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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.

The Up Group is delighted to be the official company sponsor of Team Refuge…

Imagine yourself working in a refugee camp, coming across a child with acute appendicitis and knowing that without urgent medical attention that child could die.  The nearest hospital is a long distance away and to transport that child there costs money.  To pay for the surgery also costs money.  As a humanitarian worker you are able to identify the need but you don’t always have the funds in your budget to do what you know needs to be done.

Team Refuge is a UK registered charity designed to assist in exactly this sort of situation – to fill the budgetary gap. Children should not die simply because the specific costs of evacuation haven’t been budgeted for in medium term program planning.  This is not a health care fund, nor is it a medical NGO.  There are others who successfully fulfil that role. Team Refuge helps to fill a specific funding gap, enabling experts in the field to save precious lives.

Team Refuge will cover the expense of the urgent life saving medical evacuation of refugee children and other vulnerable groups.  Team Refuge will partner with reputable non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to channel funds to the most critical cases.  This is a new charity and it does not intend to duplicate the good work already being done by NGOs but rather to meet the cost of evacuations when organisations on the ground are unable to do so.

One of Team Refuge’s founders, Jake Morland, has worked for the United Nations since 1999 in some of the world’s most complex emergencies from East Timor to Darfur, post-Tsunami Sri Lanka and currently Iraq.  While working in these locations Jake has come across cases of children who have died in refugee camps simply because the funds did not exist to evacuate them for emergency treatment.  This prompted Jake and fellow founder James Turner to race to the North Pole in 2007 in an effort to raise awareness and funds thereby establishing Team Refuge.

Practically every penny Team Refuge raises goes towards medical evacuation. There are limited overhead costs, no salaries, nothing hidden.



An exclusive with… Fredrik Holmén, Co-founder and CTO, Keybroker

keybroker logo
Tell us about Keybroker? What does the company do and how did the company develop from an idea to a business?

Keybroker works with some of the largest online retailers in Europe to drive more profitable online sales from online marketing. In the last 365 days we have generated close to 500 million Euros in order value for our clients. We do this on a gain-share pricing model, with a unique technology and a great team of campaign analysts.

Keybroker started by doing arbitrage on traffic bought from search engines and sold to the big affiliate networks. We quickly realised that search marketing was an absolutely critical sales channels for retailers and would not be allowed to just be “unmanaged” but also that it was very complex and required big investments in technology. Keybroker could provide this package to retailers directly in a smart way.

The business is VC-funded. Apart from the financial boost are there any other benefits or even downsides with VC-investment?

We have been fortunate to work with two of Scandinavia’s largest industrial holding companies Investor AB and Industrifonden. They’ve been great at providing stability, network and experience in our growth journey. Our investors invest from their own balance sheets so we’ve been spared most turmoil and potential myopic decisions that could come as a consequence from a financial market in distress. 

There are a number of players in the online advertising optimisation market.  What is innovative about Keybroker and who are your competitors in the UK?

For us results are really key and we put our neck on the line for our clients. We do this through our pricing model that only rewards us if we bring in more sales under a maximum cost per order. Our Campaign Analysts are also remunerated based on how much “Success Fee” they generate for their clients so we really do share the financial and strategic risk. It’s all geared to ensure that we have the same incentives as our client has.

To deliver these results we have developed a new generation of search marketing technology. We call it Business-based search marketing. It allows retailers to lift their merchandising rules up from their sites and stores to Google. So your online marketing campaign is no longer keyword driven but product and business rule driven. We firmly believe that advertising and merchandising are critical to each other in a multichannel landscape; our technology, RealTime Ads, is a bridge between the two.

The UK market is probably one of the most sophisticated online marketing markets in the world and the competition is immense. However, we feel bullish in that we are genuinely changing the game within a channel that is of paramount importance to a retailer’s success online. Add to this our new service offerings, Power of 5, around social media sales, display, mobile and web TV and we are very confident that the success we’ve had in Scandinavia will be replicated here and beyond. 

Keybroker has a number of offices outside of its original market Sweden. At which point did you decide to go international and what have been the main challenges with expanding outside of your “home market”?

Keybroker is the largest search and social company in Sweden. Last year we did 7% of all order value online in Sweden! In order to continue our growth we need to expand geographically. We also felt that being in the UK would challenge us to develop our offering.

Expanding is of course to get business outside our home market and we have been able to quickly sign up leading online retailers here. It’s taken a lot of work and patience to build a network and trust in a new market where very few know us to start with. It really is a market based on relations and trust. It’s also great fun as we get to relive our start-up phase again but now with the backing of a mature business in Scandinavia to lean on.

What are the company’s aspirations for the future?

Keybroker is today a group with two distinct arms – advertising services and advertising technology. Our aspiration is to continue to grow and develop under our own steam and be one of the leading groups in Europe generating profitable online sales for the best clients.

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

Our pitch is “Try us” which internally means “Trust me”. “Try us” is the bedrock of our culture. We want to work with “buddies with brains”, people that not only impress us but are genuinely fun to be around and contribute to our culture. The client is always king and we work hard to really understand how we can contribute to the client’s success. Oh, and cash is queen. We foster an environment where leadership can be demonstrated by anyone – it’s a mind set not a position. Our people and culture is by the far the most important component to Keybroker’s growth and success. The people who work at Keybroker have defined our culture and you can find the culture charter on our web site. 

