1 min read
Dream Team Keeps Raising Our Game: Story of $5M Investment
July 6, 2023
Ferhat Babacan
CEO @Bluedot
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Last week, you may have read about Bluedot’s latest fundraising results in various places such as Insider, Marketwatch, FOX, Yahoo Finance.

We’re thrilled to have secured $5 million in new funding. But it’s not surprising when you consider the strengths of our team and how far we’ve come in the last two years. We’ve grown our business, learned from our customers, made mistakes, and kept improving.

I’d like to take a moment to review this journey because the new investments are just a small part of it.

I like to think of Bluedot like a deep and well-balanced NBA team. We play the game at global standards and we love fast breaks! We’re aggressive and fast-moving, and we love to put on a show when the time comes. Everyone on the team has a role for Bluedot to become America's top startup. We love making player changes, transfers, variations, and rotations. We’ve been agile this way from the beginning because that’s what it takes to win in the dynamic fintech and e-mobility arenas.

From the first day we set off with Selinay and Furkan, we always approached challenges with a growth mindset; on this journey, we crossed paths with Berker Yagci, Kesava Kirupa Dinakaran, Murat Onsekizoglu, Güner Demirural, and Onur Can. They believed in us, shared their knowledge, network, and most importantly, supported us.

Later, Yunus and Emre joined the team. We were impressed that they had created products for millions of people without spending any money - yes, they were creating Netflix for the anime world before joining Bluedot! Convincing them to join this journey was not easy :) But ultimately, they came on board.

This five-person team had the energy, dreams, and most importantly, the desire to change.

Footsteps of change

We’ve never been afraid of change, and I think we’ve managed change very well. When we first started Bluedot, our goal was to improve the electric vehicle charging experience. For this, we developed a loyalty and reward program to help people spend better time while charging while businesses increased their utilization; people earned as they drove, charged, and shopped... Users' journeys with Bluedot increased by 80%, and their shopping rates increased by 60% every month. Still, we weren’t sure if this business was sustainable. To understand this better, someone from the team definitely had to go to America and meet with users, customers, and partners. For this, there was no one other than Selinay, our operations, customer, and human relations guru in the team.

The first journey to America: "talk to the customer."

On the day Selinay first went to America, she toured charging stations with a rented Ford Focus Electric and participated in electric vehicle group events. Her only job was to talk to customers. While I, Emre, and Yunus worked on technology and product, Selinay collected data. And every night (because there was a 10-hour time difference between us), she provided us with new data, and we would improve the product or change our lineup. I would design, Yunus would plan, and Emre would code. This meme perfectly captures those moments of harried changes and bug fixes.

As our business grew, we decided to expand our team. Serdar, our first mobile developer, entered the game. Serdar is one of the rare individuals on our team who dives deep, has a leadership spirit, and doesn't drink Starbucks coffee. He has an important saying for everyone joining Bluedot: "Time feels like it bends here." As soon as he joined the team, we started feeling the changes in the product.

Even as the product and customer activities grew, the technology team was not very satisfied. We delved a little deeper and realized that our design processes were out of sync. Until then, I had been doing all the designs, and with the growth of the business, my speed, experience, and knowledge were not sufficient. We urgently needed a product designer. Right at that moment, Ahmet joined the team. Ahmet had worked as a product designer for years before joining our team, and was eager to get to the heart of the issues at Bluedot. So in his first few months, he spent time asking questions like "Ferhat, where did you put this? Ferhat, how did you design this? I think you did this by mistake?"

I think it was a very normal process :) But after 3 months, everything was great!

Pivot 1: Change the Game

We realized that focusing on loyalty was not truly sustainable for us. But we needed to act based on data, not emotions. We were seeing 40% monthly growth in expenses made with the Bluedot app and generating $140k in volume in 3 months, but we had no way to monetize this growth properly. Meanwhile, we got acquainted with the "fuel card" industry. Now, the team decided on a new goal: to make driving EVs easier and more affordable for all by providing financial technology for all expenses related to electric vehicle users and fleet owners. Although we felt the risk of being overshadowed by post-pandemic financial technology companies, we wanted to leverage the advantage of being a first mover in a growing market.

