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Exit of The Year Finalist: On Vimcar exit with Marc-Olivier Luecke, General Partner at Atlantic Labs, and Christian Siewek, co-founder and MD at Vimcar

This episodes features an exciting conversation on how to build a company from day zero to exit, lessons learned and insights from their investors. Meet Vimcar, a finalist at European VC awards!

Welcome back to a new episode of the European VC Podcast!

Today, we are celebrating one of the finalists in the Exit of The Year category at this year’s European VC Awards, this episode dives deep with Marc-Olivier Luecke, General Partner at Atlantic Labs, and Christian Siewek, co-founder and MD at Vimcar.

Atlantic Labs is a 110M EUR fund with 300M under management, based in Berlin, Germany. They focus on pre-seed rounds but occasionally go for seed rounds. They focus mostly on Climate & Energy, AI & Data, and European Deep Tech with notable investments like Choco, Zenjob, Wandelbots, Again, and of course Vimcar.

Vimcar in a single slide:

For this episode, we’re diving deep into the journey with Vimcar, covering:

  • The thesis of Atlantic Labs and why they invested in Vimcar

  • The challenges and learnings of building Vimcar

  • The journey of going from pre-seed to Series B and finally the exit to Battery Ventures

Watch it here or add it to your episodes on Apple or Spotify 🎧

Spotlight on Our Esteemed Exit of The Year-Sponsor

We express our profound thanks to Tactyc, the sponsor for the Exit of The Year Award. Their support has been crucial in allowing us to build these awards to acknowledge our European VC Champions.

Tactyc is the leading forecasting and scenario-planning software for venture capital funds, combining portfolio construction, portfolio management, forecasting, and reporting into a unified platform.

Tactyc is trusted by over 250 funds globally today - are you next? Head on over to Tactyc.io to learn more!

Explore the Tactyc platform

Chapters:

  • 00:23 Overview of Atlantic Labs

  • 00:49 Vimcar's Journey and Exit

  • 04:13 Investment Thesis and Founding Story

  • 05:24 Early Challenges and Solutions

  • 08:19 Series A Fundraising Journey

  • 13:48 Series B and Expansion

  • 21:38 Reflections on VC and Founder Dynamics

  • 37:22 Investor Alignment and Ambitions

  • 40:10 Series B Funding and Expansion

  • 40:37 Challenges During the Tech Reset

  • 43:07 Strategic Decisions in 2022

  • 44:02 Reflections on Growth and Sales Strategies

  • 51:14 Engaging with M&A Advisors

  • 55:53 The Acquisition Process and Challenges

  • 01:04:44 Post-Exit Integration and Leadership

✍️ Show notes

We always ask our guests to write tweet-style notes for the conversation so we can share them with you all afterward. These are the words of the guest, no alterations made. Feast.

Your initial investment memo.

Why did you invest? Why did you find the company? What did you hold to be true? What did you bet on? What were the big risks?

  • Emerging space around access to car data. Plenty of use cases, but needed an “easy one” to scale and without conflict to OEMs own use cases

  • Vimcar had a very simple use case: Tracking business and private usage with your business car to reduce income tax

  • Ambitious but humble, hardworking, diligent founders

  • Biggest perceived risk was what the OEMs themselves would be doing longer term, and if you’d still be able to access the data, as well as how the business would scale beyond the initial use case.

See the original Vimcar deck

The company’s journey.

Company growth & development, pivots, follow-on rounds, obstacles, solutions, insights & value add.

  • End of 2013: Start

  • Founding and Atlantic investment

  • Started with technological capabilities / broad mobility focus. Q: There has to be an opportunity to create value / solve a problem by accessing data from vehicles?

  • Fitbit for vehicles as the very first approach → too broad, value too unclear, very niche, only tech geeks as pot. customers

  • End of 2014: Launch

    • Launched point solution: A logbook solution to reduce income taxes. Seemed niche, but clear value proposition, 10x customer experience compared to existing solutions, relatively high willingness to pay, freelancer with business vehicle industry agnostic as ideal customer profile, existing problem.

