On August 31st in 2013 I received the following task by Marcel in my Inbox:
We were using Socialcast at that time and Marcel had first met Stefan and Christopher in Silicon Valley about 3 months before. A team from Klagenfurt doing Adaptive Streaming, having co-authored the MPEG-DASH standard? That caught our attention.
Stefan, Christopher and Christian were a founding team right out of university, with a company that would hardly have been investable by a conventional VC at that time. Fast forward, that has dramatically changed. We are happy to celebrate this moment with the team, as Atomico leads the Series A of 10m $ in Bitmovin. A couple of existing shareholders, including Dawn Capital and Speedinvest, have participated in this latest funding round, which is designed to continue the growth of the company during the next years.
So what can be learned out of this tremendous journey over the past 3 years? Some takeaways from our perspective.
Even a world-class product is not fundable, unless you make it fundable.
Looking at the old slidedecks and the material we prepared for the initial investment, it becomes evident how much work went into adapting the company structure and the collateral material on the way (The first claim of Bitmovin was “We move your ideas”, I spare you the logo ;-). Marcel and the team in the US spent countless hours refining and reworking the material around the product and many months engaging potential customers and partners to understand their requirements and forge the initial deals.
Go early, go fast!
In early 2015, we encouraged Bitmovin to apply to YCombinator, after Flaviar (another portfolio company of Speedinvest) had a positive experience with massive business impact the batch before. The application was late, but we managed to get the necessary attention and eventually only 2 weeks after sending the video in, the team would relocate to the US for an intense 3 months program and continued setup of their offices there. This transformed the client base and also the investor base, as international investors joined after YC, and set the company up for accelerated growth .
Even though this might seem like a natural result, we see with many other companies out of YC, that even the best Accelerator in the world can’t spare you the grind: raising from Top VCs is still going to be very hard for European companies.
It’s the team, stupid
Regardless of all the support an investor can bring to the table, and seemlingly random circumstances that can provide favourable tailwinds to the company it is the founding team in the end that is the largest factor determining the succes of the company. How they deal with set backs, but also how they make the most out of opportunities that appear. When they slow down and not jump on what might feel like too-good-to-be-true opportunities, and doggedly pursue a chosen direction, swinging for the fences.
We once again would like to congratulate Stefan, Christopher, Christian and the team for this achievement. A big thanks goes to Constantia New Business, with Sabine Fleischmann and Philipp Thurn und Taxis, who proved to be co-investors that share our values. Helping founders achieve their goals is and was always the reason we founded Speedinvest. Seeing them thrive and grow, is what motivates us to ride the rollercoaster with them. Thanks for sharing this ride. We are curious to see where this will take you and us next.