Bloglikes - Venture Capital https://www.bloglikes.com/c/venture-capital en-US Thu, 15 Apr 2021 17:04:21 +0000 Sat, 06 Apr 2013 00:00:00 +0000 FeedWriter Deepfake video app Avatarify, which process on-phone, plans digital watermark for videos http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/u6KcGkM390k/ Making deepfake videos used to be hard. Now all you need is a smartphone. Avatarify, a startup that allows people to make deepfake videos directly on their phone rather than in the cloud, is soaring up the app charts after being used by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham.

However, the problem with many deepfake videos is that there is no digital watermark to determine that the video has been tampered with. So Avatarify says it will soon launch a digital watermark to prevent this from happening.

Run out of Moscow but with a U.S. HQ, Avatarify launched in July 2020 and since then has been downloaded millions of times. The founders say that 140 million deepfake videos were created with Avatarify this year alone. There are now 125 million views of videos with the hashtag #avatarify on TikTok. While its competitors include the well-funded Reface, Snapchat, Wombo.ai, Mug Life and Xpression, Avatarify has yet to raise any money beyond an angel round.

Despite taking only $120,000 in angel funding, the company has yet to accept any venture capital and says it has bootstrapped its way from zero to almost 10 million downloads and claims to have a $10 million annual run rate with a team of less than 10 people.

It’s not hard to see why. Avatarify has a freemium subscription model. They offer a 7-day free trial and a 12-month subscription for $34.99 or a weekly plan for $2.49. Without a subscription, they offer the core features of the app for free, but videos then carry a visible watermark.

The founders also say the app protects privacy, because the videos are processed directly on the phone, rather than in the cloud where they could be hacked.

Avatarify processes user’s photos and turns them into short videos by animating faces, using machine learning algorithms and adding sounds. The user chooses a picture they want to animate, chooses the effects and music, and then taps to animate the picture. This short video can then be posted on Instagram or TikTok.

The Avatarify videos are taking off on TikTok because teens no longer need to learn a dance or be much more creative than finding a photo of a celebrity to animate to.

Avartify says you can’t use their app to impersonate someone, but there is of course no way to police this.

Co-founders Ali Aliev and Karim Iskakov wrote the app during the COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. Ali spent two hours writing a program in Python to transfer his facial expressions to the other person’s face and use a filter in Zoom. The result was a real-time video, which could be streamed to Zoom. He joined a call with Elon Mask’s face and everyone on the call was shocked. The team posted the video, which then went viral.

They posted the code on Github and immediately saw the number of downloads grow. The repository was published on 6 April 2020, and as of 19 March 2021 had been downloaded 50,000 times.

Ali left his job at Samsung AI Centre and devoted himself to the app. After Avatarify’s iOS app was released on 28 June 2020, viral videos on TikTok, created with the app, led it to App Store’s top charts without paid acquisition. In February 2021, Avatarify was ranked first among Top Free Apps worldwide. Between February and March, the app 2021 generated more than $1 million in revenue (Source: AppMagic).

However, despite Avartify’s success, the ongoing problems with deepfake videos remain, such as using these apps to make nonconsensual porn, using the faces of innocent people.

Deep science: AI is in the air, water, soil and steel

]]> Wed, 14 Apr 2021 13:48:47 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Apps Europe TC Artificial Intelligence GitHub Instagram Mobile Applications Mobile Software Moscow Python Reface Samsung Smartphone Snapchat Software Tiktok United States Venture Capital Video Hosting Deepfake video app Avatarify, which processes on-phone, plans digital watermark for videos http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/u6KcGkM390k/ Making deepfake videos used to be hard. Now all you need is a smartphone. Avatarify, a startup that allows people to make deepfake videos directly on their phone rather than in the cloud, is soaring up the app charts after being used by celebrities such as Victoria Beckham.

However, the problem with many deepfake videos is that there is no digital watermark to determine that the video has been tampered with. Avatarify says it will soon launch a digital watermark to prevent this from happening.

Run out of Moscow but with a U.S. HQ, Avatarify launched in July 2020 and since then has been downloaded millions of times. The founders say that 140 million deepfake videos were created with Avatarify this year alone. There are now 125 million views of videos with the hashtag #avatarify on TikTok. While its competitors include the well-funded Reface, Snapchat, Wombo.ai, Mug Life and Xpression, Avatarify has yet to raise any money beyond an angel round.

Despite taking only $120,000 in angel funding, the company has yet to accept any venture capital and says it has bootstrapped its way from zero to almost 10 million downloads and claims to have a $10 million annual run rate with a team of less than 10 people.

It’s not hard to see why. Avatarify has a freemium subscription model. They offer a 7-day free trial and a 12-month subscription for $34.99 or a weekly plan for $2.49. Without a subscription, they offer the core features of the app for free, but videos then carry a visible watermark.

The founders also say the app protects privacy, because the videos are processed directly on the phone, rather than in the cloud where they could be hacked.

Avatarify processes user’s photos and turns them into short videos by animating faces, using machine learning algorithms and adding sounds. The user chooses a picture they want to animate, chooses the effects and music, and then taps to animate the picture. This short video can then be posted on Instagram or TikTok.

The Avatarify videos are taking off on TikTok because teens no longer need to learn a dance or be much more creative than finding a photo of a celebrity to animate to.

Avartify says you can’t use their app to impersonate someone, but there is of course no way to police this.

Co-founders Ali Aliev and Karim Iskakov wrote the app during the COVID-19 lockdown in April 2020. Ali spent two hours writing a program in Python to transfer his facial expressions to the other person’s face and use a filter in Zoom. The result was a real-time video, which could be streamed to Zoom. He joined a call with Elon Mask’s face and everyone on the call was shocked. The team posted the video, which then went viral.

They posted the code on Github and immediately saw the number of downloads grow. The repository was published on 6 April 2020, and as of 19 March 2021 had been downloaded 50,000 times.

Ali left his job at Samsung AI Centre and devoted himself to the app. After Avatarify’s iOS app was released on 28 June 2020, viral videos on TikTok, created with the app, led it to App Store’s top charts without paid acquisition. In February 2021, Avatarify was ranked first among Top Free Apps worldwide. Between February and March, the app 2021 generated more than $1 million in revenue (Source: AppMagic).

However, despite Avartify’s success, the ongoing problems with deepfake videos remain, such as using these apps to make nonconsensual porn, using the faces of innocent people.

Deep science: AI is in the air, water, soil and steel

]]> Wed, 14 Apr 2021 13:48:47 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Apps Europe TC Artificial Intelligence GitHub Instagram Mobile Applications Mobile Software Moscow Python Reface Samsung Smartphone Snapchat Software Tiktok United States Venture Capital Video Hosting How Pilot charted a course of not raising too much money http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/MExu9Qve7Cw/ A few weeks ago, we wrote about fintech Pilot raising a $100 million Series C that doubled the company’s valuation to $1.2 billion.

Bezos Expeditions — Amazon founder Jeff Bezos’ personal investment fund — and Whale Rock Capital joined the round, adding $40 million to a $60 million raise led by Sequoia about one month prior.

That raise came after  a $40 million Series B in April 2019 co-led by Stripe and Index Ventures that valued the company at $355 million.

Both raises were notable and warranted coverage. But sometimes it’s fun to take a peek at the stories behind the raises and dig deeper into the numbers.

So here we go.

Jeff Bezos’ investment fund is backing a startup hoping to be the AWS for SMB accounting

First off, San Francisco-based Pilot — which has a mission of affordably providing back-office services such as bookkeeping to startups and SMBs — apparently had term sheets that offered “2x the $40M” raised in its Series B. But it chose not to raise so much capital. 

I also heard that the same investor that ended up leading a now defunct competitor’s $60 million raise first asked to invest $60 million in Pilot as a follow-on to that Series B prior to making the other investment. While I don’t know for sure, I can only presume that what is being referred to is ScaleFactor’s $60 million Series C raise in August 2019 that was led by Coatue Management. (ScaleFactor crashed and burned last year.)

According to CFO Paul Jun: “There were many periods when Pilot turned away new customers and growth capital instead of absolutely maximizing short-term growth…Pilot prioritized building the foundational investments needed for scalability, reliability and high velocity. When it was presented with the opportunity for additional funding towards further growth in 2019, it declined to do so.”

Co-founder and CEO Waseem Daher elaborates, pointing out that the first company that Pilot’s founding team ran, Ksplice, was bootstrapped before getting acquired by Oracle in 2011. (It’s also worth noting that the founding team are all MIT computer scientists.)

“Ultimately, the reason to raise money is you believe that you can deploy the capital, to grow the company or to basically cause the company to grow at the rate you’d like to grow. And it doesn’t make sense to raise money if you don’t need it, or don’t have a good plan for what to do with it,” Daher told TechCrunch. “Too much capital can be bad because it sort of leads you to bad habits…When you have the money, you spend the money.”

So despite what he describes as “a great deal of institutional interest” in 2019, Pilot opted to raise just $40 million, instead of $80 million to $100 million, because it was the amount of capital the company had confidence that it could deploy successfully.

Pilot CEO Waseem Daher tears down his company’s $60M Series C pitch deck

Also, Jun shared some numbers beyond the recent raise amount and valuation.

  • The company has tripled revenue every year since inception, except for 2020 when it doubled revenue.
  • Pilot claims to have had a cash burn of $800,000 per month in 2020 against a starting balance of $40 million.
  • The startup touts a 60% GAAP gross margin. Daher notes: “We feel really good about having long-term unit economics that will work for this business without resorting to offshoring or outsourcing in a way that could compromise quality and compromise relationships.”

Bottom line is companies don’t have to accept all the capital that’s offered to them. And maybe in some cases, they shouldn’t.

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Wed, 14 Apr 2021 12:57:17 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Finance Funding Fundings & Exits Recent Funding Startups TC Venture Capital Bezos Expeditions Bookkeeping Fintech Index Ventures Jeff Bezos MIT Pilot San Francisco Startup Waseem Daher Whale Rock Capital
Inside the US’ epic first-quarter venture capital results http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/HVL45cZNIjw/ It’s no surprise that the venture capital market was incredibly active in the United States during the first quarter of 2021, but precisely how strong has only recently become clear. This morning, we’re digging into the data.

According to a report from PitchBook, venture capitalists unleashed a wave of capital in the first three months of the year. So much, in fact, that funding in the United States nearly doubled compared to the same quarter of 2020.

We’ll dig into specific numbers and trends regarding aggregate venture capital results in a moment, but what stood out the most while digesting the Q1 dataset was how strong VC results appeared across different states; a solo late-stage boom the quarter was not.

Seed deal volume appeared strong and early-stage venture capital activity could reach new highs in 2021, but late-stage venture capital activity in the United States is already setting records in both deal count and invested dollars.


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money.

Read it every morning on Extra Crunch or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


We’ll parse the headline numbers and then dive into seed and super late-stage data with the help of Sarah Kunst of Cleo Capital, Jenny Lefcourt of Freestyle Capital, Iris Choi of Floodgate and Laela Sturdy of CapitalG.

With their help, we’ll contextualize the numbers and weave anecdotal observations into what the charts and graphs tell us. Especially in the case of seed data, which is famously laggy, added context is crucial. Let’s go!

A Q1 overview

According to PitchBook’s report, some 3,987 venture capital rounds were closed in the United States during Q1 2021. Those deals were worth $69 billion, a figure up nearly 93% from 2020’s first-quarter results.

In broad strokes, the United States had a crushing venture capital start to the new year, pandemic be damned. That is especially true when we consider 2020’s full-year figures. Last year, venture capitalists deployed some $166 billion into U.S.-based startups across 12,546 rounds. In contrast, if the first quarter’s pace was maintained during the rest of 2021, the United States would see around 16,000 rounds worth around $280 billion.

Of course, we cannot see the future, so those projections are merely shared to underscore how active the first quarter proved to be; we’ll have to wait for at least another quarter’s data to confidently predict full-year records for 2021.

Powering the rapid start to the venture capital year was a holistic boom: Seed deal volume is forecasted to have set a multiyear high, perhaps matching the historically strong Q2 2018 period. Early-stage venture capital during Q1 2021 was also robust, with $14.5 billion deployed across 1,170 rounds. Both numbers set a pace for fresh records in 2021.

Then there was late-stage dealmaking, which soared in the first quarter. In 2020, late-stage venture capital deals were worth $111.4 billion raised from 3,504 rounds. In the first quarter of 2021, some $51.9 billion was invested into late-stage startups across 1,291 deals.

Valuations and round sizes continued to rise across the board. If there was a better time to raise a big whack of venture capital as a U.S.-based startup, we cannot recall it. And the data seems to scream that the good times are now as good, or gooder, than ever. ]]> Wed, 14 Apr 2021 11:39:35 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits Private Equity Startups Venture Capital EC News Analysis EC Newsletter Pitchbook The Exchange Pale Blue Dot aims to be Europe’s premier early-stage climate investor and has $100 million to prove it http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/HvrOQgGCglQ/ When Hampus Jakobsson, Heidi Lindvall, and Joel Larsson, all well-known players in the European venture ecosystem, began talking about their new firm Pale Blue Dot, they began by looking at the problems with venture capital.

For the three entrepreneurs and investors, whose resumes included co-founding companies and accelerators like The Astonishing Tribe (Jakobsson) and Fast Track Malmö (Lindvall and Larsson) and working as a venture partner at BlueYard Capital (Jakobsson again), the problems were clear.

Their first thesis was that all investment funds should be impact funds, and be taking into account ways to effect positive change; their second thesis was that since all funds should be impact funds, what would be their point of differentiation — that is, where could they provide the most impact.

The three young investors hit on climate change as the core mission and ran with it.

As it was closing on €53 million ($63.3 million) last year, the firm also made its first investments in Phytoform, a London headquartered company creating new crops using computational biology and synbio; Patch, a San Francisco-based carbon-offsetting platform that finances both traditional and frontier “carbon sequestration” methods; and 20tree.ai, an Amsterdam-based startup, using machine learning and satellite data to understand trees to lower the risk of forest fires and power outages.

Pale Blue Dot is a new early-stage fund backing ‘climate-focused’ startups in Europe

Now they’ve raised another €34 million and seven more investments on their path to doing between 30 and 35 deals.

These investments primarily focus on Europe and include Veat, a European vegetarian prepared meal company; Madefrom, a still-in-stealth company angling to make everyday products more sustainable; HackYourCloset, a clothing rental company leveraging fast fashion to avoid landfilling clothes; Hier, a fresh food delivery service; Cirplus, a marketplace for recycled plastics trading; and Overstory, which aims to prevent wildfires by giving utilities a view into vegetation around their assets. 

The team expects to be primarily focused on Europe, with a few opportunistic investments in the U.S., and intends to invest in companies that are looking to change systems rather than directly affect consumer behavior. For instance, a Pale Blue Dot investment likely wouldn’t include e-commerce filters for more sustainable shopping, but potentially could include investments in sustainable consumer products companies.

The size of the firm’s commitments will range up to €1 million and will look to commit to a lot of investments. That’s by design, said Jakobsson. “Climate is so many different fields that we didn’t want to do 50% of the fund in food or 50% of the fund in materials,” he said. Also, the founders know their skillsets, which are primarily helping early stage entrepreneurs scale and making the right connections to other investors that can add value.

“In every deal we’ve gotten in co-investors that add particular, amazing, value while we still try to be the shepherds and managers and sherpas,” Jakobsson said. “We’re the ones that are going to protect the founder from the hell-rain of investor opinions.”

Another point of differentiation for the firm are its limited partners. Jakobsson said they rejected capital from oil companies in favor of founders and investors from the tech community that could add value. These include Prima Materia, the investment vehicle for Spotify founder Daniel Ek; the founders of Supercell, Zendesk, TransferWise and DeliveryHero are also backing the firm. So too, is Albert Wenger, a managing partner at Union Square Ventures.

The goal, simply, is to be the best early stage climate fund in Europe.

“We want to be the European climate fund,” Lindvall said. “This is where we can make most of the difference.” 

European VC firm Pale Blue Dot plans to fund 40 ‘planet-positive’ startups

]]> Wed, 14 Apr 2021 08:49:58 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs TC Albert Wenger Amsterdam BlueYard Capital Corporate Finance Daniel Ek Economy Entrepreneurship Europe Finance Food Hampus Jakobsson Heidi Lindvall Investment Joel Larsson London Machine Learning Managing Partner Money Oil Pale Blue Dot Partner Private Equity San Francisco Spotify Supercell TransferWise Union Square Ventures United States Venture Capital Zendesk Expect an even hotter AI venture capital market in the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance deal http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/zkEPrZ5z3kM/ Microsoft’s huge purchase of healthtech AI company Nuance led the technology news cycle this week. The $19.7 billion transaction is Microsoft’s second-largest to date, only beaten by its purchase of LinkedIn some years ago.

For the AI space, the sale is a coup. Nuance was already a public company, but to see Microsoft offer a firm premium over its public-market value demonstrates the value that AI technology can have to wealthy companies. For startups working in the AI space, the Nuance deal is good news; the value of AI revenue was repriced by the acquisition’s announcement — and for the better.

In light of the mega-deal, The Exchange dug into the AI venture capital market. What’s happening on the startup side of the coin in the artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) space?


The Exchange explores startups, markets and money. Read it every morning on Extra Crunch, or get The Exchange newsletter every Saturday.


To get a handle on the situation, we’ve compiled Q1 2021 and historical venture capital investment data via PitchBook, spoken to an active venture capitalist with a focus on AI-powered startups, and heard from a couple of startups recently featured on CB Insights’ list of leading AI upstarts for their take on the recent news.

