Daimler Acquires Taxibeat, Greek Startups Get a New Hero

A short six years ago, a peer from our small startup community reached out to share an idea he had written down on a piece of paper. The idea was simple; there is a number of available taxis around you, you should be able to see them and pick the one you prefer the most right from your smartphone.

It was 2010; mobile was just starting, and ‘hybrid’ startups with offline operations felt like a wild bet. Yet we knew and trusted the founder as much as we liked what he was up to, so we offered the first check of €45k, requesting a back seat to join him for the ride. Nobody really had an idea of what would follow. Nobody, but him. Nikos Drandakis, Taxibeat’s founder, meticulously built a small team, crafted a world-class application and onboard a bunch of drivers, one by one.

It was not easy. People would call you crazy if you were joining a startup back then, drivers did not own smartphones in the first place, users would not trust an app to get them around, the list goes on. But it was evident right from the first day at launch that Taxibeat was on to something.

Since then, a great lot of things has happened. The company grew the team and the fleet, raised a couple of angel and a Series A round, opened in various locations while building state-of-the-art technology to make things happen. No, we did not get everything right at first; Nikos lived through every part of the startup struggle you would imagine, plus more. Yet day in and day out the team moved forward, building and fixing things, delighting customers, competing successfully against players with two orders of magnitude more resources.

Fast forward to today, the company employs a hundred plus people and serves tens of thousands of drivers and rides every day in Athens and Lima, Peru. It has arguably built one of the best software stacks in the industry out of Greece. It actually stands as the only profitable company in the market, at least to our knowledge.

Today, we are thrilled to share that Daimler acquires Taxibeat via its subsidiary MyTaxi. We could not think of a better place to host Taxibeat’s vision than the most respected automotive company in Europe and one of the largest producers of premium cars in the world. The company has a vested interest in the space on various fronts, and we look forward to Taxibeat having an impact towards an automotive vision that up until recently may have sounded futuristic.

For us, it is clear that every time, every great accomplishment is 100% founder’s work. Taxibeat’s team earned every single driver, every single user, every single ride purely as a result of their hard work. And if we are happy and a bit proud today, we first and foremost are happy for them.

Our startup community now has a new hero. Looking back at where things started, and how far they have gone, one thing is for sure: many are bound to follow. Kudos, Taxibeat; what a ride!

Openfund Concludes Investment Period, Reports Results

Openfund started in 2009 to become the first startup investor in Greece and the broader region. Our first, €500k syndicate proved quite successful, giving birth to companies like Taxibeat.

Jeremie Openfund II was launched in December 2012 with €15m under management to take this track record to the next level. Three and a half short years later, we are happy to report 21 investments and a top-tier performance by world-class standards, driven by companies such as Workable.

Five thousand people have entrusted us with their ideas, five hundred have worked in portfolio companies, and a hundred entities have invested in or coinvested with us, among them a dozen institutional investors. A Greek tech ecosystem is now in place, and we take pride in having contributed to its establishment.

Today, we are announcing the end of our second fund’s investment period. In plain English, the fund is now fully allocated to the existing portfolio, and we won’t be able to make any new investments.

We are now a bit more experienced as technology investors. We also see a wealth of opportunities taking shape, and we are committed to continuing nurturing them. We have decided to raise two new funds to take the legacy of Openfund further, and to contribute more capital and broader expertise to the Greek startup ecosystem.

We’re excited to see how far we’ve come. But now, it’s back to work – because we still have so many things to do, and a long way left to go.

Yell acquires a majority stake in YouScan, Openfund makes its second exit

YouScan’s was one of the first startups that Openfund invested in, focusing on social media monitoring service for brand owners specifically offered in the Russian and Ukrainian languages. Today we are announcing our exit from the company.

Thinking of YouScan takes us to the first days of Openfund. Α whole 6 years down the memory lane, we held demo days, invest just €20-30k and return feedback to founders in Times New Roman font. Things have changed greatly.

Looking at our backlog, early reviews praised YouScan for a well rounded team of development and sales, a clear undestanding of the market and a simple, easy to communicate, product. The only complicated term being thrown around was SaaS, which later became one of the business models that, we at Openfund, became very fond of.

