Developing AI that works in the real-world is incredibly challenging. Despite the incredible strides computer vision AI models have made in image classification, detection, and other tasks in the lab,models often fail to work as expected when deployed in production, because real-world scenarios are far more complex and varied than lab training datasets. Up to 90% of all models don’t reach production, which represents a huge financial loss to the companies developing them.
“We developed LatticeFlow because we knew the impossible task that engineers were up against with the pain-staking, manual process of fixing data and model issues to create AI models that work in the real world,” said Petar Tsankov, Co-founder and CEO, LatticeFlow. “At scale, it was clearly an unwinnable battle, so we focused on developing tools to help engineers work smart and automate fixes across large datasets and models.”
The LatticeFlow team have built an impressive track record over the past twelve months, attracting Fortune 500 customers such as Siemens Mobility, and AI scaleups such as Intenseye, Voxel AI, and Carscan.
“What makes LatticeFlow’s technology so compelling is its holistic approach that is rooted in deep research combined with a fundamental understanding of real-world needs,” says btov Partner Andreas Goeldi.
Ekaterina Almasque, General Partner of OpenOcean said: “If there’s one group that can make machine learning deployments at scale finally happen, it’s LatticeFlow’s team. We were hugely impressed by their amazing pedigree from academia, ETH Zurich, as well as their background as serial entrepreneurs.”
“There’s a major bottleneck in bringing AI models built in the lab into production. Despite the exponential growth of AI models, operationalizing them is extremely hard. LatticeFlow is addressing this in a unique way with its unstructured data quality analysis and improvement. We’re excited to join the LatticeFlow journey to build a leading automation platform for computer vision deployments, thus accelerating the roll-out of AI.”
Comments Off on Otterspace raises $3.7m in pre-seed funding, launches private beta to coordinate internet-native organizations with non-transferable tokens
We are proud to announce our investment in Otterspace as part of their pre-seed raise of 3.7m USD. The round was led by Cherry Crypto and Inflection.xyz with participation from from Bessemer Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures, and Paua Ventures to build a protocol and application enabling web3 organizations to reduce financialization by coordinating with non-transferable NFT badges. Institutional investors are joined by a strong line-up of 25+ DAO operators including Sandeep Nailwal (Co-Founder of Polygon), Mats & Fredrik Haga (Dune Analytics), Will Papper (SyndicateDAO), Quickrider (FlamingoDAO), Abbey Titcomb (RadicleDAO), Sarah Drinkwater (GitcoinDAO), and NiMA (SeedClub Ventures).
“We’re excited to bring on a large and diverse group of bright Web3 operators and investors on board our Otter spaceship. This investment round both grows the community of supporters on our mission and enables us to focus on building robust infrastructure for the next generation of decentralized communities.”– Ben Dobbrick, Co-Founder Otterspace.
Otterspace’s protocol and app offer a new foundation for DAOs that typically rely on transferable fungible tokens for coordination and incentives. Non-transferable badges are earned rather than bought, and enable communities to recognise members for their participation, incentivise engagement, enumerate community roles and conduct non-financialized governance.
“We were impressed by what the entire Otterspace team has built over the last year. And we are especially proud to see a former btov colleague such as Ben thrive and are thrilled to join him in his journey into Otterspace,” says btov Partner Andreas Goeldi.
Otterspace has opened their beta program to all eligible organizations and will continue to onboard new communities on a weekly basis. Interested parties can sign up to use the product here: https://forms.otterspace.xyz/waitlist
Comments Off on Demoboost raises EUR 1.7 million pre-seed to transform how software is bought and sold
Demoboost, a Warsaw-based start-up that helpssoftware companies deliver the best demo experience to better market and sell their products, has raised EUR 1.7 million in a pre-seed round to further accelerate product development and the global expansion of the platform, led by us at btov with support from Movens Capital and a host of business angels.
The global software as a service market is worth $130 billion today and is expected to reach into the trillions in a few years. The Warsaw-based start-up helps B2B software vendors transform their marketing and sales activities, by providing a platform to easily create, personalize, share, and track product demos at scale.
The founding team around Demoboost know the challenges of buying and selling software firsthand. They have been selling together as a vendor-partner team for Salesforce for years before starting Demoboost. Together they have worked on and closed dozens of deals, experiencing the vendor partner-customer dynamic up close. Additional experience in buying software for global corporations also revealed the disconnect between growing buyers’ expectations and vendors’ capacity to keep up.
“It is rare for a startup at such a young stage to have a product that works so well and is already being used by so many great companies. That’s a testament not only to the founders’ vision but also to their ability to execute. We are confident Demoboost will be a category-defining company.” Andreas Goeldi, btov Partners
Born out of Europe’s complex jurisdictional landscape, Ledgy empowers startup founders to build global companies by providing a key part of the infrastructure needed to attract, engage, incentivise and retain top international talent. Ledgy moves equity management off of high-maintenance, error-prone spreadsheets and onto a platform that gives all company stakeholders (i.e. founders, investors and employees) visibility and insight into what the equity ownership component of their remuneration packages means to them.
With its ability to run different country-specific equity plans side-by-side, leadership teams can trust that the platform will treat all stakeholders fairly, and provide a single source of truth. All while relieving the financial team of complex administrative processes and enabling HR and People Teams to confidently hire cross-border talent. Besides ensuring compliance and risk-reduction, Ledgy increases transparency, tangibility and visibility into equity management, while also automating the labour-intensive tasks of creating, sharing, signing and storing of contracts for each new grant to employees.
“In the past 12 months we have enjoyed double-digit monthly growth. We have gone from 15 to 65 employees, expanded our customer base to over 45 countries and 2,500 companies, opened a London office and grown our presence in Berlin, and we’re just getting started,” said Ledgy Co-founder and CEO, Yoko Spirig. “The participation of top tier VCs in our Series B is significant for two reasons. First, it’s a powerful validation of Ledgy and our strong growth in the 12 months since our Series A. Second, it reflects a significant trend in which leading US investors are increasing their exposure to the European continent by partnering with the best companies in what is a fast-growing and vibrant startup ecosystem.”
Comments Off on Part 1 | Mastering Product Management Basics: Vision & Roadmap
Good product management is one of the most underappreciated parts of scaling a business. That may sound counterintuitive at first – shouldn’t the product be absolutely fundamental to any startup’s mission? Yes, of course! But building a MVP that appeals to early customers is not the same as ensuring a product can grow and adapt at scale. Understanding the basics of product management can help founders put their business on a much more solid foundation.
1. Develop a Vision and a Plan First
Developing a long-term product vision and a roadmap for getting there are the most important steps. The product vision defines where the product should be 3-5 years from now and is the north star for the entire product team, and in many cases, for the entire company. The planning process should follow a multi-step cycle that operates on different time horizons.
A good framework for the planning process looks like this:
A strong roadmap process is essential for several reasons, the foremost being: 1.) it forces you to set strategic priorities and make hard trade-offs early on; 2.) it enables capacity planning for staffing and infrastructure; 3.) it provides a sense of reliability and predictability to key customers 4.) it allows you to plan revenue impact for relevant key features.
But be warned: jumping directly from a long-term vision right into the nitty-gritty of sprint deliverables without fleshing out the middle layers first is a common mistake. If you fail to get the roadmap right, it can lead to a growing disconnect between long-term planning and what the product team is working on at any given moment.
2. Crafting A North Star Metric and Product Vision
Product management involves so many different things it’s easy to get sidetracked. A broad product vision, often understood as a north star, helps to maintain focus. It answers the fundamental question of “why”. Why are you building this product? What are you trying to achieve? That should be your north star – literally the brightest object in the sky that illuminates all that you see and do. Many companies operationalize this into a “north star metric”, which as Sean Ellis writes, is “the single metric that best captures the core value that your product delivers to customers.” For Airbnb, its north star metric has been the number of nights booked, which drives value to both guests and hosts. On this basis, the product team built new features and reduced all kinds of friction for guests and hosts, from making discovery easier and more transparent to reducing risks such as fraud, all while not losing sight of servicing the ultimate northstar metric, getting more people to book more nights.
3. So how do you get started? Consider the following:
Define the product vision in terms of the customer problem — before and after.
Avoid abstract or technology-driven product visions that ignore the customer problem (for example “We want to apply smart contracts on the ETH blockchain to the pet food industry”).
