The Big Exit Show: Selling Givve to Up Group – Patrick Löffler’s power of workplace culture in successful exits

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🎧Tune in for insights from entrepreneur Patrick Löffler into his journey with Givve!

We delve into the journey of Patrick Löffler, co-founder of Givve, a company that experienced significant growth after being bankrupt nearly twice. Patrick shares his story on the evolution of Givv from its inception in 2010 as a B2C voucher seller to its transition into the B2B market, offering prepaid credit cards. With over 600,000 active users and steady growth, Givve’s story is one of resilience and adaptation in the tech industry. Patrick will share his take on;

  • How core values are essential for a good co-founder culture
  • What you learn from pitching to +300 investors
  • The definition of a successful workforce
  • Why it was important for Patrick to not exit to the highest bidder

As always – hosted by Peak’s very own co-founder and managing partner Johan van Mil and Anke Huiskes founder & managing partner of NP-Hard Ventures 🕺🏻🕺🏼

You can find the episode on your favorite podcast platform, linked below. And, if you are really interested in listening to the big exit of specific founders – reach out to us so we can invite them for the next episode!

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You can find the transcribed version of the episode below:

Johan van Mil:
Hello everybody, welcome to the next episode of the Bigs Exit Show. This time we have Patrick Löffler. He is the CEO and founder of GIF, which has been acquired by the Up group, a cooperative from France. And what’s funny is that Patrick was 17 years old, sorry, and he was also a part of the national snowboarding team. And also during his university time, he owned a bar.

And also I think it was interesting to know indeed that he loves to take photos, like take pictures. So he’s a pretty active person also. So welcome on the show, Patrick.

Anke Huiskes:
I’m going to go to bed.

Anke Huiskes:
We have way more, so hold your horses.

Johan van Mil:
We’re going to spend a lot of time on that. So Patrick, can you give us a short intro on Givve, please, for the listeners.

Johan van Mil:
Okay.

Anke Huiskes:
It does show how quick the company has been growing because even on your website for preparation of this interview we saw it was like 19,000 customers and 450,000 cardholders. So now you’re saying like it’s if you’re promoting 15,000 cardholders a month.

Anke Huiskes:
And you started the company not by yourself, but with a co-founder.

Anke Huiskes:
Can we double click on this? Because often, I think it’s like one out of three companies, they end up not working because of a co-farmers’ plate. In your case, you started with three, then with two, you’re saying you’re not really friends, but you love working together. I would love to learn more, yeah, how that process has been going for you.

Johan van Mil:
mentioned that.

Johan van Mil:
No, no, but I think both Anka and I realize also as investors, right, that we like to invest in teams which are diverse, right? So also let’s say from the background, because that brings really successful companies forward. Even though you decided, you mentioned also that Christoph left your company, right? It was a painful process. Can you share a little bit of the learning? Because we see that a lot in companies that I recently calculated with our own peak portfolio six years after our investment.

roughly 40% of the founding team changes, right? So we see it also, what kind of learnings, Patrick, can you share on that end for founders who are now, let’s say in that phase of maybe changing the founding team?

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, after six years, the founding team changed, which means a new founder can be added, but most of the time one of the founders left.

Johan van Mil:
How do you, Patrick, if I may double click on this, and I noticed, sorry, that was unfortunately not the question, but how did you, because at a certain point you run into the problem why did you see that the founder, let’s say relationship is not as strong anymore, and that the changes are being done. How do you deal with that? Especially if you have your co-founder and you mentioned, you had a few bankruptcies, probably also, so some tight cash position on that end. How do you decide on that? How do you move forward?

Anke Huiskes:
I guess so, yes. Keisha says yes, I guess.

Johan van Mil:
I don’t need to check and hit, could touch imagine, could share.

Anke Huiskes:
For me, the left back side says recording for everyone. Yes it is. Keysha is confirming it’s recording, yeah.

No, thank you. Yeah.

Johan van Mil:
No, very good to check it. Would be a very boring, boring talk with only Anke and me asking all the questions, right?

Anke Huiskes:
Ha ha!

Anke Huiskes:
Oh yeah, it’s working.

