vision-driven stuff out of Sweden

#81

Hi there,

Happy Sunday and welcome to the new subscribers!

Let’s get to it.


🔥 Interesting deals

Nordics

🇸🇪 Klarna raised $639 million and Softbank joined in the captable. You know why.
🇩🇰 Lenus, operator of a digital B2B platform for health and sport practicians, raised $60 million+ in "series A round".
🇸🇪 Curb Food, building a dark kitchen operation, raised $24 million.
🇫🇮 Pixieray, which develops an adaptive eyeglass lens solution capable to adjust automatically to the eyes' focus point, raised $4.4 million. (the tech is supersmart)
🇫🇮 Brinter, developer of a bioprinting platform, raised $1.5 million.

DACH

🇨🇭 Nexxiot, specialized in digitizing non-powered cargo transport assets, raised $25 million.
🇩🇪 wajve, a pre-product startup looking to launch a financial service for Gen Z, raised $6 million.
🇩🇪 Resourcify, a neutral cloud platform that enables businesses to manage waste, collections operations, and recyclers in one place, raised $4 million.
🇩🇪 RobCo, developer of a robot manufacturing kit, raised $1.2 million.

UK

🇬🇧 Fresha, operating a SAAS marketplace for beauty and wellness companies, raised $100 million.
🇬🇧 Circulor, provider of supply chain traceability and dynamic CO2 tracking, raised $14 million.
🇬🇧 Hokodo, which sells white label BNPL products, raised $13 million.
🇬🇧 Electric Gamebox, developer of hyper-immersive games in interactive digital pods, raised $11 million.

Other hubs

🇭🇷 Gideon Brothers, manufacturer of robotics and AI solutions, raised $31 million.
🇫🇷 Pasqal, manufacturer of a full-stack quantum computer, raised $30M+
🇫🇷 C12 Quantum Electronics, developer of quantum processors, raised $10 million.
🇨🇿 Time is Limited, developer of a B2B SAAS analytics platform, raised $5.6 million.
🇮🇹 Cyber Guru, developer of a cybersecurity awareness training platform, raised $4.4 million.
🇪🇸 Fuell, which does a B2B automated expense management solution associated with a business card, raised also.

You can access (a whole lot) more dealflow here, where you can filter it by country, check size or industry - please note that it’s a service available for Nordic 9 customers.


✍️ Notes

🇸🇪 Northvolt is probably one of the more interesting and vision-driven projects coming out of Europe in the past few years.

It just announced a $2.75 billion capital raise and it already has in excess of $27 billion worth of contracts from key customers - it is yet to start the production of electric batteries in what is aimed to be one of the more important manufacturing facility in the world.

Also remarkable, it managed to get under the same umbrella a number of European stakeholders from the start, which is a bit unusual for a project emerging from Scandinavia.

That’s what a vision-driven person does, namely Peter Carlsson, who convinced people to finance his ideas.

In the same category, watch out for H2 Green Steel, which has a similar all-in approach for building a fossil-free steel factory. Also from Sweden, also mission and vision driven.

🇭🇷 Since we’re at vision-driven people from Europe, there’s a guy in Croatia who’s been working for three years in stealth for developing electric robotaxis. Well, not just any guy.

🇬🇧 The Americans from Honeywell merged their quantum computing unit with the Brits from Cambridge Quantum Computing, and invested $300 million in the new entity.

Speaking of quantum stuff, quite a few announcements coming out of Europe lately, you may have noticed the two French ones in the deal section from above.

🇪🇺 The top brass of Delivery Hero, Bolt, Glovo, and Wolt ganged up for working with the EU in order to get it to change outdated legislation not fitted for doing business in the 21st century.

A smart move, which you will see quite frequently in the US actually and which in Europe is done mostly by old school business people with strong ties with politicians.

Also interesting to note whether other industry players will join, as the egos (and competition) are quite high with those guys. Just a few weeks ago the Takeaway CEO felt the need to take Uber’s CEO to task just because he decided to enter the German market.

🇪🇺 Stripe launched a tool that helps businesses structure and automate their taxes associated to getting online payments.

A smart move, at least in Europe this is a pain in the ass - anecdotical, our accountants made us consider 7 distinct tax cases for processing online payments for an EU-based company.

🇮🇪 Speaking of Stripe, the CEO Patrick Collison is quite optimistic about Europe’s future.

🇬🇧 Revolut hired an Investor Relations manager, a move you usually do when you prepare for an IPO.

🇪🇺 Google on a PR spree in Europe, launched a program that gives free money to black-led startups.

On the same note, Softbank also announced an inbound marketing program for “underrepresented startups”, operated with local investors as part of its European business development efforts.

Softbank has been quite active in Europe for the past 6 months, where they made 9 growth equity deals and they just did a good job to sneak into Klarna’s captable.

Klarna is their 5th Nordic deal closed recently - we looked into it in an intel update made for the N9 customers a few weeks ago.

🇬🇧 More from the marketing department - two young guys working for Index Ventures started a personal TikTok account that now has become a marketing driver for the company.

🇬🇧 Goldman Sachs quietly launched Marcus in the UK (announced in January) - Marcus is yet another retail investment platform that facilitates automated stock buys.

🇳🇱 Would you speak for free at events?

Events are a content business which media companies treat as an extension to their core. Even though doing it is actually a different cup of tea requiring different sets of skills, more often than not journalists wear two hats i.e. write and do events.

And so, if you’re invited to contribute to an event, would you create content for free joining a bunch of employees working to produce a revenue-generating happening?

Boris of TNW has a good take on it.


💡 Charts and data

Top ten email clients

European countries with a population smaller than London


🚀 Quickies

🚚 We analysed truck stop locations from 400,000 trucks all over Europe.

💲 TikTok ad rates go as high as $2 million a day - in line with its audience share.

🤥 Apple consistently ranks its own apps higher against competitors in the App Store, and simply lies when asked whether this is true.

🧵 Work from home v hybrid v HQ

🤔 The new standard for fundraising is LZR.

✔️ The super non-obvious guide to raising a Series B.

