My big jump: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy’s CEO journey

After listening to others pitch me a few different job opportunities while still at Google in 2008, it became clear to me that I would make a better decision if I could fully explore the larger landscape of new companies emerging in Silicon Valley.

I had spent the last several years focusing on Google’s business outside the U.S., and I honestly felt out of touch with the startup world. Beyond my goal of becoming a CEO of my own company, I had two other ambitions: I wanted to help build a great consumer service that would delight people (potentially in e-commerce) and I wanted to build further wealth for myself and my family.

To better evaluate my options, I made the decision to quit Google first and find a way to study the wider ecosystem of companies before choosing where to go. Resolved to give myself a “blank slate” before making a final choice, I left Google when I was three months pregnant and joined Accel Partners, a top Silicon Valley venture capital firm and an investor in my previous startup, in a temporary role as CEO-in-residence.

In the months that followed, I helped Accel evaluate investment opportunities across a wide variety of digital sectors, with a particular focus on e-commerce, taking the opportunity to study those companies I might join or think of starting from scratch.

On Thursday, August 19 at 2 p.m. PDT/5 p.m. EDT/9 p.m. UTC

Managing Editor Danny Crichton will interview Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, author of “Choose Possibility,” on Twitter Spaces.

One of Accel’s key partners, Theresia Gouw, helped me brainstorm, joining my cadre of professional priests. We had known one another for over a decade (I originally met her as a young founder at Yodlee) and were at similar stages of our careers, so I knew she could identify personally with my career quandaries. Like me, Theresia was pregnant with her next child and at a similar life stage — yet another commonality.

Cropped photo a photo of author Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

Image Credits: Sukhinder Singh Cassidy

While at Accel, I spent a disproportionate amount of time testing my macro thesis that online shopping was about to explode in new ways. I had seen the rise of e-tailers at Google (many of these companies, such as eBay and Amazon, were Google’s largest advertisers at the time), but many of the leading e-commerce sites like Amazon and Zappos still had a utilitarian feel to them.

Meanwhile, new fashion and décor e-commerce sites such as Rent the Runway, Gilt, Houzz, Wayfair and One Kings Lane were popping up everywhere and growing rapidly. These sites sought to tap into a more aspirational and entertainment-oriented kind of shopping experience and move it online.

Expert investors like Accel and others were funding them, and my own observations suggested that this area would yield another big wave of online consumer growth. These lifestyle categories of shopping also appealed to me personally; I was the target customer for many of them.

I started to work on an idea for a new e-commerce service, a luxury version of eBay, while listening to the pitches of every e-commerce company that was looking for funding and talking to several that needed early-stage CEOs. I continued to listen to non-e-commerce pitches as well, simply to give myself a point of reference for evaluating online shopping opportunities.

At Yodlee and Google, I had been lucky enough to work with incredibly smart and talented people who shared my values, and I wanted to do the same at my next venture.

I wanted to work with great investors, too, and fortunately I had the ability either to work with Accel-funded companies, start my own or leverage other investor relationships I’d developed. I spent time with multiple company founders to try to discern who they were as leaders, in addition to what they were working on.

By this point in my career, I had a pretty clear idea of my own superpowers and values, so I looked to find companies that could make the most of my unique gifts and whose founders or senior leaders had strengths complementary to mine.

Specifically, I hoped to join a company with a very strong engineering and product management culture that needed a CEO with strategy, vision, business development, fundraising and team-building expertise. Applying these criteria, I turned down several opportunities at companies whose founders had skill sets too similar to mine, reasoning that this overlap might lead to conflict if I ever became CEO.

Finally, I used my time at Accel to think long and hard about the risks I would take in becoming a startup CEO and whether I could afford to fail. My biggest risk by far was ego- and reputation-related. Mindful of how precarious early-stage startups are, I feared that I would leave a successful role as a global executive only to suffer a very large and visible failure. But the more I thought about this, I faced this ego risk head-on and concluded that my reputation as an executive from Google would hopefully be strong enough to survive one failure if it came to that.

The personal risks of taking on a startup CEO role felt different but not greater than those associated with my job at Google. While I knew that serving as a first-time CEO while having another newborn at home (my son Kieran) would be immensely stressful, I would likely benefit from no longer traveling around the world for days and weeks on end and working across multiple time zones, as I had previously.

Last, I evaluated the financial risks of potential moves. Although my startup equity would have uncertain value for a long time, I judged this a risk worth taking, given how excited I’d feel to have more impact and responsibility as CEO. While I lost a large financial package in choosing to leave Google and switching to a startup salary, I could pay the bills at home while digging into my savings only slightly. Under these conditions, I was prepared to make the leap.

