Fundraising during pandemic? This is how these Amsterdam-based startups pulled it off

Closing a round of fundraising is generally a huge milestone for many startups. But it can also be incredible hard, complicated work and a stressful affair. Add to that a global pandemic shutting the world down? Doubly so, you would think. We checked in with Roamler, Studytube, Wizenoze and Open Social; all startups from Amsterdam that managed to raise significant funding during lockdown and peak pandemic. How did they manage, how do they look back and what is their advice?

Roamler got themselves worked up

On-demand marketplace for workers Roamler managed to raise a whopping €20 million. Their previous investor Endeit from Amsterdam led the round. Roamler-CEO Jeroen ten Haave started informal conversations with investors in November last year, when the world hadn’t heard of the word ‘COVID-19’ yet. That quickly changed and raising funds while a pandemic was disrupting the world was more excitement Ten Haave bargained for. “I think it was mostly us that were nervous about the situation. The investor clearly said they believed in what we were doing.”

 Roamler did not betray that faith. The Amsterdam-based startup got hit hard by the lockdown measures taken all over Europe. A lot of Roamler’s activities take place in stores or at people’s homes.”Together with our clients we determined it was simply not okay to send people there.” After business plunged in the lockdown months of April and May, it instantly picked up once life turned back to normal, says Ten Haave. “In June we were back on the level of February. We went from virtually standing still to business as usual in just two months. I think this proves the strength of our business model.” 

With the fresh funding, Ten Haave is looking abroad for Roamler. Highest on the list of priorities is international expansion of Roamler Tech, which employs specialists to install devices, troubleshoot software or help users with new technology. “We’re starting our expansion in the UK. We wanted to roll out in June, but due to the pandemic it got delayed until the end of September. After that, we’re looking at Germany and France, somewhere next year.” 

According to Ten Haave, the biggest challenge when setting up in a new market is to onboard new clients and convince them from the new way of working they offer, compared to the traditional model of freelancing or employment. “Our clients are large companies. They won’t change their organisation overnight. But there is huge demand for digitization of processes and workflows. Now that there is uncertainty in the market, this could mean there’s opportunities for us. It strengthens the discussion on how we can help people in a more flexible way.” 

Studytube’s deal nearly fell through

Image: Studytube

“These were the most stressful days of my life”, says Studytube co-founder and CEO Homam Karimi when he recalls the past couple of months. His online learning platform closed a funding round of €10 million with Nordic fund Verdane. Certainly something to celebrate now, but back in March, with the deal 99 percent done, COVID-19 nearly ruined everything. After months of work, all the way through the due diligence phase and beyond the shareholders agreement, everything just needed one official nod from all parties to close. But the same Monday The Netherlands went into a lockdown, Karimi, with the champagne bottle ready to pop, got word the investors pulled out. 

“At first there were some additional questions from Verdane about the deal. They started to have doubts about investing in new companies because of the uncertain times. But on Monday afternoon we heard the deal didn’t go through.” This meant the agreed upon exit for previous investor Henq also fell through. “Henq was also hit by this. Together with Coen van Duiven [Co-founder of Henq] we worked really hard to make the case for us. Eventually Verdane realized that Studytube was one of the companies that would come out of this crisis better than before. Tuesday after the lockdown went into effect, the deal was signed and done.” 

Stay up-to-date: Read all our COVID-19 coverage here 

The fact that Studytube is likely to grow during the crisis is already apparent. Karimi identifies two parts of the business: the SaaS-part, which offers an online learning platform for organizations, and a marketplace where one can book educators and training. “The software part really took off”, says Karimi. “Many companies had nothing in place for their employees to train or learn from home. Since March, we have added fifty new organizations.” However the part of the site where training or workshops are offered, fell quiet. Karimi: “The SaaS-part grows way faster than the decline of demand in the marketplace. We’re still looking at 70 or 80 percent growth this year.” 

With the funding done, Karimi is looking across the border for Studytube. “From 2021 we plan to expand across Europe.” One way to do so is organic, by starting to offer their product on new markets. But Karimi is also looking at acquisition of other parties to accelerate their growth. “There are many legacy learning management systems in Europe that were founded ten or fifteen years ago and make a nice profit now without ever receiving any funding. But those founders will probably ask themselves if they can keep competing on their own. I don’t believe Europe will have hundreds of different companies offering the same, when it comes to online learning. There will be two or three big parties, and we want to be part of that.” 

