In 2020, online retail spend in Europe’s 6 main economies reached nearly £295bn, an increase of 31% on the previous year. 2020 was many things, most of them awful, but it was also a year that decades of seemingly disparate technology innovations coalesced to enable our societies and economies to continue. Some of these technologies are easy to identify – logistics, e-commerce, video conferencing and remote working technology among others. But one element is easily forgotten, possibly because it is so fundamental – trust. How do we know that goods and services purchased online will be delivered and function as promised? That the charitable donation we just made will support the right people? That we as individuals and organisations can trust other organisations and individuals based solely through online interactions. Enter Trustpilot.
Today we easily forget that when Trustpilot was founded in 2007 by Peter Holten Mühlmann, ‘trust’ online was still unresolved. ‘Trust’ was attached to large brands because they were large brands – you could trust Amazon would deliver an item as promised because Amazon had spent over a decade consistently doing so. But for smaller companies, entities and brands how could we trust they would function as promised? Crowdsourcing this ‘trust’ was the simple, yet infuriatingly complex work of Trustpilot. Through nearly 15 years of tireless advocacy, Peter and his team have built a globally recognised entity that succeeds by offering businesses the opportunity to earn trust via crowdsourcing feedback – the single rating on a 5-star scale which has since become widely recognised.
Draper Esprit first invested in Trustpilot’s Series C back in 2013. Trustpilot had seen earlier rounds of investment from our friends Seed Capital, Northzone and Index Ventures (Seed, Series A and B). We were taken with Peter’s vision, and the team’s execution was impressive. Draper Esprit followed its investment in Trustpilot’s Series D in 2015 and Series E in 2019. In line with our belief in building our support for our best companies, we also built our position through secondary acquisitions when possible. For us the ability to increase our stake was one of the great benefits of being publicly listed – we were able to offer greater returns to our shareholders by increasing our shareholding in an incredible company.
Yet our commitment and connection with Trustpilot has gone far beyond investment of capital. Throughout our time, we have remained an active participant on Trustpilot’s board, a service we see as a vital part of Draper Esprit’s contribution to our portfolio. We’ve been privileged to offer Peter and his team our support on topics as diverse as recruitment of key hires or working on market entry strategies – particularly the US. In a world where capital is becoming increasingly commodified, this added value, this ability to function as a trusted advisor is what we try to offer all our portfolio. We are delighted to have played our part in the development of this company, valued at IPO at £1.1bn, and one we hope will continue growing in the years ahead.
This week, as Trustpilot floats on London Stock Exchange, its shareholder group will broaden to include high quality public market investors. As with our own experience, moving from private to public leads to changes in company profile and business structures, but going public is a vital step in Trustpilot’s future sustainability and we remain supporters of this special company. Ultimately, our pride in the Trustpilot team gets to the essence of why Draper Esprit is committed to taking a long-term, sustainable view on venture capital investment. Good venture capital investments are about more than just ‘capital’, they are a commitment to building a great company, and commitment is impossible without trust.