You are one of the co-founders. What is your personal background prior to Keybroker? How have you found starting your own business? What have been the biggest surprises?

After completing my Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Economics I began to work for Accenture’s Supply Chain Service Line in London. I focused on Sales and Operations Planning for large retail and consumer goods companies such as Frito-Lay, Pernod Ricard and Sainsbury’s.

Starting and working with Keybroker is like getting a MBA every 6 months – sales, product development, price models, organisational change, funding etc… The highs are of course as great as you would expect. There are of course several insights. One is that “Everything is possible” is actually true and it’s critical to believe in it. You will never be bigger or better than your biggest ambition. Just by stating what you want gets you a long way. You don’t get what deserve but what you expect. A key to success is to set big bold goals from day one and believe in them. 

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

I find the current development in medicine mind boggling. It may well be the next big development that totally will change how we all live just as digital technology has done over the last decades. There are projects out there in for example protein and steam cell research that has the potential to have dramatic impacts on our ability to cure diseases, restore lost body functionality and ultimately expand our life spans. What are the consequences of that? For one prepare to get a second career!

An exclusive with… Doug Monro and Andrew Hunter, Founders, Adzuna

Tell us about Adzuna? What does the company do and how did the company develop from an idea to a business? is a search engine for classified ads enabling people to search for the right job locally. Essentially, it searches thousands of sites, aggregating millions of adverts in one place, so you don’t have to trawl the net to find the perfect job. And soon it will be possible to search for properties and cars in the same way too. We hatched the Adzuna plan in 2010 on the back of an envelope in a central London pub. The site went live in July 2011.

How is the business funded?

We’ve raised £300k investment from Passion Capital and prominent angels (with backgrounds at eBay, Skype, BT and Virgin) in addition to funds originally invested by the founders.

How is Adzuna different from Google and other established search engines in the space?

Our aim is to provide the user with exactly what they want. Firstly, completeness and freshness of content – we list every ad, update our index constantly in real-time and expire ads as soon as they become stale. This also enables us to gather data that will enrich the user experience.

Secondly, Adzuna provides a clean, non-spammy user experience – we have more powerful search filters and less overt advertising so the user gets to the information as quickly as possible.

Thirdly, unlike any other search engine operating in this space, we a have a social networking overlay to give job seekers an advantage in the market.

Who is the business aimed at and why should they use Adzuna?

We’re currently targeting all active jobseekers in the UK or those with an interest in comprehensive jobs data. We think folks in the UK should use Adzuna because we have all available job vacancies in the UK listed in one place (over 450,000 jobs) and we allow our users to connect to these vacancies by leveraging their friends on Facebook and LinkedIn.

How do you plan to monetise the business?

The business model will be advertising funded both in paid per click/search based but at this stage we are purely focussed on building an excellent classifieds search experience that people want to use. Money will come later and in ways that don’t damage that experience – although we know from our previous businesses that consumer traffic in this sector is valuable to advertisers.

At the moment there is a specific vertical focus. How possible is it to scale across different verticals? Is there a possibility Adzuna could go international?

Yes, we’re just a job search engine at the moment, but we plan to expand into property and cars in the not too distant future. Our search engine in property and cars will behave in much the same as it does in jobs – all listings, compelling data insights and cool social layers.

We aim to be the biggest and best classified search engine globally and you can expect to see us expanding outside of the UK in 2012.

What are the challenges you expect to face when trying to grow this business?

We aim to be a serious global player in classifieds and we need robust and scalable technology to get us there. If our systems and processes are not designed to work for 10’s of millions of users per month, we’re not going to be able to fulfill our vision. So, we’re working pretty hard on getting this right at the moment.

How big is the team now? What do you think are the main ingredients of building the best team?

We are currently a team of around 10 people comprising of founders, technical development and marketing. Some are in London, and some telecommute from around Europe. They are all incredibly passionate & rock stars at what they do.

Which companies do you most admire at the moment and why?

Andrew – Spotify (although they are losing some popularity at the moment with Facebook login shenanigans!) I admire Daniel Ek because he’s not afraid to disrupt markets and he’s only 26.

Doug – AirBnB (despite their recent trust and safety issues): created a new category in an area that used to be dull, innovating on product and monetisation, using social networks cleverly, trying to genuinely connect people and meet their needs … I also like Etsy and Peopleperhour for some of the same reasons.

The Up Group host networking events for leading digital Technology, Product and Marketing talent…

Here at Up, we’ve been busy hosting a series of roundtable breakfast events over the last few months for leading digital/online Marketing, Product and Technology Executives, and we’ve been delighted with the results. Lots of lively debate with some very interesting people!!

In June, we hosted Up’s Product Breakfast bringing together Product Management Executives from companies including:

Basekit, Betfair, Covestor, Flirtomatic, FON, Gekko, Guardian,, Imagini ,, Microsoft, Playfish, Skype, Talk Talk, Vodafone

In July, we hosted Up’s Technology Breakfast bringing together CTOs/VP Engineering Directors from companies including:

Blue Duck Education, Geo Sweep, Harper Collins, iTrigga, Marks & Spencer, Time Out, Vzaar, Wahanda, Wiggle

In September, we hosted Up’s Marketing Breakfast for leading CMOs and Marketing Directors from companies including:

Yahoo!, Quiet Riots,, UKTV, Bet Now/Open Vantage, Betfair, My-Wardrobe,, EMI, M and M Direct, Lovefilm

For full Event pictures and write-ups, please see:


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