The picture that emerges is one of strong investor interest and the expectation of even more in the wake of the Microsoft-Nuance tie-up. For AI startups, it’s a great time to be in the market.

This morning, we’ll start with a look into recent venture capital activity in the AI/ML market and its historical context. Then we’ll talk to Zetta Ventures’ Jocelyn Goldfein and a few companies in the AI space. Let’s go!

A venture capital rush

According to historical data compiled by PitchBook, venture capital investment into U.S.-based, AI-focused startups is enjoying a strong start to the year. Per the group’s provided dataset, from the start of 2021 through April 12, or the first 101 days of the year, 442 deals in the space were worth $11.65 billion.

In 2020, the same query for U.S.-based startups working in the AI and ML space — the line between ML and AI is blurrier than ever — turned up 1,601 rounds worth $27.49 billion. ]]> Tue, 13 Apr 2021 11:40:06 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits Startups TC Microsoft Tech Venture Capital Ai PitchBook DeepGram The Exchange ML Jocelyn Goldfein EC Newsletter Microsoft Nuance Zetta Ventures With two new funds, LocalGlobe has more latitude than ever http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/PTgIpeTMuTA/ “You wanted me to record this?” asks Saul Klein, LocalGlobe founding partner.

“Just in case you say anything interesting,” I quip back.

“I won’t be doing most of the talking, so maybe someone will say something interesting,” Klein replies poker-faced, before grinning.

Once again, I’ve agreed to an ensemble-style interview with multiple members of the LocalGlobe investment team: Klein, George Henry, Suzanne Ashman, Julia Hawkins, Mish Mashkautsan and Remus Brett. Unlike in 2015, however, when I visited the early-stage VC’s then offices in Tileyard Studios, the interview is taking place over Zoom, rather than the firm’s new Phoenix Court premises in the King’s Cross area of London.

Also in contrast to last time, when I wanted to scoop LocalGlobe’s latest fundraise and Klein rather I didn’t, this time it’s the other way round: I’ve been invited to write a piece partly anchored on news of two new funds that were quietly raised last year.

LocalGlobe, the entity that invests at seed stage, has an additional $150 million of capital to deploy in the U.K. and Europe (and further afield). Running alongside is Latitude, a growth-stage fund now with $220 million more to invest, which allows the LocalGlobe team to take a fresh look at breakout portfolio companies that have proven their growth potential or to back other scale-ups, which, for myriad reasons, didn’t take or weren’t offered LocalGlobe’s cash earlier.

“Latitude was born out of the idea of building continuity,” says LocalGlobe general partner George Henry. “When it comes to existing LocalGlobe companies, Latitude is very much building on top of what we’ve done. It’s giving us the capital to continue to invest more into those companies”.

However, the firm doesn’t think of Latitude as follow-on funding, in the classic sense. Not only is it able to back companies that LocalGlobe hasn’t previously invested in, but even for those it has, the LocalGlobe team, including Julian Rowe, who heads up Latitude, uses the opportunity to take a fresh look before writing a Latitude cheque.

“I think 80% of Latitude companies have at least one LocalGlobe partner fully engaged,” says Klein.

Internally, whichever fund the firm is investing from and at what stage, LocalGlobe frames its strategy as “insights and access”. Though no one explicitly explains what this means, I interpret it as having the expertise in the team (and wider LocalGlobe network) to understand a problem space and its addressable market, and having the access to see and then get in on a deal, should it want to.

“Of course, it’s easier to have insight and access when you’ve already been inside the company from pre-seed or seed,” explains Henry. “But we’ve [also] seen opportunities where we feel we had the insight and access because we know the founders already, we know the theme, we know the market [and] we know the investors really well. And then it puts us in a position where we feel confident to participate at Series B or beyond”.

LocalGlobe isn’t the only European early-stage VC firm to launch a separate later-stage fund, either to avoid too much dilution for the most promising portfolio companies or to opportunistically back companies later when there’s arguably less risk. Yet I can’t help wonder what the conversation is like when Latitude wants to invest in a company that LocalGlobe previously turned down.

One example is Monzo, the popular U.K.-based bank with its instantly recognisable hot coral pink-coloured debit card. “We were very aware of Monzo from the earliest days,” says Klein. “We weren’t big believers at the time in consumer neobanks. We thought the neobank was something that would work for SMEs or for business banking, where the incumbents were really not focused… but also it’s kind of typically a better business than consumer retail banking. And we took the view that consumer neobanks weren’t going to be a thing”.

Instead, LocalGlobe invested in Cleo, a financial assistant chatbot and app that runs on top of consumer bank accounts, and Tide, a business bank account for SMEs.

Cleo, the AI-powered ‘financial assistant’, raises $44M Series B led by EQT Ventures

“And it turns out, you know, we were wrong,” admits Klein, before revealing that LocalGlobe general partner Suzanne Ashman was the outlier in the team. After becoming an early customer of Monzo, she backed the challenger bank’s equity crowd fund in a personal capacity.

“When we had an opportunity later on through Latitude to get involved with Monzo, we felt it’s an exceptional company,” continues Klein. “We love the investors, we work very closely with General Catalyst, and they were getting involved with the business at the time, and with Accel. And we thought it was a great opportunity to enter”.

Another example of missing out first time around is Cazoo, the used car retailer founded by Alex Chesterman. Klein and Chesterman go way back to their time at Lovefilm, and LocalGlobe was an early investor in Zoopla, the proptech company Chesterman took all the way to IPO. Access, therefore, wasn’t a problem. Instead, a perceived conflict of interest was.

LocalGlobe had invested in Motorway (curiously, as had Chesterman), which at the time looked like a potential Cazoo competitor. No longer deemed as such, Latitude would go on to write a later-stage (and more expensive) check. Then, last month, Cazoo announced plans to SPAC its way to going public with a valuation of $7 billion, proving that conflicts of interest can be costly.

These near misses are the exception, says Klein, underlining that Latitude’s core thesis is to be able to support LocalGlobe portfolio breakouts. “LocalGlobe is about that startup phase of pre-seed and seed. Latitude is the breakout phase where things are really starting to hit an inflection point,” he says.

That is, of course, true, but it can also be argued that having a later stage fund does provide additional optionality and I posit that this could make LocalGlobe less risk-taking. With Latitude potentially able to mop up deals that didn’t happen at seed, LocalGlobe can take a wait and see approach for investments where early insights are less forthcoming.

LocalGlobe partner Julia Hawkins discusses femtech’s risks and rewards

Henry shakes his head ferociously, prompting Klein to suggest he takes this question.

“You want to get in as early as possible, because that’s the way you build the relationship… There’s nothing that gives you more credit than to be the first believer in a team,” says Henry.

“Also, in the market we’re in, you don’t want to make a bet on something that looks exciting, but you’re not sure and say, ‘it’s okay, we’ll get into Series B’. Because the reality is, the more you wait, the harder it gets to get into a great company”.

In LocalGlobe’s own (interesting) words… On capital going into private markets

“The amount of capital that is now in the private markets looking to invest in tech, it’s not just extraordinary, but, arguably, it’s necessary and important, because this is where growth comes from and this is where innovation comes from. I’ve been doing this for 20-25 years, and it took 20 years to get to the starting line. Now it gets interesting.” — Saul Klein.

On investing in regulated industries

“Opportunities in the highly regulated industries are just massive. And they were largely untouched by wave one of VC, and even five years ago, we tended not to see that many founders building in heavily regulated spaces. So it feels to me that, yes, while the base of capital has gotten much larger, the opportunity in all of these segments is now much larger.” — Suzanne Ashman

On healthcare opportunities

“We think overall, obviously, healthcare is one of the largest markets, and we are very, very bullish on that, on the opportunity at large. We’ve doubled down on specific themes within healthcare. So, for example, developing communication rails for healthcare, improving how patients get connected with hospital systems… Mental health is another enormous market and opportunity, not just in terms of market, but in terms of impact.” — Julia Hawkins

On successful exits

“You’re just the supporting cast, and obviously, you are delighted for them. But you’re never the main show. What’s lovely about being a seed investor, and then supporting with Latitude, is it is not a quick journey, and you get to know people over time, you get to know their friends, their partners. And honestly, it’s just a privilege to sit on the sidelines.” — Suzanne Ashman

On fintech’s longevity

“Over the next five years, on all dimensions, from payments to core banking to insurance, you know, we’re going to see many more interesting companies. Just when you think the market map is pretty clear, and the winners are emerging, you’ll still see these companies that emerge and completely destroy the market.” — Remus Brett

On frontier tech need for more capital

“Proper frontier tech, and foundational tech, requires even more patience and focus on what’s beyond the horizon… The available capital for proper frontier tech startups is much more limited than startups in general. And that’s something we all know and feel daily.” — Mish Mashkautsan

LocalGlobe goes ‘beyond the Klein brand’

]]> Tue, 13 Apr 2021 06:00:05 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits TC Europe London Tech Venture Capital Zoopla Accel Saul Klein Henry SPAC Cleo Klein Lovefilm Chesterman Monzo Motorway EQT Ventures Localglobe Suzanne Ashman Julia Hawkins Tileyard Studios Remus Brett Phoenix Court Julian Rowe Cazoo Saul Klein LocalGlobe Remus Brett Unlike George Henry When Alex Chesterman Klein Henry Also Austin’s newest unicorn: The Zebra raises $150M after doubling revenue in 2020 http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/42JEsBRcEIo/ The Zebra, an Austin-based company that operates an insurance comparison site, has raised $150 million in a Series D round that propels it into unicorn territory.

Both the round size and valuation are a substantial bump from the $38.5 million Series C that Austin-based The Zebra raised in February of 2020. (The company would not disclose its valuation at that time, saying now only that its new valuation of over $1 billion is a “nice step up.”)

The Zebra also would not disclose the name of the firm that led its Series D round, but sources familiar with the deal said it was London-based Hedosophia. Existing backers Weatherford Capital and Accel also participated in the funding event.

The round size also is bigger than all of The Zebra’s prior rounds combined, bringing the company’s total raised to $261.5 million since its 2012 inception. Previous backers also include Silverton Partners, Ballast Point Ventures, Daher Capital, Floodgate Fund, The Zebra CEO Keith Melnick, KDT and others. 

According to Melnick, the round was all primary, and included no debt or secondary.

The Zebra started out as a site for people looking for auto insurance via its real-time quote comparison tool. The company partners with the top 10 auto insurance carriers in the U.S. Over time, it’s also “naturally” evolved to offer homeowners insurance with the goal of eventually branching out into renters and life insurance. It recently launched a dedicated home and auto bundled product, although much of its recent growth still revolves around its core auto offering, according to Melnick.

6 VCs talk the future of Austin’s exploding startup ecosystem

Like many other financial services companies, The Zebra has benefited from the big consumer shift to digital services since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

And we know this because the company is one of the few that are refreshingly open about their financials. The Zebra doubled its net revenue in 2020 to $79 million compared to $37 million in 2019, according to Melnick , who is former president of travel metasearch engine Kayak. March marked the company’s highest-performing month ever, he said, with revenue totaling $12.5 million — putting the company on track to achieve an annual run rate of $150 million this year. For some context, that’s up from $8 million in September of 2020 and $6 million in May of 2020.

Also, its revenue per applicant has grown at a clip of 100% year over year, according to Melnick. And The Zebra has increased its headcount to over 325, compared to about 200 in early 2020.

“We’ve definitely improved our relationships with carriers and seen more carrier participation as they continue to embrace our model,” Melnick said. “And we’ve leaned more into brand marketing efforts.”

The Zebra CEO Keith Melnick. Image courtesy of The Zebra

The company was even profitable for a couple of months last year, somewhat “unintentionally,” according to Melnick.

“We’re not highly unprofitable or burning through money like crazy,” he told TechCrunch. “This new raise wasn’t to fund operations. It’s more about accelerating growth and some of our product plans. We’re pulling forward things that were planned for later in time. We still had a nice chunk of money sitting on our balance sheet.”

The company also plans to use its new capital to do more hiring and focus strongly on continuing to build The Zebra’s brand, according to Melnick. Some of the things the company is planning include a national advertising campaign and adding tools and information so it can serve as an “insurance advisor,” and not just a site that refers people to carriers. It’s also planning to create more “personalized experiences and results” via machine learning.

“We are accelerating our efforts to make The Zebra a household name,” Melnick said. “And we want a deeper connection with our users.” It also aims to be there for a consumer through their lifecycle — as they move from being renters to homeowners, for example.

And while an IPO is not out of the question, he emphasizes that it’s not the company’s main objective at this time.

“I definitely try not to get locked on to a particular exit strategy. I just want to make sure we continue to build the best company we can. And then, I think the exit will make itself apparent,” Melnick said. “I’m not blind and am very aware that public market valuations are strong right now and that may be the right decision for us, but for now, that’s not the ultimate goal for me.”

Why VCs are dumping money into insurance marketplaces

To the CEO, there’s still plenty of runway.

“This is a big milestone, but I do feel like for us that this is just the beginning,” he said. “We’ve just scratched the surface of it.”

Early investor Mark Cuban believes the company is at an inflection point.

” ‘Startup’ isn’t the right word anymore,” he said in a written statement. “The Zebra is a full fledged tech company that is taking on – and solving – some of the biggest challenges in the $638B insurance industry.”

Accel Partner John Locke said the firm has tripled down on its investment in The Zebra because of its confidence in not only what the company is doing but also its potential.

“In an increasingly noisy insurance landscape that includes insurtechs and traditional carriers, giving consumers the ability to compare everything in one place is is more and more valuable,” he told TechCrunch. “I think The Zebra has really seized the mantle of becoming the go-to site for people to compare insurance and then that’s showing up in the numbers, referral traffic and fundraise interest.”

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Mon, 12 Apr 2021 07:00:30 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits Startups London Finance Animals Funding Insurance Tech Model Austin United States United Kingdom Mark Cuban Venture Capital Machine Learning Life Insurance Financial Services Accel Auto Insurance Silverton Partners The Zebra John Locke Ballast Point Ventures Melnick Zebra Connect Insurtech Hedosophia Keith Melnick Recent Funding KDT Floodgate Fund Weatherford Capital Hedosophia Existing
Let’s talk about gaslighting and fundraising http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/7FXNK9gJntU/ “Most of the startups I give advice to about how to raise venture capital shouldn’t be raising venture capital,” an investor recently told me. While the idea that every startup isn’t venture-backable might run counter to the narrative to the barrage of funding news each week, I think it’s important to double click on the topic. Plus, it keeps coming up, off the record, on phone calls with investors!

As venture grows as an asset class, the access to capital has broadened from a dollar perspective, but I do think the difficulties that remain is an important dynamic to call out (and something no one talks about during an upmarket). Beyond the fact that only a small subset of startups truly can pull off scaling to the point of venture-level returns, it is still hard for even qualified founders to raise venture capital. Venture capital is still a heavily white, male-led industry, and as a result contains bias that disproportionately limits access for underrepresented founders.

Eniac founding partner Hadley Harris applied this dynamic to the current market boom in a recent tweet: A lot of people are misunderstanding this VC funding market. More money is flowing into the market but the increase is not evenly distributed. The market believes winners can be much bigger but not necessary that there will be more winners. It’s still very hard for most to raise a VC.

To say otherwise is to gaslight the early-stage or first-time founders that have spent months and months trying to raise their first institutional dollars and failed. So ask yourself: Seed rounds have indeed grown bigger, but for who? What comes at the cost of the $30 million seed round? Are the founders that can raise overnight from diverse backgrounds? Are investors backing first-time founders as much as they are backing second- or third-time entrepreneurs?

The answers might leave you debating about the boundaries, and limitations, of the upcoming hot-deal summer.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the disconnect between due diligence and fundraising right now. Now we’ve moved onto the disconnect, and bifurcation, within first-check fundraising itself. There is so much more we can get into about the fallacy of “democratization” in venture capital, from who gets to start a rolling fund to the lack of assurance within equity crowdfunding campaigns.

The disconnect between Y Combinator Demo Day and due diligence

We’ll get through it all together, and in the meantime make sure to follow me on Twitter @nmasc_ for more hot takes throughout the week.

In the rest of this newsletter, we will talk about fintech politics, the Affirm model with a twist, and sneakers-as-a-service.

Ex-Coinbase talks politics

The inimitable Mary Ann Azevedo has been dominating the fintech beat for us, covering everything from the latest Uruguayan unicorn to Acorn’s scoop of a debt management startup. But the story I want to focus on this week is her interview with ex-Coinbase counsel & former Treasury official, Brian Brooks.

Here’s what to know: Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong notoriously released a memo last year denouncing political activism at work, calling it a distraction. In this exclusive interview, Brooks spoke about how blockchain is the answer to financial inclusion, and argued why politics needs to be taken out of tech.

We don’t want bank CEOs making those decisions for us as a society, in terms of who they choose to lend money to, or not. We need to take the politics out of tech. All of us do a lot of different things, and we have no idea on a given day, whether what we’re doing is popular with our neighbors or popular with our bank president or not. I don’t want the fact that I sometimes feel Republican to be a reason why my local bank president can deny me a mortgage.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

The Affirm for X model

While Affirm may have popularized the “buy now, pay later” model, the consumer-friendly business strategy still has room to be niched down into specific subsectors. I ran into one such startup when covering Plaid’s inaugural cohort of startups in its accelerator program.

Here’s what to know: Walnut is a new seed-stage startup that is a point-of-sale loan company with a healthcare twist. Unlike Affirm, it doesn’t make money off of fees charged to consumers.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Everything you could ever want to know about StockX

In our latest EC-1, reporter Rae Witte has covered a startup that leads one of the most complex and culturally relevant marketplaces in the world: sneakers.