August 12, 2022 - Bluedot Card

After careful consideration, Bluedot entered an agreement with Visa, Unit, and Piermont Bank to develop a debit card exclusively for electric vehicle users. During this process, we designed hundreds of cards, reviewed dozens of financial applications, and listened to the feedback and comments of thousands of fintech users. In August, we announced the first design and opened the waitlist for the first owners of the Bluedot Card. Our goal now was to go live with the card in December 2022.

Team Member Transfer

During this time, Mustafa joined the team; he was quiet but fast, ambitious, and a great team player. He adapted to our team quickly, and every time I talked to him, I could feel his excitement because I knew he loved the startup culture. I was being challenged by his sharp and straightforward feedback - it was truly an incredible opportunity for any leader.

Team Member Transfer

Marketing is always fun but requires experience. Esra joined the team with her experience in the best marketing and finance companies in Europe. Esra's energy was great for the team, and not everyone gets to have a part-time DJ on their team!

December 15, 2022
Blood, sweat, tears, and tension.

It was time to introduce the first-ever card exclusively for electric vehicle users in America! We had received the first card while the whole team was at the team retreat, and now it was time to share it with all the users.  Thousands of people were getting the card at once, and we were facing technical issues we had never seen before. As we slowly started marketing to get more users, we were continuously enhancing our technology to meet these new challenges.

Making radical decisions for focus. Only our American users could use the Bluedot Card, and we didn't have enough bandwidth to create new products for our European users.

Did we really need an NBA team in Europe?

Although the answer was easy, we had to take action quickly, and we decided to withdraw from Europe and fully focus on America. Although our European users were saddened by this, I was thrilled that the Bluedot team would now have a single-country focus.

January 9, 2023
Bluedot in the Silicon Valley scene.

I think studying at Stanford is every student's dream, and every entrepreneur has a dream of being a "YC Founder." Selinay and I had many friends at YC, and we learned a lot from them every time we talked. While we kept discussing whether we should apply or not, I learned that Selinay filled out the form in just 15 minutes, and a few weeks later, we found out we were accepted. Bluedot had now received investments from YC, which is known for backing world-class and successful companies like Airbnb, Dropbox, and Instacart. After an intense three months, we completed the program and secured the investment. During YC, we were able to increase our weekly growth rate from 5% to 40%; Aaron's suggestions to set more ambitious goals, Pete's energy and support, Edrizio's fintech experience and feedback were all amazing for us.

But for me, the most unforgettable part was our founder community, Group1-F, whom I cannot thank enough because I learned so much from them every week, and they generously shared their networks.

Team Member Transfer

We needed to make a new transfer to gain more customers and grow our partner network; in our search for experienced individuals, our investor Cristin Pasifico (TechNexus) introduced us to Martin. We were thrilled to have him join the team, bringing his 10 years of experience from the world's best fintech companies.

Team Member Transfer

With the increasing number of users and transactions, we needed a strong backend developer to join the team. It wasn't easy to convince Taner to come on board with his 10 years of experience, but our persuasive team succeeded. Taner can be described as the team's biggest challenger. The responsibility of improving the technology and enhancing Bluedot's backend technologies rests on his shoulders.

To the new players on the team: Welcome!

Selinay and I conducted 120 meetings in a total of 6 weeks; we designed this process for hours and successfully completed it, oversubscribed. In total to date, we’ve raised $5M in investment, and we’ve been fortunate to have Leap Forward Fund, Operator Stack, LACI Impact Fund, Ford Driventures, Samsara, Scale X, TechNexus, Overview Capital, Climate Capital, Caffeinated Capital, Goodwater, Eksim Ventures, Lobster Capital & Leonis, Axel Springer and Porsche (APX) and leaders of the world’s best financial technology companies, including Stripe, Plaid, and Moonpay, join us as angel investors.

If there’s anything more challenging than managing a basketball team, it’s building and managing the world's best basketball team. What I’ve shared here is just a sample of the many different talented, supportive people I’ve crossed paths with. Being the leader of this team teaches me something new every day, and I know we’ll continue to learn and grow together. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be part of such a strong, passionate, and ambitious team. And I can’t wait to see where the journey takes our dream team next!

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