The Up Group cited as one of the industry favourites by tech blog, The Kernel

As many of you will have read, The Kernel published a shocking expose on the quality of the technology recruitment and search industry earlier this month.  They also shared the names of a few firms held up us being ethical, high quality and those frequently cited as the favourites by the tech industry itself – we are delighted to say that The Up Group was recognised as one of those firms…

“In part three of The Kernel’s tech recruitment industry exposé, Mic Wright reveals the firms you can trust: those the technology industry has told us they regularly use with success.”

The Up Group Private Equity Breakfast Event Wednesday 22nd February 2012 – A Brief Reflection….

On 22nd February 2012, The Up Group hosted a breakfast networking event for executives experienced in working for Private Equity backed businesses.  The session was designed, amongst other things, to offer an insight into the transition from Executive to Non Executive, “plural” life. Thus, a mixture of PE experienced Chief Executives, Chief Financial Officers, Chairmen and Non-Executive Directors were invited to ensure that the session offered a variety of opinion and debate.

The morning was chaired by Richard Segal, who has a wealth of experience, having worked in a number of different situations and roles across the private equity landscape (including Chief Executive of Odeon, backed by Cinven; Executive and later Non-Executive Chairman of Esporta, owned by Societe Generale; currently Chairman of Hellman & Friedman-sponsored Web Reservations International; and also a spell as a Partner within 3i’s Quoted Private Equity division).

The schedule covered several interesting topics, including:

The role of a Chairman within a PE-backed business – a ‘buffer’ between PE house and management? Likewise, the ‘translator’ of good and bad news, managing expectations and making sure both sets of people are aligned?
Either way, it was agreed that a Chairman needs to bring a track record of value creation, know-how to manage people and have deep sector experience, preferably in a variety of market conditions.

Operating Partner model – variety of roles / involvement?  Suitability during different market conditions?  Value added?
A range of interactions and experiences were discussed, with the conclusion that the Operating Partner model can become quite a useful advantage to funds, if handled correctly.

Deal flow
The unpredictability and lack of clarity around deal flow provoked a lot of debate. Given the uncertainty of consumer markets and the increasingly central role that the banks are playing in deal negotiations, the underlying feeling amongst our group was one of frustration.

Thanks to all who attended the lively and interesting discussion!

Up interviews Per Besson at social Gaming start-up, Happy Elements


Can you tell us about Happy Elements? What do you do and how was the business founded?

We are a social gaming company focused on bringing our games to both Social Networks, such as Facebook, as well mobile gaming platforms.

Happy Elements was founded in 2009 and first game was launched in fall of that year in traditional Chinese on Facebook Taiwan. Launch coincided with that platforms  explosive growth and our game “My Fishbowl” soon became extremely hot on the market. With its 1.3 million Daily Active Users it still remains the platform’s most popular game.

What markets are Happy Elements currently in and what are your plans for expansion?

Based on that initial success in Taiwan with “My Fishbowl” we have launched successive games on that platform as well as an additional 18 platforms around the world in a total of 15 languages, both Asian and Western. We are widely considered to be the social gaming company with strongest overall presence across Asia’s four strongest social gaming markets; Taiwan, China, Japan and Korea. We are now using that presence to serve as a “publisher” for other gaming companies i.e. customize and promote other companies’ games using our resources.

You launched the business with “My Fishbowl”, a Facebook game. How important is Facebook to your future strategy and success?

With the launch of our first game “My Fishbowl” on Taiwan, Facebook, has served as the base of our success, however across other key Asian markets Facebook (Japan, China and Korea) is way behind local social network platforms. Our strategy is to work, when we can, with the market leaders in each country.

Facebook and the web in general are awash with casual gaming companies, so who are you targeting and how do you seek to differentiate yourselves from others on offer?

The social gaming landscape is entering a mature phase where the dominant companies now have the user base across which they can cross promote their games. This means that for smaller companies with a small game portfolio having a good game is often not quite good enough. Monetization often isn’t higher than the cost of acquiring new users.

We believe that “We are running a service, not a product”, so that our games must constantly be kept fresh and new with updates to improve quality of content and gameplay. With so much competition the users are becoming more and more demanding. And that pushes all of us in industry to make better and better games.

How important is it that you have a multiplatform product, and to what extent are you focussing on mobile and tablet?