Johan van Mil:
Good idea. Let me repeat my question Patrick. So you mentioned indeed that Christophe left right and it has been let’s say a long road forward and then at a certain point as a founder you realize yes how do you deal with that? How do you deal especially with a founder to make him or her leave right?

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, and you probably did you have some leaving agreements in your, let’s say, contracts or did you still have to negotiate it at that time also? Yeah. Also, one thing I think what we as investors always would like to have is that lever arrangements are there, right? So that you don’t have that hard discussion at the moment and it’s really hard. Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
Especially when it happens so often like in 40% of the cases So it should be just as like a standard safe or CLA or term sheet. It should be like a standard separation agreement

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, indeed. Yes.

Anke Huiskes:
And one of the things that you just mentioned is that you have to be like also comfortable when there’s things are not going according to plan A, you have to be without salary for a while and I’ve been reading or listening to one of your previous podcasts and you said like if you want to be as successful as we were you have to do it without a net it’s like it’s all or nothing and the question that came to my head

Johan van Mil:
words.

Anke Huiskes:
is when a lot of people think like oh I want to start a company I want to be a founder they romanticize being a startup founder a lot. How would you say that you can really test the waters and really make sure that do people understand what they’re getting into so you don’t have to deal with something like this four years in? Is it something that you just have to experience or do you think in hindsight?

you can do these tests or like beta tests basically this from the team.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah. Should we?

Johan van Mil:
Is it an idea Patrick, because I also had this situation a few times when starting a company, and then I said at that time, let’s not discuss now the cap table and the division of the shares and also the contribution, let’s just work together for six months and then have the discussion afterwards, right? And we both invest, right? Because then you start working with each other. Can that be a solution from your vision, also your experience?

Johan van Mil:
That’s a clear advice. Thanks.

Anke Huiskes:
You mentioned while you were going through the co-founder split up basically that you were also raising money. In one of the other articles you mentioned that you pitched over 300 times to find investors and you got 12 investors. I define being able to lose as a key learning for me. I would love to dig deeper how that process has been and who you brought on board and why.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, we did our homework.

Anke Huiskes:
No.

Anke Huiskes:
And I guess to me

Anke Huiskes:
But I think exactly this attitude defines the people who want to start a company as a nice-to-have versus for others where they don’t think there’s an option B. And I think when we talk to founders who are pitching to us, this type of grit, I guess, is exactly what I’m looking for. Because then you know, even if they run out of money, they keep going. There’s no other option than bringing this to the finish line or whatever.

the end game is, but I guess this is exactly the core of a great entrepreneur.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
Mm-hmm.

Johan van Mil:
Patrick, what’s on the special fund raising, right? Because you did several rounds also with different investors, right? I think you raised in total, if I understood it correctly, roughly two and a half million Euro from investors like Red Alpine, high-tech group of funds, different funds, right? What is the key? And also you probably did a few bridge rounds because as you already mentioned, you also ran out of money before and that we know as investors, it’s all about bridging. Then what is the key thing?

what you can share on that funding process, right? Given the number of pitches that you did and also the successes you had with that, right? What is, I think, the key thing what you learned or what you can share with the audience.

Johan van Mil:
And what did you do to get there, right? Because going to break even can mean either you increase the revenue or you lower the cost, right? Or you pivot the business, right? That’s roughly what we see with companies trying to get to break even, especially these days, right? As mentioned before, there’s a lot of bridging, but I think now in general in economy, and especially in the sea land, the time of bridging forever is over. So what did you do?

with your company would give at that time to indeed to go to the breaking point.

Anke Huiskes:
Nothing.

Anke Huiskes:
Why did you pick 18 and not 28 or 15? Like how did you end up with that number?

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Johan van Mil:
What was the reason for you to pivot from B2C to B2B? What were the signals apart from the financial needs to turn it to a company which is paying its own bills without needing external funding? What kind of signals did you get from the market to make that decision?

Anke Huiskes:
But it does mean that the first half has been recorded with Patrick being part of the conversation.

Anke Huiskes:
Oh, so…

So it’s not, we have to start all over.

Anke Huiskes:
I’m afraid the other, because now I don’t see the red dot in Patrick’s corner. And I have it.

Anke Huiskes:
cream.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, they’re US based, so we have an update on that.

