“I don’t want to speak with you, you are just an Associate” 

A big part of my job is to reach out to and meet with CEOs and management teams of fast growing European technology companies. Since we are looking for later stage investments with our fund, the companies we typically engage with have already achieved a nice size of around 50-100 employees and a few millions in revenues.

Within every VC fund, an entrepreneur will occasionally decline a meeting, unless a Partner of the Fund joins. The typical message is something like “we would highly appreciate if one of your partners would join the meeting, since we are making time available to speak with your firm”. Although I understand the reasoning in the entrepreneur’s mind, I believe this shows a lack of understanding of how Venture Capital firms operate.

VC funds are small organisations, typically employing less than 10 people. An average VC fund will have 3-5 partners, 0-2 senior investment professionals (Principal, Investment Manager) 2-3 junior investment professionals (Associate, Analyst), 1-2 back office employees and maybe an intern. Partners and (possibly but not necessarily) Principals can champion an investment and write a check. Everybody else is pretty much supporting them in the investment process. Therefore (the reasoning in the entrepreneur’s mind goes) why would an entrepreneur agree to speak with someone who cannot actually write a check?

Although there are numerous reasons, the 3 most important in my view are:

  1. This is simply how things work. Associates are highly involved in the investment process. A VC fund hires Associates (perhaps also analysts) amongst others to identify interesting companies and take the first meetings. It is part of the job description. And the reason is quite simple; ensuring that Partners can spend quality time with a limited number of companies, only after the first filtering mechanism. An Associate would see hundreds of businesses every year. This gives a very good understanding of what the fund is looking for, the industry and how the business compares with its peers. At least in the fund I am working at, Associates are highly involved in the entire investment process, from the first day until the moment money is in the bank. Chances are that before the investment is completed, you will spend more time with them than with the Partner anyhow.
  2. Their opinion matters. VCs are small organisations.  Every Monday, in every fund, all team members meet and discuss current opportunities. In a 5-10 member team, everyone who is an ally to your company is a significant asset, regardless of how junior he/she is. An Associate who is passionate about a deal will spend more time than the average Partner on the company and the industry and will fight hard to convince the other team members. Every entrepreneur should be seeking an enthusiastic supporter of his company in the VC meeting, even if it is the intern who joined the fund 1 month ago! Although they do not have decisive power, the opinion of an Associate highly matters in a process.
  3. VCs invest in people. This is the most important criterion in these investments. An entrepreneur who does not treat junior people with respect gives a bad signal of his managerial qualities.

My advice towards every entrepreneur (and advisor) is very clear. If you have a personal relationship (or a very good connection) with a Partner in a VC firm, by all means try and have a meeting with a Partner. But don’t be disappointed if you are referred to having a meeting or call with an Associate. And in any case I would strongly argue against rejecting a meeting with a junior member of a VC fund and demanding a Partner’s presence. You show a bad understanding of the VC industry, possibly lose the opportunity of an enthusiastic supporter and risk giving a bad signal on your ability to handle people.

8 + 2 tips for startup and scaleup financial models…

The equivalent of clean code to financials

This post originally appeared at VEECEE.co. If you like this post follow me on Twitter

One of the key things that investors would ask entrepreneurs is a financial model. Typically, as a company moves from seed to Series A and B, the importance of the financial model to the investors increases. It is my strong personal belief that a financial model is a must have for any venture. First and foremost for the management team itself. And secondly for sharing with potential investors. It depicts the way the management thinks about the business and it can reveal the flows of the business model.

Many entrepreneurs believe that building a financial model is not within the core skills an entrepreneur must posses. I disagree. Understanding the basic principles of finance is of outmost importance if you want to lead a business. And being able to put this in a simple, clean way in an excel file is a matter of always delivering good quality.

Lets forget about financial models for a minute and think about computer code. How often are you frustrated when browsing at somebody else’s code that looks like spaghetti code? Or a code without any comments, with bad indentation and extremely large functions? Good developers are writing code that can be easily extended by another developer, is pleasant to read, has minimal dependencies etc.

