Fabio Kuhn:

Fabio is the CEO and Founder of Vortexa.

Fabio Kuhn: Founder Story

Fabio is the CEO and Founder of Vortexa.

Discover the most complete data on global waterborne oil & gas flows through Vortexa's powerful analytics tools.

What got you started on your journey with Vortexa?

The energy industry is key for the prosperity and well being of society - yet it is highly inefficient at a global level. Technological advancements in the space industry led to a massive increase in satellite data, and together with the digitalisation of the energy industry, have unlocked incredible new possibilities.

After recognising this inflection point and what it meant, I felt an uncontrollable drive to play a role in the creation of the next generation of technology that would enable a new era in the energy markets. This industrial evolution is important for everyone, because it ultimately allows us to better use our planet’s natural resources - by moving energy, in all its forms, to the right place and time.

This is one of the very few multi-trillion dollar industries that still can be significantly optimised on a large scale with massive benefits to society as a whole. The once in a generation opportunity to deliver substantial efficiency gains on a global-scale is what excites and energises me above all.

From the unimaginable to reality

Just a few years ago, it would be hard to imagine that energy traders would know exactly what’s inside nearly every single tanker in the world, and in aggregate, how energy is moving at a global level. Yet, this is what we have today at Vortexa - the real time visibility on the global movement of energy on water. This is key for how the market makes important decisions about where and when to take different forms of energy around the world.

Since inception, our team has always been excited about the potential of our work, but there were no guarantees - particularly at the level of uncertainty we were dealing with. Achieving product market fit was not easy and involved an immense amount of hard work and conviction. Our vision hasn’t fundamentally changed, it only grew larger as the results of our work became real and new opportunities continued to open for us.

Extraordinary people who own our company - and its results

From the very beginning, we’ve made the choice to find the absolute best people for each and every one of our positions. This involves us setting an uncompromising high bar for selecting new members of our team - an extremely hard trade-off when you are trying to grow fast. Nonetheless, the quality of our people is at the very core of Vortexa’s success. Because, at the end of the day, we are a team of partners building this company together. Everyone owns a piece of it - and its results.

Hard choices along the way

I find that one of the most challenging parts of being a founder is that, even if you have a crystal clear view of what you want to do, you have limited capacity, bandwidth and resources to do everything at any given point in time. You need to be able to live with a lot of gaps and imperfections as you’re building the business, yet remain laser focused on what is critical for succeeding in the short, medium and long run.

Everything doesn’t happen all at once, so you need to make hard choices along the way, especially among competing high-priorities. You need to juggle all these stresses and challenges in the early days. As the company scales, it's also incredibly liberating to be able to do a lot more, better and faster.

Heart, mind and soul

The level of belief and conviction is what ultimately leads companies to make it, or not. Creating and building a new business is really hard, so if your heart, mind and soul are not in it, genuinely and completely, every challenge becomes existential. It’s very easy to give up if you are not giving your all, and most people do. My advice to fellow entrepreneurs (both founders and start-up crews) is to find your own inner force to break through anything life throws on your path - no excuses, no plan Bs.

What advice would you give to an entrepreneur that is considering taking VC funding?

Make sure it's the right path for you. Once you choose to have a VC as a partner, you are committing to go big, grow fast and become a market-leading company. You really need to ask yourself the question of whether that’s something you really want to do.

If the answer to that is yes, then a VC is one of the best partners you can have. Depending on the VC you choose to partner with, more than capital you’ll also get significant help to scale your business to the next level. It can be a very powerful and successful partnership.

What made you choose Notion as a Series A investor? What’s been your experience of working with us and what would you say to a founder considering taking investment from us?

We have always been very selective with whom we chose to have as investors at Vortexa. I had a chance to get to know Patrick Norris and the Notion family, particularly Stephen Millard’s Notion Platform, for more than a year before we actually became partners.

Life in a startup is a roller coaster. In the early days, even more so. As I was getting to know Notion, I’ve paid close attention to how the Notion team handled our ups and downs, especially the downs - and they never blinked on the downs. That’s not usual, the typical VC behavior would have been to go radio silent. To the contrary, Notion already started helping us through some of our challenges, even before we became partners.

After leading our Series A, the Notion family then came in full-force. The team, who is primarily made of successful entrepreneurs themselves, knows what it really takes to build a successful business. They have rolled up their sleeves with us - and what a difference they’ve made.

If you are an early-stage founder in Europe looking for true partners in the journey of building a SaaS B2B tech company, have a chat with the Notion team - you won’t regret it.

Chance to create the future

There is an infinite amount of businesses yet to be created, so many amazing ideas in our minds. The entrepreneurial spirit is what moves society and the world forward. Risks are nothing compared with the chance to create the future. Come on, let’s start something new.

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