On EQT Ventures’ latest investment in Wolt, the story behind the scenes
Today, Helsinki-based Wolt announced it has raised $530 million in a new financing round. EQT Ventures is proud to have been an investor and close partner in Wolt’s journey since the initial A round back in 2016, and is now investing again for the fifth time with the latest round. We’re happy to announce that EQT Growth is also joining as an investor and partner in Wolt’s journey into the future!
The announcement of this latest round is a clear testament to Wolt becoming a true category leader with operations across 23 countries and more than 120 cities. It confirms Wolt’s arrival as a global winner, being one of the biggest startups to come out of Europe in the last few years. This is a great success story not just for Wolt, but for the ecosystem as a whole.
To mark this special occasion, we thought it’d be interesting to re-visit the story up to this point, as told from three perspectives of people directly involved in the company’s journey so far. We think it highlights how the making of, or behind the scenes, of a startup should always be told from multiple angles.
That’s why, rather than just capital, we often like to say that it takes an entire ecosystem of support to get there. Sure, we also write cheques, but that’s kind of an added bonus to get to work with the amazing founders and teams in our portfolio.
Let us show you what we mean:
Miki Kuusi, founder and CEO of Wolt:
When we were raising the A-round in 2016, we had a wishlist for what kind of investor we’d want to work with: preferably a European VC (as we were planning to expand mainly in Europe and wanted to have someone relatively close by physically and timezone-wise), a VC with industry experience, and a VC who isn’t in a rush to exit. And most importantly, at the time we were looking for an investor who had operational experience from being entrepreneurs and tackling everyday problems at high growth tech companies, from data, marketing, tech, people, and so on. The EQT Ventures team ticked all of the boxes, had high conviction in our potential, and believed in our team.
In addition to Johan Svanstrom’s background and first-hand experience from globally scaling marketplaces with Hotels.com and Expedia, we’ve clicked with the team at EQT on a personal level from the beginning. We had, and continue to have, great conversations with them about all business functions, and their practical, very concrete advice has been valuable for the entire company. We hold on to some of their philosophies at Wolt today.
EQT Ventures has almost matured hand-in-hand as Wolt has matured over the years! We were one of their first investments when we were still very early in our journey — we have both evolved a lot since then. Now we are very happy to welcome EQT Growth as a partner and investor for the future. For us, it provides great continuity in our partnership. We continue to have a great working relationship, as Johan continues to serve on our board. We regularly have insightful conversations about how to continue to develop Wolt and strategically take the business to new heights.
Hjalmar Winbladh, co-founder and former Partner of EQT Ventures:
When we first invested in Wolt, our assessment was that Miki had that rare combination of grit, stamina and obsession, combined with a data and product-driven approach. It was clear to us that he was setting out to build something big with Wolt. He held all the characteristics we wanted to see in a leader about to scale an operations-heavy business. It is truly humbling to look back at all of the hard work that the team did to develop product-market-fit across so many cities they operate in.
I remember the first international launch for Wolt was Stockholm. There were setbacks and challenges along the way, but it showed us how Wolt was different from the very beginning. Most competitors would have pushed scaling at any cost, but Wolt took a step back to draw on key learnings and optimize before moving forward. In my view, this was a major sign of a company that was not just setting out to win at all cost in the short term, but one that was determined to be in the race for the long run!
Johan Svanstrom, Partner at EQT Growth and Wolt board member:
Wolt launched back in 2015 in their hometown of Helsinki. Their north star was bold, yet simply stated: to build a company that made it incredibly easy for people to discover and get great food delivered. Our team knew they weren’t alone nor first in this space, but they have delivered on that vision like few others have been able to.
From day one, Wolt was hyper-focused on building a data-driven product designed for a best in class user experience. As good Finns, they realized that it takes three to tango, meaning customers would only love them if they also built superb solutions for the restaurant and courier partners on the platform.
My belief of the winning strategy in platform businesses is, first and foremost, a true obsession with your stakeholders’ experience and success, not your own. This is what Wolt does so incredibly well. They’ve continued to orchestrate this three-party dance, ever-deepening the features & streamlining the process for everyone involved, which has given them superb unit economics along the way. Their ability to scale up incrementally but at extreme frequency is a rare organizational feat and has by now resulted in a truly large and international operation.
EQT Ventures’ operations mindset and multi-stage investment philosophy have been a great fit for such an expansion journey; offering support across many functions of the business and reinvesting capital into Wolt several times along the way.
Yes, the abnormal levels of working from and staying at home over the last nine months have definitely boosted Wolt volumes over the last year. But it was the hard work crafting its executional capabilities before that which enabled them to fully seize this opportunity. Great preparation leading to a great outcome.
We’re thinking of this fundraising more like a pit stop: giving Wolt extra fuel to reach the next level of their journey. As we write, Wolt is already entering huge markets like Japan and Germany, rapidly growing its Grocery & Retail delivery, scaling into thousands of employees, offsetting 100% of the Co2 emissions from Wolt deliveries, and working closely with their communities.
In fact, we’re only here to ring the bell and announce this next phase of growth for Wolt. As they continue on their mission, EQT Ventures and EQT Growth couldn’t be more proud to partner with Miki and the team for this next chapter of their journey!