Creating a new social game can easily involve 6 months work for a team of 15-20 people. That is a lot of fixed costs to recoup, therefore it is important to try to get the new game on as many platforms as possible. Because of this we have created GIP (Global Integration Platform) as a type of middleware to connect our proprietary games, as well as the games we publish for third parties, with the 18 platforms we serve.

Mobile and tablet games are the new hot field and we are putting a large part of resources into game development. Some large players that from the SNS gaming space such as Zynga & Electronic Arts are naturally reallocating resources and growing quickly into this space, but there is still much space for new entries and Happy Elements as well as many are rushing to establish a strong market presence.

What is it like to work at Happy Elements? What type of company culture are you keen to foster?

Ours is a very young relaxed, fun team-oriented company culture. We are trying to foster a merit-based culture that rewards innovation and self-motivation. Since demand for top talent in this sector can be so fierce it is especially important for us to create not only a friendly place to work, but also a place where employees feel challenged to grow professionally.

Outside of your own market, what do you think is the hottest emerging trend or technology right now?

I see smart phone technologies getting smarter and smarter and this combined with location-based technologies will make the mobile in our pocket and even more of a powerful, multi-use tool in our lives.  Things that we probably can’t even imagine now, but will definitely also include innovations to make gaming ever more exciting and engaging for the users.

An exclusive with… Aurore Belfrage, Co-Founder and International Sales Director, Wrapp


Tell us about Wrapp? Who is behind the business?

Wrapp is a new social gifting service that lets you use your smartphone to send free and paid digital gift cards offered by top brands to all of your Facebook friends. The digital gift cards are then stored in the Wrapp Wallet on the recipient’s phone, so they’re always in your friend’s pocket, ready to use.

Wrapp was started earlier this year by some of the best and brightest young entrepreneurs in Sweden, including Andreas Ehn, Spotify’s founding chief technology officer; Hjalmar Winbladh, founding CEO of Rebtel, and Sendit; Carl Fritjofsson, former strategy advisor to; Aage Reerslev, founder of mobile browser Squace; and Fabian Mansson, former CEO of H&M and Eddie Bauer.


How did you and your co-founders come up with the idea?

Early this year we started looking at what was going on in the world and the mega-trends impacting our daily lives. Smartphone penetration was exploding. Everybody was on Facebook – some 700 million of us worldwide. And the global economy was a mess, making life miserable for retailers.  Then we found that one of the most popular items in the retail industry was a gift card. In the U.S. alone it’s worth more than $100 billion a year.  But not much has happened with it during the past 50 years. Paper cards have turned into plastic cards, and that’s about it – and there is still a lot of friction in buying and giving them.  So, it was clear there was room for real innovation.  We put all those ingredients together, turned it up-side down and in-side out, and out came Wrapp – a business that disrupts the gift card market in a positive way – actually makes it larger – by making it social, digital and mobile.


Wrapp combines two very hot trends, mobile and social media. What do you think will make Wrapp successful? Is there something similar in the market?

There’s no shortage of companies in the social gifting category but what makes Wrapp unique is a few things:

Wrapp is first to make it just as easy and fun to send gifts of real value to your friends and family, as it is to say Hi or Happy Birthday on their Facebook wall.

So, by making gift cards mobile, social and digital, gift giving can now be an everyday event. Thank-you, Monday, a new job – whatever – everyone loves to be recognized and celebrated.

And for retailers, Wrapp is the first low-risk, low cost customer acquisition platform for improving in-store sales using precision targeting that drives only desired on-line consumers into stores.  And, it’s pay for performance; retailers don’t pay until the gift cards are redeemed in-store.

Just the free gifts business creates a strong company; the contributions mutual friends add to gifts will make Wrapp great.


You took the business to launch in a very short time. What do you think made that possible?

We have a great tech and design team led by Spotify’s former CTO, Andreas Ehn.

But equally important, is that top retailers have quickly recognized our unique offer and the benefits of becoming a Wrapp partner.  Many merchants have found that daily deals and deal-hunters dilute their brand’s value and is bad business because it drives the wrong traffic to the store and doesn’t generally foster repeat business.  In contrast, Wrapp has found a way to make friend-to-friend marketing real and accessible to many retailers for the first time ever.


How did you market the idea to retailers? What have been the challenges in getting traditional retailers on board? Is it easier if they already have a mobile strategy?

