Sunday, April 14, 2019

3 things needed to scale a business

Great Insite by Michael Derin 
1. A leadership team
2. An ability to pivot
3. Ability to outsource

It is estimated that 70% of startups struggle with scaling. Getting a product to market and then gaining some initial interest and excitement is hard work, but it really is just the beginning. Once you have a working business and the wheels are churning then you need to be able to scale that business in order to maintain the future of the business.

Here are our top three areas we feel that many CEO’s miss and need to be doing in order to scale successfully.

1. Redefine your CEO role - your company can't rely only on you

While your company may need a CEO, and you may need something to do, you want to design the company to ensure that you aren’t integral. You want to build a leadership team that can function and make decisions without you. This can also help the business be more agile as it removes multiple layers of approval and red tape. If you are controlling everything and need to sign off and approve everything it can significantly delay your progress and speed.

You will find that by empowering your team to make decisions and be agile they will take more responsibility and you will build a strong culture of performance and accountability.

2. Pivot quickly

You might have launched with a great product that is selling well and have a clear direction that you feel you are heading in. However, changes in technology, environment and the market can mean that you need to change direction quickly.

You may see a new opportunity that wasn’t originally in your plan, but could be even more successful that your current direction. In this case you need to be able to pivot and change direction quickly. Agility in business can prevent you from stubbornly continuing down a path just because that is what you planned. You need to be open to change, and being able to do it quickly.

3. Outsource

There are some functions in your business that aren’t critical to the product and customer experience but are important for long term success of your business. We often find that as businesses grow they have a growing need for HR, legal and financial support. These are often lumped into a pile of stuff that you will ‘get to’, but often they aren’t dealt with as quickly as they could and should be.

Outsourcing these areas can ensure that you are getting expert support for the business whilst you personally focus on more critical areas.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Naspers scores a luck with tencent

Naspers is looking to list in Europe for $140b. It’s stake in Chinas tencent is $134b, which it acquired in 2001 for $32million
 It generated $16b in sales - with most of the income coming from tencent. 

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The early bird gets the worm - but the second mouse gets the cheese

It’s about timing.....

In 1999, sought to capitalize on widespread internet access and a $23B pet supplies market by selling products directly to consumers.

They raised $50M funding - to be spent on marketing  - By the time went public with an $82.5M IPO in February 2000, it had lost $61.8M on $5.8M in sales. had 570,000 customers, with its costly marketing operation spending about $158 for every new customer .

And then the tech boom bible burst and boom - that saw them as well as Value America,, and die and liquidate! 

History would prove that its value proposition — selling pet supplies to consumers online — was ahead of its time.

The next decade saw the cost of ecommerce and digital marketing reduce dramatically, and people with access to broadband jump from 48m to 232m. 

With lower costs and a bigger market to sell to, new online pet supplies retailers emerged - and, for example, was acquired by PetSmart for $3.35B in 2017. It was the biggest e-commerce acquisition in history.

The lesson ....

“The early bird gets the worm - but the second mouse gets the cheese! “ 

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

14 stats you need to know about the Forbes 2018 Billionaire List

  1.  2,153 billionaires, 
  2. 55 fewer than a year ago. 
  3. 994, or 46%, are poorer (relatively speaking) than they were last year. 
  4. Total wealth  $8.7 trillion, down $400 billion from 2018. 
  5. 11% of last year’s list members, or 247 people, dropped out of the ranks, the most since 2009 at the height of the global financial crisis.
  6. 195 new billionaires joine the ranks 
  7. Asia-Pacific was hardest hit, with 60 fewer 10-figure fortunes. That dip was led by China, which has 49 fewer billionaires than a year ago. 
  8. Europe, the Middle East and Africa also lost ground. The Americas, driven by a resurgent Brazil, and the U.S. are the only two regions that have more billionaires than they did a year ago. 
  9. There are  607 billionaires in the U.S. That includes 14 of the world’s 20 richest.
  10. Jeff Bezos is again number 1 in the world, followed by Bill Gates at number 2.
  11. The richest newcomer is Colin Huang, the founder of Chinese discount web retailer Pinduoduo, which went public in the U.S. in July. 
  12. Other notable new entrants include Spotify’s Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon; Juul Labs' James Monsees and Adam Bowen, Kind Bar’s Daniel Lubetzky and cosmetics wunderkind Kylie Jenner, who is the world’s youngest billionaire at age 21.
  13. 7 of the top 20 billionaires have come from technology  - Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Snapchat, Stripe, Tencent 
  14. in 2004 there were 497  billionaires and in 2019 there were 2153 billionaires  