Wizenoze had VCs lining up

Image: Wizenoze

Another Amsterdam startup reaping the rewards from a sudden shift to homeschooling is Wizenoze. This edtech startup sifts through online content to only offer students educational gold. According to Wizenoze, COVID-19 got 1,5 billion students stuck at home, all dependent on online information to support their online learning. This meant usage of Wizenoze surged, says co-founder Diane Janknegt: “Due to Corona, we have seen a growth of up to 300 percent in usage with some of our customers.” With growth and a potential market like that, no wonder the startup managed to close a growth-stage funding round of reportedly €4 million

Soon after schools all over the world started to close down, investors also started to see the huge potential of Wizenoze, says Janknegt. “Like most entrepreneurs, we started the lockdown by looking at our cash flow and run rate. With these details in mind, we decided to accelerate the fundraising. In the beginning, it was a bit tough, but a couple of weeks after starting, it turned around. Suddenly, many more investors did understand the potential value of offering educational content through the internet. In the end, our round was hugely oversubscribed.” 

This luxurious position meant Janknegt had something to choose. She says she was able to double their initial ask, pick the best profile of investors and the friendliest terms. Janknegt: “In the end, we created what I call a ‘dream team’ of investors.” With this team and the funding, Janknegt is ready to expand Wizenoze worldwide. “We will focus our international growth on India and the Middle East. Our strategic headquarters are in London, which will remain our key market. And of course, we can also expand in the Benelux. We also experienced a lot of interest from overseas. Several conversations are still ongoing.”

Open Social’s early networking paid off

Image: Open Social

Fundraising during a global pandemic doesn’t have to be a stressful affair. Take Open Social, the startup from Amsterdam that offers everything for companies and organizations to create and maintain online communities. After previous round of crowdfunding, their first round of funding with VCs, €1,25 million, took a bit longer than expected to realize. But founder Taco Potze was never worried. “My advice for other startups is to make early contact with VCs in The Netherlands. They are generally willing to hear your story and have a cup of coffee, especially if you already have a product and clients. This allows you to build your network, and prevents you from fundraising with only a couple of months runway left.” 

That is exactly what Potze did. He started his first meetings in the summer of last year. “We heard that closing a round could take up to 9 months. So we started early, in keeping with the knowledge of ‘don’t ask for money, ask for advice’. This is a nice way to get in contact with VCs and a good way to know which can offer smart money.” After the first meeting at Peak Capital, which ended up as their main investor, Potze participated in a session about growing sales held by the VC. “This made it easier to eventually close the round.” 

After some progress in talking with the investors came COVID-19, shutting the world down. Potze: “This was a huge shock. VCs wanted to know how corona proof your concept is.” Very, would’ve been Potze’s answer. According to the startup COVID-19 had no negative effect and when it comes to growth they are having their best year since starting in 2016. Potze: “Many companies moved their budgets to online and remote working, which works in our advantage. We didn’t lose any customers and added quite some projects.” Potze had some questions for VCs as well. “We really wanted to know how companies in their portfolio were doing and what would be the consequences for their funds.” All in all the funding got delayed for a couple of months, says Potze.

The significant funding allows Open Social to do some serious hiring, especially in the department of sales and marketing, says Potze: “We always bootstrapped, so now we can invest in those areas. This will allow us a stronger foothold in Europe and the US. We also want to expand our support, to process tickets faster.” Potze is looking to double the team of 20 people currently working for the startup. “Now is a good time for vacancies. There are many ambitious people who are laid off, or looking around for something else. Compared to a year ago, we see better candidates.”

This article is produced in a collaboration with StartupAmsterdam. Read more about our partnering opportunities.

The post Fundraising during pandemic? This is how these Amsterdam-based startups pulled it off appeared first on Silicon Canals .

Startups – Silicon Canals

I have created and scaled a successful mobile COVID-19 testing operation, but I feel like there’s low-hanging fruit / opportunities we’re leaving on the table to get more people tested. What are some applications for this that I may be missing?

We are an ops + medical team that wants to see as many people tested as possible. In a pretty short time we've built some very solid technology and lab relationships that let us conduct large numbers of COVID-19 tests, identify the best lab for a fast turnaround, and get results in 2-3 days every time (even when hospitals are waiting 7 days).