As a Growth Stage investor, I receive and review quite a few financial models each month. Quite often I am also frustrated when browsing at these models. Think of a financial model as a very dummy program. As such, it also has some principles for keeping it clean. A messy financial model is a signal for either a messy entrepreneur or for not caring enough.

Below you can find some best practices of creating a good financial model. I have organized these in three sections. Structure (should be simple), format and formulas (should also be simple), and a few bonus tips.

 

A) STRUCTURE

  1. Before you actually start building the model, spend some time and think the logic of the model’s structure. It should be simple and easy to follow.
  2. Create an instructions tab. Show the model structure in a simple graph. Define abbreviations and special terms used in the model.
  3. Don’t use too many tabs. Avoid using hidden tabs, as it can be quite confusing for the reader. I would suggest trying to keep the model under 10 tabs. Give every tab a sensible naming.
  4. Separate the model inputs and assumptions from the model outputs. This makes things easier to follow and understand.

As every business is different from each other, every financial model is also different. There is no universal solution. Nevertheless, I would suggest working alongside this proposed structure.

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 B) FORMAT & FORMULAS

  1. NEVER use hard coded numbers in formulas. I cannot even emphasize how important this is. Having hard coded numbers in formulas makes a model hard to follow, but even more importantly, it makes it vulnerable to mistakes.

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  1. Use color-coding in cells and tabs. Especially important is to clearly indicate the input cells by a visible color-coding. An example would be to have all hard coded inputs with blue font in a specific background.

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  1. Be consistent. Consistency is important, both in format and in the formulas.
  2. Make calculations easy to follow. Don’t use huge formulas, inheriting data from many different cells. Instead bring the data in an easy to follow way in the tab you need to use them.

  

C) BONUS TIPS

  1. The main output of the financial model should definitely be the financial statements and statistics. In order to make your model stand out I would suggest to also include the key KPIs. This is important, not only for your investors, but for the entrepreneurs themselves. Depending on the business show MRR, Churn or any relevant KPI.
  2. Include a sensitivity analysis. See how changing key assumptions impacts the model’s outputs.

 

Building good financial models is something investment bankers do very well. Financial analysts learn about these principles on day 1. Thus, you can always engage an advisor to build the model for you. But I believe that especially for early stage businesses, the process of building the model can be very educating for an entrepreneur. And the above-mentioned tips are nothing more than the equivalent of clean code for a financial model.

 

Is this Dotcom Bubble 2.0?

This post originally appeared at VEECEE.co.

Over the last months a huge public discussion has started on the topic of whether we are currently at a new technology bubble. The very high private valuations, as well as the absence of profitability are some of the arguments used to compare today with the dotcom bubble of 2000. The other opinion argues that this time, in contrast with 2000, the market is there and is huge. 5 billion people are connected via their smartphones.

Economy and the market from its nature is moving in economic cycles. The figure below depicts the typical boom and burst cycle. In the beginning of the cycle, the majority of investors are risk averse and as time moves buy they become more risk seeking, moving through the stages of enthusiasm, greed and delusion.

I personally believe that we are in one of the (high) points of the mania phase, with regards to the technology-investing ecosystem. The basic reasons  around this belief are related to the below mentioned 3 trends that are observed world wide.

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  1. The average company needs more time to enter the stock exchange. Companies seek listing in the stock exchange, since excluding acquisitions, only the public markets provide liquidity to their investors. The valuation of a private company is virtual and does not necessarily reflect the actual value that an investor can get by selling his shares. In a recent study, the National Venture Capital Association of the US revealed that  it took on average 8 years  to tech companies in 2015 to IPO, in comparison with 4 years in 2001.
  2. There is a plethora of available funds. Interest rates are in historical lows. Following the news, one can recognize that the available funds for investments in tech companies are continually growing. There has been a continuous formation of new funds above 100 million in the European Scene over the last months. New funds are even raised from people without any specific experience in the VC sector. Furthermore, traditional public market investors are currently investing directly to private tech companies (in their private market valuations).
  3.  High private market valuations (compared to their public peers). My colleague Pieter Welten has written a post on this matter in the VEECEE blog. Today there are approximately 150 unicorns, companies with a value of more than $ 1 billion. More than 40% of the IPOs of ‘unicorns’ in 2015 was at a lower valuation from the valuation of the last (private) round. The last example of this trend is Square, which had its IPO at a value of $2.9 billion, with the last round valuing the company at $6 billion.

