Karin Bjerde joins blq Invest

Hey Karin!

We are happy to introduce the fourth team member of Blq Invest – Karin Bjerde, our Company Builder! Put simply, Karin will be overall responsible for assisting our portfolio companies transition from startups to scaleups. Having spent her previous 4+ years at a Swedish SaaS startup turned scaleup, Kognity, she’s lived through this transition and will now use her experience and knowledge to guide our companies operationally.

Not an ordinary investor
What makes blq Invest different is that we are not simply an investor – we are company builders! Our expertise is to help our portfolio companies go from start-ups to scale-ups. Through our blq Box approach, we help our companies identify what needs to be done within 4 key areas – scale, stickiness, storytelling, and team – and then work side-by-side with them to bring these changes into reality. Strong execution is the motto we live by.

What is a company builder?
This blq Box process is what Karin as a company builder will be responsible for. Karin works with the founders and management of the companies on a weekly basis to ensure they are taking the right steps to scale their business. This can for instance be setting a clear company strategy, company steering to ensure the entire team is pulling in the same direction, improving the commercial functions based on best practices within SaaS, and identifying and executing on recruitment needs.

What is Karin’s motivation?
Put simply, she loves connecting the dots between the top-down big picture trends, and the bottom-up execution of those trends. Further, she also believes Sweden (where we have our HQ) has a unique opportunity to take a leading role globally through its values, entrepreneurial ecosystem thanks to companies like Spotify, Skype, and Klarna, and societal structure enabling entrepreneurship. Nurturing Sweden’s ecosystem of start-ups alongside governments, academia, and large corporations can position Sweden at the forefront of global development, we just have to ensure that we provide all the right pathways to deliver on that opportunity.

Many times, grand plans and visions fail due to execution. Under Karin and the rest of the blq team’s guidance, blq Invest’s portfolio companies will hopefully navigate the tricky path from startup to scaleup in a grander fashion.

The blq box

We wanted to share some ingredients in our secret sauce with you. A sauce we call the blq box. We firmly believe that building solid, successful companies can be done systematically, even at an early stage. The blq box is our way of doing this.

The blq box consists of four key areas:

Scale
The key to surviving the Valley of Death spells Scale. Creating business models that scale allows scaleups to progress with their customers, while recurring revenues provide a solid base from which to add further value. Go-to-market strategies, growth hacking and solidifying niche positions are key areas of organisational support for us, all the while driving underlying profitability through clear value propositions.

Stickiness
Stickiness is the fundamental component of a SaaS business. Creating products and services that your customers initially want to buy is step one, but then what? We help our companies in progressing from “nice-to-have” via “need-to-have” to “absolutely business critical”. This entails transitioning to recurring revenues, iterating on pricing strategies, achieving negative churn and integrating in the value chain, all in dialogue with the market.

Storytelling
There’s nothing in the world more powerful than a good story. Most scaleups consider Storytelling either a necessary evil or an unaffordable luxury. We believe it is a critical key to success. Not just towards customers, but suppliers, distributors and the overall market. Not to mention future investors. We help our companies write their own story through everything from value proposition, positioning, and brand identity to relationship building, spokesperson strategies and smart activities to make the best out of your brand.

Team
There is no I in Team, but there’s an I in execution. A solid organisational structure that creates opportunities for individuals to succeed is the foundation of company building, as is the right competence at the right place, at the right time. We support management teams with strategy and organisational planning, recruiting key hires, culture development, and employer branding, helping our companies create environments that attract and retain top talent.

This is how are supporting entrepreneurs through a data-driven approach. A joint plan on how to successfully scale is devised together with the entrepreneurs, allowing for a unified view on what actions and strategies are to be prioritised. During our time together, we support operationally to execute on this plan.

Quarterly letter Q3

Dear blq family,

During the third quarter of the year many countries had eased their covid-19 restrictions. For the ecosystem of startups and scaleups this led to a higher business activity. Many of our portfolio companies’ customers are comfortable making business decisions with a long-term effect, such as investing in business-critical SaaS products.

We are pleased to see that our blq box approach with our companies is creating positive output and all three companies are as expected in a growth phase.

Our pipeline is strong, and we are confident that we will by the end of the year have several tangible investment opportunities in front of us. Alongside our work with the portfolio companies and our pipeline during this quarter, we have also done the final closing of blq 1. This work has now led to that we have final commitments at 200 000 000 SEK.

At the end of the third quarter signs of increased infection levels in various countries appeared, which has led to once again necessary increased restrictions. Whether it will be at the same levels as we have seen in the spring and summer, it is still too early to say. For blq and our portfolio companies, we listen carefully to what the market is saying, and for now it is clear that our digital business critical offerings are here to stay.