Restaurants, police departments, real estate firms, etc. hire us to build a temporary testing suite in their offices. Our teams can each test up to 1,000 patients/day. Usually, we bill patient insurance, and uninsured patients have their tests covered by their employer. All results are delivered to the patient and the employer.

Our typical sale is to businesses who rely heavily on having people present and want to minimize the chances of an outbreak. They hire us to come and test their asymptomatic workforce, sometimes as often as every 1-2 weeks for each employee. This is important because many of these are front-line workers and at high risk of coming into contact with COVID-19, and we very regularly identify these people who are infected but have not yet started to exhibit symptoms.

Workplace testing is great, but I suspect there's a lot we're missing because we are so caught up in that world. What we're trying to figure out is what other use cases we may not be thinking of where a rapidly deployable testing capability could be valuable. Workplace testing volume ebbs and flows and we want our teams out there testing as many people possible even if it's not employer contracts.

What are some things we could do with this?

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

[Lemonade in Investor Place] Lemonade Stock Should Be Your Main Squeeze This Summer

Insurance companies have been around for as long as we can remember, but the lack of innovation has made this industry ripe for disruption. Enter Lemonade (NYSE:LMND), the “insurtech” startup that hopes to make insurance cool again. Fresh off its Initial Public Offering (IPO) in July, Lemonade stock rallied 138% and pushed the company’s market valuation to $ 3 billion.

Read more here.

The post [Lemonade in Investor Place] Lemonade Stock Should Be Your Main Squeeze This Summer appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.

OurCrowd Blog

Why did this Crypto-related domain name sell for so much more than the last 100?

 MorganLinton.com: Last week I was pretty surprised to see that an auction I was following on Go Daddy Auctions, CryptoCustody(.)com sold for a whopping $ 23,250. I learned about the sale price thanks to this tweet from NameBio. Before I go any further let me just say that I’m a fan of domain names with the word […]
Domaining.com

SaaS securitization will disrupt VC’s biggest returns this coming decade

SaaS investing has been on fire the past decade and the returns have been gushing in, with IPOs like Datadog, direct listings like Slack and acquisitions like Qualtrics (which is now being spun back out) creating billions of wealth and VC returns. Dozens more SaaS startups are on deck to head toward their exits in the same way, and many VC funds — particularly those with deep portfolios in the SaaS space — are going to perform well.

Yet, the gargantuan returns we are seeing today for SaaS portfolios are unlikely to repeat themselves.

The big threat in the short term is simply price: SaaS investing has gotten a lot more expensive. It may be hard to remember, but just a decade ago the business model of “Software as a Service” was revolutionary. Much in the way that it took years for cloud infrastructure to take hold in corporate IT departments, the idea that one didn’t license software but paid by user or by usage over time was almost heretical.

For VCs willing to make the leap into the space, prices were (relatively) cheap. Investor attention a decade ago was intensely centered on consumer web and mobile, driven by Facebook’s blockbuster IPO in May 2012 and Twitter’s IPO the following year. While every investor was chasing deals like Snap(chat), the smaller population of investors targeting enterprise SaaS (or even more exotic spaces like, gulp, fintech) got great deals on what would later become the decade’s biggest unicorns.

Startups – TechCrunch

I was meant to give a 60 minute presentation for an interview for a head of growth role at a startup, then Covid happened so I never got to give it. So I’m going to do 6 little blogs on the slides I would have presented and publish them here as not to waste the time I put in. This is 1/6 – Intro.

This was a 60 minute presentation that I was going to have to give as a final round for a head of growth role before Covid happened and I never got to give it, I really don't want it to go to waste.

It comprises a few key parts, and despite the slight romanticising of a ‘growth hacker’ role over the last couple of years, it’s anything but a telenovela. These were the slides.

  1. Intro
  2. Data friendliness
  3. Manufacturing creativity
  4. Diversifying growth
  5. Mission evangelism
  6. Rate limiting steps

I am a growth hacker, but I think it may have also changed slightly since Sean Ellis made the differentiation in 2010 between marketer and growth hacker: Sean coined the term when he couldn’t find anyone to replace the work he was doing as a marketing consultant at this time, issuing the need for a new job specification altogether.

