Join ECL on Wednesday to pitch your startup to Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace and Hippo’s Assaf Wand

Have you ever dreamed about the opportunity to find yourself in, say, an elevator with an investor who is open to hearing your pitch? Well, then the next episode of Extra Crunch Live is for you.

If you’ve hung out with us on an ECL before, you know we start with a bit of top news, chat with our speakers about how to successfully fundraise, and then finish with the Pitch Deck Teardown, where we take a look at decks submitted by you, the audience members, and give live feedback.

On Wednesday, with the help of Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace and Hippo’s Assaf Wand, we’re going to shake things up a bit.

Folks who attend the live event will be able to virtually ‘raise their hand’, come on screen, and give a 60-second pitch of their startup. No demoes. No videos. No visual aids of any kind. It’s the ultimate elevator pitch, and it’ll be done before a live audience.

Wallace and Wand (that’s catchy, eh?) will give their feedback and ask questions at the end of every pitch.

The only way you can participate in the ECL Pitch-off is to show up. Luckily, the events are free to anyone. However, accessing any of this content on demand is reserved strictly for Extra Crunch members.

We’re super excited to introduce the pitch-off as a feature of ECL and hope you are too! See you on Wednesday!

Register here.

 

 

 

Hear how to raise big funding (and use it well) from FirstMark’s Rick Heitzmann and Orchard’s Court Cunningham

Orchard, founded in 2017, was relatively early to the proptech industry. The company, originally called Perch, focused on dual-trackers, which are folks who are both buying and selling a home simultaneously. FirstMark Capital led both the Series A and the Series B funding rounds for Orchard, doubling down on the real estate platform.

It goes without saying, we’re absolutely thrilled to have FirstMark Capital Managing Partner Rick Heitzmann and Orchard CEO Court Cunningham join us on an upcoming episode of Extra Crunch Live. The event takes place on May 5 at 3pm ET/noon PT. Register here.

Orchard has raised more than $350 million, including a $200 miilion+ debt financing. Alongside running a full brokerage company for dual-tracking home buyers and sellers, it also offers title and mortgage services. But what’s most interesting about the vertically integrated company is the innovation it’s doing around the consumer experience. Namely, Orchard is taking an entirely new approach to home searching, which has been incredibly stagnant despite the rush to digitize the process by major tech players.

Orchard allows consumers to get ML-driven recommendations based on homes they’ve already liked, and search by different rooms in the house. For example, perhaps the backyard or the kitchen is the most important part of the house — Orchard lets you default to that pic when browsing listings.

Meanwhile, Rick Heitzmann founded FirstMark Capital all the way back in 2008. He’s led investments in companies including Pinterest, Airbnb, StubHub, Tapad, DraftKings, Riot Games, Ro, Discord, Carta and more.

On Extra Crunch Live, we’ll talk more about what Heitzmann looks for in a founder, what he sees in Cunningham and the future of proptech, why Cunningham chose FirstMark and even take a walk through Orchard’s early pitch deck.

We’ll also look at pitch decks submitted by the audience, giving you the chance to hear directly from a founder and investor how they consume funding decks, what works and what doesn’t. If you want to submit your deck to be featured in a future episode of ECL, hit up this link.

It’s gonna be a blast.

As a reminder, anyone can attend Extra Crunch Live, but on-demand access to the content is reserved strictly for Extra Crunch members. You can join Extra Crunch here.

Alexa von Tobel outlines how founders should manage personal finances

Few people are more knowledgable on the topic of how founders should manage their finances than Alexa von Tobel. She is a certified financial planner, started her own company in the midst of the recession (which happened to be a wildly successful personal finance startup that sold for hundreds of millions of dollars) and is now a VC who invests and advises founders.

At Early Stage 2021, she gave a presentation on how founders should think about managing their own wealth. Startup founders can often put all their money into their venture and end up paying more attention to the finances of their company than their own bank account.

Von Tobel outlined the various steps you can take to stay out of debt, build credit and accumulate wealth through investments to ensure you have financial peace of mind as you take on the most stressful venture of your life: Starting a company.


Know your numbers

The first step in getting organized and being proactive is often taking inventory. Von Tobel believes that knowing your numbers and getting organized digitally is the first step to having financial peace of mind.

