Press "Enter" to skip to content

Posts published in “Venture capital”

Auto Added by WPeMatico

Why 500 Startups is betting on Miami, and so should you

I am a Mexican who grew up in the “small” town of Guadalajara, Mexico (6M people, but feels small compared to Mexico City’s 20M+ population). I’ve had the privilege of studying and working in the LATAM, European and US markets, and calling world-class metropolises like Mexico City, Paris and New York my home. In 2016, following my heart, I reluctantly moved to Miami. Today, against all my expectations, I have fallen in love with this region and am ready to bet on its growth. And so is 500 Startups. Curious? Skeptical? Stay with me. As I wrote on the 500 Startups blog last March announcing the launch of 500 Startups Miami, this city and the larger Florida region is heating … Read More The post Why 500 Startups is betting on Miami, and so should you appeared first on 500 Startups.

China is funding the future of American biotech

Silicon Valley is in the midst of a health craze, and it is being driven by “Eastern” medicine. It’s been a record year for US medical investing, but investors in Beijing and Shanghai are now increasingly leading the largest deals for US life science and biotech companies. In fact, Chinese venture firms have invested more this year into life science and biotech in the US than they have back home, providing financing for over 300 US-based companies, per Pitchbook. That’s the story at Viela Bio, a Maryland-based company exploring treatments for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, which raised a $250 million Series A led by three Chinese firms. Chinese capital’s newfound appetite also flows into the mainland. Business is booming for Chinese medical startups, who are also seeing the strongest year of venture investment ever, with over one hundred companies receiving $4 billion in investment. As Chinese investors continue to shift their strategies towards life science and biotech, China is emphatically positioning itself to be a leader in medical investing with a growing influence on the world’s future major health institutions. Chinese VCs seek healthy returns We like to talk about things we can interact with or be entertained by. And so as nine-figure checks flow in and out of China with stunning regularity, we fixate on the internet giants, the gaming leaders or the latest media platform backed by Tencent or Alibaba. However, if we follow the money, it’s clear that the top venture firms in China have actually been turning their focus towards the country’s deficient health system. A clear leader in China’s strategy shift has been Sequoia Capital China, one of the country’s most heralded venture firms tied to multiple billion-dollar IPOs just this year. Historically, Sequoia didn’t have much interest in the medical sector.  Health was one of the firm’s smallest investment categories, and it participated in only three health-related deals from 2015-16, making up just 4% of its total investing activity.  Recently, however, life sciences have piqued Sequoia’s fascination, confirms a spokesperson with the firm.  Sequoia dove into six health-related deals in 2017 and has already participated in 14 in 2018 so far.  The firm…

Domio just raised $12 million in Series A funding to build ‘apart hotels’ across the US

Hotels can be pricey, and travelers are often forced to leave their rooms for basic things, like food that doesn’t come from the minibar. Yet Airbnb accommodations, which have become the go-to alternative for travelers, can be highly inconsistent. Domio, a two-year-old, New York-based outfit, thinks there’s a third way: apartment hotels, or “apart hotels,” as the company is calling them. The idea is to build a brand that travelers recognize as upscale yet affordable, more tech friendly than boutique hotels and features plenty of square footage, which it expects will appeal to both families as well as companies that send teams of employees to cities and want to do it more economically. Domio has a host of competitors, if you’ll forgive the pun. Marriott International earlier this year introduced a branded home-sharing business called Tribute Portfolio Homes wherein it says it vets, outfits and maintains to hotel standards homes of its choosing. And Marriott is among a growing number of hotels to recognize that customers who stay in a hotel for a business trip or a family vacation might prefer a multi-bedroom apartment with hotel-like amenities. Property management companies have been raising funding left and right for the same reason. Among them: Sonder, a four-year-old, San Francisco-based startup offering “spaces built for travel and life” that, according to Crunchbase, has raised $135 million from investors, much of it this year; TurnKey, a six-year-old, Austin, Tex.-based home rental management company that has raised $72 million from investors, including via a Series D round that closed back in March; and Vacasa, a nine-year-old, Portland, Ore.-based vacation rental management company that manages more than 10,000 properties and which just this week closed on $64 million in fresh financing that brings its total funding to $207.5 million. That’s saying nothing of Airbnb itself, which has begun opening hotel-like branded apartment complexes that lease units to both long-term renters and short-term visitors in partnership with development partner Niido. Whether Domio can stand out from competitors remains to be seen, but investors are happy to provide it the financing to try. The company is today announcing it has…

