Our next guest on StartUpdate series is Jan Ansink. As one of our alumni, Jan is the Founder of Volders, a company that promises full control over the contracts by saving enormous time to optimize costs and tariffs.
Volders was founded in 2014. Right before the company was founded, Jan got through the same process as many other startup founders - followed entrepreneurs through the events, gave a few interviews. At the end, he reached out an to investor directly, and the journey of Volders has started. We are curious to learn more, and Jan starts telling their story: “Started out with 2 founders, me and the CTO. We were building the platform ourselves.” After a successful start with two founders, the team began to grow bigger: “now we have grown to 25 people, prominent here in the office. We develop everything in house, with our own development team of 10 including a designer”.
We had to test, endless testing!
As a company based in Germany, Volders changed several locations and ended up at Kreuzberg in Berlin, one of the biggest tech hubs in Europe. According to Jan, location was not the only thing that had to change. During their journey, the roller coaster feeling made Volders team take new strategies in order to grow bigger. “No dramatic changes to the product or business model. Of course, we had to test, endless testing!” Jan says. Following this, the team realized their need of human assistance: “We thought we were more a SaaS product, but we realized customers need human assistance, that’s why we are now developing a new strategy.”
A ratio between founders and investors
As he already joined several startup events, Jan points out a common problem shared by many founders: “In many events, everyone gets invited, and there are only a few investors while 100 founders swarming around them”. However, he tells me that a more binding format that is brought by Capital On Stage makes the difference: “At Capital On Stage, investors are spending much more time on hearing founder’s ideas, how they evolve over the years, in the 1-on-1’s”.
Our technology is our key asset
Growing fast, Volders is available on 3 platforms now; a web application, IOS App and, Jan announces that, shortly ago, Android App.
Talking about the company's vision, Jan frankly mentions; “I want to be the number one solution, must-have solution, for managing subscriptions”. The vision seems to be working prominently. Looking at the results on the platform, Volders has 400,000 users now. When it comes to their company philosophy, Jan says it in one sentence: “Our technology is our key asset”.
Volders team is always open for those who are interested in investing. Before we end our interview, Jan adds passionately; “I’d love people to reach out to us for more information. They can easily reach out on Linkedin, or on Xinq. (the German Linkedin-like platform) or by sending me a message, I’ll read those messages.”
Founding a startup comes with a roller coaster feeling, just as Jan experienced, one is realizing the importance of human assistance, there are a lot more to learn on the way. So, possibilities can be always tested to leverage the company's success. This is exactly what makes the process exciting for startups, and every passionate and hard working team with a good strategy can make a profit out of it!
ROTTERDAM March 8th 2017 – From 14 until 17 March ‘The Rotterdam Capital Days’ will be held at several locations in Rotterdam. The event is an initiative of Capital On Stage, Capital Tour XXL and Venture Café to unite the international startup eco-system in the Netherlands.
Unique startup event
The unconventional investment event, Capital On Stage, brings together top-tier investors, enterprise innovators and tech startup founders but turns the tables; venture capitalists pitch to selected founders seeking funding and the corporates advise the founders. The aim is to take the fear from the venture capital process, and for tech and other startup founders to be shown by VCs how they close an investment round.
Capital On Stage Rotterdam takes place on March 16th at the head office of tax and legal firm Loyens & Loeff, which has been a partner of Capital on Stage since 2015. Investors will take the stage and founders get guaranteed one-on-one time with the investors of their choice. Corporate partners and industry professionals will share their insights and learnings and lawyers of Loyens & Loeff are available for legal and tax related startup-questions. In the evening there are many opportunities to make personal connections with drinks at Loyens & Loeff and the Venture Café.
Dragons’ Den in reverse
“This is our (home sweet home) conference,” says Arjen Strijker, Founder & CEO of Capital On Stage B.V. “Top tier investors will turn the tables and take the stage in a sort of Dragons’ Den in reverse. The audience will be startups actively looking for funding and must be at a point where they’re ready for VC investment of between €500,000 and €10million.”