The StockX EC-1

Here’s what to know: StockX, in her words, has built a stock market of hype, and her series goes into its origin story, authentication processes and a market map.

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Around TechCrunch

Found, a new podcast joining the TechCrunch network, has officially launched! The Equity team got a behind-the-scenes look at what triggered the new podcast, the first guests and goals of the show. Make sure to tune into the first episode.

Saying hello to TechCrunch’s newest podcast: Found

Also, if you run into any paywalls while browsing today’s newsletter, make sure to use discount code STARTUPSWEEKLY to get 25% off an annual or two-year Extra Crunch subscription.

Across the week

Seen on TechCrunch

Okta launches a new free developer plan

New Jersey announces $10M seed fund aimed at Black and Latinx founders

Education nonprofit Edraak ignored a student data leak for two months

6 VCs talk the future of Austin’s exploding startup ecosystem

Dear Sophie: Help! My H-1B wasn’t chosen!

Seen on Extra Crunch

5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand

How we dodged risks and raised millions for our open-source machine language startup

Giving EV batteries a second life for sustainability and profit

And that’s a wrap! Thanks for making it this far, and now I dare you to go make the most out of the rest of your day. And by make the most, I mean listen to Taylor’s Version.

Warmly,

N

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Sat, 10 Apr 2021 14:00:15 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Marketplace Tech Austin New Jersey Fundraising Healthcare Venture Capital Treasury EC Taylor Equity Fintech Coinbase Affirm Founder Advice Early Stage Walnut Brooks ACORN ENIAC Bryce Durbin StockX Brian Armstrong Brian Brooks Hadley Harris Mary Ann Azevedo Startups Weekly Edraak Rae Witte BNPL Nigel Sussman TechCrunch Okta Klarna Affirm Inside Affirm 's IPO
Scale CEO Alex Wang and Accel’s Dan Levine explain why sometimes unconventional VC deals are best http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/Ye64BIG4SuU/ Few companies have done better than Scale at spotting a need in the AI gold rush early on and filling that gap. The startup rightly identified that one of the tasks most important to building effective AI at scale — the laborious exercise of tagging data sets to make them usable in properly training new AI agents — was one that companies focused on that area of tech would also be most willing to outsource. CEO and co-founder Alex Wang credits their success since founding, which includes raising over $277 million and achieving break-even status in terms of revenue, to early support from investors including Accel’s Dan Levine.

Accel haș participated in four of Scale’s financing rounds, which is all of them unless you include the funding from YC the company secured as part of a cohort in 2016. In fact, Levine wrote one of the company’s very first checks. So on this past week’s episode of Extra Crunch Live, we spoke with Levine and Wang about how that first deal came together, and what their working relationship has been like in the years since.

Scale’s story starts with a pivot, and with a bit of rule-breaking, too — Wang went off the typical YC book by speaking to investors prior to demo day when Levine cold-emailed him after seeing Scale on Product Hunt. The Product Hunt spot wasn’t planned, either — Wang was as surprised to see his company there as anyone else. But Levine saw the kernel of something with huge potential, and despite being a relative unknown in VC at the time, didn’t want to let the opportunity pass him, or Wang, by.

Both Wang and Levine were also able to provide some great feedback on decks submitted to our regular Pitch Deck Teardown segment, despite the fact that Levine actually never saw a pitch deck from Wang before investing (more on that later). If you’d like your pitch deck reviewed by experienced founders and investors on a future episode, you can submit your deck here.

Knowing when to bend the rules

As mentioned, Levine and Accel’s initial investment in Scale came from a cold email sent after the company appeared on Product Hunt. Wang said the team had just put out an early version of Scale, and then noticed that it was up on Product Hunt — it was submitted by someone else. The community response was encouraging, and it also led to Levine reaching out via email.

“One of the side effects of that, one of the outcomes, was that we got this cold email from Dan,” he said. “We really knew nothing about Dan until his cold email. So like many great stories that started with a bold, cold email. And we were pretty stressed about it at the time, because in YC, they tell you pretty definitively, ‘Hey, don’t talk to a VC during the batch,’ and we were squarely in the middle of the batch.”

Wang and the team were so nervous that they even considered “ghosting” Dan despite his obvious interest and the prestige of Accel as an investment firm. In the end, they decided to “go rogue” and respond, which led to a meeting at the Accel offices in Palo Alto.

]]> Fri, 09 Apr 2021 18:47:20 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Y Combinator Technology Tech Artificial Intelligence Venture Capital Tiger Global Product Hunt Accel Pitching Dan Levine Wang Dan Levine Alex Wang Extra Crunch Live EC How To Accel s Dan Levine Accel Product Hunt Wang Extra Crunch roundup: StockX EC-1, Early Stage recaps, unpacking Alkami’s IPO, more http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/-Y1muGzTRJI/ Over the last few days, we’ve published several articles recapping panels from last week’s TechCrunch Early Stage virtual conference.

Each story is based on an interview with a founder or investor who addressed some of the most common startup dilemmas. Predictably, they’re mostly focused on the how and why:

How do I get into an accelerator? When should I hire a sales team? What’s the best way to earn attention from investors?

TechCrunch reporter Natasha Mascarenhas interviewed Kleiner Perkins partner Bucky Moore to get sector-agnostic advice for founders who are ready to raise a Series A.

Their conversation isn’t a rehash of basic best practices — Moore says the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way he does business: “I actually believe that first meetings over Zoom are here to stay; I think it’s far more efficient.”

I’m looking forward to the eventual return of live TechCrunch events, but each Early Stage recap includes video and a complete transcript. As ever, full articles are available for Extra Crunch members.

Thanks very much for reading — I hope you have a fantastic weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

So you want to raise a Series A


Full Extra Crunch articles are only available to members
Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription


The StockX EC-1

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

Have you ever bought a pig in a poke?

It’s a saying from medieval times: A farmer traveling on an unfamiliar road agrees to buy a baby pig in a bag from a passing stranger. Unfortunately, when the farmer gets back to their hut and opens the sack, there’s a kitten inside.

The risk of getting stuck with a counterfeit item when buying online is real, especially when it comes to sneakers, jewelry and other designer products. That’s why online marketplace StockX created a rigorous product verification and authentication process.

To date, its users have conducted more than 10 million transactions for sneakers, handbags, streetwear, watches and other high-end items that are often produced in limited quantities.

StockX’s prices are regulated and all transactional data is transparent, factors that have combined to help the platform reach a $2.8 billion valuation.

In a four-part series that dropped this week, Extra Crunch analyzes this “foundational new category of market” that began as a hobbyist’s sneaker price chart.

The StockX EC-1

Will Topps’ SPAC-led debut expand the bustling NFT market?

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

Yes, the baseball card company is going public in a debut that could easily be read as a way to put money into the NFT craze without actually having to buy cryptocurrencies.

Will Topps’ SPAC-led debut expand the bustling NFT market?

Digging into the Alkami Technology IPO

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

It appears that the slowdown in tech debuts is not a complete freeze; despite concerning news regarding the IPO pipeline, some deals are chugging ahead.

Alkami Technology joins a list that includes Coinbase’s impending direct listing and Robinhood’s expected IPO.

Texas-based Alkami Technology is a software company that delivers its product to banks via the cloud, so it’s not a legacy player scraping together an IPO during boom times.

Let’s dig into the latest SEC filing from the software unicorn.

Digging into the Alkami Technology IPO

Chinese startups rush to bring alternative protein to people’s plates

Image Credits: TechCrunch

Last year could well have been the dawn of alternative protein in China. More than 10 startups raised capital to make plant-based protein for a country with increasing meat demand. Of these, Starfield, Hey Maet, Vesta and Haofood have been around for about a year; ZhenMeat was founded three years ago; and Green Monday is a nine-year-old Hong Kong firm pushing into mainland China.

The competition intensified further last year when American incumbents Beyond Meat and Eat Just entered China.

Although some investors worry the sudden boom of meat-substitute startups could turn into a bubble, others believe the market is far from saturated.

Chinese startups rush to bring alternative protein to people’s plates

LG’s exit from the smartphone market comes as no surprise

Image Credits: Joan Cros/NurPhoto/Getty Images

For those who follow the space, LG will be remembered fondly as a smartphone trailblazer. For well over a decade, the company was a major player in the Android category and a driving force behind a number of innovations that have since become standard.

LG continued pushing envelopes — albeit to mixed effect. But in the end, the company just couldn’t keep up.

This week, the South Korean electronics giant announced it will be getting out of the “incredibly competitive” category, choosing instead to focus on its myriad other departments.

LG’s exit from the smartphone market comes as no surprise

Giving EV batteries a second life for sustainability and profit

Batteries and electric vehicles on a blackboard

Image Credits: Getty Images

Electric cars and trucks seem to have everything going for them: They don’t produce tailpipe emissions, they’re quieter than their fossil-fuel-powered counterparts and the underlying architecture allows for roomier and often sleeker designs.

But the humble lithium-ion battery powering these cars and trucks leads a difficult life. Irregular charging and discharge rates, intense temperatures and many partial charge cycles cause these batteries to degrade in the first five to eight years of use, and, eventually, they end up in a recycling facility.

Instead of sending batteries straight to recycling for raw material recovery — and leaving unrealized value on the table — startups and automakers are finding ways to reuse batteries as part of a small and growing market.

Giving EV batteries a second life for sustainability and profit

How to kick the 10 worst startup habits with Fuel Capital’s Leah Solivan

Image Credits: Meg Messina

Fuel Capital General Partner Leah Solivan joined us at TechCrunch Early Stage 2021 to explain how to avoid early mistakes in building your startup.

Solivan has ample experience on both sides of the fence, as she founded TaskRabbit and led it to exit through an acquisition by Ikea in 2017. She shared a list of 10 things to avoid in total, but here are some highlights of what to watch out for.

How to kick the 10 worst startup habits with Fuel Capital’s Leah Solivan

How founders can avoid blind spots and make better decisions with EchoVC’s Eghosa Omoigui

Football Team starting match

Image Credits: miodrag ignjatovic / Getty Images

Eghosa Omoigui, the founder and managing general partner of EchoVC Partners, has helped entrepreneurs navigate the first steps of starting a company and laying the right foundation early on.

Omoigui advocates for founders to develop their own All-22 tape — a tool used by professional football coaches that allows the viewer to see all 22 players on the field at the same time. It improves a coach’s line of sight, and, most importantly, helps avoid missing a critical motion or player.

The concept of this tool can — and should — be applied in the startup world as well, Omoigui said during the virtual TC Early Stage event. He explained what it means to have an All-22 tape and the steps founders should take to develop a skill set that will allow them to see and understand the playbook from all sides.

How founders can avoid blind spots and make better decisions with EchoVC’s Eghosa Omoigui

Building and leading an early-stage sales team with Zoom CRO Ryan Azus

Image Credits: Zoom Video Communications, Inc.

This year at Early Stage, TechCrunch spoke with Zoom Chief Revenue Officer Ryan Azus about building an early-stage sales team.

Azus is perhaps best known for leading the video-calling giant’s income arm during COVID-19, but his experience building RingCentral’s North American sales organization from the ground up made him the perfect guest to chat with about building an early-stage sales team.

We asked him about when founders should step aside from leading their startup’s sales org, how to build a working sales culture, hiring diversely, how to pick customer segments and how to build a playbook.

Building and leading an early-stage sales team with Zoom CRO Ryan Azus

The dos and don’ts of bug bounty programs with Katie Moussouris

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Katie Moussouris has been in cybersecurity circles since some of the world’s biggest tech companies were startups, and helped to set up the first vulnerability disclosure and bug bounty programs.

Moussouris, who runs consultancy firm Luta Security, now advises companies and governments on how to talk to hackers and what they need to do to build and improve their vulnerability disclosure programs.

At TC Early Stage, Moussouris explained what startups should (and shouldn’t) do, and what priorities should come first.

The do’s and don’ts of bug bounty programs with Katie Moussouris

Start your engines, TechCrunch is (virtually) headed to Detroit

Detroit City Spotlight logo over photo illustration of downtown Detroit

Join us on our next (virtual) field trip to Southeast Michigan. All lights will be shining on the Motor City.

Why Detroit? This is where StockX and Rivian call home, along with a growing stable of medical technology companies, fintech startups and security companies. The area is quickly transforming thanks to active investors, low cost of living and access to amazing universities that have a long history of supporting entrepreneurs.

If you’re interested in what’s happening in Detroit in general, are seeking out a new up-and-coming city to live in, or looking for cool companies and talented founders to invest in, then you’ll want to register and drop Thursday, April 15, on your calendar.

Start your engines, TechCrunch is (virtually) headed to Detroit

How to get into a startup accelerator

Image Credits: Techstars

Should you try to get your company into an accelerator? How far along should your idea and your team be before applying? When it is time to apply, how do you make your application stand out from hundreds or thousands of others? How fancy do you need to get with the application video?

For answers, we spoke with Neal Sáles-Griffin, managing director of Techstars Chicago and an adjunct professor at Northwestern University. He’s got an incredible wealth of knowledge about all things startups.

Understanding how fundraising terms can affect early-stage startups

Image Credits: Fenwick

Fenwick & West partner (and business lawyer) Dawn Belt joined us at TechCrunch Early Stage to break down some of the terms that trip up first-time entrepreneurs.

Belt has been involved in a number of key Silicon Valley moves, including EV company Proterra’s recent decision to go public via SPAC, as well as IPOs for Bill.com and Facebook. Here, she discusses key concepts like equity and the right of first refusal, and the role they play in the early stages of startup funding.

Understanding how fundraising terms can affect early-stage startups

Bootstrapping, managing product-led growth and knowing when to fundraise

Image Credits: Calendly / OpenView

Product-led growth is all the rage in the Valley these days, and we had two leading thinkers discuss how to incorporate it into a startup at TechCrunch Early Stage 2021.

Tope Awotona is the CEO and founder of Calendly, which bootstrapped for much of its existence before raising $350 million at a $3 billion valuation from OpenView and Iconiq. And on the other side of that table (and this interview) sat Blake Bartlett, a partner at OpenView who has been leading enterprise deals based around the principles of efficient growth.

The two talked about bootstrapping and product-led growth, expanding internationally, when to bootstrap and when to fundraise, and how VCs approach a profitable company (carefully, and with a big stick). Oh, and how to spend $350 million.

Bootstrapping, managing product-led growth and knowing when to fundraise

Four strategies for getting attention from investors

Marlon Nichols

Image Credits: MaC Venture Capital

Being a successful early-stage investor is about a lot more than simply identifying trends; a successful VC needs to think several steps ahead. For MaC Venture Capital founder Marlon Nichols, it’s an ability that’s helped him spot big names like Gimlet Media, MongoDB, Thrive Market, PlayVS, Fair, LISNR, Mayvenn, Blavity and Wonderschool early on.

Nichols joined us on TechCrunch Early Stage to discuss his strategies for early-stage investing and how those lessons can translate into a successful launch for budding entrepreneurs.

Four strategies for getting attention from investors

Setting up a management board for success with Dave Easton

Image Credits: Generation Investment Management

Viewed from the outside, board selection and corporate governance can seem like a bit of a black box — particularly at a startup.

Generation Investment Management partner Dave Easton spoke at TechCrunch Early Stage about how to build a board as a founder, and, specifically, how to build a board you can live with. Easton’s experience serving on boards as both a full member and as an observer helped peel back the curtain on the murky topic of good governance.

Setting up a management board for success with Dave Easton

Founder and investor Melissa Bradley outlines how to nail your virtual pitch meeting

Image Credits: Ureeka

Zoom-based pitch meetings became standard during the pandemic, but many investors say they intend to maintain the practice as more people are vaccinated.

In conversation with Jordan Crook, founder, investor, and business school professor Melissa Bradley offered pointers for how founders can prepare for Zoom calls, common pitfalls to avoid, and how to allocate time during the meeting.

Founder and investor Melissa Bradley outlines how to nail your virtual pitch meeting

]]> Fri, 09 Apr 2021 18:45:43 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Hong Kong Entrepreneurship China Tech Venture Capital Ikea SEC Private Equity Silicon Valley Michigan Lg Bill EC Detroit Robinhood Kleiner Perkins Jordan Crook Topps Nichols Valley SPAC Moore NFT Easton Solivan Walter Thompson Facebook Here Bryce Durbin Calendly StockX Marlon Nichols Katie Moussouris Proterra Techstars Chicago Wonderschool Alkami Generation Investment Management Northwestern University He Fuel Capital Moussouris Rivian Blake Bartlett Luta Security Zoom Video Communications Inc Dawn Belt MaC Venture Capital Natasha Mascarenhas Bucky Moore Melissa Bradley Ryan Azus Nigel Sussman Zhenmeat TechCrunch Early Stage Neal Sáles Griffin Leah Solivan Tope Awotona Extra Crunch Roundup Omoigui EchoVC Partners Dave Easton Starfield Hey Maet Vesta Haofood Alkami Technology IPO Motor City Why Detroit Alkami Technology Topps SPAC IPO Texas Joan Cros NurPhoto Getty Getty Images Electric Meg Messina Fuel Capital General Partner Eghosa Omoigui Building Katie Moussouris Start Fenwick Fenwick West Dave Easton Founder So you want to raise a Series A http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/IQEmOoWj6WA/ During a seed funding round, a founder needs to convince a venture capital investor on a vision. But during a Series A fundraise, napkin-stage ideas don’t make the cut — a founder needs product progress, numbers, and revenue (or at least a plan to eventually generate some).

