Category: Startups

What Freedom Looks Like



Black women are the fastest-growing but still the least funded segment of the entrepreneur universe. That’s why, this Juneteenth, I’ve invited Makisha Boothe, Founder and Head Business Coach of Sistahbiz Global Network, a business accelerator for Black women entrepreneurs, to write this guest post which I invite you to help amplify. Makisha shares her thoughts on the unique challenges facing Black female entrepreneurs–and the work that still needs to be done to give Black women full access to the freedom that entrepreneurship can open up. – David

As we approach Juneteenth this year,  I reflect on the past two years of civil unrest that have happened in service of racial justice in the U.S. I am led to pause and honor the word freedom. I think about what it is supposed to mean in America versus how it actually looks.

I think about the efforts of so many in the economic opportunity and justice space and acknowledge that much of our “why” is about fighting for a dream of freedom that our country’s forefathers claimed to birth, that my ancestors fought to realize but that we have yet to see. 

I’ve led political coalitions, run for office, written policy, managed grassroots and grass tops work in healthcare, education, and criminal justice reform. So how did I land here in the later years of my career with laser-like focus on economic equality, closing the wealth gap, and creating more access to capital for Black women entrepreneurs at Sistahbiz Global (Read more...)

The Essential Guide to Startup Boards


This post is by David Cohen from Hi, I'm David G. Cohen


The first time many founders see the inside of a board room is when they step in to lead their board. But how do boards work? How should they be structured, managed, and leveraged so that startups can grow, avoid pitfalls, and get the best out of their boards?

If you’re looking for answers to those questions and more, you’ll be pleased to know that one of the most essential books for startup founders has been updated in a second edition that launches today.

Startup Boards: A Field Guide to Building and Leading an Effective Board of Directors is a comprehensive guide on creating, growing, and leveraging a board of directors written for CEOs, board members, and people seeking board roles.

For this edition, Brad Feld and Mahendra Ramsinghani have enlisted the support of a third co-author, serial entrepreneur and long-time Techstars mentor, Matt Blumberg. They’ve also added a number of new voices to the book, including Jocelyn Mangan who wrote the foreword.

Brad Feld is, of course, a cofounder of Tecshtars and for the past three years he’s also been my co-host on the Give First podcast. I’ve also been fortunate enough to sit on a few startup boards with Brad and know how effective his “less is more” approach to board meetings can be. He truly knows how to keep the process efficient and focused on strategy. 

A lot has changed since the original book was published at the end of 2013, including the emphasis on independent board (Read more...)

Startups and Macro Risk



I find it difficult to think of another time with as much macro risk as the present at least since the financial crisis and likely much longer than that. There is a shooting war in Europe with no clear endgame. China might make a move on Taiwan at any moment. We have an ongoing pandemic that could still produce a dangerous variant. US democratic institutions appear incapable of mounting a coherent response to pretty much anything and are under attack from within.

The broader stock market has held up surprisingly well in light of this. Yet many public tech stocks have already pulled back substantially. Bluechip names like Cloudflare and Shopify are down 50% off their all time highs. This is a reflection both of anticipated higher interest rates and lower growth. Still I would not be surprised if we wound up with a much bigger and broader correction, if any of these macro risks are realized.

Is this something a startup founder/CEO should be paying attention to? In order to answer this question it is useful to look at the interaction between private and public markets.

Private market valuations tend to lag public market valuations. This is fantastic for venture investors when you invest in a sector where public market valuations are just starting to expand because you can still get into deals at reasonable prices. This is when the best venture returns are achieved. That’s why being early (but not too early) to a new sector is so (Read more...)

Our investment in Yavin’s €5M round for its smart payment terminal


This post is by Natasha Lytton from Seedcamp


FinTech + France = a winning combination. While financial services continues to be one of our most active sectors at Seedcamp, the wave of exceptional entrepreneurial talent emerging from France is also a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Just six months after leading their initial €1.2M round, we’re very excited to double down on our support in Alfred and Samuel, co-founders of Yavin, to supercharge their in-store payment platform and accelerate international development.