Retailers are no fools.  They know they must have mobile and social strategies if they are going to survive today.  The problem is that until now it’s been a crapshoot for many when it comes to adopting cost effective and measureable programs. With Wrapp the get both.

Wrapp is a pay-for-performance platform – the retailers only pay when a gift card is redeemed.  Wrapp allows them to target specific demographics – they’re able to offer free cards only to exactly whom they want in their stores. Wrapp generates real-time performance and customer demographic data – valuable information that’s measureable and can be used to tune their campaigns. And last, and possibly most important of all, with Wrapp friends are marketing the brand to friends.  In my opinion it doesn’t get better than that.


Your proposition is B2B and B2C, what are the difficulties in developing products that must appeal and work for both groups?

First and foremost we have to delight consumers.  They have to love what we’re offering and use the service often, if not every day.  So the benefit to the consumer has to be instantly understandable.

Just as important, the app has to be super simple and intuitive to use.  If we’re not making people’s lives easier, better and more enjoyable, what’s the point?

For the retailers, it’s all about delivering on the promise – actually delivering the shoppers into their stores that they know, based on demographics, are the most profitable.

So far, so good on all fronts – at least in Sweden, and soon in the UK and US.


You have recently secured some significant VC-funding from Atomico. What will this enable you to do?

Just having the advice, counsel and attention of Niklas Zennström is epic for us.  He brings amazing insight, experience, knowledge and relationships that will be crucial to our ability to expand and scale quickly around the world.  But the funds are also important because they allow us to hire a few more people and increase our marketing efforts that are required to successfully enter new markets – first and foremost the UK and US.


What are Wrapp’s aspirations for the future?

We believe Wrapp can disrupt the gift card industry for the better – actually make it bigger than it already is worldwide – by making it mobile, social and digital, and in so doing, become the de-facto standard for Internet gift giving among friends.


Where are your offices right now and how many people work in the business? What type of person fits into the Wrapp culture?

We currently have three offices: Stockholm, London, and Silicon Valley. There are just 15 of us right now, going on 17 going on 20.

We’re looking for a few fellow entrepreneurs, who are creative, relentless, and know the retail industry.


What is your personal background prior to co-founding Wrapp?

I’ve had a bit of a scrappy past (pun intended).  I started my career as business development manager at Stena Metall AB, which recycles and processes metals, paper, electronics, hazardous waste and chemicals in five geographical markets.  But just before Wrapp I was global sales director of the Online Division at Metro International, the world’s largest urban newspaper and business intelligence firm.  And before that, I was with TradeDoubler, the international performance-based digital marketing company, where I was the agency service director.


Outside of your own market, what do you think is the hottest emerging trend or technology right now?

We’re focused on retail and gift giving but the hottest emerging trends are the same within and outside of our market: mobile, social and global.

An exclusive with… Rob Deeming, Head of Strategic Projects at Gilt Groupe and Managing Director, Jetsetter UK


Here in Europe we all know Gilt as a successful designer fashion eCommerce business but in the US you have been translating this model across other verticals, and in 2010 launched a travel equivalent called “Jetsetter”. Can you explain why you have done this and how Jetsetter works?

In 2010, Gilt had already grown rapidly and had developed a large member base of passionate shoppers. We started to ask ourselves (and those shoppers) what else they might be interested in buying from Gilt. Travel was consistently the top reply we heard.

Jetsetter began in much the same way as Gilt, selling luxury products, in this case hotel rooms, at a significant discount, in a range of daily, members-only, limited time ‘flash sales’.

As a proposition to our vendors (hotels), Jetsetter has some key differences to Gilt. There are some incredible properties in the world, but many struggle to reach the right audience, relying on traditional methods like a visiting journalist, or attracting influential guests. By working with Jetsetter, great hotels find themselves promoted on our site, and in our communications with members, which in turn drives bookings and awareness of their product.


Both the online travel and daily deals spaces are very busy. How do you differentiate Jetsetter UK from the competition in both areas?

There are many, many ways Jetsetter UK is differentiated, but I would particularly highlight three. Jetsetter UK curates the very best hotels around the world, which means that the deals that customers find on our site are at hotels that we feel strongly are the very best-in-class. In the same way, we invest heavily in our editorial process, commissioning many of the world’s best travel writers to visit and review the properties you will see on the site – we never feature a hotel we have not personally verified.