This would have been my introduction, simply highlighting a few key areas that would make for a fantastic environment for a growth lead to come in.

Firstly, growth is still true north

If retention suffers, if the brand is dragged through the mud, if the campaigns starts to open a wormhole into a universe with giant eye-eating monsters; that simply isn’t the growth hacker’s problem. As a blinkered horse charges, as a berserker cleaves heads; one is not to reason why, one is but to grow or die.

In the most simple of terms, any job that does not involve THE number going up, is not the responsibility of the growth team.

Secondly, have a North Star Metric

This is THE thing you can base your company’s success on. Defining this will help a growth manager remain streamlined in their work. It will also encourage absolute transparency and efficiency with work. ‘How does the work you are currently undertaking help us achieve our goal?’

If you haven’t worked it out yet, do it now.

Thirdly, understand the simple sum behind growth.

UX + Product + Marketing = Customer Advocacy.

Advocacy + Growth Marketing = Successful growth

This is simple. If the product does not have a gradual upwards trend organically, then do not expect a growth marketer to come in and fix this. Growth hacking is a way of making as many eyes and ears as possible see the product for what it is, it is not tilting what the product is in order for it to be more appealing to the audience.

I have had to do the latter, it ends poorly.

Finally, good ideas are systematised.

Sitting around waiting for awesome things to happen is like waiting for lightning to strike on a summer’s day. As a company, create processes that drive creativity and free thinking.

———————————————————————————

I will publish the first blog tomorrow regarding data friendliness. I couldn’t think of a better way to explain it. It essentially means becoming incredibly knowledgeable about the processes and percentages that lead to a conversion, across the whole marketing effort.

Feel free to ask me questions along the way, it's going to be a cathartic journey.

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

I see this in my mind when somebody tries to kill my idea

I was countered with the efficient market theory several times and I fell for it. Later, I've bitterly learned of great startups with my "bad" and abandoned ideas.

This March though, I ignored this piece of wisdom and devised a toy which has proved to be a great success at pre-launch. There is an investor trying to buy shares and the children and parents who tested it are elated. I hope it will really take off.

So, this is my mantra from now on.

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

Work From Their Home Taking Paid Survey Programs – This Is The Way

Am I able pay out some little money? Even if you can commence a home online business on a shoestring budget, you should bear in your mind that customers are all about investment. Really are you inside your enterprise for one to earn utilising expect to get from everything?

When operating your work from home business, pay attention to advice others offer the customer. These opinions may provide your success in over time. You must learn merely this fact of existence. Graciously accepting others opinions and advice is necessary. Agree to disagree when needed. Stay focused on only the opinions and thoughts that support you and keep you going towards your organization development.

Bake and Cook – Most moms know the right way to cook they usually cook excellently. If the foods you bake or cook are enjoyed the by your household but also other people, you will surely earn some bucks from your skills. You can transform a small space photos lawn into a food wait. You can also offer cooking and catering services. This will require you to go out at times but many stay in your most in the time while waiting for calls from clients.

work at home jobs aren’t all data entry and customer satisfaction – in fact, those jobs could be hard arrive by since many people want them. At home customer service jobs add rest of requiring a very, very quiet place to. These jobs have experience and skill requirements will be fairly common, which is why so prefer to go all of them.

TIP! In order to your bank to find out about business accounting. Or perhaps she may also help you in opening a bank keep an eye on your home business online, obtain checks incorporate the name of your company and put in an application for with a home business payment or distinct credit.

Multilevel marketing, network marketing and cures have often heard as “pyramid schemes” have given home businesses a bad rap. Really, multilevel and network marketing is an idea that occur in almost every single business and social organization on the market.

Check out local laws governing the operations of small businesses in location. Neighbors may complain if noise levels are high. You use chemicals for your business, make sure that nicely. Keep a low profile and each day fly the actual radar with law. Sometimes this brings into reality limits of signals and noise constraints. Stay invisible.

Startups Weekly: Qualtrics IPO to be even more exciting this time around

Editor’s note: Get this free weekly recap of TechCrunch news that any startup can use by email every Saturday morning (7am PT). Subscribe here.

German software giant SAP bought experience management platform Qualtrics for $ 8 billion days before the unicorn’s IPO, back in November of 2018. But last weekend it decided to spin out the experience management provider to finally go public on its own. The analysts Ron Miller talked to speculated about strategic issues on the SAP side, and concluded this was more of an internal reset combined with the financial gain from a promising offering.