Yavin co-founders Alfred Bourély and Samuel Manassé

Founded in 2020, Yavin has been reinventing the in-store payment experience for local businesses. Co-founders Samuel Manassé (CEO), former CEO of SumUp challenger Smile&Pay, and Alfred Bourély (CTO) created Yavin to empower SMBs and help merchants get the best service, at the best price, while keeping freedom and control. With its no-commitment transparent offer, Yavin wants to free local shops from hidden fees and lock-in contracts of banks. For a monthly subscription fee, merchants can accept all payments (including contactless, QR-codes, crypto, pay-in-3, etc.), connect Yavin to their existing PoS system, and benefit from competitive transaction fees.

Samuel Manassé, CEO and Co-founder of Yavin, comments: “Merchants were forced to use outdated solutions for years. At Yavin, we are building with our customers and partners the in-store payment solution they have been waiting for. Payment will evolve enormously over the next few years. We will be at the side of merchants, so they can benefit from the next revolution”.

Yavin launched its first offer in France, bringing (Read more...)

How to Do Market Research for a Startup: Tips for Success



So, you have plans to create an industry-disrupting startup. Before you get started, ask yourself this: Do I know the industry well enough to disrupt it?

It’s exhilarating to start a new entrepreneurial endeavor. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the tangible elements of establishing and advertising your business: designing a website, getting the message out, and building your brand.

While these factors play an essential role in building a modern company, a startup will likely flounder without competent market research. Learning how to conduct market research for a startup will help you better understand the industry you’re planning to compete in and create a solid business plan that investors will take seriously.

After all, market research is a vital aspect of maintaining your brand, satisfying client expectations, recognizing opportunities, increasing profit margins and being competitive in general. It’s hard to verify that your products and services are addressing actual pain points of your target demographic without data collected directly from consumers and your market.

Here’s everything you need to know about  how to do market research for a startup so you can back your idea with relevant insights before you hit the ground running.

Search less. Close more.

Grow your revenue with all-in-one prospecting solutions powered by the leader in private-company data.

 

What is market research for startups? 

In short, market research is a business technique used at the outset of developing a company idea and involves extensively understanding the core demographic, its dynamics, (Read more...)

The worst email


This post is by David Cohen from Hi, I'm David G. Cohen


Today I received an email from a founder who was looking for investment from software/internet investors. That happens every day.

This particular email was addressed “TO” me and approximately 25 other investors, many of whom I know personally. Unfortunately, this also happens several times a week.

What does this say about the person sending the email?


1. They seem lazy. They just copy and pasted as many investor emails as they could find into the “to” line and then wrote one impersonal email. I don’t want to invest in lazy people.

2. They don’t seem to respect other people’s time. Who cares if someone accidentally hits “reply all” and 25 other random investors have to read their response? Well, I do. They all do. But the sender doesn’t show any sign of caring about this.

3. They probably don’t understand the internet. A simple bcc would have solved this problem, but they probably don’t get that. If they don’t use email well, will they use other tools well?

These are all things that you don’t want investors thinking after you send them an email.

We live in an age where the biggest brands are focused on delivering a highly personalized experience while going to great lengths to protect sensitive data. If you’re starting out with a less-than-optimal experience for your would-be investors while simultaneously being casual with their personal information, that’s a double whammy at the outset.

All of this is in contrast to the perfect email. You don’t (Read more...)

The Eastern European Paradox: How a Troubled Region Generated Unicorns and Decacorns in 2021, and What to Expect this Year



This article is part of the Crunchbase Community Contributor Series. The author is an expert in their field and a Crunchbase user. We are honored to feature and promote their contribution on the Crunchbase blog.

Please note that the author is not employed by Crunchbase and the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect official views or opinions of Crunchbase, Inc.


Crunchbase and East-West Digital News are teaming up to cover key tech and venture trends from Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. In this column, EWDN Chief Editor Adrien Henni highlights the most notable industry facts and trends of the past year and outlines the foreseeable evolutions. (The previous, Q3 2021, column is available here.)

With Russia and Belarus digging themselves into domestic authoritarianism and international confrontation, a looming potential war between Russia and Ukraine, and an actual war between Armenia and Azerbaijan, news from Eastern Europe was depressing last year. However, at the same time, the region generated directly or indirectly a record number of unicorns, or even decacorns, and kept appealing to tech investors.

