Just Eat is one of the biggest start-up successes of our time, evolving from an online food order and delivery platform to a leader in London’s burgeoning app economy. At the helm of its success was then-CEO David Buttress, who spent 11 years bringing Just Eat to the UK, building, scaling and eventually floating the company.
Buttress, like many others in his league, has now transitioned from entrepreneur to venture capitalist, joining 83North as a general partner.
“For me, it’s been a natural transition. I spent 11 years building Just Eat, just me and another guy, literally from a basement to a public company. We started when I was 29, and I’m now fast approaching 41,” Buttress tells GrowthBusiness.
About three years ago, he became a special advisor for 83North and started dabbling as an angel investor. That was when he began spending a lot of time with early-stage start-ups and caught the proverbial investment bug.
“I really started to get a taste of working with entrepreneurs and seeing these companies develop. I really enjoyed it, and I think moving to venture capital is a natural transition for most entrepreneurs. If you’ve grown a company and scaled up, you want to share that operational insight and support to help other businesses replicate the success of companies like Just Eat,” he adds.
As CEO of Just Eat, a post he left in February this year, Buttress led the business through its rapid global growth to one of the biggest technology IPOs in Europe for a decade. The company debuted on the London Stock Exchange in 2014 and now has a market cap in excess of $5 billion.
83North was an early investor in Just Eat, which makes the move all the more natural for Buttress.
“Over 11 years, (Just Eat) invested in many different companies in different geographies. I hope I can give real insight into the scaling process, for one. As any entrepreneur can tell you, I’ve made my share of mistakes and have learned from them, so hopefully I can be helpful and share these lessons with other start-ups to do something better and smarter,” Buttress explains.
Buttress is now one of the six general partners at the global VC firm, and will be London with a Europe-wide remit.
Over the years, 83North has backed some of the most prominent entrepreneurs in Europe and Israel, with notable investments in Hybris (acquired by SAP), ScaleIO (acquired by EMC), Social Point (acquired by Take2), Celonis, Ebury, iZettle, Payoneer, Via and Zerto.
In addition to fuelling start-up growth in the UK and beyond, Buttress aims to shift the global focus away from Silicon Valley by highlighting the growth potential of disruptive tech start-ups in Europe. “The world of technology is diversifying from its traditional centre of gravity in Silicon Valley. The right combination of great entrepreneurs, disruptive technologies and financial backing is opening up exciting opportunities for world-leading technology companies to be created and managed out of Europe and Israel,” Buttress adds.
“As an entrepreneur, I spent 11 years thinking of nothing else but takeaway. There comes a point in any entrepreneur’s life when you ask yourself ‘what else can I do?’ It comes to different entrepreneurs at different times, but for me, it’s now.”