Fast forward to 2015, the Kiev based team led by Alexey Orap, becomes the lead monitoring provider in the space which is comprised of Cyrillic based languages. Following the launch of LeadScanner, an entirely new product that creates sales leads, Yell, a major online directory service in Russia, took notice and grabbed a majority stake in the company. As part of the $1M financing round, past investors were allowed to exit while at the same time received great returns on their initial investment.

Alexey Orap, the CEO shared:

“Openfund was the first investor that took the leap of faith to invest in a different country and has added considerable value in terms of business development. We still perceive them as friends and some of the most experienced early stage investors in the region”.

Photo taken from one of YouScan legendary team bonding trips.

Workable raises $27m in Series B round

Workable yesterday announced a $27m Series B round, led by Balderton Capital, along with Notion Capital and existing investors 83 North (previously Greylock IL). For a company that started three years ago in Athens, the size of this round may come as a surprise. To those of us on the inside, it is not. Spyros and Nikos have put together a 48-strong, world-class team that day-in and day-out builds software that is both used and loved by thousands of small companies all over the world.

Team Workable

Hiring remains the most essential businesses process and yet the most inefficient. Workable is the only solution available to the tens of millions of businesses that need a self-service tool to make their next hire. In this context, the way ahead for Workable is straightforward, and this is what this growth stage round is for.

Make no mistake, this is not the finish line or the time for victory laurels. Challenges grow as a company scales and the stakes are now higher. At the same time though, a round of this size serves to demonstrate the value that the company has created, while also indicates how far it is expected to go. Getting to this stage means that a number of difficult problems have already been solved, and, no matter how tough the next steps may be, this is also a moment for the team to acknowledge how far they have come and how quickly they have travelled. So, kudos Workable!

We also consider the track record of Workable to be a vivid illustration of the potential in the local ecosystem. A number of questions that were on the table when we started Openfund have now received a definite answer. Yes, it is feasible to start a technology company in Greece without limiting any of your ambitions. We are hard at work on more cases like Workable; what we can share today is that the future of Greek startups is a bright one.


Pockee Grows at Full Speed, Raises €400k


A year after our original pre-seed investment, Pockee currently provides coupons of 225 euro in value for 40 FMCG brands in the majority of grocery stores around Greece. Along with its off-the-charts retention rates, it was a straightforward decision for us to proceed with a €400k seed round.

Bringing in 11 supermarket chains and that many brands within such a short timeframe had nothing to do with luck. Pockee has managed to simplify integration and onboarding for retailers and brands alike at a level that is unheard of in the industry, while eliminating fraud. At the same time, it provides an intuitive, easy-to-use app that has gained the trust of users beyond early adopters.

A few weeks after executing the seed round, the company has announced a partnership with Cosmote, the largest operator in Greece, as well as with P&G, bringing in coupons that cover most of the FMCG product categories.

In its quest to become the greatest grocery shopping utility, Pockee is still in its early days. Starting from an app that actually saves you real money while being fun to use, the team is hard at work building the next generation of what we used to call coupons. What’s more, the local market is not an end in itself, but rather a test bed. In Openfund, we are happy to continue being part of this journey; you’d better stay tuned for the updates.


Fieldscale raises €150k to build an electromagnetic solver for the cloud era

From chips to antennas to motors or sensors, electromagnetic field simulation is a core part of product design. Solving a design before prototyping and production saves a critical amount of time and cost.

However, while the industry is making rapid progress in all fronts, electromagnetic solvers have mostly remain outdated. As products become more complex, it is typical for a simulation to take hours, or even days. Today this cannot but feel wrong, if not defeating the very purpose of simulation itself.

George Bontzios and George Bouzianas have experienced the limitations of currently available solutions, while acquiring their PhDs on the subject. Since then, they’ve embarked on a mission to bring simulation software to the cloud era.

Fieldscale, the company they founded, now employs a R&D-heavy team building a next generation electromagnetic solver. Sporting state-of-the-art algoritmhs that run in parallel at a user-defined array of machines, along with a lightweight interface on a browser, Fieldscale is working to introduce the first SaaS offering in the industry.

We believe that a more solid software infrastructure can have an impact on advancing the industry further. In this context, we are happy take part in this journey and announce our initial investment of €150k in Fieldscale.

Resin.io raises $3M to become the de facto infrastructure of IoT devices

Those that have been involved with the tech industry longer will remember the concept of Internet of Things in various incarnations. Anyone watching would at least sense it coming long before the term was coined.