An impressive number of Eastern European tech entrepreneurs triumphed in the West in 2021. Miro agreed to a $400 million funding round with top U.S. investors, bringing its valuation to $17.5 billion. Now headquartered in California, this visual collaboration startup was born in Perm, Russia, a decade ago. 

Several other companies with roots in Russia, Ukraine or Belarus asserted a valuation above $1 billion: 

Practicing—and Perfecting—Your 60-Second Pitch


This post is by David Cohen from Hi, I'm David G. Cohen


I recently joined my colleague Saba Karim, Director of Startup Pipeline at Techstars, for a one-hour “pitch practice” session on Twitter Spaces hosted by Adam Soccolich (aka Twitter’s @TheBestOfAdam) and… wow!

We heard a variety of pitches from a diverse group of founders from around the world. Some came with experience from other startups. Some were first-time entrepreneurs. A few were currently in Techstars accelerators. A few others had received feedback from Saba in previous Spaces sessions and were coming back with more polished pitches. Some were stepping up to pitch in public for the first time.

As Saba, Adam and I weighed in with our comments a few consistent suggestions emerged about what to say and how to say it. Not all these suggestions will apply to every pitch you make. But, both now and as your pitch evolves, I invite you to use this checklist to choose the most relevant aspects of your story to include when you’re only given 60 seconds to sell to an investor.

What to say:

Start with the “why.”

What made you start this business? Was there a personal story or experience that helped bring home to you the problem you now wish to solve? 

Use differentiators to establish your credibility.

What is special or unique about the insight you have? Do you or the people on your team bring experience or expertise that sets your startup apart?

Validate your opportunity. 

Quantify the market you are addressing. If you have competitors, use (Read more...)

Practicing—and Perfecting—Your 60-Second Pitch


This post is by David Cohen from Hi, I'm David G. Cohen


I recently joined my colleague Saba Karim, Director of Startup Pipeline at Techstars, for a one-hour “pitch practice” session on Twitter Spaces hosted by Adam Soccolich (aka Twitter’s @TheBestOfAdam) and… wow!

We heard a variety of pitches from a diverse group of founders from around the world. Some came with experience from other startups. Some were first-time entrepreneurs. A few were currently in Techstars accelerators. A few others had received feedback from Saba in previous Spaces sessions and were coming back with more polished pitches. Some were stepping up to pitch in public for the first time.

As Saba, Adam and I weighed in with our comments a few consistent suggestions emerged about what to say and how to say it. Not all these suggestions will apply to every pitch you make. But, both now and as your pitch evolves, I invite you to use this checklist to choose the most relevant aspects of your story to include when you’re only given 60 seconds to sell to an investor.

What to say:

Start with the “why.”

What made you start this business? Was there a personal story or experience that helped bring home to you the problem you now wish to solve? 

Use differentiators to establish your credibility.

What is special or unique about the insight you have? Do you or the people on your team bring experience or expertise that sets your startup apart?

Validate your opportunity. 

Quantify the market you are addressing. If you have competitors, use (Read more...)

When to hire a CMO for your startup?


This post is by Natasha Lytton from Seedcamp


One of the very first questions we get from founders after they raise capital is how to spend it, with talent and customer acquisition generally the biggest focus of our founders’ time, and budgets.

In this post, Carlos chats with Natasha Lytton from our team about her experiences as a CMO and covers some of the typical questions we see asked (or those that sometimes people are too embarrassed to ask) around all things Marketing and when, and how, to hire a marketer for your startup.

Image by Fab Lentz, Unsplash

What is the most misunderstood part of ‘the marketing function’ within a startup?

  1. That growth belongs exclusively within the marketing department
  2. That one person can cover the whole stack of ‘marketing’ – ie performance and brand
  3. That short-term tactics are the wholly grail and that customer acquisition costs (CAC) you achieve today will last forever (spoiler alert, they won’t!)

When you should be doing marketing vs. someone else?

I think this really depends on you as a founder and the mix of your founding team; your skillset, where you feel most comfortable, and what’s going to be the most impactful use of your time. If you have zero marketing experience and know this is going to be a core function in order for your business to grow, I’d be looking to bring someone on to run it asap. I think, as founders, it’s essential you take an active interest in the story of the business, which is essential when it (Read more...)