Category: Startups

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 10, 2019 Off

Student loan refinancing startup Splash Financial raises $4.3 million

By Jill T Frey

Splash Financial, a Cleveland-based startup that has partnered with the Pentagon Federal Credit Union to refinance student loans, has raised $4.3 million in a round of venture financing.

The round was led by CUNA Mutual Group, a PenFed partner, and Northwestern Mutual Future Ventures, the corporate investment arm of Northwestern Mutual.

As student loan debt skyrockets, more financial services companies are looking for ways to cash in on the growing national problem.

Splash Financial provides an easy, online way for PenFed to originate loans that folks can use to consolidate their student loan payments.

Terms Splash Financial offers aren’t terrible, according to NerdWallet. Through Splash Financial, borrowers can get loans with fixed interest rates ranging between 3.87% and 7.03% and variable interest rate loans ranging between 3.05% and 7.79%.

“Through this funding round, Splash has gained not only new investors but also strong partners in CUNA Mutual Group … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Wire collaborates with EY for on-premise end-to-end encrypted messaging app

By Jill T Frey

End-to-end encrypted messaging app and service Wire announced a partnership with accounting and consulting company EY. Essentially, Wire is providing an on-promise version of its messaging service so that EY can control the servers and use it for their communication needs.

Both companies announced the deal a few weeks ago, and I talked with Wire and EY executives about the thinking behind this implementation.

“It’s very hard to monetize [Wire] on the consumer market,” Wire CEO Morten Brøgger told me. The company thinks it'll never become a big messaging app with hundreds of millions of users — that ship has sailed. That's why the company launched a team messaging product a couple of years ago.

Teams can sign up to Wire and use it as a sort of Slack replacement with end-to-end encryption on messages, files, calls, etc. The company uses a software-as-a-service approach and charges €4 to €6 per … Read the rest

June 10, 2019 Off

Spacemaker scores $25M Series A to let property developers use AI

By Jill T Frey

Spacemaker, a Norway-based startup that’s created AI software to help property developers and architects make better design decisions, has picked up $25 million in Series A funding.

The round is jointly led by Atomico and Northzone, with participation from investors in property and construction tech including Danish property developer NREP, Nordic property developer OBOS, and U.K. real estate technology fund Round Hill Ventures. A number of earlier investors including Norway’s Construct Venture also followed on.

Described as “the world’s first” AI-assisted design and construction simulation software for the property development sector, Spacemaker claims to enable property development professionals, such as real estate developers, architects, and urban planners, to quickly generate and evaluate the optimal environmental design for any multi-building residential development. To achieve this, the Spacemaker software crunches various data including physical data, regulations, environmental factors and others preferences.

“Today developers and urban planners plan sites largely ‘by hand’ … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

48 hours left to apply for Startup Battlefield at Disrupt SF and win $100,000

By Jill T Frey

What’s on your to-do list in the next 48 hours? Move “launch my awesome early-stage startup to the world” to the top of the list and apply to compete in the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt San Francisco 2019 on October 2-4 in front of 10,000 live attendees and tens of thousands online.

Your opportunity to compete head-to-head against a handpicked cadre of the best early-stage startups expires in just 48 hours. It won’t cost you a dime to apply or to compete. Compare that to the price of a missed opportunity.

Judging by applications we’ve received so far, the Startup Battlefield at DSF ’19 promises to be an epic showdown. One winner will claim the storied Disrupt Cup and the $100,000 equity-free cash prize — but all participants benefit from a huge amount of potentially life-changing media and investor attention.

Case in point: All Startup Battlefield teams receive private pitch … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

Startups Weekly: The Peloton IPO (bull vs. bear)

By Jill T Frey

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a newsletter published every Saturday that dives into the week’s noteworthy venture capital deals, funds and trends. Before I dive into this week’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the proliferation of billion-dollar companies. Before that, I noted the uptick in beverage startup rounds. Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to [email protected] or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets.

Now, time for some quick notes on Peloton’s confirmed initial public offering. The fitness unicorn, which sells a high-tech exercise bike and affiliated subscription to original fitness content, confidentially filed to go public earlier this week. Unfortunately, there’s no S-1 to pore through yet; all I can do for now is speculate a bit about Peloton’s long-term potential.

What I know: 

  • Peloton is profitable. Founder and chief executive John Foley said at one point that he
Read the rest
June 8, 2019 Off

Maker Faire halts operations and lays off all staff

By Jill T Frey

Financial troubles have forced Maker Media, the company behind crafting publication MAKE: magazine as well as the science and art festival Maker Faire, to lay off its entire staff of 22 and pause all operations. TechCrunch was tipped off to Maker Media’s unfortunate situation which was then confirmed by the company’s founder and CEO Dale Dougherty.

For 15 years, MAKE: guided adults and children through step-by-step do-it-yourself crafting and science projects, and it was central to the maker movement. Since 2006, Maker Faire’s 200 owned and licensed events per year in over 40 countries let attendees wander amidst giant, inspiring art and engineering installations.

Maker Media Inc ceased operations this week and let go of all of its employees — about 22 employees” Dougherty tells TechCrunch. “I started this 15 years ago and it’s always been a struggle as a business to make this work. Print publishing … Read the rest

June 8, 2019 Off

A peek inside Sequoia Capital’s low-flying, wide-reaching scout program

By Jill T Frey

Ten years ago, Sequoia Capital began quietly encouraging founders of its portfolio companies to consider which of their founder friends they might like to get behind financially. Sequoia would let them write checks to those companies, and it would share with them any later rewards.

It was a brilliant idea. It allowed Sequoia to keep tabs on entrepreneurs — and nascent technologies — not yet in its universe. It cemented the firm’s ties to the founders who were already in its family. Not last, it grew Sequoia’s already considerable influence in Silicon Valley.

Fast forward, and the ripple effects of the program have not only been wide-reaching, but they’ve quietly reshaped the industry in ways that only those closest to Sequoia have been able to fully appreciate — until now.

To learn more on the tenth anniversary of Sequoia’s “scouts” initiative — which has since been widely copied by other … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Economic development organizations: good or bad for entrepreneurial activity?

By Jill T Frey

In developing VC markets such as the Midwest, some may think that funding from the government or economic development organizations are a godsend for local entrepreneurs. Startups are often looking for all the help they can get, and a boost in funds or an attractive set of economic incentives can be perceived as the fuel they need to take the next step in their growth journey.

While this type of funding can be helpful, a startup should ensure that funding from these sources is … Read the rest

June 7, 2019 Off

Weighing Peloton’s opportunity and risks ahead of IPO

By Jill T Frey

Exercise tech company Peloton filed confidentially for IPO this week, and already the big question is whether their last private valuation at $4 billion might be too rich for the appetites of public market investors. Here’s a breakdown of the pros and cons leading up to the as-yet revealed market debut date.

Risk factors

The biggest thing to pay attention to when it comes time for Peloton to actually pull back the curtains and provide some more detailed info about its customers in its S-1. To date, all we really know is that Peloton has “more than 1 million users,” and that’s including both users of its hardware and subscribers to its software.

The mix is important – how many of these are actually generating recurring revenue (vs. one-time hardware sales) will be a key gauge. MRR is probably going to be more important to prospective investors … Read the rest