Willem Jarigsma, Managing Partner Loyens & Loeff: “Because of the success of the previous editions in Amsterdam, we’re partnering with Capital On Stage for the third time now. Entrepreneurship and innovation are key values within our organisation which we also recognise in Capital on Stage. Therefore, we are very excited about hosting the upcoming event at our office in Rotterdam. As an international law firm, we have built up vast expertise by working for large corporates and multinationals. We want to offer such expertise also to young, innovative and scaling companies as we believe there is much to learn from them. This is the mission statement of our brand new firm wide Startup Team.”
Everyone who wants to be part of the full experience can show interest on the website of the Rotterdam Capital Days. Capital On Stage, Capital Tour XXL and Venture Café share the same goal: supporting and facilitating entrepreneurs in their journey to growth in an inspiring way. With the Rotterdam Capital Days that is exactly what we hope to achieve!
Not for publication:
Press and media can reach out to: Wouter van Voorst tot Voorst / firstname.lastname@example.org - for media invitations.
Guntis worked in sales and marketing since 2008 with his first serious job in construction materials wholesales in Latvia. He worked in the business department as as sales project manager. However, the motivation of selling, selling, selling was fastly disappearing, ‘I saw that things needed to be changed, that I also needed a change. I felt like a small piece in a larger structure which i could not change.’
In 2011 he was invited to be a 3rd founder of a tech start-up by a small team that he had been leading and outsourcing his work to who had really interesting ideas such as social games and marketing solutions for agencies in Latvia. In 2011 Walmoo was founded. This initial goal was to improve the field of loyalty programmes but after numerous recommendations Walmoo progressed into an ‘ on-demand platform for customer identification solutions using QR code and/or NFC’. After doing presentation after presentation with little to no funds, they had already sold to over 5 customers, despite the product not even being developed. From 2012 - 2013 a small prototype was developed and Guntis and his team took part in few business idea contests including ‘Shark Tank/Dragons Den’ type TV shows. In one show they were awarded second place, providing great PR and some investors reached out.
In 2013 everything came together for Walmoo; they won a V/5 project tender for a 6 ski resorts in Latvia. They began with a €50,000 investment and next year investor offered another €50k. In four years of business, Guntis and his team have found no one like them, ‘it’s a hip hybrid of many things‘.
Like most start-ups Walmoo has faced its challenges. Guntis described the main challenge as, ‘describing what the product is and does in a very short time, it sounds like we’re trying to do everything. We have to keep in mind ‘everything’ but not do it all. We’re selling the future.
The ultimate goal for Walmoo is to become the first choice of anyone who wants to develop new or upgrade existing solutions involving customer identification. To do so, they need to finish developing, launch and begin sales for Version 2.0 . They only have the budget for 4 employers but they have calculated they need at least 8 to effectively and quickly expand and thus are on the look-out for investment of €500,000.
Guntis decided to attend Capital On Stage as Karma VC’s are also attending and it is the first event at which they are both present. The format of Capital On Stage also attracted the start-up as the VC’s pitch to the founders, ‘you get the feeling at that point they need to sell themselves and you have a higher chance of being on an even level’.
Capital On Stage has been getting in touch with past attendees who recieved funding from an event. So in case you were on the fence about joining us on Thursday in Copenhagen, read on...
Meet Soumyadip Rakshit, founder of Mysteryvibe who made invaluable contacts at our London conference last year.
Technology has traditionally been seen as a hindrance to our emotional lives, apparently connecting us in the four corners of the globe, whilst simultaneously disconnecting us from reality. Memes showing couples lying in bed reaching for their phones to check their virtual world instead of reaching for their loved one have plagued our Facebook homepages, ironic no? But Soumyadip Rakshit saw this as an opportunity to break down barriers and make emotions and technology connect, ‘we started in 2014 with the objective of bringing technology into the bedroom, traditionally a space where it is seen as a disruption’.
And so, MysteryVibe’s Crescendo was born, a intensely personalized pleasure product that in its later iteration will feel the changes in your body and adapt to your level of arousal. Soumyadip saw a gap in the sex toy and vibrator industry, ‘they weren’t using apps and technology to further their products’. With the rising clash between emotions and technology, MysteryVibe saw an opportunity to galvanise a market.
