Portfolio

Investment update: Our Investment in Frontier Car Group

MAY 23, 2017

Frontier Car Group embodies everything that is exciting about European technology today, and we are delighted to lead a $22m investment in the company.

Frontier builds and runs used-car marketplaces in emerging markets, enabling people to sell their cars efficiently for a fair price, in countries where the car-sales market is often unstructured and riddled with unnecessary complexities. Even though Frontier was launched less than eighteen months ago, it is already a genuinely global business, operating in three five continents.

The company’s technical, financial and operational headquarters is in Berlin; the three founders – Sujay, Peter and Andre – are American, a Swedish and German respectively; and Frontier currently presides over established businesses in Mexico, Chile, Turkey, Nigeria, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Since they were founded in late 2015 Frontier has been going about their business with a quiet and assured effectiveness. Using their entrepreneurial knowhow, phenomenal hiring strategy and robust technical framework, they have landed in top-tier emerging markets and expanded at great speed. The company already employs over 200 people.

Of course, the credit for their success to date should land at the door of the founders: Sujay Tyle, Peter Lindholm and Andre Hussman. Each founder is incredibly impressive, and has been equally important in what the company has achieved so far, but I think this is a good opportunity to share the story of my first meeting with Sujay…

Sujay is superhuman. I first met him when we sat next to each other at a dinner hosted at the Guinness Factory in Dublin. He was seventeen, and had already graduated from Harvard, where he has studied since the age of fifteen. He had built an enterprise that helped children with curable blindness to see again, and was working on his second business, as part of the founding team at Hired. I make no secret about how impressed I am by Sujay. He is wise beyond his years, humble, driven and has a relentless pursuit of quality.

Frontier Car Group’s impressive progress and world-wide impact is great news for European technology.

Frontier is an exemplar of the growing trend of internationalism in European tech. Their Berlin-based team have developed a technical solution and operational model that allows the company to scale businesses in five continents. VendeTuAuto in Mexico, VendeNosTuAuto in Chile, Ototrink in Turkey, Cars45 in Nigera, and CarFirst in Pakistan were all masterminded from Frontier’s base in Germany.

It is beyond argument that international-thinking is at the heart of Frontier’s business, and their explosive growth is the perfect rebuttal to anyone who trawls out the well-weathered moan that the European market is too parochial, and there aren’t enough founders building world-beating businesses at home.

Frontier aren’t alone either. If you were to cast your eye across the Balderton portfolio, you would see another proudly international Berlin-based company.

Dalia Research performs complex market research for clients all over the world – analysing the spread of a flu epidemic in China one week, and running the numbers on yoghurt consumption in Mexico the next. Spanish company Scytl are responsible for election management in every corner of the globe, most recently in Brazil, Australia and Switzerland. London-based Nutmeg recently raised over $50m from two leading financial institutions in Hong Kong and Taiwan, which puts them in a very strong strategic position in Asia.

Frontier is in good company then, in demonstrating that Europe can become the melting pot in which the technology industry’s brightest global stars meet to sculpt the next generation of tech leviathans.

Berlin deserves a special hat tip too. The city’s talent pool is full of diverse and intelligent people, and the atmosphere is welcoming to travelling entrepreneurs and technologists. Soundcloud, Babbel, and fellow Balderton portfolio companies Contentful, Dalia, Dubsmash and Wooga are testament to the German capital’s tech credentials. It is no wonder that Sujay, Peter and Andre were thrown together by Berlin’s cyclone of activity.

But it is important no to lose sight of Frontier’s secret sauce: they are a technology company, with a smart tech solution. Beneath the network of brilliantly localised customer-oriented marketplaces, and underpinning the team’s honed commercial nous, is a strong tech platform. Frontier’s tech ensures that the complex infrastructure required to run a used-car marketplace is bulletproof from day one.

We are delighted to lead an investment into this company, and I look forward to working closely with Sujay, Peter and Andre as they continue on their mission to fix automotive sales in emerging markets around the world.

You can read more of the coverage here

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