Finally, and more mechanically, many of the new wave of daily deal sites are really selling coupons for travel; customers need to contact the hotel after making their purchase to (hopefully) book dates. At Jetsetter, we are selling actual hotel stays – customers book the dates they want right there on the site, just like they would with a regular online travel agency.


What markets is Jetsetter currently in and what are your plans for expansion?

Travel is an inherently global product, and Jetsetter trips can be booked from anywhere in the world. Even before we launched the Jetsetter UK site, 20% of bookings made on Jetsetter where made by customers outside the US. We launched our UK site in September, and we already have a sales team based in Asia managing our hotel relationships there.

Our major focus for the next couple of quarters is growing the UK operation, but we are always considering other geographies – both emerging, and established.

The daily deals business model has come in for some criticism recently. How does the Jetsetter model add value to both the individual consumer and the business customer long term?

For our consumers, what you see is what you get. We feel passionately about the hotels we curate, and we know that our members will be blown-away by the travel experiences we provide. Our hotel partners know how great our members are too, and will often go out of their way to do something a bit extra for customers that book through Jetsetter, all of which adds up to a better experience for our customers to enjoy.

From a hotel perspective, as I mentioned before, we help hotels reach a high quality audience with a passion for travel. And we generate significant bookings for them too, which of course is a big plus for our partners.


Can you tell us more about Gilt’s future strategy and how Jetsetter fits in to the portfolio?

Gilt continues to grow aggressively in the US, and like Jetsetter, is actively looking at further international expansion. We recently launched international shipping, meaning that customers from over 90 countries around the world can now access the amazing deals on Gilt. Gilt is looking very closely at Europe at the moment, and the continued success of Jetsetter here in the UK is only going to support those aspirations.


Businesses like Gilt and Groupon are achieving staggering valuations and the market is awash with speculation on whether you will IPO in 2012. What is your take on this and what do you see as the pros and cons of floating?

That speculation seems to grow every day, and we have been open about the fact that an IPO is certainly an option Gilt will consider in 2012. The key is getting the timing right, and we will make sure not to jump before the business is genuinely ready.

The pros and cons of floating for Gilt are much the same as they are for other online businesses – a capital injection and increased public awareness are great upsides, but increased scrutiny is something that needs to be carefully considered. The fluctuations in Groupon’s share price since their floatation are testament to that.

You have been spearheading a lot of Gilt’s international expansion plans. What are the major challenges of launching a business like Gilt in Europe? In particular how do you go about building your team?

This is not a new business for Europe, and there are many players who are doing a great job in specific countries – Privalia in Spain and Vente Privee in France – are good examples. But we feel our positioning is differentiated, and we are yet to see any truly successful businesses operating at the luxury end of the spectrum in the same way that Gilt does. Clearly that creates an opportunity for us to expand.

Building the team in Europe has been a fantastic process, and I am lucky to have put together an extremely high calibre team at Jetsetter in the UK. In the technology and travel industries, the Jetsetter brand has genuine cache, and I think my team are just plain excited to be attempting to replicate the success that Jetsetter has seen in the US with a new audience here in the UK and Europe.

 What is it like to work at Jetsetter and at Gilt? What type of company culture are you keen to foster?

It’s a fascinating business to be a part of – even given the rapid growth, Kevin, Susan and the management team have done a remarkable job of maintaining a passionate and committed culture and a team with a desire to keep pushing the boundaries.

Last week Gilt ran a sale with Virgin America to let one customer charter an entire plane to fly any route, anywhere within the US. Thrown into the deal was the chance to permanently name the plane with a moniker of your choosing, painted right there on the fuselage, for time eternal. All for the princely sum of $60,000. That deal sold in under an hour, which is pretty extraordinary if you think about it what it takes to fill the 146 seats. Being a part of a business that can pull off deals like that makes Gilt an incredibly exciting place to work.


Outside of your own market, what do you think is the hottest emerging trend or technology right now?

My tip for the next big thing is social shopping. The early pioneers in this space are rapidly discovering that retailers can dramatically increase the chances of a customer making a purchase if they can engage that customer’s friends, and voices they trust, in the selling process. Businesses like Svpply and Pinterest in the US are at the absolute forefront of the space, and are generating purchase conversion rates that would make even the most successful online retailer cry with jealousy.