The ultimate goal for Soumyadip is to create a home automation system where your bedroom recognizes the room and adapts to your body, recognizes your mood, changes the lighting and music, and thus unites Paleaolithic emotions with 21st century technology. Like most start-ups the biggest challenge for the MysteryVibe team is funding, but even more so when you’re selling sex toys, ‘many VC’s have restrictions on non-traditional markets’. COS events provide huge diversity in entrepreneurs and VC’s enabling MysteryVibe to ‘raise awareness and make some invaluable contacts who in turn introduced us to Angelist’.
Advice to other founders
- everything takes much longer than you think, so be prepared.
In this age of internet-takeaway ordering services like JustEat and DeliveryHero - people’s increasing preference to order online rather than via the phone, Thor saw that essential gap in the market: ‘when you want to buy a pair of shoes, you type it into a search engine, then it takes you to the actual website like Zalando. When you want to buy again - you return to that website in the future, the search engine ceases to be centre stage. But the restaurant industry doesn’t do this, why? Restaurants are increasingly losing power and revenue to food portals - since they keep sending their customers back to them. Our research shows that 85% of restaurant's clients are returning customers - so why do restaurants send their clients back through a portal - what other industries does that?’
Hence the birth of OrderYOYO - an app and web-making service that makes the apps and web for the restaurant's, returning the power, and the revenue, back to the source.
Why Capital On Stage? ‘We are in process of raising our Series A funding, we have seed funding from SEED Capital (who are also attending and joining next round) so we’re looking for other investors to co-join for our next round. I’m also really looking forward to the one-to-one matchmaking sessions, that’s a great idea.
In preparation for our Copenhagen event we got in touch with some founders attending, here's Robert Pohl, co-founder of Mondido and his thoughts on VCs, being a geek and Google and Facebook Lovechild's...
Robert Pohl, a self-confessed geek since childhood has been programming and playing with technology his whole life. Throughout his professional career he always combined business, technology and selling, ‘bringing technology to the market and seeing people use it is what drives me’. For 7 years Robert was a partner in an e-learning company creating online education for global companies and in 2008 him and his co-founder Annika, quit their jobs, they had had an idea, ‘to combine Facebook and Google and take over the world with a super-platform’. They were about to give Bill Gates a run for his money…. Well, maybe not…
‘After two years we needed cash so we started a consultancy firm selling 70% of our time and 30% was spent on side projects’. The idea for Mondido eventually came in 2012 as Robert and Annika were working for TV4 (the Facebook and Google lovechild had been forgotten) and realised how difficult it was to work with payments. This sparked the idea for Mondido, a payments system that starts from the customer perspective and allowed them work actively with sales optimisation. Their new system added information about customers, products, fraud and merchants, the other competitors had no customization, giving them that essential edge in the industry.
In 2014-2015, just one year after the first transaction was made, the transaction rate had increased +1900% giving an overall average growth of 130%! For Robert and Annika this is their biggest success; not being numbers people, when they saw the figures they both said, ‘are we really THIS good?!’
Mondido want to attend COS because they are in Series A round of funding and want to meet other start-ups and VC’s out of the Nordic business circle. They want to massively expand business to the Americas and Asia and want some international exposure that COS Events provide.
Advice to other founders
Have a super clear business model from the start
Team work is super important
Need to be self-sufficient, you will run out of money, so be able to do everything yourself
One question for a VC
- Be honest and open with what you want from founders; what goal we need to have achieved before we come to you.
After finishing his studies in 1995 Jacob began his career as an entrepreneur and joined the first web-design agency in Denmark. A couple of years later he was working in Tel Aviv in the high-tech industry, forging links between Denmark and Israel. In 2000 he helped structure funds for entrepreneurs and this led into his career as a VC, he is now in his 11th year in the industry.
Reflecting on recent developments in the VC industry, Jacob says, ‘even though we are seeing a lot of recent turmoil on the public markets, which means a bit of softening on the valuations also in the private/VC backed market, there is still a lot of VC activity in Europe, and we are seeing a strong appetite for Scandinavia as a region, also from international VCs. This is a healthy development for entire start-up eco-system in the region’.