In early 2010, almost a year after I left Google, I finally found the right opportunity and decided to join fashion technology startup Polyvore as its full-time CEO. A precursor to Pinterest, Polyvore was based on the idea that women could “clip” online images to create fashion and décor idea boards digitally that were instantly “shoppable.”

Millions of young women (including influencers) were already using the service and loved it. The founding team was led by a rock star engineer, Pasha Sadri, along with three other product and technology folks he recruited from the likes of Yahoo and Google.

Pasha was known for his intelligence, and we had connected informally over the years for coffee, each time having great discussions about business strategy. In fact, Polyvore twice before had tried to recruit me to become its CEO, once when I was at Google and again when I departed that company in 2008. Back then, I’d spent a productive afternoon with the founding team, helping them think through their business model. I also knew Peter Fenton, one of Silicon Valley’s most successful investors and a leading funder of the company. Peter was the one who first introduced me to Polyvore and who continued afterward to passively court me.

Having spent so much time exploring my options from multiple angles, I was now poised to make a great decision. I felt convinced that e-commerce was starting its next wave of growth, and felt excited to be part of it.

Within that vision, Polyvore was among the companies best positioned to succeed, and I knew I could contribute in significant ways to building a service that would delight millions. I was impressed with the strengths of Polyvore’s founder and investors and anticipated that I would be able to complement their efforts nicely. Recognizing that my success as a startup CEO hinged on my relationships with the founder and board, I had also invested time to get to know them.

Meanwhile, I had faced my fear demons, taking financial risk but negotiating my offer aggressively to account for downside scenarios I imagined, and coming to grips with my ego risk. With all this work in place, I finally jumped.

After managing a multibillion-dollar profit and loss and leading a 2,000-person team at Google, I became the newly minted CEO of a 10-person fashion startup in February 2010.

As we tee up the bigger choices in our careers, we all face critical moments of decision. No choice we make will be perfect, and all the frameworks in the world won’t eliminate risk entirely. But we don’t need perfection or freedom from risk. We just need to take the next step.

By choosing thoughtfully, using all the tools at our disposal to maximize our upside and anticipate our downside, we can grasp the opportunities available to us while equipping ourselves to handle whatever challenges reality throws our way.

Excerpted from “Choose Possibility: Take Risks and Thrive (Even When You Fail)’ by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Copyright © 2021 by Sukhinder Singh Cassidy. Published and reprinted by permission of Mariner Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

#accel-partners, #column, #ecommerce, #entrepreneurship, #fashion-startup, #google, #online-shopping, #polyvore, #startups, #sukhinder-singh-cassidy, #tc, #theresia-gouw, #yodlee

Accel leads Lucid Lane’s $16M round aimed at treating people with medication dependency

Telehealth company Lucid Lane raised $16 million in Series A funding to continue developing its platform that enables real-time intervention for people with medication dependence and substance-use disorders.

Adnan Asar, co-founder and CEO of Lucid Lane, started the company five years ago after watching his wife struggle to stop taking medication she was prescribed following an illness.

There are 40 million people prescribed opioids and benzodiazepines each year, many like Asar’s wife, after surgery or in conjunction with cancer treatment to address acute and chronic pain as well as co-occurring mental health challenges, he told TechCrunch.

However, though the medications work well, out of the number of people prescribed, about 15 million people will continue to use the medication after the prescription runs out. This leads to ballooning healthcare costs with the healthcare system spending $150 billion annually to take care of this population, Asar said.

Lucid Lane’s latest services are aimed toward avoidance of becoming a persistent medication user or addict. They include comprehensive medication taper management for those dependent on opioids, benzodiazepines, alcohol and nicotine, and a medication assisted treatment designed for patients diagnosed with opioid and alcohol substance disorders. The evidence-based treatments are available in more than 25 states.

Its technology utilizes web and mobile-based applications to provide remote patient monitoring and connection to dedicated therapists on a daily basis. A newly developed analytics engine collects health signals from patients to measure symptoms like anxiety, depression, pain levels and withdrawal effects so that the platform and therapists can personalize their treatments. If needed, the engine will connect patients instantly with an on-call counselor.

Over 90% of Lucid Lane patients who start medication tapering safely taper off, while members who are persistent opioid or benzodiazepine users tapered by 50% in six months after they started the process, which is better than Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Asar said. Patients also reported improvements in pain, emotional well-being and quality of life.

The Series A funding comes one year after the Los Altos-based company secured $4 million in a seed round. Accel Partners led the Series A and was joined by Battery Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Morado Ventures and strategic angel investors. As part of the investment, Eric Wolford, venture partner at Accel, joined the Lucid Lane board of directors.

Asar wasn’t planning for the Series A until later this year, but as the healthcare world was changing around him, venture capital firms began knocking on his door asking when he was raising the next round.

