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Tag: StartUps

Helping Startups Succeed When VC Funding Slows Down

March 13, 2021 No Comments

It’s becoming quite apparent that the Startup world is experiencing a slowdown and there appears to be no quick-end in site, unless you scrap everything your doing and start over. According to many articles from very reputable news sites around the web, the common issue at hand is the lack of funding coming from Venture Capital Firms. In addition, due to this shift in funding, Startups are now forced to change their thinking on how to grow their business on a shoe-string budget. In this post, I will discuss the importance of hiring a digital marketing firm that can not only get their business off the ground, but also do it without relying on the stress of getting additional funding to keep the doors open for another month.

Why is Venture Capital Slowing Down?

Across the major news sites and tech blogs, there has been a slew of articles discussing the apparent slowdown of Venture Capital funding across the globe (not just in the USA). According to the Forbes article entitled Tech CEO Shares Difficulties of Raising Venture Capital in a Down Market, the authors Samantha Walravens & Heather Cabot of GeekGirlRising stated “According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, funding in Silicon Valley startups fell 19.5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, and is down 10% for seed stage companies in the first quarter 2016, amidst fears over the global economy and the run-up in startups’ valuations.

To reinforce this trend, another article from Bloomberg.com, entitled “Is There a Slowdown in Venture Capital?” Phil Libin goes on to say that the reason for the pause and/or decline in Venture Capital funding is due to the current lack of interest of those “Me Too Businesses” that once thrived with the evolution of  smartphones and social media. However, he does go on to say that right now is a great time for startups that can offer something new and original. See the video below for the interview (courtesy of Blooomberg.com)


Is Online Finally Catching up to Traditional Media?

In another yet predictable twist, it appears Social Media has finally started to crack that old TV Advertising Egg and is creeping its way deeper into the annual $ 70+  Billion Dollar TV Ad Budget. According to the AdAge.com article “TV Budgets Shifting to Social? Yes, It’s Time to Worryauthor
Debra Aho Williamson states “… eMarketer believes the conversation about social and TV will change. For buyers who want the best way to reach their audience, the growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat now present a viable alternative to TV.

Williamson also goes on to say that even though this shift sounds monumental, the actual amount of Ad dollars from TV to social is very small. On the other hand, she believes that this trend can very easily become a real “game changer” in the near future. So, with the potential of more advertising dollars making their way to the online marketing world, Startups are going to have to rely more on Digital Agencies to promote their product/service.

Getting Big Agency Results on a Shoe-String Budget

Since VCs and Investors are only interested in funding companies that offer something new, exciting and most importantly different, what does that mean for those “me too businesses”? Due to this natural shift in the business ecosystem, Startups need to find a more affordable way to launch their “baby” to the world without going bankrupt in the process. To help with this scenario, startups need to find a reliable Digital Agency that can jump right in and “move the needle”. This agency would need to provide guidance and help build the foundation needed to compete in this highly competitive online space. Here’s a recent article entitled “What Every Startup Needs to Know Before Choosing a Digital Agency” which can help highlight other services that Startups can benefit from.

Here is a brief outline of the services that startups need to remain competitive

digital agency services

In Conclusion:

Many Startups, especially Early-Stage Startups, operate on very small Ad budgets and are often second guessing themselves on where they can get the “best bang for their buck” with regard to online advertising. Based on the trends mentioned in this article about  the decline in VC funding Social media getting more of the overall Ad budgets, it’s pretty clear that Startups need to focus on finding an affordable digital agency that treats them like a partner and not another typical client.


Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant


Why Startups Need Diversification In Digital Marketing

February 18, 2021 No Comments

Marketing Diversification for StartupsIf there was (1) one piece of advice I would give Startups (especially Early Stage), it would be diversification…  and a lot of it. startups typically have very limited advertising budgets so they have to account for every penny they spend. In this article, I will explain the reasons for this diversification as well as how best to execute them on a limited budget.

Set Realistic Expectations:

As one of the most “bastardized” words in agency world, it’s imperative to keep everyone’s hopes and dreams in check with regard to the online marketplace. Attending conferences, reading case studies and talking with other business owners is not only a great idea, it’s encouraged. however, it can also “set off” false expectations that could be devastating to the overall goals and objectives. I have advised clients (both past and present) to NEVER trust Google with their campaigns, keywords and budgets because they don’t care about growing your business, they just want your money. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, your instincts are correct!

Separate of Brand vs. Non-Brand:

It’s simple math. It costs more money to reach consumers who DO NOT already know your brand. Over time, the brand takes “all of the credit” because that is how everyone searches for you. But, here’s the catch. Getting to that phase in consumer behavior can be difficult to achieve, especially on the wallet. Here are a couple strategies that can not only help the wallet, but also the align the expectations.