    • Business model: Subscription and a “one-off product” product to finance development and operations

    • Slowly moved towards classic B2B/fleets. Slightly different problem, but same/similar solution

  • End of 2016: Series A

    • Raised Series A ~€ 4 Mio led by UVC & Coparion in order to invest and grow faster in fleet segment

    • Raising an A-round was tough - took about a year, three years from initial investment and had to raise an extension round in-between. Lesson 1: Everything always takes longer than expected, and you have to be prepared to bridge if you invest pre-seed

    • Pitch was probably not ambitious and international enough for many VCs initially, still Lesson 2: A product that is creating value and hardworking founders will win the day eventually. Lesson 3: VC-business model & mentality fit is super important to find the right match.

    • Second category of products and SMEs as new segment

    • Changed to subscription-only

  • End of 2018: Series B

    • Raised Series B ~12 Mio led by Acton Capital in order to invest and grow faster in fleets as well as to internationalize.

    • Continued to fully focus on Fleet products (Logbook, Geo and Admin)

    • Considered additional products: insurance, mobility budget, e-mobility use cases

  • 2020 + 2021: Scale

    • Strong investments into GTM / growth + internationalization into UK

    • Failed to accelerate growth / additional growth % were super expensive

  • Beginning of 2022:

    • Decided to move into sustainable growth mode to increase optionality

    • Openess towards “Exit” (vs. raising a Series C or growing profitably)

    • Didnt raise any money after 2018. Lesson 4: Performing SaaS companies can also grow capital efficient.

    • Became CF positive + kept 20% YoY growth

    • Year ended with the acquisition by Battery in sight

The Vimcar exit - Strategy, timing, & deliberations made.

  • Big question marks around organic growth opportunities and whether to raise another round to go international. Exit openess developed during 2022

  • Very few large players, green field market, very fragemented, mostly national players → It seemed consolidation was likely at some point in the future

  • Testing the waters by talking to a few M&A advisory

    • Learnings:

      • Test early to get smarter

      • Find out who actually are interested

      • Helps you in your own process

      • Know they are of coursing going to pitch and have an incentive

  • Founders engaged directly with Battery Ventures already since 2021 and to a certain degree inspired each other to formulate a thesis on the space and a possible rollup play.

  • Battery started getting serious in mid 2022 as competitor Avrios was running a structured exit process, and Battery was evaluating several other targets to formulate a plan on which assets could fit together

  • Founders and Board decided not to hire an M&A advisor and to grant exclusivity to Battery early on - in exchange for a solid valuation and a speedy process.

  • Instead, we found an experienced venture partner to help the founders behind the scenes, especially to anticipate and prepare due diligence.

  • Exclusivity and smooth process were key to close quickly - in a very depressed market environment and lucky timing ahead of SVB crash in Q2 2023

  • All cash deal closed January 2023 (in parallel with Avrios acquisition) and was a great outcome for all parties, Vimcar investors (fund returner for Atlantic), employees, founders, but also Battery

Post-Exit/Acquisition:

  • Strategy: Organic growth + opportunistic M&A roll-up → Offering integrated and easy-to-use solutions for a variety of mobility operations topics

  • Focusing mostly on revenue synergies

  • Old, but still true: Focus on building a significant player in the EU Fleet Management space

  • Financial Profitability more important than before

👋 Upcoming in-person events we’re hosting

There’s nothing we like better than getting Europe’s best and brightest together around good food, drinks and conversations that go truly deep.

Fund Modelling Workshop & Mixer | 5th of June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany | Join waitlist.

European VC Awards | 4th of June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany | Get tickets.

📅 Upcoming virtual events

From time to time, a podcast is just not enough. Check out our roundtables and live events below.

