Lluís Cañadell chose to look a crisis in the face and turn it into a huge opportunity to leap into business as an entrepreneur. His startup, Treinta, attracted funding from top-tier investors like Rhombuz VC, Goodwater Capital, Luxor Capital, and Sherwin Gandhi.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How fundraising changes as you progress through different rounds
- How much the fundraising environment has shifted away from easy money
- Runway, and the pain of having to conduct layoffs
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Moreover, I also provided a commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400 million (see it here).
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About Lluís Cañadell:
Lluís Cañadell is a Co-Founder of Treinta. His background includes 3 years of experience in management consulting and 1 year in Investment Banking and Private Equity.
At McKinsey, Lluis worked across several industries with a particular focus on Strategy, Operations, and Business Development. He holds a Bachelor of Business Administration and an MSc in Finance from ESADE Business School.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmakerr show. So today. We have a very exciting founder another founder from Spain hey I’m a little bit biased there I love my people from Spain. But again today we’re gonna be talking about building scaling financing and all of that good stuff. So. I guess you know I don’t want to make you all wait any longer. So let’s welcome our guest today you is Kanya Del welcome to the show. Thanks.
Lluís Cañadell: Thank Teleandra It’s a pleasure to be here. Thanks for having me.
Alejandro Cremades: So originally born in Barcelona obviously beautiful city. You know you got their unbelievable food but give us a little of a walk through memory lane. How was life growing up there.
Lluís Cañadell: It was overall great I think Spain has among the best qualities of lives in the world as you know probably I was fortunate also to grow in a loving family per middle class family. We had the second home I went to a private school so I can say that I had a good childhood I had and nothing to complain about I never liked anything and also I think part of of growing up in a place like Spain and a social democracy that has some. So you get spoiled in some ways like you don’t second guess safety you have access and limited healthcare public infrastructure etc. I think I think that on the other hand. It’s not probably not the best place to cultivate an entrepreneurial minded so I had to teach myself that over the years but the world I I was very happy. It’s a great place to live in and now that I live in in Columbia I want to come back at some point maybe raise my kid there who knows I don’t know if it aligns with my entrepreneuria and and professional endeavors. But.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case you enough to study finance and you know that’s so easy. Yeah, a segment that you touched in quite a bit so walk got you into finance to begin with.
Lluís Cañadell: But I just will see.
Lluís Cañadell: I I had always wanted to do something around business I don’t know what drawed me to that but growing up I always had a fascination for for business. So I ended up joining. 1 of the best business schools in Spain in Barcelona so close to where I grew up in and did and did business initially I wanted to to have a career in investment banking and private equity. Ah, but after a couple of internships I realized that I didn’t really like the nature of the work despite liking finance despite liking numbers and being good at it I didn’t I didn’t really find that there was a beginning to elect 12 challenge in the first few years of of. And investment banking a and also I didn’t like part component of a culture that that I identified in in banking a bit of a to stepping culture. So I switch and I ended up focusing on consulting and becoming a consultant.
Alejandro Cremades: And what what do you mean with toe stepping.
Lluís Cañadell: So I the the people I surrounded myself with in the internships that that that I did seemed like a bit of of ah of an aggressive money focused culture. There was I know there was something about it that.
Lluís Cañadell: It didn’t feel myself identified with and that sex individual success is is the most important thing and so that that’s that that’s what I found back then probably biased and I know I have. Many dear friends from that time and today my company that come from investment banking and had a different experience but it was what they felt at that time.
Alejandro Cremades: So obviously you know one one of the things that I see a lot is some of the most successful founders. They either come from investment banking or consulting I mean in your case, you have both right I think that. Ah, least on the investment banking side. You were able to see the patterns now on being able to see what works what doesn’t you know? maybe when it comes to business. But then most importantly, in consulting the opportunity of being able to break really big problems into small problems and then tackle them each you know in a way that is efficient and productive. I guess from your time in consulting you know which include included companies like Mckinsey which was the immediate step before you started trained. Ah what the what were some of the things that you learned there you know on tackling problems and also you know when strategizing around execution.