In many ways, the stakes are higher for a Series A — and Bucky Moore, a partner at Kleiner Perkins, joined TechCrunch Early Stage last week to give founders tactical advice on the process of raising one.

Moore spoke about storytelling over semantics, pricing, and where his firm sees itself “raising the bar” for startups.

Here are a few key points; a full video and a transcript of the entire conversation are linked at the bottom.


Explain to investors why you are raising now

More companies will raise seed rounds than Series A rounds, simply due to the fact that many startups fail, and venture only makes sense for a small fraction of businesses out there. Every check is a new cycle of convincing and proving that you, as a startup, will have venture-scale returns. Moore explained that startups looking to move to their next round need to explain to investors why now is their moment.

The way I think about “why now” is [that] it is an opportunity for you as a founder to convey a unique insight and understanding of your market opportunity, the history of the space that you’re in, why companies have succeeded or failed in that space, historically speaking, and what are the known challenges from a go-to-market perspective; what headwinds will you be up against at a macro level. These are all things that I think people like me get really excited about when hearing unique insight from founders, because it suggests that they’ve really studied their market opportunity, and they understand it. (Timestamp: 2:19)

]]> Fri, 09 Apr 2021 09:15:33 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups Fundraising Venture Capital Kleiner Perkins Series A Moore Bucky Moore TechCrunch Early Stage Early Stage 2021 EC How To Event Recap EC TechCrunch Early Stage Highlights from Berkeley SkyDeck’s virtual demo day http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/yUS1kGvBfX8/ With 17 startups participating, Berkeley SkyDeck’s Demo Day isn’t the largest cohort we’ve seen by any stretch. The collection of companies is, however, defined by a wide range of focuses, from pioneering diabetes treatments to retrofitting autonomous trucking, curated by the SkyDeck’s small team and a number of advisors.

Founded in 2012, the accelerator is focused on developing early-stage companies tied to the University of California system. Applicants must be affiliated with either one of the 10 UC schools or their national laboratories in Berkeley, Livermore and Los Alamos. Notable alumni include micromobility unicorn, Lime, and delivery robotics firm, Kiwi.

In 2020, SkyDeck — along with much of the rest of the world — went virtual.

“While flight restrictions did cause some international founders to pull crazy hours from our home countries to participate in the sessions, virtual sessions allowed additional members of our teams to participate that would otherwise not have been able to do so,” the accelerator’s organizers said in a TechCrunch post last year. “We are also hearing chatter that Demo Day will be larger than ever before because virtual events are much more scalable.”

Attending a remote startup accelerator is absolutely worth it

The 17 startups presenting today were whittled down from 1,850 applicants, according to the accelerator. Being a member of the cohort involves six months of launch  assistance from SkyDeck, coupled with up $105,000. “In six months, you’re going to pitch on stage at demo day, to an institutional investor in your industry,” Executive Director Caroline Winnett tells TechCrunch.

Here’s a closer look at six highlights from this Demo Day.

EndoCrine

Image Credits: EndoCrine Bio, Inc.

Building on technologies developed in the stem cell research labs of UCSF, EndoCrine is looking to commercialize a better way to discover and develop drugs. Specifically, the startup is hoping to improve diabetes treatment beyond standard insulin injections.

“EndoCrine’s proprietary human stem cell-derived islet platform revolutionizes the drug discovery and development process, saving years of time and millions of dollars usually spent by pharma companies,” CEO Gopika Nair said in a statement offered to TechCrunch. “Our innovative solution opens an exciting era of personalized medicine in diabetes.”

The company says SkyDeck helped it take the earliest steps out of the lab and into startup mode.

NuPort Robotics

Image Credits: NuPort Robotics Inc.

NuPort Robotics is among the most mature of the 17 startups included here. In fact, in mid-March, the startup signed a partnership with Canadian Tire and the Ontario government, as part of a $3 million investment in an autonomous middle-mile trucking solution.

Rather than building autonomous trucking from scratch, NuPort’s solution is designed to retrofit semis with autonomous technologies.

“This results in operational cost reduction by eliminating the need to replace their existing fleet and yields a safer, more efficient and sustainable transportation system,” CEO Raghavender Sahdev tells TechCrunch.

The Hurd Co.

Image Credits: The Hurd Co.

The Hurd Co.’s goal is simple: reduce the environmental impact of clothing companies by helping to remove trees from the process. Specifically, the company creates cellulosic fiber pulp from agricultural byproducts. This is designed to bypass tree-based agrilose, which is used in the production of a wide variety of fabrics, including rayon.

“Apparel brands are scrambling for new, low-impact fabric that will allow them to meet their ambitious sustainability goals,” CEO Taylor Heisley-Cook tells TechCrunch. “We completely eliminate trees from the supply chain with a hyper-efficient process that dramatically reduces brands’ impact on the environment.”

The company says its process uses half the water and significantly less energy than standard processes. The technology was developed by Hurd’s CTO, Charles Cai.

Humm

Image Credits: Humm

I won’t lie, this is the one in the batch I have the most questions about, having seen a number of companies claim their wearables can increase memory.

Here’s what CEO Iain McIntyre has to say: “It’s ideal for activities that depend on memory, like reading, problem solving or multi-tasking. The Humm patch uses tACS (transcranial alternating stimulation) and in clinical research studies, the Humm patch saw a measurable (+~20%) improvement against placebo.”

It’s an interesting underlying technology, and the advisors — which include a number of university professors in the sciences — certainly see commercial potential. There are some lingering questions around tACS.

Quoting Scientific American from January: “The potential therapeutic effects of tACS on memory, food craving and other neural processes have been tested in dozens of studies in the past. Questions have been raised about whether this method actually exerts any meaningful changes in the brain, however.”

Definitely interested in seeing more about this one and perhaps taking it for a spin when the product ships, later this year.

Publica

As far as elevator pitches go, Publica may have the best one of the show. “Publica is Shopify for Digital Content.” Essentially, the company wants to be a direct conduit between content creators and consumers.

“Publica is a service that enables authors and content creators to have their own custom storefront to share, market and sell e-books, audiobooks and any other types of digital content with no intermediaries,” CEO Pablo Laurino tells TechCrunch. “In the era of D2C and marketplaces, Publica helps authors and content to achieve that on their own storefront, offering authors complete control over their brand and ownership of the relationships.”

The system helps creators make their own own digital storefront to sell a wide variety of products, including audiobooks and e-books. The site is already up and running, with more than 1,200 stores created by 250 clients.

Serinus Labs

Image Credits: Serinus Labs

Serinus is developing a warning system for detecting failure in lithium-ion batteries.

Per CEO, Hossain Fahad, “Battery safety is the biggest challenge in the EV industry today. Serinus Labs’ proprietary LiCANS technology provides early warning signals to prevent catastrophic battery failure in electric vehicles.”

The tech uses gas sensing to detect early traces of vented gases that occur prior to battery failure.

Our favorite companies from Y Combinator’s W21 Demo Day: Part 1

]]> Wed, 07 Apr 2021 11:01:50 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups Hardware Funding Tech Automotive Venture Capital Biotech Robotics Berkeley University Of California Los Alamos Uc-berkeley Skydeck Kiwi Ontario UCSF Hurd Humm Caroline Winnett Berkeley SkyDeck Iain McIntyre Hurd co Berkeley Livermore Gopika Nair NuPort Robotics Inc NuPort Robotics Raghavender Sahdev Hurd Co Image Credits Taylor Heisley Cook Charles Cai Humm Pablo Laurino Hossain Fahad CaptivateIQ raises $46M for its no-code sales commissions platform http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/6NnY5ILTdpU/ CaptivateIQ, which has developed a no-code platform to help companies design customized sales commission plans, has raised $46 million in a Series B round led by Accel.

Existing backers Amity, S28 Capital, Sequoia, and Y Combinator also participated in the financing, which brings the San Francisco-based company’s total raised to $63 million since its 2017 inception.

CaptivateIQ must be doing something right. While it is not yet profitable, the startup’s revenue has grown 600% year-over-year. To date, it has processed over $2 billion in commissions on its platform across hundreds of enterprise customers including Affirm, TripActions, Udemy, Intercom, Newfront Insurance and JMAC Lending.

“A big part of our growth is that we can help any company that offers a performance-based compensation plan, so we don’t have any restrictions with the types of businesses we work with,” said co-CEO Mark Schopmeyer. “We typically see conversations start with teams that have a minimum of 25 sales people, though we easily serve enterprises and public companies as well.”

The number of payees — defined as someone receiving a payout in CapitvateIQ’s system — was up four times in December 2020 from the year prior. Plus, the company had “back-to-back record months” from September through the end of the year in 2020, according to Schopmeyer.

He, co-CEO Conway Teng and CTO Hubert Wong founded CaptivateIQ after coming out of Y Combinator’s Winter 2017 cohort. 

Left to right: CaptivateIQ co-founders Hubert Wong, Mark Schopmeyer and Conway Teng.

The company touts its SaaS platform as a combination of the familiarity of spreadsheets, with the scalability and performance of software, so that users can configure any commission plan “entirely on their own,” according to Teng. 

“Calculating commissions is really complicated and mission critical – think of it like a very complicated form of payroll – each company has a unique commission plan that involves a lot more calculations and data than your typical salary payroll math,” Teng said. “Also, in recent years, companies have access to more data than ever, giving them room to incentive employees on more performance metrics.” 

Today, CaptivateIQ has 90 employees, more than triple what it did one year ago.

In 2020, the startup saw a bump in the number of non-high technology companies buying its software, and as a result, CaptivateIQ is going to increase its efforts into those other verticals, according to Teng. So far, it has found success in particular in financial services, manufacturing, and business services, among other sectors.

The pandemic served as a tailwind to its business. Sales teams generally rely on in-person interactions to stay productive, Schopmeyer points out. Without those activities over the past year, “having the right incentives in place became ever more critical as companies required new ways to motivate teams during the shift to remote work.”

The No-Code Generation is arriving

“We saw our product usage skyrocket at the beginning of the pandemic as businesses quickly adjusted incentives, team quotas, SPIFs, and other components of their comp plans to stay competitive,” he said. 

The company plans to use its new capital to improve upon the user experience. Specifically, Teng said, it plans to introduce “more powerful data transformations, a richer set of formulas, and off-the-shelf templates.”

Another goal is to automate and streamline the commissions process from beginning to end, he added. The startup is expanding its data integrations to support “all major data systems” and introducing new dashboarding capabilities. It’s also enhancing existing collaboration workflows around approvals, inquiries and contracts.

Looking ahead, CaptivateIQ is exploring the potential of applying its technology to solve for use cases outside the world of commissions — something that it says its customers are already doing.

“It’s exciting to see what people have been building, and we’re looking forward to enabling new solutions as we continue to release more of our core technology platform,” Teng said.

Accel Partner Ben Fletcher said the pain point of calculating and reporting sales commissions kept coming up among portfolio companies, with CaptivateIQ frequently referenced. Those companies, he said, tried more enterprise-grade solutions — “spending hundreds of thousands on implementation to ultimately find that their products did not work.” They also tried other newer tools that also just didn’t work well.

“As we dug in and talked with more and more customers, it was abundantly clear — CaptivateIQ was the best product in the space,” Fletcher said.

Besides ease of use, the fact that CaptivateIQ is a no-code tool, is a big deal to Accel.

“Similar to UIPath, Webflow, and Ada, CaptivateIQ is able to bring the power of customer development and automation to an easy to use, drag-and-drop product,” Fletcher said. 

]]>
Wed, 07 Apr 2021 11:00:49 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups Y Combinator Funding Articles San Francisco Tech Software SaaS Commission Venture Capital Cto Accel Fletcher Teng No Code Ben Fletcher Recent Funding S28 Capital TripActions Udemy Intercom Newfront Insurance JMAC Mark Schopmeyer Conway Teng Hubert Wong Hubert Wong Mark Schopmeyer
Ribbit Capital leads $26.7M round for Brazilian fintech Cora http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/7YVu325Rm9Q/ Cora, a São Paulo-based technology-enabled lender to small-and-medium-sized businesses, has raised $26.7 million in a Series A round led by Silicon Valley VC firm Ribbit Capital.

Kaszek Ventures, QED Investors and Greenoaks Capital also participated in the financing, which brings the startup’s total raised to $36.7 million since its 2019 inception. Kaszek led Cora’s $10 million seed round (believed at that time to be one of the largest seed investments in LatAm) in December 2019 with Ribbit then following.

Brazil’s new fintech startup Cora raised $10 million on the strength of its founding team

Last year, Cora got its license approved from the Central Bank of Brazil, making it a 403 bank. The fintech then launched its product in October 2020 and has since grown to have about 60,000 customers and 110 employees.

Cora offers a variety of solutions, ranging from a digital checking account, Visa debit card and management tools such as an invoice manager and cashflow dashboard. With the checking account, customers have the ability to sending and receive money as well as pay bills digitally.

This isn’t the first venture for Cora co-founders Igor Senra and Leo Mendes. The paid had worked together before — founding their first online payments company, MOIP, in 2005. That company sold to Germany’s WireCard in 2016 (with a 3 million customer base) and after three years the founders were able to strike out again.

Cora co-founders Léo Mendes and Igor Senra; Image courtesy of Cora

With Cora, the pair’s long-term goals is to “provide everything that a SMB will need in a bank.”

Looking ahead, the pair has the ambitious goal of being “the fastest growing neobank focused on SMBs in the world.” It plans to use the new capital to add new features and improve existing ones; on operations and launching a portfolio of credit products.

In particular, Cora wants to go even deeper in certain segments such as B2B professional services such as law and accounting firms; real estate brokerage and education.

Ribbit Capital Partner Nikolay Kostov believes that Cora has embarked on “an ambitious mission” to change how small businesses in Brazil are able to access and experience banking.

“While the consumer banking experience has undergone a massive transformation thanks to new digital experiences over the last decade, this is, sadly, still not the case on the small business side,” he said.

For example, Kostov points out, opening a traditional small business bank account in Brazil takes weeks, “reels of paper, and often comes with low limits, poor service, and antiquated digital interfaces.”

Meanwhile, the number of new small businesses in the country continues to grow.

“The combination of these factors makes Brazil an especially attractive market for Cora to launch in and disrupt,” Kostov told TechCrunch. “The Cora founding team is uniquely qualified and deeply attuned to the challenges of small businesses in the country, having spent their entire careers building digital products to serve their needs.”

Since Ribbit’s start in 2012, he added, LatAm has been a core focus geography for the firm “given the magnitude of challenges, and opportunities, in the region to reinvent financial services and serve customers better.”

Ribbit has invested in 15 companies in the region and continues to look for more to back.

“We fully expect that several fintech companies born in the region will become global champions that serve to inspire other entrepreneurs across the globe,” Kostov said.

Fintech regulations in Latin America could fuel growth or freeze out startups

]]> Mon, 05 Apr 2021 11:00:05 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits Startups Finance Germany Funding Tech Venture Capital Brazil Fintech Latin America Kaszek Ventures QED Investors Greenoaks Capital Sao Paulo Smbs Digital Banking Cora Silicon Valley VC Wirecard Ribbit Capital Ribbit Kostov Central Bank of Brazil Recent Funding Kaszek Ribbit Capital Kaszek Ventures Igor Senra Leo Mendes MOIP Cora With Cora Nikolay Kostov Here are the 100 best early-stage investors, according to data analysis from Tribe Capital http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider/~3/pditwmbCYwE/top-early-stage-investors-according-to-tribe-capital-2021-4 Hello everyone!

Welcome to this weekly roundup of stories from Insider's Business co-Editor in Chief Matt Turner. Subscribe here to get this newsletter in your inbox every Sunday.

What we're going over today:


seed 100 thumb 2x1 Left to right: Alfred Lin, Kaitlyn Doyle, Michael Seibel, Kirsten Green, Sheel Mohnot, and Ruchi Sanghvi.

Sequoia Capital; TechNexus; Michael Seibel; Forerunner Ventures; Sheel Mohnot; Wikimedia Commons; Skye Gould/Insider

Here's what's trending this morning:


The best early-stage investors

From Margaux MacColl, Melia Russell, Candy Cheng, and Michael Haley:

The venture capitalists who write the earliest checks - known as seed investors - take the biggest risks. But when they choose well, they also reap the biggest rewards. With huge profits at stake, thousands of institutions and individuals are active seed investors.

But seed investing is more an art than a science and only a few succeed regularly. Tribe Capital, a seed venture-capital firm and an investor in other funds, set out to find the top investors by analyzing data on about 1,000 of them. The result is this list of the top 100 as well as the Seed 25, a list of the top female seed investors.

Read the full story here:

Also read:


Republicans are unloading on Rep. Matt Gaetz

Matt Gaetz Rep. Matt Gaetz.

AP

From Warren Rojas, Adam Wren, Robin Bravender, Dave Levinthal, Camila DeChalus, Darren Samuelsohn, and Tom LoBianco:

Matt Gaetz was looking for a scandal.

It was March 25, and the Florida congressman responded to a tweet from the billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, who had asked no one in particular, "If there's ever a scandal about me, *please* call it Elongate."

"I want Gaetzgate," the Florida Republican tweeted.

On Tuesday, Gaetz got exactly that as reports surfaced that the 38-year-old congressman was a subject of a sex-trafficking investigation.

Not long after the news broke, "Gaetzgate" was trending on Twitter. And former Trump White House and GOP officials who loathe the loquacious Gaetz were gloating.

