The past three months have seen some exciting funding news for Techstars companies! Congratulations to:
- Orbeus (Excelerate Labs ‘12) acquired by Amazon
- Jargon (Seattle ‘14) acquired by Smartling
- Verbalizeit (Boulder ‘12) acquired by Smartling
- ZIIBRA (Seattle ‘15) acquired by Tagboard
- GoChime (Seattle ‘11) acquired by Bounce Exchange
Also, a big shout out to the Techstars Ventures-backed Twilio on its IPO in June!
Here are the companies that have recently received investments!
Remitly (Seattle ‘11), a mobile payments service that enables consumers to make person-to-person international money transfers from the U.S. and Canada, secured $38.5M in Series C funding last April.
Cloudability (Cloud ‘12), a data-driven cloud cost management firm, raised $24M in a Series B funding round earlier this month to continue to scale.
Outreach (Seattle ‘11), recently raised $17.5M in Series B to expand their engineering team. Outreach builds robust communication software for Sales Development Reps, Account Executives and Success Managers.
Bench (NYC ‘12), a modern, online bookkeeping service for independent businesses, announced a $16M ($20M CDN) Series B round that will go toward product enhancements.
Keen.io (Cloud ‘12), is a custom analytics backend for modern developers. Keen.io secured $14.7M in Series B financing to accelerate their global growth in the enterprise.
Lystable (London ‘14), recently closed an $11M Series A round. Lystable is the platform for the lean enterprise, helping large organizations manage their suppliers and external resources.
Ionic (Cloud ‘13), is a powerful open source UI library and toolchain built with open web technologies that enables web developers to build high quality mobile apps on multiple platforms with one single code base. Ionic announced an $8.5M Series A funding round in late April.
Testlio (Austin ‘13), a full-service mobile app testing solution, received $6.25M in Series A funding in mid April to continue to grow and evolve as a company.
Convey (Austin ‘14), is the first concierge solution focused exclusively on customer delivery. Convey recently announced that they raised $4.5M in Series A funding to invest in their engineering work.
Notion (Boulder ‘14), raised $3.2M in additional funding early this month. Notion is a wireless home monitoring system that can detect things like when doors open, your home’s temperature and even if there is a water leak.
Homemade (NYC ‘15), raised $2.1M in seed funding in early April. Homemade is a platform for cooks to share their meals and story with the community.
Netra (Boston ‘15), raised $1.85M in early June. Netra is focused on helping enterprises regain control over the chaos of imagery to better understand consumers’ intent and preference – and help them find exactly what they’re looking for.
ilos (Cloud ‘16), the company that allows businesses to communicate with customers and team members by instantly recording and sharing videos, raised $1.5M in its first formal round of financing.
Preply (Berlin ‘15), is an online platform for finding private tutors in your city or by skype for a variety of subjects. They recently announced a $1.3M seed round in early June.
Flip (NYC ‘15), recently raised $1.2M in seed funding. Flip simplifies the experience of renting housing by turning leases into liquid assets that people can buy and sell from one another.
I love the 20 Minute VC podcast. It’s the perfect amount of time and Harry Stebbings does a great job attracting interesting guests and asking them the right questions. I was honored when asked to be on the show, here’s that episode.
Harry asks me questions like:
- How did I make the transition from Founder to VC with Techstars and Fund I?
- Fund I is one of the most successful funds in history; what was the structure with Fund I? Why did you choose a $5m fund size? How did you decide initial to follow on ratio?
- Why were you so valuation sensitive with Fund I? Why were you so rigid on a consistent check size on Fund I?
- Why did you decide to expand from being a solo GP fund? What are the challenges and complexities of fund scaling and how did you approach this?
- What do you think about uncapped notes?
- Why do you like big boring companies?
- How did you meet Ryan Graves @ Uber and how did the Uber investment come about? (even more about that here)
- Where does David still see inefficiencies in the current venture model?
I hope you enjoy it. I had fun doing the interview.
The Twenty Minute VC takes you inside the world of Venture Capital, Startup Funding and The Pitch. It helps you discover how you can attain funding for your business by listening to what the most prominent investors are directly looking for in startups, providing easily actionable tips and tricks that can be put in place to increase your chances of getting funded.
Techstars is committed to providing the best support for founders around the globe. As part of this effort, we are partnering with Chase Bank to understand the challenges facing startup founders today, including fundraising, hiring/recruiting, diversity, market traction, etc.
Together with Chase, we are conducting a global research study to benchmark the current state of challenges facing startup founders. The findings of this research will be used to provide entrepreneurs with actionable steps to solve these challenges.
To complete this research, we invite founders to take part by completing our survey. The survey takes approximately 10-12 minutes.
As a thank you for your time and valuable insights, you may enter a drawing for a chance to win a $1,000 Visa gift card.
