Extra Crunch roundup: first-check myths, Miami relocation checklist, standout SaaSy startups

This may seem like a great time to launch a SaaS startup, but the landscape is crowded with well-designed applications that promise “blazingly fast and delightfully simple” experiences, according to seed-stage investor John Chen of Fika Ventures.

Most SaaS startups will fail, but not because of a sour marketing campaign or server downtime. The majority of these companies will fall victim to what Chen calls “the myth of frictionless onboarding.”

Despite the hype about ease of use, enterprise companies always ask customers to abandon familiar tools so they can learn something new.

“Just like with a new fitness program, participants feel good after completing the workout, but it takes a lot of activation energy to start and hard work to get there,” Chen notes.


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Instead of putting the onus on customers to roll up their sleeves, he suggests that SaaS startups learn from cryptocurrency culture and find ways to “incentivize users to do the necessary work to have the right experience.”

But how do you encourage users to put in the time and effort required to produce an optimal customer experience?

“In a world where there is a surplus of alternatives for every job to be done, the scarce resource is not content, tooling, or hacks and tricks,” says Chen. “It’s attention.”

We’re off on Monday, May 31 in observance of Memorial Day; I hope you have a relaxing weekend!

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

Dismantling the myths around raising your first check

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Image Credits: Klaus Vedfelt (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

As startups and venture capital grow in tandem, fundraising has gone from a formal affair on Sand Hill Road to a process that can happen anywhere from Twitter to Zoom.

While fundraising may no longer require a trip to California, it might depend on whether you got an invite to a private audio app. And while you may not need to be an insider, second-time founders — largely male and white — still have a competitive advantage.

The growing complexity of fundraising has the opportunity to make tech either inclusive or exclusive.

VC is the flashy gold medal, but the rapid growth of emerging fund managers means that a first check can be piecemealed together from a variety of different sources. The options for financing are seemingly endless: syndicates, public crowdfunding, VC firms, accelerators, debt financing, rolling funds, and, for the profitable few, bootstrapping.

Doximity’s S-1 may explain why healthcare exits are heating up

Telehealth startup Doximity filed to go public earlier today. Notably, the company has not fundraised since 2014, a year in which it attracted just under $82 million at a valuation of $355 million, per PitchBook data.

How has it managed to not raise money for so long? By generating lots of cash and profit over the years. Healthtech communications, it turns out, can be a lucrative endeavor.

What Vimeo’s growth, profits and value tell us about the online video market

Image Credits: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The spin-out of video platform Vimeo from IAC completed this week, and the smaller company is now trading as an independent entity under the ticker ‘VMEO’.

If you missed the news that the internet conglomerate was spinning out the video service, don’t feel bad; it slipped past many radars. But with the company now trading, our access to its historical results, and our minds still enthralled by YouTube’s recent financial performance for Alphabet, it’s worth taking a moment to digest the company’s health.

Flywire’s flotation suggests the IPO slowdown is behind us

The Flywire IPO is neat from a financial perspective and notable in that it’s a Boston exit as opposed to yet another New York or San Francisco-based flotation. It’s nice to see some other cities put points on the board.

But more than that, this IPO is a useful measuring stick for keeping tabs on the IPO market as a whole. This year and the last are shaping up to be key exit periods for startups and unicorns of all shapes and sizes; many a venture capital fund return rests on these public debuts.

Dear Sophie: Any unique immigration strategies for quick hiring?

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Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Dear Sophie,

I do recruitment for tech startups. With a surge of VC investing, many startups are urgently hiring.

Which visas offer the quickest options for international talent? Are there any unique strategies that you would recommend we explore?

— Maverick in Milpitas

7 questions to ask before relocating your startup to Florida

a photo of an art deco style building in Miami with pastel gradient colors

Image Credits: Artur Debat (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Cities like Miami, Pittsburgh and Austin have been drawing talent and wealth from Silicon Valley for years, but the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the trend.

In recent months, many investors and entrepreneurs have noisily departed for Miami, citing the region’s favorable business climate and quality of life.

