The founders of Monterro know each other since many years. The key to the team’s success is not only that they have worked successfully together, but they also enjoy each other’s company. So goes the story of Monterro…
Thomas Bill and Peter Larsson, two of the five founding partners, have known each other since school when Thomas studied Computer Science at KTH Royal Institute of Technology and Peter studied System Science at University of Stockholm. Carl Rosvall and Martin Bjäringer became friends at University of Stockholm where they studied finance.
Thomas Bill continued on into computer research, but quickly altered his course after touching a NeXT computer for the first time. He joined their team and helped develop the NeXT business throughout Europe. Thereafter, Thomas spent seven years at FinTech in various sales and management roles. Peter Larsson was initially a consultant but transitioned into software development management within Telecom and at FinTech. The two worked together at Front Capital Systems near the end of the 1990’s, Thomas as COO and Peter as CTO.
Lars Sveder comes into the picture as the finance guy. He studied Finance Mathematics at University of Karlstad and University of South Florida and became a top-ranked tech analyst at Skandia, Nordea and SEB Enskilda. Starting in 1996 and to this day, Lars meets some 200 tech companies annually in his efforts to understand and find compelling markets and companies.
In 1988, Carl Rosvall founded Protect Data and Martin Bjäringer became Chairman, which he continued to be until the company was sold almost 20 years later. One of Protect Data’s subsidiaries was Pointsec, a small IT-Security software company.
In 2001, Thomas and Peter joined Carl and Martin and developed Pointsec to one of the major success stories in Nordic software business. Pointsec was sold in 2007 to Checkpoint for USD 625 m. At the time, Lars Sveder provided research coverage on Protect Data and was one of the few analysts with a ‘buy’ on Protect Data. Peter and Thomas became buddies with Lars around this time.
Lars joined Tech M&A Boutique HDR where he was instrumental in several of the firm’s major transactions, of which several involved Thomas and Peter as counterparts or clients.
After Protect Data, Thomas and Peter moved on, balancing their roles as investors and operational managers. Together with Carl and Martin they took stakes in Orc Software and EpiServer, where they served as CEOs. Orc Software was sold to Nordic Capital 2012 and EpiServer to IK Investment Partners 2010. As COB of Intoi, Peter was responsible for its break-up into IAR Systems and Dist-IT, both of which have since then enjoyed huge successes on the Swedish stock market.
In addition to being a finance guy, Lars followed the investor/entrepreneur track in 2006 when he invested in and became chairman of the HR software startup Flexpay. Initially, Flexpay had three founders and one client and what followed was an impressive growth story: Flexpay became the leading SaaS compensation management system in Europe and was sold to Vitruvian Partners in 2011.
As investors and managers, the five founding partners have some common observations:
They have met with many venture and private equity firms. These firms are usually great with numbers and can turn a balance sheet inside out to devise innovative deal structures. However, in their hearts they are bankers or management consultants; they don’t live to build great companies! They don’t have the tools or the networks to support management teams.
Also, these firms seem most comfortable investing other peoples’ money, not their own, which gives them a different risk profile. Fees become important, if not more important, than returns. It is no surprise when the returns on deals made late in the investment period perform the worst.
Finally, they met up with a large number of fascinating companies and entrepreneurs in the Nordic region. They shared many of the same experiences and discussed what was needed. Could a firm be started that put the entrepreneurs and investors in the same boat while actively supporting the management teams?
The result is Monterro.