📜 A table of universities attended by founders of unicorns.

🦸 Creators who are really serious about building a career on the Internet should own their own software

🔀 a16z has invested in 11 creator economy startups so far this year

💰 Netflix to launch an online store in order to sell limited-edition apparel, lifestyle merchandise and collectibles related to popular shows.

⛵ There’s a new ocean now—can you name all 5?

🎵 Goldman CEO is also a musician that goes by the name DJ D-Sol.

He thinks it makes him look cool, but people resent it.


Thanks for reading 🙌

Created every Sunday by @drnovac of Nordic 9 with weekly notes and observations from the European startup ecosystem.

Please share it with your networks and encourage your colleagues to sign up here - thanks!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if I can be helpful.

You have received this email as you signed up at Sunday CET or are a Nordic 9 registered user.

the hottest consumer app is from Europe

#80

Happy Sunday from a sunny Stockholm, where we are at last enjoying a streak of beautiful days.

Big welcome to the new subscribers!

Today we cover the details of an investment deal that I haven’t seen on the usual Euro media channels and which will probably be written about extensively in the following days.

Enjoy.


✍️ Observations

The hottest consumer app is from Europe.

This week, while Europeans were busy dealing with the hundreds of millions spent in order to have their groceries delivered in 10 minutes (most of it paid for by the Arabs, which led both deals), a classic tech startup story was unfolding in Andorra, the minuscule state from the Spanish/French border.

This is where two young French developers - Alexis Barreyat and Kévin Perreau - are building an app called BeReal, which allegedly is the next big thing in consumer tech, at par with Clubhouse.

About a year ago Alexis and Kévin developed a mobile app (kind of) like Instagram with a twist - it allows posting a photo a day as it sends a daily alert to users to post a picture within two minutes.

The app is free to download and didn’t really take off until the beginning of 2021.

Fast forward to this week, the two guys, who are the only people working for the app, just raised a whopping $30 million investment round, backed by a16z, Accel and DST.

The story goes that the two founders had a preliminary fundraising deal with Xavier Niel’s people (who was convinced by his son, an avid user of the app) at less than €10 million valuation agreed upon last week.

A couple of days ago the Americans found out and closed a new deal at $150 million.

30 million pre-everything at $150 mil post is more than what Clubhouse raised 14 months ago exactly in the same position as BeReal, but with some Silicon Valley hype on top.

The difference is that the two French already had an initial deal with Xavier, and so the whole transaction became 15X+ more expensive in a few days just because the Americans really wanted in!

This is how it’s done and I know many local European pros just rolling their eyes reading this. When you are the best in the world, the cost of missing out is simply too high to sit out of the game just because you find the entry fee expensive, not too many investors are comfortable with this concept.

Who are the Americans? Accel’s European boss Sonali De Rycker and Andrew Chen of a16z.

Lastly, apart from Americans winning (again) the best local deals, the acid test is of course getting it off the ground and hiring the right people to make it a success. Instagram, Snapchat and the likes badly need competition, let’s see if we can pull it off from Europe.

Product wise, the app feels quite rough and surely needs to have at least a few kinks fixed to provide a smooth experience. Besides, it’d be interesting to find out whether the French behavior (app is popular in Paris and Lyon only) is replicable and scalable in New York or Los Angeles, for example, as Europe is rather a region of late adopters, not of early adopters. Maybe it’s just an incentive problem, certainly a lot of paths to explore.

Also worth mentioning is that BeAble has already an Android version, big plus since Android has 70% market share in Europe.

The biz development is also more difficult here because of fragmentation (different cultures, languages etc) - but nothing that 30 million wouldn’t be able to solve, though.

Traction first now - if I were to take a guess, those guys will move to US soon, it’s just a better place to grow this kind of app, especially a la long, when they will have to implement a monetisation model. Europe is rather a secondary market in a grand scheme of things.

Exciting nonetheless.

Kudos to Eric who had the scoop.

PS. That’s the kind of intel the Nordic 9 customers get on weekly basis. Please subscribe, thank you.


🔥 Interesting deals

Nordics

🇸🇪 Söderberg & Partners, a non-bank provider of financial services, raised $303 million.
🇸🇪 Doktor.se, provider of telemedicine services, raised $60+ million.
🇸🇪 Teemyco, SAAS developer for virtual offices, raised $3.2 million.
🇪🇪 Nordigen, which positions itself as a free version of Tink (an open banking unicorn wannabe), raised $2.6 million.
🇫🇮 eMabler, SAAS developer for EV charging stations, raised $770k.

DACH

🇩🇪 Cognigy, developer of enterprise software used for self-service conversational artificial intelligence automation, raised $44 million.
🇩🇪 Blackrock Neurotech, which does brain-computer interface (BCI) technology and manufacturing, raised $10 million.
🇩🇪 OroraTech, which does SAAS for global wildfire detection and monitoring, raised $7 million.
🇨🇭 FQX, financial service provider of electronic promissory notes, raised $4.7 million.
🇦🇹 Bikemap, operating a community-generated cycling maps platform, also raised.

France

🇫🇷 DataDome, SAAS protecting e-commerce biz against bot-driven fraud, raised $35 million.
🇫🇷 Wethenew, ecommerce operation selling sneakers, raised $12.1 million.
🇫🇷 DivRiots, developers of a framework for frontend developers, raised $3 million.
🇫🇷 June, building an analytics product on top of Segment, raised $1.9 million.

UK

🇬🇧 Antidote, which operates a marketplace for medical research, raised $23.2 million.
🇬🇧 Urban Jungle, which sells insurance for the real estate industry, raised $11.3 million.
🇬🇧 ikigai, which builds a mobile wealth management platform that combines wealth management and everyday banking in one single application, raised $2.7 million.
🇬🇧 Woolf, which does an educational platform sold as a service, raised $2 million.