I think we will see successful standalone businesses in this space, but more importantly, I believe we will see this new approach to selling have a dramatic impact on the way that every online retailer sells products.

Up’s Mobile Networking Breakfast – A Brief Reflection…


  • Chairperson: Judy Gibbons – NED, Guardian Media Group (ex-Accel)


  • Velti
  • Trader Media Group
  • Facebook
  • Comscore
  • Qype
  • Mesaplexx
  • Taptu
  • Knomo
  • AlertMe
  • EchoEcho
  • YuMe
  • Mippin
  • Touchnote
  • Adfonic
  • ChartsNow
  • Mobile Monday
  • Geocast
  • WeeWorld


1. Is Mobile just another channel or a distinct new business opportunity? If it’s a single-minded opportunity do you think about Mobile separately from Tablets. If it’s multichannel, how do you think about mobile as a channel?

‘If you have to distil down what it is in essence – it’s about connectivity. You are actually connected live wherever you are. The constant connectivity is the key difference for me when it comes to  Mobile versus Tablet. You are in the pocket of that person 24/7. That’s why it affects every industry like payments for instance, because you have 100% connectivity.’

‘Until I’m carrying a tablet in my pocket there’s an awful lot I’ll do on my phone that I won’t do on my iPad. That’s a real differentiator.’

‘There is a lot of evidence out there of companies that have grown very large off the back of having a Mobile presence, e.g. Mobile Advertising businesses like Velti prove that having a clear mobile focus will enable businesses to win.’

‘The channel is not an end in itself; it’s a means to an end. Some of us couldn’t make money without mobile because our businesses couldn’t exist without it.’

‘From an advertising perspective it’s the output rather than input. There will be a time in advertising when Mobile becomes just one mechanism to reach the consumer. It will become about connected devices.’

‘Isn’t Mobile just a label for the stuff that we haven’t quite worked out yet that’s still nascent and bleeding edge?’

‘If you think about Mobile as a channel, it’s one that can be used in conjunction with others, which isn’t necessarily the case for all channels. You can’t use radio at the same time as TV to target consumers, for example. But you can use Mobile at same time as Radio, TV and Print.’

‘Mobile means that we live in a world where everyone is ‘chipped’. Even banking doesn’t have that. Nothing has the penetration on a global basis like Mobile. That network effect is completely unprecedented; it’s hard to predict and will be changing for next 20 years.’


2. Many of you are involved in start-ups. You have to make bets on where you place your money. On one side you have iPhone and Android with a successful app store and billing mechanism. Then on the other a whole array of other platforms and HTML5. How are you thinking about where you’re going to place your bets in the next 12-18 months in terms of development investment?

Touchnote: ‘We have our app on each and every platform. The next 12 months for us will be focussed on iPhone/iPad. With HTML5 it depends on what you do. As a business, it’s relevant for some companies but not all.  App store success is all driven by ratings. It’s never been such a problematic market for app builders.’

Facebook: ‘We’re investing very heavily in HTML5. Despite being a big brand we’re actually quite limited on resources; through our own choice. We are definitely multichannel operating across anything we can get our hands on. But we want the best experience possible so we have made significant engineering investment in to HTML5 and are working to get the spec better. Introducing HTML5 caused some slowing initially but we got rid of the bugs.  It’s a fundamental belief that we have to nail HTML5 because from our perspective we have to make sure Facebook works on as many platforms as possible. HTML5 is slow at the moment but once we fixed the bugs users started coming back to it.’

WeeWorld: ‘If you want app store distribution you have to be native. With native apps you have the opportunity to take advantage of all the cool features of the phone.’

EchoEcho: ‘We’re a small start-up and we made the decision very early on to be cross-platform. Undoubtedly it has slowed us down but it provides us with a different kind of story. It’s interesting to see spikes in traffic from users on different platforms.’

Comscore: ‘89% of UK doesn’t have an IPhone. Do you want a big audience or a small audience that will use your app intensely?  Only you can decide that based on your business and data from the market.’


3. You’re all very familiar with mobile and what’s happening in terms of tech adoption curves. If you had $3m and weren’t doing your day job where would you place a bet in terms of a new consumer opportunity? What’s exciting and will be emerging?

‘The loyalty area is interesting. Taking traditional card schemes and putting them on a device and to be able to then pay with the device. That area will transform.’

