Next week’s weekly newsletter will only be available for paying subscribers, but note that the following week’s edition will be available to all. This is your last chance to subscribe to ensure you don’t miss anything. We’ve dropped the price and you can now subscribe for a mere $5 per month or $50 per year. If you’ve been sitting on the fence for a while, this is the time to subscribe.
Why you should subscribe:
On Twitter a few days ago, Ryan Hoover of Product asked: “Who’s building Gusto for distributed companies? I’ve seen many of the unique challenges distributed teams face managing payroll, benefits, taxes, local laws, etc.” Based on the responses, we decided to put together an overview of the space and we’re talking with companies now for a special newsletter which will only be available to subscribers.
We’ve partnered with Terrapinn, a global events company, to feature early-stage companies that are taking part in the World Vaccine Congress Washington.
If you’re finding even a small amount of value in the newsletter, your subscription will help invest the resources to make it even better.
If you’re hiring remotely, or any of your portfolio companies are, connect with a range of candidates to fill marketing, programming, design, and operations roles in our Slack group.
Both the monthly and annual prices to subscribe will be going up at the end of April.
If you’ve only just signed up to receive the newsletter and you’re not sure how you feel about it yet, fret not. Send me an email and I’ll ensure you get next week’s newsletter.
Recent Startup Funding Announcements 💰
Polarr, a San Jose & Shenzhen-based smart photo editing platform, took 6.5 months from start to close to raise its recent $11.5M Series A round, according to Borui Wang, founder and CEO. The company spoke with 20 investors and received 3 term sheets. Wang has known the lead investor, Threshold Ventures, for 2 years, after meeting at a cocktail party in Boston and then keeping in touch. Polarr’s customer base includes Samsung, OPPO, and Western Digital. To date, the company has raised $13.5M (Series A + $1M seed & $1M convertible note).
5G is definitely very interesting. Polarr is focusing on offline edge based A.I. but we do see hybrid A.I. leveraging 5G being very powerful in the long run, basically simpler A.I. running on the phone, more sophisticated A.I. running on the server. If you’re building that solution we want to get in touch.
Implicity, a Paris-based provider of remote monitoring for cardiac implantable electronic devices, took 2 months, 4 months sooner than anticipated, to raise its recent €4M round, according to Dr. Arnaud Rosier, CEO & Co-founder. The company spoke with 30-40 VCs and received 7 term sheets. Post-money valuation for the round is around $20M. Implicity has known the lead investor for 6 months. Competition in the US includes Murj (raised $13M) and ScottCare Cardiovascular Solutions. To date, the company has raised approximately $6M.
TRIBE, a Melbourne-based marketplace for brands and influencers to connect, took about 6 months to raise its recent $7.5M Series A round, according to Anthony Svirskis, CEO. Valuation for the round was “ in the normal valuation range for a Series A.” TRIBE spoke to numerous investors in Asia, the UK, and the US, and the company saw “a few terms sheets.” The company met the lead investor 12 months prior. TRIBE is using capital from the round to launch in the US and anticipates that the US will be its largest market by year end. To date, the company has raised a total of $13M.
The influencer marketing category still has a lot of maturing to do. We’ve seen budgets increase enormously over the last few years which proves it's gaining more credence in marketing playbooks, but there’s still development required in reporting and ROI which we’re continuously investing in. For our content product, we actually feel we’re ahead of the market, so there’s a need for the marketing world to catch up and understand that high quality creative can be sourced from their customers faster and cheaper than the traditional creative solutions. It may take another year or two before we really see that shift.
Figure Technologies, a San Francisco-based fintech company in both the home equity and blockchain space, took 90 days, end-to-end, to raise its recent $65M Series B round, according to Sara Priola, co-founder and General Counsel. The Series B post-money valuation, in February 2019, was over double that of the Series A, which closed in May 2018. Figure didn’t set to raise a Series B round; the company had “plenty” of cash remaining from its previous round. The company launched its first product, Figure Home Equity Line, in September 2018, and grown customers to around 1,500 in the past 6 months. Figure has known the lead investors, RPM Ventures and partners at DST Global, for years. To date, the company has raised over $120M.
As a nimble and thoughtful company, we are fortunate to be able to both help set the direction and navigate the headwinds when they come. For example, we’re actively engaged on the regulatory front, along with our peers in the industry, and look forward to the road ahead.