Kamjar Hajabdolahi Founding partner

Quarterly letter Q2

Dear blq family,

As mentioned in our first quarterly report, we have since the outbreak of covid-19 worked closely with our portfolio companies to evaluate the financial and operational impact of the pandemic. Six months have passed and both Ingrid and Cinode have proven to be business critical for their customers and have therefore continued to grow. We still don’t know how and when the world will get back to “normal”, but we remain certain that our investment scope and the current trends we are looking at, are here for the long run.

We believe that at the end of the day execution is everything, and as such have put a lot of effort in introducing our operational approach toward our portfolio companies. We call this, the blq box. The companies that we have – and will invest in, all have a strong technical platform, it is more within the commercial field, where we are able to apply additional brainpower. Therefore the blq box contains four blocks within, Scale, Storytelling, Stickiness and Team. This will make our companies “bankable” towards other investors and their ticket out of the valley of death.

For Ingrid, the focus for the blq box during Q2 has been commercialisation. We have supported operationally to set up a commercial team working closely together with sales, marketing and customer success. The ambition is to create an organisation for scale and we have together with the Ingrid team ramped up the company for success with necessary infrastructure, team members and company management. This is reflected in a large increase in the number of packages during the quarter.

For Cinode, the focus has been to become a full-on SaaS business. During Q2 Cinode has landed impressive deals with both SEMCON and Telia. The company has also launched Cinode Partner Network, one step to becoming a full competence marketplace for companies, projects and giggers to connect with each other.

Our pipeline remains strong and during the second quarter we have met several companies that fit our investment criteria, that have also proven a steady growth during the first six months. One of them is our third investment Quickchannel AB (streaming and collaboration software). Quickchannel saw an increase in traction during the quarter, with +253% increase in leads, +642% increase in the platform and a +40% pipeline growth.

We are seeing interesting trends for the global economy, the stock markets are doing well, the EU has agreed on a corona fund and many markets have made necessary adaptations due to the pandemic. Many of the adaptations are enforcing a digital approach instead of the analog one, this is in favor for blq invest and I am therefore mildly optimistic of what the future has to offer.

Kamjar Hajabdolahi Founding partner

Hello Quickchannel

New investment: Quickchannel

Blq invests 6,75 MSEK in streaming tech company Quickchannel. Quickchannel’s ambition is to facilitate digital collaboration and become the leading streaming provider globally.

Quickchannel helps their customers collaborate and communicate globally. The company quickly became leading within streaming of city council meetings and quickly helped some of the biggest public clients in Sweden such as Telia, Office Management and Skanska. Today Quickchannel is a full fledged SaaS company with over 150 clients in 9 markets and steady growth in public and private clients.

Quickchannel’s vision is to help our customers save time, money and work for a greener planet through streamed video. Webinars and live streamed meetings and events are now happening through our technology and we want to help organisations through video whenever, wherever.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak, Quickchannel has seen over 700 percent growth in their service, since organisations need to readjust into digital workplaces. Covid-19 has forced us all to adapt digitally incredibly quickly. CEO town halls, events and distance learning have all been popular among Quickchannel’s clients for a long time, but during Covid-19 new applications such as press conferences, virtual board meetings and distance training through gyms have become just as popular.

This spring has forced us to change our behaviour and we believe we will see a pre and post Covid effect in digital collaboration and communication.

Welcome to the blq family!

Quarterly letter Q1

QUARTERLY LETTER – A WORD FROM THE FOUNDER

We launched blq invest in November 2019 with the idea of sourcing and building companies with a systematic approach. We aim at becoming the best company builders in the valley of death. Our systematic approach and niche expertise in scale, storytelling, stickiness and team make our investments become bankable companies. We call this the blq box.

This is our first quarterly report and needless to say the first quarter has been extraordinary. Based on our sourcing, current pipeline and our portfolio companies, I would like to share some of the key insights we have gained during this period.

– Companies with vulnerable business models and heavy balance sheets will find it hard to allocate additional capital from investors and might not therefore survive this downturn.
– Pre-revenue companies that are in the beginning of their journey and have not been able to iterate with the market, will most likely struggle, and rely on “family, friends or fools” to save them.
– Valuations for early stage scaleups have decreased, with estimates ranging from a 25-40% drop.
– Horizontal SaaS-scaleups, which sell to companies in a wide range of sectors, have experienced a relatively lower drop in growth so far.
– SaaS is in its nature a resilient business model for downturns, thanks to the power of recurring revenue.