Know all your numbers. Know your net worth. What are your assets? What’s your debt? What does your total financial picture look like? Get everything online. You should have all the mobile apps downloaded so that, in minutes, you can actually see your full financial life. And keep it simple. Fewer accounts are better. I always tell people, if you have seven credit cards, plus three savings accounts, that’s a lot. You’re never going to be as good at managing your finances. Simplify your accounts. (Time stamp — 2:50)


Manage your credit and debt

Founder and investor Melissa Bradley outlines how to nail your virtual pitch meeting

Melissa Bradley wears many hats. She’s the co-founder of a startup called Ureeka, an investor at 1863 Ventures, and a professor at Georgetown’s business school. So it’s not an understatement to say that she understands the fundraising process from every angle. And moreover, she has both invested and fundraised for her own startup during this last year, where the landscape has shifted drastically. At TechCrunch Early Stage, she led a session on how to nail your virtual pitch meeting.

Bradley covered how to allocate your time during the meeting, how to prepare, how to close out the meetings with a clear list of action items, and what to avoid.

You can watch the session or check out the full transcript below, but I’ve also pulled out a few highlights from the talk just for you.

Enjoy!

Conversation > Pitching

One of the greatest shifts in the pitch landscape during the pandemic was the nature of meetings themselves. Because investors and founders can take 30 meetings a day from the comfort of their home, it means that conversation has been prioritized over presentation. Adding to the need for conversation is the fact that investors aren’t ‘getting to know you’ IRL as they would in the past, and so how you interact (not just the content of your pitch) is critically important.

Bradley explained that planning for extra time to answer questions and go deep on strategy is more important now than ever.

Now is the time to really have a conversation and deeply engage the investor in your story and your vision. You want to be conversational in nature, but still formal in tone. So you want to be respectful; you want to avoid jargon; you want to make sure it’s clear what you’re talking about. But it’s really much more of a two-way conversation than we’ve probably seen before. I think again, pace yourself, be really clear in advance how much time you have. One-third of the time should be spent on your pitch, and the other two-thirds, you should be prepared to field questions and really have that conversation. Pace yourself. Don’t rush through. If you only have 30 minutes, it’s probably not the best time to do a demo. You might want to follow up with a recorded demo or make an offer to do a demo afterwards. (Timestamp – 6:03)

Strategy > Projections

Both& introduces a line of D2C transmasculine clothing

Historically, the transmasculine community has been neglected by the fashion world. But Both& is a new brand looking to offer clothing tailored specifically for transmasculine bodies.

The company was founded by Finnegan Shepard, a trans man who started Both& after going through top surgery and feeling like he still couldn’t find clothing that fit his body. The items are designed to emphasize a masculine figure, disguise bindings, and the line is size inclusive.

The general idea is that our clothing is a representation of who we are, and no one should have their clothing options limited based on their body.

Both& is fully bootstrapped and sells direct to consumer through the website. The strategy is to do super small batches of capsule lines, with the first going on pre-order today.

The first line is comprised of three basic t-shirts.

The Finnegan is an everyday basics shirt. The Tyla is similar to the Finnegan, but has a ribbed sleeve cuff for a tighter fit around the biceps. The Khazeel is designed for an oversize fit, and is designed to cover bindings and appear boxy. These items range from $39 to $45.

Both& wants to start with simple designs and forget about color and prints for now.

[gallery ids="2135795,2135796,2135797"]

“Let’s get the basics right in terms of shape, and focus on relatively minimalist-ish colors, and then once we have those nailed, then we move on to a lot more colorful stuff,” said Shephard. “We’re not really interested in prints. That was one of the things that I actually had an adverse reaction to. There are a lot of companies out there that are printing sort of Trans Pride stuff on t-shirts, but they’re not really changing the shapes or making them fit better.”

The plan is to release new designs every six to eight weeks.

One of the challenges for Both& is that the target demographic is very focused on sustainability, but traditionally doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, according to Shepard.

“We’re making it at an accessible price point and also sustainable and we’re building items that can also be produced in small batch,” said Shepard. “That’s a lot of different things to try and juggle at once.”

Both& introduces a line of D2C transmasculine clothing

Historically, the transmasculine community has been neglected by the fashion world. But Both& is a new brand looking to offer clothing tailored specifically for transmasculine bodies.