Alumni Ventures Group is the most active venture fund you’ve never heard of

Alumni Ventures Group’s (AVG) limited partners aren’t endowment or pension funds. Its typical LP is a heart surgeon in Des Moines, Iowa. The firm has both an unorthodox model of fundraising and dealmaking. Across 25 micro funds, AVG is raising and investing upwards of $200 million per year for and in tech startups. Tucked away in Boston, far from the limelight of Silicon Valley, few seem to be paying attention to AVG. There are a few reasons why, and those seem to be working to the firm’s advantage. Today, AVG is announcing a close of roughly $30 million for three additional funds: Green D Ventures, Chestnut Street Ventures and Purple Arch Ventures, which represent capital committed by Dartmouth, the University of Pennsylvania and Northwestern alums, respectively. “People don’t really know what to make of us” AVG walks and talks like a venture fund, but a peek under the hood reveals its unconventional fundraising mechanisms. Rather than collecting $5 million minimum investments from institutional LPs, AVG takes $50,000 directly from individual alums of prestigious universities. The firm pools the capital and creates university-specific venture funds for graduates of Duke, Stanford, Harvard, MIT and several other colleges.  “People don’t really know what to make of us because we’re so different,” said Michael Collins, AVG’s founder and chief executive officer. Collins started AVG to make venture capital more accessible to individual people. He’s been a VC since 1986, formerly of TA Associates, and had grown tired of the hubris that runs rampant in the industry. In 2014, he started a $1.5 million fund for alums of his alma mater, Dartmouth. Since then, AVG has grown into 25 funds, each of which fundraise annually and are seeing substantial growth over their previous raises. “What we observed is VC is a really good asset class but it’s really designed for institutional investors,” Collins (pictured below) said. “It’s really hard for individual people to put together a smart, simple portfolio unless they do it themselves. That’s why we created AVG.” AVG and its team of 40 investment professionals make 150 to 200 investments per year of roughly $1 million each…

Jane VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise. Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money-maker on your side. There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro. Jane VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London, wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so far raised $2 million to invest between $25,000 and $150,000 in early-stage female-founded companies across industries, is scrapping the opaque, inaccessible model of VC that’s been less than favorable toward women. “We like to say that Jane VC is venture for every woman,” the firm’s co-founder Jennifer Neundorfer told TechCrunch. Neundorfer, who previously co-founded and led an accelerator for Midwest startups called Flashstarts after stints at 21st Century Fox and YouTube, partnered with her former Stanford business school classmate Maren Bannon, the former chief executive officer and co-founder of LittleLane. So far, they’ve backed insurtech company Proformex and Hatch Apps, an enterprise software startup that makes it easier for companies to create and distribute mobile and web apps. “We are going to shoot them straight.” — Jennifer Neundorfer Jane VC, like many members of the next generation of venture capital funds, is bucking the idea that the best founders can only be found in Silicon Valley. Instead, the firm is going global and operating under the philosophy that a system of radical transparency and honesty will pay off. “Let’s be efficient with an entrepreneur’s time and say no if it’s not a hit,” Neundorfer said. “I’ve been on the opposite end of that coaching.…