  • Leverage Google Display, Mobile and YouTube Video networks
    • Low cost ($ 0.10 – $ 1.00 CPC/CPV).
    • More continuous visibility.
    • Expectations are set to branding only.
  • Utilize micro-targeting of Social media for specific audience testing
    • Target specific audience segments within a short period of time.
    • High volume allows for multi-variate ad testing.
    • Conversion tracking pixels allow for full analytics reporting.

PPC Marketing Diversification

Monetize Everything

This may sound like a “no-brainer” to some of you, but startups tend to forget that measuring success is more than just placing an order or a form submission. Often, little things like email signups, chat sessions and phone calls eventually lead to “real” conversions later on in the buying cycle. It’s important for everyone involved to consider these little conversions in the overall big picture. In some instances, these interactions act as a barometer when something is wrong or unclear and can help improve usability within the website experience.

In Conclusion:

Startups are faced with tough decisions when it comes to advertising due to their limited Ad budgets. They also cannot afford to, “bet the farm” on something that they heard at a conference or read in a case study. In 2016, consumers are everywhere (Google Search, Facebook Ads. YouTube. Twitter Ads, etc…) and startups need to leverage all of the platforms to maximize their exposure. They also need to understand that certain ad platforms serve different purposes as well as perform better than others.


Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant


Extra Crunch roundup: 500 Startups’ demo day, smart SaaS pricing and much more

February 6, 2021 No Comments

Demo days at startup accelerators are a pretty big deal around here.

These events aren’t just a chance to review the latest cohort of hopeful entrepreneurs — they also showcase the technology, products and services that will compete for VC and consumer attention over the next few years.

You never know where a hit will come from, which is why these events capture our attention. Here’s just one example from Y Combinator’s Summer 2013 Demo Day:

Positioning itself as the “FedEx of today,” it hopes to provide a logistics framework that goes beyond food and can be used for any type of on-demand order.

That startup was DoorDash, by the way.


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Full disclosure: In 2016, I was 500 Startups’ Journalist-in-residence. I covered one demo day in person, spending most of my time backstage where founder teams practiced their pitches.

It was quite a scene: Several people literally jumped up and down to shake off their nervous energy, but I also recall one who calmly recited their lines while gazing through a window.

Yesterday, Jon Shieber and Alex Wilhelm covered 500 Startups’ 27th virtual demo day and selected eight companies as their favorites:

  • Stack
  • Adapty
  • MightyFly
  • Omnitron Sensors
  • AWSM
  • Memechat
  • Ryu Games
  • Apothecary

Thank you very much for reading Extra Crunch this week! I hope you have a safe, relaxing weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
@yourprotagonist

TechCrunch’s favorite companies from 500 Startups’ latest demo day

Chick hatching from egg on egg tray

Image Credits: David Malan (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

How the GameStop stonkathon helped Robinhood raise $ 3.4B last week

I’ve never used “stonkathon” in a headline before, but it’s been that kind of week.

The war between hedge funds and day traders over GameStop vaulted discount trader Robinhood into the headlines for days.

But how did it affect the company’s financial health?

This morning, Alex Wilhelm examined why Robinhood’s investors were willing to inject $ 3.4 billion more into the company in just one week.

“More trades means more PFOF (payment for order flow) revenue,” says Alex. “And Robinhood effectively doubled in size.”

Udemy’s new president discusses the reskilling company’s future

Electronic signature on laptop. Business Esignature technology, digital form attached to electronically transmitted document, verification of intent to sign agreement, legal deal. Vector illustration

Image Credits: Andrew_Rybalko / Getty Images

Reporter Natasha Mascarenhas interviewed Greg Brown, new president of digital learning platform Udemy, after his company announced that it surpassed $ 100 million ARR.

A new arm of the company, Udemy for Business, just secured a 100,000-employee contract with Cisco Systems to offer software, business and technology courses.

“The opportunity that the company sees has really forced us to reallocate resources and strategy,” said Brown.

Why one Databricks investor thinks the company may be undervalued

After scaling its ARR to $ 425 million and reaching a valuation of $ 28 billion, data analytics company Databricks is clearly IPO-ready.

Battery Ventures has backed Databricks since 2017, so Alex Wilhelm interviewed General Partner Dharmesh Thakker to understand why he thinks the company may be undervalued.

“Whether it’s digital transformation, whether it’s analytics, data is everywhere,” said Thakker. “So the TAM is massive.”

4 strategies for deep tech founders who are fundraising

Laser Light Interrupted by Unfolded Book Shape of Paper.

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

Deep tech founders face special challenges when pitching investors: they usually don’t have a product, customers or revenue.