Qualtrics, meanwhile, already put the Utah startup scene on the map for people around the world. Having grown strongly post-acquisition, it is now set up to be the largest IPO in state history. Here’s Alex Wilhelm with more analysis in Extra Crunch:

According to metrics from the Bessemer Cloud Index, cloud companies with growth rates of 35.5% and gross margins of 71.3% are worth around 17.3x in enterprise value compared to their annualized revenue.

Given how close Qualtrics is to that averaged set of metrics (slightly slower growth, slightly better gross margins), the 17.3x number is probably not far from what the company can achieve when it does go public. Doing the sums, $ 800 million times 17.3 is $ 13.8 billion, far more than what SAP paid for Qualtrics. (For you wonks out there, it’s doubtful that Qualtrics has much debt, though it will have lots of cash post-IPO; expect the company’s enterprise value to be a little under its future market cap.)

So, the markets are valuing cloud companies so highly today that even after SAP had to pay a huge premium to buy Qualtrics ahead of its public offering, the company is still sharply more valuable today after just two years of growth.

Back to the era of nation-states

The tech industry is getting broken down and reformed by national governments in ways that many of its leaders do not seem to have planned for as part of scaling to the world, whether you consider TikTok’s ever-shrinking global footprint or leading tech CEOs getting called out by Congress. When you skim through the numerous headlines on these topics this week, you’ll see a very clear message in the subtext: Every startup has to think more carefully about its place in the world these days, as a matter of survival.

Big tech crushes Q2 earnings expectations

Lawmakers argue that big tech stands to benefit from the pandemic and must be regulated

Secret documents from US antitrust probe reveal big tech’s plot to control or crush the competition

Apple’s App Store commission structure called into question in antitrust hearing

Zuckerberg unconvincingly feigns ignorance of data-sucking VPN scandal

In antitrust hearing, Zuckerberg admits Facebook has copied its competition

Before buying Instagram, Zuckerberg warned employees of ‘battle’ to ‘dislodge’ competitor

Apple CEO Tim Cook questioned over App Store’s removal of rival screen time apps in antitrust hearing

Google’s Sundar Pichai grilled over ‘destroying anonymity on the internet’

Bezos ‘can’t guarantee’ no anti-competitive activity as Congress catches him flat-footed

Amazon’s hardware business doesn’t escape Congressional scrutiny

Time for TikTok:

India bans 47 apps cloning restricted Chinese services

After India and US, Japan looks to ban TikTok and other Chinese apps

Report: Microsoft in talks to buy TikTok’s US business from China’s ByteDance

The leading arguments for a Microsoft-TikTok tie-up 😉

And last but not least ominously, for large platforms…

Australia now has a template for forcing Facebook and Google to pay for news

The team at remote-first enterprise startup Seeq put together this montage of some of its remote offices.

Remote work still getting big investment

This loosely defined subsector of SaaS went from being a somewhat mainstream idea within the startup world last year to being fully mainstream with the wider world due to the pandemic this year. But publicly traded companies have been some of the biggest beneficiaries (see previous item), and the action around earlier-stage startups has been less clear. Lucas Matney and Alex caught up with six investors who have been focused on various parts of the space to get the latest for Extra Crunch. Here’s a pithy description of fundraising trends that companies are experiencing, from Elliott Robinson, a growth-stage investor at Bessemer:

How competitive are remote-work tooling venture rounds now?

Incredibly competitive. I think one dynamic I’ve seen play out is that the basket of remote-work companies that are really high-performing right now are setting lofty price expectations well ahead of the raise. Many of these companies didn’t plan on raising in Q2/Q3, but with COVID tailwinds, they are choosing to raise at some often sight-unseen-level valuation multiples.

Are prices out of control?

I think it depends on your definition of out of control. The reality is that many of these companies are raising money off cycle from their natural fundraising date for two reasons: One, they are seeing once in a lifetime digital transformation and adoption of remote-work tooling solutions. And, two, so many investors have raised sizable funds during the last nine months that they are leaning into investing in these companies — one of the few segments that will likely continue to see tailwinds as COVID cases continue to rise again in the U.S. Other traditional software value props may face significant headwinds in a uncertain COVID world. Thus, growth equity investors are paying high multiples to get a shot at the category-defining RW app companies.

