Eve: from launch to IPO in 31 months!

FJ Labs is mostly a marketplace venture investor and startup studio. However, a few years ago, we had a secondary thesis of investing in and building vertically integrated online brands. It makes perfect sense to build online only brands which sell products of similar or higher quality than offline brands at half the price or less given the lower cost structure of online companies. The very first startup we helped create, and the one that led to the genesis of our apprenticeship program, was Adoreme, an online lingerie fashion company. We are also investors in Eloquii, a plus sized fashion brand, Dagne Dover, a handbag brand, and Plae, a shoe brand. Sadly, we missed out on Warby Parker and Casper. We met Casper in May 2014, but they were over-subscribed and dilution sensitive because they were 5 co-founders and we were not able to invest.

In the mattress category, we were a bit worried by the lack of recurrence in purchases, but felt that selling high quality mattresses at a third of the price of Tempur-Pedic was a large opportunity. We briefly considered creating a Casper for Europe taking advantage of Jose’s connection to a large mattress manufacturer. However, given our bias for marketplace businesses, we felt it made more sense to back an existing team.

We talked to various teams, but did not meet anyone we felt we could back. As luck would have it, Jas Bagniewski, reached out by email out of the blue in September 2014. He remembered meeting me a few years earlier about another company. He then went on to build an online mattress company, Zenbedrooms. He grew the business to $8 million in revenues mostly focusing on discounts on Groupon. He realized the mattress category was appealing, but that it made more sense to build a strong brand, rather than just focus on discounts.

We loved Jas and his team, but felt their approach needed work and that we could bring a lot of value to the company. We did not want to be as involved as we are when we build a company from scratch, nor did we want to be as hands off as we are when we are mere investors. We decided to take a hybrid approach. We would not take a board seat and become co-founders, but we would help them with the business plan, fundraising, strategy, marketing and manufacturing in exchange for some advisory equity.

We invested the first few hundred thousand in the company. William Guillouard, a venture partner at FJ Labs, who was my VP of Marketing at OLX started working on their online and offline advertising strategy. We helped them raise their first round introducing them to VCs and notably DN Capital which became their first institutional venture investors. Eve Mattress was born!

Jas and the team executed really well. By the end of 2016, Eve had £12 million in sales operating in 12 countries. When the company first mentioned they were considering going public, I have to admit I was skeptical. It felt early and that liquidity might be limited. However, DN Capital had experience with Purplebricks. The online real estate agent, listed on AIM in 2015 after just 19 months of trading. That IPO raised £58.1 million at a £240 million valuation. The company now has a market capitalization of £929 million.

Jas and the team convinced us that AIM was a viable route to fundraise and help scale the business. On May 18, Eve Sleep plc (LON:EVE) went public raising £35 million at a £140 million valuation. The conquest of the European mattress market awaits!

Venture Capitalists: change your life with Kushim

by Clément Aglietta

Imagine how difficult it was for an empire to keep track of the birth rate, the size of harvests or the spoils from a conquest, with no writing system. In this era, certain people were thus given the task of memorizing the empire’s data. If such a person died, a whole swathe of the economic history of the kingdom disappeared. That is why, 5000 years ago, on the banks of the Euphrates, someone invented a simple and efficient way of transmitting data. The man who signed his name to the earliest written record was Kushim, and his job was to keep the accounts in the kingdom of Sumer in Mesopotamia. Our ambition today is nothing less than to offer clients a management tool that is just as indispensable as Kushim’s in their decision-making and data exchange..

What is Kushim?

Kushim is the first cloud-based portfolio management tool designed specifically for venture capital investors.

Our principal features are:

  • Classification and storage of investment data in a secure manner
  • A news service that provides real-time access to all latest news about your portfolio companies
  • Storage of all legal documents (convertible notes, SAFEs, Cap Tables) on a dedicated page for each startup
  • Reporting tools that analyze performance of each of your funds (and all funds or select funds in aggregate)
  • Tools that allow portfolio companies to communicate with and provide information to their investors
  • Ability to manage several financial vehicles / funds on the same platform
  • More than 60 metrics to monitor the evolution of your portfolio companies
  • Ability to import and restructure financial data from any format (for free)
  • Unlimited number of users

And much more to come…

Kushim allows clients to store and organise all the data from an investment fund through a trustworthy and foolproof method. Once all the data is hosted, then described, it is very easy to extract the statistics and view the totality of a portfolio.

The Story

Everything started in 2013 when I met Fabrice Grinda at Le Web in Paris. After talking at length, he offered me the opportunity to intern at his portfolio company Rebagg.

After proving myself during the internship, Fabrice heard about how I had done and asked me to help him to manage his investments. For more than a year, we spent time developing better ways to keep records, create reports and gain insights from our data. We wanted a clean way to see how portfolio companies were growing, what the real-time portfolio value was, how the cap tables of portfolio companies evolved over time, etc. The trouble was, we couldn’t find a solution that met all of our needs. So, as any entrepreneur would, we decided to build it!

We started by first creating a young and amazing team that had both financial and technologic vision. Not only has the founding team of Kushim has worked in venture capital funds, private equity funds and institutional banks, but they all also went to school for design and technology.

Step 1 create a fantastic team !

We staffed an amazing and young team with both financial and technologic vision. The founding team of Kushim has worked in VC funds, Private Equity firm and institutional banks. But they all from design and technology School.

  • Nicolas, our CTO, created his first company at 18 years old. He is passionate about Finance graduated from the best French internet and technology school
  • Josselin, our designer, has worked as a Product Manager with Alliance Entreprendre and Natixis Bank Groupe, and is a graduate from one of the best European design schools
  • Alexandre, our COO, worked with BPI (a large European investment bank) as an Analyst and with Eurazeo (a $5 billion private equity firm), and also graduated from one of the best European design schools
  • Victor, our tech team manager, worked as a consultant with Alliance Entreprendre Private Equity and graduated from the best French technology school

We also have an additional team of five developers who are working tirelessly to push the limits of what we can do with Kushim.

Why we a created Kushim ?

We love VCs because they give the power to young entrepreneurs to create, innovate, and change the world in better way. Beyond just providing capital, the great value of venture investors is their capacity to take risks and the power they have to help young companies achieve something great.

Our goal is to help them to have the best overview of what they are doing so that they can spend less time on daily administrative tasks and instead focus their mind on what is really important

This is how we do it

VCs invest in the most innovative and creative companies, yet the software they are using looks old and grey. It isn’t intuitive or easy to use, has the wrong features and is insanely expensive. We decided to change that by working very closely with VC’s to understand what their objectives are, and then translating that into features. Our software is evolving every day and getting better. Our long term goal is to improve every aspect of the investment process from deal flow generation to wire. We won’t stop until we can provide the best experience possible!