Why Capital On Stage? It's a brilliant concept, that once in awhile we are on the founder side, doing what they do every day.
Tips for founders:
If you are a seed stage start-up work hard on getting customer proof of your product early on either by onboarding customers or by getting positive feedback of interest from potential customers. Investors want to see concrete interest from the market, as it often from an early point on shows a lot about the scalability of the start-up. If you are a more mature start-up make sure to communicate your basis metrics for the business in a convincing way and e.g. if you are a SaaS business use generally accepted SaaS metric ratios like “LTV to CAC” ratios, “months to recover CAC” etc. In all stages team is the most important factor, so make sure that you have as strong, competent, passionate and as complete a team as possible.
Originally from an academic background, SEED Capital partner Niels made the transition into the VC industry through the library and then the corporate world, eventually landing himself, ‘the best job in the world’ as a VC. His interest in start-ups ignited when he worked for Siemens in Munich and they wanted to speed up innovation in the corporate scene, ‘they had ‘internal start-ups’, we brainstormed, got funding, it was exhilarating, but it was enmeshed in the corporate world with lots of internal politics’.
When asked on his thoughts on founders, ‘founders can be tough negotiators, ruthless even, but you know that they would not have got there if they hadn’t been ambitious, competent and driven. We like them because they’re tough’.
After taking a year out to sail round the world with his family, Niels returned to Denmark and got the chance to be interviewed with Seed Capital, with grounded experience in business development he got the job. That was nine years ago and he is now a partner.
Why Capital On Stage? ‘It’s an interesting concept and it’s only fair that tables are turned once in awhile! Denmark is a really capable ecosystem for early stage tech companies, so i’ll be mentioning that in my pitch, even if they know it already!’ It is also nice to network with fellow VCs and check out new founders we haven’t come across before.
Advice to founders: It is absolutely fundamental to get the core team right.
Before becoming a VC, Tim caught the start-up bug when he was responsible for setting up Gaopeng, Groupon’s operations in China. Following this, he was advisor to numerous start-ups in the US and Asia, before moving back to Scandinavia. Joining Northzone enabled Tim to join the frontline working with the fantastic entrepreneurs and thriving start ups in the ecosystem.
Reflecting on recent developments in the European VC industry, ‘European venture has really accelerated in the past 2-3 years. Europe used to be home to a small number of funds covering broad geographies, but the industry is becoming bigger and increasingly verticalised. Northzone invests across Europe, and has a special interest in B2B SaaS, FinTech, e-commerce, media and infrastructure. Focusing on particular verticals is an important way to ensure that we as investors can add real value, both to our portfolio companies and prospective entrepreneurs that we meet’.
Why Capital On Stage? COS has gained a certain name for itself in Europe and its slightly different format is always welcome! For founders sometimes it’s hard to differentiate between investors so it’s good to stand up there and explain who we are and what we can offer.
Advice to founders: really understand what it is you’re bringing to the market, what the problem is and how it is you’re trying to solve it.
Reshopper is Denmark’s largest mobile secondhand marketplace for used children items. Other big platforms had moved horizontally, but the team saw a gap in the market to move vertically. Reshopper aims to facilitate local trade, and the social aspect is a benefit.
A notable success was when the app Reshopper received the award “Denmark’s Best Children’s App in 2015”. Also, in 2016, the app achieved to be chosen by Apple as #1 best new apps and introduced into the Editor’s Choice category from the App Store.
Why Capital On Stage? 'In 2016 we want to show proof of concept internationally by achieving critical mass in Sweden and the Netherlands. Also we’re going to test different revenue options in Denmark and be ready to scale in 2017 (both in Denmark and abroad). So at Capital On Stage we want to connect with VC’s early on and start a dialogue to tell about our plans and get some concrete feedback from the VC’s'.