Haptics in a pandemic-stricken world

Haptics are a great sort of gee-whiz technology, but the practical future of touch-based communication is all over the place — VR devices are suddenly more interesting, touchpads less so. Devon Powers and David Parisi are academics and authors who focus on the space, and they wrote a big guest post for TechCrunch this week that sketched out some of the ups and downs of the decades-old concept. Here’s a key excerpt:

Getting haptics right remains challenging despite more than 30 years’ worth of dedicated research in the field. There is no evidence that COVID is accelerating the development of projects already in the pipeline. The fantasy of virtual touch remains seductive, but striking the golden mean between fidelity, ergonomics and cost will continue to be a challenge that can only be met through a protracted process of marketplace trial-and-error. And while haptics retains immense potential, it isn’t a magic bullet for mending the psychological effects of physical distancing.

Curiously, one promising exception is in the replacement of touchscreens using a combination of hand-tracking and midair haptic holograms, which function as button replacements. This product from Bristol-based company Ultraleap uses an array of speakers to project tangible soundwaves into the air, which provide resistance when pressed on, effectively replicating the feeling of clicking a button.

Ultraleap recently announced that it would partner with the cinema advertising company CEN to equip lobby advertising displays found in movie theaters around the U.S. with touchless haptics aimed at allowing interaction with the screen without the risks of touching one. These displays, according to Ultraleap, “will limit the spread of germs and provide safe and natural interaction with content.”

A recent study carried out by the company found that more than 80% of respondents expressed concerns over touchscreen hygiene, prompting Ultraleap to speculate that we are reaching “the end of the [public] touchscreen era.” Rather than initiate a technological change, the pandemic has provided an opportunity to push ahead on the deployment of existing technology. Touchscreens are no longer sites of naturalistic, creative interaction, but are now spaces of contagion to be avoided. Ultraleap’s version of the future would have us touching air instead of contaminated glass.

Finding the best investors for you: The TC List and Europe surveys

Speaking of investors, TechCrunch has been busy with a few other projects to you find the right ones faster.

First, Danny Crichton has pushed a third update to The TechCrunch List, due to the ongoing flood of recommendations. In his words: “Now using more than 2,600 founder recommendations — more than double our original dataset — we have underscored a number of the existing investors on our list as well as added 116 new investors who have been endorsed by founders as investors willing to cut against the grain and write those critical first checks and lead venture rounds.”

Check it out and filter by location, category and stage to narrow down your pitch list. If you are a founder and haven’t submitted your recommendation yet, please fill out our very brief survey. If you have questions, we put together a Frequently Asked Questions page that describes the qualifications and logistics, some of the logic behind the List and how to get in touch with us.

Second, our editor-at-large Mike Butcher is embarking on a virtual investor survey of European countries, to help Extra Crunch provide a clearer view about what’s happening in the Continent’s startup hubs in the middle of the world going crazy:

TechCrunch is embarking on a major new project to survey the venture capital investors of Europe. Over the next few weeks, we will be “zeroing-in” on Europe’s major cities, from A-Z, Amsterdam to Zurich — and many points in-between. It’s part of a broader series of surveys we’re doing to help founders find the right investors. For example, here is the recent survey of London.

Our survey will capture how each European startup hub is faring, and what changes are being wrought amongst investors by the coronavirus pandemic. We’d like to know how your city’s startup scene is evolving, how the tech sector is being impacted by COVID-19 and, generally, how your thinking will evolve from here. Our survey will only be about investors, and only the contributions of VC investors will be included. The shortlist of questions will require only brief responses, but the more you want to add, the better.

The deadline for entries is the end of next week, August 7th and you can fill it out here.

He also wanted me to let you know that he’ll resume his in-person trips as soon as allowed. (I actually made that up, but he has said as much.)

Around TechCrunch

Submit your pitch deck to Disrupt 2020’s Pitch Deck Teardown

Announcing the Disrupt 2020 agenda

Talking virtual events and Disrupt with Hopin founder Johnny Boufarhat

The TechCrunch Exchange: What’s an IPO to a SPAC?— In case you haven’t checked out Alex’s new weekly email newsletter yet.

