When I jumped on a plane to visit Silicon Valley for Startup Grind's flagship Global Conference, I couldn't imagine how many friends I was about to make. Fellow Chapter Directors from around the world - South Africa, China, Sweden, and more - joined me and 3000 other founders and investors for two days worth of learning and connecting. One of them was Claus Rosenberg Gotthard, a Danish-born entrepreneur who is not only running the Startup Grind Madrid chapter, but has Co-founded Book’n’Bloom, a services booking platform powered by Facebook. He just raised a whooping €11.5M in Series A funding from a London-based VC to expand the business in new markets, including Greece.
Watch the full interview with Claus Rosenberg Gotthard, founder & CEO of Book'n'Bloom here.
A Startup Grind Success Story
When I heard from Claus about this round back in February, it grabbed my attention immediately. Claus' back-office team is based in Greece's second largest city, Thessaloniki, and Claus has plans to launch a new office in Athens.
Startup Grind is a global family, so I naturally offered to help find top local talent through our network of experienced professionals - but with a catch. Claus should get to know our community in person, by coming as a speaker, rather than an interviewer. He fell in love with the values, and volunteered to launch the next chapter in Madrid. Two years and €14M raised later, Claus returned as the speaker, with a change of role.
Breaking the Mold
Claus is not your usual "20-something app developer" style of founder. He’s a full-on businessman who comes from a family of entrepreneurs. He launched a series of different ventures, including one which has scaled to thousands of employees in Russia. His entrepreneurial journey lead him to Cyprus, where he hired a Greek intern born in Thessaloniki, Babis Papadopoulos. Being open-mind and always having his eyes open for the next opportunity, Claus saw potential and made Babis his co-founder at Book’n’Bloom.
Not having a technology background didn’t stop Claus from entering the high-tech business. He believes he can tackle one of the last frontiers: transform millions of local appointment-based businesses into web-enabled companies. Book'n'Bloom is helping them transition from pen & paper to social & mobile business operations.
You have to be a little bit crazy to start such an ambitious quest, but Claus was armed with a clear vision and secured €2M in seed funding to get started. He recruited a team of 21 people, 16 of which are based in Thessaloniki and the rest acting as active sales force in Athens, Madrid and Bogota.
The new round of €11.5M in Series A funding will help them expand to minimum 5 new markets.
Breaking the News to the Startup Grind Family
The fireside chat with Claus was interesting not only because Claus was our first international speaker, but also because few Greeks knew about Book’n’Bloom before seeing him in Athens. The news of the funding round came exclusively through Startup Grind and the buzz around Claus' startup was huge. People were eager to meet the CEO investing in Greece, a country heavily hit by a continuous crisis that led to -25% GDP the last 5 years. That’s equal to the GDP lost during WWII.
Most Greek founders are looking to expand their startups abroad. Claus on the other hand takes a completely different approach, accepting the country risk but also leveraging the lower burn-rate that stems from salaries that can be attractive for founders. A developer in Greece might cost you 50% less than a developer in Silicon Valley or New York. The quality of work, however, is of equal caliber.
As Claus mentioned, Greece is uniquely positioned with a high quantity of well educated graduates looking for a job. They complete their studies with a Master’s degree already included (minimum 4 years for a BSc compared to 3 years in US or UK). That gives founders a competitive advantage as they can dedicate more effort into developing the product itself instead of financing expensive office rent or ridiculously high salaries.
Claus secret to success? Stay humble and keep Grinding! On behalf of the entire Startup Grind Athens team, we would like not only to congratulate him for his latest successful funding round, but also to thank a fellow Chapter Director for accepting my invitation to visit Greece and change hats one more time. It was certainly one of my favorite events so far and it all started by a simple conversation I had two months ago in Startup Grind Global.