“I met Eric through Battery Ventures, and we had tremendous alignment with passion and mission and it seemed a great fit,” Asar said.

Wolford said he recognized how big of a problem opioid addiction was, that it was a worthy cause, and the size of the market opportunity. “There is something beyond the returns that is compelling, the extent of the problem and the awareness that exists already,” he added.

He also felt that Asar and his team knew the healthcare system and how to introduce technology into it. He mentioned that the industry is complicated to interface with due the complex nature of payers, providers, patients and regulations from state to state. He said that Lucid Lane was embracing the system and working with it.

Wolford was also attracted to the personalized nature of the company’s approach and that it can become the standard of care, taking the pressure off of doctors who want to do right by their patients, but want to prescribe less medication so they don’t become dependent.

“It’s a pressure release value so doctors are appropriately prescribing drugs, are accommodating patients and also providing an intervention to avoid the bad that may start,” he added. “Personalization is what doesn’t exist in healthcare right now, and will help get a person to a state of wholeness and encouragement while also progressing them when they are ready.”

Indeed, things are moving quickly for Lucid Lane. As with the healthcare industry itself, the global pandemic helped adoption of the company’s telehealth platform surge as remote care became more mandatory than a discretionary feature. In addition, Asar said it would have normally taken two years for the company to get into Medicare, but with the government’s updated regulations around telehealth, Lucid Lane is now nationwide with Medicare.

The company has a team of more than 40 therapists across 30 states and will be using the new funding to drive its commercial growth, including building up its sales, business development and product development teams. In addition to a leadership team with experience across the technology spectrum, Lucid Lane also announced that Beau Norgeot, former Anthem clinical AI executive, is joining the company as its chief data officer.

The company is also engaged in peer-reviewed, evidence-based, clinical trials at academic institutions, including Stanford University, the United States Veteran Affairs System and The University of Texas Health System.

“We are the only company addressing the whole spectrum of dependent patients and addicted patients,” Asar said. “Doctors don’t have the time or capability to do this, so we work with them to set a goal for patients to improve their quality of life and reduce their pain.”


#accel-partners, #adnan-asar, #ame-cloud-ventures, #artificial-intelligence, #battery-ventures, #eric-wolford, #funding, #health, #healthcare, #healthcare-industry, #lucid-lane, #medicare, #morado-ventures, #recent-funding, #startups, #tc, #telehealth

Infra.Market becomes India’s newest unicorn with $100 million fundraise

The newest unicorn in India is a startup that is helping construction and real estate companies in the world’s second most populated nation procure materials and handle logistics for their projects.

Four year-old Infra.Market said on Thursday it has raised $100 million in a Series C round led by Tiger Global. Existing investors including Foundamental, Accel Partners, Nexus Venture Partners, Evolvence India Fund, and Sistema Asia Fund also participated in the round, which valued the Indian startup at $1 billion.

The new round, which brings Infra.Market’s total to-date raise to about $150 million, comes just two months after the Mumbai-headquartered startup concluded its Series B round. The startup was valued at about $200 million post-money in the December round, a person familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Avendus Capital advised Infra.Market on the new transaction.

Infra.Market helps small businesses such as manufacturers of paints and cements improve the quality of their production and meet various compliances. The startup adds its load cells to the manufacturing facilities of these small businesses to ensure there is no lapse in quality, and also helps them work with other businesses that can provide them with better raw material and provide guidance on pricing. It also works closely with businesses to ensure that their deliveries are made on time.

These improvements, explained co-founder Souvik Sengupta, help small manufacturers land larger clients that have higher expectations from the businesses with which they engage. He said the startup has helped small manufacturers reach customers outside of India as well. Some of its clients are in Bangladesh, Malaysia, Singapore and Dubai.

“We are bringing a service layer to these small manufacturers, enabling them to grow their business. We don’t own the asset and are creating private label brands,” he said in an interview with TechCrunch in December. Infra.Market works with more than 170 small manufacturers and counts the vast majority of major construction and real estate companies such as giants Larsen & Toubro, Tata Projects and Ashoka Buildcon as its clients. Sengupta said the startup sells to more than 400 large clients and 3,000 small retailers.

Sengupta said in December that the startup was on track to hit the ARR (annual recurring revenue) of $100 million before the pandemic hit early last year. This nearly cut the startup’s business in half for at least two early months of the pandemic. But the startup has picked up pace again, and is now on track to hit the ARR of $180 million. The startup aims to grow this figure to $300 million by March.

“We are delighted to partner with Souvik and Aaditya in the growth journey of Infra.Market which is reshaping India’s construction materials supply chain. With pioneering technology innovation and the ability to stitch together private label brands, Infra.Market is positioned for strong growth, healthy economics and profitability,” said Scott Shleifer, Partner of Tiger Global Management, in a statement.