Read the full story:

Also read:


Nike's tech transformation

Nike Beijing Customers lined up outside the Nike flagship store on the opening day at Wangfujing Street on January 20, 2021 in Beijing, China.

VCG/VCG via Getty Images

From Shoshy Ciment:

In January 2020, just days before the coronavirus pandemic would engulf the world, John Donahoe took the helm at Nike.

The former eBay and ServiceNow CEO had a bold mission to transform Nike from a marketing-first company into a technology juggernaut. Instead of selling shoes primarily in stores, Nike would up its innovation in a push to sell more products online and on smartphones.

Early signs point to success: In its latest quarterly earnings report, Nike said it grew online sales by 59%.

But some worry that transforming Nike from a marketing company into a technology brand is too ambitious.

Read the full story here:

Also read:


A new understanding of Alzheimer's disease

alzheimers research 2x1

Skye Gould/Insider

From Allison DeAngelis:

In January, at the World Economic Forum's annual gathering of some of the globe's richest and most powerful leaders, Andrea Pfeifer was promoting her biotech company and a new global initiative to treat Alzheimer's.

During a Q&A session, George Vradenburg, the entertainment lawyer turned philanthropist, asked her a question about her work: "Is Alzheimer's not one disease?"

"It's definitely not one disease," she replied.

The once controversial idea that Alzheimer's is in fact a highly varied disease, if not multiple distinct but related conditions, is gaining traction and could unlock new approaches to treating it.

Read the full story here:

Also read:


ICYMI: Big Law burnout

From Sam Stokes and Jack Newsham:

From M&A deals to IPOs to bankruptcy proceedings, Big Law associates are busier than ever.

For some, their jobs advising financial firms and corporations just got a lot more lucrative. At least 25 Big Law firms are awarding special bonuses up to $64,000 to high-performing associates in 2021.

Recruiters and other industry experts say the payouts are an effort to keep burned-out associates from leaving after a grueling year of high-volume remote work. And some associates Insider spoke to said that, while the money is nice, what they'd really like is to see the workload lighten.

Read the full story:

Also read:


Lastly, don't forget to check out Morning Brew - the A.M. newsletter that makes reading the news actually enjoyable.

Here are some headlines you might have missed last week.

- Matt


Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: mturner@businessinsider.com (Matt Turner)]

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Sun, 04 Apr 2021 09:45:13 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Facebook Elon Musk Florida Texas Ebay America Trends Tech Nike Bank Of America Gop Venture Capital Peter Thiel Harry Potter Miami Silicon Valley Forerunner Ventures Silicon Valley Bank McDonald SPAC Beijing China Erika Jayne Wikimedia Commons Trump White House Michael Seibel Keith Rabois Tommy John Michael Haley Matt Turner Matt Gaetz John Donahoe VCG Sheel Mohnot Tech Insider Gaetz Tom LoBianco Skye Gould Deloitte PwC Tom Girardi Jack Newsham Wangfujing Street Tribe Capital Biden White House Frustrated Amazon Allison DeAngelis Zimmerman Advertising an Omnicom GaetzGate Seed 100 Ruchi Sanghvi Sequoia Capital Margaux MacColl Melia Russell Candy Cheng Jack AbrahamA Getty Images From Shoshy Ciment Andrea Pfeifer George Vradenburg Sam Stokes Matt Employees
Extra Crunch roundup: Tonal EC-1, Deliveroo’s rocky IPO, is Substack really worth $650M? http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/HIJNoYz1X-w/ For this morning’s column, Alex Wilhelm looked back on the last few months, “a busy season for technology exits” that followed a hot Q4 2020.

We’re seeing signs of an IPO market that may be cooling, but even so, “there are sufficient SPACs to take the entire recent Y Combinator class public,” he notes.

Once we factor in private equity firms with pockets full of money, it’s evident that late-stage companies have three solid choices for leveling up.

Seeking more insight into these liquidity options, Alex interviewed:

  • DigitalOcean CEO Yancey Spruill, whose company went public via IPO;
  • Latch CFO Garth Mitchell, who discussed his startup’s merger with real estate SPAC $TSIA;
  • Brian Cruver, founder and CEO of AlertMedia, which recently sold to a private equity firm.

After recapping their deals, each executive explains how their company determined which flashing red “EXIT” sign to follow. As Alex observed, “choosing which option is best from a buffet’s worth of possibilities is an interesting task.”

Thanks very much for reading Extra Crunch! Have a great weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Private equity, a SPAC and an IPO walk into a bar


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Use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one- or two-year subscription


The Tonal EC-1

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman

On Tuesday, we published a four-part series on Tonal, a home fitness startup that has raised $200 million since it launched in 2018. The company’s patented hardware combines digital weights, coaching and AI in a wall-mounted system that sells for $2,995.

By any measure, it is poised for success — sales increased 800% between December 2019 and 2020, and by the end of this year, the company will have 60 retail locations. On Wednesday, Tonal reported a $250 million Series E that valued the company at $1.6 billion.

Our deep dive examines Tonal’s origins, product development timeline, its go-to-market strategy and other aspects that combined to spark investor interest and customer delight.

We call this format the “EC-1,” since these stories are as comprehensive and illuminating as the S-1 forms startups must file with the SEC before going public.

Here’s how the Tonal EC-1 breaks down:

We have more EC-1s in the works about other late-stage startups that are doing big things well and making news in the process.

The Tonal EC-1

What to make of Deliveroo’s rough IPO debut

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

Why did Deliveroo struggle when it began to trade? Is it suffering from cultural dissonance between its high-growth model and more conservative European investors?

Let’s peek at the numbers and find out.

What to make of Deliveroo’s rough IPO debut

Kaltura puts debut on hold. Is the tech IPO window closing?

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

The Exchange doubts many folks expected the IPO climate to get so chilly without warning. But we could be in for a Q2 pause in the formerly scorching climate for tech debuts.

Kaltura puts debut on hold. Is the tech IPO window closing?

Is Substack really worth $650M?

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

A $65 million Series B is remarkable, even by 2021 standards. But the fact that a16z is pouring more capital into the alt-media space is not a surprise.

Substack is a place where publications have bled some well-known talent, shifting the center of gravity in media. Let’s take a look at Substack’s historical growth.

Is Substack really worth $650M?

RPA market surges as investors, vendors capitalize on pandemic-driven tech shift

Business process organization and analytics. Business process visualization and representation, automated workflow system concept. Vector concept creative illustration

Image Credits: Visual Generation / Getty Images

Robotic process automation came to the fore during the pandemic as companies took steps to digitally transform. When employees couldn’t be in the same office together, it became crucial to cobble together more automated workflows that required fewer people in the loop.

RPA has enabled executives to provide a level of automation that essentially buys them time to update systems to more modern approaches while reducing the large number of mundane manual tasks that are part of every industry’s workflow.

RPA market surges as investors, vendors capitalize on pandemic-driven tech shift

E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods

Elevated view of many toilet rolls on blue background

Image Credits: Javier Zayas Photography (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

This year is all about the roll-ups, the aggregation of smaller companies into larger firms, creating a potentially compelling path for equity value. The interest in creating value through e-commerce brands is particularly striking.

Just a year ago, digitally native brands had fallen out of favor with venture capitalists after so many failed to create venture-scale returns. So what’s the roll-up hype about?

E-commerce roll-ups are the next wave of disruption in consumer packaged goods

Hack takes: A CISO and a hacker detail how they’d respond to the Exchange breach

3d Flat isometric vector concept of data breach, confidential data stealing, cyber attack.

Image Credits: TarikVision (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The cyber world has entered a new era in which attacks are becoming more frequent and happening on a larger scale than ever before. Massive hacks affecting thousands of high-level American companies and agencies have dominated the news recently. Chief among these are the December SolarWinds/FireEye breach and the more recent Microsoft Exchange server breach.

Everyone wants to know: If you’ve been hit with the Exchange breach, what should you do?

Hack takes: A CISO and a hacker detail how they’d respond to the Exchange breach

5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand

Jumble of multicoloured wires untangling into straight lines over a white background. Cape Town, South Africa. Feb 2019.

Image Credits: David Malan (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Machine learning has become the foundation of business and growth acceleration because of the incredible pace of change and development in this space.

But for engineering and team leaders without an ML background, this can also feel overwhelming and intimidating.

Here are best practices and must-know components broken down into five practical and easily applicable lessons.

5 machine learning essentials nontechnical leaders need to understand

Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace

Businesswomen using mobile phone analyzing data and economic growth graph chart. Technology digital marketing and network connection.

Image Credits: Busakorn Pongparnit / Getty Images

Embedded procurement is the natural evolution of embedded fintech.

In this next wave, businesses will buy things they need through vertical B2B apps, rather than through sales reps, distributors or an individual merchant’s website.

Embedded procurement will make every company its own marketplace

Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development

One red line with arrow head breaking out from a business or finance growth chart canvas.

Image Credits: twomeows / Getty Images

There’s a persistent fallacy swirling around that any startup growing pain or scaling problem can be solved with business development.

That’s frankly not true.

Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development

Dear Sophie: What should I know about prenups and getting a green card through marriage?

lone figure at entrance to maze hedge that has an American flag at the center

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie:

I’m a founder of a startup on an E-2 investor visa and just got engaged! My soon-to-be spouse will sponsor me for a green card.

Are there any minimum salary requirements for her to sponsor me? Is there anything I should keep in mind before starting the green card process?

— Betrothed in Belmont

Dear Sophie: What should I know about prenups and getting a green card through marriage?

Startups must curb bureaucracy to ensure agile data governance

Image of a computer, phone and clock on a desk tied in red tape.

Image Credits: RichVintage / Getty Images

Many organizations perceive data management as being akin to data governance, where responsibilities are centered around establishing controls and audit procedures, and things are viewed from a defensive lens.

That defensiveness is admittedly justified, particularly given the potential financial and reputational damages caused by data mismanagement and leakage.

Nonetheless, there’s an element of myopia here, and being excessively cautious can prevent organizations from realizing the benefits of data-driven collaboration, particularly when it comes to software and product development.

Startups must curb bureaucracy to ensure agile data governance

Bring CISOs into the C-suite to bake cybersecurity into company culture

Mixed race businesswoman using tablet computer in server room

Image Credits: Jetta Productions Inc (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Cyber strategy and company strategy are inextricably linked. Consequently, chief information security officers in the C-Suite will be just as common and influential as CFOs in maximizing shareholder value.

Bring CISOs into the C-suite to bake cybersecurity into company culture

How is edtech spending its extra capital?

an adult hand reaches for dollar bills growing on a leafless tree

Image Credits: Tetra Images (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Edtech unicorns have boatloads of cash to spend following the capital boost to the sector in 2020. As a result, edtech M&A activity has continued to swell.

The idea of a well-capitalized startup buying competitors to complement its core business is nothing new, but exits in this sector are notable because the money used to buy startups can be seen as an effect of the pandemic’s impact on remote education.

But in the past week, the consolidation environment made a clear statement: Pandemic-proven startups are scooping up talent — and fast.

How is edtech spending its extra capital?

Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia

Aerial view of crowd connected by lines

Image Credits: Orbon Alija  (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Knowledge transfer is not the only trend flowing in the U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus. Competition is afoot as well.

Because of similar market conditions, Asian tech giants are directly expanding into Mexico and other LatAm countries.

Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia

 

How we improved net retention by 30+ points in 2 quarters

Sparks coming off US dollar bill attached to jumper cables

Image Credits: Steven Puetzer (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There’s certainly no shortage of SaaS performance metrics leaders focus on, but NRR (net revenue retention) is without question the most underrated metric out there.

NRR is simply total revenue minus any revenue churn plus any revenue expansion from upgrades, cross-sells or upsells. The greater the NRR, the quicker companies can scale.

How our SaaS startup improved net revenue retention by more than 30 points in two quarters

5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox

BRAZIL - 2021/03/24: In this photo illustration a Roblox logo seen displayed on a smartphone. (Photo Illustration by Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Image Credits: SOPA Images (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Even the most experienced and talented game designers from the mobile F2P business usually fail to understand what features matter to Robloxians.

For those just starting their journey in Roblox game development, these are the most common mistakes gaming professionals make on Roblox.

5 mistakes creators make building new games on Roblox

 

CEO Manish Chandra, investor Navin Chaddha explain why Poshmark’s Series A deck sings

CEO Manish Chandra, investor Navin Chaddha explain why Poshmark’s Series A deck sings image

“Lead with love, and the money comes.” It’s one of the cornerstone values at Poshmark. On the latest episode of Extra Crunch Live, Chandra and Chaddha sat down with us and walked us through their original Series A pitch deck.

CEO Manish Chandra and investor Navin Chaddha explain why Poshmark’s Series A deck sings

 

Will the pandemic spur a smart rebirth for cities?

New versus old - an old brick building reflected in windows of modern new facade

Image Credits: hopsalka (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Cities are bustling hubs where people live, work and play. When the pandemic hit, some people fled major metropolitan markets for smaller towns — raising questions about the future validity of cities.

But those who predicted that COVID-19 would destroy major urban communities might want to stop shorting the resilience of these municipalities and start going long on what the post-pandemic future looks like.

Will the pandemic spur a smart rebirth for cities?

 

The NFT craze will be a boon for lawyers

3d rendering of pink piggy bank standing on sounding block with gavel lying beside on light-blue background with copy space. Money matters. Lawsuit for money. Auction bids.

Image Credits: Gearstd (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

There’s plenty of uncertainty surrounding copyright issues, fraud and adult content, and legal implications are the crux of the NFT trend.

Whether a court would protect the receipt-holder’s ownership over a given file depends on a variety of factors. All of these concerns mean artists may need to lawyer up.

The NFT craze will be a boon for lawyers

Viewing Cazoo’s proposed SPAC debut through Carvana’s windshield

Image Credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

It’s a reasonable question: Why would anyone pay that much for Cazoo today if Carvana is more profitable and whatnot? Well, growth. That’s the argument anyway.

Viewing Cazoo’s proposed SPAC debut through Carvana’s windshield

]]> Fri, 02 Apr 2021 17:54:54 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Asia Entrepreneurship Mexico Ipo US Tech Artificial Intelligence Venture Capital Machine Learning SEC EC Alex Latin America Digitalocean Deliveroo Alex Wilhelm SPAC NFT Chandra Microsoft Exchange Walter Thompson Corporate Finance RPA Navin Chaddha Substack CISO Poshmark Carvana Kaltura Roblox Tonal David Malan NRR Manish Chandra Brian Cruver Chaddha EC-1 Yancey Spruill COVID Cazoo Nigel Sussman Jetta Productions Inc Getty Images Machine Tetra Images Javier Zayas Extra Crunch Roundup Bryce Durbin TechCrunch Dear Sophie Tonal EC Garth Mitchell SPAC TSIA TarikVision Belmont Dear Sophie Orbon Alija Getty Images Knowledge Steven Puetzer Want to take a road trip with Kevin Costner? Investors are betting you might http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/O-E-V4L_Ro4/ Woody Sears has long been interested in storytelling. After spending several years in sales after nabbing an MBA from Pepperdine — and following the debut in 2007 of the first iPhone — he founded a storytelling app called Zuuka that built up a library of narrated and illustrated kids’ books for the iPhone and iPad.

Sears later sold that company to a small New York-based outfit. But Sears, who is based in Santa Barbara, Calif., isn’t done with stories yet. Instead, he just raised $1.6 million in seed funding for his second and newest storytelling startup, HearHere, a subscription-based audio road-trip app that, with users’ permission, pushes information to them as they’re driving, giving them informational tidbits in three- to five-minute-long segments about their surroundings, including points of interest they might not have been aware of at all.

The idea is to surface the unknown or forgotten history of regions, which makes sense in a world where more people have returned to road trips and parents have grown desperate to pull their kids’ attention away from TikTok. In fact, Sears’s neighbor, Kevin Costner, liked the idea so much that he recently joined its five-person team as a cofounder and narrator and investor, along with Snap Inc., the law firm Cooley, Camping World CEO and reality TV star Marcus Lemonis, AAA, and numerous other individual investors, including from NextGen Venture Partners.

Because we, too, like history and road trips (and okay, fine, Kevin Costner), we talked with Sears and Costner earlier today to learn why they think they’ll succeed with HearHere when other content-rich geo-location based apps have fallen short of meaningful adoption.

Excerpts from that chat follow, edited lightly for length.

TC: You’re creating an audio map of the U.S., so how many stories do you have banked as we speak?

WS: We’re up to 5,500 stories across 22 states, and we’ll be nationwide by summer. The mission is to connect people to the places that they’re traveling through, lending people stories about the history, the natural wonders, and the colorful characters who’ve lived in that area. We also do stories about sports and music and provide local insights.

TC: That’s a lot of content to gather up, edit down, then record. What does the process look like? 

WS: At the end of the day, the content is king, and we take great care with these stories, producing them with a team of 22, researchers, writers, editors and narrators, most whom come from a travel journalism background. We really feel like we get the best end result through that team approach.

Eventually, we’ll open up to third-party content contributors, where we’re hosting both professional content and also user-generated content.

TC: Is there an AI component or will there be?

WS: We more see this as augmented reality in that these stories really do overlay the landscape and give you a different perspective while traveling. But AI and machine learning are things that we’ll incorporate as we start to move into foreign languages and better tailor the content for the end user.

TC: How do you prioritize which stories to tell as you’re building up this content library?

WS: The major historical markers are a big inspiration, but we’re looking for those lesser-known gems, too, and we look at travel patterns — the way that people move when they’re on leisure trips, meaning what interstate highways they’re taking and which scenic routes are most popular.

TC: How does the subscription piece work?