Lluís Cañadell: It was a great learning experience especially in Mckinsey where I spent 2 years and they was part of 11 projects working for 11 different clients clients. 1 of the biggest learning opportunities was was fast learning a. When you are staffed in a new project at Mckinsey and it can be something extremely foreign for you as ah as a business analyst. It can be oil and gas something that you have no work on before you are expected to get up to speed very very fast and I mean. In 2 or 3 days you need to be able to have conversations with senior executives at the client and after we learn projects and you get good at it. You get good at identifying. What are the drivers of the business and where to get the information to get up to speed fast. I think that that’s very important for a founder because as a founder you need to have very deep knowledge on a few things. For example, you need to have deep knowledge on your customers on the problems that you’re solving on their needs. But then you need to also have good enough knowledge. In a bunch of other things. For example I just recently had a discussion with my head of engineering and devoplet on cloud infrastructure costs which is not my area of focus I’m not the technical founder.
Lluís Cañadell: But this is 10% of our expense today. So I need to have a good enough knowledge on cloud infrastructure in order to have a conversation and like this I have many other examples so that’s something that I learned that mckimsey also as he said structured thinking breaking down problems structure communication as well as something. That is very valuable as a founder the work ethic urgency of everything execute even though you’re not executing because you’re giving recommendations. You need to execute in terms of doing analysis fast coming doing problem solving coming to conclusions. Pre very prevent materials with very fast iteration and also probably not something that mckin see teaches you directly but something that it gives you is a great network of very bright people. Some of my best friends that they have today I met. And meant that at Mckinsey and and that’s something that you take for the rest of your life.
Alejandro Cremades: And when you say structured communication. What do you mean.
Lluís Cañadell: What mckin see teaches you that a time especially with speaking with senior management time is a very valuable commodity early and one of 1 of the most valuable commodities so you cannot so kind being concise. And getting your points across in a short period of time is very critical. So for example, a framework that Mckinsey teaches consultants and and that if they can also and for my time at the bring them. Is topdown communication. So starting with the main message that you want to to convey and then deep diving into the 2 or 3 pillars that support that message and those these pen rain works that initially you need to and sort of learn. After a while it become like second nature for you and then it makes everything much more efficient in terms of communication.
Alejandro Cremades: Now in your case when when covid hit you know it kind of like changed the course of action for everything you know it allowed you to reflect it allowed you to really? you know, think through things and also what was going to be next for you and that was ultimately you know the process that you know took you from. You know, being incorporate to then ideation and then launch of what ended up becoming Trinta. So what ended up being you know that process like how did the idea come to mind in into that moment where you were like okay, it’s time to give my notice and and I make the jump.
Lluís Cañadell: Um, so when covid began when the lockdown became it was ah it was a beautiful moment for me hey if you asked me had you ever considered being a being an entrepreneur when I was at the university. And my answer is I never even considered to be honest when I was at the university and I think part of the culture that is beginning to change now in Spain is that startups were places where you were number one probably if you didn’t have other. Choices if you you got rejected in banking consulting or a corporate job or if you wanted to have a relaxed lifestyle where who is play table tennis. That’s the image that I had of of startups back then so I never even considered it. But then when I joined my kins and after having a few friends and doing startups I had a close friend close friend were actually roommates in in Madrid that raised $3000000 sheet grounds and for me that was mind blowing. And never met someone that had raised this kind of money from venture capital all of the prior and prior people that prior entrepreneurs that I have met in Spain a sort of were scrambling for years without money and without much direction. So for me.
Lluís Cañadell: I start up album until that point was not 1 in a hundred. Not not one in a hundred or 10 but 1 in a million was like so difficult that I never really considered it. But when I had when I saw these close friend a close friend raised this seat round i. I began to consider entrepreneurship as a career option on when covid began I I felt very out of place at Mckinsey because shortly after we had the first lockdowns many of my colleagues. Became concerned about job security about we like my job with the continue financing and nbas will let promotions be halted and for me this was extremely shocking. We were and the Analys class. Probably one of the top prestigious companies in in Spain and in the world. So I felt I felt very out of place because what was going through my mind was completely different I was thinking this is an opportunity that. We have probably not seen in 100 years the amount of disruption that was already happening in front of our eyes in every industry everywhere in the world that I was wrestling in my head and that.
Lluís Cañadell: If I don’t do something now. Maybe it will be a Mr. Opportunity and at that time also I had already planned an Mba I was I was beginning the program and the following September and we were in March Twenty Twenty and at that point something. Changing my mind that triggered a set of thoughts that ended up and being a point of no return where I decided that I was going to become an entrepreneur entrepreneur I gave my notice less than a month after the the lockdown started. Everyone thought I was crazy in the environment where I was at that time and but it was the right ter is now looking back so I gave the note in April Twenty Twenty I ended up working at mckinty for.