Coming back to blq invest our investment focus has always been B2B SaaS-scaleups, providing business critical products and services within clear niches, and this has not changed due to covid-19. Quite the opposite, we feel empowered that it is the right focus ahead.

Ingrid and Cinode, our two portfolio companies, have both been affected mildly and are still growing at a steady pace. Both companies are well-positioned with business critical offerings, providing a solid base from which to tackle the ensuing challenges. Cinode’s focus on competence is proving crucial, as companies are forcing to adapt and reposition their offerings, while Ingrid’s delivery experience platform allows e-commerce companies to meet sharply increasing demand as e-commerce soars.

The epidemic has brought a broad change in behavior, enforcing new digital trends. We don’t know in what form (V, U, W or L) the world will recover, it will depend on second waves of infections, further lockdowns, fiscal policies and monetary policies. But I strongly believe that blq invest, that is in the beginning of its lifecycle, have a very good position with its current portfolio and future investment opportunities.

Kamjar Hajabdolahi, founding partner blq invest

Hello Ingrid

Ingrid, the delivery experience platform.
Reshaping the world of e-commerce.

Blq (building legacy quota) invests 12,25 M SEK in delivery experience platform Ingrid. Founded in Stockholm 2015 with the idea of improving e-commerce deliveries, Ingrid is a platform for merchants that want to increase their margins and offer consumers smarter deliveries, all in one go. Today Ingrid handles 10% of the Swedish e-com market and continually expanding in new markets together with the customers.

By aggregating the delivery options best suited for every individual order during checkout, consumers are guaranteed a better delivery experience. Simplifying the purchase process improves conversion and builds loyalty for merchants. 

Shopping online should be as simple and convenient as traditional retail used to be. Ingrid is eliminating consumer anxiety one purchase at a time, leading the way to the best delivery experiences. 

With a strong B2B2C focus, Ingrid has created a platform that will transform the way we view e-commerce today. Ingrid is Swedish engineering at its best.

The technology is, to say the least, validated by the market when 10 percent of the packages on the Swedish e-commerce market delivers through Ingrid’s platform. Ingrid is ready to scale globally with sales and marketing.

Welcome to the blq family!

Ingrid
CEO: Piotr Zaleski
Founders: Piotr Zaleski
E-commerce clients: 20+ including Adlibris, Babyshop, iDeal of Sweden & NA-KD
#Countries: Available in over 20 markets, handling order from consumers in 107 countries
Team: 30

100 days of building legacy

Today, it has been 100 days since we launched blq invest on blq Friday 2019. Since then, we have made our first investment and soon we will have more news to share. But first we would like to take the opportunity to introduce our company building approach. 

We are not an ordinary investor. We are company builders. You will probably find better financial investors in the investor ecosystem, but we aim at becoming the best company builder. We provide both capital and operational competence. We view ourselves as a catalyst for growth and innovation, and want to act as a bridge between angles investors and venture capital in the valley of death. 

Boards meetings? Yes, but also weekly workstreams check-ins. We want to build the companies together with the founders. Our systematic approach and niche expertise in analytics, go-to-market and storytelling helps our investments become bankable companies. 

What companies are we looking at then? Our investment focus is tech companies with a proven commercial model. We like stickiness and recurring revenue and enjoy B2B. We love a unique niche. We have a soft spot for active founders that are large shareholders. Sounds like a match? You are welcome to send your pitch deck to info@blqinvest.com

Thank you for following us on the first 100 days.

Hello Cinode

CINODE – competence inventory tools that work

Say hello to blq invest’s first investment: Cinode. Blq invests €2,1M in the competence-tech company to speed up the Swedish market, scale to new markets and reach new segments of clients. 

Cinode helps competence companies become more successful. To act faster on business opportunities, deliveries, and management of competencies. Skills are made available and consultants are professionally presented. Assignments, matching, and utilization planning is made easier. Lead times are reduced and engagement among consultants is strengthened. With Cinode.

Work, work, work. Digitalisation, specialisation and the gig-economy are transforming competence intensive industries with new ways of working. Through Cinode’s human technology we can make a traditional industry more efficient, more effective and make new work, work. 

We are a good match. Blq is not a traditional investor and Cinode is not an ordinary company. Cinode is the perfect example of tech as an enabler for growth. With a strong growth, and impressive client base and a good position on the market Cinode has impressed us. We love the scalability and the strong business model and are looking forward to accelerate it even further.

Welcome to the blq family!

Cinode
CEO: Anders Hagberg
Founders: Mattias Loxi, Mikael Tell and Daniel Glendor
Annual growth: 40-50 percent
Markets: Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland and Germany 
Team: 20