It’s always good to consider one’s options, but before booking a moving van for the Sunshine State — or any emerging tech hub, for that matter — here are some basic questions entrepreneurs should ask themselves.

Vise CEO Samir Vasavada and Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire break down the art of the pitch

Image Credits: Sequoia Capital / Wolfe + Von / TechCrunch

In just a few short years, Vise has gone from launching on the Disrupt Battlefield stage to a unicorn. Co-founders Samir Vasavada and Runik Mehrotra met Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire at an after-party at the event, and Maguire ended up leading a seed and Series A round while Sequoia led the Series B.

Last week, Vise raised its Series C of $65 million and was officially valued at $1 billion post-money.

We spoke to the pair about the early fundraising process for Vise, what Vasavada has learned about delivering a good fundraising pitch, and what stood out about the pitch and the product for Maguire.

Acorns’ SPAC listing depicts a consumer fintech business with a SaaSy revenue mix

Another day, another unicorn public offering.

On Thursday, it was Acorns, a consumer fintech service that blends saving and investing into a freemium product.

Acorns fits inside the larger savings-and-investing boom seen over the last four or five quarters as consumers buffeted by the economic changes brought on by COVID-19 turned to stashing cash and boosting their equities investing cadence.

By now this is old news, but we haven’t had a clear picture of the economics of consumer fintech startups accelerated by the pandemic. Now that Acorns has decided to list via a SPAC — more on that in a moment — we do.

Poor onboarding is the enemy of good hiring

Image of a person talking to two colleagues via videoconferencing.

Image Credits: Olga Strelnikova (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

The world of hybrid work is here, and the usual 10-minute intro call, swag bag and first-day team lunch are just not enough to make your new employee feel welcome.

While many companies have found a way to interview and select candidates in a fully remote environment, few have spent time and resources on aligning the “pre-boarding” and onboarding process for the new hybrid world of work. Many employers still rely on old ways of welcoming new hires, despite our totally changed work environment.

It’s important to capitalize on candidates’ enthusiasm and eagerness from the moment the offer is signed instead of when they log in on Day One, because first impressions can make or break a candidate’s chances of staying at a company.

 

#ecommerce, #extra-crunch-roundup, #fika-ventures, #finance, #financial-technology, #flywire, #healthtech, #hiring, #john-chen, #miami, #newsletters, #runik-mehrotra, #saas, #samir-vasavada, #sequoia-capital, #shaun-maguire, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #vimeo

Vise CEO Samir Vasavada and Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire break down the art of the pitch

In just a few short years, Vise has gone from launching on the Disrupt Battlefield stage to unicorn. Co-founders Samir Vasavada and Runik Mehrotra met Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire at an afterparty at the event, and Maguire ended up leading a seed and Series A round while Sequoia led the Series B. Last week, Vise raised its Series C of $65 million and was officially valued at $1 billion post-money.

A good pitch deck is short and simple, and covers the key points in less than 12 words a slide.

We sat down with Vasavada and Maguire to talk about the early fundraising process for Vise, specifically the seed round, and get a look at the startup’s first pitch deck. We discussed what Vasavada has learned about delivering a good fundraising pitch, and what stood out about the pitch and the product for Maguire.

Simplicity is key

Vasavada says he’s made dozens of pitch decks since starting Vise and that this early deck was not his best because it was trying to do too much.

“A good pitch deck is short and simple, and covers the key points in less than 12 words a slide,” said Vasavada, adding that many founders think they need to show investors every part of their business.

“The deck has to show that you’re solving an important problem, that you’ve got the path to an important solution, that there is a big market opportunity, and that your team is positioned to execute,” he said. “Those are the only four things that matter. Everything else can be discussed in the Q&A.”

The goal of a pitch meeting is not to get the “yes” instantly, and satisfy every curiosity, but rather to give the investor something to think about and a reason to want another conversation.

Vasavada explained to the audience that this early seed deck certainly went into too much detail and was too text-heavy. (You can check out the full deck below.)

Why will this product be successful right now?

Beyond the problem, solution, market and team, there is an additional X factor that makes a difference in pitching for fundraising.

