriers” Mr Dmytrov simply puts it.

Now, the company wants to take this experience and apply it to Europe, and “what we’ve discovered is completely unexpected. We’ve found out that Europe has a massive problem of billions in unpaid traffic fines. And a huge part of them comes from unpaid toll roads”.

The company was founded in Cyprus in February 2023, but it is pan-European if not global. Within 6 months of operation, the company received a confirmed valuation of 3 million euros and secured an investment round. The app offers a convenient method for toll payments, allowing users to bypass cash lanes on toll roads. They also provide useful alerts about toll prices and assist in trip planning by offering cost estimates. This Nicosia-based fintech ensures a seamless journey to your destination, free from surprises.

Their experience from this attempt, banking is the main obstacle they have faced as the company serves customers from 56 countries. “One of the ingredients we think that is important is for sure to have payment solutions and digital banking to start international sales. We operate as a Cyprus company, but most importantly we serve customers from 56 countries already and pay tax in the Cyprus ecosystem. For sure, the payments processing and taxation can be seamless for any company that wants to start a digital business tomorrow” he notes.

Even though Cyprus is a country without a toll system – even though there were some thoughts in the past- eTOLLs EU can be helpful for local drivers to pay their fines. “We have a lot of EU travellers from Cyprus, we see them using our application when travelling. We can contribute to society and the state by implementing useful features for drivers all over the globe” Mr Dmytrov explains.

Open dialogue

A company of that scale has a serious presence in the Europe startup ecosystem, and Cyprus can learn one or two things from that valuable experience.

Mr Dmytrov and his team see that Cyprus’s technological ecosystem is growing fast, due to the openness and mix of skills and knowledge attracted to its economics. “I’m sure that e-Gov services in Cyprus are ahead in comparison to the middle EU development state” he underlines.

Cooperation with the governments, in general, can help eTOOLLS EU’s purpose to grow.

“If speaking about start-up ecosystems, there are a lot of opportunities that can be explored. Turning back to our core competencies – we are seeking a dialogue with the state where non-personal data can become open data so that services can compete in providing significant shifts answering the needs of society and the state to make new products, programs, whatever it is”.

Funding is PR

The startup managed in a few months to raise a substantial amount of money. But the company is alert for that fast growth.

“We raised 450k and got a valuation of 3 million euros in just 9 months from sales start. It is very fast, and it has its benefits and negative sides as well. We are moving too fast and we have no right to lower our traction. We have so many tasks in our roadmap so we have to constantly maintain the team motivation, hire a lot of new members, build effective teams, and work as a small team, but at the same time deliver multiple functions as a mature company”.

And he notes that “I would advise first, to love your products, take care about your teams, and work hard, set a personal example and grow the company culture”

Seeking funds in Cyprus is all a matter of Public Relations for Mr Dmytrov and a constant dialogue. “We are thankful to be a part of the startup ecosystem. During the past 6 months, we’ve conducted a lot of first and second meetings with different VCs, funds, and different players in the investment area. I can’t say that it is good or somehow bad developed specifically in Cyprus. It’s just a matter of a presence in local PR. And our dialogue is also a piece of this puzzle”.

Startup World Cup Cyprus

The next day

“I see a world where drivers can enjoy their road journey as it should be, drive around, visit new places, rest and share emotions with family and friends. Where drivers can move without any barriers, and get useful tips and help on the roads without complex rules or stress. This is a product we as a team dream to build” he mused.  

Adding that “we have a huge roadmap of functions, languages and features that we want to add to our application within next two years”.

His advice to young entrepreneurs is “to design a first version with almost no money, to make a test, collect first customers, make first sales to those, who will love your product or service and then constantly make it better upon the feedbacks. At the end of the day, your customers keep selecting your product – you are doing useful things. Keep going consistently for your dream with leadership and a certain intensity – the result will come”.


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