“When we got to an Excel with 200’000 rows, we knew we had to scout for the best-in-class equity management tool and that’s when we came across Ledgy.”
From being purely an online business, to an omni-channel model, we got to speak with Peter Kaeser, co-founder and COO at VIU Eyewear. Below, he explains how he tackles the increasingly complex tasks around cap table and employee participation plan management.
How VIU expanded to 6 countries in the past 6 years
VIU was founded 6 years ago in Zurich, Switzerland. VIU Eyewear follows a Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) model, meaning that they design their own glasses, produce them in both Italy and Japan and every individual glass is handmade. Initially, VIU started as purely online business. They only realized afterwards, that people want to be able to touch products and VIUs case, handmade glasses. The texture, the feel and the real-life look were decisive for their clients. This led us to change to an omni-channel model. We’re very excited to welcome Peter Kaeser, Co-Founder and COO of VIU Eyewear for this insightful customer story.
Since they follow a DTC model, they are able to cross out the middleman, which results in an attractive price tag for the end customer. Typically, VIU Eyewear is able to undercut the market prices by more than 50%. Peter said that the product-market fit is very much apparent. When they get the chance to explain one of their products to a prospective customer, the likelihood of the customer buying a pair is decently high.
Since their inception, VIU Eyewear has expanded to six different markets. First, they expanded to Germany, then Austria and now even to Scandinavia, namely Denmark and Sweden. Last year, just in time for BREXIT, they even launched in London, UK. Having successfully expanded to these six markets, and due to the fact that 70% of the global population needs glasses, they are in the best position to grow their market share across the globe. VIU Eyewear has a clear mission, namely catering to people that are attracted by contemporary design, high-quality and sustainably produced products.
How Peter Kaeser reacted to inefficiencies and implemented scalable processes through Ledgy
VIU Eyewear was founded in 2013. Since then, they’ve become a huge success story with over 400 employees. Their employees are spread across Europe. Once a year, VIU brings together everyone for a prolonged weekend, in order to celebrate their success.
VIU is one of Ledgy’s first users since 2018. In the beginning, as the majority of founders do, one has an excel file with a couple of columns and rows, saying person A owns 5 %, person B owns 9% and so on. At some point, VIU Eyewear raised a round, followed by a second round and with thattheir shareholder base increased drastically. These shares would be passed back and forth from some shareholders to others. Keeping these historic cap tables up to date and accurate, required immense amounts of time and effort. Every single share and its history was represented in the spreadsheet, and that's how Peter was able to track how the shares moved from shareholder to shareholder.
Peter made sure that he was the only one making changes to the Excel file. The reason being, if someone else would go in and change some data, nothing would square anymore. One wouldn’t have a change log and this would have simply created a huge mess. During that time, Peter was crunching an Excel sheet with 200’000 rows. That’s exactly when he realized that he should have switched to Ledgy a long time ago so he would have an error-free, professional and intuitive solution for managing VIU’s cap table and equity plans.
“With Ledgy, I can simply grant options to employees. Ledgy streamlines this with document templating, signing flows and a custom vesting schedule.”
During that time, he was also in the middle of setting up a phantom stock option plan (PSOP). He knew that if he had a tool that would optimize all the aforementioned cumbersome operations, he could save valuable resources, have an efficient due diligence process and deal with more value-adding things.
Streamlining VIUs cap table and equity plans on Ledgy
When it comes to using Ledgy, Peter is oftentimes browsing the transactions overview page. That’s where he has bundled all the phantom stock ownership plans and all equity-related transactions. One extremely helpful feature for him, is the ability to attach documents to each and every transaction and hence facilitate a fast and painless due diligence.
With Ledgy, Peter can simply grant options to employees, with document templating, signing flows and a custom vesting schedule. Another thing that’s making his life easier is the granular access level he can give to different stakeholders. Depending on whether it’s an investor, a lawyer or an employee, Peter can decide if they get a “view-only”, “portfolio” or “admin” access level. He always sees how many shares, options and warrants are out there, to whom they belong and what the future projection looks like.
“During the due diligence season, I simply assign my lawyer as a read-only user, such that she can double-check all the entries on Ledgy and also simplify their processes.”
For VIU Eyewear, it was crucial to share the success with the employees. Initially, Peter set up an equity plan with real shares but had some hurdles with the tax-authority and the lawyers, so he switched to phantom stock options. VIU Eyewear at first wanted to incentivize only the leadership team but then decided to open the plan up to all employees. Since VIU is a startup, they wanted to signal exactly these entrepreneurial values both internally and externally. They gave the employees the option to invest part of their salaries into VIU. The first program ended last year and VIU decided to launch a new one. That required another pool increase, which he was able to do on Ledgy at cyberspeed
Many thanks to Peter for this insightful story of VIU Eyewear. We’re looking forward to supporting your high-growth ambitions for years to come.
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"Unanimously, our employees love Ledgy. They really appreciate the clean user interface, and they get particular value from the amount of insight they have into their options and ownership."