Other hubs

🇪🇸 Capchase, which sells financial credit against accounts receivables for SAAS companies with recurring revenues, raised $125 million.
They also snagged Henrik Grim of Northzone as GM Europe. Good catch.
🇳🇱 Moonshot, which builds tech used to identify and mitigate online harms, raised $7 million.
🇳🇱 Sentinels, which does a data monitoring software platform for financial institutions, raised $7 million.
🇵🇱 Molecule.one, developers of novel chemical synthesis solutions for synthetic chemists, raised $4.6 million.


🇪🇺 Euro May data

Here’s some Euro investment intel from last month.

Most active investors:

  • VCs: Speedinvest, Kima Ventures

  • angels: Martin Villig, Charlie Songhurst, Didier Valet

  • other types: Eurazeo, Blackrock, Temasek

By region:

  • Europe: Bpifrance, Speedinvest, Kima Ventures

  • Nordics & Baltics: EQT Ventures, Almi Invest

  • DACH: Speedinvest, HTGF, GFC

  • France: Bpifrance, Kima Ventures, Eurazeo

  • UK: Seedcamp, Index Ventures

  • Spain: K Fund

  • USA: Accel, BlackRock, YC

Hubs:

  • London - 61 deals

  • Paris - 44 deals

  • Berlin - 31 deals

  • Stockholm - 31 deals

  • Munich - 17 deals

Largest investment deals:

  • Sinch - $1.14bn

  • Trade Republic - $900M

  • Wefox - $650M

  • Flix - $650M (includes debt)

  • Contentsquare - $500M

Number of deals breakdown:

  • <$500k: 7%

  • $500k-1M: 9%

  • $1-5M: 30%

  • $5-10M: 12%

  • $10-20M: 10%

  • $20-50M: 7%

  • $50M+: 8%

  • undisclosed value: 17%

Sample size: 450 deals (minority equity stakes only, no secondary, debt or grants etc) and 1100 investors active for the month. Data is preliminary as we constantly update it - available for Nordic 9 customers.


💡 Charts and data

Depop user breakdown*

*Context


🚀 Other notes

🇪🇺 This week, two startups building mobile apps dedicated to couple therapy raised - one from Sweden and the other from the UK.

🇪🇺 The decline of Europe:

20 years ago, 41 of the world's 100 most valuable companies were in Europe. Now the figure is down to 15.

This was circulated on Twitter this week, not a surprise if you actually have been doing business in Europe and abroad.

The funniest take on it: Europeans are working to live and less live to work - you cannot teach ambition but this doesn’t have to apply to politicians and how they do their job for creating a thriving business environment.

🇪🇺 And here’s an anecdote that you can take as a strong correlation for Europe not really counting in the worldwide tech business very soon either:

About half of our “new deal activity” [from the deal pipeline] right now is happening outside of the US. And very little of it is in western Europe where most of our non-US investing has been for the last decade.

🇪🇺 Here’s an European pattern for building tech startups:

*Quit comfy software jobs in Germany.
*Move to Paris.
*Build a rough product, put it in front of users.
*Apply to On Deck. Get into On Deck.
*Apply to YC. Get into YC.
*Position startup as a San Francisco one.
*Get back and raise money from European investors.

🇳🇱 Prosus, the Amsterdam-based internet arm of Naspers acquired Stack Overflow, probably one of the best worldwide assets serving software developers from everywhere. Price tag: $1.8 billion.

Prosus is just one arm of Naspers, a South African company that started as a newspaper publisher and made a single amazing investment in 2001: it acquired almost half of Tencent for $32 million, a stake that is now worth about $200 billion. 

🇪🇺 EIF made a total of 86 fund deployments worth €1.8bn in European VC funds in 2020. That is 5.5% of the €33bn Atomico says it was spent by VCs in Europe in 2020.

The numbers are from a report made by the European Investment Fund. From the same report:

1 million EU businesses are already selling goods and services via online platforms, and more than 50% of small and medium-sized enterprises selling through online marketplaces sell cross-border.

🇮🇹 Meet Khaby Lame, the 21-year-old Italian TikTok star with over 55 million followers.

🇪🇺 Good effort from Sifted to make public some benchmarks on equity employee deals. The funny thing is that them reaching out to startups for this created a little PR storm and decisions have been made as a consequence.

🇳🇴 The best-selling car in Norway in May was Ford's electric Mustang.

Battery electric vehicles made up 60.4% of all new cars sold in Norway last month, up from 43.1% last year. link

🇪🇺 The EU unveiled plans for a digital ID wallet that residents could use to access services across the 27-nation bloc

🇨🇭 More than 60% of Nestlé's mainstream food and drinks products do not meet a 'recognised definition of health', according to the company.

🇱🇹 The city of Vilnius installed a circular “door” for a real time portal near its train station that connects to a similar portal in Lublin, Poland, about 600 km away.

🇪🇺 In Europe, a man’s mistress comes over for dinner and eats with the entire family. Then she plays charades with everyone, and she usually wins. The man’s wife doesn’t mind, because she’s tired of charades - fun read

🛠️ Y Combinator launched a job board for their alumni companies

+ Two Y Combinator entrepreneurs were kicked out for talking about issues within the accelerator.

🎤 Clubhouse hired a Head of International whose job is building global communities on Clubhouse. As a coincidence, she is also the wife of an a16z partner, the CH lead investor.

🖊️ If I add just 10 paying subscribers to my Substack newsletter, I generate more money in a single month than I did on Medium over the last year.

+ Facebook’s clone of Substack is like Substack except:
*You can’t write for it. Only people FB is recruiting - and paying - for 2-year deals.
*Facebook doesn’t want politics in its Substack - the stuff everyone reads/loves/hates on Substack.
*It’s called Bulletin.


Thanks for reading 🙌

Created every Sunday by @drnovac of Nordic 9 with weekly notes and observations from the European startup ecosystem.

Please share it with your networks and encourage your colleagues to sign up here - thanks!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if I can be helpful.

You have received this email as you signed up at Sunday CET or are a Nordic 9 registered user.

your product is great, I just copied it

#79

Hi there,

Warm welcome to the new subscribers!

Today we’ll talk Euro M&A, VC innovation and copying other people’s ideas.