Anke Huiskes:
So Patrick, maybe if you like indeed like look out, log in, and then we start with the last question. And if the first half hasn’t been recorded, we have to redo that. Let’s assume that one, that part is recorded.

Anke Huiskes:
Thank you.

Johan van Mil:
Thanks for the flexibility. Yes. Hahaha.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, we like talking to you, so that’s good. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, please.

Anke Huiskes:
Okay, what is the last one? The last one was about the B2B, so you have to re-ask the question about the signals.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah. Yes.

Anke Huiskes:
He thinks the interview is a bit painful, he said. I think that’s a bit… Other questions I have to ask.

Johan van Mil:
You’re back Patrick.

Patrick:
back.

Anke Huiskes:
What a red dot.

Johan van Mil:
Yes, and I see a red dot now, so that’s really promising. That’s hope.

Patrick:
And there’s the option to click on echo cancellation. Should I do this?

Anke Huiskes:
You don’t have an echo, so I think it’s okay.

Patrick:
I don’t have, okay.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah. Shall I repeat the question, Patrick, on the pivot?

Patrick:
Yes, please. Ha ha ha. Ah, I started just… Yeah, sorry. Go ahead.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, okay. Hey Patrick, you mean? Yeah, okay. Okay. Hey Patrick, you mentioned that you pivoted your business away from B2C to B2B. We’ve learned, Anke and I, both as investors, that pivoting a company is really hard, right? I mean, you really have to shift your company. Can you elaborate a little bit how you made the decision from shifting away to…

the B2B side. What was the signal from the market? So not the external reasons like the funding etc. But what were the signals from the market which made you realize that you had to change your company to the B2B?

Patrick:
Yeah, it was twofold. The signals of the market were very clear at that time. We were in the B2C market and we were competing with gift cards from H&M or Apple or Amazon and their marketing budget is tremendously bigger than ours. So this was impossible to position ourselves there.

And for B2C you need a strong performance on the marketing. And so, yeah, we found out that from the marketing side, our product would not be competitive enough. And at the same time, we had a client, finally enough, who asked us, he wanted to have not one card because we were in the B2C business, he wanted to have 40 cards for his employees.

And they should be reloadable if he can do that, because he wants to load some money that afterwards is tax free on those cards. And we were like, what, what are you doing? And actually that’s how we found out that this is possible. And then we looked into this and we saw that the competition at that time was very old school and paper-based.

So the idea of disrupting kind of an old school market sounded very intriguing. And we thought, yeah, okay, then let’s, let’s pivot to B2B. And I have to laugh because this again was very naive because pivoting a company is, um, I mean, that’s crazy. Uh, we lost all, nearly all employees because yeah.

It’s just very different and we had no idea how different it’s going to be. So more or less we built the company from ground up completely new, more or less, which afterwards is…

Anke Huiskes:
And when you say you lost nearly half of all of the employees, did they quit because they wanted to be like a marketeer for consumer or did you have to say like oh we need a different type of skill set so we’re gonna let people go?

Patrick:
Both, both, both. And at that time we were only 10 people. So it’s not a huge thing and it was all in good ways. It’s just, it was an evolution which we totally underestimated. So don’t underestimate the pivot. That’s what I think I want to say at that point.

Anke Huiskes:
Okay.

Anke Huiskes:
Mm-hmm.

Anke Huiskes:
And during that time when you went through that process, did you call your peers who then went through this like previously or did your investors help you or what were the key things that helped you although it was still super difficult but do it in a successful way.

Patrick:
Yeah, I mean you are investors, so I try to be polite. Yeah. I mean, I’m not a big fan of the

Anke Huiskes:
Be honest. No, we can handle it. No, this fucker should be honest. And, uh, so bring it on.

Johan van Mil:
And we’re Dutch, right? So we can handle directness, Patrick.

Anke Huiskes:
We can. So we can learn.

Patrick:
Okay. I mean, most of the investors weren’t helpful at all.

And how can I say this? Yeah, there were some investors that were really trying to help and it was very painful for them and for us. Because when you are in this situation, help from the outside sounds good, but it’s not always really helping.

In the end, we had a small group of investors and the other investors also voted for this group, like a small buyout in Germany, you would call it. And this in the end was, it was very painful, but I think in the end, this was helpful. We had a Friday call together.

