Nanit Raises Another $21M to Expand its Line of Smart Baby Monitoring Products

Any parent knows that a well-rested baby is a happy baby. Nanit, the smart baby sleep monitoring connected solution, uses data science and analytics to understand an infant’s sleep patterns to optimize the sleep for infants. CEO Sarah Dorsett shares more on the company’s product pipeline and recent funding round, which brings its total funding raised to $ 49.6M.
AlleyWatch

MemorialDay.com – Another premium US holiday #domain going to waste

 DomainGang.com: The premium, aged domain name MemorialDay.com is clearly going to waste. Undeveloped after 24 years, this 1996 registration does not even resolve. In 2017, MemorialDay.com showed a basic page about the meaning of “Memorial Day” sharing content about the fallen soldiers that are commemorated on this day. But not in recent …
Domaining.com

Are Indian Startups heading towards another bubble burst?

Ola lays off 1400 employees, Swiggy laid off 1100 employees, Zomato had earlier laid off 500 employees, all in the last one week.

Zomato employees have taken a pay cut of upto 50%

Ola had a 95% decline in revenues. Zomato's & Swiggy's business dropped by 70%.

In the food space 25-40% of the restaurants may shut in the next one year. 7 million jobs will be on the line because of the restaurants closing down.

Oyo has laid off 2400 in India, 5000 in usa, 7000 in China & now plans to layoff in UK. Paytm has laid off 500 employees

All the 5 unicorn startups are loss making:

Ola: 339 million usd loss Swiggy: 315 million usd loss Zomato: 294 million usd loss Oyo: 335 million usd loss Paytm: 549 million usd loss

Soft Bank which funds Ola, Paytm, Oyo, Delhivery, Policy Bazaar, Grofers has posted a loss of 17.7 billion usd for its vision fund. About 15 of the fund’s startups will likely go bankrupt. This is the worst year in the 39 year history of Soft Bank which has funded Wework & Uber as well. Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba has decided to leave the board of Soft Bank

Is the game of valuations over? Time for a new breed of startups?

P.S: Delhivery, Policy Bazaar, Grofers posted a loss of 236, 29, 60 million usd.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Slow customer growth post-Seed, what are the chances of raising another round?

TL;DR: Startup struggling to grow post-Seed, any advice for future funding rounds?

Hi everyone

I'm the founder of a B2B marketplace startup. I was a solopreneur during most of 2019 and bootstrapped the entire business. I launched the product in Q3 2019 and began acquiring business customers quite soon after launch.

We raised a pretty sizeable seed round from a VC right before Xmas 2019 and I spent the first 3 months hiring two experienced senior team members (Ops & Tech), and developing our branding & website.

At the end of January this year, we were seeing average growth, probably getting a new business customer every 2-3 weeks. We weren't too worried as we were still developing our product, funnel, sales strategy and so on.

Once COVID hit, like many of us, all sales and interest took a nosedive. Our pipeline turned to shit, and they claimed to no longer have budget for our product, despite it sitting in a relatively integral function of a business (HR/Culture).

Our strategy to cope with this so far:

  1. Circle back on our product. We recently retained a great UX/UI designer for a lot less than his market value (due to being furloughed) to properly design what I had bootstrapped and sold to clients. Prior to covid, the strategy was to sell what we had (a crappy looking but very functional platform) for as long as possible until our revenue reached a milestone that triggered a redesign.
  2. Focus on getting the most out of our current clients. Our platform is accessed by all employees of a business, so our focus was to boost engagement so we can potentially grow their account size. Moreover, we could use that to build case studies to attract new customers
  3. Slightly shift our marketing strategy. We ceased all direct sales advertising, and have now ceased cold-mailing and outbound campaigns. Instead, we are investing our budget on building brand recognition and awareness in our sector so that we are top of mind when things go back to normal.
  4. Market research. The nagging question mark is that of Product Market Fit. I fear that early signs of PMF we had before covid-19 are now out of the window as those businesses have been dealt a hammer blow. So our challenge now is to build a method in which we experiment and test different iterations and marketing messages to see which market segment gains the most traction.

My worry is: without growth, are we a lame duck?

Why I've decided to post. I'm anxious that we're not going to be attractive to any investor if we haven't shown aggressive growth, despite the recession.

My question to you:

What are the kinds of achievements to strive for, if growth is not possible, to investors in Q4 2020 in order to raise another round?