Enjoy.


✍️ Observations

The Euro M&A market is alive and kicking

Glovo acquires Delivery Hero’s operations in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Montenegro, Romania, and Serbia.

That’s clearly the result of a strategic decision to focus on strengths for both parties.

Glovo is already in a significant position in the said markets, and now they will be a dominant player, making tight margin economics work.

Delivery Hero went all in on the grocery delivery opportunity as they already operate 600 dark stores. And it is wary of the VC-backed competition.

The Australian BNPL Zip acquired Twisto from Poland/Czech Republic, after leading series A back in January. That shows they’re super serious about giving Klarna a run for their money in Europe.

Twisto has an op of 1.3 million customers, 14,000 merchants and $230M processed in the first 4 months of 2021 in only two countries - Czech Republic and Poland.

Meanwhile, Klarna’s value is eyeing a $9 billion jump in two months - from 31 to 40 - as Softbank is said to lead another capital raise. And it is still under-valued!

Tink acquires leading German open banking technology provider FinTecSystems.

Tink is part of Nordic fintech unicorn wannabes list - last year it raised $120 million and is backed by strategics such as Paypal or ABN. This deal gives them a strong position in DACH, an important step in getting more European business.

-

Those are just some random recent M&A examples - what all those guys have in common is that they’re part of the new class of entrepreneurs, young blood not afraid to do cross border deals and take risks when the strategy book dictates.

This effervescence and strategic moves are unusual for the European M&A private market, and it is a great sign of evolution. You can go out and play when you have resources - the market is full of money to be put to work.

Innovation VC

Here’s a random job ad listing from a high profile European investment house:

  • Fullstack Engineer

  • Software Engineer

  • Data Engineer

  • Team Lead - Investor Products and Digital Channels

It’s 2021 and investors finally discovered software!

And this makes you wonder - what are those guys building? Is it something *innovative*, maybe?

Btw, when is the last time you heard about something innovative in the investment business in Europe? Here’s some random examples from the top of my head:

  • We aggregate jobs on our website for our portfolio cos.

  • We have a Medium account and publish *insightful thoughts*

  • We send the said thoughts via newsletters and social media

  • We scrap Crunchbase and Linkedin to gather signals (usually called “we use a tech-based approach on our investment process”)

  • Affinity (a CRM widely used by the industry) is a game changer

  • We’re on Clubhouse!

Am I missing any? They’re all doing the same innovative things. Investors have good ideas about other people’s business but not about their own business. :D

Jokes aside, increased competition forces this industry to start inventing differentiators.

Now, using software to achieve operational efficiencies is hardly an innovation, it’s a mere sign of a traditional industry impacted by technology.

It’s surviving. It is a good thing and it was bound to happen.

But, if you come to think a few steps ahead, like in any industry, you win with a smarter business model or with unfair product-related advantage.

The business model innovation is relatively easy to do and can show results quickly. Examples include crossovers i.e. money deployed at different stages and geographies without taking a board seat. Or selling the money via different products than standard VC - can be revenue-based, can be investing in smaller funds (funds of funds), can be investing via angel programs etc.

Product-based innovation involves investing in different means of production, namely proprietary applications used to improve the decision process or support the asset portfolio.

Will this money spending justify the ROI in the future? Is the consequent value extraction reflected on a model solely based on risky returns on a 5-10 years timespan? Are those costs or expenses?

Doing tech is not cheap, and a lean income statement of a dozen consultants shop can easily by burdened by super high operational expenses, because hiring software developers does not come cheap. Keeping them on the payroll is even more challenging because the VC industry is boring and doesn't really present challenges for talented developers. Not paying well either.

And all of a sudden the balance sheet will have some items other than the core of your investment business. Will those asset-incurred costs justify the same existing business model or will they require a different one?

Now, imagine combining smarter business model with unfair tech-based products. They used to call this reinforcing competitive advantages back in the 80s. :-)

Your product is great, I just copied it.

Got a bit of feedback calling me hater about all those Thrasio clones popping up in Europe.

Listen, I have no problems with people trying to make an honest buck. On the contrary - building startups is one of the most difficult life choice there is, I have been doing it for about 20 years myself, after all. It seems easy from the outside, but unless you have done it, you have no idea what it takes and how hard it is.

And I have uttermost respect for people giving it a shot. Especially for newbies, nobody teaches you how do it, and finding people to believe in you is super hard.

Because being an entrepreneur means seeing something that most others don’t.

Which brings me to the point - Europe seems to have gotten the rep of a place where building startups means copying American startups.

It’s not seeing what others don’t, it’s following what others envisioned already. It’s not inventing stuff, it’s imitating stuff. It’s not about taking risks, it’s about playing it safe. It’s not about making impact, it’s about getting rich.

And no, it’s not only the Germans that are doing it, even though, in fairness, Rocket Internet is a true pioneering school. It’s happening all over in Europe.

It’s gotten to the point where investors specifically mention they don’t invest in Euro clones from the US.

I truly think Europe can do much better than that.

Copying other businesses is undoubtedly a way to compete, has been happening forever, and can be very successful - just look at Mark Zuckerberg, that’s his business model, he has zero business vision and yet he is one of the most powerful tech entrepreneurs out there.

Being that guy that copies other people’s work is a personal intellectual choice and, all labelling aside, this kind of contribution has only one way of being validated: by the customers wallet.


💡 Did you get the intel?

Last week, Nordic 9 customers received intel about a Finnish startup in stealth that just raised $5 million from high profile angels, a startup building a Superhuman (the mail client) out of Europe, Sequoia’s new London hire and about a German serial entrepreneur who’s made 20 early stage SAAS investments recently.

Other recent reports includes profiling the new wave of European VCs and a comprehensive list of the pre-seed and seed investors backing European startups.

Nordic 9 is an independent project supported completely by founders and investors like you. Subscribe for the full experience now and you can help make it even more useful and relevant.