Timing can make or break a startup. Incredible ideas, ones that have gone on to be some of the biggest businesses in the world, have fizzled out and died for being too early.

#entrepreneurship, #extra-crunch-live, #extra-crunch-live-recap, #runik-mehrotra, #samir-vasavada, #sequoia, #shaun-maguire, #startups, #tc, #venture-capital, #vise

Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire and Vise’s Samir Vasavada will talk success in fintech on Extra Crunch Live

In the past few weeks, we’ve heard Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace and Hippo’s Assaf Wand discuss the biggest opportunities in prop tech, heard why Scale AI’s Alex Wang and Accel’s Dan Levine think that unconventional VC deals can be the best option and taken a stroll through the Poshmark Series A deck with CEO Manish Chandra and Mayfield’s Navin Chaddha.

This is the particular flavor of content, rich in key insights and tactical advice for founders, that goes down on Extra Crunch Live.

In an upcoming episode on Wednesday, May 19, we’ll sit down with Sequoia’s Shaun Maguire and Vise CEO and co-founder Samir Vasavada.

Maguire focuses on enterprise, fintech and frontier technology for Sequoia. His portfolio companies include AMP Robotics, Knowde, Physna and Vise. He joined Sequoia in 2019, before which he was a partner at GV, where he led investments in Stripe, Opendoor, IonQ, SpinLaunch, Lambda School, Dandelion Energy, Clutter and Mode and sourced the firm’s investment in Segment.

Maguire has also been an entrepreneur in his own right, co-founding Expanse (a cybersecurity company), which was ultimately acquired by Palo Alto Networks for more than $800 million.

If that weren’t enough, Maguire also spent two years working at DARPA, and was deployed to Afghanistan, participating on a team that earned a Joint Meritorious Unit Award from the U.S. Secretary of Defense.

Samir Vasavada co-founded Vise in 2016. Vise is an AI-powered investment management platform that aims to give independent financial advisors access to technology and tools to build and manage personalized portfolios for their clients, ultimately giving those advisors more time and energy to spend on the relationships.

Vise has raised upwards of $60 million.

We’ll talk to Maguire and Vasavada about what brought them together, key tips for fundraising and how to be successful in the fintech space, and ask about the next great opportunity in fintech.

On the second half of the episode, Maguire and Vasavada will put on their feedback hats and listen to live elevator pitches from the audience as part of the ECL Pitch-off. Folks attending the event will be able to raise their hand and pitch their startup to the VC/founder duo, and then answer their questions and get their feedback.

But the only way you can pitch is to show up. This episode of Extra Crunch Live goes down on Wednesday, May 19 at 3pm ET/12pm PT. Anyone can attend as long as they register here, but on-demand access to the content is reserved strictly for Extra Crunch members, who also have access to the complete library of Extra Crunch Live content, among many, many other awesome articles and perks.

 

#ecl, #extra-crunch-live-announcement, #finance, #samir-vasavada, #sequoia, #shaun-maguire, #tc, #vise

Three dimensional search engine Physna wants to be the Google of the physical world

In June of 1999, Sequoia Capital and Kleiner Perkins invested $25 million into an early stage company developing a new search engine called Google, paving the way for a revolution in how knowledge online was organized and shared.

Now, Sequoia Capital is placing another bet on a different kind of search engine, one for physical objects in three dimensions, just as the introduction of three dimensional sensing technologies on consumer phones are poised to create a revolution in spatial computing.

At least, that’s the bet that Sequoia Capital’s Shaun Maguire is making on the Cincinnati, Ohio-based startup Physna.

Maguire and Sequoia are leading a $20 million bet into the company alongside Drive Capital, the Columbus, Ohio-based venture firm founded by two former Sequoia partners, Mark Kvamme and Chris Olsen.

“There’s been this open problem in mathematics, which is how you do three dimensional search. How do you define a metric that gives you other similar three dimensional objects. This has a long history in mathematics,” Maguire said. “When I first met [Physna founder] Paul Powers, he had already come up with a wildly novel distance metric to compare different three dimensional objects. If you have one distance metric, you can find other objects that are a distance away. His thinking underlying that is so unbelievably creative. If I were to put it in the language of modern mathematics… it just involves a lot of really advanced ideas that actually also works.”