Alejandro Cremades: So you give the notice then what happenedikik next.
Lluís Cañadell: For three or four months and more and eventually moving to Colombia once the international child restrictions and were lifted and I I had done some projects in Latin America as a consultant where. I had identified shocking truth that there are a ton of micromarchents in Latin America there are around 50,000,000 and a very small percentage of them were digitized and back then in 2020 and which was. Quite shockking for me because having done a project in in in telecoms I knew for a fact that in Latin America and smartphone adoption was one of the highest in the world if you tracked. A usage of social media Youtube watch hours watch some messages and laptop leads the world in terms of our spend which I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or not but it was an indicative that that at least as consumers. There was a a lot of digitization in Latin America but when it comes when it comes to when it comes to use the smartphone for business purposes which a big percentage of the population in Ladae has a micro businessiness the use it was was almost nothing. So.
Lluís Cañadell: That paradox was what and was was what made me think that it was time to build something to digitize micro businessess in lata and also more of a strategic decision or more of a a. more more of ah of something that I wanted to do I saw building a startup back then in in Spain or in in a western market I see I saw it either of if I wanted to do a startup in a western market I either had to do something very technical. Ai robotics biotechn technology and etc which clearly I didn’t have the knowledge to do or something very niche verticalized saas for a very niche industry. Those are those were the opportunities that the best startups were were after. Whereas in ladown, you still had like very big opportunities that were targeting a big percentage of the population such as the opportunity in micro businesses of basic digitization that they focused on and so. So so I came to that conclusion and and danta initially launched as a very simple bookkeeping and inventory management app that substituted and a notebook that most of these businesses do to track transaction in a very simple way which is.
Lluís Cañadell: Really the only active management that they did on their business.
Alejandro Cremades: So how do you guys make money today use for the people that are listening to really get the business model here.
Lluís Cañadell: Okay, so in 2020 we launched this bookkeeping and inventory management that which was completely free. It became extremely viral. We we got to around 5,000,000 micro businessess in Latan out of 50,000,000 in the region and a. We raised $60,000,000 and now we are monetizing the basically two revenue streams number 1 we are picking a it two b market please starting in Colombia which is the headquarters headquarters of of the of a company despite being already in 18 countries with a free functionality. Basically what we do is connect wholesalers into the platform. So that micro businessess can brush through their catalogs and place orders. We drain that and then we take a commission from the wholesalers. This is number one and then we also have m. Premium functionalities for those users that want a bit more that want electronic invoicing that want access to and more sophisticated reports. We charge as more subscription per month.
Alejandro Cremades: And how has it been. You are alluding to it. You guys have raised about $60000000 for this. How has it been the experience of raising money there in Columbia for this business.
Lluís Cañadell: So I have to say that it was not difficult at all but because it was during the period where fundraising was extremely easy everywhere and I guess we were not monetizing. We didn’t monetize a single dollar and when one when raising the 60000000 we raised a seed round of 14000000 in March of 2021 we were growing at exponential rates of. Almost a hundred percent per month back then and and we closed around in 2 3 games. It was a similar story in in the series. A that was really closed on that same year on 2021 although we announced in early Twenty two in a period where money was plentiful and where growth was the main thing that was something that and we could demonstrate very well so we were we had a ton of active users growing very fast per month but not monetizing. So. Think my experience today would be very different. We have an incredible challenge of and of reaching the expectations placed upon it and now it is looking very well in terms of.
Lluís Cañadell: Early monetization traction but we are still far away from the numbersworth that we need to get to justify evaluation that is similar to the one that we had in the series a and this is something that me founding team. The entire company is very conscious about. We have our long runway of over 4 years. We have made tough decisions to ensure that runway and because we know that the that the fundraising environment today is is extremely different particularly in that time to where it was two years ago or even. A year and a half ago and and we don’t know when it will come back. It may be better in a year or 2 or it may be better in five or seven years the point is that we don’t know it’s it’s an external factor that we do not control. So so we’re doing whatever we can to to put. And to to act upon the things that we can control.
Alejandro Cremades: But hey 4 years of runway you say it’s unbelievable. You know, typically you know people would um race for 18 to twenty four months so how are you guys so effective on timing things and. And also you know giving yourself enough oxygen like you did now so that you would be able to figure things out on the on the monetization side.
