26. January 2021 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Looking back on 2020

Dear EquityPitcher friends, family and partners 

What a way to start the new decade! The world has changed so fast that no one could have even imagined it in 2019!

For more than a year now, there is only one dominating topic - COVID-19. Also for us as EquityPitcher, this all-changing, world-wide impact has turned many things upside down! Our thoughts are with all the people who have been hit so hard by this pandemic in terms of health and/or economy. Our thoughts are with those who faced extreme economic challenges during this time and especially with those who lost their loved ones.

We as EquityPitcher were - thank God - mostly spared from all these negative effects. On the contrary; we have to admit that 2020 was by far the most successful year in our company's history to date! 

The news that excites us most, of course, is that all (!) of our 16 portfolio companies survived 2020 well. This is by far not self-evident, as we also have companies from the travel and event industry in our portfolio, among others. Furthermore, all of our portfolio companies - like many other companies - were temporarily held back from any sales activities. At the same time, some of them had a financing round coming up, and uncertainty was very widespread at the beginning of the pandemic. Our founders had to think about what to do next, be inventive and agile to keep their young companies, which do not yet have a renowned name, on track.

 

Portfolio Overview

However, our portfolio companies not only managed to survive the period with a degree of stability, but a majority of our 16 companies even achieved tremendous success in 2020.

 

"More than 60% of our portfolio actually saw a significant increase in YoY Growth over 2019!"

With RightNow, we have a company in our portfolio that has achieved revenues in the double digit range of millions!

OnlineDoctor has been successful in acquiring the largest German health insurance company, die Techniker, as a customer & partner, which means that 11 million insured people from Germany now have direct access to Online Doctor's services! 

Futurae was able to enter a partnership with a very prestigious and world-leading financial services provider, which can definitely be considered as a milestone. 

Xatena has managed to increase the purchasing volume on their platform to over CHF 200 million!  

Vestr has increased the number of its customers by five times!

With an increase of over 7 million users, AirConsole can clearly be counted among the winners of the pandemic! 

Guuru was voted the most customer friendly service provider in the UK and won other big key accounts! 

Navus, as an event service provider, actually definite victim of the pandemic, has nevertheless managed to restructure itself in time, organize new financing and is now back on track for growth!

CormoiLocatorOpinaryROOMZ & Yukkalab have all managed to win new customers, further expand their business & set the right course for 2021. 

We also had the pleasure of welcoming 3 NewcomerAnybotics,Beelinguapp & viselio to our portfolio. The cooperation with viselio already started with existentially threatening challenges. Revenues from their core business, electronic visa creation, dropped virtually to 0 overnight. However, the team was so agile & professional and seized the opportunities that arose during this time. In the meantime, viselio generates monthly 6-digit revenues by selling PCR tests and is one of the leading companies in this field! An absolute beneficiary of the crisis, on the other hand, is our last newcomer, Beelinguapp, which offers a special kind of "language learning". Already over 3.5 million downloads are speaking for themselves!

Last but not least, we have Anybotics, the winner of the Swiss Economic Forum as best high-tech startup 2020, in our ranks. It's nice to mention that we were the first VC to believe in the team at a preliminary stage and accordingly invested in Anybotics even before the recently closed financing round.

"In 2020, over CHF 55 million (!) of fresh capital was invested in our portfolio!"

 

Financing rounds? Successfully completed financing rounds are an important indicator for the success of a portfolio, as they show that a company has developed well and that other, often larger investors believe in the success of a company.

We are proud to announce that in 2020 alone, more than CHF 55 million (!) of fresh capital was invested in our portfolio! In total, more than CHF 100 million have now been invested in our portfolio companies!

With Swisscom Venturesthe Wyss FoundationSwissHealth Ventures (CSS), Project AMutschler VenturesJoyance Partners as well as various other professional investors, we were again pleased to welcome new renowned and great co-investors to our portfolio in 2020.
300 created jobs is another key figure that we believe reflects that a Portfolio is moving in completely the right direction.