In the 90s it was vague concepts such as ambient or ubiquitous computing and the promise of intelligence in everyday objects and living spaces. Then in the early 00s it was the internet fridge that would place orders to restock itself and sensors that warn us when we water our flowers too much.

Then all this technology consolidated and entered the mainstream though the renaissance of the smartphone in 2007 with the Apple iPhone. The tremendous success of a device that was software defined and shaped for human digits enabled everyone to see the importance of a thing that is connected to the Internet. It became clearer with the Nest thermostat, the Pebble smartwatch and Tesla improving the mileage of its cars by pushing software updates to people’s homes. Intelligent devices that are defined mostly by the software they run and the ecosystem they belong to will soon be the norm rather than noteworthy gadgets or novelties for the visionary and rich.

So now it’s time to think about infrastructure again. About the roads, the shipping ports, the fiber that binds these devices together; and this is where Resin.io fits in. Resin.io lets developers forget about the hardware on which their software runs and how they will get it there.

resin logo

For the initiated it’s as simple as git push. Resin.io will then take your code to the cloud, cross compile it for the various processors that your devices are equipped with, package it in secure and elegant linux containers and eventually deploy it to your devices over the air. That’s a lot of time shaved off your workday.

In a financing round led by DFJ , in which we are happy to participate along with angels Panos Papadopoulos and Gil Dibner, Resin has now raised $3M to pursue the multibillion device industry that IoT will become in the next few years.


Forky raises €800k to bring delicious, quality food to your door in 15′

Food expectably is one of the greatest industries out there. At the same time, it remains one of the sectors that it has only been very little disrupted by technology. Sure, in the last couple of years alone we had Grubhub and JustEat IPOs, but what’s beyond aggregating a list of restaurants and their menus?

We have known Michalis Gkontas and Petros Pitsilis for a few years now. We were respectful of their efforts to bring something entirely new to the food industry. At the same time, however, we were not sold to the concept of collaborative economy when applied to homemade meal sharing, and had decided to pass in the past.

Everything changed late last summer. The founders realized that -no matter their great efforts- they were going nowhere with Cookisto, their previous endeavour, and delivered one of the greatest pivots we have experienced in our short journey so far.

The concept is simple. As consumers, when it comes to food and while keeping price and quality stable, our purchase decision mostly comes to convenience. And convenience actually means that you don’t spend much time to select a menu and make an order, also that you get the food in front of your door as fast as humanly possible.

Within less than a couple of months, the founders built and deployed in a small area of Athens a service that brings fast to a whole new level when it comes to food delivery. You pick upon a couple of available, quality meals every day, and you have it at your door in less than 15′.

It may sound simple, yet it is not. It takes a lot of effort to deliver a Taxibeat to pick you up within a few minutes; it takes a lot more to produce and deliver a delicious meal. Yet, when it works, it is an industry-changing experience.

Early adoption has been fantastic during autumn, and nobody can argue against solid traction numbers. In this context, we decided to lead a seed round in Forky. Along with BlueWire Capital and a number of angel investors who also participated, the round eventually reached the amount of €800k.

The company is now building the infrastructure and operations to serve most part of metropolitan Athens and become a utility of its urban lifestyle. While international competition is also taking shape, we are comfortable Forky is building a unique food company and we are happy to be partners in this journey.


Openfund increases fund size to €15m

We are happy to announce that we recently concluded a small capital increase to our current fund, Jeremie Openfund II, raising our total amount under management from €11.7m to €15.1m. About half of our existing investors participated, along with a number of new ones. We believe this extra amount makes us better equipped to address the growing opportunities of a rapidly maturing entrepreneurial ecosystem.


Workable raises $5m, grows at full speed

It’s only been a short couple of years since our original investment in Workable—and what a couple of years it has been!

Nikos and Spyros have been instrumental in creating a world class team, now counting 40 people across Athens, Boston and London. They are building, day in and day out, a best-of-breed software, delivering value to thousands of enterprises in more than 40 countries around the globe. Quite a start, for sure.

Today, the company is announcing a $5m round by its existing investors. We are comfortable it will suffice to further accelerate its growth and to establish Workable as the tool of choice when it comes to SMEs and hiring.

It is a rare opportunity to be able to change the way recruitment works for the most part of the economy. Workable has a chance to shape how people perceive and perform hiring, and we could not be more excited to be part of this.