What makes Checkout.com different from Stripe

While Checkout.com has kept a low profile for many years, the company raised $ 380 million within a year and reached an impressive valuation of $ 5.5 billion. It wants to build a one-stop shop for all things related to payments, such as accepting transactions, processing them and detecting fraud.

You might think that it sounds a bit like Stripe. In an interview at TechCrunch Disrupt, I asked founder and CEO Guillaume Pousaz what makes Checkout.com different from Stripe, Adyen and other companies in the payment space. It comes down to a very different philosophy when it comes to product and market approach.

“We only do enterprise. We really only work with the big merchants. There are a few exceptions here and there but it’s mostly enterprise-only and it’s purely online,” Pousaz said.

“I once met [Stripe CEO] Patrick Collison and I joked with him. I said you might have a million merchants, I have 1,200 merchants but I know every single one by name and they all process tens of millions every year. So I think it’s just a different business,” he added later in the interview.

Checkout.com now has a ton of money sitting in its bank account, but it has been a long and slow journey to reach that level. The company has been around for many years and reached profitability in 2012. It has been spending very meticulously over the years.

When talking about the early days of the company, Pousaz said the team grew really slowly. “We can hire one employee this month. Now we can hire two employees this month,” he said.

Today, the company still tries to remain as lean as possible. “It’s really a matter of discipline. All these companies, they raise a lot of money, they spend a lot of money and I don’t challenge that model. For us, embedding that discipline and frugality in the company in how we run it is something that was important to us,” Pousaz said.

“There’s no problem with spending. Just make sure that when you’re spending, you’re wise about it. You just don’t spray and pray. You see this unfortunately too much with tech companies.”

That’s why Checkout.com mostly invests in its own product. Nearly two-thirds of the company is working in product, IT and engineering. Only 13% of the company is working in sales, which is much less than some of its competitors.

But why did Checkout.com raise hundreds of millions of dollars then? “At some point, you need validation. And the validation was really important for us. When you have Insight, DST, Coatue, GIC, Blossom it changes your dimension,” Pousaz said.

When talking about regulators, Checkout.com has licenses in Brazil, the U.K. and France (for contingency), Hong Kong, Singapore, etc. It’s a never-ending process as the company is still working on licenses in other key markets, such as Japan.

“These regulators are super thorough. You don’t pass because you’re a nice guy, you pass because you have the right processes,” Pousaz said.

I challenged that notion and mentioned the Wirecard collapse. He obviously thinks that Wirecard and Checkout.com are in a different position right now.

“All my money is sitting with JP Morgan, it’s pretty simple. There’s no bank account in the Philippines and funny stuff,” Pousaz said. “The Wirecard story is so big that the real question is — go and ask the question to the auditors. Because the auditors that I have, which for the record is PwC, ask me to show them the bank statements and everything. And there are super thorough, it’s a super long process.”

“How did the Wirecard story happen? I don’t know,” he added.

Startups – TechCrunch

Munich-based Holidu turns profitable amid pandemic; raises funding from former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen

The COVD-19 pandemic has severely impacted the global travel and tourism industry. According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO), the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a 22% fall in international tourist arrivals during the first quarter of 2020. It also predicts that the crisis could lead to an annual decline of between 60% and 80% when compared with 2019 figures. In spite of this devastating effect of the pandemic, Holidu turned profitable in May and since then generated seven-digit positive EBIT figures. It just raised funding from Kees Koolen – former CEO of Booking.com. 

Profitable Amid Pandemic

Holidu has announced that Koolen has invested more than €4M into the company from his personal fund, as part of a €5M extension to the €40M Series C round of the previous year.

Headquartered in Munich, Holidu is a global price comparison platform that lets people find, compare, and book vacation rentals all over the world. According to the company, the funding follows a period of accelerated growth for Holidu, despite the raging pandemic’s impact on the global travel market. 

The company claims that in July alone, more than 27 million users visited the Holidu website. This resulted in a 2.6x growth in year-on-year bookings and more than €130M of newly generated bookings that month.

Kees Koolen is a Dutch businessman and investor. He was the COO, CEO, and chairman of Booking.com from 2002-2014. Booking.com was acquired in 2005 by a US-based travel booking company called Priceline Group – later changed its name to Booking Holdings Inc. in 2018. 

He was an early Uber investor and helped Uber roll out internationally. Moreover, he was a founding partner at EQT ventures, and now he is active in driving the transition towards clean energy with his clean energy conglomerate Koolen Industries.