Thank you for your support!
We’re proud to be an investor in ConnXus, a supplier diversity technology platform. Techstars Ventures led the $5M financing in ConnXus, with participation from Serious Change L.P., Impact America Fund and The Social Entrepreneurs’ Fund (TSEF).
CEO Rod Robinson founded ConnXus as a result of his personal experience and frustration with the complexities associated with locating qualified diverse suppliers, tracking spending, tracking diversity certifications, and reporting reliable results in accordance with corporate and government mandates. ConnXus now solves this problem with its simple to use, cloud-based, technology platform.
We made a seed investment in ConnXus last year, and when Techstars launched several internal diversity initiatives – including the Techstars Foundation – we invited Rod to join the advisory board given his deep domain expertise. Rod has been a huge help to the Foundation. It’s a classic #givefirst story of Rod helping out with the Foundation that enabled us to get to know him better and ultimately, led us to make a larger investment in ConnXus.
Not only does ConnXus align with our initiatives to serve high-performing, emerging technology companies, but it has created innovative software that directly improves diversity in the supply chain for startups and corporations.
Techstars Ventures is the venture capital arm of Techstars with $265 million under management. We primarily co-invest alongside venture capital and angel communities in Techstars accelerator program graduates, new companies started by Techstars alumni, and companies formed by Techstars mentors.
Welcome, ConnXus, to the Techstars family!
The Techstars Foundation is a non-profit created to improve diversity in technology entrepreneurship by providing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs through grants, scholarships, and sponsorships.
About the Books
Do More Faster: Lessons to Accelerate Your Startup
Do More Faster is a collection of advice that comes from individuals who have passed through, or are part of, Techstars’ accelerator programs. Each vignette is an exploration of information often heard during the Techstars program and provides practical insights into early stage entrepreneurship. While you’ll ultimately have to make your own decisions about what’s right for your business, Do More Faster can get your entrepreneurial endeavor headed in the right direction. Buy Now.
No Vision All Drive: Memoirs of an Entrepreneur
In 1993, David Cohen and David Brown founded their first company, Pinpoint Technologies, which grew from a basement startup to a successful multinational company with $50 million in annual sales and over 250 employees. Chronicling the story of that company from its beginnings up to 2003, when it was sold to ZOLL, and beyond, No Vision All Drive is the story of that company and the people who worked there. This book is not about business; it is about people. Buy Now.
The past three months have seen some exciting funding news for Techstars companies! Congratulations to:
- ThriveHive (Boston ’15) acquired by Propel Marketing
- Mentio Technologies (Seattle ‘15) acquired by Lendified
Also, a big shout out to the Techstars companies below that have recently received investments!
|DataRobot (Cloud ‘13), the Boston-based company that brings machine learning and data-science tools to businesses, raised $33M in a Series B round in February.|
|Latch (R/GA ’15), is the first smart access system that works for your apartment, your office and your home. Latch recently raised $10.5M in a Series A round led by Lux Capital.|
|StatMuse (Disney ’15), is an artificial intelligence platform to help sports fans explore data using simple, natural language. StatMuse received $10M in a Series A round in late January.|
|Wunder (Boulder ’14), the company that provides the solar expertise and partnerships necessary to make investing in, diversifying, and optimizing a solar portfolio delightfully simple, recently raised $3.6M in a new round of financing.|
|Naritiv (Disney ’14), announced a $3M Series A round led by Third Wave Digital in February. Naritiv is the platform that connects brands and advertisers with influencers on Snapchat|
|dopay (Barclays London ’14), the SaaS solution that provides payroll services to both banked and unbanked workers, recently announced a $2.4M pre-Series A round.|
|GreatHorn (NYC ‘15), is a cloud security platform that helps detect and prevent spear phishing and credential theft attacks in realtime. GreatHorn announced a $2.25M seed funding round this past March.|
|Infiniscene (Chicago ’15) recently raised $1.8M to scale-up and improve their existing platform. Infiniscene is a broadcast studio in the cloud that empowers gamers to easily create live broadcasts from their browser.|
|eRated (London ‘14), creates a single identity for e-commerce sites, allowing online buyers and sellers to utilize their already existing reputation everywhere they go. eRated raised $1.7M in late January.|
|Chainalysis (Barclays NYC ’15) has raised $1.6M in funding. Chainalysis specializes in countering money laundering and fraud in the digital currency industry.|
|Gorgias (NYC ‘15), the automated helpdesk enabling companies to respond faster to customers, recently raised $1.5M.|
|Tenacity (Sprint ’14), is a scientific cloud application to engage, retain and optimize your contact center workforce. The company raised $1.5M in funding this past February.|
|Socedo (Microsoft ‘12), raised $1.5M earlier this year. Socedo is an automated social media lead generation tool.|
|Datapath.io (Berlin ‘15) raised $1.1M this past February. Datapath.io is a network performance management solution.|
|DataCamp (NYC ‘15) is an online Data Science school that uses video lessons and coding challenges. DataCamp recently announced that they secured another $1M in funding.|
One of the questions I get asked regularly by founders is what they have to do to raise a Series A round of investment in the $3M-$10M range. I always encourage them to consider applying to an accelerator program since one third of all Series A rounds in 2015 were in companies that graduated from accelerators. But what about the companies that don’t get accepted into accelerator programs? The acceptance rate is fairly low (Techstars accepts 1% of all applicants), so startups should have a backup plan when it comes to securing Series A.