The product vision should be understandable for everybody in the organization, as well as customers.
Ignore your competitors when developing the product vision. This is all about customer value that your product will create, not what your competitors may be doing.
Example of a before-and-after product vision visualization:
For more information have a look at our startup resources page on product vision.
4. Creating a Roadmap
A roadmap serves a number of important purposes:
They enable the planning of the engineering delivery process on a more granular level, including capacity planning
They provide predictability to the rest of the company, in particular, sales and marketing (“When can we promote and sell X?”), customer success (“From when on do we need to support X?”) and finance (“When can we expect revenue from X?”).
Roadmaps provide insights into dependencies inside engineering, but also in relationship to other departments and even external partners
Going back to our initial graphic, there are four layers you need to plan out below the overarching product vision.
This level has a time horizon of 2-3 years. It covers major deliverables, such as an entirely new product family or major features that add value for the customer. For early-stage startups that focus on a single product, this level refers to the primary functionality clusters that you want to deliver within this planning horizon.
Product initiatives typically have a time horizon of about one year. They describe major functionality improvements that should be delivered within this horizon. It is important to identify dependencies between different initiatives early. If initiative B can’t start before initiative A is delivered, this has to be accounted for, planned out and clearly communicated. Initiatives should be planned based on their business value (how much do they contribute towards solving the customer problem and/or generating revenue for the startup?) as well as expected effort.
Planning specific high-level deliverables on a quarterly basis, about one year in advance, is useful to align the organization towards specific outputs.
It is important to communicate to everybody in the company (and outside parties such as the board of directors or key customers) that the planning gets more probabilistic the further out it is in time. For example, the roadmap items for the immediate next quarter should have a high degree of certainty, while the items four quarters out are assumptions based on today’s information and will likely change.
Typical sprint lengths of 2-3 weeks are still best practice in the industry. The engineering team should be fully in charge of shaping these sprints and deciding which outputs they can deliver to move the product forward to the overall goal.
5. Find the right owners
Product management plays a key role in breaking out high-level goals into more detailed pieces, so the roadmap planning should have ownership at a high level. The overall plan should be owned by the VP of Product, Chief Product Officer or similar function. The owner should solicit frequent input from the rest of the organization to shape this plan towards the needs of the business. Engineering should be involved early on in the planning process to provide feedback on effort and feasibility and also provide input on technically required work packages (such as reducing technical debt or building out infrastructure).
6. Set up clear communication channels
Developing new products and features often takes more time than initially anticipated and the status of many of these layers in the product management cycle needs to be clearly communicated within the organization on a regular basis. The longer a product lives out in the wild and the more features you develop, the more necessary it becomes to align internally and prepare the entire organization for an upcoming release. This can have positive externalities – it puts pressure on teams to perform: the product team knows it needs to deliver on that new feature, while the marketing team is hotly anticipating how it can create attention for something new. And the entire company can celebrate when it happens and reap the benefits of delivering more value to its customers.
For more information see our startup resources page on roadmaps.
You can find guidance such as this, as well as many other similar documents about startup topics on our page btov Startup Resources.
Comments Off on ottonova defies difficult market conditions, raising EUR 34 million
ottonova, the first digital private health insurance company in Germany, has convinced further investors of its business model in a challenging capital market environment and is entering the next phase with an equity increase of EUR 34 million.
In addition to the renewed commitment of existing investors such as HV Capital, Earlybird, and ourselves at btov, Cadence Growth Capital (CGC), which specializes in investments in technology companies with strong organic and inorganic growth prospects, led the round and becomes an important part of ottonova’s investor base.
““We are looking forward to this next stage in ottonova’s development with the two new and existing investors at our side,” says Dr Roman Rittweger, founder and CEO of ottonova, adding: “Operationally, ottonova has never been in such a good position as it is now.” Leonard Clemens, Managing Partner and co-founder of CGC confirms: “As an investor, we look for the best and most sustainable concepts. This year, the insurtech and fintech industry is experiencing how important the resilience of its own business model and platform is, and how crucial relevance in the market is now and in the future. This is exactly what ottonova, Roman Rittweger and his team have convinced us of.”
Read more about the news in the German business daily Handelsblatt.
Comments Off on i2x receives €11 million in funding and appoints second managing director
We are happy to announce that our portfolio company i2x, an innovative, AI-based solution for real-time communication analysis of phone calls and real-time coaching for agents, has secured EUR 11 million of new capital. Tech investor Bridge to Growth (BTG) and Heiko Hubertz, Germany’s most successful entrepreneur in the gaming sector, have joined us at btov Partners, as well as previous investors such as UVC Partners, HV Capital, Discovery Ventures and Asgard. The company is also expanding its management team and appointed Stefan Walther as Managing Director. In his new role, Walther, currently Chief Technology Officer at i2x, will drive the company’s internationalization and a sustainable growth strategy.
i2x will use the new capital for the expansion of its solution for real-time communication analysis and real-time coaching, for further data protection features, the development of specific functionalities for German and European works councils and the expansion of its partner network. In total, i2x plans to invest EUR 100 million in the expansion of its proprietary technology by 2027. With this, the company is planning one of the largest private investment programs in the field of AI in the European region. To date, the company has already registered over ten patents, including in the areas of audio interface systems, accent and dialect processing, speech and audio data modification, and anonymization. By investing in technology and patents, i2x aims to further strengthen its position as one of the leading conversational AI companies in the world.
Today, i2x already analyzes and transcribes complex conversations in different languages in real time (less than 0.5 seconds). As a result, users receive live feedback and support to help them optimize their sales and service conversations. The solution is based on AI-supported speech recognition technology that captures emotions as well as content. i2x also generates AI-based, individually tailored feedback and training sessions for users. This provides each user with a kind of personal coach. According to previous evaluations, the revenue generated by employees with the help of i2x increased by up to 70 percent while maintaining the same cost structure. Companies were also able to increase employee satisfaction by around 15 percent and customer satisfaction by 30 percent.
Over the last 12 months, i2x has seen 400 percent growth in both customers and revenue. With the appointment of Stefan Walther as a second managing director, i2x is preparing for further strong growth. Before joining i2x, Stefan Walther spent almost ten years working at Qlik, a cloud-based end-to-end platform for real-time data integration and analysis, where he held several roles – most recently Associate Vice President of Research & Development.
Luca Martinelli, Partner at btov Partners, said: “Congratulations Michael Brehm and Stephan Walter on this important step for i2x – we are excited to continue to support this unique company and their mission in leveraging AI to transform how sales and customer support functions operate and deliver pioneering services to customers around the world.”
Comments Off on SumUp raises €590 million and celebrates 10 years of supporting small merchants
We are proud to announce that our portfolio company SumUp has raised a €590 million funding round that gives the company an enterprise value of €8 billion. This follows a decade of rapid growth and global expansion, executing on a bold vision of a new type of financial technology company. The round was led by Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, with participation from ourselves at btov Partners, funds managed by BlackRock, Centerbridge, Crestline, Fin Capital, and Sentinel Dome Partners, among others. This latest round is a combination of debt and equity and brings SumUp’s total capital raised to €1.5 billion.
SumUp was founded in 2012 to help small merchants start, run and grow their business through a fair, easy, and reliable payment solution. Today, its financial services Super App provides merchants with a free business account and card, an online store, and an invoicing solution, as well as in-person and remote payments seamlessly integrated with SumUp’s proprietary card terminals and point-of-sale registers. More than 4 million businesses ‒ from taxi drivers and coffee shop owners to large sports stadiums ‒ trust SumUp to deliver when it matters.
SumUp’s team of over 3,000 people supports merchants in 35 countries worldwide, with Peru (launched in June 2022) being the company’s most recent new market. In recent years, SumUp has also expanded into point-of-sale solutions, and with the acquisitions of Goodtill, Tiller, and Fivestars, the company is rapidly expanding its footprint within the restaurant and retail sectors.
Marc-Alexander Christ, SumUp co-founder and CFO, said of the round: “SumUp has received consistent support from the global investment community in our mission to help small merchants succeed. We stand by our merchants whatever the circumstance ‒ whether that be COVID or macroeconomic uncertainty. Our ability to organically grow 60+% through the challenges of recent years shows that we are there for merchants when they need support most. I am very proud of the team for completing a successful financing round in the current market with marquee investors – it’s indicative of our strength, execution, and potential. The funds we’ve raised will enable us to continue to build out our product ecosystem, expand into new markets, pursue value-adding acquisitions, and continue leveling the playing field for small merchants at a global scale.”