Koolen has been an active board member in Holidu since 2016, both during his time as a partner at EQT Ventures and later in his role as advisor to EQT Ventures.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is reshuffling the cards in the travel industry and Holidu is clearly one of the winners of the accelerated trend towards alternative accommodation”, says Koolen.

Pandemic pushes domestic

The company believes that this pandemic has caused a shift in users’ travel behaviour, with many preferring domestic travel. According to Holidu’s internal data comparing July 2020 with the same month of the previous year, users chose domestic travels, made more last-minute bookings, and preferred more premium accommodation choices.

“People had been locked in their apartments due to COVID-19 for a long time and we saw that once it was allowed again, people just wanted to travel. Many of them looked for safer nearby travel options, for which vacation rentals are ideal. We have focused on this segment of the travel market since our foundation and it makes us beyond happy that we have been able to help millions of travelers to have a great summer vacation this year.” explains Johannes Siebers, Co-founder and CEO at Holidu.

“At one point, we almost got overwhelmed by the large demand. Fortunately, we were able to react quickly thanks to the strong work of our team and the internal technology tools,” he adds.

Hoildu was founded in 2014 brothers Johannes and Michael Siebers. It was founded by the duo following a frustrating experience while booking a vacation rental for a surfing trip to Portugal. According to the company, they spent hours browsing through dozens of websites to find the right accommodation and realised that some of the rentals were offered on multiple sites for different prices. 

Holidu, currently, has a team of more than 200 people and closed its €40M Series C round led by Prime Ventures in 2019.

Image credits: Holidu

The post Munich-based Holidu turns profitable amid pandemic; raises funding from former Booking.com CEO Kees Koolen appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

Startups that sell online, can you describe the process that goes from receiving the order to giving the package to the delivery company?

Hi all, I'm a European business student, me and my team are doing a report about what happens during this phase of the delivery process. The ideal would be that you go into as much detail as possible about all the steps (like printing the bar-code or the packaging).

Thanks for helping us!

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

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As the Western US burns, a forest carbon capture monitoring service nabs cash from Amazon & Bill Gates-backed fund

Pachama, the forest carbon sequestration monitoring service that tracks how much carbon dioxide is actually captured in forestry offset projects, has raised $ 5 million in fresh funding from a clutch of high-profile investors, including Amazon and Breakthrough Energy Ventures.

The investment is one of several deals that Amazon has announced today through its Climate Pledge Fund. Breakthrough Energy Ventures, the firm backed by Bill Gates and other billionaires, led the round, which brings Pachama’s total haul to $ 9 million so it can scale its forest restoration and conservation emissions reduction monitoring service, the company said.

With the Western United States continuing to burn from several fires that cover acres of drought-impacted forests and deforestation continuing to be a problem around the world, Pachama’s solution couldn’t be more timely. The company’s remote verification and monitoring service using satellite imagery and artificial intelligence measures carbon captured by forests.

It also couldn’t be more personal. Pachama’s founder, Diego Saez-Gil, lost his own home in the wildfires that tore through California earlier this year.

“We will need to restore hundreds of thousands of acres of forests and carbon credits can be the funding mechanism,” Saez-Gil wrote in a direct message.

Pachama joins two other companies that are jointly financed by Breakthrough Energy Ventures and Amazon’s Climate Pledge Fund.

Other big corporate investors also backed Pachama. Groupe Arnault’s investment arm, Aglaé Ventures, and Airbnb’s alumni fund, AirAngels invested, as did a number of prominent family offices and early-stage funds. Sweet Capital, the fund investing the personal wealth of gaming company King.com’s management team; Serena Ventures (the investment vehicle for tennis superstar Serena Williams) and Chris Sacca’s Lowercarbon Capital fund also invested in the round, along with Third Kind Ventures and Xplorer Ventures.

“There is growing demand from businesses with ESG commitments looking for ways to become carbon neutral, and afforestation is one of the most attractive carbon removal options ready today at scale,” said Carmichael Roberts, of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, in a statement. “By leveraging technology to create new levels of measurement, monitoring, and verification of carbon removal—while also onboarding new carbon removal projects seamlessly—Pachama makes it easier for any company to become carbon neutral. With its advanced enterprise tools and resources, the company has enormous potential to accelerate carbon neutrality initiatives for businesses through afforestation.”

Startups – TechCrunch

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