The company was founded by Finnegan Shepard, a trans man who started Both& after going through top surgery and feeling like he still couldn’t find clothing that fit his body. The items are designed to emphasize a masculine figure, disguise bindings, and the line is size inclusive.

The general idea is that our clothing is a representation of who we are, and no one should have their clothing options limited based on their body.

Both& is fully bootstrapped and sells direct to consumer through the website. The strategy is to do super small batches of capsule lines, with the first going on pre-order today.

The first line is comprised of three basic t-shirts.

The Finnegan is an everyday basics shirt. The Tyla is similar to the Finnegan, but has a ribbed sleeve cuff for a tighter fit around the biceps. The Khazeel is designed for an oversize fit, and is designed to cover bindings and appear boxy. These items range from $39 to $45.

Both& wants to start with simple designs and forget about color and prints for now.

[gallery ids="2135795,2135796,2135797"]

“Let’s get the basics right in terms of shape, and focus on relatively minimalist-ish colors, and then once we have those nailed, then we move on to a lot more colorful stuff,” said Shephard. “We’re not really interested in prints. That was one of the things that I actually had an adverse reaction to. There are a lot of companies out there that are printing sort of Trans Pride stuff on t-shirts, but they’re not really changing the shapes or making them fit better.”

The plan is to release new designs every six to eight weeks.

One of the challenges for Both& is that the target demographic is very focused on sustainability, but traditionally doesn’t have a lot of disposable income, according to Shepard.

“We’re making it at an accessible price point and also sustainable and we’re building items that can also be produced in small batch,” said Shepard. “That’s a lot of different things to try and juggle at once.”

Swyft raises $17.5 million to bring same-day delivery to all the retailers that aren’t Amazon

Thanks to major players like Amazon and Walmart, we’ve become accustomed to next- or same-day delivery. But the pandemic has also renewed our interest in buying from smaller businesses and retailers.

Swyft, a company that has just raised $17.5 million in Series A, helps retailers of any size provide affordable same-day delivery. The round was co-led by Inovia Capital and Forerunner Ventures, with participation from Shopify and existing investors Golden Ventures and Trucks VC.

Swyft is a marketplace, connecting a network of shipping carriers with vendors. But the company also provides software to those carriers to make them more efficient, and turns them into a vast network that allows them to pick up more inventory without adding to their infrastructure.

In other words, several regional carriers may play a part in delivering a parcel shipped via Swyft without making any big changes to their original routes or adding new drivers, trucks, etc.

To date, major players in both shipping and retail have dominated this space, thanks in large part to their ability to deliver quickly. Swyft is looking to amass an army, for lack of a better term, comprised of all of the smaller players, including mom and pop retailers and vendors as well as smaller, regional carriers. Banded together through software, these carriers and retailers can match the scale and influence of the behemoths without spending a fortune.

Swyft was cofounded by Aadil Kazmi (CEO), Zeeshan Hamid (Head of Engineering), and Maraz Rahman (Head of Sales). Kazmi and Hamid both spent their careers at Amazon, working on data and last-mile operations for the behemoth. Rahman was an early employee at a YC-backed proptech startup.

The trio started asking themselves early last year why retailers weren’t able to offer same-day delivery and chose to tackle the gap they discovered.

The key ingredient to Swyft is not its aggregation of couriers, but the software it provides to them. Because Swyft is increasing demand for these carriers, it also needs to make them more efficient. The back-end software allows carriers to digitize or automate a good deal of what they’re traditionally doing by hand.

CEO Aadil Kazmi says that Swyft is able to come in anywhere between 25 and 30 percent cheaper than the incumbent option.

“I don’t know what percent of your purchases are from Amazon, but for me it’s like 150 percent,” said Eurie Kim. “I’d prefer to buy elsewhere with the pandemic, and support local and independent brands, but Amazon’s trained us all to have fast and free shipping. It feels like an opportunity where the consumer experience is really lacking and the burden on merchants and retailers is extremely heavy.”

Swyft currently has 16 full-time employees. Twelve percent are female and 75 percent are people of color, according to the company.

Since April 2020, Swyft has facilitated the delivery of more than 180,000 packages, and expanded gross margin from 78 percent to 82 percent, thanks in large part to revenue from the software side of the business and a zero-asset model.

Real raises $10M from Lightspeed, Megan Rapinoe and others to rethink therapy

The last year has put a spotlight on mental health, and startup Real is looking to shake up the space with a product that makes group therapy available on-demand.