Ulrik used to be an entrepreneur himself and co-founded two start-ups, giving him a thorough understanding of the requirements needed to be a successful start-up. Then, after a stint in the corporate world, he joined a VC fund, particularly enjoying the variety of people and challenges in the start-up world, ‘it can be frustrating as your an arms length away from from the action, it’s not your job to execute things, you’re more of a helping role. It also takes a long time to know whether it was a good investment'. Reflecting on developments in the VC industry Ulrik says, ‘there has been a recent expansion into fields such as hardware, automation and robotics that have traditionally not been embraced by VC’s - at least not in the Nordics. At Capital On Stage i’ll be keeping an eye out for exciting companies that already have the first version of their product and have customer and market feedback’.
Why Capital On Stage? The concept is exciting, we’re always the ones sitting back and making comments, now it’s our turn to be in the hot seat.
Advice to founders: they should try and understand what drives VC’s; understand their market.
Capital On Stage spent 10 minutes catching up with Danish VC Christian Lindegård Jespen from Sunstone days before our Copenhagen event, getting juicy inside info on his loves and likes about start-ups and VC and why he’s attending Capital On Stage Copenhagen 2016!
Christian Jespen has had two start-ups, one in Denmark and one in the US. He raised $150million in equity and during this time he worked with a lot of VC’s and saw it as a potential career route, 'ultimately, being a VC is also like being in a start-up, they're both forms of entrepreneurs'. On return to his native Denmark he contacted a VC group that was a Danish government fund and worked on a couple of start-ups, a few years later him and some fellow VC’s moved on and started Sunstone.
One of Christian’s areas of interest is start-ups that can produce actionable data, 'computers are moving and maturing to a point where they should do stuff for us, not enable us to do stuff, take a data set and turn it into real action, don’t tell the marketing guy what to do, DO it for him'.
Why Capital On Stage?
It's nice to be more accessible for a shorter period and see the wide range of start-ups, the industry is always changing so it’s good to be out there testing the water.
Pet peeve: VC’s see thousands of pitches so we know minutes into the pitch what we want to say at the end, but for the founders, this is maybe their 5th or 6th and it’s part of their training, so we wait, politely, knowing the conclusion already.
Advice to founders?
The best team always wins. Founders often don’t spend enough time establishing how to get the best possible team. It’s such a shame when you see a team with 1 or 2 excellent founders and the rest are just OK.
Capital On Stage brings secure deal-flow to shifting Nordic tech investment scene
- The Nordic Web projects 88.79% growth in number of investments in Nordic tech companies in 2016
- Fewer investments of $10m+ mean a majority happening at pre-seed and seed stages
- Capital On Stage invites 150 high-potential early and growth stage startup founders to meet venture capitalists face-to-face, limiting risk
- World renowned investors such as Ray Quintana from Cottonwood Technology Fund and Richard Muirhead from Open Ocean are among 20 top-tier international VCs that will pitch to high-potential technology founders
- Dennis Just, Co-founder and CEO of Knip, to provide Keynote address which closed a $15.7 million Series B round of funding in September 2015, led by USA based Route 66 Ventures
The Netherlands. Amsterdam, 2, March 2016. With the impact of the Silicon Valley crisis dominating conversations about investment in Europe and a 30% decrease in the number of $10m+ rounds in Nordic tech the first six weeks of 2016, venture capitalists are looking for smaller, more secure investments.
Capital On Stage - a data-driven physical matchmaking platform for investors and high-potential, funding-ready founders delivered through a specially curated global series of events - is helping to reduce risk for investors. The startup selection process guarantees only high-potential founders actively seeking funding between $500,000-10m are invited to attend, and numbers are kept low with a ratio of 1:8 investors to founder to ensure quality deal flow.
With high-quality founders in demand, Capital On Stage reverses the format of conventional funding events to be truly founder-centric; VCs pitch and founders pick the VCs they would like to meet during the highly regarded Open Office Hour sessions. Founders can pre-book 10-minute private meetings with two investors of their choice. Tim He, Principle at Northzone is looking forward to the Capital On Stage format. "Capital on Stage turns the tables on the traditional pitching event. It is a great way to meet promising start-ups across Europe’s leading tech hubs.”