According to PitchBook, early-stage VCs may only look to top-tier accelerators for their pipeline of Series A-worthy prospects. With the amount of hands-on time these alums receive from mentors, founders, and other great entrepreneurial minds, it makes sense to look more closely at these startups when investing.
So your company missed the cut when applying to an accelerator program – how can your company attract more VC eyes?
Leverage Your Network
When fundraising, your network is critical whether you went through an accelerator or not. Surrounding yourself with the people who have done it right, who know the game well, and can give you the right tips is key to your company’s success in fundraising.
Recognize that there are an enormous number of companies being created each year and ultimately many of them are competing for the same Series A money. Techstars sees tens of thousands of startups applying to our programs each year, and we only fund about 250 at the seed level annually. Of those 250, about half go on to raise Series A rounds.
One reason those 125 or so companies are able to raise Series A rounds is due to tapping their networks early in their companies’ lifecycle. I see a lot of early-stage companies meeting with later stage investors well in advance of being in the market for a Series A round. They build relationships early, maintain those relationships, and knock when the time is right.
The market is currently flooded with seed capital, but there is no more Series A capital than there has been over recent years. So start early, and build genuine relationships before you start your Series A tour. Those in top tier accelerators may have an unfair advantage in that regard, but you can manufacture a strong network and book those early meetings as well.
Extend Your Network
The broader and more global your network is, the easier time you’ll have leveraging your progress and credibility in order to manufacture meetings. This broad network comes easier to companies that can go through an accelerator, as you connect with other in-program companies, investors and mentors, but how can you build a larger network organically?
You may currently have a small network, but growing that network has become easier with the use of social tools. LinkedIn, Conspire, even Facebook and Twitter allow you to grab branches that may have previously seemed out of reach.
Those LinkedIn connections, friends-of-friends, previous coworkers you haven’t spoken to in years, are all at your disposal. They may not be the VC you’d like to invest in your company, but they may be able to make an introduction or give you tips on how to get your foot in the door. You’ll never know until you ask.
Being Series A Ready
I’m often asked what it takes to be “Series A ready” in terms of metrics, progress, and traction. Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. Series A investments are competitive right now, and the smartest VCs I know are still willing to take a chance before there’s any concrete proof.
What is necessary is conviction on the part of the investor. So think of traction as often necessary but generally insufficient evidence to help generate conviction. At least as important is helping the investor build conviction through a series of meaningful interactions over time.
Having recently raised $150M for institutional investors, I heard many people say no, and you will too. The key is to take as many meetings as possible. Build those relationships early. Maintain those relationships. Leverage angel and micro-VC connections before even thinking of pitching them.
When fundraising, your network is critical. Leveraging it early and often is the key. Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you need money to engage sources of capital. If you’re in a squeeze for capital and you have a solid, mutually beneficial, relationship with a VC, your chances of raising will increase dramatically.
This article was originally published in Fortune.
The start of 2016 has already seen some notable funding news for Techstars alumni.
Congratulations to SimpleRelevance (Chicago ‘13) acquired by Rise Interactive.
Also, a big high five to the Techstars companies below that have recently received investments!
This brings us to a total of 90% of Techstars companies active or acquired and over $2B raised by our accelerator companies.
