Universal Avenue, a Swedish business connecting growing businesses with freelancers globally, announced its series A funding today, led by Eight Roads Ventures Europe
‘Uncertainty’ has become the mot du jour in our post-Brexit economy. Jumping to fill the potential skill gap, Stockholm-based Universal Avenue has raised $10 million in series A funding to expand its operations in the UK, the rest of Europe and the US.
Universal Avenue allows businesses to access skilled sales staff to help with growth without having to take on permanent staff.
Its freelance workforce, called Brand Ambassadors, are deployed across growing businesses to drive sales and customer acquisition, in a model that introduces work to the on-demand economy and allows businesses to grow without having any local operations. According to CEO and co-founder Johan Lilja, Universal Avenue’s unique business model is primed for the UK’s post-Brexit concerns.
“The uncertainties of Brexit mean businesses are likely to be a lot more cautious, but with on-demand alternatives to traditional expansion models they can still test new markets as they navigate around newly emerging challenges,” he explained. For Lilja, their service fits companies with ambitious sales and expansion targets, without having to tax overheads or taking the risk of hiring new permanent staff.
Universal Avenue works with global giants such as Spotify Business, to smart local businesses like DripApp, which allows Londoners to prepay for coffee at the city’s best independent coffee shops. Jeremy Cortial, the co-founder of DripApp, swears by Universal Avenue to maintain high levels of growth. “As a fast growing startup, we really wanted to focus resource internally on building a great product, so working with Universal Avenue to outsource our sales helped us to scale up early customers within the London area, specifically coffee houses. The feedback we get from the on the ground Brand Ambassadors has helped us to adapt our training material and understand our customers better.”
Universal Avenue’s Series A round was led by Eight Roads, the proprietary investment arm of Fidelity International, with participation from existing investors Northzone and MOOR. It brings the total funding raised by the company to $17 million.
Davor Hebel, head of Eight Roads Ventures Europe, will join Universal Avenue’s board.
“Brexit aside, the myth of big corporations offering job security is fading – people want more control of their work lives and many find it more secure to work for themselves, with projects they’ve chosen. These changes are particularly prominent in the US, where more than 40% of the working population is predicted to do away with the 9-5 office culture over the next four years, in favour of working for themselves,” Lilja said, explaining why the next stop for Universal Avenue by the second half of the year is the US market.