Amplifyher Ventures launches to fund startups led by women

Amplifyher Ventures is a new firm looking to invest in female founders. Amplifyher was created by Tricia Black, Facebook’s former vice president of advertising sales. Since her time at Facebook (where she was the seventh employee), Black has been angel investing, and she also co-founded Victress Capital. Black told me that Amplifyher allows her to build on her work as an individual investor and at Victress: “I really wanted … to build a team, to formally build my own brand.” At Amplifyher, the investment team consists of Black and Meghan Cross Breeden, the former managing partner at Red Bear Angels, who also worked at director of communications at StyleCaster. “We’re a great match,” Black said. “Meghan has done a ton of work on the operational side, I’m really engaged on the networking side … I think we’re going to find a nice balance between the two of us.” There are other firms with a similar focus on female founders, including Female Founders Fund and BBG Ventures (which is backed by TechCrunch’s parent company Oath) . However, Cross Breeden said she was “completely enthusiastic about Tricia’s whole thesis — not just about seeding the founders, but arming them with both resources and capital to get from founder to CEO.” Tricia Black, Meghan Cross Breeden Black and Cross Breeden pointed to stats suggested that there’s plenty more work to be done on this front — the share of female CEOs in the Fortune 500 dropped by 25 percent this year, while in 2017, only 2 percent of VC dollars are going to startups founded solely by women. “We look at female founders not as necessarily under funded … but just an untapped opportunity,” Black said. To that end, Amplifyher has raised what Black said is an “evergreen fund” that’s fully-financed to make 10 to 15 investments of $100,000 to $300,000 for the next three years. Again, these should be startups led by woman — ideally with at least one female founder, but “if there’s a woman in the C-suite, that works for us,” Black said. And while the firm isn’t focused on any…

Y Combinator survey confirms what we already know — female founders are too often victims of sexual harassment

Y Combinator has released the results of a survey, completed in partnership with its portfolio company Callisto, highlighting the pervasive role of sexual harassment in venture capital and technology startups. Callisto, a sexual misconduct reporting software built for victims, is a graduate of YC’s winter 2018 class. The company sent a survey to 125 of YC’s 384 female founders, asking if they had been “assaulted or coerced by an angel or VC investor in their startup career.” Eighty-eight female founders completed the survey; 19 in total claimed to have experienced some form of harassment. More specifically, 18 said that inappropriate experience consisted of “unwanted sexual overtures;” 15 said it was “sexual coercion;” four said it was “unwanted sexual contact.” As part of the release of the survey findings, YC announced they’ve established a formal process for their founders to report harassment and assault within Bookface, the startup accelerator’s private digital portal for its founders. “You can report at any time, even years after the incident took place,” YC wrote in the blog post. “The report will remain confidential. We encourage other investors to set up similar reporting systems.” First Round Capital is another investor to recently poll its founders on issues of sexual misconduct. Similarly, the early-stage investor found that half of the 869 founders polled were harassed or knew a victim of workplace harassment. As for Callisto, the 7-year-old non-profit said it will launch Callisto for founders, a new tool that will support victims. Using Callisto, founders can record the identities of perpetrators in the tech and VC industry. The company will collect the information and refer victims to a lawyer who will provide free advice and the option to share their information with other victims of the same perpetrator. From there, victims can decide if they want to go public together with their accusations. Tech’s widespread sexual harassment problem is not new, but more women and victims of harassment have come forward in recent years as the #MeToo movement encourages them to name their harassers. Justin Caldbeck, formerly of Binary Capital, and former SoFi chief executive officer Mike Cagney are among…

AllTrails gets $75M to keep hikers happy

The app for hiking enthusiasts just secured a big round of capital that will help it map more trails worldwide. AllTrails has raised $75 million, led by Spectrum Equity, which has taken a majority stake in the company in the process. Founded in 2010, AllTrails raised a small amount of capital years ago from investors, including 2020 Ventures and 500 Startups. It was also part of AngelPad’s inaugural accelerator class. This is its first sizeable round of equity financing. AllTrails provides what it calls an “outdoors platform” that includes crowdsourced reviews of trails from its community of 9 million avid hikers, mountain bikers and trail runners in more than 100 countries. It also provides detailed trail maps and other content tailor-made for outdoorsy folk. The company says its app has been downloaded more than 12 million times. Gear for making outdoor fitness more enjoyable AllTrails was founded by Russell Cook, who recently left to launch another fitness tech startup called FitOn. The company is now led by Jade Van Doren, who joined as CEO in September 2015. “I grew up camping in the Sierras with my grandfather and backpacking up there,” Van Doren told TechCrunch. “I looked around the space and it felt like there was a lot of room to build something meaningful that would help people find places to get outdoors and feel safe once they are out there.” “I got really excited about doing that and we’ve made a lot of progress toward those goals,” he added. “I enjoy waking up in the morning and knowing what we are building is helping people live healthier and more active lifestyles.” Cook said the business is cash flow positive and wasn’t seeking a venture capital infusion when Spectrum approached. He says their expertise in the consumer space — the firm also has investments in Ancestry, WeddingWire and several others — will be a big value-add for AllTrails. In addition to expanding overseas, the company will use the capital to hire aggressively. As part of the deal, Spectrum’s Ben Spero and Matt Neidlinger will join AllTrails’ board of directors.