And yeah, I think in the end this was helpful, I have to say. But it, I mean…

Johan van Mil:
What was it Patrick, if I may ask and double click on this, what would you like to have from investors? Because you mentioned they were really helpful and you pooled them, I think also to improve communication probably also and to have the right people around the table and not every investor. But how could these investors and also we, how could in general investors help a founder in that position?

Patrick:
Yeah.

Patrick:
At that time, these investors have all been more or less corporate. They never founded a startup. And I think we had always a little missing link because they came from corporate companies who are super successful. And they tried to apply their management principles.

on us and so we, it was not the same flight height. Yeah, so what would I want? You need people that have really experienced the same super hard things and then, and learned their lessons and then I think those people could be a much, of much better help.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Patrick:
It pains me to say that they weren’t helpful because they really, they took a lot of their time and invested that into us. So it would be wrong to say this was not a good exercise for everybody. And maybe it also showed us a little bit their thinking. So, but in the end, somebody who really lived through the same things could be a much better help.

Anke Huiskes:
And this is maybe also a good takeaway for the founders listening to it. Like when you decide to erase external capital, to be pretty mindful of who you want to be on your journey. Because everybody knows it’s never gonna be this like linear line. And I guess having a good mixture of people going through the pain or like going through health, like I think how you message yourself. Um, might then have like better understanding or better coming around when shit hits the fan, which always happens.

But on the other hand, sometimes you don’t have that luxury position to choose. And in your case, I think, when you’ve been through a few pivots, and you’ve been in a few cases where you had to do the bridge round, it also has two sides of the coin, right?

Patrick:
Yeah, I mean, backers can’t be choosers. And if you’re in, as you said, if you’re in such a position, you can’t really. Yeah. It’s more of a begging, which is. Yeah. Which is not a nice situation, but anyway.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, switching, I guess, to like the growth phase, like maybe related to what you mentioned earlier, when you have that dashboard, so people could see, your employees could see you’re getting to like break even point and to your point, like that was really like the tipping point. I guess my question is twofold. One is like, how much information did you share with the rest of your team? Because it seems to be you have a pretty transparent communication line. On the other hand,

How did you manage that growth? Because now you’re 50 people. Yeah, curious to learn about that journey.

Patrick:
Anke, this is still a question I really work around every day now because it’s such a delicate balance. Because we have been super transparent with everything. And we got the feedback as a management team that this sometimes creates insecurity.

Patrick:
things that don’t work so well. Some people, they feel better if they don’t know so much. So this is really, you have to find a good balance between being super honest, being super transparent, but also protecting your people and keeping some things also away. So this is really a skill you have to develop and to get some experience in.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Patrick:
I think now we are quite good in it. And to share the key KPIs, the key figures, I think that makes always total sense. And I always speak about the figures because, you know, you can be supervisionary. That’s nice. But in the end, what’s tangible, it’s just figures. You can say, Hey, this year we want to load.

140 millions on cards. This, this sounds so tangible. And then you can check on a monthly basis, Hey, are we going in this direction or not, you know? So I prefer visions that are tangible and that’s for everybody to see. And it’s so much easier to identify with. So we still have a dashboard that’s available to every employee. And.

We also have a Slack channel and each morning those figures get popularized in this channel and that’s the way to go.

Anke Huiskes:
And then you have maybe like weekly all hands where people can ask me anything or how do you work on that?

Patrick:
Yeah, we asked how often people want to have all hands. And in the end, we settled on monthly. So people are not, at least in our company, they want to do their work and being left alone. That sounds not so nice, but you know what I mean. And so we have a monthly all hands and that’s good.

Anke Huiskes:
Okay.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Johan van Mil:
And we read, perhaps also going to the exit topic, we read in an article that at a certain point that you realized that the company that give would be too small on the long term, right? And that’s also the reason when you decided to look for acquisition partners, wonder about, let’s say, the exit process, but especially I was wondering also as a founder, what

kept you back also to strive for, let’s say, a bigger company on the long term, because the market that you’re in is pretty big, right? Also, let’s say, look at the company who acquired GIF right now, also the size of them, that’s a lot of potential. What was the reason for you personally to decide to go to the textual process?

