February 24, 2021

Our 2020 Investments

2020 was a year like no other. But moving behind the screens did not slow us down: we still welcomed seven new startups to our portfolio! From an AML software company working to ‘make money good’, to AI that makes negotiating more honest and responsible, without further ado, let’s meet our newcomers!

Caroline Frantl Larsson
Head of Community & Comms
Our 2020 Investments

AeroGuest 🇩🇰

Today’s travelers demand digital solutions that will provide them with convenience and service during their travels. Still, few innovations have been made in this space and the hospitality industry, therefore, remains old-fashioned when it comes to servicing their guests before, during, and after their stay.

While some startups, like OpenKey and Hotelbird, tackle subsets of the challenges facing hotels, AeroGuest is the first product we’ve seen that encompasses all-important service solutions in one app — from mobile key and concierge service to upselling check-in and hotel support.

AeroGuest is due to expand to the US in the Spring of 2021.

Martin Sponholtz and Nikolai Kronborg founded AeroGuest with a mission to modernize hotels. They provide hotels with the complex, albeit easy-to-use, technology they need to offer the digitized user journey guests expect.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room: 2020 was the year that most hotels closed their doors, airplanes remained on the ground, travel agencies shut down, and we mostly stayed at home. We know (!) but this is actually one of the reasons we wanted to invest.

The state of empty hotels at the moment has meant that hotel owners have both the time and the need to consider new tech solutions that will help them navigate in a post-Corona world. The features of AeroGuest essentially make a guest experience completely touchless, removing the need to ever talk to a receptionist or staff, while still offering hotels new revenue streams, meaning the pandemic has actually just increased its demand.

We, therefore, saw this as a perfect opportunity to expand our position in the hospitality industry (our first investment being Bob W): an industry that is surely on the verge of disruption.

Proper 🇩🇰

Today, property owners spend too much time managing their properties (or they pay too much money outsourcing the work). One of the reasons is that, with few digital solutions on the market, most property owners still use general tools, like Excel, to keep an overview of their tenants and track rent payments. In addition, communication between landlords and tenants is typically quite cumbersome.

Co-founders Morten Krarup and Jacob Funch

Enter Proper: Proper’s strong product pipeline addresses all of the main non-value adding activities for both tenants (i.e. easier to pay rent) and landlords (i.e. easier to create contracts). As such, they innovate an otherwise manual and labor-intensive industry to account for fewer human mistakes and better service, at a lower cost.

"Proper is building the go-to digital rental management system by changing the way real estate investors and landlords rent out apartments, drastically reducing the time spent on administrative tasks, while still letting them feel in control. That innovation, paired with a strong founding team passionate about PropTech, sold us on this venture and we look forward to seeing how Proper develops." - Sara Rywe, Principal at byFounders

Proper’s seed round is the largest one a Danish startup has ever raised. Read more about our investment here.

Lucinity 🇮🇸

Did you know that firms in the financial industry spend $40 billion each year, or up to 3% of their revenue, on Anti Money Laundering (AML) efforts — with only limited success?

These processes are not only expensive but also time-consuming, and each day 200,000+ hours of manual labor are spent across financial institutions on reviewing false AML alerts.

But the process doesn’t have to be this way.

Lucinity provides AML software that wants to ‘make money good’ by combining human and artificial intelligence to help bank analysts detect and process money laundering cases more efficiently and accurately.

The cloud-based detection technology learns from every interaction and has mapped money laundering behaviors from all major regulators so that analysts can achieve better results and cut expensive tuning efforts.

"Lucinity perfectly fits the solution banks are craving right now. In addition, the core team has extensive experience from top-tier banks. So, at the end of the day, in this investment, it was clear that we needed to be part of the journey." - Eric Lagier, Managing Partner at byFounders

Outfunnel 🇪🇪

The relationship between sales and marketing is extremely important but, unfortunately, most SMEs don’t have the tools or resources to combine and automate the communication between the two departments.

Without the entanglement, marketers waste time on data management and reporting to stakeholders while salespeople using CRMs have little visibility to the context of how sales convert in relation to marketing. The lack of transparency, then, doesn’t allow the leadership team to see the bigger picture.

Sure, there are solutions available, like Salesforce and Hubspot, but these require resources that are usually misaligned with the company’s size.

Following 15 years in the marketing industry, Andrus Purde, CEO, decided to address this misalignment and, therefore, co-founded Outfunnel: a marketing automation tool using a two-way integration system with CRM to improve communication and workflow between marketing and sales teams and drive more revenue for the company.

