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No Such Ventures invests in Vendora


Amsterdam, 21 July, 2020: The Greek online marketplace Vendora secures a 'multimillion investment' from the Dutch investment collective No Such Ventures. The platform was founded by Robin Schuil, former CTO and first employee of Marktplaats.nl.


Since its launch in 2017, Vendora has become the largest marketplace in Greece. The brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur and former CTO of Marktplaats.nl, Robin Schuil, the platform was started with his (originally Ukrainian) girlfriend, Daria Nepriakhina. Schuil, a Dutch software developer, joined Marktplaats.nl as its first employee in 1999. In 2004, the platform was sold to the American eBay for 290 million euros.


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Schuil is spending more time in the Netherlands, where he found an investor for his new Greek venture: No Such Ventures. About '10 to 15' entrepreneurs from the group are contributing to an investment round of several million euros, says No Such Ventures partner Reinder Lubbers.


Geert-Jan Smits, founder of the webshop Flinders, is also part of this group. No Such Ventures invests on a deal-by-deal basis, meaning they don't have a fixed fund, and they require a minimum of 100,000 euros per investment from each participant.


By coincidence Schuil ended up in Athens "somewhat by chance," as he told Sprout. "In 2016, I completed my adventure at eBay after 16 years. I realized that I had spent half my life there and, at that time, I had no intention of re-entering the classifieds market."


In 2013, Schuil joined Eric Ries, the startup guru who was building a new stock exchange in San Francisco, the Long-Term Stock Exchange (LTSE). "I helped build Captable.io, a shareholder registry and tool for LTSE to conduct customer development on the way to building a full-fledged exchange."


"Captable is now one of the most popular tools for tracking your captable (the distribution of shares within a company) and valuation. I worked there for two years until the first seed round, with Marc Andreessen as one of the investors. That was the point where I had to choose whether to move to the US full time. But I chose not to for two reasons."


"My passion lies in the consumer market and building products for many people. Additionally, the war between Ukraine and Russia had just broken out. My girlfriend and co-founder in Vendora is originally from Ukraine, and she still has family living there, so it wasn't the right time to move to the US."


Dutch embassy

"Then I was approached by the Dutch embassy in Athens, who told me about a program they had started a little while ago: a startup incubator at the embassy. They had literally cleared the ground floor, where about 20 startups are now located, just like at Rockstart. Orange Grove is run by Dutch companies with interests in Greece, such as Heineken, KLM, Nationale Nederlanden, and Philips."


"I was impressed by the initiative. As a tourist, I had been to Greece before, but then you don't really get a sense of what's going on. When they started Orange Grove in 2013, there was actually nothing for startups in Greece. The term 'startup' was still quite new, and it still is to some extent. As Dutch people, we didn't make ourselves very popular there at that time, with Dijsselbloem pushing hard for reforms. The embassy also wanted to positively contribute to Greece's recovery."


"I offered to help guide startups and spent a year as an entrepreneur in residence. That meant flying to Athens for a week every month to share knowledge and experience. As I spent more time there, I learned more about the country and where they stand in terms of online market development. Many reasons we didn't expand to Greece with Marktplaats.nl turned out to no longer be true."


Density

"It's true that Greece is still slightly behind in terms of internet speed and penetration. And all those islands make it particularly challenging to establish a marketplace model, one might think. But I quickly learned that half of the people live in Athens, and another quarter in Thessaloniki. That density is actually very suitable for a marketplace. Meanwhile, significant steps are being taken with the rollout of fiber optic and 4G. They are really catching up. If you plot that out, in five years, they'll be on the European Union average."


"I was in the right place at the right time. With Vendora, we started from scratch. With a fresh start, independent of eBay, and with the freedom to move quickly. I built the first version myself, and we tested the market and researched what it costs to acquire a user."


"In 2018, we raised our first investment from Bucephalus, an investment fund by Bart Jan Manten. He is a Dutch entrepreneur in Greece, selling premium olive oil, among other things, to retailers like the Bijenkorf."


Entrepreneurship in Greece is quite different from the Netherlands. The system is much more bureaucratic, and it is less friendly in terms of taxes and as an employer. But other than that, it's not too bad."


Big strides

"In terms of the internet, Greece is about twenty years behind the Netherlands, but that gap is quickly closing. While we still have a lot of legacy infrastructure in the Netherlands, they can modernize with the latest technology. For us, an investment for a relatively small improvement is often not worth it, but in countries like Greece and Ukraine, significant steps are now being taken.


Due to the coronavirus, the Greek government has fully digitized in three weeks."

"With Vendora, we now have a small team of eight people. It's going well. After all, it's not unpleasant to 'go on vacation' to Greece every month, so to speak."




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