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🔥 Interesting deals

Nordics

🇸🇪 Yabie, which calls itself Klarna on steroids, raised $26.2 million.
🇫🇮 Fiksuruoka, ecommerce grocery delivery operation, raised $23.2 million.
🇳🇴 Bookis, which operates an ecommerce marketplace for books, raised $7 million from American investors.
🇩🇰 Chromologics, developer of natural colorants for the food market, raised $7.3 million.
🇸🇪 Meme.com, an NFT company (Marble Cards) spinoff building a crypto-economic system based on memes, raised $5 million.
🇩🇰 Reshape Biotech, a robotics startup which was part of YC in winter, raised $1 million.

Germany

🇩🇪 Cosuno, operator of a B2B marketplace for the construction industry, raised $15 million.
🇩🇪 Origin.Bio, a synthetic biology company, raised $15 million.
🇩🇪 re:cap, which sells financial loans products to startups against revenue, raised $1.5 million.
🇩🇪 Makersite, which does SAAS for manufacturers tracking a product’s emission footprint throughout the entire supply chain, also raised.

France

🇫🇷 Zaion, SAAS developer of a voice-based customer relationship solution, raised $11 million.
🇫🇷 TradeIn, developer of collaborative SAAS for customer risk management in insurance, raised $2.4 million.
🇫🇷 Café, developer of a mobile app used for team collaborations, raised $1 million.
🇫🇷 Purchasely, a developer of mobile in-app purchase SAAS, raised a seed round.

UK

🇬🇧 Traydstream, developer of SAAS replacing the manual paperwork of trade finance, raised $8 million.
🇬🇧 Algbra, building a mobile banking business for 500 million Muslims, raised $5.3 million.
🇬🇧 Boundary, developer of a DIY smart home security system, raised $5.2 million.
🇬🇧 Kitt, a B2B real estate marketplace operator, raised $5 million.

Other hubs

🇷🇴 SeedBlink, operator of an equity crowdfunding platform, raised $3.6 million.
🇳🇱 Fraudio, Portuguêse team in NL doing SAAS for payment fraud detection system, raised $3.3 million.
🇨🇭 EarlySight, producer of a medical device for eye diseases diagnostics, raised $2.6 million.
🇪🇸 Idoven, SAAS developer for preventing cardiac diseases, raised $2.5 million.


💡 Charts and data

Top ecommerce retailers

Metrics VC care about

Equity schadenfreude*

*pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune. Context.


🚀 Other notes

🤔 Food for thought:

  • Each time a founder meets with an investor, the investor is evaluating whether or not to make an offer. Founders who realize this know that no cup of coffee is entirely between friends.

    What can you do when you get a preemptive offer from an investor.

  • Founders' sophistication has increased in the US - and also globally. Many run auctions effectively, and pick the right partner conducting similar diligence to the investors themselves.

    Rather than burn dictating when to raise capital, founders elect to raise when inbound interest arrives, or immediately before launching to sell the dream rather than the metrics, or at other strategic inflection points. link

  • If you are introducing two people without using a double opt-in intro, you have a high likelihood of being a terrible person - email introduction etiquette.

🇩🇪 Enuu launched in Berlin, super cool.

🇩🇪 Germany has adopted legislation that will allow driverless vehicles on public roads next year, laying out a path for companies to deploy robotaxis and delivery services in the country at scale.

🇪🇺 55% of French, and 53% of Germans say "I don't know” when asked who they would prefer Europe to side with in the increasing competition for economic and technological dominance between the US and China.

🧮 AngelList built a Techmeme. If you didn’t follow, AngelList has been allocated a lot of resources in the past years, and is one of the better resources for the investment community.

🦋 Playing the long game in Venture Capital

🗽 Mini hotel toiletries will be illegal in New York from 2024

🤑 The Anxiety of Influencers.


Thanks for reading 🙌

Created every Sunday by @drnovac of Nordic 9 with weekly notes and observations from the European startup ecosystem.

Please share it with your networks and encourage your colleagues to sign up here - thanks!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if I can be helpful.

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the next big thing

#78

Hi there,

Warm welcome to the new subscribers!

This week we’ll talk about white spaces in the Euro VC market, have a quick look at how a Swedish VC hit two birds with one stone and about the next hot segment that investors will look for in Europe. We’ve also picked some of the more interesting deals from this week’s dealflow.

All this is backed by the work made over at Nordic 9, so if you appreciate this newsletter and would like to support an independent startup contributing to the European ecosystem, maybe this is the right week to subscribe?

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✍️ Observations

The investment market fragmentation

Air Street Capital announced that their $17M fund was upscaled to $26M.

Air Street is a Britain-based, AI-focused one-man show, namely Nathan Benaich, a former academic guy turned investor. In case you didn’t know already, the background story of Nathan becoming a VC is interesting and it mainly involves Daniel Ek and Shakil Khan.

It’s not a singular example in Europe and I believe we will see more of this kind of vertical investors focusing on early stages and ultimately this is where the Euro market has a lot of white space.

The Americans have been doing this for some time already: small vertical funds tackling early stages - one or just a few people teams, with unfair knowledge of the market, ready to take relatively small risks while shaping future-companies.

If you take a step back and have a holistic view of the market, the VC business is swinging from scaling their AUM from a core to being active in more other stages and geographies. Two reasons for this:

  • high money supply level

  • the Zoom calls effect, which makes deal making geo agnostic i.e dealflow size increases exponentially.

Doing everything for everybody though - the so-called crossovers - is difficult to scale for a 10-30 consultants shop. It only works for the top of the market - hello Tiger.

Right now Europe is at the scouts development level - the market is infested with them. VC scouting is basically a banal affiliate sales program, or, if you like parallels, like football teams scouting talent for future hiring.

Make no mistake, any respectable VC house should have this kind of program in place, formal or informal, as the market matures and competition is heated. And exactly like in sales, the scouts are your ears in the market, the better the scouting, the better the intel and ultimately the optionality.

This VC sales process though is not going to help the bottom market emergence of interesting projects and founders - scouting is a part time gig against a finder’s fee rather than getting involved at professional level to get a startup ready for the next cycle.