This is also confirmed by the personal awards that the founders have received in the last year. We are happy to announce that with Benedikt, Philipp & Torben from RightNow we have now 3 Forbes 30 under 30 selected founders in our portfolio. Equally highly decorated was Sandra Tobler from Futurae, who received the award for most innovative entrepreneur of the year. 

About EquityPitcher Ventures

Finally, a few words about ourselves. One reason why we are able to announce the above-mentioned successes is that the financial resources we have received enable us to make targeted investments in such promising companies. Many thanks to all investors so far! At least as important as the capital is the fact that we have a great team that makes the selection and support of these companies possible in the first place. In addition to our core team, this includes above all our Board of Directors, our advisors and VP Bank with its highly professional team!

With now more than 50 industry experts, who bring us an invaluable added value through their know-how, it is only possible for us to win such successful startups for our portfolio and to support them in their growth according to all our possibilities! Many thanks for this!

So all that remains for us to say is that we are looking forward enormously to 2021 - to the further development of our portfolio companies,the new startups that will enhance our portfolio, the further growth of the unstoppable growing Swiss venture capital/startup ecosystem, to the people we will meet and the hopefully soon coming end of the pandemic and the personal exchange!

With warm regards 

The EquityPitcher Team 

18. December 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Financing round: OnlineDoctor

OnlineDoctor closes oversubscribed Series A funding round of 5.5 million!

The founders Dr. Tobias Wolf and Dr. Philipp Wustrow of the internationally award-winning Swiss telemedicine startup OnlineDoctor AG were able to attract further renowned new investors in this financing round. The Swiss health insurance company CSS which invested in digital health startups with Swiss Health Ventures AG , took the lead in this round. In addition, with Mutschler Ventures and the US investor PilotRock Ventures, further significant new investors were acquired. 


Already in 2019 EquityPitcher Ventures joined OnlineDoctor and now participated again in this financing round together with other existing investors such as Forty:one and various angel investors, such as Dr. Ole Wiesinger, former CEO of the Hirslanden private hospital group, played a major role in the capital increase. 

This makes a total of more than CHF 8 million in venture capital that has flowed into the company.


Click here for the full press release.


16. December 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Financing round: RightNow

RightNow receives EUR 8.5 million in Series A financing round from VR-Ventures and Schwarzwälder Bote

VR Ventures and the Family Office of Schwarzwälder Boten invest EUR 8.5 million in our LegalTech portfolio company RightNow,. With the fresh capital, the company aims to "further advance its product development and build the leading consumer receivables purchasing company." RightNow was founded in 2017 by Dr. Torben Antretter, Phillip Eischet and Dr. Benedikt Quarch. The young company focuses on so-called consumer claims purchasing and buys legal claims from customers in full. 


Dr. Torben Antretter, co-founder and CFO of RightNow, said:

With this investment, we have a solid financial basis for further growth. Our focus is now on further developing our products to make it easier and easier for existing and future customers to deal with legal claims.


More about RightNow's funding round can be found here.

15. December 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Welcome Beelinguapp

It's that time again, the EquityPitcher family has a new addition! Beelinguapp, our latest venture, revolutionizes the language learning experience with a strong founding team.

Beelinguapp is a language learning application that allows you to learn a new language or improve your language skills by naturally consuming your daily real-life content such as favorite books, music, lyrics, or news. Texts are displayed in the native language and in parallel in the language to be learned as well as played back acoustically. So you don't just learn the classic ABCs or how to make small talk in French, but you internalize exactly the vocabulary you need to talk about your interests. This gives the learner the security and confidence to apply what he has learned directly in his personal everyday life.

Beelinguapp won the Editor`s Choice Award from Google Play and the WeWork Creator Awards in Germany. In the Apple and Play stores, Beelinguapp already has over 3.5 million downloads without any marketing spend and serves over 250,000 paying active users per month. We are convinced that Beelinguapp will differentiate itself from other language learning apps and revolutionize the language learning process. We are happy to support the multilingual team on their way.

You can Download the App here

9. December 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Financing round: ANYbotics

ANYbotics closed CHF 20 million Series A financing round!