Patrick:
Again, several factors. One was that with our cap table, we were kind of in a lock, because there were some investors that were willing to go with us through the growth phase and invest, and maybe leave breakeven for a while to grow again. And then the other half.

was so happy that we were break even and was not willing to go into a risky phase again. So it was a question of the cap table. In the beginning, our idea was to find one new lead investor that would maybe cash out those who weren’t willing to go into a risk phase again. And we did an open bidding process.

And then the offers were so good that also the more risk, the pro risk investors also took the chance to, to cash out. That’s, that was the process. And on a personal level, I mean, this was 2018 when we finally sold the company. And after eight years of really intense things and intense periods.

It’s also a question of how long can you do it in this intensity.

Anke Huiskes:
Can I ask a personal question about that? Because when you look into your profile, like you’re like an efforts gear, mountain climbing, very outdoorsy. And then, but also listen to you, you’re like deep in, heads down, always building, grinding. Like how did you combine these two while building a company? Because for eight years, that’s a long time. So curious how you balance keeping yourself sane as well.

Patrick:
Yeah.

Patrick:
It’s a very good question. Um, and that’s so important. And I, these eight years, I, I mean, I served here in the Munich Iceberg, it’s a river and you can serve there. Yeah. And more or less for eight years, even if this is so central and nearly all offices by luck have been not far away for nearly eight years, I didn’t serve.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, yeah, with the bridge, yeah, I’ve seen that one.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
you

Patrick:
maybe twice a year. So I started losing too much of my actual life. And this is a vicious circle or positive. If you can really manage work life balance and other buzzwords, but nowadays we are really good, not only for me, but for the whole company to have everybody live a really good life.

And this makes us so much more efficient and effective.

But at that time, I really, yeah, I was, I was losing this totally this work life balance and everybody was, it was just too much. And this is also a sign when you see that you really have to change things. Is this

Anke Huiskes:
But do you think it’s like a utopia that you can still have that because like you were like an effort like in the beginning with the magazine like this was such a big and now I guess is again like such a big part of who you are Do you think also looking at peers who’ve been through like a same growth trajectory Not the question like can you have it all But maybe do you have to have that other part of your life integrated in like being a CEO

Patrick:
now.

Anke Huiskes:
So you can run the marathon. Maybe at that point you might have thought like… I don’t like it’s an open question. I don’t know the answer but I’m curious what you think.

Patrick:
I can, for me, it was a kind of investment, you know? Now I have a much better life because I built, and if you ask Alex, he will tell you the same. We built this company because it was, we couldn’t find this way of work in other companies. You know, we are…

Everybody can work from wherever he or she wants. And so we are remote first. Actually, we always have been remote first from the beginning on. But now we have built such a strong foundation also with the tools and with our discipline and with the recruiting process. Nowadays we are much better to find these people who wanna work the same way we do.

I often sometimes, not sometimes, I often work only three, four, five hours a day. And that’s it because I’m, nowadays I’m so super efficient and the team around me is doing the same thing. And having built this, now I’m again, yeah, this summer I served a lot at the Eisbach, to be honest. Ha ha ha. Because I can. And

Anke Huiskes:
Good for you, good for you, yeah.

Patrick:
I can not by being not on the same professional level I have been before with work. I would say I’m more efficient today, but this was an investment. If you and nowadays tools and the culture, it’s easier to build kind of such a company today than it was in 2010. But I guess it always takes.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Patrick:
a phase where you really have to give it all.

Anke Huiskes:
Call all in. Yeah. And maybe you’ll run for you because you’ve been around, like you’ve seen the peak has also been around for a long time. Do you see a change in, I don’t know, like that it’s now maybe a little bit more balanced or a little bit more accepted? It’s also like leading by example. I’m curious if you see a difference throughout the years.

Patrick:
Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. I see, I also listen to podcasts and I see more and more of the newer companies that are really thinking in this direction and that are really, really good in managing their people this way. Where I still don’t see it is that the larger

Patrick:
think they are digital now, they have no idea.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, I partly agree, Patrick, because I agree, I see a lot of companies doing that, fully agree. And I think we all realize how important is life, work balance, right? But I think if you look, let’s say, at truly successful companies, I think the companies that we all know, right? There was a big discussion, for example, in the Netherlands about Dunk, probably Anke also read it right. Ali, the CEO there, which built three unicorns with his own hands.

