Would your startup offer goods/services in exchange for a customer making a donation to a charity of your choice?

Hello all. I'm a hobbyist developer with an idea for a socially-conscious sideproject. Before I commit to it though, I was hoping to solicit some brutally honest input on whether anyone here might use it. Would you mind taking a minute to give me your thoughts?

I'd build this as an open-source project and offer the service for free.

The idea: An API that allows your customer to "pay" you for a good or service by making a donation to a charity of your choice. The API would (hypothetically) be compatible with any charity that sends out email confirmations for donations.

Example use case: Customers can pay you $ 20 for your online course, or they can make a $ 25 donation to the Red Cross's COVID response, with the donation verified through my API.

Another example use case: You run a SaaS startup where a subscription is $ 20/month. For their first month of service, the customer has the option of "paying" with a $ 20 donation to Doctor's Without Borders.

How the API works: The customer still makes their donation directly on the charity's website, and my API never sees their credit card details.

  1. At checkout, you direct the customer to a payment page hosted by my "donation API." You specify the amount that they need to donate, and the URL of the charity that they should donate to.
  2. The API-generated payment page creates a one-time-use email address for the customer. The customer is instructed to go to the charity's website and make a donation in the amount you specified, and to provide the one-time-use email address when the charity asks for their email.
  3. The charity sends the donation receipt to the one-time-use email address. My API scrapes the email receipt contents to verify that the amount donated matches or exceeds the amount you specified. You can tweak how this works in the API settings.
  4. My API forwards the donation receipt to the customer's real email address, so that they have the receipt for their records.
  5. My API notifies you (the seller) that the donation has been verified, either through a webhook, Zapier integration, or by just sending you an email notification.

Again, please be brutally honest in your response. If I built this, could you see yourself implementing it with your startup?

Thanks for your time!

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

Is VC fundraising in exchange for equity considered a partial sale of the company?

TLDR: I was employee at a startup that gave me equity and secretively clawed it back then fired me few months later. Is the law around "sale of company" established to be a full sale of company or can it be a partial sale (e.g. equity to VCs)? Can I effectively pursue legal action against the startup?

I've worked at the startup before they had major traction and had equity as part of the my compensation with a 4 year vesting period. After my equity has fully vested and before the company publicly announced a major round of VC fundraising (first round ever), the company asked me to sign a new agreement without any equity. I was sent the a new employment contract at 9am and was asked to sign it by 5pm during a busy work day. I didn't have enough time to carefully review its terms or seek advice of counsel. Few months later, the startup fired me, so I curiously reviewed my 2 employment and noticed that the equity clause was missing from the new agreement, thus sparking this question.

Under the old employment contract, the terms of the equity were that I had to be a full-time employee at the time of "sale of company". Does partial sale of company (e.g. equity) to VCs count as "sale of company" and thus trigger a bonus for me?

Please ask clarifying questions if you need more details before providing an answer. I greatly appreciate your advice.

Apologies if I chose the wrong flair. Mods, please adjust accordingly.

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

Building your own ad exchange or using MoPub?

Hi All

Hope you are well.

Hypothetical situation here – but if you are, for example, a startup creating a new social platform app, as your user base grows and you intend to monetise it by selling ads, how do you go about doing this?

I'm guessing at some stage you build your own internal/proprietary ad exchanged?

What do you do in the meantime? Use something like the MoPub SDK?

Or is there something else to it? And is an ad exchange the most appropriate way in which to sell ads on your platform?

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

Introducing The Exchange, your daily dive into the private markets

When 2020 began, the year seemed set to include another year of record-setting venture capital investment and, perhaps, some long-awaited IPOs. All that quickly faded when COVID-19 spread globally, shutting economies, undercutting swaths of the business world and rearranging the working life in countries around the globe.

Here at TechCrunch we’re navigating the changing landscape, talking to the founders and venture capitalists that make up the startup realm that we cover, hoping to decipher the new normal.

One way that we’ve done that this year is through a daily look at the private markets. This regular effort (you can read the full archive here) has been an attempt to understand the financial side of the startup world, and how the public markets exert gravity (or lift) on private companies, especially during tumultuous economic times.