Bubbles take a long time to develop, but only need a few months or weeks to burst. It is yet unknown how long it will take until this bubble bursts, but when looking at the above mentioned trends, it is not unlikely to see soon more careful and diligent investors, less unicorns and more emphasis (from the entrepreneurs side) to profitability.

Ζουμε ηδη τη δευτερη τεχνολογικη φουσκα;

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This post originally appeared on Fortune Greece in the Greek language. An English version of the post to follow.

You can find the original article here

 

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Τον τελευταίο καιρό κυριαρχεί στη δημόσια συζήτηση ένα σημαντικό ερώτημα. Βρισκόμαστε σε μια νέα φούσκα των εταιρειών τεχνολογίας; Οι πολύ υψηλές αποτιμήσεις στις ιδιωτικές επενδύσεις, καθώς και η απουσία κερδοφορίας είναι μερικά από τα επιχειρήματα που κυριαρχούν, συγκρίνοντας τη σημερινή εποχή με το «dotcom bubble» του 2000.

Η αντίθετη άποψη υποστηρίζει πως αυτή τη φορά, και σε αντίθεση με το 2000, η αγορά υπάρχει και είναι μεγάλη. Τέσσερα δισεκατομμύρια άνθρωποι έχουν σύνδεση στο Διαδίκτυο μέσω ενός smartphone. Από τη φύση της η οικονομία και οι αγορές κινούνται σε οικονομικούς κύκλους.

Το παρακάτω γράφημα παρουσιάζει τον τυπικό «boom and burst» κύκλο. Στην αρχή του κύκλου οι περισσότεροι επενδυτές είναι επιφυλακτικοί, ενώ, καθώς προχωράει ο χρόνος, οι επενδυτές εναλλάσσονται μεταξύ των σταδίων του ενθουσιασμού, της απληστίας και της αυταπάτης.

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Προσωπικά, πιστεύω πως βρισκόμαστε σε κάποιο από τα (υψηλά) σημεία του «mania phase» σχετικά με το οικοσύστημα των επενδύσεων σε τεχνολογικές εταιρείες. Οι βασικοί λόγοι που μου δημιουργούν αυτήν την πεποίθηση έχουν να κάνουν με τις τρεις παρακάτω τάσεις που παρατηρούνται στο παγκόσμιο οικοσύστημα:

1) Η μέση εταιρεία χρειάζεται περισσότερο χρόνο για την εισαγωγή της στο Χρηματιστήριο. Οι εταιρείες επιδιώκουν την εισαγωγή στο Χρηματιστήριο, καθώς εκτός από τις εξαγορές, μόνο οι χρηματιστηριακές αγορές παρέχουν ρευστότητα στους επενδυτές τους. Η αποτίμηση μιας μη-εισηγμένης εταιρείας είναι καθαρά εικονική και δεν αντικατοπτρίζει απαραίτητα την πραγματική αξία που μπορεί να λάβει κάποιος επενδυτής πουλώντας τις μετοχές του. Πρόσφατη μελέτη του National Venture Capital Association των Ηνωμένων Πολιτειών αποκάλυψε πως κατά μέσο όρο οι τεχνολογικές εταιρείες χρειάστηκαν 8 χρόνια το 2015 για την εισαγωγή τους στο χρηματιστήριο, σε αντίθεση με 4 χρόνια το 2010.