Currently we have a run rate of about 15 months which is OK but that's if we strap ourselves in and essentially only pay salaries.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

On-demand storage startup MakeSpace picks up another $55M

Sheltering-in-place and working from home curing COVID-19 has driven many of us to reorganize and de-clutter our living environments, and today one of the startups that is capitalizing on that trend is announcing a large round of funding to continue its growth. MakeSpace, an on-demand storage company that makes it easy to order, store and retrieve your physical belongings (also providing the muscle — that is, people — to help you do it), has closed a $ 55 million round — $ 45 million in equity funding and $ 10 million in debt — led by Iron Mountain, an existing investor and strategic partner whose primary focus is storage for larger businesses.

The funding is notable in part because of its size, but also because of the fact that it has happened at all.

On-demand storage startups have sprung up all over the world, hopeful that their new take on an antiquated, fragmented and valuable ($ 38 billion annually spent on storage) market would lead to big returns in a brave, new, Uberified world. But in reality, we’ve seen a lot of ups and downs, with various startups merging, closing, transferring and trying to pivot in the process. That’s left a consolidated space with fewer, hopefully better capitalised and better organised, competitors remaining. (Another biggie in this area is Clutter, backed by SoftBank and others, which has also been on a consolidation play as part of its growth.)

MakeSpace looks like it’s making a successful play to be in that group. This is a Series E for the startup — with other investors in the round including 8VC, Upfront Ventures, Maywic Select Investments, Ten Eighty, Provenio Capital, and CX Collective — and co-founder and CEO Rahul Gandhi said was at “a premium” to the valuation MakeSpace had in the last round of funding (a Series D that closed last year), without confirming either the previous or current numbers.

For some more context, PitchBook details what seems to have been a rollercoaster of valuations for the startup, which if accurate underscore some of those obvious challenges in this market. Update: Gandhi confirmed that the startup has now raised about $ 150 million and the valuation is higher than that.

MakeSpace itself has hit a number of milestones that point to its own growth. Last year, it added 20 new markets, bringing the total to 31 in North America, and doing so in a cost-effictive way. While one of the biggest costs (and stumbling blocks) for storage services to date has been grappling with building real estate businesses, MakeSpace has leaned on the infrastructure of its strategic investor Iron Mountain to bypass that challenge (and reduce those associated costs).

Gandhi said that it’s been outpacing “even our strongest forecasts,” with growth north of 30% on its targets, and he said the company has tens of thousands of customers using its service, which is priced in tiers starting at $ 69/month.

And while you might assume that a lack of house moving might mean less activity for storage companies, it seems the opposite is the case: MakeSpace and others like it have been designated “essential services” and its services have been in demand for people who are looking at their living spaces — and the prospect of spending significantly more time in them doing more than just watching Netflix, eating and sleeping — with new eyes. And ditto small businesses that are moving out of premises, even temporarily, or needing to rejig their environments because of distancing rules.

What’s also notable about MakeSpace is how it organises its workforce. While many on-demand businesses today have scaled by using an army of contractors, and all the complexities that this brings into the equation with regards to employee protections and benefits, MakeSpace has hired only full-time people, using its own team and those employed by Iron Mountain.

“They can get wonderful packages and all the benefits and perks to keep employee base happy,” Gandhi said. “It makes it easier to scale up the business and in terms of the hiring capabilities to help us scale.”

For a company built out of tech DNA — which is the other side of the business, involving smart logistics planning and storage optimising, and of course building it into an interface that can be used easily by workers and customers — workforce scaling and real estate/warehouse expansion are two of the biggest challenges in building on-demand storage businesses to compete with the heavyweights in the market, which include Public Storage, Extra Space Storage and U-Haul.

For Iron Mountain, it gives the firm, which focuses on enterprise users, a way to share in the revenues from tapping into the consumer market (optimizing use of its storage warehouses) without the costs of trying to service it directly.

“It has been amazing to see what MakeSpace has accomplished in the past year alone, growing from 4 to 24 markets almost overnight, and adding another 7 in 2020. They have taken a unique approach to storage that answers the modern customer’s demand for convenience, using technology to enhance the service and grow at an immense scale,” said Deirdre Evens, EVP and GM of North America Records and Information Management at Iron Mountain, in a statement.

“Especially now, services such as MakeSpace are delivering vital solutions for customers and businesses. MakeSpace has proven itself as an industry leader, finding new ways to offer support and services for this challenging time.  We continue to be both proud and excited about our partnership with MakeSpace and the opportunity to leverage Iron Mountain’s storage and logistics expertise to further penetrate the fast growing valet consumer storage market.”

Gandhi acknowledged also that while Iron Mountain is an obvious acquirer longer-term, it remains a minority investor.

“It’s really key that we remain independent,” he added. “We understand the strength of what they bring to table but in order for this business to capture major market share we felt collectively it was important for it to remain that way. At some point that discussion [on a bigger stake or acquisition] may happen but for now we feel incredibly good about what they are bringing to the table.”