‘Data, data analysis and real time synthesis. It’s about knowing what the consumer is about to buy. There is a huge data play emerging. The company that can, in a sophisticated way, synthesise data is going to make a mint.’

‘Education and emerging markets. Being able to create educational based services on the smartphone and to provide personalised learning lessons on a daily basis with fresh new content and learning each morning. It’s a massive market opportunity.’

‘eCommerce – there’s a great opportunity for rich and beautiful entertaining shopping experiences. Things like interactive catalogues.’

‘On and offline shopping experience convergence presents a great opportunity: using devices to augment your experience in the bricks and mortar world will be huge. 54% of iPhone users leave a store and buy the item more cheaply online. There’s an opportunity to keep them in store using the mobile.’

‘Screens that will become increasingly flexible. Already it’s happening and it’s possible to have screens on the side of the bus as well as 3D printing. The concept of the side of the bus or any surface as a mobile device is exciting.’

‘Health technology. Being able to track your health stats through your mobile.’


 Thanks to all who attended, a really interesting and lively event!

Europas Winners 2011

Best Service Provider to Startups (Legal, Financial, PR etc)

Highly Commended:
33 Seconds PR
Brown Rudnick Lawyers
Spark PR
2Pears – the events and PR agency

Winner: Orrick

Best Business or Enterprise Startup

Highly Commended:
23 Video

Winner: Podio

Best Advertising or Marketing Tech Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: Conversocial

Best European Startup Accelerator

Highly Commended:

Winner: Seedcamp

Best Startup Tool For Startups

Highly Commended:

Winner: Pusher

Best Mobile or Apps Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: Amen

Best Entertainment, Audio, Video, Music Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: Mixcloud

Best Gaming or Social Games Startup
(New category)

Highly Commended:
Shadow Cities

Winner: Nordeus for Top 11

Best Social Platform or Networking Startup

Highly Commended:
CircleMe (Cascaad)

Winner: Peer Index

Best Education, Recruitment, Media Startup

Highly Commended:
English Attack


Best Commerce, Finance or Payments Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: iZettle

Best Sport, Leisure or Health Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: Endomondo

Best Culture (Fashion, Art etc) Startup

New category (incredibly close)

Highly Commended:


Winner: Lookk

Best Transport, Travel or Environmental Startup

Highly Commended:

Winner: OneFineStay

Best VC of the Year 2011

Highly Commended:
Index Ventures
DFJ Esprit
hardGAMMA Ventures
EarlyBird Venture Capital

Winner: Accel Partners

Best Exit 2011

Highly Commended:
Tweetdeck (to Twitter for est. $40m)
Dailydeal sale to Google $114 million
Autonomy to HP for $11.7bn
Zong acquired by ebay for $240m

Winner: Lovefilm sold to Amazon for $328m in Jan 2011

Best Angel or Seed Investor of the Year

Highly Commended:
Jeremie Berrebi, Kima Ventures
Robin Klein / TAG
Eileen Burbidge, Passion Capital

Winner: Christophe Maire, Angel

Best Startup Advisor/Mentor of the Year 2011
(non investors)

Highly Commended:
Tine Thgesen, Everplaces
Chris Grew, Orrick
Tina Baker, Brown Rudnick
Ivo Spigel, Perpetuum Mobile

Winner: David Noel, Soundcloud

Best VC Partner of the Year
(New category)

Highly Commended:
Adam Valkin, Accel Partners
Chris Kowalczyk, hardGAMMA Ventures
Paul Jozefak, Neuhaus Partners
Saul Klein, Index Ventures
Davor Hebel, Fidelity Growth Partners

Winner: Nic Brisbourne, DFJ Espirit

Best Startup Founder / Co-Founders

Highly Commended:
Michael Acton Smith, MoshiMonsters / Mind Candy
Ian Hogarth, Pete Smith, Michelle You, Songkick
Felix Petersen, Florian Weber, Caitlin Winner, Ricki Vester Gregersen – Amen
Azeem Azhar, Peer Index

Winner: Alexander Ljung, Eric Wahlforss, SoundCloud

The Europas Hero Award – Kicking Ass Globally From Europe
(New category)

Highly Commended:
Moshi Monsters

Winner: Rovio for Angry Birds

The Europas Grand Prix Award

Sponsor presenting award:
Scott Sage, DFJ Esprit
Martin Varsavsky, FON

Grand Prix 2011:

Peer Index

The Up Group’s Summary of interesting Digital, Tech, Mobile & Investor Events

Annual Events

Ongoing Events

iZettle raised €10mn in a Series A round led by Index Ventures with support from Creandum.