Our portfolio company ANYbotics was a spin off from the Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich(ETH).The company has developed ANYmal, a four-legged robot that can see, hear and move around in challenging environments. In the future, it will inspect and monitor industrial plants or canalizations, for example, as well as take on dangerous maintenance tasks. Today, the ANYmal has already worked autonomously in Zurich's canalization system and carried out fully autonomous monitoring missions on offshore oil platforms. ANYbotics also cooperates with companies from the construction and energy industries, as Péter Fankhauser, co-founder and CEO of ANYbotics, explains.

To accelerate the large-scale rollout of its robotic solution, ANYbotics is entering into another round of financing with a group of well-known investors. The round is led by Swisscom Ventures and co-investors including us, EquityPitcher Ventures and Ace & Company as well as others.

We are proud to have been one of the first venture capital investors to recognize the potential of ANYbotics' cutting-edge technology prior to Series A and look forward to further collaboration with the ANYbotics team.

You can find out more in the video below.

24. November 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Financing round: Guuru

Guuru closed USD 7.9 million Series A financing round!

Our Swiss SaaS start-up company GUURU Solutions Ltd. announced today that it has completed a USD 5 million expansion of Series A, bringing the total Series A financing to USD 7.9 million. The funds will be used to expand market reach in Europe and support GUURU's ambitious growth plans.

Guuru offers cloud-based services that allow brand ambassadors to provide live chat support to new and potential customers of a company. The solutions enable companies to outsource customer service and sales support. Companies can save up to 50% on costs compared to traditional customer service functions. Companies decide independently who will be appointed as Guuru. For each question asked, a proprietary algorithm finds the appropriate Guuru within a very short time. Well-known brands like SKY, brack.ch, Freitag or Intersport already rely on Guuru. Wir freuen uns auf die Zukunft und die weitere Zusammenarbeit.

Find more information here.

23. July 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Finanzierungsrunde: vestr

vestr closed an oversubscribed Series A round led by Six Group

Our portfolio company vestrwhich provides issuers of Actively Managed Certificates (AMCs) fast, flexible, and cost-efficient alternative to investment funds, has closed its Series A led by SIX Group. However, the amount invested has not been shared publicly.

The SIX Group, operator of the Swiss Exchange, led a group of professional investors, including EquityPitcher Ventures, Zuercher Kantonalbank, and the European Angels Fund, a sub-fund of the European Investment Fund (EIF). EquityPitcher Ventures and SIX have previously invested in vestr in 2018.

The funding will be used to further develop the platform, onboard additional issuers, and become the de-facto market standard for AMC issuers.

Stefan Wagner, Head of Business Development at vestr said,

"Bank Julius Baer is an early adaptor of the vestr platform."

 

Mehr zu vestr finden Sie hier.

Der Nacht entgegen auf der Autobahn

COVID-19 and Value Chain

Corona crisis and the change in value chains

Especially in times of crisis, the waves crash over a start-up. Questions of financing security, own liquidity, but also manifold are the entrepreneurial challenges of the customer market. However, changes often do not only occur on the customer side. Rather, the current pandemic crisis teaches us how vulnerable international supply chains are today. Continuous, reliable sourcing chains with trustworthy partners are immanent for a start-up and guarantee speed for market entry.

Global sourcing chains can be interrupted

The internationalisation of trade flows with the procurement of components, raw materials and technologies is standard practice today in our world of division of labour. Likewise, employees with specific skills are engaged abroad and their results from research and development flow into products and services at the company's location. The current crisis situation now makes us aware of the vulnerability of these global sourcing chains. Be it the unavailable parts due to ordered plant closures, or an export ban by sovereign decree, as well as the simple logistics interruption in the transport routes. For a start-up, such restrictions can be serious and lead to existential distortions.