Startups – TechCrunch

LA-based Brainbase raises another $8 million for IP-licensing management

Brainbase, the rights management platform that’s helping Hollywood studios manage the licensing rights to their cultural icons, has picked up another $ 8 million in financing.

Behind every popular story is an attempt to make money off of it, and Brainbase helps Hollywood find new ways to make money off of consumer tastes.

The money came from new investors Bessemer Venture Partners and Nosara Capital, with participation from previous investors Alpha Edison, Struck Capital, Bonfire Ventures and FJ Labs. Individual investors include Spencer Lazar, Michael Stoppelman (the former senior vice president of engineering at Yelp), Jenny Fleiss (co-founder of Rent the Runway) and David Fraga (president of InVision).

The Los Angeles-based company said the new money would be used to build a payments feature to speed up the process of wringing payments from licensees and to continue building its Marketplace product that connects celebrities, athletes and social media stars of all stripes with new and emerging brands.

“We need to stay focused on building the best platform for brands that own and license their IP,” said Brainbase co-founder and CEO Nate Cavanaugh, in a statement. “With a strong bench of investors and advisors who believe in our vision to make the intellectual property industry more open, efficient and accessible, we are prepared for our next stage of growth. In 2020, Brainbase plans to nearly double in size, making key hires across sales, product, and engineering in the U.S. and Europe.”

The new financing comes as Brainbase brings new brands and spokespeople into the fold, including BuzzFeed, the model-turned-shopping network celebrity and brand ambassador extraordinaire Kathy Ireland, MDR Brand Management and Bonnier. These new branding megaliths join a roster that includes Sanrio, the owner of the ubiquitous Hello Kitty character.

“Brainbase is bringing the archaic, paper shuffling world of IP management into the 21st century. We’re thrilled to partner with this team as they help owners of IP assets capture more value while saving a boatload of time and effort,” stated Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.

Startups – TechCrunch

Headless CMS company Strapi raises another $10 million

Strapi, the company behind the popular open-source headless CMS also called Strapi, has raised a $ 10 million Series A round led by Index Ventures. The company previously raised a $ 4 million seed round led by Accel and Stride.vc in October 2019.

Strapi is a headless content management system, which means that the back end and the front end operate totally separately. You can run Strapi on your own server and write content and pages for your site by connecting to Strapi’s admin interface.

After that, the front-end part of your application can fetch content from your Strapi instance using an API and display it to your customers and readers.

There are many advantages in separating the front end from the back end. First, it gives you a ton of flexibility when it comes to displaying your content. You can use a popular front-end framework, such as React, Vue and Angular, or develop your own custom front end.

When you want to update the design of your site, you can just switch from one front end to another with Strapi running like usual behind the scene.

Similarly, it offers more flexibility when it comes to server architecture. For instance, you could also leverage Strapi to build static websites and distribute them using a content delivery network, such as Cloudflare or AWS Cloudfront. You could imagine using Gatsby combined with a CDN to deploy your site on the edge. Most of your traffic will go through your CDN instead of hitting your servers directly.

Additionally, Strapi can be used to distribute content to different front ends. For instance, you could use a Strapi instance for the content of your website and your mobile app.

Strapi proves that eventually everything becomes an API. Sure, a headless CMS is probably overkill for most projects. But if you’re running a large scale application, Strapi can fit nicely in your architecture. Companies using Strapi include IBM, NASA and Walmart.

Many well-known open-source business angels have also invested in Strapi, such as Augusto Marietti and Marco Palladino from Kong, David Cramer from Sentry, Florian Douetteau from Dataiku, Solomon Hykes from Docker, Guillermo Rauch from Cloudup, Socket.io, Next.js and Zeit.co, and Eli Collins from Cloudera.

Startups – TechCrunch

Electric gets another $7 million in funding from 01 Advisors and the Slack Fund

Electric, a platform that aims to put IT departments in the cloud, today announced new funding following a continuation of its Series B earlier this year.

Dick Costolo and Adam Bain (01 Advisors) and the Slack Fund participated in the $ 7 million capital infusion.

01 Advisors put up the majority of the financing ($ 6 million) with the Slack Fund putting up a little under $ 1 million and other insiders covering the rest, according to Electric founder and CEO Ryan Denehy.

The funding situation with Electric is a bit unique. Electric raised a $ 25 million Series B round led by GGV in January of 2019. In March of this year, just before the lockdown, the company reopened the Series B at a higher valuation to make room for Dick Costolo and Adam Bain, raising an additional $ 14.5 million.

