Category: Entrepreneur

June 11, 2019 Off

Providing supplemental educational videos online nets Osmosis $4 million

By Jill T Frey

With over one million YouTube subscribers and 500,000 registered users for its supplemental educational videos, Osmosis, which bills itself as the Khan Academy of healthcare, has raised $4 million in new funding.

The round was led by Felicis Ventures, with participation from previous Osmosis investors including GreycroftCoverysFundRxFigure 8Social Starts, and LearnStart,

“By reimagining medical education, Osmosis is addressing a critical impending global crisis: the need to develop and retrain tens of millions of healthcare professionals over the next decade to meet growing demand,” said Aydin Senkut, founder and managing partner at Felicis Ventures.

Felicis is betting on Osmosis in part because of the increasing demand for healthcare professionals around the world. The company cites statistics claiming that roughly 35 million more healthcare professionals will need to be trained by 2030.

Co-founders Shiv Gaglani and Ryan Haynes met at … Read the rest

June 6, 2019 Off

This entrepreneur is donating unwanted bike-sharing cycles to underprivileged students in Myanmar

By Jill T Frey

What is the world to do with the graveyards of dockless bicycles left over after China’s bike sharing startups retreated from global markets?

One man has come up with the best idea to date: donate them to students who need them.

Entrepreneur Mike Than Tun Win has bought 10,000 bikes from bike-sharing companies which he plans to provide to school children across Myanmar, many of who walk miles to school and, more broadly, lack transportation for their families.

“It’s a common sight to see lines and lines of students walking long distances from home to school in rural villages,” Than explained. “Some students can walk up to one hour from home to school and the families can hardly afford a simple form of transport like bicycle or motorcycle… a school bus is almost unheard of to the students in rural villages.”

To bridge the gap, Than — whose companies … Read the rest

May 30, 2019 Off

The Slack origin story

By Jill T Frey

Let’s rewind a decade. It’s 2009. Vancouver, Canada.

Stewart Butterfield, known already for his part in building Flickr, a photo-sharing service acquired by Yahoo in 2005, decided to try his hand — again — at building a game. Flickr had been a failed attempt at a game called Game Neverending followed by a big pivot. This time, Butterfield would make it work.

To make his dreams a reality, he joined forces with Flickr’s original chief software architect Cal Henderson, as well as former Flickr employees Eric Costello and Serguei Mourachov, who like himself, had served some time at Yahoo after the acquisition. Together, they would build Tiny Speck, the company behind an artful, non-combat massively multiplayer online game.

Years later, Butterfield would pull off a pivot more massive than his last. Slack, born from the ashes of his fantastical game, would lead a shift toward online productivity tools that fundamentally … Read the rest

May 24, 2019 Off

Nigeria’s Gokada raises $5.3M round for its motorcycle ride-hail biz

By Jill T Frey

In many large cities across Africa, motorcycle taxis are as common as yellow cabs in New York.

That includes Lagos, Nigeria, where ride-hail startup Gokada has raised a $5.3 million Series A round to grow its two-wheel transit business.

Gokada has trained and on-boarded more than 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its app that connects commuters to moto-taxis and the company’s signature green, DOT– approved helmets.

The startup has completed nearly 1 million rides since it was co-founded in 2018 by Fahim Saleh — a Bangladeshi entrepreneur who previously founded and exited Pathao, a motorcycle, bicycle and car transportation company.

For Gokada’s Series A, Rise Capital led the investment, joined by Adventure Capital, IC Global Partners and Illinois-based First MidWest Group. Coinciding with the round, Nigerian investor and Jobberman founder Ayodeji Adewunmi will join Gokada as co-CEO.

Gokada will use the financing to increase its … Read the rest

May 21, 2019 Off

Bringing tech efficiencies to the agribusiness market, Silo harvests $3 million

By Jill T Frey

Roughly $165 billion worth of wholesale produce is bought and sold every year in the U.S. And while that number is expected to go up to $1 trillion by 2025, the business of agribusiness remains unaffected by technology advancements that have reshaped almost every other industry.

Now Silo, a company that recently raised $3 million from investors led by Garry Tan and Alexis Ohanian’s Initialized Capital and including Semil Shah from Haystack Ventures, angel investors Kevin Mahaffey and Matt Brezina and The Penny Newman Grain Company, an international grain and feed marketplace, is looking to change that. 