Sengupta added today: “We are seeing rapid acceleration in demand as Infrastructure and real-estate companies are looking to shift their procurement to get consistent quality and minimize delays.”

#accel-partners, #asia, #ecommerce, #evolvence-india-fund, #funding, #india, #nexus-venture-partners, #sistema-asia-fund, #tiger-global

#DealMonitor – Taxdoo sammelt 17 Millionen ein – iQ Pharma kauft BodyChange – OneFootball übernimmt Dugout

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 15. Dezember werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


Jetzt offiziell: Der amerikanische Geldgeber Accel Partners investiert – wie bereits Mitte November in unserem Insider-Podcast berichtet –  in Taxdoo. Neben Accel  investieren auch der Visionaries Club, 20VC und der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) in das Startup. Insgesamt fließen 17 Millionen Euro in Taxdoo. Das Hamburger Startup wurde 2016 von Matthias Allmendinger, Roger Gothmann und Christian Königsheim gegründet. Das junge Unternehmen ermöglicht Onlinehändlern es, ihre internationalen Umsatzsteuer-Verpflichtungen zu automatisieren. Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investierte bereits 2017 in das Steuer-Startup.

+++ Atlantic Labs, Factory Berlin-Macher Udo Schloemer, Freigeist Capital (Frank Thelen) und Dario Suter investieren 4 Millionen Euro in Neufund. “The funding will be used for obtaining a financial license, accelerating the development of new products and notable hiring”, heißt es im Bericht. Neufund scheiterte zuletzt mit seinem Konzept Kleinanleger über seine Blockchain-Plattform an Startups zu beteiligen. Derzeit positioniert sich das Fintech, das 2016 von Zoe Adamovicz gegründet wurde so: “Neufund, a fintech startup that connects innovative companies seeking capital with progressive investors”. Im kommenden Jaht will das Startup wieder durchstarten: “Earlier this year, Neufund paused all upcoming fundraising campaigns to find a way to restructure the business to fit the ever-evolving fintech regulations, and plans to re-open the platform for entrepreneurs at the start of 2021”.

+++ Finab EOS VC Fund investiert eine siebenstellige Summe in AlgoTrader, eine Plattform für Handel mit Wertschriften und Krypto-Assets. Das Fintech mit Sitz in Zürich wurde 2014 von vom IT-Spezialisten und Ex-Banker Andy Flury gegründet. “Mit dieser Investition erhöht sich die Series A Finanzierungsrunde des Unternehmens auf CHF 5,2 Mio. Die Serie-A-Runde wird von der Credit Suisse Entrepreneur Capital Ltd. angeführt, der sich, Blockchain Valley Ventures und NeueCapital angeschlossen haben”, teilt das Unternehmen mit.


+++ Das Unternehmen iQ Pharma, Hersteller von Nahrungsergänzungsmitteln, übernimmt nach unseren Informatonen den Online-Coaching-Dienst BodyChange bzw. imakeyousexyiQ “Wir haben unsere Firma verkauft, zum zweiten Mal”, schreibt Gründer Fredrik Harkort zu einem Video, in dem er über den Exit berichtet. Den Namen des Käufers nennt er dabei nicht. Midas Private Equity, die man iQ Pharma zurechnen kann, hält aber inzwischen alle Anteile am BodyChange-Betreiber Social Media Interactive. Für Harkort ist es der zweite Verkauf von BodyChange, das er 2011 gegründet hat. Der Kölner Außenwerber hatte das Unternehmen im Frühjahr 2016 übernommen und zahlte für 52,6 % der Firmenanteile stolze 12,7 Millionen Euro. Die Bewertung der Jungfirma lag damals somit bei rund 24 Millionen Euro. 2018 kaufte der BodyChange dann alle Anteile am Unternehmen zurück. BodyChange bietet seinen Kunden neben Fitness- und Ernährungsvideos auch sogenannte funktionale Lebensmittel an. Genau an diesem Punkt ergibt die Übernahme durch iQ Pharma dann Sinn. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Der Berliner Fußballinfodienst OneFootball übernimmt Dugout, ein Fußball-Medienunternehmen hinter dem Top-Vereine wie Bayern München, FC Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool FC, Juventus Turin, Paris Saint-Germain, Arsenal FC, Chelsea, Manchester City und Olympique Marseille stecken. “Durch den Verbund der beiden Firmen werden die Interessen der Fußballfans noch weiter in den Mittelpunkt der Fußballwelt gerückt. Mit diesem Schritt erweitert OneFootball seine Ressourcen um die umfassende Expertise von Dugout im Bereich Videoproduktion und kann gleichzeitig auf ein etabliertes Partnernetzwerk zur Content-Distribution zurückgreifen”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Bayern München und Co. werden durch die Übernahme nun Gesellschafter von OneFootball.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): azrael74