Darren Abrahamson, a Managing Director at Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, added: “SumUp has continually evolved to empower a growing and diverse field of small businesses with payment solutions and tools to efficiently connect with their everyday consumers. SumUp’s leadership team have led the company to sustained and accelerated growth through expansion to more than 30 countries where they have had a direct and positive impact on the small business ecosystem. We’re proud to contribute our deep fintech and payments experience to aid SumUp’s remarkable ability to push the boundaries and lead an incredibly competitive industry.”
Florian Schweitzer, Partner and Co-Founder of btov Partners, said: “Congratulations Marc-Alexander Christ and the rest of the dedicated SumUp team – it is a true privilege being your partner since the very beginning now. We are beyond the moon to be celebrating this important step with you and doubling down too. We welcome all new investors on board and are looking forward to continuing the journey, as SumUp remakes what a financial company can become through new ideas, new technologies, and a global vision.”
Comments Off on TextCortex raises $1.2 million to advance pioneering AI-based writing companion
We are elated to announce our latest investment in TextCortex, a Berlin-based startup offering AI-based writing companions for professional content-makers and copywriters, together with other established early-stage investors Speedinvest and Entrepreneur First, as well as prominent business angels Amar Shah (co-founder of AI company Wayve) and Holger Hengstler.
Utilizing its own proprietary natural language generation engine NeoCortex, the company is developing specialized algorithms that create authentic, high-quality natural sounding writing for content and copy marketing cases, such as blog posts, descriptions, emails and a host of other content needs.
New Generation of AI generating natural-sounding language to meet huge business demand
“New machine-learning models can achieve levels of creativity that approach humans, allowing AI to accelerate the creative process” says co-founder Dominik Lambersy. “Similar productivity gains we know from machine translation are now able to happen with machine creation, letting algorithms create first and humans improve second.”
TextCortex’s solution takes simple human-based instructions such as a single headline or a few bullet points as instructive guidance and creates authentic-sounding paragraphs and articles in the matter of a single click. The resulting output from NeoCortex can be tailored for specific purposes, such as SEO-optimized blog articles, outreach emails, social media posts, descriptions for products and services, websites, ad and marketing copy.
TextCortex’s technology is mainly accessible as a freemium browser extension in the Chrome web store, which integrates their AI technology into 20 different platforms covering major email, document, marketing, eCommerce, CMS and CRM software vendors. On those platforms, the TextCortex extension acts as a co-creation companion that helps users from the very beginning of the creation process.
Growing Market Opportunity for Effective AI-Based Solutions
As more businesses compete for the attention of online audiences, copy- and content-writing needs have exploded, with the company estimating that 200 million professionals around the globe are currently struggling to meet the rising demands. This leaves professionals as well as businesses looking for effective solutions to complement and accelerate human creativity for digital content.
Currently, 20% of their user base has an eCommerce affiliation, using their solution on platforms such as Shopify and WooCommerce. The company also sees broader interest from SMEs, freelancers, and students who are using it for creative writing, marketing, sales or communication.
Funding Will Be Used to Scale Core Team and Improve Technology
The round was led by renowned European VC firm btov Partners with the participation of Speedinvest, Entrepreneur First, and prominent business angels Amar Shah (co-founder of AI company Wayve) and Holger Hengstler.
“As an early investor in AI platforms such as DeepL, we were impressed by the depth, robustness and creativity of TextCortex’s solution. The market opportunity for leveraging natural language generation for marketing purposes is enormous, and Ceyhun and Dominik have the right technology and experience to execute on it.” Andreas Goeldi, Partner at btov Partners
The company, founded by serial entrepreneurs Ceyhun Derinbogaz and Dominik Lambersy, will use the investment to scale the core team, expand the user base for the chrome extension and further develop the capabilities of NeoCortex to become a more resource efficient European contender in the global race of large language AI.
Comments Off on Lynxcare secures €20 million series A funding round to unlock healthcare data in EU and USA
We are thrilled to announce our portfolio company LynxCare, the Belgian health data scale-up company, has raised a EUR20 million Series A funding round to strengthen its international position in the world of healthtech data and to drive the team’s growth.
At the same time, LynxCare announces a strategic partnership with PSIH Group, the market-leader in clinical business intelligence in France. Through this partnership, 66% of French hospital groups are gaining access to LynxCare’s software.
Hospitals have been digitizing for more than 15 years and today they have an enormous amount of data at their disposal. However, an estimated 90% of that data is not used, although it is very important for good patient care and scientific research. After all, this data shows the actual outcome of treatments, a reality that may differ from what clinical studies indicate. LynxCare enables hospitals to unlock their vast amounts of siloed, legacy data using AI (Artificial Intelligence) and NLP (Natural Language Processing), to gain insights in the real-world performance of treatments and fuel clinical insights for doctors and researchers to improve patient outcomes. Launched in 2015 by Georges De Feu (Pharm D.) and Dries Hens (M.D.), LynxCare’s clinical data platform is accelerating research at the leading Health Systems across Europe and North America.
Unlocking previously unavailable insights for scientific research
The Series A investment round follows major breakthroughs for LynxCare. In 2021, the company announced its collaboration with EHDEN, the program supported by the European Commission to promote access to health data for scientific research. Together with EHDEN, LynxCare supports the ethical use of data based on an open-source data model, allowing scientific research within a strict legal framework and respecting patients privacy at all times. In this context, LynxCare announced several research collaborations with Life Sciences companies i.e. AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer. The company started 2022 with key executive hires to further its global expansion, including Peter Rutjes (former GE Healthcare) as CCO, Pierre Boël (former Riaktr) as COO and Geert Van Gorp (former Nuance) as CTO.
By raising €20 million – the largest capital round ever in digital health in Belgium – the company can accelerate the international rollout of its platform. For LynxCare, the support of these investors is a testament of the significance of data in healthcare. “I’m proud that as a Belgo-European company, we’re taking the lead in unlocking healthcare data globally. I’m thankful to our dedicated team, and our CFO Kenny Willems in particular, for making this funding round possible,” says Georges De Feu, co-founder and CEO of LynxCare. “We’re at the start of a data revolution in healthcare, driven by the patient and his/her data. That’s where LynxCare wants to take the lead.”
Strategic partnership to boost internationalization
LynxCare is also forming a strategic partnership with PSIH. The French market-leader in clinical business intelligence will enable the roll-out of the LynxCare platform within their client base of over a thousand hospitals. “Our partnership with LynxCare will accelerate setup of hospital clinical data warehouses providing unmatched data for medical research, quality of care, patients pathway monitoring and analytics to improve treatments,” says Jean-Baptiste Angeloglou, General Director of PSIH group. “PSIH group will bring its deep expertise on structured data treatment and business intelligence, combined with LynxCare’s state of the art capabilities to structure electronic medical records with innovative NLP algorithms.”
Lead investor MTIP recognizes the untapped value of real-world data at the intersection of life sciences and healthcare. Dr. Christoph Kausch, Managing Partner at MTIP states: “The timing is perfect to partner with the European health data leader and drive forward the real- world data agenda to enable better healthcare outcomes.” Wanja Humanes, who joins the Board of Directors on behalf of MTIP continues: “We were very impressed by the level of interest that LynxCare is seeing from both well-established players in the healthcare and life sciences industries as they enable them to take advantage of healthcare data at scale. We are incredibly proud to be partnering with this outstanding company and its founders.”
Having previously invested in Seqone (genomic analysis for precision oncology) and Tilak (real-world data in opthalmogy), French-based investment partner Elaia believes that unlocking the potential of longitudinal healthcare data will be critical to solve better global health issues. “LynxCare perfectly fits our vision and is bringing the best solution for hospital data on the market,” states Elaia-partner Samantha Jerusalmy. “The two complementary co- founders, Georges De Feu and Dries Hens, have done a tremendous job building a solid top-management team around them, relying on their successful entrepreneurial background. We are looking forward to backing them in this new development phase.”
Comments Off on How budgeting can help startups survive the economic downturn
With the global economy heading for a downturn and public tech companies under valuation pressure, the knock-on effects for venture capital firms are rippling through the ecosystem.