This is the void to be filled by small vertical investment shops - deeply understanding trends and dealing with grassroots people, while taking lower risks (small checks), and capable to shape positively startups in order to become fundable at ulterior stages.

You can look at it geographically (multiple markets, 30 in Europe only), by industries (i.e. ecommerce) or by specialisation (i.e. Nathan’s AI-focused startups). The better ones are the ones with deep knowledge access across all three.

How to be innovative if you have money

I haven’t followed in a while the European saga of financing startups that acquire companies making a buck on Amazon’s marketplace in order to operate them from a holding company.

But this week, while I was screening the European dealflow, I just ran into a story of yet another startup called factory14 and playing the same game out of Luxembourg, with the explicit strategy and unique differentiator of, wait for it, acquiring only high-quality assets.

In plain English that means that if you go to supermarket to buy toilet paper, you will only get the more expensive one from the shelf, as a way of signalling you are a sophisticated consumer.

Quite sure none of the tens of Thrasio clones from Europe thought of this angle.

It’s amazing what you can do when you have a lot of money to play with, isn’t it? factory14 also found financiers to back their vision with $200 million.

The next big thing in Europe

In Sweden, a local manufacturer of light electric scooters called Vässla, announced a D2C op involving a $50 a month subscription service for getting access to their products.

Meanwhile, Dance, which is doing the same thing from Berlin (founded by the Soundcloud founders, also Swedes) is still silent, a year after raising more than $20 million. In fairness - they emailed a link to a customer survey the other week, so they’re probably still working on the thing. :-)

Jokes aside, this kind of business is likely going to be one of the hottest segment in Europe by the end of 2021, shifting the VC attention from financing grocery deliveries and Amazon FBA holding companies.

The market fundamentals are just there, consumer attention shifts to light, electric means of transportation (market is growing double digit growths), and a D2C subscription model is simply more suitable for a lifestyle where the car is not an asset but an utility expense.

So prepare your lists with the hottest startups in the space (I know quite a few actually), this is where it’s going to be at.

Scoring on diversity

The number of women working in private investment in Europe is so small that Sifted managed to list them all in an article.

I still think that this is more of a bottom up market problem - i.e. there’s not too many women interested to build a career in finance (I bet the number is small in investment banking or corporate finance as well) - but there’s plenty of evidence of a certain level of discrimination that Europe happens to be very good at (we talked about this here).

With this in mind, it’s interesting to note Creandum’s announcement of adding their first female partner in the company, as they rehired Sabina Wizander who had left in 2017.

According to an analysis from last year, Creandum, which is one of the better emerging VCs from Europe, had an only-male partner structure, with a partners founder/operator/investor ratio lower than 1, meaning the partners have background experience more in consulting startups than in building one.

By getting Sabina to return after she spent 4 years taking Kry from a $100 million company to a few billions ones, they hit two birds with one stone.


🔥 Interesting deals

Nordics

🇫🇮 Ilmatar, a green energy company, raised $244 million from Omnes.
🇳🇴 Cognite, SAAS developer for asset-intensive industries, raised $150 million in a round led by TCV.
🇩🇰 Forecast confirmed their Balderton-led $19 million round announced by yours truly 6 weeks ago.
🇩🇰 Pento, which does SAAS for payroll solutions, raised $15.6 million in a round led by General Catalyst.
🇸🇪 Sweef, D2C operators for selling furniture and interior design products, raised $3.6 million.

DACH

🇩🇪 Trade Republic, operator of a digital investment platform, raised $900 million.
🇩🇪 Pitch, SAAS developer of an alternative software suite to PowerPoint presentations, raised $85 million.
🇨🇭 Yova, another operator of a digital investment platform, raised $12.3 million.
🇩🇪 Senorics, developer of near-infrared spectroscopy sensors, raised $10 million.
🇨🇭 Fave, operator of a social network for music influencers, raised $2.2 million.

France

🇫🇷 Back Market, operator of a marketplace for refurbished electronics, raised $335 million.
🇫🇷 Ankorstore, B2B marketplace connecting brands and designers, raised $100 million.
🇫🇷 Regate, a fintech SAAS developer, raised $8.6 million.
🇫🇷 Ublo, SAAS developer for the real estate owners, raised about $1 million.

Other hubs

🇬🇧 Cervest, a software developer of a Climate Intelligence platform, raised $30 million.
🇬🇧 Causaly, an operator of a software platform for biomedical research, raised $17 million.
🇮🇪 Payslip, a payroll provider company, raised $10 million.
🇳🇱 Naduvi, D2C ecommerce operator of interior design products, raised $10 million.
🇪🇸 StudentFinance, operator of a student recruitment platform based on ISA, raised $5.5 million.
🇪🇸 Pangea, which manufactures engine components for space rockets, raised $3.7 million.
🇪🇸 Green Eagle, SAAS developer for wind farms and power plants, raised $3 million.


💡 Charts and data

Where we’re at

Total secondhand market projected to grow almost twice the size of fast fashion

Where we’re at p.2


🚀 Other notes

🇮🇸 It looks like the fund started by Davíd Helgason (Unity founder, active Euro angel) and his brother Ari Helgason (Index Ventures) will be operated out of Iceland.

🇬🇧 London would like to have Klarna IPO on their turf, and Klarna would like some regulations changed in exchange. This is how you do lobby in Europe.

🇪🇸 Is the Spanish ecosystem at the point where London, Berlin or Stockholm was 2 to 3 years ago? Not yet + a list of active business angels, seed and Series A VC firms in Spain + early stage startups from Spain to look at.


🇬🇧 Snap acquires Oxford company WaveOptics for $500m, backed in the early days by Imperial College.

🇧🇪 The Belgians got hot-headed: Alibaba is building a €100 million logistics hub in Belgium and some are worrying that China might use it to give its spies a firmer foothold in Europe.

🇨🇳 Tencent has invested in or acquired more than 50 game related companies in 2021, 5x the total in 2019 and up from 31 in 2020.

🇮🇸 Iceland has a new airline called PLAY, which will initially serve seven European destinations before expanding to U.S. routes.