Founded by CEO Ariela Safira, Real is inspired by a long-standing methodology in the world of mental health: Group therapy. AA, for instance, has been around for decades and proven to be incredibly effective for some. But that format isn’t as readily available across a variety of issues beyond the disease of addiction.

To deploy this service, Real has raised $10 million in Series A financing, led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from existing and new investors, including Megan Rapinoe and Minnesota Vikings Linebacker Eric Kendricks.

Real employs full-time therapists to lead group therapy across a variety of issues, including exploration of sexuality, anxiety, managing anger with family members, and other real-world issues. With Real, users pay $28/month to have access to these pathways (as Real calls them), letting users watch these group therapy sessions on-demand and get journal prompts and other resources.

One of the benefits of this platform is that users can get more tactical advice on these things, rather than trying to explore the problems. They also feel less alone, as they see others are struggling with the same things.

Perhaps most importantly, Real allows users to tap into the conversations and therapy they need at the time they want it.

Safira explained that she might be deep in her thoughts and feelings on Wednesday at 11pm, but can’t get a one-on-one therapy session until 2pm on Monday. Her state may have changed. With Real, she can get online and access the right pathway in the moment.

Interestingly, Real’s research shows that most people doing one-on-one therapy said they went for general anxiety, relationship problems, and career advice. However, on Real, the top pathways are sexuality, motherhood, and intimacy. The conclusion is that the things people want to work on the most are not always the things they’re most comfortable digging into in a one-on-one setting.

By scaling group therapy sessions to an on-demand audience, Real has been able to bring the cost of this type of service way down, especially when compared to one-on-one therapy.

Real is the product of many years of work in the mental health space. While she was studying for her undergrad at Stanford, Safira’s friend attempted suicide. It was her first time confronting the mental health system and it made her wonder why the system was designed the way it was. She threw herself in.

“I spent two to three years working on how to redesign the mental health care system,” she said. “That entails, visiting and flying to rehab centers, therapy offices, architecture firms that have built those spaces to learn why we make the decisions in mental health care that we make. Things like is there research behind the bright white walls in inpatient mental health facilities, and if not, is that based on legal hurdles or financial hurdles? I really wanted to get into the foundation of how to build a system.”

Image Credits: Real

She dropped out of Stanford, then returned to Stanford, then went to Columbia for her masters, and then dropped out of Columbia to start Real. And the time seems to finally be right. Real has attracted investment from big names in institutional VC and big names in general.

“[Ariela] looked at something that has been around for so long, therapies in the traditional sense, and flipped it on its head to break up the status quo, and I thought that was really interesting and innovative,” said Megan Rapinoe in an interview with TechCrunch. “There are obviously a lot of barriers to access mental health services, for a lot of different reasons. Hopefully, this platform can make it easier for people to get the help that they need.”

Rapinoe is but one of the big names invested in Real. She is joined by Gwyneth Paltrow and Eric Kendricks.

Kendricks explained that he had never been averse to therapy but that he learned a lot after meeting his now-fiance and hearing about her struggles and the struggles of her family, which has dealt with a variety of mental health issues.

“Everything was going was going well for me,” he said. “I was always playing well in the field, and financially, I’m making more money than when I was a kid. But I did have moments where I was questioning myself and in my head a lot and it’s kind of a weird feeling. I had to take a step back and I realized that I was going through a little bit of something. But based on the conversations I had with my fiance, I used my resources to to find the help that I needed and it was amazing.”

He explained that the shift in society’s mentality around mental health has paved the way for a product like Real, which is a more proactive and preventative approach to mental wellness.

But Real has also been able to react quickly to big events in our world. The company has launched a product called Real to the People, which offers free access to the platform during moments of crisis, including the COVID-19 pandemic, the murder of George Floyd, and most recently, the spike in anti-Asian hate crimes.

Nicole Quinn, partner at Lightspeed, explained that the firm has had an interest in the mental health space for a long time. In fact, LSVP is an investor in Calm.

“The ‘aha’ moment for me was when I looked at the disease of alcoholism,” said Quinn, who led the round in Calm. “You get to go to Alcoholics Anonymous, and you really benefit through having groups. Can we apply that same group method by scaling to other areas. We have a fundamental belief that yes, you can.”

Real has raised a total of $16 million since launch.