2) Υπάρχει πληθώρα διαθέσιμων κεφαλαίων. Τα επιτόκια βρίσκονται σε ιστορικά χαμηλά. Παρακολουθώντας τα νέα, διαπιστώνει κανείς πως τα διαθέσιμα κεφάλαια προς επένδυση σε νέες εταιρείες τεχνολογίας αυξάνονται συνεχώς. Μόνο στην ευρωπαϊκή σκηνή, τους τελευταίους μήνες ανακοινώνονται συνεχώς νέα Venture Capital funds με μέγεθος μεγαλύτερο των 100 εκατομμυρίων (Notion, Octopus, Felix, Lakestar, Partech). Νέα funds ξεκινούν ακόμα και από ομάδες ανθρώπων χωρίς κάποια συγκεκριμένη εμπειρία στον τομέα. Επιπροσθέτως, τον τελευταίο καιρό, παραδοσιακοί επενδυτές των χρηματηστηριακών αγορών επενδύουν απευθείας σε ιδιωτικές εταιρείες τεχνολογίας.

3) Υψηλές αποτιμήσεις των εταιρειών τεχνολογίας εκτός χρηματιστηριακών αγορών.Σήμερα υπάρχουν περίπου 150 «Unicorns», δηλαδή εταιρείες που η αξία τους στην ιδιωτική αγορά είναι μεγαλύτερη από 1 δισεκατομμύριο δολάρια. Περισσότερο από το 40% των τεχνολογικών εταιρειών που εισήχθηκαν στο Χρηματιστήριο (IPO) το 2015 αποτιμήθηκε χαμηλότερα σε σχέση με τον προηγούμενο (Private) γύρο χρηματοδότησης, ποσοστό το οποίο μέχρι το 2014 δεν ξεπερνούσε το 20%. Το τελευταίο παράδειγμα αυτής της τάσης είναι η εταιρία Square, η οποία εισήχθη στο Χρηματιστήριο τον Νοέμβριο με την αξία της εταιρείας την ημέρα εισαγωγής να αγγίζει τα 2,9 δισεκατομμύρια δολάρια, ενώ ο προηγούμενος γύρος αποτιμούσε την εταιρεία στα 6 δισεκατομμύρια δολάρια.

Οι φούσκες χτίζονται μέσα σε μεγάλα χρονικά διαστήματα, αλλά χρειάζονται μόνο μερικούς μήνες, ή εβδομάδες για να «σκάσουν». Είναι άγνωστο το πόσος καιρός θα χρειαστεί μέχρι να σκάσει η συγκεκριμένη φούσκα, αλλά με βάση τις παραπάνω τάσεις, δεν αποκλείεται να δούμε σύντομα περισσότερο προσεκτικούς και ενδελεχείς επενδυτές, λιγότερους «μονόκερους», και περισσότερη έμφαση (από πλευράς εταιρειών) στην κερδοφορία.

‘Go work for 20 years prior to entering Venture Capital’ vs. Young Venture Capitalists.

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This blog firstly appeared at VEECEE

A typical Venture Capital fund, with the size of 100-200 million would probably have 2-4 Partners, possibly 1 Principal and 1-2 Associates or Analysts. In a recent blog post, Vincent Jacobs from Kima Ventures took a deep dive at the backgrounds of junior employees at European venture capital funds. In total he identified 175 people working in junior roles at 103 different VC funds in 15 different European cities. It is quite an interesting post. But one of the main takeaways is that Venture Capital is a very small industry, with only 175 – 200 junior positions around Europe.

When I decided that I wanted to become a VC, I started reading every resource I could find at the time. The majority of articles on ‘how to get into venture capital’ pretty much argued that it is impossible to enter the sector without enormous luck and at least 20 years of experience. One of the most famous posts presenting a similar opinion is the ‘ Venture Capital Aptitude Test’ from Guy Kawasaki, where he mentions ‘ Venture Capital is something to do at the end of your career, not at the beginning. It should be your last job, not your first’.

Most of the people who ever tried to get into a junior role in Venture Capital have probably heard the response “You have no experience. Go work for 20 years and then try to enter”. As a VC you need to find the best companies to invest at and then use your experience, advice and network to add value to the company and help them grow. Therefore the logic goes. What value can somebody without a vast experience add?