That means VC funds are slowing down their deployment of capital, financing rounds are occurring less frequently, and valuations are falling with a worsening economic outlook.
Fund investors are expecting more discipline from VCs, and VCs are allocating more capital for their best-performing companies, leading to less fundraising opportunities for new entrants.
While it is important as a founder to maintain optimism and determination in tough times, it is also wise to prepare for a market environment that will be vastly different going forward than it has been for the last several years.
In essence – plan for survival, even if you are able to fundraise over the coming 24 months.
Plan, plan, and plan again
One important tool to ensure your company survives is a well-planned budget.
Your typical early-stage startup budget has more often been used as part of the investor sales pitch rather than a useful tool to mitigate risk and optimize opportunity.
But done right, a budget can have important strategic value, supporting you in evaluating new opportunities, hires, pivots, and other scenarios while ensuring financial discipline as well.
A well thought out budget has a multitude of benefits: first and foremost, it can serve as your company’s commercial roadmap. It is also one of the most crucial and simplest instruments of strategic alignment for all decision-makers and stakeholders of your company and can help crystallize your business goals and make them more transparent and clear to everyone.
Perhaps most importantly, it will ensure that you’ll have sufficient liquidity to fund your current and future plans, help identify and understand what’s working, as well as locate unnecessary cost drivers.
A good budget will help you to answer the following questions:
What do you want to achieve (top-line goals, margins, profit, etc.)?
When do you want to achieve it (monthly / quarterly / yearly development, seasonality, etc.)?
How will you achieve your goals (e.g. product releases, pricing decisions, hiring key personnel, increasing marketing spend, etc.)?
How will you finance it?
Game out multiple scenarios
In times of growing uncertainty, it’s a good idea to prepare multiple scenarios in your budgeting process. Make sure you can rapidly adapt your plans to changing market conditions and understand the mechanics in-depth. Apart from the baseline budget (i.e. what you think will happen), an upside and a downside scenario can help you understand the impact of sudden changes in your business and help you prepare and plan for the right kind of reaction.
Our portfolio company Layer has several great resources. Not only do they offer some great tools for budgeting across teams and platforms (such as in Excel and Google-Sheets) but have also created a lot of content around the topic.
A good starting point is the following 7-step list for the creation of a startup budget.
We also selected a few budgeting templates that we consider very helpful:
Layer’s Business Case Template, which will help you present your business plan to stakeholders and investors with the help of a detailed yet simple document that showcases your plan, how it will benefit the company, and whether it’s possible or not.
SaaS Plan Simple, is a simple template by Point Nine’s Christoph Janz designed for SaaS businesses that has all of the basics. Christoph has an updated version and some notes on it here.
A challenging economic environment is as much an opportunity as it is a threat. Some of the most successful companies in the world started during recessions, and many other top performers were forged in the adversity of a downturn. Right now, it’s more important than ever to have a firm understanding of the mechanics of your business and to develop a robust framework to help you deal with more risk than many are used to. A prepared mind is essential for weathering a storm, and your budget is the financial expression of preparation.
You can find guidance such as this, as well as many other similar documents about startup topics on our newly launched website btov Startup Resources.
Comments Off on How Startups Can Diversify Hiring and Be More Inclusive
Diverse teams bring a multitude of benefits. Research suggests that diversity can have a profound effect on an organization’s performance and development. Here are a few examples:
Stronger Financial Performance: Ethnically diverse companies are 35% more likely to financially outperform their industry peers.
Increased innovation and creativity: Inclusive employers are 1.7x more likely to be innovation leaders within their market.
Reduced employee turnover: Companies that hire employees with diverse backgrounds report a lower turnover rate than their non-diverse competitors.
Improved Company Attractiveness: Diversity and inclusion initiatives are among the top criteria influencing candidates’ decisions to accept a job offer. This is particularly true for female applicants.
Even though there are clear advantages, many founders struggle to source and screen diverse candidates effectively. That’s why we wanted to share some best practices for diverse and inclusive hiring.
Include a Diversity & Inclusion statement when you advertise new positions: Companies large and small are putting such statements onto their websites and integrating them into their recruiting materials. A company’s purpose is top of mind for many top talents, and communicating a commitment to D&I can have a profound effect on how prospective recruits view your company, especially high potentials from underrepresented communities.
Show your existing team diversity: Publicly promoting your team’s diversity can be very encouraging for potential applicants. And even if your team has not yet achieved its diversity goals, promoting your commitment can have a positive impact and signal to prospective candidates that the environment you want to create is inclusive
Use gender-neutral language: Without realising it, we all use language that is “gender-coded”. Specific words are regarded as more “masculine” (e.g. fearless), while others are more female-coded words (e.g. sensitive). Hence, the language used in your job ad will have a strong influence on the applications you’ll receive.
💡btov recommendation: Use tools like Textio or Gender Decoder to check the language within your company and especially in your job ads. When building a culture of belonging, every word counts!
Community and network
Set up a referral program with special incentivisation: Encourage your employees to refer people from their network that might be a good fit. There is no better advertising than happy employees. However, try to create incentives for recommending diverse candidates, such as a bonus system or additional bonus if a recruit is from an underrepresented community.
Invest in diverse communities: To meet new profiles, it can be beneficial to set up partnerships with diverse communities like 2hearts or Women Who Code. Especially engaging in events is useful to get out of your comfort zone and meet new people.
💡In our Startup Resources, we have gathered a wide range of (tech-based) communities focusing on diversity and inclusion.
Set up internal training programs: Finding STEM profiles from underrepresented communities is challenging. Hence, one opportunity to find smart and motivated people might be to set up a training program in e.g. software development to develop talent in-house.
Our portfolio company Ledgy set up an internal program called “Women in Web”. The program allows female applicants who don’t have a background in computer science to join the tech team at Ledgy and learn the essential skills needed. And they’ve been successful too, recently promoting two trainees to Software Engineers.
Recruiters: This is usually one of the most costly forms of recruiting, however, can also help with finding more diverse candidates.
💡btov recommendation: We can highly recommend Julia Dous who operates Grow Diverse, a Berlin-based boutique firm for talent advisory with special focus on diversity.
Performance-based recruiting vs. CV recruiting: CVs have several weaknesses: information is not accurate, some people oversell, while others undersell. Thus it can be useful to test candidates for job-specific skills.
💡btov recommendation: We can highly recommend TestGorillaas a software solution. Its screening tests identify the best candidates and make hiring decisions faster, easier, and bias-free.
Unconscious biases training for interviewers: It is essential to acknowledge that we all have unconscious biases. The trouble is that we often leave them unchecked and hence jump to stereotypes in decision-making. For obvious reasons, this has a highly negative impact on hiring decisions. Hence, we recommend our portfolio companies to regularly conduct unconscious bias training sessions. It does not always have to be a full training session, organized by a coach, however, it definitely does not hurt to have a discussion with your team around this topic once in a while. Our portfolio company, SumUp, for example, offers monthly training for their leadership teams to make them aware of inclusive hiring practices and biases.
Diversify your interview panel: Interviewers are the most important asset in the hiring process. They can help candidates to feel connected to a company and are critical for communicating the organization’s values, as well as what it means to belong. Hence, we highly recommend not always choosing the same people for interviews.
Use the Rooney Rule: The Rooney Rule, named for Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney, was introduced into the American National Football League and requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate when they have a head coaching vacancy. It has since been applied across many different industries.
💡btov recommendation: It might be useful to ask your investors to conduct certain interviews to give the interviewee a chance to talk to someone outside the company that still has very good but most likely different insights.
Making equitable offers: An offer is the starting point to ensuring equal and fair pay. If you want diverse talent (and most likely top talent in general) to join and stay at your company, you have to make a fair and equitable offer. Some of our portfolio companies, such as Blacklane, regularly checks its gender pay gap and conducts salary adjustments accordingly.
One tool to check the existing gender pay gap is Figures which provides a detailed view of your gender equality positioning. Another option is to recognize that not everyone in your organization is good at negotiating salaries. Hence, encouraging hiring managers to offer what the respective candidate deserves based on common benchmarks, even if this is higher than the proposed salary by the candidate themselves can be very beneficial. This makes sense over the long term anyway – comparable positions with vastly different salaries are not good for performance or group cohesion.