Powers’ idea — and Physna’s technology — was a long time coming.

A lawyer by training and an entrepreneur at heart, Powers came to the problem of three dimensional search through his old day job as an intellectual property lawyer.

Powers chose IP law because he thought it was the most interesting way to operate at the intersection of technology and law — and would provide good grounding for whatever company the serial entrepreneur would eventually launch next. While practicing, Powers hit upon a big problem, while some intellectual property theft around software and services was easy to catch, it was harder to identify when actual products or parts were being stolen as trade secrets. “We were always able to find 2D intellectual property theft,” Powers said, but catching IP theft in three dimensions was elusive.

From its launch in 2015 through 2019, Powers worked with co-founder and chief technology officer Glenn Warner Jr. on developing the product, which was initially intended to protect product designs from theft. Tragically just as the company was getting ready to unveil its transformation into the three dimensional search engine it had become, Warner died.

Powers soldiered on, rebuilding the company and its executive team with the help of Dennis DeMeyere, who joined the company in 2020 after a stint in Google’s office of the chief technology officer and technical director for Google Cloud.

“When I moved, I jumped on a plane with two checked bags and moved into a hotel, until I could rent a fully furnished home,” DeMeyere told Protocol last year.

Other heavy hitters were also drawn to the Cincinnati-based company thanks in no small part to Olsen and Kvamme’s Silicon Valley connections. They include Github’s chief technology officer, Jason Warner, who has a seat on the company’s board of directors alongside Drive Capital’s co-founder Kvamme, who serves as the chairman.

In Physna, Kvamme, Maguire, and Warner see a combination of Github and Google — especially after the launch last year of the company’s consumer facing site, Thangs.

That site allows users to search for three dimensional objects by a description or by uploading a model or image. As Mike Murphy at Protocol noted, it’s a bit like Thingiverse, Yeggi or other sites used by 3D-printing hobbyists. What the site can also do is show users the collaborative history of each model and the model’s component parts — if it involves different objects.

Hence the GitHub and Google combination. And users can set up profiles to store their own models or collaborate and comment on public models.

What caught Maguire’s eye about the company was the way users were gravitating to the free site. “There were tens of thousands of people using it every day,” he said. It’s a replica of the way many successful companies try a freemium or professional consumer hybrid approach to selling products. “They have a free version and people are using it all the time and loving it. That is a foundation that they can build from,” said Maguire.

And Maguire thinks that the spatial computing wave is coming sooner than anyone may realize. “The new iPhone has LIDAR on it… This is the first consumer device that comes shipped with a 3D scanner with LIDAR and I think three dimensional is about to explode.”

Eventually, Physna could be a technology hub where users can scan three dimensional objects into their phones and have a representational model for reproduction either as a virtual object or as something that can be converted into a file for 3D printing.

Right now, hundreds of businesses have approached the company with different requests for how to apply its technology, according to Powers.

One new feature will allow you to take a picture of something and not only show you what that is or where it goes. Even if that is into a part of the assembly. We shatter a vase and with the vase shards we can show you how the pieces fit back together,” Powers said.

Typical contracts for the company’s software range from $25,000 to $50,000 for enterprise customers, but the software that powers Physna’s product is more than just a single application, according to Powers.

“We’re not just a product. We’re a fundamental technology,” said Powers. “There is a gap between the physical and the digital.”

For Sequoia and Drive Capital, Physna’s software is the technology to bridge that gap.

 

#california, #chairman, #chief-technology-officer, #chris-olsen, #cincinnati, #co-founder, #columbus, #computing, #drive-capital, #entrepreneur, #executive, #github, #google, #google-cloud, #iphone, #kleiner-perkins, #lawyer, #mark-kvamme, #ohio, #printing, #search-engine, #sequoia, #sequoia-capital, #sequoia-partners, #serial-entrepreneur, #shaun-maguire, #tc