Whilst I agree with the basis of the argument, and I have great respect towards Guy Kawasaki and all other people that share similar views, I sincerely believe that it is better to enter the Venture Capital industry from a young age and grow your experience in the sector. The three main reasons are:

1. More productive years
Malcolm Gladwell wrote a book called “Outliers” in which he stated (presenting evidence to support the argument) that it takes 10,000 hours of involvement and practice to become an expert at something. When you translate this to working hours, this could mean anything between 4-8 years before someone masters a given subject. By using a simplification and taking the average, I am assuming that an outsider to the Venture Capital industry would need at least 6 years of work experience in the sector in order to become an expert at it.

A senior executive joining the Venture Capital sector at the age of 50, after having gained 20-25 years of experience would start being highly productive at the age if 56. Assuming a typical fund lifetime of 10 years and a new fund raised every 4 years, this partner would be able to be fully active after getting to the ‘expert’ stage (from fundraise to full exit) in maximum 2 funds.

On the other hand, an Analyst / Associate  / Principal, joining a Venture Capital firm at the age of 30 with already 3-5 years of job experience would gain the ‘expert’ stage at around 36 years old. Applying the same assumptions and simple math, this person would be able to be fully active after getting to the ‘expert stage’ (from fundraise to full exit) in around 6-7 funds.

2, Easier to mingle with young aged entrepreneurs
Being at a young age, it becomes easier to source and connect with young aged founders, since you are sharing similar interests, life style and possibly common friends.

3. More receptive to new technologies
Venture Capital is one of these industries that your job never ends. You are constantly working. There is always another article to read, there is always another great event to attend, always another promising entrepreneur to talk to. In this sense, it requires people that still have a young person’s mentality; continuously eager to take the extra step, forget everything they know and learn something from the beginning. Young people, carry less experience and therefore are more receptive on new ways of doing things.

In conclusion, whilst I fully understand the importance of operating experience prior to entering the Venture Capital world, I believe that given the opportunity and assuming somebody really likes the industry, it is better to enter from a young age. Venture Capital is an industry that allows people to get enormous responsibility from a very young age, even in junior roles. Besides being highly intellectually stimulating, I sincerely consider Venture Capital to be the ideal industry for someone to develop leadership skills and grow a great professional network, while at the same time really making an impact.

Cohort analysis for startups 101

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Most of the times a VC fund is considering an investment in a startup it will ask for a cohort analysis. Such an analysis is comparing different groups of users throughout time. As a company is building its product, it is constantly testing new strategies. Customers that start using an application in the first week after its launch will have a completely different experience from users that start using an application later in time. Cohort analysis aims to help entrepreneurs (and potential investors) to understand whether a company really improves throughout time. Lets look at a specific example and assume that we are analysing an e-commerce site. This website has 500 new buyers every month. In the majority of the pitch decks that are shared with VCs you would find a figure like the one below. engpost1 The first impression from the figure above is that this specific e-commerce business is developing very well. The reality is though that these numbers don’t necessarily say a lot. Even looking at the average money spent per customer doesn’t give a clear picture. engpost2 The reason that these figures don’t give a clear understanding of the development of the business is that it is mixing revenues from clients that shopped for the first time in January, with revenues from clients that shopped for the first time in May. Lets look at two different scenarios regarding how the revenues per customer cohort could be in reality. Both scenarios would result in a figure like the one above. But as will be made clear, these represent two totally different scenarios regarding the development of the company.

Scenario 1 engpost3 When rearranging the data, we would end up with a figure like the one below, which is a typical figure used in a cohort analysis. engpost4 From the table above we can observe the following:

  • Clients that bought for the first time in January, spent on average $10 in January, $8 in their second month (February), $3 in their third month etc. Clients that bought for the first time in February, spent $11 in their first month, $8 in their second month, $7 in the third etc.
  • We can observe a trend that clients spend on average more money during their first month throughout time. This would probably mean that either the quality of the products or user experience is improving.
  • Clients that bought for the first time in January are spending only a small amount 5 months later.