🇵🇹 Debtholders in Sporting Lisbon are looking to sell out of the club - it’s Daniel Ek’s chance, now that he’s been ignored by Liverpool’s American owners. :-)

🇫🇷 In Paris, there are 700,000 cars parked in the streets, with twice that in London.

The average European spends €7,500 per car per year when you calculate parking, insurance, damage, taxes, and the price of the car averaged out. That’s €5 billion spent by Parisians, yet those cars are idle 95% of the time.

Forget the financial part and look at the impact cars have on our lives and livelihoods, occupying 50% of our urban space.


🇫🇷 Eurostar lands £250 million bailout from investors and French state.


🇮🇪 Irish drone delivery operator gets IAA acceptance to deliver goods to consumer’s home via drones.


🇬🇧 The reinvention of Canary Wharf.


💪 Overview of a good ol’ SAAS that is bootstrapped:

  • 400k users

  • $27M ARR

  • GTM: Sales sales sales, affiliates, sales.

More insights here.

✔️ Founder/Go-to-Market Fit:

  • If primary GTM is bottom-up, founder needs to be great at product.

  • If primary GTM is inbound, founder needs to be great at marketing.

  • If primary GTM is outbound, founder needs to be great at sales

🗽 Google is opening its first physical retail store this summer in NYC.

💰 Amazon is in discussions to acquire MGM Holdings (owners of Rocky, James Bond movies) for $9 billion.


📙 An interview on product management at Stripe.


🧮 How family offices are investing into VC.


🤑 Judge to Apple’s Tim Cook: You’re charging the gamers to subsidize Wells Fargo.


Thanks for reading 🙌

Created every Sunday by @drnovac of Nordic 9 with weekly notes and observations from the European startup ecosystem.

Please share it with your networks and encourage your colleagues to sign up here - thanks!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if I can be helpful.

You have received this email as you signed up at Sunday CET or are a Nordic 9 registered user.

the new wave of Euro VC

#77

Hi there,

Warm welcome to the new subscribers!

Let’s get straight to business.


🔥 Interesting deals

Nordics

🇸🇪 Exeger, which does a tech converting light energy to electrical energy, secured $38 million in debt and equity.
🇩🇰 Contractbook, which does SAAS for contract management, raised $30 million.
🇫🇮 Swarmia, which does SAAS for software teams, raised $6.9 million.
🇳🇴 Kitemaker, which also does SAAS for software teams, raised $2 million.

UK

🇬🇧 Unmind, B2B provider of a workplace mental health platform, raised $47 million.
🇬🇧 Yoto, which built an audio player for children, raised $17 million.
🇬🇧 Remedy Health, D2C producer of the personalised gummy vitamin brand Nourished, to raise $11 million in Series A.
🇬🇧 Quix, which does SAAS for real time data streaming, raised $3.3 million.

Other hubs

🇫🇷 DessIA, developer of a SAAS industrial automation platform, raised $6.7 million.
🇧🇪 MobieTrain, which does B2B micro learning SAAS, raised $4.9 million.
🇵🇹 Kitch, food startup founded by the guys who launched Uber in Portugal, raised $4 million.
🇳🇱 QphoX, a developer of quantum tech, raised $2.4 million.
🇮🇹 Dog Heroes, D2C for pet food which 3x-ed its ARR this year, raised $900k+.
🇸🇰 Bookee.ai, which does AI for accounting, raised €500k.
🇩🇪 KidsCircle, provider of a digital education platform for children, raised.
🇩🇪 Xolo, a 3d printing company, also raised.


✍️ Observations

The new wave of VCs in Europe

About 15-20 years ago the VC business in Europe meant having to deal with consultants in their late 40-50s, whose job was basically buying industrial assets such as factories, putting money in to re-technologize them, and then selling them at double digits IRR in a 5-7 years span.

Software or internet, what we actually now call tech, were exotic things and considered to be niched businesses.

Sure, we had a few internet entrepreneurs in the 2000s, Skype was on everybody’s examples as investors were talking about internet, and holding companies like Nasper actually were quite active in screening and investing in Europe’s best internet startups.

But fact is that the VCs in Europe wouldn’t really touch this kind of startups as they were considered to be risky. And they were risky because investors didn’t really understand them, they were from a different world.

That is one reason for which Europe is lagging in the top VC world - there was not too much capital risked at that time because those generations were supposed to get outside their comfort zone and back some 20 years old building intangible assets on an intangible medium (the internet) that hardly made sense for people born on the 1950-1960.

Factories, real estate and even restaurants surely looked more safer as they were tangible assets, right?

Fast forward 20 years, things have changed considerably mainly because several cycles had happened, there’s new people dealing with the money and we have already a 10-15 years track of investing with some moderate success compared to the top of the line people in this industry (yes, Silicon Valley).

The general consensus is that the European ecosystem is yet to become mature, the market is super fragmented which is a big deterrent for scaling, the legislation is a mess and the exit opportunities are limited.

However, due to historical high money supply in the market, the competition is higher than ever - and this increased level of competition is a good way for an ecosystem to mature very fast.

Euro VCs seem to have finally started to adopt best practices at doing their job (a software arms race going on as we speak) and we see more and more examples of players not being afraid of doing things differently and taking more risks - in an industry of followers, no less.

Who are those new people trying out new things? I am seeing three types:

i) former entrepreneurs - more and more founders decided to start investing, either on the side or as their main job.

ii) young people in their late 20s-early 30s, who decided to take their destiny in their hands and run their own show rather than working for traditional investment shops run by old school people.

iii) veterans who also decided to raise their own fund and become startup VCs rather than retiring as employees for traditional shops.

All those guys have energy, are knowledgeable and risk takers. They understand the value creation process and are trying their best to be a positive part of it. Some of them are idealistic, which is a good ingredient in a business where the KPI is a number which is usually correlated with the ego size.

And those guys, combined with a lot of outside competition, are the future of this VC-backed ecosystem, which is still an insignificant bubble in the grand economic scheme of things from Europe.