EdgeMicro, a Denver-based edge computing company, raised its recent $3M round on a convertible note, which did not require a formal valuation, according to Mike Hagan, CEO. “EdgeMicro is pre-revenue, so it’s premature to estimate valuation.” To date, the company has raised approximately $6M, via 2 convertible notes. EdgeMicro will go to market in late 2019 for its Series A round and the company will set a valuation at that time. EdgeMicro’s supply chain is fully established and the company will be capable of manufacturing and deploying up to ten units per month beginning late 2019.
The current internet infrastructure under-serves an enormous portion of consumers and commercial customers: roughly a third of U.S. The culprit is a centralized architecture for the internet, which means content and computing services live far from most users and takes an inefficient path to get to them. Centralized content, centralized peering and unoptimized mobile network topologies (which were architected for phone calls but not mobile computing) all create performance issues that are frustrating to both consumers and corporate users.
Applications demand more in terms of performance and data latency than what the networks can deliver as architected today. EdgeMicro uses a neutral colocation approach to edge computing that matches an economic model that has worked exceedingly well for other key areas of internet infrastructure, like major peering points. It’s a model that all of the major stakeholders understand –including content providers, applications providers, telcos, cable companies, security companies and wireless carriers. This approach removes risk and capital cost for all of those companies, and it is highly scalable and cost-effective.
Knox Financial, a Boston-based fintech company focused on making investment property ownership accessible, took 6 months to raise its recent $1.4M in seed round and raised the round on a convertible note, according to Spencer Taylor, COO and co-founder, and Dave Friedman, CEO and co-founder. The company raised the round all from private angels, so no term sheets were in play. Knox Financial talked to dozens of potential investors. The company has know the lead investor for over 10 years. The company has just started signing its first clients. “The goal for this next stage is to get to a deal flow of 10-20 homes per month coming into the program.”
We see a vacant space where Americans are looking for ways to build wealth beyond indexing the market with mutual funds. Wall Street and big banks are not on the side of the people anymore. It’s Watt St vs Main st. We are making investment property ownership, an investment that used to be reserved for the very wealthy, available to anyone. In the process, we’re keeping ownership local, and offering rates of return on these investments that people can't find in other financial products. We’re proud to be offering this kind of opportunity to such a wide swath of homeowners.
The baby boomers are retiring. They have owned real estate in top tier cities for decades and have seen the value of their properties multiply. They want to retire and live the lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to. Unfortunately, a lot of their wealth is trapped in their homes. They don't want to sell because they’ll incur transaction costs and capital gains taxes. If they do, they can’t find investments that produce adequate cash flow while continuing to grow in value. Income property offers just such an investment profile. We make it frictionless.
With younger generations, there is a shift towards renting. Nationally, rents are climbing by over 3% per year and often much faster in top tier cities where Knox operates. We can meet this demand with our inventory of Knox properties.
Finally, there is a movement to enliven the equity held in peoples’ homes. People are looking to have the equity they have in their home work for them. We can do that by turning the home into a passive, profitable investment.
👨💼🖥💻👩💼Thoughts on Remote Teams
We’re favourable towards distributed workforces and remote teams. It takes time to build the systems and trust to enable this within organisations but when it works, it creates a flexible work environment that drives job satisfaction. The key is making information accessible and readily-shared via strong inter-company communication and collaboration principles. Anthony Svirskis, CEO of TRIBE
Tip/Productivity Hack ⏳
Zoom video conferencing. We are 71 people in 5 offices and 4 time zones around the world with distributed teams throughout the business. Having the ability to speak to someone face-to-face no matter where they are in the world has made a huge difference to our young business. – Anthony Svirskis, CEO of TRIBE
Work blocks. I read an article years ago that came out of Y Combinator about manager time vs. maker time. Basically, for people like me who both need to participate in meetings and be a manager and also need uninterrupted time to work creatively, the best path forward is to create block out time for each function. It’s not easy to do, but the payoff is worth it. – Sara Priola, co-founder and General Counsel of Figure Technologies
When you are on the management team of an early stage company that is moving quickly, it’s critically important to get the most out of yourself and your team each day. And I think consistent, clear communication is the most important factor. It’s the key to building consensus and making critical decisions quickly. You can have a great idea and a great business plan and a great product, but if the communication isn’t there the company will struggle. It’s that important. For our team, we’ve built this into the DNA of how we work, with a two-hour team call every Monday to foster communication and set a course for each week. Then we augment that with 30 minute standup calls every other day of the week to stay in sync. That routine works well for us. – Mike Hagan, CEO of EdgeMicro
Was this forwarded to you? Please sign up here.