Last year, after building the first release of Vito in 4 weeks, Lachy Groom got in touch and told us he would invest €1.25m to Tito.
We said thank you. And, yes.
The end of bootstrapping?
Yes, and no, and yes.
Strategically, this was an easy decision to make. Lachy was 8 years at Stripe and still very much within the Stripe fold. Patrick and John Collison have been hugely encouraging of our little raisin in their vineyard. Tito and Vito are Stripe-enabled businesses. 80% of all of our revenue has flowed through Stripe, and in many ways we admire how they’ve operated and grown their business. The relationship makes so much sense.
Secondly, since we’re Irish, we can avail of government funding from Enterprise Ireland. Enterprise Ireland have been very supportive of us for the last few years. They don’t lead investments however, so they only co-invest, which requires third-party investment. Each time that they have invested, we’ve brought in private investors to support us, such as, most recently, Preston Werner Ventures, and Brian Lopez.
Finally, none of our investors, including Lachy, have indicated that a quick exit is something they are interested in. Expectations are set that it could be 10–15 years before seeing a return, and there are provisions in our terms that allow individual investors to cash out without requiring the whole company to be sold or otherwise liquidated.
There are 7 of us here at Team Tito right now. Doc and I are founders, and Vicky joins us on the leadership team. Maria runs customer experience and Bill, Murray and Cillian handle engineering. We’ve been working together for 3 years at a minimum, and in the case of Cillian, nearly 10 years.
I’ve never worked with a group of people that I trust as much as this group. It’s a talented, resilient and dedicated team.
In addition to the full-time team, we’ve had the pleasure to work with a number of long-term contractors. Kim Crayton coaches us in business operational strategy, through the lens of her mission to define profit without oppression. Debs Durojaiye came on last summer to design Vito and recently returned to do some research ahead of another design sprint. And Juliette Mothe, who is now working with Debs, has provided all of the illustration for any recent graphical output.
Our commitment to diversity and inclusion is top-down. Over the last two years we’ve put a lot of time into preparing our company to be a safe space for people from traditionally marginalised backgrounds in tech.
Through our work with Kim, we have identified three core values:
Aside from the everyday definitions these values represent, we’ve highlighted our own definitions: Integrity as minimising harm, Excellence as being intentional and Delight as providing unexpected value.
We’ve taken to doing everything through these values: building our product, working together as a team, hiring contractors, putting together policies, and growing the company.
Tito is still alive and people still love it. We actually managed to complete most of the work on the product updates from last year and those will ship out of beta soon. Watch this space.
We’ve quietly been shaping Vito into our vision for creating engaging online community spaces that strengthen the relationship between organisers, sponsors and participants.
I’ve never been more excited to work on anything than I am with Vito, and that’s even after the toughest year we’ve ever had.
So what does this all mean?
For the near-term, this investment means focussing on high-impact improvements across the business. There are areas that we are strong in, like product and support, and areas that we’re weak, like sales, marketing, documentation and communication. In the very near term, expect improvements in how we communicate with customers and potential customers. In the medium-term, expect shipping of features that improve things for everyone. And in the long-term, expect an unwavering commitment to the values that have taken us to where we are.
Thanks to everyone who supports what we do.