It’s difficult enough to ask a stranger for a check when there’s a beta product, but how do you drum up interest in an unproven idea that may exist largely in your imagination?

“Early-stage investors are in the business of funding dreams,” says angel investor Jessica Li.

“Investors are less interested in the intricacies of your technology and more interested in what impact it can create.”

Step one: use storytelling to highlight your big vision.

Edtech valuations aren’t skyrocketing, but investors see more exit opportunities

Above view of mom working on the laptop computer while her daughter reading the e-learning resources on the digital tablet in the workspace at home

Image Credits: Images by Tang Ming Tung (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Investors funded edtech startups with $ 10 billion last year as the pandemic forced widespread adoption of remote learning.

The valuations of these companies aren’t rising at the same rate as SaaS or fintech startups, but “where edtech lacks in impressive valuations, investors see it gaining in exit opportunities,” writes Natasha Mascarenhas.

For this edtech investor survey, she interviewed:

  • Deborah Quazzo, managing partner, GSV Ventures (an education fund backing ClassDojo, Degreed and Clever)
  • Ashley Bittner, founding partner, Firework Ventures (a future-of-work fund with portfolio companies LearnIn and TransfrVR)
  • Jomayra Herrera, principal, Cowboy Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies Hone and Guild Education)
  • John Danner, managing partner, Dunce Capital (an edtech and future-of-work fund with portfolio companies Lambda School and Outschool)
  • Mercedes Bent and Bradley Twohig, partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners (a multistage generalist fund with investments including Forage, Clever and Outschool)
  • Ian Chiu, managing director, Owl Ventures (a large edtech-focused fund backing highly valued companies including BYJU’s, Newsela and MasterClass)
  • Jan Lynn-Matern, founder and partner, Emerge Education (a leading edtech seed fund in Europe with portfolio companies like Aula, Unibuddy and BibliU)
  • Benoit Wirz, partner, Brighteye Ventures (an active edtech-focused venture capital fund in Europe that backs YouSchool, Lightneer and Aula)
  • Charles Birnbaum, partner, Bessemer Venture Partners (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including Guild Education and Brightwheel)
  • Daniel Pianko, co-founder and managing director, University Ventures (a higher-ed and future-of-work fund that is backing Imbellus and AdmitHub)
  • Rebecca Kaden, managing partner, Union Square Ventures (a generalist fund with portfolio companies including TopHat, Quizlet and Duolingo)
  • Andreata Muforo, partner, TLcom Capital (a generalist fund backing uLesson)

Deep Science: AIs with high class and higher altitudes

Artificial Intelligence digital concept

Image Credits: MF3d (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

In his latest recap of recent breakthroughs in applied science, Devin Coldewey looked at how researchers are using AI to:

  • Categorize thousands of pieces of classical music
  • Read MRIs to spot patients with schizophrenia
  • Track elephant herds via satellite
  • Improve accessibility on mobile phones

Spotify Group Session UX teardown: the fails and their fixes

London, UK - July 31, 2018: The buttons of the music streaming app Spotify, surrounded by Podcasts, Apple Music, Facebook and other apps on the screen of an iPhone.

Image Credits: Getty Images

In the latest of a series of articles that examines user experiences for consumer apps, UX expert Peter Ramsey and TechCrunch reporter Steve O’Hear studied Spotify Group Session, the shared-queue feature that permits users to create playlists collaboratively.

“Many of these lessons can be applied to other existing digital products or ones you are currently building,” such as the need to add context for important decisions and how to best use “react and explain” prompts.

Lightspeed’s Gaurav Gupta and Grafana’s Raj Dutt discuss pitch decks, pricing and how to nail the narrative

Gaurav Gupta, Lightspeed Venture Partners + Raj Dutt, Grafana Labs

Extra Crunch Live returned this week with two guests: Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Gaurav Gupta and Raj Dutt, co-founder and CEO of Grafana Labs.

In addition to walking us through the presentation that encouraged Lightspeed to invest in Grafana’s Series A, the duo also gave direct feedback to audience members about their pitch decks.

Watch a video with our complete episode, or read highlights from the chat to get Gupta and Dutt’s insights on what goes into a successful pitch deck.

New episodes of Extra Crunch Live drop each Wednesday at 12 p.m. PST/3 p.m. EST/8 p.m. GMT.

Here’s a breakdown of the complete episode with Gaurav Gupta and Raj Dutt:

  • How they met — 2:00
  • Grafana’s early pitch deck — 12:00
  • The enterprise ecosystem — 25:00
  • The pitch deck teardown — 32:00

Subscription-based pricing is dead: Smart SaaS companies are shifting to usage-based models

paper plane made from a ten dollar bill

Paper plane made from a ten-dollar bill. Image Credits: LockieCurrie (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

Some IT managers may still be debating the merits of usage-based pricing versus subscription-based models, but SaaS investors have made up their minds.

