April 22, 2019
Greetings Investors & Advisors,
First things first: I want to say a huge THANK YOU for your helpfulness and commitment to the success of Upstock thus far. We have reached a huge milestone and we couldn’t have come this far without you. I know you’ll be excited to hear about the progress we’ve been making bringing this vital piece of technology to the world.
I also want to share the exciting news of where Upstock is currently headed, and offer you an opportunity to contribute further and help redefine how equity is issued across the globe. I would love for you to be a part of our continued growth.
If you haven’t been following closely over the past year and you would like to see our latest materials, you can here:
Understanding initial projections
When I built Couchsurfing, I learned firsthand the dedication, time, and hard work it takes to build a movement that unites millions of people. Starting Upstock, I was cautious about what it would take to build out a platform that could scale.
Early projections from experts I consulted were that it would take at least $2 million ($1M for legal & $1M for tech) & two to three years to build Upstock, to get it ready to go to market. Two and a half years in, here’s where we stand.
Development of case studies
It turns out the timelines were accurate — given the importance of details when it comes to legal tech, our advisors urged strongly that we take time to properly vet all our legal documents and the tech. Our lead adviser Arne Peder Blix was the biggest proponent of this. He already built a company, Accurate Equity, which was “Upstock for Fortune 100’s.” He acquired 30% of Fortune 100 companies as customers, never lost a customer and then sold the company 5 years ago. He encouraged us to limit onboarding customers to a small handful of test cases where we know the entrepreneurs personally.
As a result, we’ve spent our time going deep instead of wide, building long-term case studies of successful companies, many of whom have now been using our system for 2+ years. All in all there has now been $7.9 million in compensation issued through Upstock’s system over the course of 150,000+ worker hours logged.
Massive progress on legal documents
At the same time, we have been diligently building the legal backbone to be able to bring Upstock to millions of companies across the world. Fortunately, we were able to bring on two of the brightest minds in worker equity: Tery Williams, an 18-year veteran of HP & Baker Mckenzie’s international equity division, and Fred Whittlesey, an equity litigation expert with 30 years experience testifying on every equity-related issue possible.
Tery & Fred have worked hand in hand for the past eight months to bulletproof the legal docs that form the backbone of Upstock’s equity service. Their work has made us 100% confident about going to market in 10+ countries across North America & Europe. We’re in the last phases of getting sign off and will be launching with our new legal documents shortly.
Progress on tech development
One of Upstock’s biggest successes thus far is that we’ve actually been able to pull off the tech solution with far less funding than originally projected. Rather than $2M, we have been able to build a MVP product with vetted legal documentation for just $630,000.
We’re especially proud of this because it serves as a stellar proof of concept for Upstock — we’ve been able to significantly reduce our expenses by offering equity in addition to cash. We see this as a huge selling point for companies like us who are trying to spend as efficiently as possible.
All of our ducks are now in a row on the tech side, and we’re ready to bring on new customers with up to 1,000 workers.
Other successes we’re proud of
Market validation: Over the past two years we have acquired remarkable market validation, with a large number of international clients on our waiting list for the software. Every other day a new customer asks if we are available in 'country X'. Early indicators say that our CAC is likely under $650 and our LTV could be at least $2000.
Growing team: We have hired several new rockstar team members who believe in Upstock so much that they have been working primarily for equity. These team members have been building out the go-to-market strategy and have marketing funnels ready to launch as soon as there are additional funds.
Channel partnerships: We have built out a channel partnership strategy with Xplorico that is currently in tech development. This will allow other companies to sell Upstock to their customers. Upstock is likely deploying on the ADP App Marketplace. Through their partner network, we will be able to offer “one-click” access to Upstock for 35 million businesses around the world.
Test market launched: As part of our pursuit to be a global company, we have officially launched with localized legal docs in Iceland.
Potential New Customers: We are currently talking with an airline about using Upstock for hundreds of employees.
Attended GEO Conference: Arne Peder Blix and I attended the prestigious Global Equity conference last week. I have now been thoroughly introduced to the global equity ecosystem’s movers and shakers.
Additional funding exposure: Upstock has now gone live on Fundable (a division of Startups.co), with the intention of reaching investors & entrepreneurs outside of our existing network. We see Fundable primarily as a marketing device to expose the project to ecosystems beyond Silicon Valley.
What’s next for Upstock?
Now that we have done the heavy lifting of de-risking the legal and building the software platform, we feel confident to take Upstock to market.
In May I will be doing a Silicon Valley roadshow to acquire $1-2m in funding, or two years’ worth of runway.
How can you get more involved?
Let’s hop on a quick call to discuss the current strategy. I’ve been talking with a dozen fintech founders who recently raised their Series A. It’s been incredibly helpful. I would love to learn from you as well. What are you seeing out there?
Feel free to text/message me or simply book a call on my calendar: upstock.youcanbook.me
I really want to hear your thoughts about the terms of this round. Can we also discuss introductions to additional investors? I already have my list of investors we want to pitch. Maybe you know a couple of them? I’m now scheduling meetings in SF for our upcoming roadshow. We want to condense as many meetings as possible into the last two weeks in May.
Here’s that link to schedule a call one more time: https://calendly.com/upstock or simply reply to this message.
Looking forward to connecting with you!