Where do all these people come from?

This is the fifth part of a series about the start-up Peecho. The chapters are:

  1. Starting up
  2. Business model
  3. Execution
  4. Community
  5. Investor game (part I)

Empty wallet syndrome

In the beginning of 2010, Peecho development was steadily progressing and all was well in the universe. However, when you are developing a relatively high-tech product, chances are that the time-to-market is larger than your wallet can handle. So, we needed some investment to really cut it. To attract money people, we figured it was time for a glamorous launch and lots of media exposure.

Chance helped us out. At an Open Coffee meet-up, we met one of the organizers of TheNextWeb. Old-fashioned Googling will show you that TheNextWeb is an annual internet conference known for its start-up rally - a competition in which start-ups battle to win awards in several categories. We decided to go for it and apply. Peecho was going to compete with the best fresh companies from all over the world!

Techcrunch

Some glam presentations and interviews later, the grand finale was in sight. The first TechCrunch mention soon followed. There was a slight problem, though. At that point, our software wasn’t anywhere near completion. Luckily, our trusty developers applied some of their last-minute deadline magic. With the conference glooming, our community managed to finish the cloud print platform and a demo application for iPhone to go with it. With just one day to go, we saw the first physical print product come out of a Xerox iGen in the print facility of Greetz - the Dutch greeting card specialist. It was a postcard with a picture of a hideously ugly Peecho easter egg. Until this day, it is handled with reverence.

Then D-day came. In the keynote session of the event, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels mentioned our service as one of the “future building blocks of the internet”. On top of that, Martijn’s stage performance in the finale was flawless. To cut a long story short: Peecho beat over 200 other start-ups and won the award for “best business model” in the start-up rally. Mr. Vogels congratulated us on stage and proved the jury’s point by donating a 10 euro bill - another pièce de résistance in the Peecho treasure vault. It couldn’t have been better.

Capitalists moving in

Attracted by all the fuzz, the venture capitalists started moving in. During that summer, we were busy flying over the world doing presentations and assessing term sheets. We spoke with all of them, from local investment companies to international players. It was super useful. VCs are usually very smart people. They ask the right questions and you can learn an awful lot from them. The bad news is that it takes so much time and focus to deal with them, especially if you do not have a lot of experience in the field - like us at that time.

While being all excited, we made one capital mistake. The process slowed us down. Instead of running around with investment scenarios on our minds, we should have worried about keeping the hyper-productivity of the days before the conference.

Over to plan B

Luckily, we snapped out of that temporary paralysis relatively quickly, when our dreamed VC decided to wait a little longer. More traction was needed to prove our business model. We decided to quickly move to plan B. This approach was really simple. We sat down for about an hour and made a list of friends and acquaintances that we thought would make excellent informal investors - ranging from internet company CEOs to legal experts. We ordered this list by several variables, like “knowledge” and “network” and “do-we-really- want-to-have-this-guy-around-all-the-time”. Then, we started to make phone calls from the top down. We didn’t get very far. About 27 minutes later, we closed our first investment round - possibly breaking the world record for the smallest negotiation-to-paper-work ratio in a seed round ever.

By the end of the year, we held our first shareholders meeting. It was a blast. We love you, guys.