You can find guidance such as this, as well as many other similar documents about startup topics on our newly launched website btov Startup Resources.
Comments Off on btov leads latest investment round in climate-tech startup 1KOMMA5°
btov is excited to be leading the latest investment round in climate-tech startup 1KOMMA5°, together with eCapital and Eurazeo. Blue Elephant Ventures and Haniel also joined in the round with further support from Porsche Ventures.
1KOMMA5° wants to enable people in Europe to live a CO2-free life by providing the technology for a decentralized, clean energy supply, mobility and heat, as well as services that go beyond this. The strategy includes integrating SMEs in the fields of photovoltaics, electricity storage, charging infrastructure and heat pumps, in order to strengthen regional craftsmanship on the one hand and to enable high-quality consulting and installation at the customer’s site on the other.
“There’s no greater challenge of our present-day than getting renewable energy into more households and solving the last mile problem, and there’s no company better placed to accomplish this than Philipp Schröder and his team at 1KOMMA5°.” says CEO and btov partner Florian Schweitzer. “They have the right approach to making renewable energy accessible in a decentralized way and at scale.”
1KOMMA5° is also working on the networking and control of decentralized generation systems, with the aim of fully leveraging the potential of the decentralized energy transition. For this purpose, all installed systems are to become part of a central IOT system.
Read more about the news on here (German) and here (English).
Comments Off on ecolytiq raises €13,5 million in the fight against climate change
We are excited to announce our portfolio company and Sustainability-as-a-Service® solution provider ecolytiq has successfully closed their investment round, raising EUR 13,5 million from Visa, the auditing and consulting firm PwC Germany through a fund managed by Segenia Capital, VCM Global Asset Management and with our continuing participation.
Founded in 2020, ecolytiq works in partnership with Visa to offer banks and financial institutions the technology to educate and support consumers to manage their environmental impact. The solution leverages payment data in order to provide customers with data-driven CO2 analysis, context, engagement, offsetting, and sustainable investment advice.
In 2021, ecolytiq partnered with Visa on the launch of the Visa Eco Benefits bundle. The embedded carbon footprint tracker allows Visa issuers to add sustainability-focused benefits to existing Visa cardholders, enabling them to understand the impact their spending behaviour is having on the environment, as well as encourage and incentivise sustainable consumption behaviour.
Charlotte Hogg, CEO Visa Europe said: “A significant shift is needed towards more sustainable behaviours to meet the global net-zero goals by 2050. A key element to this change starts with providing an individual understanding of the environmental impact of their choices. ecolytiq enables banks and their customers to raise awareness of the positive impact they can make. The company has gone from strength to strength in the past two years and we’re proud to support the next stage of their growth.”
Clients worldwide trust the ecolytiq technology to encourage their retail banking customers to take effective climate action, helping them shape the kind of future they want. Early adopters include Rabobank, Tatra Bank, Tomorrow, Novus, as well as partners such as Worldline and Tink.
“We founded ecolytiq with the mission to not only educate consumers all over the world about their individual impact on the environment, but at the same time empower them to take action,” says ecolytiq co-founder David Lais. He adds: “We are elated to have found investors that not only support and believe in our vision, but also personally share those same values and beliefs in finance for a better future.”
The funds will be used to further expand the ecolytiq Sustainability-as-a-Service® solution, which is currently available in Europe, Canada, and the US, serving ecolytiq’s core mission to help banks all over the globe to empower their customers with much-needed transparency on individual environmental impact, while enabling new business models for the financial sector in alignment with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Comments Off on Predium raises €1.6 million for the first comprehensive ESG software solution of the real estate industry
Munich – The Proptech startup Predium has successfully closed its €1.6 million pre-seed funding round. Lead investors are btov Partners and 2bX. Other investors include business angels Maximilian Viessmann (Viessmann Group), Kristofer Fichtner (Thermondo and ecoworks) and Michael Wax (forto). The fresh money will be used for market development and further expansion of the team.
Predium is an all-in-one platform that brings together various process steps for sustainable real estate management in one place. This makes it easier for project developers, property managers and housing companies in particular to define ESG goals for properties, select measures and price the investment financially, practically at the push of a button. Previously, these complex process steps had to be performed individually in a time-consuming manner.
“Predium is the right solution for the real estate industry at the right time. The platform helps to turn the duty of sustainability into an opportunity and to manage real estate in such a way that it does not lose value,” explains investor Maximilian Viessmann, CEO of the Viessmann Group.
From greenwashing to competitive advantage: Implementing ESG correctly
Real estate is responsible for 30 percent of CO2 emissions in Germany and currently causes around 115 million tons of CO2. According to the German Federal Environment Agency, these are to be reduced to 72 million tons of CO2 by 2030. To achieve this, the renovation rate in existing buildings would have to increase from the current one percent to two percent.
Rising energy prices and legal requirements for the sustainable management of real estate are increasing the pressure on the real estate industry. For example, the German government recently agreed to split the CO2 price between tenants and landlords from January 1, 2023. Companies are now trying to quickly develop suitable ESG strategies. For many, this is a major challenge.
“Often, the current CO2 balance of the buildings is missing. In addition, companies cannot refurbish all buildings in the short term. The question arises as to which measures should be implemented at what point in time and what costs and savings these entail over time. The answer to this is currently an expensive and cumbersome mix of Excel and consulting projects. We are changing that with Predium,” Jens Thumm, founder and CEO of Predium Technology explains.
The Predium platform was developed together with Prof. Kunibert Lennerts from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) as the first all-in-one solution that determines ESG balances, proposes CO2 reduction measures and backs them up with an investment calculation. With these findings, Predium also helps companies to identify economic opportunities in the purchase and sale of real estate. This results in significant competitive advantages for Predium’s customers.
“Companies in the real estate industry will have to manage their assets more proactively in a sustainable manner in the future. Only those companies that achieve ambitious sustainability goals in an economically efficient and sensible manner will be able to survive in the market. This is where Predium comes in with its comprehensive solution,” says Jochen Gutbrod, Partner at btov Partners.
The Munich-based proptech startup Predium was founded in 2021 by Jens Thumm, Mohamed Ali Razouane and Maximilian Körner. Together with Prof. Kunibert Lennerts from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Predium has developed an all-in-one software solution that determines ESG balances of buildings, proposes measures for CO2 reduction and backs these up with an investment calculation. Predium thus enables real estate owners to reconcile sustainability and economic efficiency.
Comments Off on Nelly raises EUR4 million seed round to digitalize patient journey in German medical practices
Berlin-based Nelly has raised a EUR 4 million Seed round, launching a digital signature & billing tool developed specifically for medical practices. The software solution enables medical professionals to digitally record the patient journey as well as to automatically and as well as automatic and risk-free patient billing. The entire visit to the doctor’s office, from registration, medical history and signing of medical documents, through to payment, is fully mapped on the patient’s smartphone.
Comments Off on How to get startup fundraising right – the fundamentals
The European tech ecosystem is maturing at a breathtaking pace, with total capital investments eclipsing $100 billion and 98 new unicorns in 2021 according to the recent State of European Tech report. This is a testament to the talent and ambition of a new generation of founders, who want to create globally relevant companies and are willing to take the risks to get there.
Yet we still have a ways to go. The same report also found a glaring lack of diversity. And a recent study by our portfolio company, Ledgy, states that 40% of tech companies raised less money than they set out to. For founders who lack the network, not understanding the level of focus needed to do fundraising right can be a major disadvantage.
That was one of our prime motivations for creating this resource for first-time founders: we want to empower as many as possible to effectively manage the fundraising process, one of the most critical steps along the path to creating a successful company.
Approach fundraising with the right mindset
Too many founders approach fundraising with a transactional mindset: they mostly care about a high valuation and want to spend as little time as possible on fundraising, so running a “fast” process and getting to a term sheet quickly is often viewed as the best option.
While this is understandable, it neglects a crucial outcome of fundraising: your new investors will likely have board seats and will influence your company’s future in a fundamental way. They will likely stick around for many years too. While all may seem well and good during fundraising, do you really fully understand how they are going to react when things get tough? (And they always do, sooner or later.) Are they the partner you will truly need over the long term?
We’ve come up with some best-practices to fundraising and the mindset you’ll need:
Understand that you are not just raising money, you are “hiring” a long-term business partner — Depending on the context, your investors can help you in many ways with introductions, resources, industry expertise, and strategic advice. Think early about what you want from an investor.
