LIFT99's First Investment - Dashbird
By Ragnar Sass, CEO & Founder of LIFT99,
and Kadri Barclay, Head of Marketing at LIFT99.
As a serial startup founder myself, my view on investing is different from what the average investor seeks. Money is just a commodity. Investors’ advice, connections, know-how, and dedication are much more valuable to a startup than money.
Dashbird is still in very early stage. They have a long road ahead. But I strongly believe it’s a road of success. That’s why LIFT99 is backing up Dashbird and lending its connections and resources to help Dashbird take flight.
What exactly led to this decision, you may ask?
It all starts with the team, especially the founders. I have no doubt that Dashbird has assembled a winning combo with Taavi, Mikk and Annika.
I have known Dashbird’s CEO Taavi for more than two years. In fact, I first wanted to hire him myself - he is a wicked engineer. But Taavi obviously had other plans.
When I met the other two founders, I was even more amazed. Dashbird’s CTO Mikk is the first programmer to leave Starship Technologies. The fact that Starship was his most recent home base, is impressive on its own - Ahti Heinla has built a team of rock stars over there, taking over the world with their rolling robots.
Lastly, Annika - before Dashbird, she had been leading Toggl's marketing efforts and later moved to be the CEO of Teamweek. Under her lead, Teamweek's revenue grew by 100% in 2017. She has a proven track record of scaling and growing companies.
Most importantly, the founders have known each other for six years. They know their rough edges, as well as individual strengths. There are no hidden cards. During my first dinner with Dashbird, I was intrigued by the social chemistry of this founding trio.
So taking into account the social aspect as well as the competency, we have a match made in heaven - two highly technical co-founders and someone who knows everything about the market, are exactly what an ambitious startup needs.
Speed and Progress
After following their progress for half a year, I was very surprised by how fast they were making progress. Each and every week took them leaps ahead from where they had been the last time we met. Most importantly, whatever connections and advice I was putting on the table, they were keen to pick up, consider, and act upon.
This drive to learn and move, with the gas hit to the floor, is simply crucial for any startup founder. And before you ask - yes, they’ve been tracking all KPI’s weekly (another thing that many startups fail to do in the craze of speed and constant change).
After they joined the LIFT99 community, I’ve had the privilege to witness their workstyle. Their excitement about their startup is obvious - the founders often finish their “days” at 2 AM. It reminds me of Pipedrive’s early days when I woke up in middle of the night, just to check how many new signups we have.
It also emphasizes the unique culture of LIFT99 - it’s a place where founders help other founders. It’s been very motivating to witness how they’ve been helping others since the day they joined LIFT99, just as I have been helping them. Dashbird’s founders have got the X-factor, characteristic of the entire LIFT99 community.
Business and Tech
I have to admit that my tech stack skills are very low. But I’m very good at finding the right person for any particular question. So, to understand the serverless and dev tool market, I asked advice from my old friend, the most talented engineer I’ve ever met, Pipedrive’s co-founder Martin Tajur. He took a deep dive with me into Dashbird’s business model.
What did Martin conclude? Let’s just say that a few days after our talk he got back to me saying he wants to invest in it himself. The serverless market is huge and it’s growing very fast. Which means that investing in brilliant solutions, with strong teams behind them, is a smart move!
Let’s come back to Earth for a moment. However excited anybody is about any idea or a team, in the end, every startup has less than 10% chance of survival. Big players are dominating the serverless market. The odds are what they are.
At the moment, Dashbird is only monitoring the AWS Lambda (Amazon Web Services). Our numerous talks brought up question like - what happens if Amazon develops a similar tool? Or anybody else?
Only time will tell for sure, but what I have witnessed is that the Dashbird founders are very sober about the possible risks. It gives me confidence to know that their vision of where they want to head is very clear. Now it’s only a matter of making smart moves, fast.
So why exactly am I on this journey with Dashbird? As I said, money is just a commodity. It’s needed to get things moving, but at the end of the day, it does not bring home the win.
Personally, the really important question was - can I have a real impact on the future of this determined startup? Are LIFT99 and my own network and know-how relevant for Dashbrid so they could move to the next level, as fast as possible, and keep on scaling?
After skimming through my network in Silicon Valley, New York, London and Berlin, I found 30+ strong influencers to introduce them to. Each and every one of those connections could grow into a key player laying the foundation for Dashbird’s future. Mikk, Taavi and Annika are holding all the potential in their hands but at the moment, the initial feedback from these matches has been very exciting.
To make the final call, I had just one question left to ask myself - if I didn’t already have my own startup, would I join Dashbird? Well, yes! Yes, I would.
Whatever the financial outcome, helping the people behind Dashbird succeed, and spending time with these inspiring founders, who are dreaming of making a difference in this world, is already enough of a win for me and the LIFT99 community.
We expect great things from you, Dashbird!