Silo’s chief executive, Ashton Braun, spent years working in commodities marketplaces as a coffee trader in Singapore and moved to California after business school. As part of the founding team at Kite with Adam Smith, Braun worked on getting off the ground Kite’s software to automate computer programming, but he’d … Read the rest

May 9, 2019 Off

Meet ‘The Prepared,’ the media company pitching disaster preparedness for everyone

By Jill T Frey

A little over two years ago, The New Yorker ran a story about the survivalism craze sweeping Silicon Valley. The moneyed elite behind the tools of convenience that make modern life were, it turned out, making detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the civilization they’d help architect.

Now, there’s a media company for that.

The Prepared, a new site launched a little over a year ago by three men — two who have their own ties to the tech world — is aiming to make the world of survivalism more approachable to a wide audience.

Taking away the stigma or stereotype of lone wolves hoarding caches of weapons and food and waiting for the zombie apocalypse, The Prepared bills itself as a sort of scouting class for adults — if the Scouts BSA and Girl Scouts posed the question, “Should You Worry About EMPs?

As John … Read the rest

May 3, 2019 Off

Dear Hollywood, here are 5 female founders to showcase instead of Elizabeth Holmes

By Jill T Frey

There’s a seemingly insatiable demand for Theranos content. John Carreyrou’s best-selling book, “Bad Blood,” has already inspired an HBO documentary, The Inventor; an ABC podcast called The Dropout, a prestige limited series starring SNL’s Kate McKinnon, was just announced; and Jennifer Lawrence is reportedly going to star in the feature film version of this tawdry “true crime meets tech” tale. That’s before getting started on the various and sundry cover stories and think pieces about her fraud.

I think it’s fair to say the Theranos story has been sufficiently well-documented, and I’m worried that this negative perception may be reinforced now that … Read the rest

May 2, 2019 Off

Africa Roundup: Jumia’s IPO, DHL launches Africa e-Shop, Cathay’s $168M VC fund, ConnectMed acquired

By Jill T Frey

The biggest news in a month of weighty African headlines was Jumia listing on the New York Stock Exchange.

After filing SEC IPO docs in March, the Pan-African e-commerce company’s shares began trading on the NYSE April 12, opening at $14.50 under ticker symbol JMIA. Jumia stock rose north of 70 percent on its first day of trading and started this week at $46.

With the public listing, Jumia became the first startup from Africa to list on a major global exchange. The IPO raised over $200 million for the internet venture.

The listing created another milestone for Jumia.  In 2016 the company became the first African startup unicorn, achieving a $1 billion valuation after a funding round that included Goldman Sachs and MTN.

Founded in Lagos in 2012 with Rocket Internet backing, Jumia now operates multiple online verticals in 14 African countries—from consumer retail to travel bookings.… Read the rest

April 27, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: All these startups are raising big rounds

By Jill T Frey

TechCrunch’s Connie Loizos published some interesting stats on seed and Series A financings this week, courtesy of data collected by Wing Venture Capital. In short, seed is the new Series A and Series A is the new Series B. Sure, we’ve been saying that for a while, but Wing has some clean data to back up those claims.

Years ago, a Series A round was roughly $5 million and a startup at that stage wasn’t expected to be generating revenue just yet, something typically expected upon raising a Series B. Now, those rounds have swelled to $15 million, according to deal data from the top 21 VC firms. And VCs are expecting the startups to be making money off their customers.

“Again, for the old gangsters of the industry, that’s a big shift from 2010, when just 15 percent of seed-stage companies that raised Series A rounds were already making … Read the rest

April 26, 2019 Off

Lattice raises another $15M to improve performance reviews

By Jill T Frey

Sam Altman’s little brother Jack is an entrepreneur, too.

Jack Altman, whose resume includes a stint as vice president of business development at Teespring, has raised $15 million in Series B funding for his startup, Lattice, a modern approach to corporate goal setting. Shasta Ventures led the round, with participation from Thrive Capital, Khosla Ventures and Y Combinator, the latter being the organization his brother led as president until very recently.

Lattice, used by high-growth companies like Reddit, Slack, Coinbase and Glossier, helps human resources professionals develop insights about their teams. Founded in 2015, Altman and Eric Koslow, like most entrepreneurs, developed the idea for Lattice out of their own pain points.

“We realized that with quarterly goal settings, OKRs, we would write them up and get the leadership together and then they would sit on a shelf and nothing would happen,” Altman told TechCrunch.

Lattice, a SaaS … Read the rest