|Placester (Boston ‘11), is a real estate advertising service that helps real estate agents and brokers market themselves better. Placester recently raised $27M in a Series C round.|
|Bluecore (NYC ’13), is a marketing automation solution for ecommerce brands. Bluecore received $21M in a Series B round led by Georgian Partners in December.|
|Degreed (Kaplan ‘13), the company that scores and organizes users formal and informal education to unlock employment and learning opportunities, recently raised $21M in Series B.|
|Nestio (NYC ‘11), announced an $8M Series A round in December. Nestio is a leasing and marketing platform for residential landlords.|
|Bevi (Boston ‘14), the Boston-based company that provides smart beverage machines, recently announced a $6.5M Series A round.|
|Revolar (Boulder ‘15), is a company that developed a wearable with the sole purpose to help keep you safe. Revolar announced a $3M seed financing round in late 2015.|
|Streamroot (Boston ’14) is a video streaming startup that raised $2.5M in a recent funding round. Streamroot cuts bandwidth costs for online broadcasters through its peer-to-peer video delivery solution.|
|Codeship (Boston ‘13) has raised another $1.5M in funding. Codeship automates the process of testing and releasing updates to software apps.|
|AdHawk (Boulder ‘15), the company that aggregates digital marketing campaigns across platforms and makes optimization recommendations, recently raised $1.4M.|
|MetricStory (Austin ’15), is a company that automates the entire process of setting up high value web analytics. The company raised $1.4M in funding this past December.|
|Slash (NYC ‘15), the New York based company that developed a keyboard app that lets users share rich media in mobile messaging without opening a separate app, has recently raised $1.3M in funding.|
|Sundar (Boston ‘14), a company that aims to redefine the apparel and design industries through a curated digital platform for materials discovery and supplier sourcing, recently raised $1.3M in funding.|
|Innervate (Seattle ’15) raised $1.3M to help developers and gamers build a better relationship. Innervate builds community and marketing tools for games.|
|Matcherino (Seattle ’15), a company that developed an eSports engagement platform for spectators and gamers, recently announced that it has raised a $1.2M seed round.|
|Cashforce (Barclays NYC ‘15), a company that brings banks and businesses closer together through an automated cash management platform, has announced a €1M Series A funding round ($1.08M).|
As a follow up to our White House diversity commitment and on the heels of the creation of the Techstars Foundation, a nonprofit with the goal of advancing opportunities for underrepresented tech entrepreneurs, we are now reporting on our progress and publishing our own diversity data related to the founders of our accelerator companies.
First, let’s recap what we’ve done so far to advance inclusive entrepreneurship:
- Published our diversity data (see below).
- Made a public diversity commitment as part of White House Demo Day.
- Launched the Techstars Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to advancing opportunities in tech entrepreneurship for underrepresented founders.
- In 2012, we created a mentorship program called Risingstars pairing Techstars accelerator alumni with underrepresented founders.
- We have been presenting Patriot Boot Camp for US military veterans since 2012.
- Trained internal staff on unconscious bias.
- Created the GSB Startup Weekend Women track.
- Addressed the topic of diversity at FounderCon, our annual conference for founders.
We have committed to and are currently working on the following:
- We have made our diversity initiative a company-wide Strategic Goal for 2016.
- We’ve created an internal committee focused on creating actionable diversity goals for staff across our 30+ global locations.
- We are working on programs to double the number of women in our accelerator program applicant pool and across our mentor network over the next four years.
- We are tracking participation in our programs by underrepresented minorities and are working on doubling that from the baseline over the same time period.
- We continue to work with NCWIT to develop a toolkit for Techstars companies as well as opening up NCWIT associate membership to all Techstars companies.
- We are also working with NCWIT on their Pacesetters Program.
Below is our diversity data related to founders of companies we’ve funded in the accelerators to date. Based on these figures, we certainly have a long way to go here at Techstars — but we also know that you cannot improve what you don’t measure. We will publish this information annually, along with notes on our progress. While we don’t have this data historically, we will be focusing on broader classifications in the future.
Special thanks to DataHero for the visualizations.
Today we are excited to launch the Techstars Foundation.
Over the past year, many of our alumni, investors, and mentors have encouraged us to think hard about inclusive entrepreneurship. We decided that we wanted to do something very meaningful that would have a lasting impact on this issue — and so we created the Techstars Foundation. The goal of the foundation is to improve diversity in tech entrepreneurship by providing opportunities for underrepresented entrepreneurs through grants, scholarships, and sponsorships.
Creating the Techstars Foundation is also a way for us to take further action on top of the White House Diversity Commitment we made in August. That commitment involves increasing the numbers of female applicants and mentors in our accelerator programs, tracking and increasing minority participation, adding women to our selection committee, and publishing our diversity data annually. We want to do all of this as well as having a direct impact financially.
Founders and employees of Techstars, along with a number of alumni and mentors, have made an initial cash contribution to the Techstars Foundation, which launches today with more than $500,000. We are thrilled to offer a way for Techstars accelerator alumni, partners, mentors, Startup Weekend and Next alumni, and other supporters to Give First by providing access and opportunity to underrepresented minorities and – together – create stronger entrepreneur communities worldwide.
The Techstars Foundation is fortunate to have the guidance of an incredible board of advisors, including Brad Feld (Managing Director, Foundry Group), Mary Grove (Director, Google for Entrepreneurs), Jenny Lawton (Chief Strategy Officer, littleBits), Rod Robinson (Founder and CEO, Connxus), and Lucy Sanders (Founder and CEO, National Center for Women and Information Technology).
If you would like to get involved, please consider donating cash or stock to the Techstars Foundation. You can also name the foundation as a beneficiary. Your contribution is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law.