Interview with Christian Gabriel, CEO at Equity Management Platform: Capdesk

Capdesk is an equity management platform that helps private companies track their share ownership, and simplifies the process of issuing employee equity. We work with hundreds of Europe’s fastest-growing startups and scale-ups, including Gousto, Voi, Nutmeg and Secret Escapes. When you’re constantly raising new funding rounds and rapidly increasing headcount, it becomes very time-consuming to maintain an accurate cap table using spreadsheets. Capdesk automates processes and organises your information – so you can focus on growing the business.

We also created Europe’s first marketplace for equity in private companies, in partnership with Seedrs. Normally, when employees have options or shares in a private company, they need to wait for an IPO or acquisition to access any cash – but these liquidity events rarely line up with individuals’ personal finance goals or expensive life events.

I believe employees should be able to use their equity to put down a house deposit, or launch their own business, whenever they want to. My ambition is to build a private stock exchange that rivals the scale and activity of public markets.
Capdesk raises £3mn | FinTech Alliance

How did you come up with the idea for the company?

Before Capdesk, I was working at a crowdfunding platform in Denmark. I was shocked by how many companies used messy spreadsheets to keep track of their equity – the risk of human error is extremely high and the time it takes to maintain is considerable. This is a nightmare if a potential investor needs to check information about company ownership at short notice.

Errors are almost impossible to pinpoint and correct quickly, which can cause a lot of trouble. Worst of all, the process of issuing equity to employees can be so complex that founders decide it’s not worth the hassle – even though sharing ownership is one of the most powerful ways to motivate, reward and retain staff.

I founded Capdesk to help companies turn equity from a thorn in their side to a competitive advantage. Initially, I thought this would help crowdfunded companies simplify equity management, but the problem turned out to be much bigger. Today we’re here to help any private company to digitise their cap table.


What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?

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Transparency and openness are powerful qualities in a leader. All of your employees should have access to your strategy, mission, growth plans and information on company ownership. Founders should be authentic about the experience of running the business, sharing the highs and the lows. This helps your team to meaningfully connect and work together towards a shared vision. You’ll also encourage honesty through leading by example.

As for equity, sharing the fruits of business success with your employees is a great way to unite founders, investors and staff in pursuit of a common goal: everyone’s got skin in the game. In fact, 79% of employees say they’d be more committed – and work harder for – a company that offers equity. It’s an incredibly powerful tool for motivating employees, but it’s painfully underutilised.

What can we hope to see from Capdesk in the future?

We just raised a £5million Series A extension round led by Fidelity International Strategic Investments and MiddleGame Ventures. This will help us fast-track our international expansion plans and develop innovative product features for our customers.

Until now, we’ve prioritised helping fast-growth startups, but with the new funds, we’re planning to build a full suite of equity management solutions for businesses from seed stage to IPO.

Capdesk is leading an equity revolution, and a huge part of my work involves educating the tech community on the true power of equity in growing companies. I hope that equity will soon be a core part of the employee experience in all tech companies – not just the Silicon Valley elite.