Compared to their rivals, companies that employ usage-based pricing trade at a 50% revenue multiple premium. You can argue with success, but seven out of the nine IPOs since 2018 with the best net dollar retention offer usage-based models.

If you’re a founder who hopes to break into the $ 100M ARR club, this guest post can help you identify the right usage metrics for creating a sustainable customer journey.

For more actionable advice regarding SaaS pricing and sales, see these previously published Extra Crunch stories:

Bumble IPO could raise more than $ 1B for dating service

How many dating networks can the public market support?

In Tuesday’s column, Alex Wilhelm examined the latest IPO filing from relationship-finding service Bumble.

The company set a range of $ 28 – $ 30 per share, so Alex set out to find its simple and diluted valuations, how much it expects investors to pay and “how those stack up compared to Match Group’s own numbers.”

Robinhood’s Q4 2020 revenue shows a return to growth

Discount brokerage Robinhood stayed in the news last week as it became a proxy battlefield for institutional and retail investors, but its backers “put in another billion just last week,” says Alex Wilhelm.

Why were investors so bullish after days of screaming headlines?

In yesterday’s column, Alex unpacked Robinhood’s Q4 2020 numbers, “which shows a return to sequential-quarterly growth at the trading upstart.”

Trading app Public drops payment for order flow in favor of tips

close up of man hand with digital tablet analyzing stock market graph at night

Image Credits: Towfiqu Photography / Getty Images

Before Redditors came after GameStop, zero-cost trading service Public says it was seeing “steady ~30%” month-over-month growth.

Last week, however, “new user signups went up 20x,” founders Leif Abraham and Jannick Malling told TechCrunch.

After closing a $ 65 million Series C, Public announced yesterday that it would “stop participating in the practice of Payment for Order Flow,” replacing PFOF with an “optional tipping feature.”

Customer advisory boards are a gold mine for startup brand champions

People figures with comment clouds above their heads. Commenting on feedback, participation in discussion. Brainstorming, fresh new ideas. Communication in civil society. Cooperation and Collaboration (People figures with comment clouds above their he

Image Credits: Andrii Yalanskyi (opens in a new window) / Getty Images

Startups that don’t directly engage their earliest customers with purpose and intention are leaving money on the table.

Creating a Customer Advisory Board (CAB) is a proven method for soliciting product ideas, testing marketing plans and turning early users into loyal brand advocates.

Before you call a CAB, read this post to find out how to identify customers who’ll contribute real insights, establish goals and “pick members who play well together.”

Best practices as a service is a key investment theme to watch in 2021

Red and white stop sign on the wall. Image Credits: Karl Tapales (opens in a new window)/ Getty Images

Identity and access management company Okta announced in a study last week that its largest customers use an average of 175 different applications to manage their operations.

Managing Editor Danny Crichton says this “explosion of creativity and expressiveness and operational latitude” offers widespread benefits, but it’s “also a recipe for disaster,” since many end users aren’t well-trained when it comes to using these tools.

This enterprise version of the Tower of Babel creates an opening for companies that offer “best practices as a service,” says Danny. “The next generation of SaaS software has to take those abecedarian building blocks and forcibly guide users to using those tools in the best possible way.”


Startups – TechCrunch


Female-led startups dominate Catalyst Fund’s inclusive fintech 2021 cohort

January 28, 2021 No Comments

Catalyst Fund, a global accelerator managed by BFA Global, announced the 8th cohort for its Inclusive Fintech Program today.

The accelerator runs the flagship program annually and with a focus on Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico and India, selected startups receive £80,000 (~$ 100,000) in grant capital, six months of support and connections with follow-on investors.

In 2020, all five countries had representatives in the accelerator. However, the selected six startups this year are from Kenya, Nigeria, and South Africa. These startups offer embedded finance solutions; Maelis Carraro, Catalyst Fund MD, explains the thought process behind this selection in a statement.

“Today, fintech is rapidly evolving to the point where it’s no longer a standalone vertical. Embedded finance offerings have the potential to improve the value of products in adjacent sectors significantly while finding new ways to better reach and serve low-income individuals via touchpoints they already know and trust,” she said.

Here are the startups in the 8th cohort. First off, from Kenya, Koa enables users to save and invest, gaining control over their finances. Lami is an insurance platform and API that enables more individuals and businesses to access insurance coverage. Power allows gig and salaried workers access to earned wages and other financial services, and contribute to savings via partner banks. 

From Nigeria, Indicina facilitates lending for individuals and small businesses through AI-powered digital credit infrastructure. Jetstream allows businesses to export goods across borders and access trade financing in Nigeria and Ghana.

