YPlan has raised successful Seed and Series A rounds in the recent past and I have been promising to write a dedicated post about the secrets behind fundraising for a while. It’s been a crazy period: just in the last couple of months I have met our investors in Boston, shook hands with a couple of partners in Los Angeles, interviewed new hire candidates in San Francisco (coming soon!), picked up the Apps World award for “Best Entertainment App,” and presented YPlan at a Goldman Sachs Private Internet Company Conference in Las Vegas – not to mention the dozens of return flights in between. I’ve finally managed to spare a minute, so I’d like to share my experiences based on the two YPlan fundraising rounds over the past 18 months ($1.7m Seed round in July 2012 and the $12m Series A round in June 2013). Split up into two posts, part one’s main focus will be: fundraising 101 – the basics. So here it goes, in no particular order. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m on yet another crammed economy red-eye flight going from our New York office to attend an industry event in London. While the food is, as usual, top quality airline gourmet and my neighbor is reading a newspaper with the light blasting right at my face, I thought I’d put a few lines down in retrospective. It’s hard to believe that in less than two years we grew out of the white board in my dining room into a business employing a 50-strong team of professionals. We have two great offices in London and New York, with many more in the cards.
We called this adventure YPlan about a year ago and could barely dream of taking off with such accelerating speed.
Dates sometimes have a way of being funny. On a sunny day of July 18, 2011, I resigned from my position as a Vice President at Summit Partners, a venture capital and growth equity fund here in London. We grabbed some beers with ex co-workers, said good bye, and I jumped off the cliff to become an entrepreneur. On July 18, 2012, precisely a year later, we have closed the seed round of funding for our startup, YPlan (yes – the curtain has opened up on what we’re up to!) from an A-list of investors, and started preparing our business for a serious take-off. Having gone through a roller-coaster of a lifetime, I wanted to share how our timeline looked like, and why the decision to leave my cushy job has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I’ve participated in Seedhack FinTech this weekend, together with Gil (@Don_Gil) and Reza (@rjzzleep) we won the best demo award. We wanted to own church donation market (~$50bn size in US alone). To achieve this we’ve created HolyLight – a platform for churches to manage their church goers & donors and a mobile app which enables to donate online, on-the-go, with social gamification elements to increase donations.
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As you will know from the previous blog post, we have spent the end of November and most of December in Silicon Valley meeting with dozens of entrepreneurs, VCs and angels. While we were working through a number of business ideas at the same time, the key for us was to figure out whether to base our startup there or in London. As expected, the findings were not straightforward with both places having their distinct benefits for startups. What we decided to do as a result of all the learning is the following: start the alpha / beta testing in London, and then depending on traction we may need to transplant the business to the Valley. This is what made us decide this way. Read the rest of this entry »
Starting a new business is exciting in many ways, one of them being that you get to chose what technologies and tools you want to use. While we’re at a very early stage, this post will discuss the tools we’ve been using from day one to help me and Rytis communicate, share and experiment with our thoughts and ideas. For technical tools, programming languages, databases, web-frameworks and so on please follow this blog, there will be future posts once I stop playing with everything I can get my hands on and get into proper development.
Freemium is not a new business concept. Microsoft has been allowing piracy or being purposefully lax about it since the day it started, thus effectively adopting one of the first large scale freemium models (in MSFT‘s case, the premium feature that only legal / paying users received was support). While still at Summit Partners, I helped source, execute and manage the firm’s $100m investment in AVAST Software, a freemium anti-virus vendor based in the Czech Republic with 187m users at the time of writing (vs only 600m home PCs in the world…) Ever since, I became convinced that freemium is the business model of this decade. Here is why. Read the rest of this entry »