🦄 The DART Weekly #2 ~ Typhoon Ma

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October 31, 2020

Entrepreneurship Chronicles

How can you get 1 out of 120 at your university admission test and retire at 55 as China's richest man?
Not many ways, but you have definitely a chance if you are Jack Ma (CNN). You need to found an e-commerce startup, base it on your apartment, name it Alibaba, change business model several times, and raise $25M within the first year.
In 1999, Ma recorded a meeting that will stand the test of history. Ma asked himself “In the next five or ten years, what will Alibaba become?”. Answering his own question, he stated: “Our competitors are not in China, but in Silicon Valley… We should position Alibaba as an international website” (Forbes, #mustread). He was right, he was ambitious and he made it. Now Alibaba processes goods more than eBay and Amazon combined, and is worth more than Facebook (Shout Me Loud).
When in September 2014 Alibaba went public on the New York Stock Exchange the $25 billion IPO was the largest in history (Investopedia). In 2019, after two decades developing Alibaba from scratches to a $460 billion business, Jack Ma retired.

Ma's story is an example of determination and intuition. Aged 12 and eager to learn English he spent most of his free time doing the travel guide for foreigners. He failed more than 30 job interviews. He applied to Harvard University 10 times and was rejected each time. You decide how to deal with failure. It can be a drama or the first step toward success.

Ventures 101

🧑‍🎓How to fund your startup (part 2)

In part 1 we have talked about Bootstrapping, Raising money from Friends and Family and Crowdfunding (The DART). You did not find them compelling, but you are still in need of capital? Here’s four additional possibilities!


Hard, but not impossible. Your local bank is still an option.
Borrowing money from it is worth considering, since it might have small business loans with a reasonable interest rate. It’s needless to say that this was easier in the past.
As a matter of fact, Phil Knight, Nike’s founder, financed its shoe business in this way for more than a decade (medium).


Here’s a very appealing option, since the capital that you raise does not necessarily need to be repaid if the goals are met.
The conditions are rather strict, and the amount of money granted won’t be enough to fully fund your business, so consider it a nice to have. They are usually granted by institutions, the European Union offers some (welcomeurope), as does Germany (Exist) and other European countries.

Angel Investors

Are you ready to trade equity for money, expertise and network? You should reach out to angel investors. They are wealthy individuals specialised in investing money in early stage startups.
You do not know how to get to them? First prepare. Angels base their decisions on technological, market and personal risk mitigation (crunchbase). Creating a working POC better than the status quo solves the first risk, having some customers giving feedback on what you offer tackles the second, being a cross-functional and talented team with good track records dispels any doubts.
Finally find their contact details and send your best elevator pitch deck (AngelList).

Venture Capitalists

These are the professionals who are going to splurge a lot of money for a consistent stake in your business. You want them onboard, because they are going to fuel your growth and guide you through the different steps of the company lifecycle. They want you since your business is aligned with their investment strategy or (better) because you created a lot of hype and FOMO around your business (nfx).
Easy right? Not really. You need to be wary of whom you are bringing on board. Tiny investors, greedy sharks and overpromising door-openers are types of investors whom you should avoid (sifted).
Worry not, you can vet them by reaching out to other startup founders who had them on board. These days there are even tools like Landscape (link) that aggregate reviews of investors and founders.

Of Unicorns and Cowboys

🦄 The Rounds

The deals worth knowing in Europe and beyond - ordered from coolest to coolio

🧳 Hope: Travel startup GetYourGuide gets $133M via convertible note. Despite the nuclear winter of the sector, the fundraising has never been easier, says its CEO.

🏡 Sinergy: Flatio and NomadX announced their merging. The two startups are focusing on mid-term rentals, a niche not well served by AirBnb, that is growing thanks to digital nomads.

🐝 Honey: How's your brand perceived by consumers? Streetbees raised its £30M Series B. Its survey platform is used by brands to understand customers attitude.

🤔 Stalked: How's your customer online behaviour these days? Break-even in April, $5M Series A in October. AppFollow helps SMBs and corporates getting a hold of it via its app management.

📸 Gigged: Boom raises $7M Series A. Focusing on commercial photography, it connects demand to offer. Are photographers ready to become remote gig workers?

🔂 Refurbished: Do you switch iPhone every year? Raylo and its has £10M in debt got your back. Powered by open-backing it offers a circular economy platform for smartphone.

🌈 The Pots

The exits you should follow in Europe and beyond - IPO, direct listing, SPAC, bankruptcy ... all awesome stuff

🇨🇳 Elephant: Ant Group, aka Alipay, aka Ant Financial, breaks every record. Most valuable fintech, and unicorn, in the world and soon biggest IPO ever: $34.5B...

🇨🇳 FOMO: ... and everyone wants in. The IPO has been oversubscribed by retail investors all over the world (and especially in China). Priced at $10.27, the total demand amounts $3 trillion!

🚕 Uber?: Backed by Softbank, Tencent and Alibaba, Chinese ride-hailing behemoth Didi is prepping for its IPO. When? Q1 2020. Valuation? $60B!

👾 Checkpoint: Not quite Unity, but still Huuuge. The polish mobile gaming developer had revenues for $260M in 2019. In 2020 it is gearing up for the IPO.

🚚 Recommended: After raising €100M in May, Wolt is on a roll. It entered Germany, started delivering grocery, now it makes plans for licensing its tech and prepares for an IPO (?).

🤠 The Funds

The tales of unicorns' hunters you should know about - particularly relevant if you are a founder looking for backing

🇩🇪 Gearing up: HV Capital puts the money on the table. €535M fund to support scale-ups raising their Series B and Series C.

👨‍💻 Tipped: EQT leads the $12.7M funding round in CodeSandbox. The startup developed a web IDE empowering the collaboration in the team. Millions are already using it. Thanks Motherbrain!

🇪🇺 Onwards: Is Europe becoming more entrepreneurial? How many startup jobs are created each year? Ask no more, a dealroom report is showing some results!

🇮🇳 Upwards: Goodbye SAIF Partners, welcome Elevation Capital! The firm raised $400M in its seventh fund. It will focus on early-stage startups in India.

🧑‍🎤 ... and The Quirky Ones

The crazy stuff we gossip about while sipping our chai latte - it's like others, but better

📱 Sir: Airbnb is having a hell of 2020. Preparing for the public market, revenues decreased due to COVID. Worry no more, Jony Hive comes to the rescue!

👁 Trendy: Influencer Chiara Ferragni is considering an IPO in Borsa Italiana. Her business could be worth €80M. It would be the first IPO to feature a one-person brand solely built on web self-promotion.

🚴‍♂️ Crossroad: Not only Uber and Lyft, also Glovo is facing accusations in its home turf (Spain). Riders are precarious workers, but some SMEs are kept afloat by Glovo. Is a third way possible?
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