February 2, 2022
4 min read

From Start to Exit in 8 months — A Venture Studio Success Story

Lessons learned from building Biller from start to exit in 8 months

I remember that first product roadmap session with Derek, Uwe, and Mick in May 2021 — whiteboarding what would soon become the AI risk assessment model. And now we’ve had our very first exit: this week Biller announced their strategic acquisition by Banking Circle that will further accelerate their path to democratise B2B commerce globally. 🙌

We began this journey with the strong conviction that we were in the right space, working with the right team, with the ability to give them the right support. Even with all the right things in place, I still didn’t think it was possible to build a new company at such a fast pace!

We clearly defined what was needed for Biller to succeed in this hot and competitive space:

A top team with deep market expertise: Derek, Mick, and Uwe have a combined 30 years’ experience in the payments space.

A differentiated data and AI proposition: combining their market knowledge with our machine learning expertise, we’ve developed market-leading technology in credit assessments and fraud checks.

Get to market — FAST!: Deploying our dedicated venture building applied AI software squad, Biller went live in 3 months.

Go beyond the home turf advantage: Biller was built with international expansion and hyper-scaling in mind; expanding beyond the Netherlands was the next big goal for Biller.

We were fortunate to meet the exceptional team at Banking Circle at the perfect moment for both of us. Banking Circle was looking to add BNPL capability to their portfolio of products, serving their global customer base. And Biller was looking for a partner with global infrastructure through which to power its international expansion. There was an immediate match in vision, ambition, and culture. Beyond the synergies of strategy and tech, it is these qualities that will help Derek, Mick, and Uwe continue to build their business with Banking Circle.

Celebrating a live product with the founders, tech team, and 🍰

Lessons Learned: Reflections on venture building at light speed

It’s been a brief but absolutely thrilling journey, and we couldn’t be happier for the Biller team.

For you (future) founders out there, I’ve reflected on our experience building Biller and would like to share my Top 5 Do’s and Don’ts for building a great business:

  • DO leverage your own network talent: It’s notoriously difficult to hire your first employees when you’ve barely got your website live. Make a list of the top 5 A-players you personally know and would want in your new company. People are part of your competitive advantage.
  • DON’T underestimate the importance of culture: As a founder, while you are (rightly) focused on product and customers, be thoughtful and deliberate with shaping the culture of your company. We noticed an incredible sense of belonging from the moment “Biller” defined and articulated their culture, values, routines, spaces, and traditions.
  • DO balance going fast without incurring too much technical debt: When making countless early and speedy product development decisions, there is a risk of choosing the most familiar approach vs. potentially better longer-term solutions. (We’re just going to throw away the MVP, right?) But learn from our ‘war wounds’: deceptively “cheap” technical debt from the early days can quickly become costly and potentially slow down innovation.
  • DON’T waste time with distractions: It’s incredibly hard to avoid context switching as a founder: you’re deciding every part of your business and covering every function. We’re a big fan of the Critical Path Method (CPM), as it can really cut through the noise and help you focus on what matters most. For Slimmer AI founders, we’ve streamlined the company building process using our proven “handbook,” helping founders focus only on building a beloved product, selling it to customers, and building a talented team.
  • DO find your ‘invested builders’: You’ve chosen an entrepreneurial life for many reasons, not the least of which is your passion for independence and a desire to make your contribution to the world. The key is to balance your courage with the needed humility to get help from those with real business building expertise; trusted advisors with shared incentives to help you reach your greatest potential. In the investment world, ‘value-add’ is often said but infrequently realised. How much time will they really spend with you? And are they a true day-to-day sparring partners? Especially in difficult or challenging times. This can make all the difference.

As we have been since we met the team last May, we are passionate believers in Biller’s ability to democratise B2B commerce. We are thankful for the journey we’ve been on with Derek, Mick, Uwe, and the rest of the Biller team. We’ve learned a lot from our experiences together; we’re proud of Biller and can’t wait to see their continued success.🚀

What’s next for Slimmer AI? Stay tuned: we are already working on exciting new opportunities with amazing founders focused on disrupting their industries.

If you have an idea for a product or company and are driven to make a real difference in your industry, I’d love to hear from you.