From Go4Venture’s Monthly European Technology Venture Capital Bulletin.

iZettle (Sweden), the developer of a system for taking credit and debit card payments using an iPhone or iPad, raised €10mn in a Series A round led by Index Ventures with support from Creandum and former Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone. The money will be used for expansion into the rest of Europe outside Sweden and ongoing development.

iZettle was founded in April 2010 by serial entrepreneurs Jacob de Geer (who founded movie sharing service Ameibo in 2007 and sold it to Bonver Entertainment in 2010) and Magnus Nilsson (probably best known for his involvement with Wayfinder Systems which was acquired by Vodafone in 2009). The company has developed technology for taking payments from chip-enabled cards using an iPhone or iPad application and card reader. This is both EMV-approved (Europay, Mastercard and Visa) and complies with PCI-DSS (Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards) regulations. Launched in August 2011 in Sweden, it immediately rocketed to number four in the App Store overall and number one in the finance category.  There are several competitors – notably Adelante and Square as well as incumbents Ingenico and Verifone. US-based Square raised $100mn in June at a valuation reported at $1bn and has a board which includes former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers. Although Square is already processing $2bn per annum for over three quarters of a million SMEs, it would be difficult for Square to enter Europe owing to the chip-and- pin system which is rare in the US.

The application and hardware are free and iZettle does not charge a monthly fee. It makes its money from charging transaction fees of a €0.11 plus 2.75% per transaction. Obviously, for the vast majority of SMEs this is far more cost-effective than buying point of sale (POS) systems from traditional operators Verifone and Ingenico which both require up-front investment for hardware as well as charging a monthly fee.

Long-hyped in the media, mobile payments may finally be here. According to Gartner, the number of users of mobile payment systems worldwide has grown by about 40% in the last year. Blue chip incumbents have also begun to get involved as exemplified by the licensing of Visa’s payWave technology to Google, Ingenico starting work on an iPad attachment and Verifone working with Google Wallet.

This is the second investment by Index Ventures (€320mn (2009); AUM: €1.8bn) this month. It is also Index’s second investment in a mobile payments company, having supported a $2mn Series A round for former SeedCamp winner and POS and inventory management company Erply back in March 2010. In addition, Index invested £2.5mn in online peer-to-peer lending marketplace Funding Circle back in April.  Perhaps Sweden’s best known venture firm, Creandum (€80mn (2005); AUM: €120mn) invests in technology companies at any stage and has an active portfolio of 18 companies. Creandum has not featured in our bulletin since last year, with investments in Nanoradio and Cint, but has significantly expanded its team of investment professionals this year, as well as developing its portfolio companies. Index and Creandum are joined by former Carphone Warehouse CEO Charles Dunstone, who also invested in Funding Circle. Mr Dunstone also invested in Mobile Money Network – a home payment system for consumers – alongside mobile banking provider Monitise.  The EU’s ‘passport’ system for financial services means that clearance from the Swedish authorities obviates the need for further regulatory approval and iZettle could be in the UK as early as Q1 2012.

Meet a few members of The Up Group team…

Clare Johnston – CEO & Founder

Clare graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Management Sciences from The University of Warwick.

Her early career was spent in Management Consulting, working in the Business Consulting team of Detica, an international technology consultancy, later acquired by BAE Systems. Clare worked on online projects including an ecommerce strategy review for a global insurance provider.

At an early stage in her career, Clare was offered the opportunity to co-manage a boutique executive search firm. In this role, Clare managed the team and led searches for a range of clients, from start-ups to global corporates across a broad range of functions.

Clare’s entrepreneurial instincts and passion to develop an unparalleled talent network led to the foundation of The Up Group in late 2007. The focus is on growth companies and teams in the dynamic sectors of online, digital, mobile and technology. The business has grown rapidly and is recognised as one of the leading boutique search firms for digital and technology expertise.

Clare has an extensive network across VC and PE firms, Senior Executives and Functional Leads as well as Entrepreneurs. She hosts regular sector events attracting some of Europe’s most exciting investors, entrepreneurs as well as executives from start-ups through to global corporates. She frequently sponsors and attends industry events including presenting the ‘VC Fund of the Year’ Award at the 2011 Investor Allstars Awards. In addition to being a regular sponsor of ProductTank and Product Camp, she is a Mentor at global start-up event, Seedcamp.