Scenario 2 engpost5 When rearranging the data in a similar way as before we end up with the following table. engpost6 This table is showing a different story.

  • Clients who started buying in January are still spending a lot of money.
  • Clients who started buying in February are spending less money than in Scenario 1.
  • Clients of March and February are almost at the same spending levels.
  • There is a trend of clients spending less money on average during their first month throughout time. Revenues remain at high levels because January clients are loyal customers. Still, there is no clear improvement for new clients.

Cohort analysis would give entrepreneurs and potential investors a clear overview of a company’s progress. One could create this type of analysis for revenues, users, average revenue per user, expenses or any other metric. Since it is an analysis that VCs like a lot, entrepreneurs that are fundraising should be aware of it. You can find more information on cohort analyses, the correct way to read and interpret the and some templates in the following links.

Cohort analysis για startups με απλα λογια

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Ένα απο τα πιο σημαντικά εργαλεία ανάλυσης ενός startup, το οποίο έχω την εντύπωση πως δεν χρησιμοποιείται αρκετά είναι το Cohort Analysis.Μια τέτοια ανάλυση συγκρίνει διαφορετικές ομάδες χρηστών στο χρόνο. Τις περισσότερες φορές που ένας VC σκέφτεται να επενδύσει σε μια εταιρία θα ζητήσει να δεί κάποιο cohort analysis. Όμως μια τέτοια ανάλυση μπορεί να δώσει πολύ σημαντικές πληροφορίες και στους founders μιας εταιρίας.

Καθώς μια εταιρία φτιάχνει το προϊόν της, δοκιμάζει συνεχώς νέες στρατηγικές. Οι χρήστες που ξεκινούν να χρησιμοποιούν την εφαρμογή την πρώτη εβδομάδα έχουν μια τελείως διαφορετική εμπειρία απο τους χρήστες που ξεκινούν να χρησιμοποιούν την εφαρμογή αργότερα. Ο σκοπός του cohort analysis είναι να βοηθήσει τον επιχειρηματία (ή τον πιθανό επενδυτή) να κατανοήσει αν βελτιώνεται πραγματικά η εταιρία στο χρόνο.

Ας δούμε ένα παράδειγμα. Ας υποθέσουμε πως αναλύουμε ένα e-commerce site. Αυτή η ιστοσελίδα έχει κάθε μήνα 500 νέους χρήστες, οι οποίοι ξοδεύουν κάποια χρήματα.

Συνήθως στις εταιρικές παρουσιάσεις βρίσκεται μια εικόνα σαν την παρακάτω.

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Απο την παραπάνω εικόνα η πρώτη εντύπωση που σχηματίζει κάποιος είναι πως η συγκεκριμένη επιχείρηση έχει μια πολύ καλή πρόοδο. Η πραγματικότητα όμως είναι πως δεν μπορούμε να μάθουμε πολλά απο τα συγκεκριμένα νούμερα. Δεν μπορούμε να έχουμε μια ξεκάθαρη εικόνα ακόμα και αν δούμε το μέσο όρο που ξοδεύει ο κάθε πελάτης.

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Ο λόγος που οι συγκεκριμένες εικόνες δεν μας δείχνουν μια ξεκάθαρη εικόνα είναι πως μπλέκουμε τα έσοδα απο πελάτες που ήρθαν πρώτη φορά στο site τον Ιανουάριο με τα έσοδα απο πελάτες που ήρθαν πρώτη φορά το Μάιο.

Ας δούμε τώρα δύο διαφορετικά σενάρια σχετικά με το πως θα μπορούσαν τα έσοδα ανα customer cohort να είναι στην πραγματικότητα. Και τα δύο σενάρια θα μας έδιναν μια εικόνα σαν την παραπάνω. Αλλά όπως θα γίνει ξεκάθαρο, πρόκειται για δύο τελείως διαφορετικά σενάρια. Είναι προφανές πως τα νούμερα που παρουσιάζονται παρακάτω είναι υποθετικά και δεν ανταποκρίνονται σε κάποια πραγματική εταιρία.