The project kicked off with a look at companies that have reached the $ 100 million ARR mark (a series that is still ongoing), and has touched on all sorts of things since, including the growing popularity of venture debt, China’s VC slowdown, lots of coverage of VC-backed companies trying to go public and, recently, why API startups are so hot right now.

Today I’m happy to announce that we’re giving the daily post a name and a lovely set of art. Previously called nothing at all, the series is now called “The Exchange.”

As a writer, this is an exciting moment. I’ve written a daily column focused on the markets since mid-2016 for various publications, but I’ve never had one that was as put together as The Exchange can now claim to be. A big thanks to Eric and Walter and Henry and Bryce and Holden and Natasha for their help and encouragement.

Looking ahead, we’re seeing more mega rounds than I would have anticipated, more market demand for tech IPOs than I think anyone anticipated, record highs for tech stocks until about 48 minutes ago and lots of new rounds worth digging into from a trends perspective. So, there’s a lot to do and I’m excited to talk about it all with you each and every weekday morning on The Exchange.

That’s it for now. The Exchange comes out Monday through Friday morning on TechCrunch for Extra Crunch subscribers. Use the code “EXCHANGE” for a discount if you’d like one.

A huge thanks to everyone who already reads this series, and a hug for everyone who’s signed up so that they can access it. Here’s to another hundred entries. And then one hundred more.

Startups – TechCrunch

The Sun Exchange raises $3M for crypto-driven solar power in Africa

South Africa-based renewable energy startup Sun Exchange has raised $ 3 million to close its Series A funding round totaling $ 4 million.

The company operates a peer-to-peer, crypto-enabled business that allows individuals anywhere in the world to invest in solar infrastructure in Africa.

How’s that all work?

“You as an individual are selling electricity to a school in South Africa, via a solar panel you bought through the Sun Exchange,” explained Abe Cambridge, the startup’s founder and CEO.

“Our platform meters the electricity production of your solar panel. Arranges for the purchasing of that electricity with your chosen energy consumer, collects that money and then returns it to your Sun Exchange wallet.”

It costs roughly $ 5 a solar cell to get in and transactions occur in South African Rand or Bitcoin.

“The reason why we chose Bitcoin is we needed one universal payment system that enables micro transactions down to a millionth of a U.S. cent,” Cambridge told TechCrunch on a call.

He co-founded the Cape Town-headquartered startup in 2015 to advance renewable energy infrastructure in Africa. “I realized the opportunity for solar was enormous, not just for South Africa, but for the whole of the African continent,” said Cambridge.

“What was required was a new mechanism to get Africa solar powered.”

Sub-Saharan Africa has a population of roughly 1 billion people across a massive landmass and only about half of that population has access to electricity, according to the International Energy Agency.

Recently, Sun Exchange’s main market South Africa — which boasts some of the best infrastructure in the region — has suffered from blackouts and power outages.

Image Credits: Sun Exchange

Sun Exchange has members in 162 countries who have invested in solar power projects for schools, businesses and organizations throughout South Africa, according to company data.

The $ 3 million — which closed Sun Exchange’s $ 4 million Series A — came from the Africa Renewable Power Fund of London’s ARCH Emerging Markets Partners.

With the capital, the startup plans to enter new markets. “We’re going to expand into other Sub-Saharan African countries. We’ve got some clear opportunities on our roadmap,” Cambridge said, referencing Nigeria as one of the markets Sun Exchange has researched.

There are several well-funded solar energy startups operating in Africa’s top economic and tech hubs, such as Kenya and Nigeria. In East Africa, M-Kopa sells solar hardware kits to households on credit, then allows installment payments via mobile phone using M-Pesa mobile money. The venture is backed by $ 161 million from investors including Steve Case and Richard Branson.

In Nigeria, Rensource shifted from a residential hardware model to building solar-powered micro utilities for large markets and other commercial structures.

Sun Exchange operates as an asset free model and operates differently than companies that install or manufacture solar panels.

