Company Focus: Tictail
Creandum Invested
Carl Rivera
Creandum Partner
Johan Brenner
Making a mark on Ecommerce

Johan Brenner: We’ve known Carl and the team for I would say 5 years, when you started Tictail… Is that right?

Carl Rivera: Well the first time I got to know Creandum was actually for the company I started, Keyflow. And actually I came here to the Creandum office and pitched to Fredrik once.

Johan: That was the nightclub booking system, right? It’s still around.

Carl: It’s still around… It was before the iPhone in 2005 and we had built it on top of the Nokia N700 - you know the old Symbian device - so it was actually a super high tech project to make it work. It was really one of the first cloud-based apps. I met Fredrik when we were quite an immature business in every possible definition!

Johan:And we met you when you recruited Kaj, then Birk came on. Then it was really interesting how you found Siavash.

Carl:Thats true - they’re all great stories. Birk I met in a job interview. I met him at the agency years ago and tried to recruit him, and he was like “I’m never going to work for an agency.” And then that job interview turned into a beer drinking session. I would try to hire him every 2-3 months and he would always say no, and call me an idiot.

But when me and Kaj decided started a new company he was the first developer we tried to see. For a very long time we thought it would be the three of us, and we thought we would start in San Francisco. Because we were like, “we are going to build the world’s most used and loved e-commerce platform, and where do you build the world’s biggest companies? San Francisco... with Stockholm as a close second.

So we got on an airplane and went over to San Francisco. But soon decided to go back when our friend Gustav at AirBNB told us, “The one thing that’s more important than where you are is the people you can hire. You guys will be in such a strong position in Stockholm, but you won’t be here in San Francisco.”

So we headed back and launched a landing page, a “get ready for launch” early access page. Birk had a really genius move [in this page’s] source code, down in the bottom with Javascript inclusion to write, “Hey, if you find this message, then you’re probably like us, an eager engineer, and you need to get in touch because we’re building something really exciting.”

And this was back in October or November 2011 when we were just getting started. Just 4 or 5 people knew what we were building… and then Birk called me at 11pm and said, “Carl, you won’t believe what happened. Someone just emailed us.”

This was like literally receiving a message from space. Someone had acknowledged that our company was a company, and not only that, they decided that they wanted to work with us. That somebody was Siavash and on paper he looked good to be true. He was the tech lead at Blocket, Sweden’s largest e-commerce site, and had a really cool background too. We got on the phone with him, invited him over for coffee. The next day we all met up. The day after we all met up. And it kind of just continued. We started building stuff and then 2 months later we were like “hey Siavash, this is kind of crazy because two months ago we didn’t even know of you. Do you want to be part of this family and start this business with us?

Johan: That’s a cute story, but that’s also something we as an investor look for. There’s a core trait in great teams how they recruit. Tictail was an awesome team in terms of design, but if you can recruit the right people to the team it’s really important.

And then when it was time for you guys to do an A-round you were certain you wanted to go to the U.S. because that was the biggest market for you. And we understood that you wanted a U.S. lead. We respected that and despite wanting to be in there, we hopefully helped get you in there. Ultimately you chose Thrive out of many, who is New York-based and had a focus on E-commerce. And in retrospect it was the right choice.

Carl: Similarly to you guys, we as entrepreneurs bet on people, and I think with Creandum and the Thrive guys, it wasn’t about the fund or the valuation, it was about the people. That’s something we’ve thought about since day one: to hire people we think we can learn from, and enjoy working with, and also to work with investors we think we can learn from and enjoy working with. That personal relationship has really been the core foundation of our company.

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