Over at N9, we made an inventory of the people part of the new wave of European VCs and profiled 25 of them.

The France ecosystem - followup

Got a bit of feedback on my last week’s anecdotes regarding the French startup ecosystem.

Here’s Pierre B (serial founder):

I am still operating in France because it is still easy for me to find talent. It is become competitive but if you know where to look you can find young intelligent people with good energy wanting to learn what they didn’t learn in school. I usually hire them while they are students, and try to put them on a career track that aligns with our company’s trajectory. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but most of the people I hired in the past 10 years have become my friends and we keep in touch.

But it is true, you have to be crazy to run a big payroll in France - the taxes are high and it is very difficult to fire people when things are not working. And that means I cannot startup over and try another idea because I have big costs of failure.

And here’s Nicolas C (investor):

I think the most critical issue is the cultural and political inward-lookingness (for lack of a better word).

The key to early success in France is to pay tribute to the powers that be: bad angel investors, bad VCs, Bpifrance (the government's investing arm), corporates, even cabinet members (they'll invite you for dinner or events if there's local buzz about your startup), and of course Macron himself. At this point, you may have the impression that your startup is successful but:

  • your cap table is a nightmare

  • everyone in the company speaks French

  • you're failing at international expansion

  • in general, you're resting on your laurels

There are very few French founders who are aware of this trap. And those who are, are in for a lot of pain, because France will make you pay your will to escape and look beyond its borders :-) (and it'll be impossible to attract international talent anyway, so succeeding at outgrowing France usually means relocating/expanding operations elsewhere, typically in the US).

Understanding signals

One way to understand what is going on in an ecosystem is to check what outsiders find interesting in the said ecosystem.

In the private investment sector, a good signal is looking at what outside VCs backed at the very early stages. Over at N9 we started a series of reports trying to figure this out:

  • Early stage startups from DACH that raised capital rounds from non-DACH investors

  • Early stage startups from France that raised capital rounds from non-French investors

  • Interesting early stage startups from Europe backed by American investors.

We also looked at Seedcamp’s portfolio of non-British startups they backed in the past 16 months or so - Seedcamp is one of the more active early stage investors from Europe.

Those reports are available for Nordic 9 Insiders. If you want to become one, you need to pay a membership fee of 149 euro - this gets you access to a library of about 100 intel reports, on top of updated databases about startups, investors, dealflow etc.


💡 Charts and data

Creators economy

Climate change is a thing but what’s that exactly?

Wheel of power/privilege


🚀 Other notes

🇫🇮 The fine people from Icebreaker, which is one of more active Euro investors at pre-seed level (i.e. pre revenue startups), are looking to hire a software guy to drive the development of their internal software tools.

The job is (can be) remote, and they’re looking for someone who’s a self starter and that can manage themselves, in a role that integrates deeply with their work as they already use software to help source and assess deals.

More details and what to do if it’s your thing (or know somebody) here.

💪 Alba Orbital from UK and Kitemaker from Norway, both part of Y Combinator this winter, announced closing fundraise deals this week.

🇺🇸 Accel made public details about how it’s running their scout programme, Sifted made a good overview of it.

🇬🇧 Balderton’s James Wise makes the case for changing the legislation in order to allow British pension funds to invest in VC. I explained here why this is a problem.

🇩🇪 There were more e-bikes sold in Germany in 2020 (~2 million) than electric cars across the whole of Europe.

🇳🇴 Remember Disqus? That little piece of software that 15 years ago publishers would implement on their site for comments and moderating tools management?

It just got fined by the Norwegian authorities for tracking people for programmatic advertising purposes.

🇬🇧 A 4 year old semiconductor manufacturer from Canada announced its London IPO after shunning the Nasdaq.

🚗 Uber used 50 Dutch shell companies to dodge taxes on nearly $6 billion in revenue.

I mean, sure, Jitse Groen of Takeaway.com has reasons to be pissed as Uber entering the German market means consumer competition. But competition also means how good the CFO and legal guys are at doing their job - whining about it on Twitter is just failing to recognise that things can be better executed.

🗄️ Here’s an open database for university spinouts.

🇪🇺 Understanding the current state of European tech through the three significant waves of activity in the ecosystem.

🦔 Venture Capital Is Changing ....Again

⛔ Spotify founder Ek says his bid for Arsenal was rejected.

✔️ Substack acquired a community building company:

A platform that supports independent writers has to be about more than just software. The current crisis that writers face can’t be solved with a beautiful publishing tool or a whiz-bang content management system. To really flourish, especially when starting something new, writers need a support structure to reduce the anxiety that can come with doing important work for the public.

They need peer support; they need advice and guidance; they need access to healthcare and legal support and design and all the things that could be offered if the economics of the media ecosystem made a little more sense.

💰 Apple robbed the mob’s bank.

Speaking of which, Ben’s big picture decomposition of Apple’s approach is a must read.

🧮 The economics of movie product placements.

👔 TikTok launching jobs service for Gen Z.

🕹️ The great online game

⏭️ Top gamers are quitting esports to become Twitch and YouTube influencers as esports organizations and game publishers reallocate resources to streamers.

⛵ There are 9,357 yachts over 65ft long that are currently on the seas - meaning those that have not sunk or that are being maintained on land.

The vessels are often bought by corporations and are then rented out by the company's owner, making it difficult to say for certain which yachts are owned by whom.

🇪🇺 Σικτίρ πιλάφι/siktirpilafi (fuck-off pilav) is the last treat that you serve when you are tired of your guests and want to hint that they should leave. In the past, a sweet rice pilav was served to guests at Rum weddings as a sign that the party was over.

faschinating thread

❤️ Some Korean couples have found a way to redefine romance - by gifting each other Tesla and other blue-chip stocks.


Thanks for reading 🙌

Created every Sunday by @drnovac of Nordic 9 with weekly notes and observations from the European startup ecosystem.

Please share it with your networks and encourage your colleagues to sign up here - thanks!

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions, comments, feedback, or if I can be helpful.

You have received this email as you signed up at Sunday CET or are a Nordic 9 registered user.

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