Now working on the third is very rigid about managing his team and fully demanding everything, etc. And I think Tesla, Elon Musk is also known for that. So I think we I see also other examples. So I see a mix, but indeed it’s shifting. And I think in general, right, I think it’s good to have a work, better work life balance, especially on the long run, because eventually it will be really hard to especially to do it for eight or 10 years, right? I think that’s really be.

Patrick:
Ahem.

Johan van Mil:
So I think it’s shifting, but I haven’t seen the real, let’s say success cases yet from that end, right? That’s a little bit what I haven’t seen, yeah.

Patrick:
And Johan, here we are exactly at this question. What is success? You know, do you, like Elon Musk, he’s burning through all his people like crazy. So this for me is not successful. Successful is for me a sustainable, healthy work environment and being successful.

Johan van Mil:
Indeed.

Patrick:
and allowing everybody to thrive and doing their work and their personal development on a very high level. That’s for me success. It’s not in the end if we load 160 million euros, two cards or 140. Success for me needs a different definition today.

Anke Huiskes:
Hehehe

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, I think it’s also related to, by the way, fully agree with you, but it’s also related to the group, right, who bought your company. Can we go to that, also to that process, right? Because we, at a certain point, you, as you mentioned already, right, you realize that the company would be too small in the long run, so you decided to start for an acquisition and also, as you just mentioned, right, because of the cap table. How did you start with that process? So you had, did you approach buyers yourself, did you get help?

We are shareholders and investors, we are involved in many special effects processes.

Patrick:
There we were lucky because we had the experience of another funding round before where we already worked with a finance boutique, a small one, and this didn’t go super well. But at that time we were in a super growth phase, so we already were working a lot and very intense and we knew that we need outside help.

And then our CFO at that time, we had a very good one coming by the way, from one of the investors. So thank you. That was actually a really good help. And with this CFO, we found, or we searched, we did a super intense search and we invested a lot of time in pitching, letting finance consultants pitch for us.

And we took a long time and we found a really good one that was fitting to us and with whom we wanted to work. So the key learning here is probably you need external help because during this process you need to grow the company because only you can’t go flat during this acquisition process. You need to grow and this takes a lot of focus. But on the other hand,

selling a company’s again, another full-time job. So you have to outside help is good, but invest please in finding the right one. It needs to fit to your standards, whatever they are. So this was a good investment this time. I said it now three times over and over.

Johan van Mil:
And what was exactly the role that they took and what you took and what your shareholders and investors took, right? And especially in that exit process, because you mentioned already it was key to keep on growing the business. So I can shoot something, but yeah.

Patrick:
Yeah.

They were extremely helpful in creating a good pitch. You know, I mean, I can pitch our company, but somebody who has pitched so many other companies, they know much better what triggers a potential buyer. So with their help, we actually got to know GIF through their eyes.

And this was actually also helpful for growing our business. So this was a really good process and we needed them also to manage our, our investors, our cap table, because in this process we had in the end, it was an open bidding process and we had five surprisingly, which was good, five interested buyers and up group was not the one with the highest price tag.

So, but the management team, we wanted to go with up even if they weren’t the ones who wanted to pay the most. So you can imagine this was not something the investors were happy about.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah, because that’s very interesting, right? And that’s also good that you share that we read it also somewhere that you indeed that you decided to go together with your management team for not the highest bidder. What was the reason for you right to go for the not the highest bidder?

Patrick:
As I said, Alex and myself, we invested so much energy in building a company where we love to work and we wanted to stay on and to, because, you know, money is nice to have and it would be stupid to say, I mean, money makes you happy because it buys you stuff. But for us, it was always this workplace we have built.

Um, that’s so valuable. It’s still so valuable to us. And with up group who is, uh, employee owned, it’s a cooperative. They were somehow, they are different, but this core value is the same for them, it’s humans first. And, oh my God, this was from the beginning on, that was a very fitting, uh, buyer.

Anke Huiskes:
Which probably is also the reason why you’re still there. Like often people leave once they can. But it seems that, yeah, yeah.

Patrick:
Exactly.