Build relationships with relevant investors early — Even if you’re not fundraising or if they passed in previous rounds, update them every quarter or so (email is fine, a quick call is better) about your progress. They will get to know you, and you will understand their perspective better too.
Think about the outcome you want to achieve for your company — Are you going to be happy with a medium-sized exit after a few years? Or are you aiming for an IPO? Many scenarios along this spectrum are totally legitimate and common, as long as it works for the founding team, but these expectations will guide which kind of investor is best for you.
Level of industry expertise — this will determine the kind of strategic advice is that you can get.
Geographical footprint — Home market vs. pan-European or even global? If you have plans to scale internationally soon, this could be super relevant.
Size of firm and resources for support — Larger VC firms tend to have more resources and often can help with operational tasks such as recruiting. Smaller firms, on the other hand, are sometimes more specialized and work closely with their portfolio companies in very specific ways.
Size of fund and follow-on funds — Larger funds have more money to deploy and can often finance your startup throughout several rounds. However, their business model works only for very large outcomes, so they might put more pressure on their startups to grow very quickly, which changes your risk profile. Smaller, more specialized funds often work with larger firms to arrange follow-on rounds, so that can work as well. Make sure to always ask funds for their follow-on policy and reserves.
Size and depth of network — Most VC firms are well connected, but the size and particularly depth of their network differs. Some firms (such as btov Partners) work closely with a network of angel investors that have a background in many different industries. This provides a more readily available and trusted network than just having a lot of business acquaintances.
Stage fit — There is a trend towards VC firms investing in pretty much any round and at any ticket size, but in reality most are still specialized on certain stages and develop different capabilities and business models depending on this. A pre-seed specialist is very different from a Series A firm and a Series C+ growth fund. Make sure you understand the sweet spot of those investors and how that fits in with your fundraising strategy. For example, if you are raising a seed round and approach investors that specialize in later stages, you will hear a lot of “too early for us” declines and waste a lot of your time.
All of these dimensions are affected by trade-offs. Despite what some VCs will say, you won’t find an investor that is perfect across every dimension. And, of course, you might need to choose someone who is less than ideal.
It is, therefore, important to understand your preferences clearly and align the founding team and existing investors around this. Rank the dimensions above in a clear way and exclude dimensions that you don’t think are important for you.
Managing Your Investor Process
A helpful way to think about this process is to use a funnel just as you would for any marketing and sales process.
For a follow-on fundraise, the funnel stages should look something like this:
Prospect, no interaction yet (these would be firms you would like to talk to but haven’t yet
Initial informal calls (these are investors you had an initial discussion with, maybe based on their own outreach, but not pitched formally
Formal reach out (investors you reached out to with a clear “we’re fundraising” message)
First call (initial pitch, typically to 1–2 people at the VC firm)
Second call (often with additional people from the VC firm and from your side)
Initial due diligence (the VC firm will conduct reference calls etc.)
Investment Committee/Partner/Management Meeting (you present to the entire partnership, which is typically the final decision point)
Full due diligence (the VC firm analyzes your business and negotiates contracts)
Declined (the VC firm was not interested)
Not interested (you were not interested in working with the VC firm)
The best way to manage this funnel is to either use your existing CRM system or have a separate lightweight system, such as a Kanban board in a tool like Notion or Trello. This is also important as it gives transparency to your core team — and ideally also to your board — so that everybody is on the same page at any time.
Finding the right investor at the right stage is not trivial, so background research on your prospective investors is also crucial. You can use your Ideal Investor Profile as a guide and try to substantiate the most important points for every investor that goes onto your long list. Utilize resources like Crunchbase, Dealroom, and LinkedIn and get references and information from your own network as well. VCs will conduct due diligence and so should you.
When entering into a dialogue with a VC firm, make sure to ask for their decision process and timeline. It is important to be aware of these factors because you want to coordinate parallel processes with multiple firms in an effective manner.
Comments Off on Weaver raises $4 million in seed funding to transform home renovations
Weaver, the London-based marketplace startup connecting architects and contractors, has raised $4 million in a seed round to fuel expansion plans across metro areas in the UK.
The construction sector remains fragmented and disconnected from digital technology. Home renovations are no exception, with less than 1% of renovation bids being carried out online. Both households and architects struggle to find and discover the best contractors, which is a time-consuming process with few digital solutions on the market. This lack of transparency and access to choice also makes household renovation riskier than it should be, as there is little due diligence to investigate the track record of contractors under review, no recourse in cases of contractor bankruptcy, with many renovation projects lacking a bidding and proper contract process altogether. All of this adds up to a murky market environment in need of fixing.
Weaver has built a bidding platform for homeowners and architects to obtain contractor prices for their renovation projects. The London-based startup is the first to help architects and their homeowner clients reduce the risks associated with hiring a general contractor by developing software that does all the critical work from sourcing, pricing, contracting, and paying contractors over one interface.
Weaver’s extensive professional network and continuous vetting ensures that architects and their clients have access to the best contractor supply. The company’s software allows architects to optimise operations and communications, creating transparency along the entire contracting process without the hassle of trawling through emails, spreadsheets or WeTransfers. Weaver is also a go-to mediator in case things don’t work out as planned between a homeowner and general contractor.
Weaver’s proprietary construction data indicates increasing costs and a tightening market for homeowners renovating
The increasing need to improve and retrofit housing stock to tackle problems such as getting a study to work from home and climate change, of which UK homes contribute 40% of all emissions, are pushing ever more households to fund their home renovation. Roughly two-thirds of the housing stock across the UK is pre-1990 and will need some form of refurbishment every ten to twenty years. Post-pandemic rising construction costs are also forcing households to search for more cost-effective solutions.
Weaver’s marketplace has been live for over 4 years and in 2021 orders on the platform grew by 2.6 times over the previous year. The marketplace has processed over $120 million worth of construction to-date, at an average project value of $160 thousand (representing a full renovation of a Victorian house). Weaver owns the largest volume of aggregate home renovation data in the UK, from pricing, renovation types to contractor & architect numbers.
Experienced team and investors on board
The founding team of construction specialists and enterprise software veterans has over 50 years of combined experience:
Greg Keane, CEO is both a qualified Chartered Accountant and retrained as a RICS-qualified construction Surveyor, co-founding an architectural design practice before founding Weaver.
Dan Hardiker, CTO is a seasoned enterprise software veteran who built and successfully exited a company servicing the Atlassian software suite before co-founding Weaver.
Edward Robertshaw, CPO has over 20 years experience in software companies in Silicon Valley and the UK.
Linden Dover, COO has over 15 years experience in construction management and joined onefinestay from Series A to exit.
The round was led by European VC btov Partners with participation from FJ Labs, Enterprise Fund (a syndicate of former Atlassian & Docker executives), Ben Naftzger (former Atlassian marketing director), Justen Stepka (former product manager at Atlassian & Docker), Jens Schumacher (CPO of search.io and former head of product at Atlassian) and Dr. Stefan Heitmann (founder & CEO of MoneyPark and PriceHubble) amongst others. In total the company has raised $5.5 million, previously in pre-Seed from leading angel investors such as Greg Marsh (founder & CEO of Nous and onefinestay), Demetrios Zoppos (founder & COO/Chairman of Klevio and onefinestay), Natasha Foster (co-founder & COO of Paid), Dan Scott (former COO of Houst/Airsorted), Lorenzo Franzi (Partner at Global Founders Capital and former founder & MD of ZipJet).
Greg Keane,CEO and Founder, said: “We have been focused on building a platform for home renovation that not only serves an imminent need but will deliver even more value as we scale. Very few industries are as behind as the construction industry, and we are poised to become a game changer that can make home renovation much easier, less risky, and more cost-effective for contractors, architects and homeowners alike.”
Florian Schweitzer, CEO and Partner at btov, said: “We have been following the market for quite some time and have not seen any other player with comparable traction at this stage. The team is extremely focused and determined with deep talent to succeed. Hence, we are convinced that Weaver is on to something special and will have a massive impact on the market.”
Powered by encryption in-use technology called confidential computing, Decentriq’s data clean rooms ensure that no one but the data owner can access their raw data uploaded onto the platform – not other participants, Decentriq nor the cloud provider. This ensures that the data owner remains in full control of their data and thus completely preserving data privacy and adhering to the strictest regulatory standards such as GDPR.