Says Capital On Stage Founder & CEO, Arjen Strijker ‘We wanted to create a physical event where investors would be in the spotlight, explaining more about who they are as a person and how they can help besides just providing a cash injection to startups. VC websites generally give poor insight in what they really are about. Also, at entrepreneur-related conferences participating investors typically remain somewhat anonymous and the attending startups need to go out of their way to get just a short meeting with an investor.’
Attending VCs confirmed so far include: Jacob Bratting Pedersen, Partner, Northcap; Chris Barchak, Partner, Conor Venture Partners; Ulrik Jørring, Managing Partner, Danish Growth Fund; Tim He, Principal , Northzone; Margus Uudam, Founding Partner, Karma Ventures; Christian Lindegård Jepsen, Partner, Sunstone Capital; Ray Quintana, General Partner, Cottonwood Technology Fund; Christian Miele, Vice President, e.ventures; Kristjan Lindegård Jepsen, Founding Partner, Karma Ventures; Wasiem von Heydebrand, Venture Associate, Northcap.
Following successful events in Amsterdam, London, New York, Singapore and Tel Aviv, the unconventional funding conference will come to Copenhagen 17 March 2016, its first event in the booming Nordic tech scene, which is projected to see an 88.79% growth in the number of investments this year according to The Nordic Web. The event will take place at Kromann Reumert, where they will host 20 VCs and 150 funding-ready founders.
The keynote address will be given by Dennis Just, Co-founder and CEO of Knip, the market-leading Swiss ‘mobile-first’ digital insurance broker that closed a $15.7m Series B round in led by US-based Route 66 Ventures in October 2015. He commented ‘Capital On Stage shifts the value of investors away from pure money. The specially selected, high-profile VCs attending are a big draw, and the regional focus allows the right people to connect at the right time.’
Having sustained a company culture driven by clear values through high growth phases, Just advises other founders: ‘Believe in yourself and the vision you drive, though question it on a daily basis. And remember, money is just an enabler, not a driver, nor a motivator.’
Founders must apply to attend. If accepted, ticket prices for the event start at €149 per founder (maximum two per company) with the possibility to upgrade to a Spotlight Pitch Session where they can present their company to all 200 attendees. Investor tickets cost €995 per firm and include access for two partners.
More information, photos and founder applications can be found:
CONTACT DETAILS Andi Davids Chief Marketing Officer l email@example.com l +31 624 879 444 l www.capitalonstage.com Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/CapitalOnStage I Twitter - https://twitter.com/CapitalOnStage
Tech All Stars is part of Startup Europe, the Commission's plan to accelerate, connect and celebrate local entrepreneurship ecosystems in Europe, so as to keep startups in Europe. The top 12 were from the UK, Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden. Tech All Stars brings together startup founders to give them valuable training while taking them to the best startup events including Capital On Stage.
On London June 30, meet the three founders and find out why there were crowned the best in Europe:
TripRebel: Carlos Borges, CEO
TripRebel is the “rebel” in travel booking websites and the concept is simple: book your hotel through the site, which currently lists more than 200,000 properties around the world. It then tracks your reservation for price reductions every day until you check in. If the price drops, you’ll be automatically re-booked at the new rate, and the difference is refunded to your credit card.
Winnow’s mission is to help the hospitality industry cut down on food waste by making the kitchen ‘smarter.’ It does this via the Winnow smart meter, a set of smart scales and accompanying tablet app that lets kitchen staff easily log what food is thrown away. That data is then uploaded to the cloud, analysed by Winnow’s algorithm, and disseminated so that food waste can be reduced.
Watly: Marco Attisani, WEO
We create technological solutions powered by clean and renewable energies. They respect and protect the Earth’s ecosystem. They are conceived through innovative design and unconventional engineering approach. We are inspired by the 3rd Industrial Revolu-tion paradigms and its potential.
November, the Tech All Stars they will take to the stage again at NOAH London to show their progress five months after this enormous investor attention.
We are very privileged to have these talented pitch winners joining us at Capital On Stage. Let’s see how they go bringing their pitch from 3 min to 30 seconds.
Now that anyone can benefit from the global growth of entrepreneurial activity, venture capitalists need to show their true added value more than ever – their added value besides the offering of cash.