Representing South Africa, Kandua connects skilled home service professionals with access to customers, professional tools and digital financial services.

What is interesting about the companies in this cohort is that they are predominantly led or co-founded by women as all startups except Kandua have a female founder.

“It was a conscious decision to make this cohort more inclusive for women given the gap in funding and support to women founders, particularly in emerging markets,” Carraro said to TechCrunch. “For example, founders in our previous cohort were all male. We are consciously making an effort to support as many women founders as we can going forward.”

According to an IFC report, only 11% of seed funding capital in emerging markets goes to companies with at least a woman on their founding team. The numbers are lower for later-stage funding despite evidence that investing in gender-diverse teams leads to more substantial business outcomes.

These startups will join the Catalyst Fund’s existing portfolio of 37 companies, which have raised over $ 122 million in follow-on funding since 2016.

Lami CEO Jihan Abass says her insurance company will use the investment to enhance its platform features, get more third-party integrations, and put data security and ISO certifications in place. For Indicina and CEO Yvonne Johnson, the capital from Catalyst Fund will enable the company to expand its platform, which will include new AI capabilities to improve credit in Africa.

This cohort, which is all-African, represents Catalyst Fund’s continued effort to support fintech startups on the continent. It adds to the growth of a sector that has consistently received most of the VC money coming into the continent. Last year, fintechs accounted for 31% of the total funding raised by African startups per Briter Bridges data.

Catalyst Fund has the backing to keep this going. Last year, it announced $ 15 million in additional funding from the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) and JPMorgan Chase & Co., to accelerate 30 new inclusive fintech startups by 2022. 

Since then, the fund has financed 12 startups and will need to add 18 between now and next year to achieve that objective. But having funded Chipper Cash, Turaco, Sokowatch, Cowrywise, which just closed a $ 3M pre-seed round, among others, the total number of startups in its portfolio sits at 43.


Startups – TechCrunch


Startups look beyond lidar for autonomous vehicle perception

January 18, 2021 No Comments

Last CES was a time of reckoning for lidar companies, many of which were cratering due to a lack of demand from a (still) non-existent autonomous vehicle industry. The few that excelled did so by specializing, and this year the trend has pushed beyond lidar, with new sensing and imaging methods pushing to both compete with and complement the laser-based tech.

Lidar pushed ahead of traditional cameras because it could do things they couldn’t — and now some companies are pushing to do the same with tech that’s a little less exotic.

A good example of addressing the problem or perception by different means is Eye Net’s vehicle-to-x tracking platform. This is one of those techs that’s been talked about in the context of 5G (admittedly still somewhat exotic), which for all the hype really does enable short-distance, low-latency applications that could be life-savers.

Eye Net provides collision warnings between vehicles equipped with its tech, whether they have cameras or other sensing tech equipped or not. The example they provide is a car driving through a parking lot, unaware that a person on one of those horribly unsafe electric scooters is moving perpendicular to it ahead, about to zoom into its path but totally obscured by parked cars. Eye Net’s sensors detect the position of the devices on both vehicles and send warnings in time for either or both to brake.

CG illustration of a bicyclist and car being warned of an imminent collision.

Image Credits: Eye Net

They’re not the only ones attempting something like this, but they hope that by providing a sort of white-label solution, a good size network can be built relatively easily, instead of having none, and then all VWs equipped, and then some Fords and some e-bikes, and so on.

But vision is still going to be a major part of how vehicles navigate, and advances are being made on multiple fronts.

Brightway Vision, for instance, addresses the issue of normal RGB cameras having limited visibility in many real-world conditions by going multispectral. In addition to ordinary visible-light imagery, the company’s camera is mated to a near-infrared beamer that scans the road ahead at set distance intervals many times a second.

CG illustration of a camera using infrared to see further ahead at night.

Image Credits: Brightway Vision

The idea is that if the main camera can’t see 100 feet out because of fog, the NIR imagery will still catch any obstacles or road features when it scans that “slice” in its regular sweep of the incoming area. It combines the benefits of traditional cameras with those of IR ones, but manages to avoid the shortcomings of both. The pitch is that there’s no reason to use a normal camera when you can use one of these, which does the same job better and may even allow another sensor to be cut out.

Foresight Automotive also uses multispectral imagery in its cameras (chances are hardly any vehicle camera will be limited to visible spectrum in a few years), dipping into thermal via a partnership with FLIR, but what it’s really selling is something else.

To provide 360-degree (or close) coverage, generally multiple cameras are required. But where those cameras go differs on a compact sedan versus an SUV from the same manufacturer — let alone on an autonomous freight vehicle. Because those cameras have to work together, they need to be perfectly calibrated, aware of the exact position of the others, so they know, for example, that they’re both looking at the same tree or bicyclist and not two identical ones.