Risk management and political changes get a price tag

As part of annual risk management, a company and in particular its strategic bodies have the opportunity to assess existing and potential risks with regard to the probability of their occurrence and possible extent. Now, as a result of the findings of the Corona crisis, the risks associated with the interruption of the company's own supply chain have been added. Since political instability will continue to increase in some countries, the dangers of logistical disruptions become obvious. Monopolistic dependence on individual suppliers is potentially dangerous and existential. Furthermore, these risks are given a relevant price tag in audits and, especially in the case of start-ups, financiers are likely to demand a realistic and serious assessment of the current situation even more in the future.

Trusting, intact value chains result in speed to market

Value chains form the basis for a healthy and stable economy with an intact labour market and are regularly mapped in so-called clusters. Starting with education and research, via suppliers and regulation, through to producers and service providers at the end customer and on to downstream specialised services - all players are important and lead innovations to the market. The trust among the partners along these links enables successful cooperation. It is also a guarantee for speed in innovation. And how often, especially in our dynamic world, it is not only the differences in products and services on the market that are decisive. The winner is often the provider who is first on the market and can thus secure a data advantage. Regional ecosystems with successful clusters offer an ideal breeding ground for start-ups due to technological and personnel overlaps between the value chains. The knowledge gained in one environment flows into other areas and opportunities arise for new, innovative companies. Knowledge about social changes, general market trends and disruptive products or service developments are part of the foundation of an economy with intact clusters, which knows its opportunities but never neglects the risks.

Bruno Sauter (@brunosauter) | Twitter

Bruno Sauter

Four busy experienced businesspeople wearing casual formal-wear discussing delegation company growth income at modern industrial loft wooden interior workplace workstation
25. June 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Gender Gap in Entrepreneurship

How venture capital can counteract the gender gap in entrepreneurship

The gender gap plays a major role in the field of start-ups and innovative companies. It can still be observed that women founders are not only an exception, but generally encounter more barriers in the search for investment capital[1]. In addition to the more restricted access to capital, there are other factors that lead to a gender gap in society, which are not addressed in detail below. The focus of this article is to identify measures that capital providers and investors can take to counteract the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

Diversity remains too weakly perceived

New and innovative ideas are primarily generated when problems can no longer be solved in the conventional way. The more flexible and thus the more diverse the approaches are, the easier it is to find a suitable solution. For this reason, companies with gender diversity in their teams are generally noticeably more successful and above all more flexible[2]. This is also revealed in a study by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG)[3]which states that the global market economy would increase by 3 - 6 percent if women were to become entrepreneurs to the same extent as men.

The gender gap is shrinking - but not everywhere

There is very clear evidence worldwide that the gender gap in entrepreneurship is tending to narrow and has been sustainably reduced in recent years and decades. Figures from 2019 show that female founders were able to raise an average of $1.2 million in the seed phase, while male founders usually raised $1.35 million[4]. At first glance, the difference does not appear to be very great, but these figures can only be qualified in part. These figures say nothing about the number of start-ups and above all about the number of successful implementations. Above all, however, it is clear that America is again very different from the German-speaking countries in Europe[5]. In Switzerland in particular, it has been recorded that not only is there a gender gap in entrepreneurship, but that it is even growing in some areas[6].

Why women entrepreneurs have a hard time

When it comes to setting up a company and, above all, raising the necessary start-up capital, women have a much harder time than their male counterparts. This is shown, among other things, by a study from the USA, which compared how a pitch is perceived by different genders. The study showed that when pitching the same business idea, men are around 60 percent more likely to[7] were more successful than women. And this was not because the men and women argued differently, but mainly because of the perception of the other person. It still seems to be the case that women are assumed to have considerably fewer competences in the fields of technology and business. There is thus a deeply rooted defensive attitude on the part of the mostly male donors to evaluate an idea equally among women and men. In order to overcome this problem, we believe that a change is needed, especially on the part of venture capital investors.

How capital providers and investors can counteract the gender gap in entrepreneurship

1. Shift in the mindset
Often it is our own preconceived and unsupported opinions that guide our actions. You can only counteract these opinions with hard facts. It is not easy to free yourself from your own prejudices. However, many studies now show that diversified teams are more powerful, more resilient and more efficient than teams of a homogenous gender. If investors are aware of this fact and believe the studies and their results, the chances of a lasting profit are significantly higher with mixed teams. Those who look beyond their own horizons and focus primarily on the bare facts usually quickly change their own view of the world and thus their own behaviour.