Patrick:
We are still all here.

Johan van Mil:
You mentioned it’s a cooperative right owned by the staff. Can you elaborate a little bit more because that’s a business model, sorry that’s an organization model that you don’t see a lot. You see it a lot in farming and in other industries but not in let’s say the tech companies where we normally work with. Can you elaborate how that works for a company?

Patrick:
Yeah.

Patrick:
Yeah, it’s a French cooperative. Maybe that’s important to mention and it’s owned by the French, by all the employees that work in France and they are also in a big change process because they always, it was a French company and now they have 20 other countries where they are active and now they need to rethink, 3000 people work it up.

Anke Huiskes:
you

Patrick:
but only 600 in France. So the biggest part is now outside of France and outside of the cooperative. So there’s also a big thinking going on there, but it’s owned by the people who work there and they vote for, they have a election every four years for their council members.

It’s now it’s 14 council members and then these council members vote the president. So, uh, it’s very different and it’s, um, it’s also, it’s tougher to get hard decisions because, you know, it’s everybody’s on eye level, but this is also again, so good for the communication and for the everyday work because everybody.

Anke Huiskes:
Thanks for watching!

Patrick:
It’s the same. Like if you’re the president or somebody else, you speak on the same level because you are all part of the cooperative. And this is a very, that’s actually like we manage GIF. I mean, everybody can tell his opinion to everybody else because it’s, yeah, that’s how it should be. That’s the same.

Anke Huiskes:
Thanks for watching!

Anke Huiskes:
It’s pretty remarkable that you found an acquisition partner that has a very much similar culture. And I think in one of your previous podcasts you said something about kindness. Like looking at people in a positive way, always. Like that’s one of the first principles of how you work. I guess maybe to start wrapping things up. It has been an incredible journey, I guess 12-13 years in the work. Where…

Patrick:
Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
Sometimes it was like a bumpy road with founder split ups, refinancing or doing bridgefronts, getting new investors on the table, being in a position that you’ve got multiple offers of people wanting to buy your company and then being in a position to choose by yourself to choose which party to go with in the long run as well because you didn’t want to leave. So I guess like for our listeners, it’s an incredible honest.

really insightful story, how to grow and exit a company. Are there any questions that John and I didn’t ask that you really wanna hone into as well?

Patrick:
Um, I have, I’ve, because I know that, uh, it’s about exits and I want to shine a little light on their process, especially because it took us one year and it was remarkable because we, then it’s lawyers, you know, and UP had a white in case, which is one of the top five, uh, lawyers worldwide. And we had.

a normal lawyer, he’s also very good, but this was just a very different level. So what happened was that the partner on white and case side, they invested two or three months to bring us on their level of communication. So this was an excellent experience. What I want to say is an exit is very different.

Anke Huiskes:
Oh, that’s all. Yeah.

Patrick:
than a financing round, it’s extremely different because I thought that this is like another financing round, it’s not. So it’s very different on so many levels, but an exit is also the best learning curve you can do in this year. I’ve gained so much experience and it was so

because I mean we often had calls at 10 or 11 at night because that’s when everybody could find time and I have a very good saying I wrote a little different because that’s how I felt. I’m tired, it’s too late, it’s too intense, it’s uncomfortable, it’s so complex. Let’s go!

And that’s how in the end you show up then for 11 o’clock at night. Say it’s call.

Anke Huiskes:
Wow, and that’s for a period of a year, right? That’s what you mentioned, like a year, an acquisition process of a year, which is not what I expected.

Patrick:
Yep.

Patrick:
Yeah, thanks to our wives and families. Nobody got divorced, which is kind of a miracle. So it’s a lot if you’re listening in. Thanks.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, yeah.

Johan van Mil:
Could also blow up the deal, right? One question about the exit also, we read somewhere because as you mentioned before, we prepare our protocols pretty well. We noticed somewhere, I think the exit price was roughly 20 million euros, right? Where Upgroup bought it for. How did you decide on that price, right? Because you had a lot of shareholders also on your cap table.

It’s always everybody has his own perspective about the value of the company. I mean, you’re running it, but early shareholders and especially later shareholders might have a different perspective. How did you decide upon, let’s say, the price to agree on? Because you could also, in your case, say no and continue to grow the company. Right. So how did you decide on that point?