Image showing Foresight cameras being attached magnetically to a car's body.

Image Credits: Foresight Automotive

Foresight’s advance is to simplify the calibration stage, so a manufacturer or designer or test platform doesn’t need to be laboriously re-tested and certified every time the cameras need to be moved half an inch in one direction or the other. The Foresight demo shows them sticking the cameras on the roof of the car seconds before driving it.

It has parallels to another startup called Nodar that also relies on stereoscopic cameras, but takes a different approach. The technique of deriving depth from binocular triangulation, as the company points out, goes back decades, or millions of years if you count our own vision system, which works in a similar ways. The limitation that has held this approach back isn’t that optical cameras fundamentally can’t provide the depth information needed by an autonomous vehicle, but that they can’t be trusted to remain calibrated.

Nodar shows that its paired stereo cameras don’t even need to be mounted to the main mass of the car, which would reduce jitter and fractional mismatches between the cameras’ views. Attached to the rear view mirrors, their “Hammerhead” camera setup has a wide stance (like the shark’s), which provides improved accuracy because of the larger disparity between the cameras. Since distance is determined by the differences between the two images, there’s no need for object recognition or complex machine learning to say “this is a shape, probably a car, probably about this big, which means it’s probably about this far away” as you might with a single camera solution.

Image Credits: Nodar

The industry has already shown that camera arrays do well in harsh weather conditions, just as human eyes do,” said Nodar COO and co-founder Brad Rosen. “For example, engineers at Daimler have published results showing that current stereoscopic approaches provide significantly more stable depth estimates than monocular methods and LiDAR completion in adverse weather. The beauty of our approach is that the hardware we use is available today, in automotive-grade, and with many choices for manufacturers and distributors.”

Indeed, a major strike against lidar has been the cost of the unit — even “inexpensive” ones tend to be orders of magnitude more expensive than ordinary cameras, something that adds up very quickly. But team lidar hasn’t been standing still either.

Sense Photonics came onto the scene with a new approach that seemed to combine the best of both worlds: a relatively cheap and simple flash lidar (as opposed to spinning or scanning, which tend to add complexity) mated to a traditional camera so that the two see versions of the same image, allowing them to work together in identifying objects and establishing distances.

Since its debut in 2019 Sense has refined its tech for production and beyond. The latest advance is custom hardware that has enabled it to image objects out to 200 meters — generally considered on the far end both for lidar and traditional cameras.

“In the past, we have sourced an off-the-shelf detector to pair with our laser source (Sense Illuminator). However, our 2 years of in-house detector development has now completed and is a huge success, which allows us to build short-range and long-range automotive products,” said CEO Shauna McIntyre.

“Sense has created ‘building blocks’ for a camera-like LiDAR design that can be paired with different sets of optics to achieve different FOV, range, resolution, etc,” she continued. “And we’ve done so in a very simple design that can actually be manufactured in large volumes. You can think of our architecture like a DSLR camera where you have the ‘base camera’ and can pair it with a macro lens, zoom lens, fisheye lens, etc. to achieve different functions.”

One thing all the companies seemed to agree on is that no single sensing modality will dominate the industry from top to bottom. Leaving aside that the needs of a fully autonomous (i.e. level 4-5) vehicle has very different needs from a driver assist system, the field moves too quickly for any one approach to remain on top for long.

“AV companies cannot succeed if the public is not convinced that their platform is safe and the safety margins only increase with redundant sensor modalities operating at different wavelengths,” said McIntyre.

Whether that means visible light, near-infrared, thermal imaging, radar, lidar, or as we’ve seen here, some combination of two or three of these, it’s clear the market will continue to favor differentiation — though as with the boom-bust cycle seen in the lidar industry a few years back, it’s also a warning that consolidation won’t be far behind.

Gadgets – TechCrunch


Wall Street needs to relax, as startups show remote work is here to stay

November 28, 2020 No Comments

We are hearing that a COVID-19 vaccine could be on the way sooner than later, and that means we could be returning to normal life some time in 2021. That’s the good news. The perplexing news, however, is that each time some positive news emerges about a vaccine — and believe me I’m not complaining — Wall Street punishes stocks it thinks benefits from us being stuck at home. That would be companies like Zoom and Peloton.

While I’m not here to give investment advice, I’m confident that these companies are going to be fine even after we return to the office. While we surely pine for human contact, office brainstorming, going out to lunch with colleagues and just meeting and collaborating in the same space, it doesn’t mean we will simply return to life as it was before the pandemic and spend five days a week in the office.

One thing is clear in my discussions with startups born or growing up during the pandemic: They have learned to operate, hire and sell remotely, and many say they will continue to be remote-first when the pandemic is over. Established larger public companies like Dropbox, Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and others have announced they will continue to offer a remote-work option going forward. There are many other such examples.

