NEBULA – From early venture 2007 to trade sale exit in 2017
Rite invested in Nebula in year 2007 when the company was in its early growth stage and had a turnover of MEUR 6. At that time, web and server hosting still was considered an unattractive market due to low barriers to enter and price pressure.
At Rite, we were impressed by Nebula’s high degree of operational excellence, the level of automation in all parts of the business, the scalability of the recurring-revenue business model and the growth potential of the underlying market. The entrepreneurs had built a small but well-run business. They wanted a partner that could support them in taking the company to the next level. They also wanted to free up some liquidity by selling parts of their shares.
Since then, Rite has worked closely with the entrepreneurs and the management to support with both strategic and operational advice. In 2010, when two of the three founders felt it was time to move forward in their careers, Rite bought their shares and increased its ownership to 80% of the company. In 2013, the Swedish, stock listed investment firm, Ratos, acquired the majority of Nebula while Rite remained as an active minority owner and continued to support the company, implementing a number of value-generating strategic initiatives.
In 2017, the Swedish, stock listed telephone company and mobile network operator, Telia Company, acquired all the shares in Nebula for MEUR 165 (enterprise value). Nebula had developed to a leading ICT service company in Finland with more than MEUR 35 in turnover with very good profitability and was still growing fast at a CAGR of over 20%. The company had made 18 smaller acquisitions, however the majority of the growth from 2007 had been organic.
VERKKOKAUPPA.COM – The largest e-commerce company in Finland
In 2009, Rite invested in the Finnish e-commerce company Verkkokauppa.com. Until then, Verkkokauppa.com had experienced troubles finding an investor. Investors were afraid of the home electronics market with its intense competition and diminishing margins.
Despite the tough market conditions, we were impressed by Verkkokauppa.com and its founder. Verkkokauppa.com was (and still is) the e-commerce market leader of Finland with one of the most well-known brand names in Finland. By focusing on delivering a great customer experience, by having an almost maniac focus on cost-efficiency and by building a unique IT-backbone supporting operations the company had managed to grow very fast while being profitable. All of this, in a sector where most of its competitors saw its businesses decline and were losing money.
Since then, Rite have engaged actively with Verkkokauppa.com’s founder and CEO, Samuli Seppälä, to further strengthen all parts of the company to enable growth and to prepare it for a future IPO. Except from pure strategic and operational support, such as inventory management, recruitments and product category expansion, Rite have been engaged in securing working capital financing and developing the Board. Naturally, Rite’s engagement have been even more intense during the recent IPO process of the company.
Starting with the preparations already in 2012, Verkkokauppa.com was listed at First North at Nasdaq OMX Helsinki in April 2014. Verkkokauppa.com is still growing fast with a turnover of MEUR 432 in 2017 and is Finland’s largest e-commerce company and the strongest internet brand in Finland after Facebook and Google. Outside Finland, the company is often described as the Amazon of Finland.