#20vc, #accel-partners, #aktuell, #algotrader, #atlantic-labs, #berlin, #bodychange, #dugout, #frank-thelen, #freigeist-capital, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #iq-pharma, #neufund, #onefootball, #social-media-interactive, #taxdoo, #venture-capital, #visionaries-club, #zurich

#DealMonitor – #EXKLUSIV Coatue investiert 40 Millionen in Gorillas – Accel investiert in Taxdoo – Cherry investiert in Saleor

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 16. November werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Der New Yorker Hedgefonds Coatue, der zuletzt in Choco investierte, investiert 40 Millionen US-Dollar in Gorillas. Das junge Berliner Hype-Startup, das man als rollenden Supermarkt beschreiben kann, verspricht teilweise eine Lebensmittel-Lieferungen innerhalb von 10 Minuten. Und das alles angeblich zu “Supermarktpreisen”. Damit setzt das Startup auf das Konzept von goPuff, das in den USA schon länger unterwegs ist. Zuletzt interessierten sich auch  Insight Partners, Accel und Index für Gorillas. Die Bewertung der aktuellen Investmentrunde liegt bei 160 Millionen (Pre-Money). Der Berliner Leckerschmecker-Geldgeber Atlantic Food Labs investierte bereits in Gorillas. Das Startup wurde von Kagan Sümer und Jörg Kattner gegründet. Alle weiteren Details gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber Accel Partners investiert eine unbekannte Millionensumme in Taxdoo. Das Hamburger Startup wurde 2016 von Matthias Allmendinger, Roger Gothmann und Christian Königsheim gegründet. Das junge Unternehmen ermöglicht Onlinehändlern es, ihre internationalen Umsatzsteuer-Verpflichtungen zu automatisieren. Der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investierte bereits in das Steuer-Startup. Alle weiteren Details gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

Loopline Systems
+++ Business Angel Andreas Burike (unter anderem Job Ad Partner), Fawkes Ventures, STS Ventures, also OnVista-Gründer Stephan Schubert, und weitere Business Angels retten das insolvente Berliner Startup Loopline Systems. Seit 2014 unterstützen Nora Heer und Christian Kaller mit Loopline Systems Unternehmen dabei ihre Führungsprozesse zu verschlanken und zu digitalisieren. STS Ventures und Fawkes Ventures, ein Zusammenschluss aus Unternehmern und Kunden von Loopline Systems, investierten noch 2018 eine siebenstellige Summe in das Startup, das einst von Project A angeschoben wurde. Mitgründer Kaller ist weiter bei Loopline an – er hält bei der Neugründung 15 % am Unternehmen. Auf den Business Angel Burike entfallen knapp 60 %. Alle weiteren Details gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV – entdeckt über Startupdetector

+++ Der Berliner Kapitalgeber Cherry Ventures, der gerade mit Flaschenpost einen gigantischen Exit hinlegen konnt, investiert in das polnische Startup Saleor. Das junge Unternehmen aus Warschau positioniert sich als “The next-generation, open-source, headless e-commerce platform”. Alle weiteren Details gibt es nur im aktuellen Insider-Podcast. #EXKLUSIV

+++ Der amerikanische Geldgeber SignalFire investiert rund 16 Millionen Euro in zeotap. Das Berliner Unternehmen, das 2014 von Daniel Heer und Co. gegründet wurde, betreibt eine sogenannte Customer Intelligence Platform (CIP). Damit ist es möglich Vorhersagen im Hinblick auf das Verhalten von Kunden zu treffen. Neue Capital, coparion, MathCapital und TTCER Partners investierten zuletzt gemeinsam mit den Altinvestoren 37 Millionen Euro in das Berliner Big Data Startup.

+++ Das Berliner Unternehmen Social Chain erhöht ihre Beteiligung am Berliner Startup KoRo von 52 auf 57 %. “Die Aufstockung erfolgt im Rahmen einer Kapitalerhöhung mit zusätzlichen Finanzierungszusagen durch die der KoRo Handels GmbH insgesamt 6 Millionen Euro für die weitere Expansion zufließen werden”, teilt der Investor, hinter dem TV-Löwe Georg Kofler steckt, mit. Koro, früher als Koro Drogerie bekannt, wandelte sich in den vergangenen Jahren vom Direktvertrieb für klassische Drogerieartikel zum Online-Shop für naturbelassene Lebensmittel wie Trockenfrüchte, die das Startup als Eigenmarken vertreibt. In Sachen Marketing setzt das Startup, das von Constantinos Calios und Robert Schyska gegründet wurde, auf Influencer. Seit Dezember 2016 ist die Social Chain Group an Koro beteiligt.


