Swedish Startup Space

Internet Veteran Mathias Plank Says “No thanks” To Venture Capital

Written by on January 21, 2016

Mathias Plank gets his revenge and looks for 35 developers for his new startup. This time, he’s going at it without venture capital. “I wan’t to be in control”, he says.

Mathias Plank is one of two people behind Dressmart. One of the largest e-commerce projects in Sweden at the turn of the millennium.

The startup sold shirt online and raised almost 175 million SEK ($20 million calculated with the conversion rate from 21st of January 2000). But when the dot-com bubble burst Dressmart collapsed with the rest of the industry and avoided bankruptcy at the last minute when publicly traded New Wave acquired the company.

“Selling clothes online wasn’t a bad idea, but we raised too much money and were ahead of our time”, Mathias Plank says when I’m meeting with him, 15 years after the Dressmart-journey ended, at his favorite restaurant Café Saturnus in Stockholm.

Mathias Plank is back with a new startup and an entirely different concept.

“I’m staying away from venture capital this time. That’s probably the most important lesson I’ve learned from Dressmart, not to raise money.There’s a risk that you will grow too fast and you loose control of your company at the same time”, he says.

He started Dynamo, which is like a combination of a consultant agency for app development and an incubator, last spring. Dynamo works for major corporations like Apple, Ikea and Oriflame, but also helps startups with their app development. Dynamo gets 10-40 percent ownership of the company in return for the code that its programmers write.

So far, Dynamo has become a minor share holder in five different startups.

“One of the companies are in the USA, but the other four are Swedish. Most of them are still in very early development, so I can’t really talk about it”, Mathias Plank says.

The company has seen fantastic growth on the consultancy side from the beginning. Angel investor Peter Sandberg already owned a company that Mathias Plank used as the foundation for Dynamo. The company already has 35 developers, and plans on growing at the same pace in 2016. In 2015 the company had revenues of $1,7 million (15 million SEK), and the goal is to reach $4 million(35 million SEK) in 2016.

“We’re hiring an additional 35 brilliant programmers. We’re looking for people both here in Sweden and internationally. We have 20 different nationalities at the office at this time”, he says.

Stockholm has a great shortage of developers, how do you attract people?

“We really stress the fact that you’re not just coding a small part of a big system at Dynamo. You get to manage an entire project.”

In what kind of companies do you invest?

“The most important factors when we evaluate startups, are the entrepreneurs themselves and the team. Great technological challenges are fun too. We like disruptive ideas within the sharing economy and marketplaces”, he says.

Which companies do you avoid?

“We stay away from advertising and gaming. There are already too many people going in that direction.”

You made five investments last year, how many are you planning for this year?

“Our goal is to double that number this year”, Mathias Plank says.

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