It’s fair to say that we learned many lessons about working from home over this year, and we will carry them with us whenever we return to school and the office — and some percentage of us will continue to work from home at least some of the time, while a fair number of businesses could become remote-first.

Wall Street reactions

On November 9, news that the Pfizer vaccine was at least 90% effective threw the markets for a loop. The summer trade, in which investors moved capital from traditional, non-tech industries and pushed it into software shares, flipped; suddenly the stocks that had been riding a pandemic wave were losing ground while old-fashioned, even stodgy, companies shot higher.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Emergence’s Jason Green still sees plenty of opportunities for enterprise SaaS startups

August 12, 2020 No Comments

Jason Green, co-founder and partner at Emergence, has made some solid enterprise SaaS bets over the years, long before it was fashionable to do so. He invested early in companies like Box, ServiceMax, Yammer, SteelBrick and SuccessFactors.

Just those companies alone would be a pretty good track record, but his firm also invested in Salesforce, Zoom, Veeva and Bill.com. One consistent thread runs through Emergence’s portfolio: They focus on the cloud and enterprise, a thesis that has paid off big time. What’s more, every one of those previously mentioned companies had a great founding team and successful exit via either IPO or acquisition.

I spoke with Green in June about his investment performance with enterprise SaaS to get a sense of the secret of his long-term success. We also asked a few of those portfolio company CEOs about what it has been like to work with him over time.

All in on SaaS

Green and his co-founders saw something when it came to the emerging enterprise SaaS market in the early 2000s that a lot of firms missed. Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff told a story in 2018 about his early attempts at getting funding for his company — and how every single Silicon Valley firm he talked to turned him down.

Green’s partner, Gordon Ritter, eventually invested in Salesforce as one of the company’s earliest investments because the partners saw something in the SaaS approach, even before the term entered the industry lexicon.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Are insurtech startups undervalued?

July 24, 2020 No Comments

On the heels of Hippo’s funding round and our exploration of how the private markets appear to be more conservative than public investors at the moment, we’re asking a new question: are a bunch of insurtech startups undervalued?

Hippo — an insurtech startup focused on home insurance — put together a $ 150 million round at a $ 1.5 billion post-money valuation after growing its gross written premium to $ 270 million “in the past 12 months.” At that valuation, and at pre-adjustment premium scale, Hippo is super-cheap compared to Lemonade, another venture-backed insurtech startup that just went public.


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There’s no need to relitigate Hippo’s valuation and how the private markets have valued the firm. But our work yesterday does give us the chance to do some fun math on other players in the neo-insurance space, namely, Root and MetroMile. Using data accrued from financial filings and valuation data from Pitchbook and Crunchbase, we can grok how much the two firms are worth using Hippo’s and Lemonade’s current premium multiples.

If you aren’t familiar, the cohort of startups we’re looking at have raised well over $ 1 billion as a group; VCs really believe in them. How they are priced then, and how they exit, will help determine the results of many a venture fund.

So, are other players in the startup insurance market cheap at their last private price when compared to Lemonade and Hippo? Did their venture backers overpay? Let’s find out.

Cheap? Expensive?


Startups – TechCrunch


Helping Startups Succeed When VC Funding Slows Down

July 11, 2020 No Comments

It’s becoming quite apparent that the Startup world is experiencing a slowdown and there appears to be no quick-end in site, unless you scrap everything your doing and start over. According to many articles from very reputable news sites around the web, the common issue at hand is the lack of funding coming from Venture Capital Firms. In addition, due to this shift in funding, Startups are now forced to change their thinking on how to grow their business on a shoe-string budget. In this post, I will discuss the importance of hiring a digital marketing firm that can not only get their business off the ground, but also do it without relying on the stress of getting additional funding to keep the doors open for another month.

Why is Venture Capital Slowing Down?

Across the major news sites and tech blogs, there has been a slew of articles discussing the apparent slowdown of Venture Capital funding across the globe (not just in the USA). According to the Forbes article entitled Tech CEO Shares Difficulties of Raising Venture Capital in a Down Market, the authors Samantha Walravens & Heather Cabot of GeekGirlRising stated “According to a 2016 report from PricewaterhouseCoopers and the National Venture Capital Association, funding in Silicon Valley startups fell 19.5% in the first quarter of 2016 compared to a year earlier, and is down 10% for seed stage companies in the first quarter 2016, amidst fears over the global economy and the run-up in startups’ valuations.

