"With Ledgy I can generate share allotment letters in under two minutes, saving me significant time every single week."
Founded in Munich in 2014, Holidu is one of the fastest growing travel tech companies worldwide and a leading search engine for vacation rentals. Today, the company employs around 350 people based across Germany, Spain, Italy and Portugal, with expansion into France and Greece planned. Holidu operates multiple brands including Bookiply, Hundredrooms and Bodensee.
Holidu has raised a total of $100 million in funding, including a $45 million Series D in 2021. Investors backing Holidu include 83North and EQT Ventures.
Cora Graßhoff is Holidu’s Head of HR. Having originally studied psychology, she joined Holidu as HR Manager in 2017, and now has responsibility for people operations, HR and talent teams.
Equity before Ledgy
“When I joined Holidu, equity just meant spreadsheets, which didn’t help information sharing or transparency generally.”
A lot has changed at Holidu since Cora joined the business. “In 2017, we had about 60 employees, and not all processes were well-established." Holidu’s share ownership and cap table was no different. “The plan was still managed directly by the founders, and was controlled through spreadsheets: there was no specialized software involved.”
In addition, keeping Holidu’s share option plan locked up in spreadsheets meant that transparency suffered. Cora says, “Because share options at that stage were only offered to a small number of senior employees, and because information was not available for people to view and interact with, it felt like a bit of a black box!”
As the company matured and options were rolled out to more employees, new procedures were introduced. But there were still some issues to iron out...
Taking on equity responsibilities
“When I started to take on responsibility for our employee share option plan, I realized just how many manual tasks and how much administrative work was required.”
As Cora gained more experience with Holidu she began to own more workstreams. In 2020, she was entrusted with running the company’s VSOP (virtual share option plan). While Cora was excited to be responsible for an important part of the company’s people operations, there were some downsides. “I hadn’t figured out how much paperwork there was – sending letters, signing and scanning documents, sharing material with employees, it all takes time.”
When Ledgy reached out to Cora, she conducted further research into the product and service, comparing Ledgy against other competitors. The level of support on offer from Ledgy’s Customer Experience team, as well as the clean and engaging user interface, appealed to Cora and Holidu’s senior management, and Holidu decided to come on board with Ledgy.
“I can generate share allotment letters in under two minutes, saving me significant time every single week.”
Moving Holidu’s share ownership data onto Ledgy’s platform, Cora began to see the advantages of managing all share ownership with a single piece of software. “Some long-term employees mentioned how thankful they were to have one place with all their equity documentation!” For employees keen to learn more, Cora has also uploaded company-specific FAQ answers to Ledgy, making sure they are accessible to all optionholders.
Ledgy’s templating and document sharing functionality has also had a positive impact on Cora’s administrative workload. “Now, I can create a share allotment letter in under two minutes; this would have taken at least 10 minutes before Ledgy,” says Cora.
“Because of the volume of admin, this already saves me an hour per week, and Ledgy’s technology should only become more important over time as we continue to scale.”
Equity and ownership at Holidu today
“I have learnt a lot since taking responsibility for our share option scheme. I can’t wait to continue learning and empowering our team with Ledgy.”
Cora works closely with Alexander Stimpfle, Holidu’s CFO, to make sure cap table data is synchronized with employees’ equity stakes. “Ledgy really helps the HR and finance teams collaborate together and it makes us confident that our data is error-free.”
Since rolling out Ledgy at Holidu, Cora has kickstarted new internal initiatives to make equity easier for the whole business to understand. These include clear guidelines on what happens to employees’ share options when they get promoted or when they receive outstanding performance reviews, for example.
Cora is eager to give key pieces of advice to other Heads of People and HR, who may be acquiring more responsibility for equity and share ownership. “You should take the time you need to go through all terms and policies in detail, and don’t be afraid to ask simple questions of other leaders, advisors and lawyers! Additionally, think carefully about what you want the program to achieve: having clear goals will make any operational processes easier to structure.
“And finally, you should seek feedback from employees as you are developing the program: people understand that in a growing company things may not be perfect from Day 1, so ask your team what they don’t understand and iterate based on their comments and thoughts.”