🏆 Firesides with the winners of the European VC Awards

Fireside with the Newcomer of the Year Winner | 13/6, 12-1:30 PM | Register here. Hundreds of new VC funds come to market every year. But only ONE will win Newcomer of The Year. This is your chance to meet the winner firsthand.

Fireside chat with the Winner of the Hall of Fame | 15/7, 12-1 PM | Register here.
Hear firsthand from a true giant upon whose shoulders the European tech ecosystem stands tall.

📺 Past virtual events

Investing & scaling in Romania and beyond | Watch it here.
Speakers: Bogdan Iordache, Founding Partner at Underline | Karolina Mrozkova, General Partner at Credo Ventures | Dan Mihăescu, Founding Partner GapMinder | Jakob Stein Investor at Creandum | Enis Hulli, Founding Partner at 500 Emerging Europe | Marius Istrate, ex-UI Path CPO & Chairman at TechAngels

Is Crypto Back? | 📺 Watch it here.
Speakers: Jan Baeriswyl, Founding Partner at Very early | Felix Machart, Partner at Greenfield | Anirudh Pai, Partner at Dragonfly.

Acing LP Relationships | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers:
Alexander Langholz-Baikousis, CFO at Cherry Ventures | Simon Lohmann, Head of Platform & IR at Cavalry Ventures | Chloe Dagnell, Principal at Isomer Capital | Sophie Heijenberg, Investor at No Such Ventures | Enrico Ohnemüller, Founder & CEO of bunch

The Evolution of European Venture | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Yaron Valler, Founding Partner at Target Global | Chris Wade, Founding Partner at Isomer Capital | Kerry Baldwin, Founding Partner at IQ Capital

Data-Driven Portfolio Modeling | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Joel Larsson, Founding GP of Pale blue dot | Jon Coker, Founding GP of Eka Ventures | Joe Schorge, Founding GP of Isomer Capital | Anubhav Srivastava, Founder & CEO of Tactyc

The Impact of AI on VC | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Fred Destin, Founding Partner of Stride | Andre Retterath, Partner at Earlybird | Claude Ritter, General Partner at Cavalry | Ekaterina Almasque, Founding Partner at OpenOcean

Winning with non-dilutive funding | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Kemper Ahl, Vice President at Industry Ventures | Joe Schorge, Founding Partner of Isomer Capital | Martijn de Weaver, Founder of Floww

Raising in The Current Market | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: David Dana, Head of VC Investments at EIF | Christian Roehle, Head of Investment Management at KFW Capital | Michael Sidgmore, Co-Founder & Partner at Broadhaven Ventures | Joe Schorge, Founding Partner of Isomer Capital

Rise of Angel LP Syndicates | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Joachim Laqueuer, Founding GP at Acrobator Ventures | Marc Penkala, Founding GP at Altitude VC | Michael Sidgmore, Founding GP at Broadhaven Ventures

Angel Investing in the current environment | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers: Marc Penkala & Ingo Drexler, Founding GPs of Altitude

How to evaluate deals and assess risk-return potential? | 📺 Watch it here
Speakers Marc Penkala Founding GP of Altitude

🗓️ The VC Conferences You Can’t Miss

There are some events that just have to be on the calendar. Here’s our list, hit us up if you’re going, we’d love to meet!

SuperVenture | 📆 4 - 6 June | 🌍 Berlin, Germany

Nordic LP Forum & TechBBQ | 📆 September | 🌍 Copenhagen, Denmark

How to Web | 📆 2-3 October | 🌍 Bucharest, Romania

WVC:E Summit 2024 | | 📆 7-8 October | 🌍 Paris, France

North Star & GITEX Global | 📆 14 - 18 Oct | 🌍 Dubai, UAE

Invest in Bravery | 📆 22th of October | 🌍 Kyiv, Ukraine

GITEX Europe 2025 | 📆 23 - 25 May 2025 | 🌍 Berlin, Germany

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