Since 2021, Decentriq has been supporting pharmaceutical companies to access hospital data in Switzerland and Belgium in a secure and GDPR compliant manner, while 20 of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world have been collaborating in a Decentriq data clean room to perform benchmarking on themselves.
Decentriq is also enabling advertisers and publishers to combine their first-party data to build and activate precise audiences in a cookie-less world. Further, Decentriq’s data clean rooms have been enabling banks to update their mailing list with up-to-date addresses found in the postal companies’ database.
Decentriq will use the investment to further accelerate the development and commercialization of its data clean rooms based on AI, state-of-the-art encryption and privacy-enhancing technologies (PET).
The digitization of personalized advice is lagging in the financial sector. Among neobanks, robo-advisors, and investment apps, the Berlin-based FinTech, Forget Finance, positions itself as the first finance app to motivate young people to save and invest using online coaching that mixes AI and real financial experts. Forget has collected 3.5 million euros from well-known venture capital funds for developing a holistic, all-in-one platform for personal finance. The round is spearheaded by the VCs btov Partners and UVC Partners.
“The two founders of Forget impressed us immediately with their vision of adapting financial advice and personal banking to the needs of a digitally savvy generation. Although stock investing with Trade Republic and Co. has reached mobile phones, many young people lack financial education and guidance. This is where Forget Finance, with the first personalized financial platform to fit the lifestyle of young people, comes in.” – Luca Martinelli, btov Partners
A fresh take on financial advice
For the first time, Millennials can plan their financial goals using just the Forget Finance app and invest without any prior knowledge, while automating their finances for the long term. Users have direct access to a new type of hybrid financial advice: the AI bot, Coin, is available to them 24/7, providing personalized insights into their financial plans via the app. Anyone who would like additional advice from human experts can use a WhatsApp chat to discuss their individual situation with Forget’s own financial coaches. Forget’s goal is to motivate those people who have little interest in financial topics and who are overwhelmed by the massive growth in financial content on the Internet to start saving and investing. In keeping with the trend towards maximum convenience, the Forget app simplifies the user’s entire financial life through smart automation and integration of their existing bank account.
“In our first phase of business, we showed how the financial advice of tomorrow will look. In the second, we are building the digital bank of the future which offers individual guidance, simplifies, and automates our users’ entire financial lives. We are very pleased to have btov Partners and UVC Partners on board as key investors on our mission.” – Konradin Breyer, Co-founder & CEO
The bank of tomorrow: a holistic financial platform
Following the development of the product last year in collaboration with 10,000 Millennials, Forget was able to engage several thousand people to start using the app as soon as it was launched in early 2022. With the fresh capital, the two founders Konradin Breyer and Jurek Herwig want to expand Forget Finance over the next five years into a holistic all-in-one platform for personal finance. This year, in addition to the already existing sustainable wealth management, other financial products such as insurance, crypto, and donations will be integrated into the app’s hybrid coaching layer. The team that currently comprises 10 people will triple over the next 12 months. Forget Finance works with more than 80 partners, including digital asset managers, banks, tax software, and insurance companies.
btov Partners is a European venture capital firm focusing on digital technologies since 2000. btov’s network of entrepreneurial private investors provides it with unique expertise and supports the firm’s passion for discovering non-obvious businesses and founders. The Digital Tech team focuses on startups primarily in AI, fintech, SaaS, logistics, digital health, and marketplaces. With offices in Berlin, Munich, St. Gallen and Luxembourg, the company manages assets of EUR 510 million. The most well-known investments include SumUp, DeepL, Raisin DS, Facebook, Foodspring, ORCAM, Volocopter and XING.
Edurino, an EdTech startup offering a hybrid learning platform with an app and toy figurines for children, has raised EUR 3.35 million in a seed round from experienced investors, led bybtov Partners. Other backers include experienced VCs such as Emerge Education and Fabian and Ferry Heilemann through Pirate Impact.
Hybrid digital learning
With the aid of an ergonomic stylus, a toy fox named Mika, and a learning app, this hybrid approach to reading and writing was designed for preschoolers aged 4 and above. While children learn through play, parents can track their children’s learning progress in a separate area and regulate screen time individually. The app independently announces the end of play time and switches off when the screen time has elapsed. The learning journey thereby adapts individually to the developmental stage of the child.
“We want to lay the foundation for responsible digital literacy at an early age. We were amazed at how few good digital products there were on the market. Together with our strong investor team from the areas of gaming, education & tech, we want to revolutionize the digital education industry,” says Irene Klemm, Co-Founder of Edurino.
With the outbreak of the global pandemic, the founders, who met at the Boston Consulting Group, decided the time was right to start making interactive products targeted specifically to the needs of children.
“We want to create products children will love. You have to look at the world from a different perspective and understand kids’ sense of play. We have worked with over 20 kindergartens and seen how well Edurino can be integrated into a child’s daily routine. Our crowdfunding campaign went 60% beyond our target, so we see confirmation from parents that our hybrid approach is on the right track,” says Franziska Meyer, co-founder of Edurino.
Experienced investors on board
The group of investors is also convinced by the founders’ hybrid approach:
“In order for our children to find their way in the digital world of tomorrow, we need to teach them digital skills. And that’s exactly what Edurino is training them to do.” – Verena Pausder, education expert and investor.
“As both a father and founder of a company in the mobile gaming sector, I believe in the connection between learning and games. In particular, I’m excited about combining digital and analog forms of play to teach young children important skills in new ways.” – Jens Begemann, Wooga founder, gaming expert and business angel.
“Our analysis shows that the pandemic has highlighted a deficit in the education landscape and that Edurino and the team around Irene and Franziska are ideally suited to fill this gap.” – Luca Martinelli, btov Partners.
With the fresh financing, the two founders plan to bring more figurines to market and develop more content, such as numeracy. The goal of the company is to become a holistic learning system for preschool children, then older school children and integrate learning games for creativity, English as a second language, and the basics of coding into its learning platform. In order to scale product development, they plan to triple their staff from ten to thirty people over the next 12 months. The company also aims to launch their products in the retail sector this year as well.
btov Partners is a European venture capital firm focusing on digital technologies since 2000. btov’s network of entrepreneurial private investors provides it with unique expertise and supports the firm’s passion for discovering non-obvious businesses and founders. The Digital Tech team focuses on startups primarily in AI, fintech, SaaS, logistics and digital marketplaces. With offices in Berlin, Munich, St. Gallen and Luxembourg, the company manages assets of EUR 510 million. The most well-known investments include SumUp, DeepL, Raisin DS, Facebook, Foodspring, ORCAM, Raisin, Volocopter and XING.
Comments Off on Kubermatic raises $8.3M seed round to turbocharge cloud automation
We are thrilled to back Kubermatic together with Nauta Capital in a $8.3M seed round. The Hamburg-based startup founded by Sebastian Scheele and Julian Hansert provides a powerful platform that lets enterprise customers easily manage complex Kubernetes setups — for multi-cloud, hybrid and edge environments.
The growing need for flexibility and speed in the cloud has created a whole range of software infrastructure solutions that enable cloud native applications to scale rapidly. The containerization of software deployment is a prime example. Docker led the way with containerization on the application level, which has been elevated to enterprise-level scalability with Kubernetes, the container orchestration software originally created by Google.
Kubernetes is incredibly powerful, but it is also complex and hard to manage. This is particularly true for the multi-cloud and hybrid infrastructure setups used by an increasing number of enterprise users.
Kubermatic is the only fully independent solution in the market, giving its customers freedom from vendor lock-in.
Kubermatic Kubernetes Platform’s many features enable its customers to speed up cloud native adoption, boost devops workflows with multi-cloud self-service, automate operations and compliance, and provide unparalleled tooling flexibility.
From the very beginning, Kubermatic has been committed to the open source philosophy behind Kubernetes.
Sebastian and Julian have bootstrapped their company for most of its existence, a testament not only to their talent and dedication as entrepreneurs, but also the high degree of product-market fit they found early on as well. From the very first conversation we were impressed by their unique expertise, radical customer orientation, and entrepreneurial creativity.
We at btov Partners are very happy to join with an investment of $2.3M, extending a previous investment led by Nauta Capital.