 

Σενάριο 1

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Ανακατανέμοντας λίγο τα δεδομένα καταλήγουμε στο παρακάτω γράφημα, που σηνήθως χρησιμοποιείται στο cohort analysis.

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Απο αυτόν τον πίνακα μπορούμε να παρατηρήσουμε τα εξής:

  • Οι πελάτες που αγόρασαν πρώτη φορά τον Ιανουάριο, ξόδεψαν κατα μέσο όρο 10 ευρώ τον Ιανουάριο, 8 ευρώ το δεύτερο τους μήνα (Φεβρουάριο), 3 ευρώ τον τρίτο τους μήνα κ.ο.κ. Οι πελάτες που αγόρασαν πρώτη φορά το Φεβρουάριο ξόδεωαν 11 ευρώ τον πρώτο τους μήνα, 8 ευρώ το δεύτερο, 7 τον τρίτο κ.ο.κ.
  • Υπάρχει μια τάση οι πελάτες να ξοδεύουν κατα μέσο όρο περισσότερα χρήματα τον πρώτο τους μήνα όσο περνάει ο χρόνος. Αυτό σημαίνει πως κατα πάσα πιθανότητα η ποιότητα των προϊόντων, ή το User Experience βελτιώνονται.
  • Οι πελάτες που αγόρασαν πρώτη φορά τον Ιανουάριο, 5 μήνες μετά ξοδεύουν ελάχιστα χρήματα κατα μέσο όρο.

 

Σενάριο 2

post5

Κάνοντας την ίδια ανακατανομή καταλήγουμε στον αντίστοιχο πίνακα.

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Στο συγκεκριμένο πίνακα βλέπουμε μια διαφορετική ιστορία.

  • Οι πελάτες που ξεκίνησαν να αγοράζουν τον Ιανουάριο ξοδεύουν ακόμα αρκετά χρήματα.
  • Οι πελάτες που ξεκίνησαν να αγοράζουν το Φεβρουάριο ξοδεύουν λιγότερα χρήματα απο το σενάριο 1.
  • Οι πελάτες του Μαρτίου και του Φεβρουαρίου βρίσκονται πλεον σχεδόν στα ίδια επίπεδα.
  • Υπάρχει μια τάση οι πελάτες να ξοδεύουν κατα μέσο όρο λιγότερα χρήματα τον πρώτο τους μήνα όσο περνάει ο χρόνος. Τα έσοδα παραμένουν υψηλά επειδή οι πελάτες που ξεκίνησαν να αγοράζουν τον Ιανουάριο είναι πιστοί πελάτες της εταιρίας, αλλά δεν υπάρχει κάποια εμφανής βελτίωση στους νέους πελάτες.

Το Cohort analysis δίνει στους επιχειρηματίες και στους πιθανούς επενδυτές μια πολύ καλή εικόνα της προόδου μιας εταιρίας. Cohort analysis μπορεί να γίνει για τα έσοδα, τον αριθμό των χρηστών, το μέσο όρο των εσόδων, τα έξοδα ή για οποιαδήποτε άλλο metric. Είναι μια ανάλυση που οι περισσότεροι VC αγαπάνε, οπότε είναι καλό να είναι προετοιμασμένοι όσοι επιχειρηματίες αναζητούν VC funding.

Μπορείτε να βρείτε περισσότερες πληροφορίες για τα cohort analyses, πως να τα διαβάζετε αλλά και κάποια templates στα παρακάτω links.

 

200 milliseconds – The lifetime of a programmatic ad

Lately I have been looking into the AdTech space. One of the biggest innovations of the latest years in the space is Programmatic Advertising and Real Time Bidding (RTB). Real Time Bidding in essence means that advertisers have the opportunity to bid for an ad impression (to show one of their ads in an internet user) in real time.