WS: You get five free free stories each month; for unlimited streaming, it’s $35.99 per year.

TC: Kevin, you must be approached a lot with startup ideas and investment opportunities. Why get so involved with this one?

KC: Obviously I’m story-oriented; that doesn’t come as a shock to anybody. But you’re right, a lot of ideas come to me.

Hearhere came through my wife, who said that Woody had something he wanted to talk about, and as she explained it to me, I got it, you know? That’s the shiny thing for me, storytelling and having the ability for a good story to come out, especially when it comes to our country.

So we had this meeting and he explained the concept to me, which is kind of equal to what I’d already been doing my whole life, which is stopping at the bronze plaques all over the country and reading about their historical significance —  those [moments] that kind of interrupt everybody’s trip except mine. [Laughs.] You know, [it’s] getting out and stretching my legs and reading a little history and dreaming while the rest of the people in the car are kind of moaning because we stopped our progress.

This is an extension of that for me, without getting out of the car, and with stories that can evolve and perhaps get longer. And I can become more involved in what I was driving past and the people in the car can maybe sense what it was that interested me enough to stop.

Image Credits: Hearhere

TC: You love history. 

KC: Hearhere is a lot more than history, but for me, it was the history [that I found so compelling]. And it’s how the foundation was set for me to become more involved in the company and understand it a lot better and then become somebody who wanted to be a part of the founding of it.

TC: AAA and Camping World are among the company’s strategic investors. How might they promote the app and what other partnerships have you struck to get Hearhere in front of people at the right time?

WS: Camping World also owns Good Sam Club, which is the largest organization of RV owners in the world, and AAA is a giant with 57 million members in the US, and they all see this as a way to fulfill something they’re aren’t currently doing for their audience; it’s making that bridge to digital, and we’re really excited to get this in front of their members and customers.

We also have partnerships with [the RV marketplaces] Outdoorsy and RVshare [and the RV rental and sales company] Cruise America. It’s a very hot market.

TC: There have been similar ideas. Caterina Fake’s Findery was an early app that aimed to help users discover much more about locations. Detour, a startup that provided walking audio tours of cities that was founded by Groupon cofounder Andrew Mason, seemed interesting but failed to take off with users. What makes you think this startup will click?

WS: I loved Detour. I ate up both of those.

I guess where I think [Detour] missed product market fit was the number of scenarios where you could use it and also, it was competing for people’s time. We chose to start with road trips because you have a captive audience; there’s only so much you can do when you’re driving in the car, unlike when you’re in a city, where there are all kind of options to explore its history, either through physical books or tour guides, and you had to carve out two hours of your time, and it’s easy to get distracted while you’re walking around.

We want to capture the places that are along the journey and lesser known and more untold and where people have the space to engage in it. Starting as short form helps. It’s also on-demand, so you don’t have to follow a pre-designated route. We’re not taking you on a specific tour, where you have to turn left or turn right.  We’re going to surface stories for you no matter what route you take.

]]>
Fri, 02 Apr 2021 17:43:01 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC New York Groupon US Tech Venture Capital Sears AAA Andrew Mason Kevin Costner Kevin Costner Santa Barbara Calif Woody Pepperdine Marcus Lemonis Snap Inc NextGen Venture Partners Recent Funding Good Sam Club Woody Sears Zuuka Cooley Camping World Hearhere
Want to take a road trip with Kevin Costner? Investors are betting you will http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/O-E-V4L_Ro4/ Woody Sears has long been interested in storytelling. Following the debut in 2007 of the first iPhone, he founded a storytelling app called Zuuka that built up a library of narrated and illustrated kids’ books for the iPhone and iPad.

Sears later sold that company to a small New York-based outfit. But Sears, who is based in Santa Barbara, California, isn’t done with stories yet. Instead, he just raised $1.6 million in seed funding for his second and newest storytelling startup, HearHere, a subscription-based audio road-trip app that, with users’ permission, pushes information to them as they’re driving, giving them informational tidbits in three- to five-minute segments about their surroundings, including points of interest they might not have been aware of at all.

The idea is to surface the unknown or forgotten history of regions, which makes sense in a world where more people have returned to road trips and parents have grown desperate to pull their kids’ attention away from TikTok. In fact, Sears’s neighbor, Kevin Costner, liked the idea so much that he recently joined its five-person team as a co-founder and narrator and investor, along with Snap Inc., the law firm Cooley, Camping World CEO and reality TV star Marcus Lemonis, AAA and numerous other individual investors, including from NextGen Venture Partners.

Because we, too, like history and road trips (and okay, fine, Kevin Costner), we talked with Sears and Costner earlier today to learn why they think they’ll succeed with HearHere when other content-rich geo-location based apps have fallen short of meaningful adoption.

Excerpts from that chat follow, edited lightly for length.

TC: You’re creating an audio map of the U.S., so how many stories do you have banked as we speak?

WS: We’re up to 5,500 stories across 22 states, and we’ll be nationwide by summer. The mission is to connect people to the places that they’re traveling through, lending people stories about the history, the natural wonders and the colorful characters who’ve lived in that area. We also do stories about sports and music and provide local insights.

TC: That’s a lot of content to gather up, edit down, then record. What does the process look like? 

WS: At the end of the day, the content is king, and we take great care with these stories, producing them with a team of 22 researchers, writers, editors and narrators, most whom come from a travel journalism background. We really feel like we get the best end result through that team approach.

Eventually, we’ll open up to third-party content contributors, where we’re hosting both professional content and also user-generated content.

TC: Is there an AI component or will there be?

WS: We more see this as augmented reality in that these stories really do overlay the landscape and give you a different perspective while traveling. But AI and machine learning are things that we’ll incorporate as we start to move into foreign languages and better tailor the content for the end user.

TC: How do you prioritize which stories to tell as you’re building up this content library?

WS: The major historical markers are a big inspiration, but we’re looking for those lesser-known gems, too, and we look at travel patterns — the way that people move when they’re on leisure trips, meaning what interstate highways they’re taking and which scenic routes are most popular.

TC: How does the subscription piece work?

WS: You get five free free stories each month; for unlimited streaming, it’s $35.99 per year.

TC: Kevin, you must be approached a lot with startup ideas and investment opportunities. Why get so involved with this one?

KC: Obviously I’m story-oriented; that doesn’t come as a shock to anybody. But you’re right, a lot of ideas come to me.

HearHere came through my wife, who said that Woody had something he wanted to talk about, and as she explained it to me, I got it, you know? That’s the shiny thing for me, storytelling and having the ability for a good story to come out, especially when it comes to our country.

Extra Crunch members get unlimited access to 12M stock images for $99 per year

So we had this meeting and he explained the concept to me, which is kind of equal to what I’d already been doing my whole life, which is stopping at the bronze plaques all over the country and reading about their historical significance — those [moments] that kind of interrupt everybody’s trip except mine. [Laughs.] You know, [it’s] getting out and stretching my legs and reading a little history and dreaming while the rest of the people in the car are kind of moaning because we stopped our progress.

This [product] is an extension of that for me, without getting out of the car, and with stories that can evolve and perhaps get longer. And I can become more involved in what I was driving past and the people in the car can maybe sense what it was that interested me enough to stop.

Image Credits: Hearhere

TC: You love history. 

KC: HearHere is a lot more than history, but for me, it was the history [that I found so compelling]. And it’s how the foundation was set for me to become more involved in the company and understand it a lot better and then become somebody who wanted to be a part of the founding of it.

TC: AAA and Camping World are among the company’s strategic investors. How might they promote the app and what other partnerships have you struck to get HearHere in front of people at the right time?

WS: Camping World also owns Good Sam Club, which is the largest organization of RV owners in the world, and AAA is a giant with 57 million members in the U.S., and they all see this as a way to fulfill something they’re aren’t currently doing for their audience; it’s making that bridge to digital, and we’re really excited to get this in front of their members and customers.

We also have partnerships with [the RV marketplaces] Outdoorsy and RVshare [and the RV rental and sales company] Cruise America. It’s a very hot market.

TC: There have been similar ideas. Caterina Fake’s Findery was an early app that aimed to help users discover much more about locations. Detour, a startup that provided walking audio tours of cities that was founded by Groupon co-founder Andrew Mason, seemed interesting but failed to take off with users. What makes you think this startup will click?

WS: I loved Detour. I ate up both of those.

I guess where I think [Detour] missed product-market fit was the number of scenarios where you could use it and also, it was competing for people’s time. We chose to start with road trips because you have a captive audience; there’s only so much you can do when you’re driving in the car, unlike when you’re in a city, where there are all kinds of options to explore its history, including physical books and tour guides. You also had to carve out two hours of your time, and it’s easy to get distracted while you’re walking around.

We want to capture the places that are along the journey and lesser known and more untold and where people have the space to engage in it. Starting as short form helps. It’s also on-demand, so you don’t have to follow a pre-designated route. We’re not taking you on a specific tour, where you have to turn left or turn right. We’re going to surface stories for you no matter what route you take.

]]>
Fri, 02 Apr 2021 17:43:01 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Apps New York Groupon Tech Venture Capital Sears AAA Andrew Mason Kevin Costner Kevin Santa Barbara California Costner Woody Marcus Lemonis Snap Inc NextGen Venture Partners Recent Funding Good Sam Club Woody Sears Zuuka Cooley Camping World Hearhere
How Tribe Capital selected and ranked Insider's Seed 100 and Seed 25 lists of the best seed VCs http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/typepad/alleyinsider/silicon_alley_insider/~3/KukohjZDxFo/how-tribe-capital-built-the-seed-100-and-seed-25-2021-4 Jake Ellowitz, a partner at Tribe Capital.

Tribe Capital

  • Tribe Capital developed a model to discover the best seed-stage VCs.
  • It was designed to notice investors with consistent extraordinary skill.
  • Tribe used it internally to find partners, and it became the basis of Insider's lists of top VCs.
  • Read the Seed 100 list of the best seed VCs and the Seed 25 list of the best female seed VCs.

There are tens of thousands of institutions and people who are early-stage investors in the US.

Despite such vastness, seed investors are a tight-knit, interwoven community. They work together to find and support young startups, work that we see as a highly skilled vocation: From our research, we know that the best VCs perform a lot better than the average ones, and they have repeat success.

Our team at Tribe Capital is a group of technologists and engineers who harness data science every day to identify the most significant companies of our generation. We look for what we call the "N of 1" opportunities, where a company is capturing a new atomic-size unit of value - such as oil, idle cars, equity, or the friend graph - that, when captured, has the potential to catalyze an immense wave of innovation. These opportunities are easy to spot in retrospect, but very difficult to predict.

So, we wondered, out of all the investing partners available, which ones consistently spot those "N of 1" opportunities? Those are the relationships we should develop and how we should spend our time. But how do we find them?

These questions drove us to develop a model for ranking the performance of the seed community. This methodology is how we determined the Seed 100 and Seed 25 lists.

We sought out VCs whose seed investments:

  • have performed well as indicated by initial public offerings or exits meaningfully above liquidation preference, meaning returns were achieved because the companies became more valuable, not because they raised a lot of money.
  • showed early signs of future success because their portfolios have cured well at the early stage, but have not yet exited.
  • tended to reach growth stage as indicated by Series B+ follow-up rounds.
  • had well-rounded success, showing well across all attributes we measured even if they didn't have a single strength.

Our search began with a review of Crunchbase and PitchBook, two representative databases that track venture deals. The model analyzed each person's performance in about 25 areas. The total population of people who met our criteria was about 1,000. (We excluded all members of the Tribe Capital investing team.)

Of the 1,000, about 450 had enough indicators across many areas of our criteria to produce a strong level of confidence in their estimated investing proficiency.

Then, once we narrowed the list, we did our own due diligence.

Everyone has different strengths, and our model is designed to notice when an investor possesses extraordinary skill and shows a high likelihood of continuing to be outstanding.

That said, many great investors aren't on either list.

Because our model looks at funding and exits, it typically takes a few years to gauge the quality of seed investments. So we eliminated from contention any investor who is no longer active and those who had fewer than five investments between 2007 and 2020.

Women and diversity

Venture capital has historically been entirely driven by who you know, not what you know. That's one of the problems our models are designed to change. (Read: How Tribe Capital's Arjun Sethi uses data, not feelings, to choose the startups his fund backs.)

For that reason, the venture industry has been, for decades, dominated by men and has largely overlooked people of color. As a result, historical data on the performance of investors by gender or racial diversity has been difficult to measure.

By including historical analysis in our model, our list reflects the still somewhat lacking diversity in the industry today, which we expect may evolve over time. In the set of 450 people who met our criteria, the ratio of male to female was about 12-to-1. Racial data on investors was not available.

There are many excellent seed investors, particularly from a growing rank of newly funded investors from diverse backgrounds, who simply didn't have a long enough track record as of yet on enough deals, with data that could be validated, to be in contention. In future years, these successes could be expressed in our model, and we expect our list to grow more diverse over time.

All of this motivated us to share our work so that entrepreneurs at the early stage have more resources and guidance when choosing whom to partner with.

We're excited to see how the entire industry engages with the Seed 100 and Seed 25, as well as for the partnerships that are created by what we have to share with you.

Jake Ellowitz is a partner at Tribe Capital and the data scientist who pioneered Tribe's startup- and venture-capital-industry mathematical models.

Read the original article on Business Insider

[Author: insider@insider.com (Jake Ellowitz, Tribe Capital)]

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Fri, 02 Apr 2021 08:00:00 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs US Trends Startup Venture Capital Crunchbase Tribe Arjun Sethi Tech Insider Seed Investing Tribe Capital Seed 100 2021 Jake Ellowitz Tribe Capital Tribe Capital Tribe Capital Jake Ellowitz Tribe Capital
Tech in Mexico: A confluence of Latin America, the US and Asia http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/kpIeCHIoW_w/ Share on Twitter Kevin Xu is an early-stage investor and founder of Interconnected, a bilingual newsletter covering tech, business and U.S.-Asia relations.

Mexico has been known as an up-and-coming tech hub and a gateway to the Latin American market. As an investor focused on developer-centered products, open-source startups and infrastructure technology companies with a particular interest in emerging market innovation, I have been wanting to do some firsthand learning there.

So, despite the ongoing pandemic, I took all the necessary precautions and spent roughly seven weeks in Mexico from January to March. I spent most of my time meeting founders to get a handle on what they are building, why they are pursuing those ideas, and how the entire ecosystem is evolving to support their ambitions.

Knowledge transfer is not the only trend flowing in the U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus. Competition is afoot as well.

The U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus

One fascinating, though not surprising, observation was how much LatAm entrepreneurs look to Asian tech giants for product inspiration and growth strategies. Companies like Tencent, DiDi and Grab are household names among founders. This makes sense because the market conditions in Mexico and other parts of LatAm resemble China, India and Southeast Asia more than the U.S.

What often happens is entrepreneurs first look to successful startups in the U.S. to emulate and localize. As they find product-market fit, they start to look to Asian tech companies for inspiration while morphing them to suit local needs.

One good example is Rappi, an app that started out as a grocery delivery service. Its future ambition is squarely to become the superapp of LatAm: It is expanding aggressively both geographically and productwise into delivery for restaurant orders, pharmacy and even COVID tests. It’s also introducing new payment, banking and financial-service products. Rappi Pay launched in Mexico just a few weeks ago, while I was still in the country.

Rappi now looks more like Meituan and Grab than any of its U.S. counterparts, and that’s not an accident. SoftBank, whose portfolio contains many of these Asian tech giants, invested heavily in Rappi’s previous two rounds and now has a $5 billion fund dedicated to the LatAm region. The knowledge and experience accumulated from Asian tech in the last 10 years is transferring to like-minded firms like Rappi, right under Silicon Valley’s proverbial nose.

U.S.-Asia-LatAm competition

Knowledge transfer is not the only trend flowing in the U.S.-Asia-LatAm nexus. Competition is afoot as well.

Because of similar market conditions, Asian tech giants are directly expanding into Mexico and other LatAm countries. The one I witnessed up close during my visit was DiDi.

DiDi’s foray into LatAm started in January 2018 with its acquisition of 99, a Brazilian ride-sharing company. In April 2018, DiDi entered Mexico with its bread-and-butter ride-sharing service. It wasn’t until April 2019 that DiDi launched its food delivery service, DiDi Food, in Monterrey and Guadalajara — two of the largest cities in Mexico. Its expansion hasn’t slowed down since, with a 10% extra earnings incentive to lure delivery drivers.

DiDi delivery worker recruitment promotion banner outside venue

Image Credits: Kevin Xu

My Airbnb in Mexico City happened to be two blocks away from the large WeWork building where DiDi’s local office was located. Every day, I saw a long line of people responding to the earning incentives — waiting outside to get hired as DiDi delivery workers.

Meanwhile, the Uber office that’s literally one block away had hardly any foot traffic. As Uber and Rappi fight for more wealthy consumers, DiDi is working to attract lower-income users to grab market share, hoping that one day some of these people will reach the middle class and become profitable customers. ]]> Thu, 01 Apr 2021 19:46:42 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups Column Asia Mexico Southeast Asia Softbank US Tech United States Mexico City Venture Capital Tencent Private Equity Silicon Valley Latin America Guadalajara Monterrey Meituan China India Didi Kevin Xu Rappi Didi Didi EC Column EC Latin America and Caribbean Rappi Pay Kevin Xu My Airbnb Daily Crunch: Tiger Global raises one of the biggest venture funds ever http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/pUL56CNEIsU/ Tiger Global closes a $6.65 billion fund, Facebook gives users more tools to encourage COVID vaccination and iPhone app spending continues to grow. This is your Daily Crunch for April 1, 2021.