“We’re completely supplier agnostic. We are approached by solar installers who operate on the African continent. And then we partner with the best ones,” said Cambridge — who presented the startup’s model at TechCrunch Startup Battlefield in Berlin in 2017.

“We’re the marketplace that connects together the user of the solar panel to the owner of the solar panel to the installer of the solar panel.”

Abe Cambridge, Image Credits: TechCrunch

Sun Exchange generates revenues by earning margins on sales of solar panels and fees on purchases and kilowatt hours generated, according to Cambridge.

In addition to expanding in Africa, the startup looks to expand in the medium to long-term to Latin America and Southeast Asia.

“Those are also places that would really benefit from from solar energy, from the speed in which it could be deployed and the environmental improvements that going solar leads to,” said Cambridge.

Startups – TechCrunch

Storage marketplace Warehouse Exchange raises $2.2M

Warehouse Exchange, a startup that describes itself as the Airbnb of warehouse space, has raised $ 2.2 million in seed funding.

The company was founded Jonathan Rosenthal (CEO of Saybrook Management) and Dan Pimentel (previously CFO/COO of startup Hub TV). They recently brought on former eHarmony CEO Grant Langston as the Warehouse Exchange’s chief executive.

Langston admitted that his new job might sound pretty different from running an online dating company, but he said that in both cases, it’s really about using technology to build a marketplace.

In the case of Warehouse Exchange, Langston said the opportunity lies in the fact that “businesses that wanted warehouse space were not welcome in warehouses.” Specifically, there are plenty of new e-commerce companies that want “smaller footprints for shorter periods of time and want to handle their own inventory,” but particularly pre-pandemic, most of the third-party logistics companies (known as 3PLs) operating warehouses weren’t interested in that business.

So Warehouse Exchange has created a marketplace connecting renters with flexible warehouse space — Langston said businesses are renting space through the marketplace for an average of 11 months (though it usually starts with a shorter amount of time and then gets extended).

Warehouse Exchange CEO Grant Langston

Warehouse Exchange CEO Grant Langston

In fact, the company said it’s seen 22,000 searches on its site in the past 18 months. The warehouse space, meanwhile, might not come from traditional warehouse operators, but instead from other organizations that have extra space that they want to monetize.

Langston added, “3PLs are typically not interested in this small e-commerce demand, but what has happened in the last eight weeks is that a lot of these companies have lost their anchor tenant and need to rethink their revenue.”

In order for a warehouse shift to this model, Langston said some rethinking is required, but “the infrastructure is quite light” — usually, you just partitions to separate different parts of the warehouse.

Given the broader concerns about warehouse safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, I also asked about who is responsible for those issues within the warehouses. Langston said it’s up to the individual tenants, noting that in many cases it’s just one person running an e-commerce business, and that “in a general sense, there’s not a lot of intermingling between tenants.”

The new funding comes from investors including Xebec Realty. Langston said he’s already working to raise a Series A, with a target of $ 6 to $ 7 million.

Startups – TechCrunch

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

LXME rebrands to LMX.com (Liquid Market Exchange)

 OnlineDomain.com: LXME, Giuseppe Graziano’s Liquid Domain Market Exchange that launched in September 2018, is rebranding today to LMX.com, which stands for Liquid Market Exchange. “The purpose of LMX is to create a safe environment in which investors are able to trade liquid domains quickly, efficiently and at low fees.” Here are some of t…

LXME.com rebranding to Liquid Market Exchange LMX.com

 The Domains: Giuseppe Graziano is rebranding LXME, his liquid domain platform, to LMX.com, which stands for Liquid Market Exchange. The purpose of LMX is to create a safe environment in which investors are able to trade liquid domains quickly, efficiently and at low fees.  Giuseppe shared the following changes from LXME: You can now list One Word…

What is the appropriate business framework/model for a securities exchange?

Imagine a startup like Coinbase. Is it basically a 2-sided marketplace model? Whatever the model, if you have resources to better understand these types of businesses, I'd appreciate it.

My objective is to evaluate the potential of a business idea, and if it's any good, checking out investors and other resources.

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