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Early-Stage VC Firm Sorenson Ventures Closes Inaugural Fund at $110M

Early-Stage VC Firm Sorenson Ventures Closes Inaugural Fund at $110M

Sorenson Ventures, an offshoot of Utah private equity firm Sorenson Capital, announced today it has closed its first fund with more than $110 million to invest in early-stage security and enterprise software companies.

The young venture capital firm was formed in 2017 by Sorenson Capital, which recruited former Intel Capital executive Ken Elefant as managing director. Elefant shares leadership of the VC spinout with Sorenson Capital’s managing director Rob Rueckert. The pairing was a reunion for Elefant and Rueckert, both former Kauffman Fellows who were also colleagues at Intel Capital.

Menlo Park, CA-based Sorenson Ventures draws on the expertise of Sorenson Capital while strengthening the larger firm’s ties to early-stage entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley. The Salt Lake City-based private equity firm, founded in 2002, focuses on the other end of the investment spectrum—growth equity and buyouts. It has more than $1 billion under management.

Sorenson Ventures raised its inaugural fund from investors that included an insurance company, foundations, endowments, corporate investors, family offices, and individuals, including managing directors at Sorenson Capital. Since 2017, when the VC firm raised its first funding, it has backed eight early-stage companies, ranging from cybersecurity startup CyCognito to machine-learning business Paperspace.

The firm now plans to expand its stable of startups to include as many as 20 companies. It has led most of the investments in its portfolio companies, and has also joined in syndicated fundraising rounds with established VC firms including Lightspeed Venture Partners, Battery Ventures, and Accel.

“We are product-first investors and are attracted to entrepreneurs who use their engineering vision to change markets, which you will see evidence of in our first eight investments,” Elefant (pictured) said in the announcement of the fund’s closing.

Palo Alto, CA-based CyCognito is the best illustration of those traits, Rueckert wrote in an e-mail to Xconomy.

“CyCognito uses a combination of deep domain expertise and engineering talent to enable cyber teams to understand and prioritize their blind spots,” Rueckert says. “This is a very complex problem that is being solved by technologies that haven’t been available in prior generations of solutions.”

Photo of Ken Elefant courtesy of Sorenson Ventures

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Rapyd raises $40m from Stripe, a fellow portfolio company of Entree Capital

Rapyd, a fintech founded by CEO Arik Shtilman 4 years ago has raised $40 million in series B funding from Stripe and General Catalyst and others , to further expand its operations worldwide.

What Rapyd does

Rapyd helps companies and merchants of all sizes integrate a range of payment services into their platforms, and operates on a fintech-as-a-service model. It offers a technology stack that provides support for financial, payment, mobile wallet, and money movement services through a single API.

The Rapyd solution provides  a single point of reconciliation and settlement of all funds across 65 currencies and the ability to pay out in over 170 countries. 

Using Rapyd’s technology, a company can enable support for payments in over 100 countries, via more than 500 locally supported payment methods — such as direct deposits to banks, local cards, and mobile wallets —

What the money will be used for 

The Capital is going to be used to expand to more markets across the Americas and Europe, Middle East, Africa (EMEA) and Asia-Pacific (APAC) regions and to further develop its infrastructure.

The money  

Stripe CEO Patrick Collison sees a big demand for Rapyd’s services. “The challenge of enabling local payments on a global scale is critical for the continued growth in worldwide commerce. We are excited by Rapyd’s vision and believe they are solving a significant challenge that will help to increase the GDP of the internet,” 

Both Stripe and Rapyd are portfolio companies of Entrée Capital 

Founded in 2009, Entrée manages more than $300 million across a number of funds and its portfolio includes  the likes of SnapChat, Stripe, Deliveroo, Prospa,, Riskified, HouseParty, Stash, PillPack, SeatGeek, Coupang and over 50 other investments. 

Managing partner of the fund Avi Eyal picked fintech as a growth industry in 2015! Was definitely the right call!