Emily Bernstein, Veronica Fresneau

“Personality match is everything so seek out places like Rockstart where you get to meet people personally”

Interview with Solveig Felbo, CEO and co-founder of Råhandel

At Rockstart we strive to empower founders to drive positive change on a global scale. We do this through follow-on investments with lead investors up to Series B in order to empower startups to achieve long-term growth and impact. When we see one of our portfolio companies succeed, we are beyond happy and have to share the news with the world! This is the case with Råhandel, one of our agrifood portfolio companies, who recently raised a seed round of €1.4m.

Råhandel is a Danish platform that facilitates trade and payment between small scale food producers and large retailers. The platform helps by reducing the need for large retailers to handle deliveries and payments. At the same time, it increases sales for small scale producers and helps them gain access to large retailers and other industry segments. 

The investment was led by Danish angel investor Johan Bülow alongside Ulf Munkedal, Søren Jørgensen, Thomas Rudbeck and a matching loan from the Danish state’s investment fund Vækstfonden, with Rockstart as co-investor. This round of funding will allow Råhandel to strengthen their platform and to build on their existing collaboration with Coop Denmark. They also managed to raise during the pandemic (no small feat!), which is why we were eager to speak to founder and CEO Solveig Felbo, who shared with us the team’s vision for the future of the company and her advice for founders looking to raise pre-seed or seed rounds.

Can you tell us more about Råhandel and how the company was born?

Råhandel is a Danish food-tech startup that facilitates trade between small food producers and their business customers through an online platform. This includes consolidating orders, delivery and bookkeeping for both producers and their customers, shortening the supply chain, minimising administration costs and maximising market transparency.

The platform currently features products from more than 200 producers, as well as customers such as restaurants, speciality stores and large retail stores including Irma, SuperBrugsen, Dagli’Brugsen and Kvickly.

The idea for Råhandel first emerged when Solveig and Christian – independently of each other – discovered the gap between the supply and demand of products from small food producers. Whilst the demand was growing, retailers and restaurants had a hard time responding to it because trade with the producers was difficult.

The company was born when Solveig and Christian met for a coffee in Autumn 2016, and decided to merge their individual ideas into one. Solveig had already developed an idea for the online platform, and Christian had the logistics planned out. The very first delivery was carried out from Christian’s garage, which got approved by the food authorities in summer 2017.

What is your long-term vision for Råhandel?

Our long-term vision is to be able to provide all the same services as wholesalers while giving the decision power to the producers and to create transparency for both producers, purchasers and end consumers.

You went through the Rockstart accelerator in 2019 as part of the AgriFood batch. Can you tell us more about your experience in the program and why you decided to join?

We were quite unsure on whether to join since it is a long-term investment, and we were unsure whether we had the resources to dedicate enough time to the accelerator to make it worthwhile. It has however exceeded our expectations and we have been tremendously happy about the programme. It has definitely “accelerated” the process of becoming a professional company and each of us founders personally. Especially my process of moving from no proper startup experience to being able to manage and lead a high-growth startup.

Congratulations on your 1.4m seed round announced last week. What has it been like to raise capital in Covid-19 times?

We were planning to raise a bridge in March which pretty much collapsed once everything shut down and nobody knew how much Covid would affect the world and whether we would immediately enter a new recession. Instead we bootstrapped another six months before starting to raise again. Since we were well prepared, we then managed to close the round in one and half months from when we had a pitch deck ready.

Photo credits @Råhandel 2020

How do you plan to use the investment?

The investment will be directed towards hiring employees within sales, expansion and tech-development. This will allow our company to grow in accordance with our future plans.

What are your future plans for Råhandel?

The goal for 2021 is expanding our services to the whole of Denmark. Currently, we are operating in most of Zealand.

Which markets are most important for your company and why?

After Denmark we’re planning to gradually expand to Sweden, Norway and Germany as the first new markets.

What would be your advice to founders looking to raise their pre-seed or seed rounds?

Invest time in finding a lead investor or accelerator who knows the process of raising capital since it requires a lot of insights and know-how on how to raise the first round. Accept that you need to set high yet realistic goals, and that you will be measured on whether you’ve reached them. Use your time on contacting potential lead investors, and building the deck and financial model which you will be measured on. Personality match is everything so seek out places like Rockstart where you get to meet people personally and use those meetings to get to know investors personally rather than pitching your startup. If your personalities match you will for sure get the chance to pitch your company later.

Photo credits @Rockstart 2020

When startups join Rockstart, they are joining more than an acceleration program. As Solveig’s story demonstrates, founders are stepping into a long-term relationship where they receive the support and validation needed to trigger investments. In this way, we are able to empower the most innovative startups to scale and realize their vision for a more sustainable future.

Congrats to the Råhandel team on reaching this big milestone!

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