To reinforce this trend, another article from Bloomberg.com, entitled “Is There a Slowdown in Venture Capital?” Phil Libin goes on to say that the reason for the pause and/or decline in Venture Capital funding is due to the current lack of interest of those “Me Too Businesses” that once thrived with the evolution of  smartphones and social media. However, he does go on to say that right now is a great time for startups that can offer something new and original. See the video below for the interview (courtesy of Blooomberg.com)


Is Online Finally Catching up to Traditional Media?

In another yet predictable twist, it appears Social Media has finally started to crack that old TV Advertising Egg and is creeping its way deeper into the annual $ 70+  Billion Dollar TV Ad Budget. According to the AdAge.com article “TV Budgets Shifting to Social? Yes, It’s Time to Worryauthor
Debra Aho Williamson states “… eMarketer believes the conversation about social and TV will change. For buyers who want the best way to reach their audience, the growing video businesses of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat now present a viable alternative to TV.

Williamson also goes on to say that even though this shift sounds monumental, the actual amount of Ad dollars from TV to social is very small. On the other hand, she believes that this trend can very easily become a real “game changer” in the near future. So, with the potential of more advertising dollars making their way to the online marketing world, Startups are going to have to rely more on Digital Agencies to promote their product/service.

Getting Big Agency Results on a Shoe-String Budget

Since VCs and Investors are only interested in funding companies that offer something new, exciting and most importantly different, what does that mean for those “me too businesses”? Due to this natural shift in the business ecosystem, Startups need to find a more affordable way to launch their “baby” to the world without going bankrupt in the process. To help with this scenario, startups need to find a reliable Digital Agency that can jump right in and “move the needle”. This agency would need to provide guidance and help build the foundation needed to compete in this highly competitive online space. Here’s a recent article entitled “What Every Startup Needs to Know Before Choosing a Digital Agency” which can help highlight other services that Startups can benefit from.

Here is a brief outline of the services that startups need to remain competitive

digital agency services

In Conclusion:

Many Startups, especially Early-Stage Startups, operate on very small Ad budgets and are often second guessing themselves on where they can get the “best bang for their buck” with regard to online advertising. Based on the trends mentioned in this article about  the decline in VC funding Social media getting more of the overall Ad budgets, it’s pretty clear that Startups need to focus on finding an affordable digital agency that treats them like a partner and not another typical client.


Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant


Why Startups Need Diversification In Digital Marketing

June 21, 2020 No Comments

Marketing Diversification for StartupsIf there was (1) one piece of advice I would give Startups (especially Early Stage), it would be diversification…  and a lot of it. startups typically have very limited advertising budgets so they have to account for every penny they spend. In this article, I will explain the reasons for this diversification as well as how best to execute them on a limited budget.

Set Realistic Expectations:

As one of the most “bastardized” words in agency world, it’s imperative to keep everyone’s hopes and dreams in check with regard to the online marketplace. Attending conferences, reading case studies and talking with other business owners is not only a great idea, it’s encouraged. however, it can also “set off” false expectations that could be devastating to the overall goals and objectives. I have advised clients (both past and present) to NEVER trust Google with their campaigns, keywords and budgets because they don’t care about growing your business, they just want your money. Bottom line: If it sounds too good to be true, your instincts are correct!

Separate of Brand vs. Non-Brand:

It’s simple math. It costs more money to reach consumers who DO NOT already know your brand. Over time, the brand takes “all of the credit” because that is how everyone searches for you. But, here’s the catch. Getting to that phase in consumer behavior can be difficult to achieve, especially on the wallet. Here are a couple strategies that can not only help the wallet, but also the align the expectations.

  • Leverage Google Display, Mobile and YouTube Video networks
    • Low cost ($ 0.10 – $ 1.00 CPC/CPV).
    • More continuous visibility.
    • Expectations are set to branding only.
  • Utilize micro-targeting of Social media for specific audience testing
    • Target specific audience segments within a short period of time.
    • High volume allows for multi-variate ad testing.
    • Conversion tracking pixels allow for full analytics reporting.

PPC Marketing Diversification

Monetize Everything

This may sound like a “no-brainer” to some of you, but startups tend to forget that measuring success is more than just placing an order or a form submission. Often, little things like email signups, chat sessions and phone calls eventually lead to “real” conversions later on in the buying cycle. It’s important for everyone involved to consider these little conversions in the overall big picture. In some instances, these interactions act as a barometer when something is wrong or unclear and can help improve usability within the website experience.

In Conclusion:

Startups are faced with tough decisions when it comes to advertising due to their limited Ad budgets. They also cannot afford to, “bet the farm” on something that they heard at a conference or read in a case study. In 2016, consumers are everywhere (Google Search, Facebook Ads. YouTube. Twitter Ads, etc…) and startups need to leverage all of the platforms to maximize their exposure. They also need to understand that certain ad platforms serve different purposes as well as perform better than others.


Digital Marketing Agency | Google Ads Consultant


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