🦄 The DART Weekly #3 ~ All things Musk

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November 07, 2020

Entrepreneurship Chronicles

A serial entrepreneur starts several businesses one after another. They may sell their businesses after they reach a certain level of maturity.
Elon Musk is a serial entrepreneur.
After his debut with Zip2 in 1995 and the success of the online bank X.com, aka PayPal, Elon went on reinvesting $100M of his wealth to found SpaceX (The New York Times) and $6.5M in the Series A round of Tesla (Forbes). Eventually he ended up investing a total of $70M in Tesla and founded additional companies and started new initiatives: SolarCity, OpenAI, Hyperloop, Neuralink and The Boring Company.
In 2020 Musk's net worth rose to above $90B (Forbes) thanks to SpaceX's successful manned flight to ISS and Tesla's 5 consecutive profitable quarters (The Verge), officially becoming the most valuable automotive company. Yet, Musk has gone through harsh times. In 2008 after a series of unsuccessful tests SpaceX was on the brink of collapse (YouTube), while between 2017 and 2019 Tesla was one month away from bankruptcy (CNN).

THE TAKEAWAY
Elon rose in the pantheon of the most influential people in tech not only for being excessive, geek and sarcastic, but also for his ability to solve engineering problem in ways that were deemed unfeasible. He managed to create a fan base eagerly waiting for his next marketing stunt and groundbreaking applications, SpaceX's "Better Than Nothing Beta Program" being the most recent one (TechCrunch). 
His strongest achievement? Becoming the eponymous example of the say "having skin in the game".

Ventures 101

🇪🇺 Welcome to Anti-Musk Land?

Do you know what is sold at $250 a bottle? Tesla Tequila (TechCrunch).
How is this related to Europe being the birthplace of businesses competing against Elon Musk's companies? It's not, but he personally stated that all things considered "Germany rocks" (The Local).
If you still care to know more about the startups that might compete with Musk's consolidated business, wait no more, coz the intro is over.

E-mobility

Based in Croatia Rimac develops electric hypercars and has already got the attention of major car manufacturers (TechCrunch). Meanwhile Swiss luxury brand Piëch was founded by well-connected industry leaders backed by Peter Thiel (Business Insider). New players are coming from the Nordics too, where Einride and Volta Trucks are developing alternative to the Tesla Semi (Forbes).
Threats are not over, since EU is also majoring in battery production with Northvolt having raised well beyond $3B (Crunchbase) and Skeleton Technologies partnering with top universities in the development of the SuperBattery (sifted).

Spacetech

Spacetech is steadily growing in all its streams: launchers, data, downlink tech, analysis and new products (Seraphim Capital). Yes, no single company beats SpaceX and its combination of tech, marketing and money, but investment in Europe grows faster and scale-ups are sharpening their knives.
French Exotrail specialised in on-orbit propellers (Exotrail), Munich-based Isar Aerospace's small rockest will be used by ESA (Space Daily), while Finnish Iceye handles the analysis of satellite imagery (sifted) and Italian D-Orbit streamlines in-space and on-ground operations (D-Orbit).

Neurotechnology

Small electronic implants have been around since the 90s, but they have never been truly commercialised. That's why Neuralink presentation of Gertrude has been welcome with such awe (BBC). 
Truth be told, there is a company who joined YC in 2017 capable of more advanced analysis, it goes by the name of BIOS and is based in Cambridge, UK (TechCrunch).
There is room for software companies too. Munich-based CereGate recently raised its Series A (Nordic 9) to fuel the development of its software for Parkison devices.

Europe entrepreneurship scene is well known for its scientific prowess and inclination towards deep tech. But the lack of local businesses with astonishing commercial success made the continent internationally infamous.
Now Europe is served the best hand, will it have the poker face for winning the pot?

Of Unicorns and Cowboys

🦄 The Rounds

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


🍱 Humble: After raising only £155M since day 1, UK-based Gousto hits unicorn status. Profitable for several years, it is now selling 5M meals a month. Yet the founder is not impressed.

💳 Contender: Berlin-based Vivid Money raised €15M at €100M valuation. Built on top of Solarisbank, the challenger bank offers current account, multiple IBAN, shared accounts and a metal debit card!

🔋 SuperBattery: With revenues tripling every year, Skeleton Technologies raised €41M to develop its graphene battery. Combined with Li-ion, the device could improve performance and decrease costs.

🍄 Alt-meat: Fermotein, the fungi protein to seize a €30B slice in the €6.4T food market. The secret ingredient of The Protein Brewery who just closed a €22M Series A investment.

🏘 Realtor: Finnish Kodit.io raised €100M in equity and debt funding. With a ML-powered platform for speeding up the buying and selling process of real estate, it will now scale in its current markets.

🌈 The Pots

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


📅 Constant: Israel-based Monday.com is preparing its Nasdaq IPO. Its revenue grew from $50M (2018) to $120M (2019), while in 2020 it expects to register more than $200M in sales. More YouTube adds ahead?

👗 Circular: Organic growth, unicorn status, then acquisitions. Marketplace for second-hand fashion Vinted acquired United Wardrobe. Together they account for 34 registered customers in 11 EU countries.

🏋️‍♂️ Un-pal: Under Armour sold MyFitnessPal for $345M in order to simplify and focus on brand. The fitness platform was acquired in 2015 for $475M.

🤠 The Funds

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


🦜 High frequency: Hummingbird raised $200M. Leaning towards biotech the fund will back entrepreneurs at the earliest stage of their business with tickets ranging from $500m to $5M. Globally.

💪 Orgullo: All Iron Ventures raised €66.5M. It is Spain's biggest debut fund. Thanks to the desired lack of public money it will have the flexibility to exit at the best valuation possible.

🤖 Latecomer: London-based Air Street Capital closed its first $17M fund. Backed by LPs like Twitter, it will cut through the hype to support early stage AI startups.

🇮🇱 Vague: 10D, aka Ofek Ventures, launched a $110M fund The resources will be invested in Israeli early stage start-ups addressing to-be-disrupted industries with no incumbents.
 

🧑‍🎤 ... and The Quirky Ones

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


🇨🇳 Bummer: Ant Groups' IPO has been... suspended. Regulators summoned the company's top executives for discussing the still unkwnown details behind the stop.

✨ Trip: Bringing together the team on a retreat via... psychedelic drugs. In the midst of the pandemic some PlayaMedia employees voluntarily joined an Ayahuasca experience.

 💎 Bravo: Typeform employees receive 250 Typecoins (€25) every month to award colleagues. Besides the risk of collusion and motivation through incentives, people question how inclusive this is.

🇩🇪 Welcome: Germany is in the process of reforming stock option rules. The goal is to incentivize start-up investment and the set-up of VC shops in the country.
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