Our experience in building discount portal aggregators and insights into their operations (including the success of the Czech Slevomat, which was set up as a Groupon copycat) enabled us to participate in the ongoing transformation of Groupon as the second-largest shareholder, moving away from selling goods and towards focusing on local experiences and travel. Dušan Šenkypl and Jan Barta serve as board members at Groupon.
Dedication to sports and a passion for bringing the real cycling experience to people's homes is what caught our attention about Petr and Jiří Samek. Their amazing cycling product sparked our interest and led to ROUVY becoming a part of our portfolio. What we appreciate about ROUVY is that it's a startup from Vimperk with a global reach and users in the USA, Canada, France, and Spain. It's also a sports-focused company that we have a strong connection with.
Aukro used to be synonymous with buying and selling on the internet. Following a steady decline from its top market positions, the previous owner, Poland-based Allegro, decided to sell the company. With the financial support of Czech investors, the original management team bought the company. What followed were two challenging years during which the company had to develop a completely new platform, faced many disappointed users and further economic decline. Eventually, the company stabilized the situation. However, there were still disagreements among the owners about future strategy, and due to bank financing only, it was impossible to accelerate expansion. After thoroughly analyzing the situation, we decided to buy out the existing external investors, recapitalize the company, and rebuild its operational, marketing, and customer service processes from scratch. In 2020, Aukro grew by more than 50% and is regaining its market positioning.
UptimeRobot is one of the world's largest website uptime monitoring services. It alerts you to significant issues, monitors site response times, detects performance hiccups, and informs you instantly. Currently, the service has over 1.5 million users and monitors more than 6 million websites.
Kamil's idea of a community farmers' market appealed to us because we have experienced the lack of good quality food options in smaller cities, particularly local and organic. Scuk significantly supports local farmers and food producers, promotes sustainability and the local economy, and as an added bonus, it connects and creates neighboring communities. Kamil and his team do an excellent job supplying quality food to around 500 neighboring communities across the country.
The company was founded in 2004 in Milevsko by the Hanus brothers, who were initially helped by their father. In 2020, they introduced a revolutionary heat pump. Over the past few years, they have been able to develop and produce a top-of-the-line product that competes on the global market. We were convinced to invest in Acond based on the passion, abilities, and ambitions of both founders, who have successfully positioned the company for further growth and are already selling heat pumps to several European countries.
The Mubi Insurance Comparison website was launched in 2019 to simplify the insurance selection process for users in Poland. With our experience in building the top insurance platform in the Czech Republic, ePojisteni.cz, and other markets, we are helping the company to grow and develop efficiently. We are passionate about being involved in the rapidly evolving online services for customers segment and share the goal of becoming the market leader in Poland.
Michal and his team have an ambitious goal - design, build, manufacture and perhaps even operate planes with vertical take-off for 4 people. Do you want to fly from your own garden to an island in Croatia in 2 hours? With Zuri, this is no problem. Zuri is not our standard investment but we believe that sometimes it is right to support even a highly ambitious project. We hope to welcome you on board soon!
In 2018, we invested in Ondřej Švrček's project Mobilní Rozhlas. It's the most widely used solution in the Czech Republic for communication between municipalities and citizens, and reporting civic complaints. More than 1,300 municipalities currently use it. In 2020, we collaborated to create an international expansion strategy, which we began implementing in 2021 with the aim of acquiring customers in the first five countries. As part of the expansion plan, the company will be renamed and rebranded as Munipolis.
Jenprace.cz is the second largest job portal in the Czech Republic, which is visited by over a million users per month and features advertisements from more than 4,000 companies. Since 2017, our common goal is to provide companies with a more profitable and higher quality service than the monopoly-built job portals, which have barely changed in recent years. We know that the job market is changing and we want to be the ones to change it.
LitFin is a pioneer in litigation financing in Central Europe. The principle is simple: in exchange for a share of the settled or negotiated amount, LitFin covers all costs related to the particular litigation for the plaintiff. This contributes to the enforceability and accessibility of the law for individual claimants. These are some of the reasons why we added LitFin to our portfolio. We were also drawn to the enthusiasm, ambition, and drive of Maroš and his team.
František approached us with a struggling startup, Newstin, that had lost millions of dollars for him and his investors. We saw the potential in the technology and bought the claim, acquired the assets, and founded Semantic Visions with additional capital. František continued to lead the company, and together, we worked to commercialize the technology. We developed a new product, Supplier Risk, which allows customers to monitor supply chain threats in 12 languages. Over 200 global companies currently use the product, and we experienced 100% YoY growth in 2019. Semantic Visions is also working with NATO to combat disinformation campaigns.
Honza, Michal, and Petr approached us with an idea for agile outsourcing of ICT specialists. Together, we quickly built a business that sets a high standard for the industry. We offer ICT specialists attractive work opportunities, the best terms of cooperation, and a system for further education. Our successful market entrance is validated by our sales of approximately CZK 150 million in the first year of operation.
Alex approached us with his vision to digitize the B2B travel industry. Even today, it is common for travel agencies to request hotel services for their clients using platforms that are operated by thousands of agents who mainly communicate via phone. DaVinci simplifies the entire process, making it easier, cheaper, and faster. We firmly believe that DaVinci will become the full-fledged B2B alternative to Booking.com.
George and his partners approached us with a vision to digitalize the Czech agricultural sector, which still heavily relies on paper-based systems that lack effective communication. Agdata aims to provide a comprehensive solution for managing farms, including monitoring agricultural technology, animals, and soil condition. By utilizing the platform, farmers can operate more efficiently and cost-effectively, leading to a reduction in the use of pesticides and chemicals. Today, Agdata is used by over 2,000 Czech farmers.
Tomas and his partners approached us with a well-organized plan. Daytrip is a worldwide platform that connects tourists with local drivers for inter-city transfers. They operate in over 60 countries across six continents, including the USA. In 2019, they provided their services to over 100,000 travelers, generating CZK 400 million in revenue."
Jakub has created a unique marketplace that connects households seeking various services with service providers who have available capacity or are seeking further growth. The project is distinctive in that the matching process is based on quality. While in traditional platforms of this kind, requests for services are sent to all companies in a given field, our platform sends quality requests only to companies that are interested.
Radek has developed a sophisticated tool for calculating real estate prices, allowing users to easily determine fair property prices for purchase or sale. The tool is not only utilized by end-users, but also by banks, real estate companies, and valuators. It provides invaluable information about the development of the real estate market at both the national and local levels, including individual cities and neighborhoods
Favi.cz (exit 2022)
At the end of 2015, we met with Honza and Radek regarding their project Favi.cz, a search engine for furniture and home decor, which at that time had sales of CZK 200,000 per month. We quickly understood the scale of the opportunity, saw capable and structured managers in the company's founders, and knew how we could add value using our experience with scaling a similar business model and a healthy level of aggressiveness. The result of our cooperation? In 2020, Favi had annual sales of over CZK 750 million, operated in six countries (with plans to expand further), and was one of the fastest-growing internet companies in Europe (ranked fourth in Deloitte's Fast 50 2020). We exited the company in 2022.
Part of Pale Fire Capital group is also a seed fund Purpose Ventures, whose mission is to invest into ambitious technology companies that have a higher purpose than simply earning money. We invest in projects that tackle the issues of Sustainability, Healthy lifestyle and Human potential.
We are continuously searching for new projects
If you feel that you share our values and have an interesting project, gather your courage and contact us. We will be happy to openly share our point of view and give you ideas on how to further develop your project.