2. Change your own corporate culture
This measure is closely linked to the first point. An investor who acknowledges that the performance of mixed teams is significantly better should also question his own corporate structure. If VCs want to honestly oppose the gender gap, they should also ensure diversity in their own company. And not on the basis of a quota prescribed by law, but on the basis of performance and quality. Quotas usually cause injustice and can make open exchange at eye level impossible.

An investor identifies with entrepreneurs who have a similar background, interests or background. This statement is also confirmed by research on the gender gap in entrepreneurship[8]. It can therefore be concluded that gender diversification among investors counteracts the gender gap in entrepreneurship.

3. Create, support and use networks
VCs, but also companies and social organisations should build networks and enable an exchange of experience. By connecting with successful female and male founders, exchanging ideas and, above all, critically examining them, female founders should be supported in building up a business. It is often the case that established networks do not offer any access for women, or access is more difficult[9]such as the Zürcher Zunft, student fraternities or even the Basel Fasnacht. Networks should open up so that sectors are not kept gender homogeneous and the above-mentioned identification points can take place. Investors and VCs are therefore more in demand than ever to set up new structures and create new opportunities.

Conclusion
Our proposed solution to counteract the gender gap should not be forced by law, but rather through a general social change in thinking. VCs should question whether fair and parity conditions really prevail or whether ideas of women are generally considered more disparaging than the ideas of male founders. Equality and equal rights always begin in the mind with one's own attitude. Only those who treat all genders equally can learn to judge the idea itself.

 

Autorin: Andrea Buhofer

 

 

Literatur

[1] https://www.ft.com/content/e5341062-4eb8-11e8-ac41-759eee1efb74

[2] https://hbr.org/2019/02/research-when-gender-diversity-makes-firms-more-productive

[3] https://www.bcg.com/en-ch/publications/2019/boost-global-economy-5-trillion-dollar-support-women-entrepreneurs.aspx

[4] http://about.crunchbase.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Funding-To-Female-Founders_Report.pdf

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/ninaangelovska/2019/05/12/europe-we-have-a-problem-8-facts-about-female-entrepreneurs-in-the-digital-age/#78cb317c4d42

[6] https://www.bcg.com/en-ch/publications/2019/boost-global-economy-5-trillion-dollar-support-women-entrepreneurs.aspx

[7] https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2017/10/five-ways-policy-could-close-the-gender-gap-in-entrepreneurship/ and https://op.europa.eu/en/publication-detail/-/publication/84bd6dea-2351-11e8-ac73-01aa75ed71a1/language-en

[8] Greenberg and Mollick, 2017, pg. 343

[9] https://rotary.de/gesellschaft/frauen-bei-rotary-ja-aber-a-13665.html

18. June 2020 by kmoeller 0 Comments

Welcome ANYbotics

With ANYbotics we are pleased to add another promising startup to our constantly growing portfolio. Founded in 2016 as a spin-off from ETH Zurich, ANYbotics develops autonomous, mobile robots that increase the productivity and safety of industrial plants. We are very happy to be the first VC that becomes part of ANYbotics and see great strategic growth potential.

ANYbotics specializes with its robot ANYmal on challenging environments such as industrial plants that are difficult to access, where the use of employees is very dangerous and costly. The robot gets continuously further developed and improved. Through the interaction of software and hardware, even in uneven terrain the ANYmal can operate autonomously and through various portable devices, such as a sound meter, it can detect changes that are invisible to humans. Furthermore, the data recorded by ANYmal is processed directly, resulting in a fast response time.

 

ANYbotics has completed the world's first autonomous offshore robot mission and has major industrial customers as well as scientific institutions as clients. Currently, the company is still involved in partnerships and development projects with pilot robots, but the launch of certified and commercial ANYmals is continuously being pushed forward.

With their strong team and the great interest of industrial customers and scientific institutions we are looking forward to the development of ANYbotics and are happy to support the team on their way.