Then the coronavirus pandemic rocked the globe. On Monday March 9, the stock market felt it, triggering a temporary halt on trading. The following week was total financial chaos.

That’s when Adam Bain called up Denehy again. They ‘rapped out’ about the potential for Electric during this turbulent time.

“The increase in remote work is going to be dramatic,” said Denehy, relaying his conversation with Bain. “Larger companies are going to get smarter about budgeting and there is a lot of urgency for them to find ways to spend money around back office tasks like IT more efficiently. Electric becomes more appealing because, dollar for dollar, it’s a lot more efficient than building a big IT department.”

The first week of April, Bain called Denehy again, this time saying that 01 Advisors wanted to put in more money into Electric.

Electric is a platform designed to support the existing IT department of an organization, or in some cases, replace an outsourced IT department. Most of IT’s responsibilities focus on administration, distribution and maintenance of software programs. Electric allows IT to install its software on every corporate machine, giving the department a bird’s-eye view of the organization’s IT situation. It also aims to give IT departments more time to focus on real problem-solving and troubleshooting tasks.

From their own machine, lead IT professionals can grant and revoke permissions, assign roles and ensure all employees’ software is up to date.

Electric is also integrated with the APIs of top software programs, like Dropbox and G-suite, letting IT handle most of their day-to-day tasks through the Electric dashboard. Moreover, Electric is also integrated with Slack, letting folks within the organization flag an issue or ask a question from the platform where they spend the most time.

“The biggest challenge for Electric is keeping up with demand,” said Jason Spinell from the Slack Fund, who also mentioned that he passed on investing in Electric’s seed round and is “excited to sort of rectify [his] mistake.”

Electric also added a new self-service product that can live in the dock, letting employees look at all the software applications provided by the organization from their remote office.

“There are so many stretched IT departments now that have to do a lot more with a lot less,” said Denehy. “There are also companies who were working with an outsourced IT provider and relied on them showing up to the office a few times a week, and all of a sudden that doesn’t work anymore.”

With the current ecosystem, Electric is continuing to spend on marketing but with 180 percent increase in interest from potential clients in the pipeline, according to Denehy.

Startups – TechCrunch

ICANN RPM PDP Phase 1 Comment Period is another sham, part 6

 FreeSpeech.com: More and more people are coming to the realization that the ICANN comment periods are a sham, open to manipulation by ICANN insiders and staff. The comment period for the Phase 1 Initial Report of the Review of All Rights Protection Mechanisms in All gTLDs Policy Development Process ended on May 4, 2020, eleven days … Continue …
Domaining.com

Is this typical for a startup internship or am I just headed into yet another abusive startup environment?

A consumer goods startup reached out to me on AngelList and interviewed me. During the interview they really didn't seem that enthusiastic. The interviewer said, "I'll have to think about it, but you do seem passionate and thanks for your time today."

I thought I wouldn't be moving forward, but I did after they saw several writing samples that I gave them (it is a PR internship).

Anyway, I asked a few questions about like how many hours interns are expected to work and the start date, and they were willing to push back the start date for a final I have.

But for the hourly commitment they basically said "at least 10 hours a week…but however much time you put in will depend on how much value you want to get out of the internship…the job market nowadays is tough…what will set you apart from a lot of applicants in the interview phase, is how much you're able to drive results at a company…so that would be my advice on how to stand out, leading projects, and delivering results."

I don't know whether they're just brutally honest people (it IS true that the more time and work you put in; the more you learn) or whether that's a sign they'll guilt-trip me into working more hours by saying "well you won't ever be an asset to a company and won't have anything to put on your resume after this experience if you don't work enough hours."

Personally, I wanted to gain experience in PR and the timeline fits perfectly with my summer schedule.

But I've also had really shitty experiences with companies who reached out to me on AngelList (literally NEVER had a good experience with ANY company that ever reached out to me, except for maybe once), and I don't want this to be my third time leaving an abusive startup in under a week.

I also wanted to add that the ad on AngelList said it was paid, and during the interview he asked me how much I wanted (and I said the minimum wage at an hourly rate). He later told me that it'd be unpaid; is that another red flag? I know people have a lot to say about unpaid internships and how they're shitty but I personally started off my marketing and business career at an unpaid place.

I'm willing to work hard for long hours (to an extent…not okay with pulling all nighters for unpaid work) and be challenged, as long as if there is support, constructive feedback, and some empathy for any mistakes I might make as a newbie at a company. What I am not okay with is being told off in a condescending way for fucking up or being blamed for founders' mistakes.

Does what they said seem like a red flag, and alternatively, is there any way I can sus them out before saying yes or no?

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!