With $50M in fresh funding, Allbirds will open new stores in the US, UK and Asia

The quintessential venture capitalist’s uniform consists of a pair of designer jeans, a Patagonia fleece vest and $95 wool sneakers. The company behind the shoes, Allbirds, entered the unicorn club this morning with the announcement of a $50 million Series C from late-stage players T. Rowe Price, which led the round, Tiger Global and Fidelity Investments. The 3-year-old startup founded by Joey Zwillinger and Tim Brown has raised $75 million to date, including a $17.5 million Series B last year. It’s backed by Leonardo DiCaprio, Scooter Braun, Maveron, Lerer Hippeau and Elephant, the venture capital firm led by Warby Parker founder Andrew Hunt. The Wall Street Journal is reporting the round values Allbirds at $1.4 billion. The company would not confirm that figure to TechCrunch. Like Warby Parker, San Francisco-based Allbirds began as a direct-to-consumer online retailer but has since expanded to brick-and-mortar, opening stores in San Francisco and New York. It currently ships to locations across the U.S., New Zealand, Australia and Canada. Next week, the company plans to open its first storefront in the U.K. in London’s Covent Garden neighborhood. It will begin shipping throughout the U.K. In 2019. Using its latest investment, Allbirds will double down on its brick-and-mortar business. In addition to the U.K., the company says it will open even more locations in the U.S., as well as open doors in Asia in the coming months. Tiger Global, which has backed Allbirds since its Series B, may be of help. The firm has offices in Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as partners across Asia. Allbirds makes eco-friendly wool shoes for men, women and kids via its kid’s line, aptly named Smallbirds. The shoes are made of sustainable materials, including merino wool, a fabric made from eucalyptus fiber that the company has dubbed “Tree” and “SweetFoam,” a shoe sole made from sugarcane-based, carbon-negative foam rubber. “Climate change is the problem of our generation and the private sector has a responsibility to combat it,” Zwillinger, Allbirds’ chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This injection of capital will help us bring our sustainable products to more people around the globe, demonstrating that comfort, design…

YC-grad Papa raises $2.4M for its ‘grandkids-on-demand’ service

One of the latest additions to the on-demand economy is Papa, a mobile app that connects college students with adults over 60 in need of support and companionship. The recent graduate of Y Combinator’s accelerator program has raised a $2.4 million round of funding to expand its service throughout Florida and to five additional states next year, beginning with Pennsylvania. Initialized Capital led the round, with participation from Sound Ventures. Headquartered in Miami, the startup was founded last year by chief executive officer Andrew Parker. The idea came to him while he was juggling a full-time job at a startup and caring for his grandfather, who had early onset dementia. “I’ve always been a connector of humans,” Parker, the former vice president of health systems at telehealth company MDLIVE, told TechCrunch. “I’ve always naturally felt comfortable with all walks of life and all age groups and have just felt human connection is really critical.” Seniors can request a “Papa Pal” using the company’s mobile app, desktop site or by phone. The pals can pick them up and take them out for an activity or have them over to play a game, complete household chores, teach them how to use social media and other technology or simply to chat. A senior is matched with a student, who must complete a “rigorous” background check, in as little as 30 seconds. Parker says there are 600 students working with Papa an average of 25 hours per month. “We’ve been fortunate that this is something the students really want to be part of,” he said. “They aren’t doing this for a couple extra dollars. They are doing this to help the community.” The service costs seniors $20 per hour, $12 of which is paid to the students and $8 is returned to Papa. It’s not a subscription-based service, but seniors can pay for a premium option that lets them choose between three Papa Pals instead of being randomly paired with one of the several hundred options. The students do not provide any personal care, like bathing or grooming. And they are not a pick-up and drop-off service,…

Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies. More Info | Close