Der amerikanische Investor Marlin Equity Partners meldete beim Bundeskartellamt den “mit­tel­ba­ren An­teils- und Kon­trol­l­er­werb” beim Hamburger Unternehmen Coyo an. Bei Gründerszene taxiert den Exit auf einen hohen Millionenbetrag. “Das Geld für den Coyo-Deal soll nach Gründerszene-Informationen aus dem Europa-Fonds des Investors fließen, der ein Volumen von rund 600 Millionen Euro hat”, heißt es über den Exit. Coyo wurde 2010 von Jan Marius Marquardt gegründet – zunächst als IT-Beratungsagentur (Mindmash). Seit 2012 bietet Coyo eine Social-Intranet-Software an. Zuletzt war zu hören, dass Coyo eine Investmentrunde plant.

Achtung! Wir freuen uns über Tipps, Infos und Hinweise, was wir in unserem #DealMonitor alles so aufgreifen sollten. Schreibt uns eure Vorschläge entweder ganz klassisch per E-Mail oder nutzt unsere “Stille Post“, unseren Briefkasten für Insider-Infos.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

Foto (oben): Shutterstock

#accel-partners, #aktuell, #berlin, #cherry-ventures, #coatue, #coyo, #gorillas, #hamburg, #koro, #saleor, #signalfire, #social-chain-group, #taxdoo, #venture-capital, #zeotap

Sales readiness platform MindTickle raises $100 million led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2

MindTickle, a startup that is helping hundreds of small and large firms improve their sales through its eponymous sales readiness platform, said on Monday it has raised $100 million in a new financing round.

The Pune and San Francisco-headquartered startup’s new financing round was led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. The round is a combination of debt and equity, the startup said. Existing investors Norwest Venture Partners, Accel Partners, Canaan, NEA, NewView Capital, and Qualcomm Ventures also participated in the round, which according to a person familiar with the matter, valued the eight-year-old startup at roughly $500 million, up from about $250 million last year.

The vast majority of this $100 million fund is equity investment, said Krishna Depura, co-founder and chief executive of MindTickle, in an interview with TechCrunch. He declined to disclose the specific amount, however, or comment on the valuation.

We used to live in a seller’s world, where buyers had a small selection of choices from which they could pick their products. “You wanted to buy a car, there would be only one new car model every four years. Things have changed,” said Depura, noting that customers today have no shortage of companies trying to sell them similar lines of products.

While that’s great for customers, it means that companies have to put more effort to make a sale. A decade ago, as Depura watched Facebook and gaming firms like Zynga develop addictive products and services, he wondered if some of these learnings could be baked directly into modern age sales efforts.

That was the inception of MindTickle, which now helps companies guide their customer-facing teams. Regardless of what these firms are attempting to sell, they are competing with dozens of firms, if not more, and customers have ever-so-declining patience to hear them.

MindTickle, whose name is inspired from the idea of gamifying mindsets, allows companies to train and upskill their salespeople at scale, and uses role playing methods to help them practice their pitch, and how to handle a customer’s queries.

Depura said the platform helps salespeople measure their improvement in revenue metrics and offers feedback on the calls they made. The platform utilizes machine learning engines to serve personalized remediations and reinforcements to salespeople, he said.

More than 200 enterprises, including more than 40 of the Fortune 500 and Forbes Global 2000 firms, are among MindTickle’s clients today — though, citing confidential agreements, the firm said it can’t disclose several names. Some of the names it did share include MongoDB, Nutanix, Qualtrics, Procore, Square, Janssen, Cloudera, Dexcom, Merck & Co., and Benetton Group.

As of this writing, MindTickle was ranked the fifth best product for sales on G2, a popular marketplace for software and services.

“MindTickle’s track record of growth, quality of product and marquee customer base highlights their strengths,” said Sumer Juneja, Partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, in a statement. “By delivering engaging and personalized training to users, MindTickle is uniquely placed to support businesses to increase revenue generation and extend critical capabilities within their existing workforce.” The Japanese investment group, which began conversations with MindTickle about three months ago, is exploring more investments in SaaS categories.

The new funding capital will allow MindTickle, which employs about 400 people in the U.S., Europe, and India, to further establish this new category, said Depura. The startup is developing new product features and will deploy the new funds to further grow in Europe, and the U.S., which is already one of its key markets.

More to follow…

#accel-partners, #asia, #canaan, #funding, #nea, #newview-capital, #norwest-venture-partners, #qualcomm-ventures, #saas, #softbank, #softbank-vision-fund-2

Remessa Online raises $20 million to become the TransferWise of Latin America

Remessa Online, the Brazilian money transfer service, said it has closed on $20 million in financing from one of the leading Latin American venture capital firms, Kaszek Ventures, and Accel Partners’ Kevin Efrusy, the architect of the famed venture capital firm’s Latin American investments.