Patrick:
Yeah, that’s the reason why we decided at the beginning to have an open bidding process, which was a risk because it could have also been that the, that the bits were very low or no bits coming in. So it was indicative by the market, which has all the bits more or less were then in the same region. And that’s how.

That was also good for the investors because they thought, hey, more or less, all the prices are two or three or four millions plus minus, then this cannot be so wrong. Yeah. That was a very lucky situation. And otherwise, it’s…

Johan van Mil:
That’s the benefit of also having multiple bidders.

Patrick:
Otherwise it’s so super hard, you know, for a tech startup to really find a good value. It’s because what do you base it on? So yeah, having an indicative process is really a good, an elegant way of solving this. I think.

Anke Huiskes:
Mm-hmm.

Johan van Mil:
And a last question on my end, because also as a founder myself, having a few companies before, I like to give myself something, right? Especially after building a company and selling it, right? I think it’s always good to give yourself a gift. You have a very impressive career, right? From being a snowboard teacher, having a bar, etc. What did you give yourself as a founder after the process, right? What was the gift that you bought for yourself or for your family or somebody else?

Patrick:
Yeah, it’s okay. I bought a Tesla. This is the one thing I always wanted to have one in 2018.

Johan van Mil:
Oh, it’s a German and Tesla. That’s interesting. That’s for another podcast.

Anke Huiskes:
hahahaha

Patrick:
But in the end, and this sounds now super pathetic, but I really mean it, in the end, the biggest thing for us is again, that we could develop and we still develop this workplace that we have now, that I’m able to go, I mean, in these eight years, the maximum length of my holiday was one week. And often this, it only was one week per year.

So being able now to travel again with my family for three weeks and knowing that this is not on the cost of the company, that it’s not growing in this time, but on the contrary, that everybody a gift can take holidays and comes back recharged. And in the meantime, also great things happened. I mean, that’s the best. That’s the best. I will give back my Tesla and everything else.

for having just this Seriously, this is so good

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, you’re really like a very positive person. Like I think the things that you’ve mentioned before, how you want to build your company is I think how you are as a person, which is so interesting, I guess, in the company culture that you set for yourself. So thank you. I guess this is it. Incredible to learn about the journey. Thank you for being so open. I guess many good nuggets.

Patrick:
Thanks.

Anke Huiskes:
no matter where founders are in their journey and even some advice for us as investors in that like I think that like that’s always good to hear so like thank you for your honesty yeah and I agree with you

Patrick:
Hahaha!

Patrick:
Thank you, that was a good…

Johan van Mil:
Yeah thanks Patrick really

Patrick:
Well prepared, that’s big fun actually.

Anke Huiskes:
Good. See you next time on the wave in a month.

Patrick:
Oh yeah, that sounds really good.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, okay. Ciao!

Johan van Mil:
And let’s hope as a final thing for Kiesha also, let’s hope indeed that the first part of the recording is done properly because otherwise we have to record the first part again. Kiesha, I think no, no. Yeah, and also we are too. So I assume no news yet, Kiesha on that end.

Patrick:
Oh, but I’m happy too.

Johan van Mil:
given the time zone of the US.

Anke Huiskes:
No, she hasn’t heard anything yet. So yeah, better if we have to, yeah, if we have to redo, yeah.

Patrick:
But somebody wrote, Kisha wrote in the… I haven’t heard anything yet, but contacted them. And let us know when you publish it, because then we push it also a little bit. Do you already have a planning? When you want to publish?

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah.

Johan van Mil:
Oh, that’s great. Not yet. We are…

Anke Huiskes:
Kiesha will… yeah, Kiesha has a plan. She has like a schedule so she’s the one who will get back to you. She does like well prepared that she gives us some like quotes or even like a little part of the transcript as well as the video so it’s like easy to share on your socials. Yeah, cool. Danke zeer!

Patrick:
Quit.

Cool. Then thanks, I enjoyed it a lot. See ya.

Johan van Mil:
Yeah. OK. Yeah, thanks. So did we. Goodbye. Bye-bye.

Anke Huiskes:
Yeah, nice. See you soon here. Bye!

Patrick:
Bye.