Outfunnel is a great fit for us. We have members in our byFounders Collective with strong experience starting and running successful B2B SaaS companies from whom Outfunnel can benefit, including Morten Primdahl (Zendesk) and Lars Fløe Nielsen (Sitecore).

In addition, Robin Daniels — a seasoned CMO with an impressive track record, having led marketing teams at WeWork, LinkedIn, Salesforce, and Box, currently at Matterport — believed in Outfunnel’s vision and made the decision to invest alongside us as an Angel.

Stealth Black 🇫🇮

While we’re on the topic of sales, let’s now hone in on the sales representatives of B2B business who often need to speak directly to the potential buyer.

The challenge with this process is that, to do it right (and ensure a good conversion rate), you need to research the potential buyer enough to ensure you’ll have a meaningful interaction.

Otherwise — and what often happens — you end up sounding generic, perhaps inaccurate, and providing your prospect little to no value.

To solve the problem, Stealth Black is an AI-enabled CRM and lead generation tool for B2B companies. The software crawls all public company data to provide leads for their customers and automatically contacts them at the right time, with the right proposal.

Stealth Black Oy is hiring — find their open positions on The Hub.

Founded in 2020, the Helsinki-based team hopes to enable humans to open conversations and sell and negotiate in a more honest and responsible manner.

"We’ve been impressed by the team’s strength and ability to achieve results with a functional product in such early days. I’m an advocate for smart solutions that can improve people’s workflow, and for salespeople, this is it.We’re lucky to have people in our Collective who are highly accomplished in international expansion and B2B software sales, and we’re all excited to see where Tuomas and Antti will take this with our support." - Eric Lagier, Managing Partner at byFounders

StarBerry Games 🇩🇪

StarBerry is an award-winning mobile games startup that, by identifying innovation opportunities in selected casual game genres and combining trending and interesting game mechanics with familiar game design elements, aims to craft genre-leading games for broad audiences.

The gaming studio’s debut title, Idle Coffee Corp, has been downloaded over seven million times and won them the ‘Best Indie Developer’ Award at the Pocket Gamer Mobile Games Awards in London, 2019.

Antti Hattara, the CEO and co-founder of Starberry Games, pulled together an experienced and hungry team, all with backgrounds from some of the most prominent European game studios of the past 10 years.

"With their current track record and a good sense of what is happening in the space, we think they are well-positioned to expand their game portfolio with new games. We have great confidence that this team has a very good balance of skills needed to ship the next big hit game." - Juuso Koskinen, Principal at byFounders

Zvook 🇺🇸

Podcasting as a medium has seen a massive surge in interest in the past few years: we saw more than 43 million episodes published in January 2021 alone!

But while easy-to-use creator tools have made it possible for anyone to produce, host, and distribute content, and while brands are increasingly attracted by its advertising potential, only 15% of podcast hosts actually monetize their work.

Podcasting, like many other forms of media, is a winner-takes-most industry, where brands have the experience of getting more bang for their buck when working with the top 1% of podcasters.

These creators typically have professional setups, often with teams taking care of their sales and admin, and their listenerships are large and broad enough to suit a plethora of different brands, easing the experience of the advertisers in dealing with them.

However, podcast hosts with more modest listenerships might offer a much better fit for a brand’s business and target audience, at a lower price.

Until now, no tailored infrastructure has been in place to facilitate these kinds of transactions. Advertisers have had to connect with, vet, and transact with podcasters manually, which has been too costly in terms of time and effort for most advertisers.

To address this problem, Anna Ratala and Malik Alimoekhamedov co-founded Zvook.

Zvook is the only ad tech platform that allows brands to find the most relevant podcast bundles for targeted ads — in 25 seconds. All podcast recommendations optimize for the brand’s budget and customer persona and mix major shows with niche podcasts across networks.

“We believe no brand should need to google “podcast advertising” ever again.”

Clients, like Panasonic, MRM McCann, The Legends Brand, are already using Zvook to reach millions of listeners via host-read ads.

Interested in learning about our previous investments? Check out:

Our Investments in 2019

Introducing our 10 first Portfolio Companies

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Caroline Frantl Larsson
Head of Community & Comms

Caroline is the Head of Community & Comms and the Editor-in-Chief at byFounders. She executes on our initiatives (like our coaching program) and activities (like our four annual flagship events) and sees to it that we continuously elevate and carry our community stories across the ecosystem. We are always looking for guest posts so if you have a story you'd like to share with us, please don't hesitate to reach out:

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