Since its launch in 2016, Remessa Online has provided a pipeline for over $2 billion worth of international transfers for small and medium-sized businesses in the country. The company now boasts over 300,000 customers from 100 countries and says its fees are typically one eighth the cost of the local money transfer options.

“We understand that transferring money is just the beginning, and we are eager to build a global financial system that will make life easier for global citizens and businesses alike,” Liuzzi said.

Money transfer services are a huge business that startups have spent the last decade trying to improve in Europe and the U.S. European money transfer company, TransferWise has raised over $770 million alone in its bid to unseat the incumbents in the market. Meanwhile, the business-to-business cross-border payment gateway, Payoneer, has raised roughly $270 million to provide those services to small businesses.

Remessa Online already boasts a powerful group of investors and advisors including André Penha, the co-founder of apartment rental company QuintoAndar, and the former chief operating officer of Kraft Heinz USA, Fabio Armaganijan. With the new investment from Kaszek Ventures, firm co-founder Hernan Kazah, also the co-founder of the Latin American e-commerce giant MercadoLibre, will take a seat on the company’s board.

“We developed an online solution that is faster and substantially cheaper than traditional banking platforms, with digital and scalable processes and omnichannel customer support offered by a team of experts”, said Remessa Online’s co-founder and strategy director Alexandre Liuzzi, in a statement.

Last year, the company expanded its money transfer service to the U.K. and Europe, allowing Brazilians abroad to invest money, pay for education or rent housing without documentation or paperwork. The company’s accounts now come with an International Banking Account Number that allows its customers to receive money in nine currencies.

With the new year, Remessa has added additional services for small and medium-sized businesses and expanded its geographic footprint to include Argentina and Chile.

Latin American countries — especially Brazil — have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. While much of the economy is still reeling, the broad trends that are moving consumers and businesses to adopt e-commerce and mobile payment solutions are just as pronounced in the region as they are in the U.S., according to investors like Kazah.

“This crisis is accelerating the digitization process of several industries around the world and Remessa Online has taken the lead to transform the cross-border segment in Brazil, specially for SMBs,” he said in a statement.

Founded in 2016 by Fernando Pavani, Alexandre Liuzzi, Stefano Milo and Marcio William, Remessa Online was born from the founders own needs to find an easier way to send and receive money from abroad, according to the company.

In 2018, after a $4 million investment from Global Founders Capital and MAR Ventures, the company developed international processing capabilities and a more robust compliance tool kit to adhere to international anti-money laundering and know your customer standards. In the latter half of 2019, the company entered the SMB market with the launch of a toolkit for businesses that had been typically ignored by larger financial services institutions in Brazil.

“We believe in a world without physical borders. Our mission is to help our clients with their global financial needs, so that they can focus on what matters: their international dreams,” said Liuzzi.

#accel-partners, #advisors, #argentina, #bank, #banking, #brazil, #chief-operating-officer, #chile, #co-founder, #e-commerce, #economy, #europe, #finance, #financial-services, #global-founders-capital, #kaszek-ventures, #kevin-efrusy, #mercadolibre, #money, #money-laundering, #new-years-day, #tc, #united-kingdom, #united-states, #venture-capital, #venture-capital-firms

Moshi, a sleep and mindfulness app for kids, raises $12 million Series B led by Accel

“If your kids aren’t sleeping, you aren’t sleeping,” says Moshi founder and CEO Ian Chambers.

As mindfulness apps grow increasingly popular among adults, Moshi is looking to bring mindfulness and meditative techniques to children. The app today announced the close of a $12 million Series B financing led by Accel, with participation from Latitude Ventures (the follow-on sister fund to LocalGlobe) and Triplepoint Capital. Bill Roedy, former MTV CEO, also participated in the round.

As part of the deal, Latitude Ventures’ Julia Hawkins will join the Moshi board.

Moshi was originally born out of Mind Candy, which was founded by Michael Acton Smith (founder and CEO of Calm) who created an online entertainment platform for kids called Moshi Monsters. In 2015, Smith stepped down as CEO to go build Calm, and Moshi CEO Ian Chambers stepped in, ultimately developing and launching Moshi in 2017. Mind Candy is now rebranding to Moshi.

Moshi is an app that helps kids sleep. The app offers close to 150 bits of original content, with 80 original 30-minute bedtime stories written and produced entirely by the company. Leading that charge is Steve Cleverley, the app’s Chief Creative Officer and Director of Dozing, a BAFTA-winning writer who authors, composes and produces each bit of content on the app.