Comments Off on btov CFO Sven Eppert is named partner
We are pleased to announce that our Chief Financial Officer, Sven Eppert, has also been named partner at btov. Originally from the Ruhrgebiet in Germany, Sven first joined btov back in 2004, where he helped lead the transition of the firm from a pure business angel platform to establishing its first venture capital fund.
“I had always been interested in entrepreneurship and venture capital, even writing my university thesis on the subject, which, at the time, wasn’t something many people did or took an interest in,” according to Sven. Coming to btov straight after his business degree at the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt, Sven was part of the team investing in the digital tech segment, including SumUp, DeepL, Blacklane, and Finanzcheck, as well as numerous trade sales and other transactions across the seed and growth stage.
“Sven has been with us from a very early stage in our journey, and we are very pleased to welcome him into the circle of partners. Sven’s fingerprint on our firm has been and will continue to be formative,” says btov Founder and CEO Florian Schweitzer. Sven left btov in 2013 to focus on developing tech ventures and business development for a number of Swiss companies, including DKB Household, SwissCommerce, and as a Partner at i5invest, where he focused on investments in enterprise software, digital marketing, and education.
In 2019 btov welcomed Sven back to the group, and he took over responsibility for the Managed Partner Fund for a Swiss family Office, in which he manages 40+ portfolio companies across life sciences and digital technology.
“I’ve always been interested in the outer boundaries of technology, whether it’s at the molecular level with foodtech or in the other direction towards outer space.” As CFO of btov, Sven has been a driving force in the strategic development of the firm and helping scale processes across the organization.
Sven has an abiding interest and passion for design, especially furniture design, and has sat on numerous advisory boards.
“I’ve accompanied companies from the smallest seed round to scaling their product around the globe. I’m always fascinated by the transformation. It never gets old, because every company and every market is different,” according to Sven.
Sven will continue with his role as CFO, in addition to being a partner in the firm.
About btov Partners
btov Partners is a European venture capital firm, managing institutional funds, partner funds and direct investments of angel investors. In 2021 btov has invested EUR 100m in startups across Europe.
btov has backed 100+ companies around the globe including dataArtisans, decentriq, DeepL, Finanzcheck, foodspring, Layer, Raisin, SevenSenders, and SumUp.
Comments Off on How to get ESG right: A best practice guide for early-stage startups
Today “ESG” is on everyone’s agenda, even startups. Expectations are rising across society to get the Environmental, Social, and Governmental impact of doing business right. Investors are especially keen to make good on their responsibility to all stakeholders, and the venture capital world is no exception, so across the ecosystem there’s increasing pressure to anchor the goals of ESG into the operations of even the earliest-stage startup.
But how can early-stage startups put ESG into practice? For many founders, ESG is still very abstract, and there are so many definitions of it to make most heads spin. Yet the future will no doubt include regulatory and reporting requirements around ESG, so founders need to get their minds around the topic early and come up with a game plan.
That’s why we’ve been collecting some best practices across our portfolio companies that demonstrate what concrete processes and measures look like in the real world. While this is only one small step towards making ESG more accessible, we want to go beyond the buzzwords and bring some tangibility and color to this important topic.
💡 The E in ESG stand for Environment and includes the energy your company consumes and the waste it produces. Every company uses energy and other resources and produces waste — thus every company has an impact on the environment.
Ledgy: Ledgy just adopted company wide climate principles (see here for Ledgy’s commitment). These principles include, for example, a clear and transparent travel policy, an internal Climate Officer, vegan only food options at team offsites, and sustainable pension fund opportunities for employees.
ecolytiq: While ecolytiq’s core business model is built on driving sustainability and climate action in the finance industry, setting a non-financial north star metric may benefit any business. Assessing your business model from an external perspective, capturing the long-lasting changes you may have on our planet and society and deriving respective quantitative impact indicators that go beyond revenue maximization may help you to track and challenge your company’s broader impact. Looking at ecolytiq, for example, the company aims to reach 100m consumers by 2025, which relates to more than 100m tons saved in CO2 per year.
SumUp: Our portfolio company SumUp just joined a great initiative called 1% for the planet — through which the company has pledged 1% of its revenue to environmental non-profits. Even if you are an early-stage startup and generating little in revenues, this is an inspiring outlook on what you can achieve and contribute with your company once you have grown.
💡 btov Recommendation: To kickstart your climate action journey, we can highly recommend joining Leaders for Climate Action (LFCA): a global, entrepreneurial community with the aim to turn business leaders into climate leaders, helping to transform their organization. — All members aim to make their companies more climate-friendly and reduce their carbon emissions (we at btov are also part of this community 💪🏼). With the help of LFCA’s climate action platform, companies can begin the emission management process: starting with measuring their footprint and identifying their biggest source of emission, then continuously reducing and compensating for the rest.
💡 S stands for Social criteria, addressing organizational policies and practices your company has with regards to your employees, customers, suppliers and the communities where you operate.
Procuros: To motivate its team to think and engage outside of one’s own social circle, Procuros grants all employees annual free time allocated for volunteering or to develop their own social projects. If you are looking for a good cause to support, Procuros’ co-founder Patrick founded “doin good”, a non-profit organization that provides education programs for underserved communities.
Ledgy: Another dimension of Social includes team diversity — when it comes to gender diversity (which is not the only diversity dimension you should pay attention to) many of our portfolio companies struggle to increase diversity especially within tech teams. That’s why Ledgy decided to set up a program called “Women in Web”. The program allows female applicants who don’t have a background in computer science to join the tech team at Ledgy and learn the essential skills needed. And they’ve been successful too, recently promoting two trainees to Software Engineers.
Blacklane: Blacklane introduced a program called lottery lunch, where employees from different departments are randomly matched to go out for lunch once a month. A further initiative is called Language Tandem, which connects non-native speakers with native speakers.
💡 btov Recommendation: Dedicate enough attention and resources to building up a healthy team culture. Even if your day is busy and growing your customer base seems to be more important, never underestimate the importance of your team culture and respective interdependencies to motivation and output. Especially in times of remote work, fostering a good team culture isn’t just nice to have, it has become mission-critical. It will not only help you to attract and retain talent but also has a great impact on productivity and working output.
Some other helpful resources from our portfolio companies include
💡 G stands for Governance and refers to the internal systems of practices and procedures that deal with leadership, stakeholder expectations, achieving a company’s short-, mid and long-term goals, as well as audits and internal controls.
Sharpist: One important part of Governance includes leadership. First time founders are especially vulnerable. It’s important to acknowledge we are not born with leadership skills, we need to learn and dedicate some extra time toward (this applies to serial entrepreneurs as well). This is where Sharpist comes in — while the company has traditionally served big enterprises, its new program called Sharpist Spark is specifically designed to provide coaching to founders. And leadership skills are not only important for founders, but for any employee at your company with aspirations for personal and professional growth. Thus, Sharpist offers coaching to any team member as part of its employee benefit package (and of course, coaching is not just about leadership skills but also about personal and professional development in general).
Ledgy: To foster a culture of transparency and open communication, Ledgy introduced a monthly “Ask Me Anything” session. Within this session all of the three co-founders are present and employees get the chance to ask them about any current issue. These sessions are especially helpful when strategic decisions have been made (e.g. changes in the team structure).
btov: We recently appointed Phyllis Studerus, a well trusted member of our angel network, as Chief Empowerment Officer. The goal is to provide an external point of contact for all of our employees to talk about any confidential issues. Alternatively, we also see more companies introducing an incident response form to address these challenges.
finway: Defining a clear vision and mission statement is very important. To effectively communicate it is even more important. Jennifer Dussileck, CEO and co-founder of finway, hosts an onboarding session every month, during which she explains the problem they address with finway, how they solve it, what their mission is, what values they live by and what they have achieved so far.
💡 btov Recommendation: A proven framework for setting company-wide goals in a transparent, collaborative and measurable way are OKRs (Objectives and Key Results). OKRs allow you to track progress, create alignment, and encourage engagement around measurable goals. We use OKRs ourselves at btov, we can highly recommend this framework in order to make a company’s mission and vision tangible for your team and to get everyone on the same page.
To all founders: we are currently creating an ESG best practices library, so we would love to hear about what your company is doing! Feel free to reach out to Johanna Junkermann (email@example.com) or Anna Bosch (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.