In the last last update we shared a picture of James working outside his home in Sweden. It's now minus-12 in Stockholm, and everything is white. Working outdoors is somewhat less appealing.
Similarly, Arjun is locked in a hermetically-sealed room in India(!). Delhi's air pollution is particularly severe at present. In contrast, Ol's enjoying the great outdoors in a non-locked-down Sydney. Picture above (we're not jealous).
We plan to rendezvous in Singapore around the start of Q2 2022. Let us know if you're there and fancy catching up.
In this update
None of the following is investment advice or solicitation, but here's a roundup of what's new in our portfolios. As you'll see, there's been quite a lot of movement since August. More than a few companies raised follow-on rounds, and the funds we've backed as LPs have secured more than $60m between them, based on their past success.
Oliver is an investor in Australia-based VC, Investible. As an early backer of Canva, Investible has enjoyed some enormous gains. It is well on the way to raising a further $50m to do more of the same. Among others, the fund has investments in Singapore's Parcel Perform and Australia-based ShoreTrade, which both closed large rounds subsequently.
James, meanwhile, is in the process of backing Mikael Krogh's second fund for Investigate VC. Fund 1 delivered 2.8x MOIC (44% IRR), but James feels there's plenty of upside left in the portfolio companies, all of which are rolling over into fund 2. This looks even more exciting after a big raises from Quincus and Parcel Perform (Investible and Investigate are both investors), and with the continuing expansion of Magnus Grimeland's Antler empire.
In terms of direct investment, we're feeling good about The Rattle. Chris and team are raising £5m, having found product-market fit. Meanwhile, friend of DQ, Paul Bloemendal, went live with his commodities trading platform, Paper Trader. He's signed up his first users, which include Unilever, just as he's closing a convertible note round. He's aiming for a full institutional round (Series A) next year. Find him here.
While James was in London in September, he caught up with Indy Sangha, the founder of dog-walking app, Tailster. Indy's done an amazing job of transitioning to a data business. It literally kept the business alive when Covid stopped the dog-walking market in its tracks (pun intended). That's a good lesson for us to bring to DQ portfolio companies.
Back in Singapore, Zyllem (formerly RocketUncle!) raised a bridge round from existing investor, Wavemaker, and JGDEV. At one point, some of us early investors were sitting on paper gains of ~20x. It didn't last, but after a major pivot, it's great to see Noam, Lisa, and the team fighting back.
Also doing well is evvnt, under James' friend (not brother) Richard Green. evvnt just hit $2m in annual revenue and is eyeing a big raise in the USA. This was James' first ever investment... It would make a great story!
In other news, Blue Oasis Technology won a global business accelerator programme. They and the other winners are using the ocean to tackle some of today’s greatest societal challenges. Chip landed a record-breaking £11.5 million crowdfund. NextUp, Hoptroff, and Graphene Composites all completed raises on Crowdcube. (The latter is really cool. It's a patented material used to make Covid-beating air filters and lightweight bullet-proof body armour!) Also raising money were Clim8, Coconut and Boring Money. What's more, Clim8's fund achieved a 25% return over the first 12 months!
Perhaps best of all, Oliver just helped navigate the successful sale of e-commerce data business, CrescoData. Cresco was the creation of Ol's wife, Anna, who started the business in 2014. The company now becomes a subsidiary of US-based Pitney Bowes, and in doing so adds a second multi-million-dollar exit to the family's resume. Nice work
DQ is starting to hit its stride. Our plan is to keep bootstrapping until a) we reach ten companies, and b) one of them completes an external equity round. At that point we may look to raise ourselves, accelerating our expansion. In the meantime, we'd welcome introductions to potential business founders, and to investors that might like us or our portfolio companies, below.
Key metrics since outset
2021 Revenue To Date
WeNetwork – recruitment done right
Rob's business continues to grow quarter-on-quarter. For 2021, across Singapore and Indonesia, WeNetwork will make SG$2m in revenue. The plan is to open Australia in February, and both Malaysia and Vietnam by 1st July. If you need to recruit, let us know. Rob's a top guy.
Socioly – the ultimate blend of chat and calendar
With the US$100,000 investment from DQinvestments complete, the product is now in development. It looks amazing. We'll message you when the time is right in case you'd like to try it.
Zenn – design tools for the creatively challenged
Again we've completed a US$100,000 investment from DQinvestments. We are working with Steve to get v1 of the product out, while nailing down the go-to-market strategy. Here's an explanation of why we're excited about Zenn.
Stealth Solutions – cloaking for digital marketers
This is an interesting one, and a slight twist on the core DQventures theme. If the January launch is successful, it's a partnership that could expand into multiple different products. Watch this space.
Outside the above, we have kicked off two more DQ startup programmes. The founders are truly exceptional, focusing on e-commerce and future-of-work, respectively. We'll update you as the ventures take shape.
James just wrote a series of articles to help first-time founders avoid some of the mistakes we've made and witnessed over the last decade. Here's the start. If you prefer a short read, here's a Twitter thread. Please feel free to share it with anyone who's about to leap into entrepreneurship!
The markets still feel out of control, so the current commodities pull-back feels like a good time to "buy what's cheap and sell what's expensive". Many people, including us, are following Scott Osheroff's Telegram channel, focusing on the following sectors:
The free version of Capitalist Exploits Insider is also fun. It agrees with most of what Scott says, but it's not for the faint of heart!
This update is already long, so we'll keep it short and sweet:
- Chris Howard at the Rattle is raising his Series A. His full deck is here.
- James' friend and former boss, Tushar Tejuja, is crushing it at HackerTrail. He's raising $5m to scale up. His deck is here.
- If you're into dating apps and/or staying fit, a chap from James' school in the UK (shout out to all Bloxham people!) is raising money off the back of some impressive metrics. We haven't invested, so please do your own research.
- Another friend, Bimal Shah (a great guy and the only founder we've ever known to offer anti-dilution to his investors, unprompted) is contemplating a growth round for Elemental Concept. He's an impressive individual. The company will make £3m in revenue this year, so it's no startup. If you're looking to place a larger bet and want a safe pair of hands, Bimal's worth chatting to.
- Last but not least, is Dan Regan. Alongside former-F1 mechanic, Josh Roles, Dan's about to crowdfund for an unbelievably cool, off-road EV. James sat in it in the summer. He wants one. We're not sure what the Swedish transport police will make of it (although to be fair the Swedes love EVs!).
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Wishing you a fantastic festive period
Here at DQ, Omicron permitting, this will be the first Christmas some of us will spend with extended family for more than 5 years. We're looking forward to some festive cheer with the relatives, a few presents, a Christmas pudding, more than a few mince pies, and maybe a pantomime!
Wishing you all a wonderful December and an auspicious start to 2022!
James, Arjun and Oliver