Sarah Kunst will outline how to get ready to fundraise at Early Stage

Sarah Kunst, founding partner at Cleo Capital, has worn many hats. She’s been an entrepreneur, served on plenty of boards, is a contributing author at Marie Clare, has been a senior advisor to Bumble and worked as a consultant in marketing, business development and more.

And with all that experience, she knows all too well that the process of fundraising starts well before your first pitch meeting. That’s why we’re so excited to have Kunst join us at Early Stage in July to discuss how to get ready to fundraise.

This isn’t the first time Kunst has discussed the topic with us. On a recent episode of Extra Crunch Live, Kunst and one of her portfolio company founders Julia Collins described how to conduct the process of fundraising.

For example, there is a story to tell, metrics to share and an art to building momentum before you ever start filling your calendar. That all requires preparation, and Kunst will outline how to go about that at our event in July.

Early Stage is going down twice this year, with our first event taking place tomorrow! Here’s a look at some of the topics we’ll be covering:

Fundraising

  • Bootstrapping Best Practices (Tope Awotona and Blake Bartlett, Calendly)
  • Four Things to Think About Before Raising a Series A (Bucky Moore, Kleiner Perkins)
  • How to Get An Investor’s Attention (Marlon Nichols, MaC Venture Capital)
  • How to Nail Your Virtual Pitch Meeting (Melissa Bradley, Ureeka)
  • How Founders Can Think Like a VC (Lisa Wu, Norwest Venture Partners)
  • The All-22 View, or Never Losing Perspective (Eghosa Omoigui, EchoVC Partners)

Operations:

  • Finance for Founders (Alexa von Tobel, Inspired Capital)
  • Building and Leading a Sales Team (Ryan Azus, Zoom CRO)
  • 10 Things NOT to Do When Starting a Company (Leah Solivan, Fuel Capital)
  • Leadership Culture and Good Governance (David Easton, Generation Investment Management)

The cool thing about Early Stage is that it’s heavy on audience Q&A, ensuring that everyone gets the chance to ask their own specific questions. Oh, and ticket holders get free access to Extra Crunch.

Interested? You can buy a ticket here.

Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace and Hippo’s Assaf Wand are joining us on Extra Crunch Live

As the world changes rapidly, so too do the most traditional of industries. That includes property tech and insurtech. Luckily for us, two of the top minds in those spaces are joining us on an upcoming episode of Extra Crunch Live.

On April 21 at noon PT/3pm ET, Fifth Wall’s Brendan Wallace and Hippo’s Assaf Wand will hang out with us to discuss fundraising across these evolving verticals and explain specifically how fundraising went down for Hippo. The duo will also take a look at pitch decks sent in by the audience and give their live feedback. (If you’d like your deck to be featured on a future episode of Extra Crunch Live, hit up this link.)

But first, a little more information on our guests.

Brendan Wallace is cofounder and managing partner at Fifth Wall, one of the top VC firms dealing in property tech, future of work, new retail and more. Fifth Wall portfolio companies include OpenDoor, Classpass, AllBirds, Clutter, Eden, Lime, and Lyric, among others.

Before Fifth Wall, Wallace was an entrepreneur himself, cofounding Identified (acquired by Workday) and Cabify, a huge ridesharing service in Latin America. He was also an angel investor, with investments in Bonobos, Dollar Shave Club, Lyft, and SpaceX, to name a few.

The TL;dr version on Wallace is that he’s been around the block in the tech world plenty of times, and has experience across a variety of sectors. There’s lots to learn here.

Assaf Wand is cofounder and CEO of Hippo, a home insurance provider for the digital age. Wand is also a serial entrepreneur, founding a company that designed and developed consumer products called Sabi. It was acquired in 2015.

Interestingly, Wand has also worn the hat of an investor, serving as strategic investor for Intel Capital and also spending time at McKinsey as a consultant.

Hippo has raised more than $700 million from investors that include Bond, Felicis, Comcast and Horizons.

Wallace invested in Hippo’s Series B round, and we’re anxious to hear why Wand and Wallace chose each other, how they work together today, and what advice they have for founders looking to raise capital and scale their businesses.

The episode goes down at noon PT/3pm ET on April 21 and is free to all who want to check it out live. On-demand access to the content is reserved for Extra Crunch members only. Register to come hang out with us here.