The big story: Tiger Global raises one of the biggest venture funds ever

Investment giant Tiger Global had already announced that it was raising $3.75 billion for its thirteenth venture fund, but a new SEC filing showed that it ended up raising much more than that — $6.65 billion.

Perhaps that’s no surprise, given how active the firm has been. Just this week, it’s been announced as the lead or co-lead in a $300 million round for HighRadius, a $192 million round for Cityblock Health and a $125 million round for 6sense. Plus, portfolio company Stripe is now valued at $95 billion and Roblox just went public.

The tech giants

Facebook launches profile frames that help you encourage friends to get the COVID-19 vaccine — The effort follows a similar launch in the U.K., which has apparently resulted in a quarter of Facebook users in the U.K. having seen a Facebook friend with the profile frame.

US iPhone users spent an average of $138 on apps in 2020, will grow to $180 in 2021 — That’s an increase of 38% year over year, according to new data from Sensor Tower.

UK’s antitrust watchdog takes a closer look at Facebook-Giphy — Facebook’s $400 million purchase of Giphy is now facing an in-depth probe by the CMA after the regulator found the acquisition raises competition concerns related to digital advertising.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Thrasio raises $100M for its Amazon roll-up play, appoints retail CFO for its next steps — The company has acquired and consolidated over 100 brands (and 15,000 products) selling on Amazon.

Next Insurance raises $250M, doubling its valuation to $4B in under a year — Next sells small-business coverage across a number of categories (workers’ comp, commercial auto, general liability, etc.) for different classes of workers.

Holler raises $36M to power ‘conversational media’ in your favorite apps — You may not know what conversational media is, but there’s a decent chance you’ve used Holler’s technology.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Kaltura puts debut on hold. Is the tech IPO window closing? — It appears that Kaltura was surprised that it was not trending toward a higher IPO price.

Knowing when your startup should go all-in on business development — There’s a persistent fallacy swirling around that any startup growing pain or scaling problem can be solved with business development.

Bring CISOs into the C-suite to bake cybersecurity into company culture — The information age is shaking up the C-suite’s composition.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

For VC Hans Tung, the personal becomes public in a growing campaign to ‘stop Asian hate’ — Tung and his partners at GGV Capital decided to take action two weeks ago.

ILM shows off the new Stagecraft LED wall used for season 2 of ‘The Mandalorian’ — Stagecraft, the enormous LED-wall volume ILM used to shoot the first season has since been expanded and updated to be better, faster and easier to use.

Put your city on the TC map with TechCrunch’s European Cities Survey 2021 — TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey European founders and investors in cities outside the larger European capitals.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.

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Thu, 01 Apr 2021 18:10:26 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Amazon TC Facebook UK US Tech Venture Capital SEC Tiger Global Cma Ilm Giphy Ggv Capital Tung Hans Tung Kaltura Roblox Daily Crunch Facebook GIPHY Thrasio Amazon Next Insurance
Tiger Global just closed one of the biggest venture funds ever, with $6.7 billion http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/4JRvHs1U_3k/ If you watch funding announcements as we do, you may have noticed something this year. There are a lot of mega-rounds coming together, and Tiger Global is involved in a notable number of them, often as the round’s co-lead.

Just this week alone, half a dozen companies have announced rounds that the New York-based investing giant has led, co-led, or written follow-on checks into, including HighRadius, a company whose $300 million Series C round it co-led with D1 Capital; Cityblock Health, whose $192 million in extended Series C funding Tiger Global led; and 6sense, which received a follow-on check from Tiger Global as part of a $125 million Series D round.

The firm is also reportedly reportedly in talks to co-lead a $300 million round in a five-year-old, AI chipmaker called Groq.

If you’re wondering where all that money is coming from, wonder no longer. Though Tiger Global sent a letter to its investors back in January, saying was raising $3.75 billion for its thirteenth venture fund (titled XIV, apparently for superstitious reasons), a new SEC filing shows that new fund just closed with almost twice that amount: $6.65 billion.

That’s a lot of billions, even in this market, and especially for Tiger Global, which closed its 12th fund with $3.75 billion in capital commitments only last year.

We’ve reached out to the firm to learn more, but as we noted back in January, when we caught wind of its fundraising plans, Tiger Global seemingly had a strong case to present potential limited partners.

Among its most recent reasons to celebrate, portfolio company Stripe is now valued at $95 billion, following closing a $600 million round earlier this month. Tiger Global also owned 10% of the gaming company Roblox ahead of direct listing that it staged earlier this month to become a publicly traded outfit. The company’s market cap is currently $38 billion.

In 2020, numerous of its portfolio companies also either went public or were acquired, including Yatsen Holding, the nearly five-year-old parent company of China-based cosmetics giant Perfect Diary; the cloud-based data warehousing outfit Snowflake; and Root insurance, a nearly six-year-old, Columbus, Ohio-based insurance company.

As for M&A, Tiger Global saw at least three of its companies swallowed by bigger tech companies last year, including Postmates’s all-stock sale to Uber for $2.65 billion; Credit Karma’s $7 billion sale in cash and stock to Intuit; and the sale of Kustomer, which focused on customer service platforms and chatbots, for $1 billion to Facebook.

Tiger Global, whose roots are in hedge fund management, launched its private equity business in 2003, spearheaded by Chase Coleman, who’d previously worked for hedge-fund pioneer Julian Robertson at Tiger Management; and Scott Shleifer, who joined the firm in 2002 after spending three years with the Blackstone Group. Lee Fixel, who would become a key contributor in the business, joined in 2006.

Shleifer focused on China, Fixel focused on India and the rest of the firm’s support team (it now has 22 investing professionals on staff) helped find deals in Brazil and Russia before beginning to focus more aggressively on opportunities in the U.S.

Every investing decision was eventually made by each of the three. Fixel left in 2019 to launch his own investment firm, Addition. Now Shleifer and Coleman are the firm’s sole decision-makers.

Tiger Global’s investors include a mix of sovereign wealth funds, foundations, endowments, pensions and its own employees, who are collectively believed to be the firm’s biggest investors at this point.

Some of Tiger Global’s biggest wins to date have included a $200 million bet on the e-commerce giant JD.com that produced a $5 billion for the firm. According to the WSJ, it also cleared more than $1 billion on the Chinese online-services platform Meituan, which went public in 2018.

The firm also reaped a massive windfall through its investment in the connected fitness company Peloton, 20% of which the firm owned at the time of Peloton’s 2019 IPO.

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Thu, 01 Apr 2021 14:48:23 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs New York China Russia India Tech Venture Capital Brazil SEC Tiger Global Intuit Postmates Credit Karma Coleman COLUMBUS Ohio Julian Robertson Peloton Chase Coleman Scott Shleifer Roblox Shleifer Kustomer Cityblock Health Fixel D1 Capital Facebook Tiger Global Addition Now Shleifer According to the WSJ Blackstone Group Lee Fixel Though Tiger Global
LINE Ventures merges with YJ Capital, launches $271M fund http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/0LYk4dqhe6s/ LINE completed its merger with Yahoo! Japan owner Z Holdings last month, and now the two firm’s venture capital arms have also combined. Z Holdings announced today that its subsidiary, YJ Capital, has merged with LINE Ventures to form Z Venture Capital.

The new firm also announced the launch of a 30 billion JPY (about $271 million USD) fund, which it claims makes it one of the largest corporate venture capital funds in Japan. The fund will look in Japan, as well as global markets like South Korea, the United States, China and Southeast Asia, for investment opportunities, with the aim of creating collaborations between startups and Z Holdings’ commerce, media and fintech services.

DNX Ventures launches $315 million fund for US and Japanese B2B startups

In Japan, Z Venture Capital will focus on data and AI technologies in sectors like healthcare, cybersecurity and B2B, investing in all stages of startups from seed to late-stage.

The firm will take a “sector-agnostic in principal” approach to its global investments based on local market trends, but plans to hone in on consumer internet, e-commerce, fintech and mobility companies. In the United States, it will also look for robotics, deep tech and blockchain opportunities.

SIP Global Partners announces first close of its $150M fund to bring U.S. startups into Japan

]]> Thu, 01 Apr 2021 04:26:15 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Fundings & Exits Startups TC South Korea Japan Southeast Asia US Tech United States Venture Capital Yahoo Japan Yj Capital Holdings United States China LINE Corporation LINE Ventures DNX Ventures SIP Global Partners Z Holdings Z Venture Capital For VC Hans Tung, the personal becomes public in a growing campaign to ‘stop Asian hate’ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/1pLizCeNXBw/ Longtime venture capitalist Hans Tung is a big guy. His size might just be lifesaving.

A first-generation Taiwanese-American who came to the U.S. and to L.A. specifically in 1984, it was a fraught time for the then 14-year-old. Two years earlier, a 27-year-old, Chinese-American draftsman named Vincent Chin was beaten to death in Detroit by a Chrysler plant supervisor and his stepson, a laid-off autoworker, who reportedly believed that Chin was of Japanese descent and were angry over the growing success of Japan’s auto industry. He was killed the night of his own bachelor party.

Anti-Asian sentiment may have seemed to lessen over the following decades, but it has still remained constant, and Tung as been on the receiving end of it, he says. “Growing up, I faced my share of taunts, of racial epithets, whether it was in California or Boston or New York.  I’m fortunate that I’m over 6’4″ tall and weigh more than 200 pounds,” or he might be physically harassed at some point, too.

Tung has never been more mindful of his size than now, with anti-Asian sentiment abruptly worsening last year based on political rhetoric about the coronavirus. “As COVID broke out in China, we knew that Asian Americans would be blamed,” says Tung, who flies back and forth to China routinely for work as a managing director with the cross-border investment firm GGV Capital. “We saw this with SARS, too, but it wasn’t as big a pandemic, so people were being harassed and not killed.”

Anecdotally, Tung believes life is more dangerous right now for Asians in the U.S. based on conversations with friends and family members and the worrisome headlines to emerge of elderly individuals in particular being beaten on the streets of San Francisco and Oakland and on New York subways and outside of Times Square, as happened on Monday when a 65-year-old woman was viscously attacked in a scene that was filmed by an onlooker and has provoked national outrage.

The numbers back him up. From 2019 to 2020, overall hate crime rate declined while hate crimes targeting Asians increased, as first reported by NBC based on analysis released by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino. Overall, its examination revealed that while such crimes decreased overall by 7 percent last year, those targeting Asian people rose by nearly 150 percent, with the biggest surge in New York, where anti-Asian hate crimes rose from three in 2019 to 28 last year, a 833% increase.

With those numbers seemingly continuing to climb in 2021, Tung and his partners at GGV Capital decided to take action two weeks ago, quickly settling on what they do best, which is to respond to the rising violence with their financial muscle and network. A first step was publicly offering to match $100,000 in donations to organizations that support the AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islander) communities. GGV’s move was almost immediately matched by other investors and founders eager to help, including Jeremy Liew of Lightspeed Venture Partners and Eric Kim and Chi-Hua Chien of Goodwater Capital, who are also matching up to $100,000 in donations.

Fast forward and Tung says that 11 days into GGV’s de facto Twitter campaign, roughly $5 million in donations have now been made by more than 175 founders (including Jen Rubio, Stewart Butterfield, and Eric Yuan) and members of more than 30 venture firms in a kind of partnership that is “rare to see in the VC community,” Tung notes.

It’s a great start, says Tung, who is among the 15% of Asian-Pacific Islanders who are partners at U.S. venture firms, according to National Venture Capital Association figures.

At the same time, he notes that the problem is ongoing and that more resources — which everyone is sending on an individual basis to a variety of Asian-American community groups that are dealing with a spiking racism and its implications — are needed. Indeed, to help funnel donor interest in the right direction, GGV is recommending at least five organizations whose work it believes to be making an impact. These include Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Red Canary Song, GoFundMe Support the AAPI Community, Stop AAPI Hate, and Compassion in Oakland.

Tung takes pains to note that GGV has been active in other campaigns, including AllRaise, the organization that’s bringing more gender equality to investment firms and to the board room. He says that his partners were also highly moved by the Black Lives Matter movement last spring, donating to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Southern Poverty Law Center, among other organizations.

He says that earlier movements — including an effort by investor Ryan Sarver of Redpoint last year to help both front-line workers and restaurant workers by devising a way for donors to “buy” chef-made meals for hospital staff — have been experiences from which he has learned.

One of those lessons is that when something is close enough to one’s heart, it’s worth the risk of being perceived as a “VC who is showing off” if it moves the needle.

In this case, says Tung, “so many of these crimes are treated as individual incidents and not as hate crimes,” which come with more severe penalties, he is determined to raise awareness and visibility into the matter, even if it means making himself more vulnerable about his own experience than he might be fully comfortable.

“When it comes to Asian hate, it’s such a personal matter,” he says.

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Wed, 31 Mar 2021 18:38:41 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs TC Japan New York Nbc California China Boston San Francisco Tech Venture Capital Chrysler Oakland Naacp Detroit Black Lives Matter Lightspeed Venture Partners Goodwater Capital National Venture Capital Association Jeremy Liew Ggv Capital Times Square San Bernardino Hate Crimes Chin California State University Center for the Study of Hate Pacific Islander Tung Asian Pacific Islanders Ryan Sarver Chi Hua Chien Vincent Chin Hans Tung Eric Kim Eric Yuan Asian Americans Advancing Justice Stop AAPI Hate Red Canary Song Anti-Asian Compassion in Oakland GGV Capital We Jen Rubio Stewart Butterfield Asian Americans Advancing Justice Red Canary Song Oakland Tung
Sarah Kunst will outline how to get ready to fundraise at Early Stage http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/2kT-ekIElfM/ Sarah Kunst, founding partner at Cleo Capital, has worn many hats. She’s been an entrepreneur, served on plenty of boards, is a contributing author at Marie Clare, has been a senior advisor to Bumble and worked as a consultant in marketing, business development and more.

With all that experience, she knows all too well that the process of fundraising starts well before your first pitch meeting. That’s why we’re so excited to have Kunst join us at Early Stage in July to discuss how to get ready to fundraise.

This isn’t the first time Kunst has discussed the topic with us. On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, Kunst and one of her portfolio company founders Julia Collins described how to conduct the process of fundraising.

Julia Collins and Sarah Kunst outline how to build a fundraising process

For example, there is a story to tell, metrics to share and an art to building momentum before you ever start filling your calendar. That all requires preparation, and Kunst will outline how to go about that at our event in July.

Early Stage is going down twice this year, with our first event taking place tomorrow! Here’s a look at some of the topics we’ll be covering:

Fundraising
  • Bootstrapping Best Practices (Tope Awotona and Blake Bartlett, Calendly)
  • Four Things to Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore, Kleiner Perkins)
  • How to Get An Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital)
  • How to Nail Your Virtual Pitch Meeting (Melissa Bradley, Ureeka)
  • How Founders Can Think Like a VC (Lisa Wu, Norwest Venture Partners)
  • The All-22 View, or Never Losing Perspective (Eghosa Omoigui, EchoVC Partners)
Operations:
  • Finance for Founders (Alexa von Tobel, Inspired Capital)
  • Building and Leading a Sales Team (Ryan Azus, Zoom CRO)
  • 10 Things NOT to Do When Starting a Company (Leah Solivan, Fuel Capital)
  • Leadership Culture and Good Governance (David Easton, Generation Investment Management)

The cool thing about Early Stage is that it’s heavy on audience Q&A, ensuring that everyone gets the chance to ask their own specific questions. Oh, and ticket holders get free access to Extra Crunch.

Interested? You can buy a ticket here.

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Wed, 31 Mar 2021 17:07:51 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Startups TC Money Finance Events Entrepreneur Tech Investment Venture Capital Kleiner Perkins Norwest Venture Partners Norwest Marie Clare Alexa von Tobel Kunst Julia Collins Marlon Nichols David Easton Lisa Wu Generation Investment Management Sarah Kunst Fuel Capital Blake Bartlett Cleo Capital MaC Venture Capital Bucky Moore Bucky Moore Kleiner Perkins Melissa Bradley Ryan Azus Leah Solivan Tope Awotona TC Early Stage 2021 Blake Bartlett Calendly Four Things Melissa Bradley Ureeka
Self-tour company Rently raises cash in industry ‘ripe for disruption’ http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/TheFutureOfRealEstateMarketing/~3/PZlM1BTYKh8/ Wed, 31 Mar 2021 15:49:27 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Technology Funding Radio Venture Capital Private Equity Select Renters PROPtech McCarthy Capital Rently Self Guided Tour Merrick Lackner Self-touring Startups have about $1 trillion worth of reasons to love the Biden infrastructure plan http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/5flebqHKBvo/ The sweeping infrastructure package put forward today by President Joe Biden comes with a price tag of roughly $2 trillion (and hefty tax hikes) but gives startups and the broader tech industry about $1 trillion worth of reasons to support it.

Tech companies have spent the past decade or more developing innovations that can be applied to old-world industries like agriculture, construction, energy, education, manufacturing and transportation and logistics. These are industries where structural impediments to technology adoption have only recently been broken down by the advent of incredibly powerful mobile devices.

Now, these industries are at the heart of the President’s plan to build back better, and the hundreds of billions of dollars that are earmarked to make America great again will, either directly or indirectly, be a huge boost to a number of startups and large tech companies whose hardware and software services will enable much of the work the Biden administration wants done.

“The climate-oriented investment in Biden’s new plan would be roughly ten times what came through ARRA,” wrote Shayle Kann, a partner with the investment firm, Energy Impact Partners. “It would present a huge opportunity for a variety of climate tech sectors, ranging from clean electricity to carbon management to vehicle electrification.”