Across the week

TechCrunch

Connected audio was a bad choice

Stanford students are short-circuiting VC firms by investing in their peers

Bitcoin bulls are running, as prices spike above $ 11K

Recruiting for diversity in VC

Build products that improve the lives of inmates

Extra Crunch

Six things venture capitalists are looking for in your pitch

VCs and startups consider HaaS model for consumer devices

Teespring’s comeback story

Cannabis VC Karan Wadhera on why the industry, which took a hit last year, is now quietly blazing

Jesus, SaaS and digital tithing

#EquityPod

From Alex:

Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast (now on Twitter!), where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines.

We had the full team this week: MyselfDanny and Natasha on the mics, with Chris running skipper as always.

Sadly this week we had to kick off with a correction as I am 1) dumb, and, 2) see point one. But after we got past SPAC nuances (shout-out to David Ethridge), we had a full show of good stuff, including:

And that’s Equity for this week. We are back Monday morning early, so make sure you are keeping tabs on our socials. Hugs, talk soon!

Equity drops every Monday at 7:00 a.m. PT and Friday at 6:00 a.m. PT, so subscribe to us on Apple PodcastsOvercastSpotify and all the casts.

Startups – TechCrunch

It breaks my heart to have to write this post but I’m not giving up on this mission – a read for technical founders who care about Asian representation

It breaks my heart to have to write this post but I’m not giving up on this mission. For the past 10 months, I’ve dedicated my life to building a platform where Asians can represent their unique story, show their personality and transcend stereotypes with the end goal of finding meaningful connections. In short, it would be a video dating app that celebrates the Asian experience.

I was determined to build this platform because I am a product of immigrants who was raised on western media and its negative portrayal of Asians. I’m doing this because I’m still hurting and recognize that we, the collective Asian community, are longing to heal from the generations of ancestral trauma and internalized racism.

We gathered a small group of talented and passionate individuals with the same passion, values, drive and mission to improve the lives of Asian individuals, and were just 2 weeks away from releasing the beta. Over 900 people have signed up to be beta testers and there was genuine excitement and support in the community about this product and our mission.

This all ended abruptly just a few days ago when our CTO was forced to pull out of the project due to unforeseen family reasons and extenuating circumstances. Now, we are left with 900 individuals who’ve been eagerly and patiently waiting for the app, an app that’s about 2 weeks away from beta stage completion and a small group of passionate individuals who want nothing more than to offer a better dating experience for Asian individuals. We’ve come to a standstill.

But we’re not giving up here. We’ve come too far and there is too much at stake – the possibility of helping Asians lead happier lives. As difficult as it was to find our original and amazing CTO, we’re again looking for a talented CTO and co-founder to continue our mission.

The app is built on Firebase and Flutter, and it’s pretty great – again, near public beta shape. We’re looking for a CTO and co-founder who is a senior full-stack developer with experience in mobile development and startups. The most important quality, however, is that this person is passionate about Asian representation and believes in a mission like ours. The team is working remotely so it doesn’t matter where you are. You would join for equity. (So this isn’t a job post.) We have no funding and don’t have any grand illusions of getting any at this stage without users or revenue. But money is not what drives us and it’s not why we’re doing this.

And if you’re curious, yes, we’ve done the research, the surveys, the interviews, the prototyping, the alpha testing. I can tell you straight out: Will all Asians want to use this app? NO. Some Asians don’t want to date other Asians and that’s their prerogative. We’re not here to convert anyone. But do Asians in general want a platform like this? YES. The majority of Asians do see the benefit and value in dating someone who comes from a similar experience and upbringing. And just because you’re on this app doesn’t mean you’re not open to dating non-Asians. And is the app sticky? Fuck ya.

We believe this is an app that has the potential to become the “TikTok” of Asian dating – a cool platform that everyone wants to join. Yeah, nothing like this has existed before so it’s hard for some to even imagine it. But 900 of you and many more that have reached out with support can see that vision and that possibility. This will be a platform where Asians can proudly celebrate our identity, culture and story, and, by telling our stories with compassion, love and empathy, allow ourselves to find self-acceptance and even, perhaps, love.

If you believe in a mission like ours and you’re interested in possibly joining our team or know anyone that might be, please tell them about www.alike.dating and tell them to message me at hello@alike.dating. Fingers crossed. Thank you.

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