Lluís Cañadell: Um, so ah, twelve months ago more or less. We had 380 fds today. We have around one hundred and thirty so we downsized the company via 2 rounds of of time housing which was a incredibly tough probably the toughest. Decision that I have have had to take in my life and going through that was was painful but at the same time I knew that that it was the right thing for the company. So with the support of of. Board and with the understanding of our dealership team. We. We made those time decision with those hard decisions and now we are focusing on giving traction. Not thinking that we will have to raise in the next 12 or twenty four months if we don’t have to. If things are great if the market returns to and having plenty of money if we grow more than expected. We may raise and earlier and in that scenario we may have been too conservative. But since we don’t know at this point. I think we made the writers.
Alejandro Cremades: Now for the people that are listening to getran understanding and the scope on the size of trinta. What can you share in terms of I mean you are alluding to it like number of employees or anything else that you feel comfortable sharing you know of trinta. Yeah.
Lluís Cañadell: So today we have around five point five million total registered users and around 20% of just over 1000000 are mostly active users and we are monetizing via either of the 2 revenue streams. Around 50000 of them around 50000 in a monthly basis and we are around hundred and thirteen employees today. Most of them are based in Colombia we do have some people in in other places but everyone is based in Latin America and and in terms of very new traction I prefer not to share but it’s still relatively small versus what it would need to get in order to have around that is in the similar ah that has similar characteristics stores Seriesai that was 49000000.
Alejandro Cremades: Yeah.
Alejandro Cremades: Well hey, 4 years of runaway. You know is plentiful because 4 years in startups. You know in do years, you know it will be like absolutely ridiculous now the amount of time and what things you know can do no and what you guys are able to accomplish. So I’m sure that is’s goingnna be a bolio you can accomplish in that timeframe now.
Lluís Cañadell: Last year e
Alejandro Cremades: Imagine if you were to go to sleep tonight and you wake up in a world where the vision of trinta is fully realized what does that world look like.
Lluís Cañadell: It would be a world that unlike today it is a world where microbusiness are not synonymous with struggle and oftentimes poverty in latin america today if you have a micro business more likely than not it is because you don’t have any other option you are earning two hundred to two hundred and fifty dollars an average which in many places is below at a minimum wage and you’re putting on. Over 12 hours of work 6 or seven days per week. So it’s clearly it’s it’s clearly overlaps having a microbusiness with being part of the least fortunate parts of society and I would like to change that. I would like microbus to thrive and would like micro businessess to become a career choice that are not as synonymous with struggles with struggle and poverty.
Alejandro Cremades: So we’re talking about the future here but I want to talk about the past but doing so with a lyn of reflection. So let’s say I put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time I bring you back in time to perhaps 2020 when covid were starting to hit. And when you were now thinking what’s next for me imagine you’re able to have a sit down without younger. You is and you’re able to give yourself 1 piece of advice before launching a business but would that be and why even what you know now.
Lluís Cañadell: It would be enjoy every second I believe there’s there’s a lot of beauty in building something from scratch and there there’s there’s a quote from the alchemist that I really like that it says. Is that possibility of having a dream come through that makes life interesting and I I think that’s one hundred percent reality and I think I made a mistake for the first 6 to twelve months of of of train that that i. Ah, was always like waiting for the next mindstone I was waiting to be happy for raising the first round or while I was waiting to monetize or was waiting to get the first a thousand users and the reality is that that you never get there. There’s always something else. Um, it’s not reaching to your goal that will make you habit having that goal in the first place and and going towards that direction and now I I changed and I enjoy every day I’m happy every day in spite of. Having days that I have to that are worse than others. So I enjoy both the highs and the nose of entrepreneurship and that’s something that I would not only recommend to myself in 2020 but but everyone it’s ah it’s a very emotional experience to become a founder to be a founder to.
Lluís Cañadell: Both the early days but also the scaling phase of ah of a startup and so so you need to be able to to enjoy every second.
Alejandro Cremades: I Love that so use for the people that are listening that will love to reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so.
Lluís Cañadell: Um I believe in Linkedin us Cannya and they they can. They can have me on Linkedin and yeah, we can reach out and we can connect if they have our startup on we can share learnings or whatever.
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, well easy enough you well hey, thank you so much for being on the deal maker show. It has been an honor to have you with us today.
Lluís Cañadell: Thank you Alejandra the honor was mine.
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