We talk often at Seedcamp about the true impact of startups in the jobs they create and the economic mobility they enable. No more is that true than for Wise (formerly TransferWise) who today, 10 years after we first invested, take the company public with the first direct listing of a technology company on the London Stock Exchange.
This is a huge milestone for Taavet and Kristo, the team, Estonia, for Europe, for us at Seedcamp, and for the future. Ex-Wisers are fast becoming some of the most sought-after employees and the next generation of entrepreneurs powering the European tech ecosystem.
A lot can happen in 10 years, and we remember all too well that infamous moment when Kristo and Taavet stood on stage at Seedcamp Week London in 2011 and set money on fire to demonstrate what, in their eyes, was happening every time people tried to transfer money abroad. Their compelling storytelling, clear mission and genuine desire to transform the lives of their customers has been a constant from the beginning. We see it today in the transparency with which Kristo has shared his personal journey and learnings from the listing on Twitter; how the team has welcomed customers to become shareholders as part of OwnWise and by the incredible milestone of helping over 10 million people worldwide move £5 billion across borders each month.
From two Estonian co-founders in 2011, to over 2400 Wisers from over 90 nationalities in 2021, we’re proud to have played a part in seeding and supporting this journey. What’s even more inspiring is the part Taavet, and the founding Wise team have played in the Seedcamp journey. We’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the value Wise is adding to the world, and the Seedcamp Nation is a prime example.
The Wise Effect
A defining characteristic of the Seedcamp Nation is the power of the network and the tangible impact of the pay it forward spirit demonstrated by the founders, operators and investors that we call family. The very first Seedcamp week in 2007 featured Skype’s first employee, Taavet Hinkrus, who shared his wisdom with the next generation of startup founders. Taavet has contributed to our mission of helping founders build the breakout businesses of tomorrow long before he was a founder himself. Four years later, he joined another side of the Seedcamp family with his friend and co-founder, Kristo Käärmann. Fast forward another decade, and members of the Wise Mafia are founders, mentors, EIRs and even investors in the Seedcamp Nation.
Wisers past and present play an active part in the Seedcamp Nation and vice versa. We supported their global ambitions, providing the referral letter for their first employee to set up in the US. That employee was none other than Joe Cross, former Global Head of Marketing and PR current Expert-in-Residence at Seedcamp – it’s great to see this come full circle. Joe has used the opportunity seized, and lessons learned in those early days to give back, sharing growth tips for scale, and mentoring our founders on a one-to-one basis.
Joe is not the only one, over the years we’ve had more senior Wisers share their time and expertise in Seedcamp Nation. Special thanks to Nilan Peiris, VP Growth who opened our Product Summit in 2019, and Sharon Anne Kean, Senior Product Director who shared tips on Hiring Product Managers at Product Summit 2021.
The impact of Wisers is felt on both sides of the table. Other Wisers have emulated Taavet himself, taking the global ambitions and lessons learned at Wise to create their own companies. We’re proud to have backed TaxScouts & Salv, and are confident more breakout founders are on their way. Taavet is an investor alongside us, and is doing the same thing with a fellow Seedcamp founder, teaming up with Sten Tamkivi (founder of Teleport) to launch an investment firm (which is definitely not fund).
We love seeing founders build not only great products but helping to build great people and Wise is one the best examples. They have done this with their customers and with their employees. From Seedcamp Week, to our infamous US roadshow (returning in 2022), to the Summits and socials we hold to ensure our founders know they are in good company. Wise is a brilliant example of what can happen when people from any background and the right drive are given the tools and resources needed to level up and fast. The impact Wise has had on the Seedcamp Nation alone is incredible, but the impact they continue to have on the wider ecosystem is phenomenal. We can’t wait to see what comes next.