Moshi’s bed time stories all follow a similar formula: verse (narration), chorus (song), and the underlying musical score. Each story is crafted with meticulous attention to detail. For example, one of the app’s most popular stories, “Mr. Snoodle’s Twilight Train” has the ‘chuga-chuga-choo-choo’ of train noise in the background throughout the story. That sound effect is timed up to the average resting heart rate of a child, purposefully lulling them into a restful place.

Moshi has also managed to get celebrities involved in the project, with narrations from Goldie Hawn and Sir Patrick Stewart, alongside other voice over actors.

The app offers parents the ability to create their own custom playlist or choose from a themed playlist within the app, such as ‘Busy Little Minds.’

Beyond sleep, Moshi is also offering mindfulness content to be used during the day, whether it’s for timeout or anxiety management or what have you.

Moshi offers a free one-week trial before charging USD$40 annually, with six pieces of content free for anyone.

The company has more than 100,000 subscribers, with 85 million stories played. Chambers told TechCrunch that 70 percent of all stories are completed.

Moshi plans to use the financing to launch new features and content in collaboration with sleep industry experts and scientists, as well as scaling up user acquisition through marketing, advertising and partnerships.

“The reason I get up in the morning to do this, and it sounds a bit cliche, but it’s the feedback,” said Chambers. “It’s the human stories of how we’re helping families to improve how they operate and having a positive impact on their health and wellbeing. That’s what excites us.”

#accel, #accel-partners, #apps, #entertainment, #funding, #julia-hawkins, #localglobe, #michael-acton-smith, #moshi, #startups, #tc

Another major fintech exit as SoFi acquires banking and payments platform Galileo for $1.2B

The fintech wars continue to heat up with another major exit in the space.

Consumer financial services platform SoFi announced today that it is acquiring payments and bank account infrastructure company Galileo for $1.2 billion in total cash and stock. The acquisition is dependent on customary closing conditions.

Salt Lake City-based Galileo was founded in 2000 by Clay Wilkes and was bootstrapped to profitability over the intervening two decades. My colleague Jon Shieber wrote a profile of Galileo back in November after the company announced its second round of external funding, a $77 million ‘Series A’ check from Accel, which was led by growth partner John Locke. The company had previously raised a $8 million Series A round from Mercato Partners in April 2014.

Galileo provides APIs that allow fintech companies like Monzo and Chime to easily create bank accounts and issue physical and virtual credit cards, among a myriad of other services. While simple in theory, banking regulations and financial rules place a huge regulatory burden on fintech companies, burdens that Galileo takes on as part of its platform.

The company has found particular success in the United Kingdom, where all five of the country’s largest fintechs are customers. Globally, it processed an annualized $45 billion in transaction volume last month, up from $26 billion in October 2019 — nearly doubling in just six months.

From a strategic perspective, SoFi’s objective is that Galileo will help power its expanding suite of finance products and offer it another revenue source outside of consumer services. While SoFi was founded a decade ago to offer ways to secure better financial terms for student loans, it now offers a bevy of consumer financial options, including loan, investment and insurance products as well as cash and wealth management tools. With Galileo, it now has a clear B2B revenue component as well.

SoFi, which is now led by ex-Twitter COO Anthony Noto, has also raised hundreds of millions of new capital from the likes of Qatar in recent years. The company was most recently valued at $4.3 billion.

Galileo will operate as an independent division of SoFi, and will be continuing its operations with founder Wilkes remaining as chief executive.

As fintech valuations have rapidly expanded in recent years, the companies that empower those fintechs have increasingly become strategic for investors. Earlier this year, Visa bought Plaid for $5.3 billion, in what was considered a key exit for a finance infrastructure company. That exit brought acute investor and strategic interest to the space, interest that almost certainly accrued to Galileo as well and helps explains the company’s relatively quick exit from its funding round last year.

As for Accel, the firm has long had a strategy of investing in mostly bootstrapped companies, sometimes a decade or more after their founding, with examples outside of Galileo including 1Password, Qualtrics, Atlassian, GoFundMe, and Tenable. Accel also led this type of round into payments platform Braintree, where the firm met the startup’s GM Juan Benitez, who also joined Galileo’s board in November along with Accel’s Locke.

Accel’s valuation of the deal was not publicly disclosed in November, but a source with knowledge of the acquisition today characterizes the firm’s return as more than 4x. Given that Accel held the equity for roughly half a year, that’s quite the IRR multiple in an otherwise challenging global macro context. Given that the acquisition of Galileo was for cash and stock, Accel likely now holds a stake in SoFi, making at least part of the return unrealized.

Galileo was represented by Qatalyst in the transaction.

Updated April 7 to include the $8m Series A funding round led by Mercato Partners and more context on IRR.

#accel-partners, #anthony-noto, #exit, #finance, #fintech, #galileo-financial-services, #payments, #plaid, #sofi, #startups, #venture-capital, #visa