“I really love the fact that Ledgy is transaction-based. The transactions make up the past, the cap table shows the present situation and future projection is done via the powerful scenario modeling tool.”
From one initial product idea, why they made a fundamental switch of focus and what Sherpany is today. Read on to learn why the great customer support from Ledgy was a triggering wow-moment for Sherpany and ultimately convinced them to fully migrate their equity management to Ledgy.
How Tobias and Christian came to be and what they do at Sherpany
Tobias Häckermann (TH) is responsible for the overall success of the company. He started his first company when he was only 18 years young. He bumped his head a couple of times and learned how to cope with an environment, where margins are low and volume is high. Then, he started Sherpany as his second venture and has been successfully leading the company since 2011. By now, Sherpany has around 110 people around the globe.
At first, Sherpany was a sort of streamlined facebook for shareholders in order to connect companies and shareholders directly together. After a while, the strong customer base came back to Tobias' team and told them that apparently they know how to build great applications. The clients said that they actually have a much bigger problem, namely digitizing meetings. So Sherpany dug a little deeper and learned what it would take to execute a great board meeting. Upon this, Sherpany decided in 2015 to fully concentrate on that product. They cut efforts back in the investor services product and fully focused on the meeting management solution.
Christian Menzi (CM) joined the company when it was still at an early stage, namely back in 2013. His daily responsibility as a customer success manager is to take over the whole customer journey. He’s the customer’s main touch point, starting from sign up to full onboarding. As a side project, he’s also responsible for shareholder management, namely the single point of contact for Ledgy.
“The single biggest challenge is to keep focused. Back in 2015, it took an extremely courageous step from Sherpany’s side, to change priority away from the first product and fully focus on Sherpany. The bigger you get, the more focus you need. One single vision, one single mission and pulling on the same rope but not in different directions.”
About managing equity before stepping up the game with Ledgy
TH: In our first two funding rounds, we intentionally wanted to give private investors the chance to also invest in Sherpany, since we believe a broader shareholder base will help us promote our brand. During our first two funding rounds we accumulated around 60 shareholders. We constantly tried to inform, report and engage them. We then realized that keeping your shareholders engaged and well-informed was critical to keeping them as ambassadors. Since we were still stuck with generic spreadsheets and for communication purposes, just normal emails, we didn’t have any easy option to do cap table management, model how it would evolve with future financing rounds and also report to our shareholders. This is exactly when we knew we had to scout for a first-class equity management software.
The wow-moment that made Sherpany switch from Excel to Ledgy
CM: One day I was playing around with the transactions sheet in my excel file. More specifically, I was moving stakes from one stakeholder to another and granting options with differing parameters. This was becoming extremely cumbersome and challenging. I really had to make sure nothing would get lost and that everything would be 100% correct. That’s exactly when I started scouting the market for suitable equity management solutions. I came across Ledgy, signed-up and immediately activated the trial. During this 30-day trial period, I felt greatly supported and in good company. The onboarding data audit also gave me confidence that all the data in Ledgy is error-free and this finally gave me the conviction to launch this officially at Sherpany.
Certainly, the stakeholder overview gives me full transparency who owns how much stake and what type of shares. Another useful feature I now use most frequently, is the transactions page. There, I know exactly when a certain transaction happened, what the underlying data is and what document proves it. This is especially helpful for me, when I have to show this to our lawyers. I can simply export it to pdf and send it to my lawyers. Another area that I appreciate a lot, is the cap table overview. I have full granularity of all the current shareholders, how much everyone owns, and can even pull up historic cap tables. We are also handing out grants as part of our company wide option plan, and this can luckily be done effortlessly on Ledgy.
“I really love the fact that Ledgy is transaction-based. All transactions make up the past, the cap table makes up the momentary situation and finally one can also model the future with the powerful scenario modeling tool.”
Tips from Sherpany on how to engage your shareholders
TH: A key aspect is that most of the investors that one is going to accumulate over a growth path are not just investing in a startup for the sake of a positive ROI, but rather because they believe in the startup’s future, in the team and in their mission. They are all aware that the company needs to do well. Having said that, it is very much underestimated how important it is to continuously report and communicate transparently to your shareholders. We are lucky that we can do this effortlessly using Ledgy’s intuitive reporting tools, by simply adding different KPIs and the cap table’s data.
Moreover, employee participation plans (ESOP or PSOP) are not that wide-spread in Europe as opposed to the US. However, it has become a really hot topic, and on top of politician’s agendas. At Sherpany, we set up a participation program, which is voluntary. If you have stayed with Sherpany longer than 12 months, you can decide how much of your salary you want to receive in options. The options are based on the last financing round minus a discount of 30%. For me, there are two key things. 1. Options must be seen as part of an employee’s compensation and 2. I want everyone to be a shareholder at Sherpany and I see a strong correlation between being a shareholder and to what extent a shareholder identifies with our company.
We have been using Ledgy to put option granting on autopilot and automated most of our tasks. With the newly launched digital signatures, we’re excited to streamline all the signature workflows and digitize this process.
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