Reelgood raises $6.75 million for its universal streaming guide

Streaming aggregator Reelgood capitalized on the overabundance of streaming services available today by offering consumers a universal dashboard where you can track what you’re watching and discover your next binge. It then translated the activity from its over 10 million users into data it licenses to major companies, including Roku, Microsoft, smart TV makers, NYPost and even hedge funds. Now the company has closed on $6.75 million in Series A funding to continue to grow its business.

The round was led by Runa Capital and includes participation from Reelgood’s seed round investor, August Capital. To date, Reelgood has raised $11 million.

The company’s app to some extent competes with those designed to help you keep track of the episodes you’ve watched across streaming services and TV, like TV Time, iTV, JustWatch and others. But Reelgood’s service stands out for its breadth of catalog — it tracks both movies and TV across some 336 streaming services, the website says. This includes free services like Tubi, Crackle and those from TV networks, plus authenticated “TV Everywhere” services for pay-TV subscribers, and subscription services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Amazon Prime and others. It also can help you compare prices on rental options.

And its robust search and filtering features can help you find titles that are new, coming or leaving services, or by any other filter — like genre, year, Rotten Tomatoes rating, IMDB score and more. The more you use and personalize the service, the better its suggestions for what to watch next then become.

Once you find something to watch, you just press play to launch the streaming service’s app or website.

The work involved in making a simple concept — a universal dashboard for streaming — is fairly complex, Reelgood says.

“Putting together these streaming service libraries involves ingesting massive and unstructured amounts of data from hundreds of different sources for real-time matching and combination using machine learning and human curators,” noted Reelgood’s head of Data, Pablo Lucio Paredes.

Reelgood also touts the quality of its data (averaging 98% across all 300+ services), which it then licenses to publishers, search engines, media players, TVs, voice assistants and other smart devices. Currently, the company has around 50 business customers who pay either for the raw data, the insights or both.

Roku, for example, uses Reelgood’s data for its own universal search feature. NYPost displays streaming availability data on their articles via a widget. Hedge funds look at the data to better understand consumer behavior in streaming services and the movement of content between catalogs.

This year, Reelgood hired Nielsen’s former SVP of global measurement, Mark Green, to lead its B2B data licensing business, called Reelgood Insights.

“I sought out and joined Reelgood because they are poised to capture the billions in revenue spent on viewership data as viewing continues to shift towards OTT,” said Green.

The additional funding will be used to expand the number of platforms where Reelgood is offered, including on a range of smart TVs through partnerships. The company has signed five smart TV deals with major brands that will begin to roll out in 2020, but LG is the only name Reelgood can currently disclose.

Reelgood is headquartered in San Francisco. It has 18 employees, both local and remote, and is hiring across a number of roles.

Volvo invests in autonomous vehicle operating system startup Apex.AI though its VC arm

Volvo is making an investment in Palo Alto-based Apex.AI, a startup working on developing a robotic operating system qualified for use in production automobiles. Apex.AI, founded by automated systems engineers Jan Becker and Dejan Pangercic, raised $15.5 million in a Series A last November, and revealed that its focus is on developing an enterprise-focused version of the Robot Operating System open-source middleware.

Apex.AI currently lists two products on its home page: Apex.OS and Apex.Autonomy. The former aims to provide a set of simple-to-integrate APIs that can give automakers and others access to fully certified autonomous mobility technology, while the latter is more focused on specific elements and components for those looking to make use of specific elements of autonomous technology including perception, localization, path planning and more.

Volvo Group Venture Capital acting CEO Anna Westerberg, who is also the automaker’s SVP of Connected Solutions, said in a press release announcing the news that Volvo Group is “excited to invest in a company that enables easier development of safety-certified systems.” In providing systems that comply with industry-standard safety requirements, Apex.AI could potentially help speed the process of getting autonomous driving systems into production vehicles, across both its commercial and consumer offerings.

The financial details of the investment were not disclosed, with publicly-traded Volvo Group saying only that it “has no significant impact” on the overall company’s “earnings or financial position,” which doesn’t mean much except that it’s not material enough to require a detailed disclosure just now. That still could mean a lot of money coming in for Apex.AI, given the relative yardstick of ‘material’ for a huge multinational automaker, and a two-year old Silicon Valley startup.