Stephanie De Wangen – Director

Stephanie graduated with a bachelors degree in Political Science from Trinity College in the US and has additional diplomas from Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Paris and Middlebury College in the US.  Stephanie has dual American and French citizenship and is a native English, French and Spanish speaker and is proficient in Russian.

Stephanie’s early career was spent working for online companies, Excite, AOL and Amazon. At Excite, she managed large online sponsorship accounts throughout Europe. As Senior Business Development Manager for AOL Europe, she secured online partnerships with traditional and online companies. While with Amazon, Stephanie managed the UK Online Marketing Group and later assumed responsibility for the Online Account Management Team of Amazon UK, France, and Germany.

Stephanie’s search experience was gained with Korn/Ferry International where she was a Senior Associate in the European Global Technology Markets Practice. Based initially in the firm’s Moscow office, she worked on assignments in a variety of industries. She later relocated to the London office as a member of the Technology Practice, focused largely on the internet industry.

Stephanie then became a Director with CTPartners, a global executive search firm, as a member of the firm’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Practice. She has worked with corporate as well as start-up clients, identifying leadership to fill CEO, CFO, COO, and other general management roles across the UK, Europe and USA.

Stephanie joined The Up Group as a Director in 2011. She leads Board and Senior Management team searches globally for our corporate clients.


Claire Hogg – Consultant

Claire graduated from the University of Cambridge with an Upper Second Class Honours degree in French & German which she speaks fluently.

She trained in Executive Search in a boutique firm focused on commercial high flyers in the consumer, retail and technology sectors. She predominantly worked with Blue Chip FTSE 250 clients and led searches across Marketing, Strategy, Operations and Business Development.

Claire joined The Up Group in 2009 and has worked with a broad range of clients across the Consumer, Media and Online sectors. Claire focuses on Business Development, Marketing, Strategy and General Management. She also works with a number of UK and European Venture Capital & Private Equity firms on both investment and portfolio roles.


Hanna Linden – Consultant

Hanna has a First Class Bachelor degree in Political Science from Uppsala University, Sweden and Durham University and a Masters with Distinction in Political Science, also from Uppsala University. In addition to her ability to work across all Scandinavian languages, she has a good working knowledge of German and French.

Hanna spent her early career working in finance and in-house HR with a global design company. She then moved into a boutique search firm where she worked with a range of blue-chip clients as well as start-ups.

Since joining The Up Group in 2009, she has specialised in Marketing and Finance searches, as well as being involved with a range of Strategy, Operations and General Management appointments.

Hanna has delivered searches at CxO level, largely for technology and online clients from early start-ups to corporates. She has also co-hosted various events for leading CMOs/Marketing Directors of online/digital companies.


Pete Alexander – Consultant

Pete has a BA Joint Honours in English & Philosophy from the University of Nottingham. After graduation, he established a start-up company in the online gaming industry.

He then spent five years working at Skillcapital, an executive search firm focused on the European private equity space. During Pete’s time with Skillcapital, he worked with a range of international and UK clients and placed executive and non-executive management into businesses across the leisure, FMCG, retail and eCommerce sectors.

Pete joined The Up Group in early 2011 to focus predominantly on our private equity, eCommerce and wider consumer clients.


Gemma Hale – Consultant

Gemma graduated with a First Class Honours degree in English from the University of Reading.

She joined The Up Group in 2008 and now specialises in product, technology and commercial roles. She has worked closely with a number of VC-backed portfolio companies through to corporates, developing extensive knowledge of the digital, online and technology sectors.

Gemma has co-hosted industry-wide events for product and technology talent and is an avid participant in digital networking events as well as being a keen reader of industry news.


Vicky Gumbley – Research Associate

Vicky has an MPhil in Medieval Literature from the University of Cambridge as well as a First Class Honours degree from the University of Cardiff in English Literature.

She joined The Up Group in 2011 as a Research Associate.


Catherine Rogerson – Research Associate

Catherine has an MPhil in Modern Society and Global Transformations as well as an Upper Second Class BA (Hons) degree in Social Political Sciences from the University of Cambridge.

She joined The Up Group in 2011 as a Research Associate.


December 2022

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