A whole fairly complex ecosystem exists with numerous players. I plan to write about this ecosystem in a future post. But anyone interested could find more info here.

My point for this post is what happens behind the scenes in the 200 milliseconds that it takes to load a page in your browsers. In this extremely short time period a website that you are visiting sends a signal, multiple advertisers place a bid in an ad exchange (like a virtual stock exchange but for ads), the highest bidder is chosen and places their ad in your browser by the time the webpage has loaded. It is fairly impressing.

You can see a very nice video of this process below.

 

Joining Prime Ventures

PV logo

I realized that I wanted to become a VC during my first year in The Netherlands. I wanted it even before that. I wanted it since I was in engineering school. But I just hadn’t heard the term “Venture Capital” back then.

The moment I realized that I wanted to become a VC, I realized that there was one single company that I wanted to join. Prime Ventures. The leading Dutch Venture Capital firm, that has backed companies like ebuddy, takeaway.com, layar, liquavista etc. Over the past years I have been visiting very often the Prime website. Reading about updates in the portfolio, looking for new openings.

Since the beginning of May, I took the next step in my career and joined the Prime Ventures team, as an Associate. Prime is currently investing its 4th fund, which closed recently at €170 million. With almost €500 million under management, Prime is one of the largest Pan European Growth and Venture Capital investors. We invest in high growth, promising European technology companies.

The first days have been very exciting! I love the team, the company and the job. We have an amazing office in the centre of Amsterdam, next to Museumplein. From there we are looking to back the best entrepreneurs across Europe.

Please feel free to send over your ideas. I’d be more than keen to receive your suggestions on interesting companies we should look at.

Freelancer marketplaces are here to stay

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Online marketplaces are redefining the business models of the web. There is a big discussion in the tech ecosystem on the unbundling of Craigslist, after a 2010 post from Andrew Parker, a Boston based VC with Spark Capital. The post featured a chart highlighting the different startups attacking various parts of Craigslist. The chart was updated in 2012 by former Spark analyst David Haber expanding the list of companies to more than 80. Furthermore, CBInsights updated again the chart in January 2015, coming up with some very interesting insights that you can find here.

The main conclusions were: “Flash forward to 2015 and the verticalization of web marketplaces has accelerated substantially. Funding activity to Haber’s original list of companies has skyrocketed. Collectively, the 82 companies on Haber’s list have raised $8.87B in funding and have notched 13 exits to date as well as the merger of Elance and ODesk. Four of the companies have gone public including Lending Club, Care.com, Chegg and Castlight Health for aggregate exit value of $8.4B.  “

Freelancer marketplaces compose a significant part of these companies. The joint company Elance-oDesk is arguably the leader in the space with approx. $750M in gross revenues. Its highly anticipated IPO is expected to make it the next unicorn.

But Elance-oDesk is not the only participant in the space. Here is why I believe that Freelancer marketplaces are a very interesting market that is here to stay.

  • This is a big market that is experiencing rapid growth. A study estimates that approximately 25% of the US workforce today is freelancers and this number is expected to reach 50% of the workforce by 2020. That would be more than 80 million people by 2020. In terms of value, online  freelancer marketplaces are forecasted to reach $20 – 40B.
  • The global economy in general is moving to a contractor or freelancer workforce.
  • Both employees and employers are looking for the flexibility that such a platform is bringing. The ability to find exactly the talent you need for exactly the job you need them, being completely specialized without having to pay a premium long term for a full time employee.
  • Underlying drivers behind this expected growth are: demand by smaller enterprises, demand outside the US, demand by larger enterprises, cost savings by cross border labor arbitrage.
  • The biggest driver in the following years, I expect to be the demand of larger enterprises. We know that large enterprises are shifting their budget.
  • On the other side there are also conditions that could slow this growth, like regulation and compliance requirements. But the traditional staffing industry has proven that there are multiple ways to address and co-exist with these requirements.

Some companies operating in the space are:

Disclaimer: I am currently working at Randstad Innovation Fund, which has invested in twago, the leading European Freelancer marketplace.

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