Much of this will look and feel like a Green New Deal, but sold under a package of infrastructure modernization and service upgrades that the country desperately needs.  Indeed, it’s hard to invest in infrastructure without supporting the kind of energy efficiency and renewable development plans that are at the core of the Green New Deal, since efficiency upgrades are just a part of the new way of building and making things.

A Biden presidency doesn’t need a Green New Deal to make progress on climate change

Over $700 billion of the proposed budget will go to improving resiliency against natural disasters; upgrading critical water, power, and internet infrastructure; and rehabilitating and improving public housing, federal buildings, and aging commercial and residential real estate.

Additionally there’s another roughly $400 billion in spending earmarked for boosting domestic manufacturing of critical components like semiconductors; protecting against future pandemics; and creating regional innovation hubs to promote venture capital investment and startup development intended to “support the growth of entrepreneurship in communities of color and underserved communities.”

Climate resiliency 

Given the steady drumbeat of climate disasters that hit the U.S. over the course of 2020 (and their combined estimated price tag of nearly $100 billion), it’s not surprising that the Biden plan begins with a focus on resiliency.

The first big outlay of cash outlined in the Biden plan would call for $50 billion in financing to improve, protect and invest in underserved communities most at risk from climate disasters through programs from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and new initiatives from the Department of Transportation. Most relevant to startups is the push to fund initiatives and technologies that can help prevent or protect against extreme wildfires; rising sea levels and hurricanes; new agriculture resource management; and “climate-smart” technologies.

As with most of Biden’s big infrastructure initiatives, there are startups tackling these issues. Companies like Cornea, Emergency Reporting, Zonehaven are trying to solve different facets of the fire problem; while flood prediction and weather monitoring startups are floating up their services too. Big data analytics, monitoring and sensing tools, and robotics are also becoming fixtures on the farm. For the President’s water efficiency and recycling programs, companies like Epic CleanTec, which has developed wastewater recycling technologies for residential and commercial buildings.

Fables of the reconstruction

Energy efficiency and building upgrades represent by far the biggest chunk of the Biden infrastructure package — totaling a whopping $400 billion of the spending package and all devoted to upgrading homes, offices, schools, veteran’s hospitals and federal buildings.

It gives extra credence to the thesis behind new climate-focused funds from Greensoil Proptech Ventures and Fifth Wall Ventures, which is raising a $200 million investment vehicle to focus on energy efficiency and climate tech solutions.

As Fifth Wall’s newest partner Greg Smithies noted last year, there’s a massive opportunity in building retrofits and startup technologies to improve efficiency.

“What excites me about this space is that there’s so much low-hanging fruit. And there’s $260 trillion worth of buildings,” Smithies said last year. “The vast majority of those are nowhere up to modern codes. We’re going to have a much bigger opportunity by focusing on some not-so-sexy stuff.”

Decarbonizing real estate can also make a huge difference in the fight against global climate change in addition to the its ability to improve quality of life and happiness for residents. “Real estate consumes 40% of all energy. The global economy happens indoors,” said Fifth Wall co-founder Brendan Wallace, in a statement. “Real estate will be the biggest spender on climate tech for no other reason than its contribution to the carbon problem.”

The Biden plan calls on Congress to enact new grant programs that award flexible funding to jurisdictions that take concrete steps to eliminate barriers to produce affordable housing. Part of that will include $40 billion to improve the infrastructure of the public housing in America.

It’s a project that startups like BlocPower are already deeply involved in supporting.

“Get the superhero masks and capes out. The Biden Harris Climate announcement is literally a plan to save the American economy and save the planet. This is Avengers Endgame in real life. We can’t undo the last five years… but we can make smart, massive investments in the climate infrastructure of the future,” wrote Donnel Baird, the chief executive and founder of BlocPower. “Committing to electrify 2 million American buildings, moving them entirely off of fossil fuels is exactly that — an investment in America leading theway towards creating a new industry creating American jobs that cannot be outsourced, and beginning to reduce the 30% of greenhouse gas emissiosn that come from buildings.”

As part of the package that directly impacts startups, there’s a proposal for a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment, according to the White House. The focus will be on distributed energy resources, retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. A focus there will be on disadvantaged communities that haven’t had access to clean energy investments.

Financing the future startup nation

“From the invention of the semiconductor to the creation of the Internet, new engines of economic growth have emerged due to public investments that support research, commercialization, and strong supply chains,” the White House wrote. “President Biden is calling on Congress to make smart investments in research and development, manufacturing and regional economic development, and in workforce development to give our workers and companies the tools and training they need to compete on the global stage.”

To enable that, Biden is proposing another $480 billion in spending to boost research and development — including $50 billion for the National Science Foundation to focus on semiconductors and advanced communications technologies, energ technologies and biotechnology. Another $30 billion is designed to be targeted toward rural development; and finally the $40 billion in upgrading research infrastructure.

There’s also an initiative to create ARPA-C, a climate focused Advanced Research Projects Agency modeled on the DARPA program that gave birth to the Internet. There’s $20 billion heading toward funding climate-focused research and demonstration projects for energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear and rare earth  element separations, floating off shore wind, biofuel/bioproducts, quantum computing and electric vehicles.

The bulk of Biden’s efforts to pour money into manufacturing represents another $300 billion in potential government funding. That’s $30 billion tickets for biopreparedness and pandemic preparedness; another $50 billion in semiconductor manufacturing and research; $46 billion for federal buying power for new advanced nuclear reactors and fuel, cars, ports, pumps and clean materials.

Included in all of this is an emphasis on developing economies fairly and equally across the country — that means $20 billion in regional innovation hubs and a Community Revitalization Fund, which is designed to support innovative, community-led redevelopment efforts and $52 billion in investing in domestic manufacturers — promoting rural manufacturing and clean energy.

Finally for startups there’s a $31 billion available for programs that give small businesses access to credit, venture capital, and R&D dollars. Specifically, the proposal calls for funding for community-based small business incubators and innovation hubs to support growth in communities of color and underserved communites.

Water and power infrastructure 

America’s C- grade infrastructure has problems extending across the length and breadth of the country. It encompasses everything from crumbling roads and bridges to a lack of clean drinking water, failing sewage systems, inadequate recycling facilities, and increasing demands on power generation, transmission and distribution assets that the nation’s electricity grid is unable to meet.

“Across the country, pipes and treatment plants are aging and polluted drinking water is endangering public health. An estimated six to ten million homes still receive drinking water through lead pipes and service lines,” the White House wrote in a statement.

To address this issue, Biden’s calling for an infusion of $45 billion into the Environmental Protection Agency’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act grants. While that kind of rip and replace project may not directly impact startups, another $66 billion earmarked for upgrades to drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems and monitoring and managing the presence of contaminants in water will be a huge boon for the vast array of water sensing and filtration startups that have flooded the market in the past decade or more (there’s even an entire incubator dedicated to just water technologies).

The sad fact is that water infrastructure in America has largely failed to keep up in large swaths of the country, necessitating this kind of massive capital infusion.

And what’s true for water is also true increasingly true for power. Outages cost the U.S. economy upwards of $70 billion per year, according to the White House. So when analysts compare those economic losses to a potential $100 billion outlay, the math should be clear. For startups that math equals dollar signs.

Calls to build a more resilient transmission system should be music to the ears of companies like Veir, which is developing a novel technology for improving capacity on transmission lines (a project that the Biden administration explicitly calls out in its plan).

Biden’s infrastructure plans could boost startups

The Biden plan also includes more than money, calling for the creation of a new Grid Deployment Authority within the Department of Energy to better leverage rights-of-way along roads and railways and will support financing tools to develop new high-voltage transmission lines, the White House said.

The administration doesn’t stop there. Energy storage and renewable technologies are going to get a boost through a clutch of tax credits designed to accelerate their deployment. That includes a ten-year extension and phase down of direct-pay investment tax credits and production tax credits. The plan aslo calls for clean energy block grants and calls for the government to purchase nothing but renewable energy all day for federal buildings.

Complimenting this push for clean power and storage will be a surge in funding for waste remediation and cleanup, which is getting a $21 billion boost under Biden.

Companies like Renewell Energy, or various non-profits that are trying to plug abandoned oil wells, can play a role here. There’s also the potential to recover other mineral deposits or reuse the wastewater that comes from these wells. And here, too, investors can find early stage businesses looking for an angle. Part of the money frm the Biden plan will aim to redevelop brownfields and turn them into more sustainable businesses.

That’s where some of the indoor agriculture companies, like Plenty, Bowery Farms, AppHarvest could find additional pots of money to turn unused factory and warehouse space into working farms. Idled factories could also be transformed into hubs for energy storage and community based power generation and distribution facilities, given their position on the grid.

“President Biden’s plan also will spur targeted sustainable, economic development efforts through the Appalachian Regional Commission’s POWER grant program, Department of Energy retooling grants for idled factories (through the Section 132 program), and dedicated funding to support community-driven environmental justice efforts – such as capacity and project grants to address legacy pollution and the cumulative impacts experienced by frontline and fenceline communities,” the White House wrote.

Key to these redevelopment efforts will be the establishment of pioneer facilities that demonstrate carbon capture retrofits for large steel, cement, and chemical production facilities. But if the Biden Administration wanted to, its departments could go a step further to support lower emission manufacturing technologies like the kind companies including Heliogen, which is using solar power to generate energy for a massive mining operation, or Boston Metal, which is partnering with BMW on developing a lower emission manufacturing process for steel production.

Eying sustainability gains for its supply chain, BMW backs Boston Metal’s CO2-free iron production tech

Critical to ensuring that this money gets spent is a $25 billion commitment to finance pre-development activities, that could help smaller project developers, as Rob Day writes in Forbes.

“As I’ve written about elsewhere, local project developers are key to getting sustainability projects built where they will actually do the most good — in the communities hit hardest by both local pollution and climate change impacts. These smaller project developers have lots of expenses they must pay just to get to the point where private-sector infrastructure construction investments can come in,” Day wrote. “Everyone in sustainability policy talks about supporting entrepreneurs, but in reality much of the support is aimed at technology innovators and not these smaller project developers who would be the ones to actually roll out those technology innovations. Infrastructure investors are typically much more reticent to provide capital before projects are construction-ready.”

Building a better Internet

“Broadband internet is the new electricity. It is necessary for Americans to do their jobs, to participate equally in school learning, health care, and to stay connected,” the White House wrote. “Yet, by one definition, more than 30 million Americans live in areas where there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. Americans in rural areas and on tribal lands particularly lack adequate access. And, in part because the United States has some of the highest broadband prices among OECD countries, millions of Americans can’t use broadband internet even if the infrastructure exists where they live.”

The $100 billion that the Biden Administration is earmarking for broadband infrastructure includes goals to meet 100 percent high-speed broadband coverage and prioritizes support for networks owned, operated, or faffiliated with local governments, non-profits and cooperatives.

Attendant with the new cash is a shift in regulatory policy that would open up opportunities for municipally-owned or affiliated providers and rural electric co-ops from competing with prive providers and requiring internet providers to be more transparent about their pricing. This increased competition is good for hardware vendors and ultimately could create new businesses for entrepreneurs who want to become ISPs of their own.

Wander is one-such service providing high speed wireless internet in Los Angeles.

Sick of your ISP? Wander is rolling out in LA with a $25-per-month, wireless high-speed service

“Americans pay too much for the internet – much more than people in many other countries – and the President is committed to working with Congress to find a solution to reduce internet prices for all Americans, increase adoption in both rural and urban areas, hold providers accountable, and save taxpayer money,” the White House wrote.

 

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Wed, 31 Mar 2021 11:36:19 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Energy TC Real Estate Education Congress La White House Articles America Los Angeles Tech Supply Chains Joe Biden Broadband Infrastructure United States President Agriculture Darpa Venture Capital Clean Energy Electricity OECD Manufacturing Bmw Construction Biden Environmental Protection Agency Mobile Devices Department Of Energy Department Of Transportation Semiconductor Steel Kamala Harris Biotechnology Venture Capital Investment Quantum Computing Forbes Semiconductors National Science Foundation Smithies Shayle Kann ARPA ARRA Plenty Cornea Advanced Research Projects Agency Rob Day Energy Impact Partners Fifth Wall Ventures Brendan Wallace Co-founder BlocPower Boston Metal Fifth Wall co Biden Administration Heliogen Greg Smithies Donnel Baird Department of Transportation Most Cornea Emergency Reporting Zonehaven Epic CleanTec Greensoil Proptech Ventures Biden Harris Climate Grid Deployment Authority Biden Companies Renewell Energy Plenty Bowery Farms AppHarvest
Okalahoma-based Cortado Ventures raises $20M http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/NLgvbWWaZ40/ The team behind Cortado Ventures thinks there’s plenty of untapped investment opportunity in the Midwest. To change that, it’s raised $20 million in what appears to be Okalhoma’s largest venture fund to date.

The firm is led by partners Nathaniel Harding, David Woods and Mike Moradi. In a Medium post, Harding (an angel investor and former oil and gas entrepreneur) recalled how he an Moradi had been discussing the need for an Oklahoma-based venture capital fund back in 2017.

They’d planned to launch the firm — which makes seed and Series A investments — just about a year ago, and the pandemic only gave them a greater sense of urgency.

“With the pandemic threatening Oklahoma’s economy, more attention than ever was placed on the need to diversify our economy and create future-ready tech jobs,” Harding said. “There was also a sense that innovation and startups would multiply, and that technology disruption and adoption would accelerate. In fact, we contend that there has never been a better time to start a new company. Our investors sensed this too.”

The Midwest Fund launches, brings The Fund’s innovative investment strategy to a fifth market

Although the firm’s first fund only recent hit its cap of $20 million, it has already invested in nine startups including text marketing company RespondFlow in Tulsa, Dallas-based Socialwyze (which helps underemployed people find flexible work) and hybrid materials startup Mito Material Solutions in Stillwater.

Cortado was created with the thesis that the region was “underfunded,” but Harding told me it doesn’t have any geographic restrictions on investments.

“We look at companies from anywhere,” he said. “We care more about what the companies does and less about where they’re located.”

Harding suggested that Oklahoma is particularly rich in entrepreneurs with a background in traditional industries like energy, aerospace, agriculture and manufacturing. And being based in Oklahoma City hasn’t stopped Cortado from backing founders from diverse backgrounds — he said the majority of the portfolio is led by women, people of color and first-generation immigrants.

Asked whether the regional ecosystem will also need more later-stage firms to fund the growth of  successful startups, Harding said, “Funding at the early stage is often very local, but funding at later stages, once you get to nine figure valuations — you’re a known commodity. Once you’re getting to a Series C and D […] you have a global market for investments.”

Here are the top Midwestern states and cities for startups

]]> Wed, 31 Mar 2021 10:00:51 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Tech Venture Capital Oklahoma Oklahoma City Harding Moradi Okalahoma Midwest Fund Cortado Ventures Nathaniel Harding David Woods Mike Moradi RespondFlow Tulsa Dallas Mito Material Solutions Stillwater Cortado Oklahoma-based Cortado Ventures raises $20M http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/Techcrunch/~3/NLgvbWWaZ40/ The team behind Cortado Ventures thinks there’s plenty of untapped investment opportunity in the Midwest. To change that, it’s raised $20 million in what appears to be Okalhoma’s largest venture fund to date.

The firm is led by partners Nathaniel Harding, David Woods and Mike Moradi. In a Medium post, Harding (an angel investor and former oil and gas entrepreneur) recalled how he an Moradi had been discussing the need for an Oklahoma-based venture capital fund back in 2017.

They’d planned to launch the firm — which makes seed and Series A investments — just about a year ago, and the pandemic only gave them a greater sense of urgency.

“With the pandemic threatening Oklahoma’s economy, more attention than ever was placed on the need to diversify our economy and create future-ready tech jobs,” Harding said. “There was also a sense that innovation and startups would multiply, and that technology disruption and adoption would accelerate. In fact, we contend that there has never been a better time to start a new company. Our investors sensed this too.”

The Midwest Fund launches, brings The Fund’s innovative investment strategy to a fifth market

Although the firm’s first fund only recent hit its cap of $20 million, it has already invested in nine startups including text marketing company RespondFlow in Tulsa, Dallas-based Socialwyze (which helps underemployed people find flexible work) and hybrid materials startup Mito Material Solutions in Stillwater.

Cortado was created with the thesis that the region was “underfunded,” but Harding told me it doesn’t have any geographic restrictions on investments.

“We look at companies from anywhere,” he said. “We care more about what the companies does and less about where they’re located.”

Harding suggested that Oklahoma is particularly rich in entrepreneurs with a background in traditional industries like energy, aerospace, agriculture and manufacturing. And being based in Oklahoma City hasn’t stopped Cortado from backing founders from diverse backgrounds — he said the majority of the portfolio is led by women, people of color and first-generation immigrants.

Asked whether the regional ecosystem will also need more later-stage firms to fund the growth of  successful startups, Harding said, “Funding at the early stage is often very local, but funding at later stages, once you get to nine figure valuations — you’re a known commodity. Once you’re getting to a Series C and D […] you have a global market for investments.”

Here are the top Midwestern states and cities for startups

]]> Wed, 31 Mar 2021 10:00:51 +0000 BlogLikes - Find Most Popular Blogs Tech Venture Capital Oklahoma Oklahoma City Harding Moradi Midwest Fund Cortado Ventures Nathaniel Harding David Woods Mike Moradi RespondFlow Tulsa Dallas Mito Material Solutions Stillwater Cortado