Flipkart leads $60M investment in logistics startup Shadowfax

Walmart’s Flipkart has backed Shadowfax in a new $60 million financing round as the retail giant works to strengthen its logistics network in the nation.

Flipkart led the Series D financing round for the four-year-old Bangalore-based startup, Shadowfax co-founder and chief executive Abhishek Bansal told TechCrunch in an interview.

Existing investors Eight Roads Ventures, Nokia Growth Partners, Qualcomm Ventures, Mirae Asset Naver Fund and World Bank-backed IFC also participated in the round, which brings the startup’s total raise to date to $100 million.

The new round valued Shadowfax at about $250 million, two people familiar with the matter told TechCrunch. Flipkart alone contributed about $30 million to the round, they said. The startup declined to comment on the valuation and individual contribution of its investors.

Shadowfax operates an unusually built business-to-business logistics network in over 300 cities in India. The startup works with neighbourhood stores to use their real estate to store inventory, and a large network of freelancers who do the delivery.

“Anyone with a bicycle or a bike can join our platform and deliver items for us,” said Shadowfax’s Bansal. The startup has also setup its own warehouses and fulfilment hubs.

“So we have not built any assets on the ground. We are essentially bringing the inefficiency of the market on to the platform and catering large enterprises,” he said.

This logistics network handles goods in a range of categories including hot food, grocery and e-commerce.

“It’s a very reliable logistics network. And each grocery store is only serving to users in a kilometre radius, so the delivery could be incredibly quick. These grocery stores, whose staff also often participate in delivery, only have to work with us for a few hours in a day, so it’s a quick way for them to make extra money,” he said. The platform has amassed more than 100,000 delivery partners.

Flipkart, which is one of Shadowfax’s “hundreds” of clients, said it will explore ways to strategically work more closely with the startup going forward. Flipkart chief executive Kalyan Krishnamurthy said Shadowfax will help the company “significantly reduce delivery time and provide superior customer experiences across product categories.”

He added, “by leveraging kirana stores and the deep delivery capabilities of Shadowfax and other Flipkart-led innovations, we are building a strong foundation to make inroads into a dynamic hyperlocal consumer market.”

Flipkart owns stakes in a range of logistics firms including WS Retail.

Shadowfax’s Bansal said the startup will use the fresh capital to expand its network across India, especially in smaller cities and towns. The startup also plans to grow its team, tech infrastructure, and grow clients to handle more than 100 million shipments a month.

More to follow…

These new data sources are creating high-impact tools for investors

Venture capitalists tout themselves as frontier technology investors, but most of us are using the same infrastructure tools we’ve used for the past 20+ years — Excel and recent college grads searching Google .

We’ve seen some modest progress in people upgrading from Excel to Google Sheets, along with the use of CRM and cloud-based storage services, but according to Sebastian Soler, who oversees data science at Lux Capital, less than 5% of American VCs have a full-time team member who’s focused on technology.

“While the arguments for adopting the latest technology are now too compelling to ignore, finding the required budget for specialized tools can often prove to be a major challenge, especially for smaller managers,” said Tim Friedman, founder of PEStack. “Comprehensive market data can cost upwards of $25k for a leading service, portfolio monitoring can be double that, add in front office tools and you’re quickly into six-figure sums. My advice is: there are now more products than ever which focus on quick implementation and offer a lot of functionality at a fraction of the cost of some of the larger legacy providers.

TotemVC* is one example of a high-quality solution that offers a powerful platform with a transparent, affordable monthly rate. One piece of advice would be to use a service like [PEStack’s] free Vendor Profiles platform to identify viable providers and build up a shortlist. We also track sample clients so that our users can see what their peers are using. I would always advise managers to talk to other professionals to get the real inside scoop on which products work well, how painful the implementation was, and how good the ongoing support is.”

Jonathan Balkin, founder of Lionpoint Group, observed that the highest-impact technology initiative for a new PE/VC fund is typically to configure and enforce usage of a CRM system. The next most impactful initiative is usually to create an easy-to-use LP portal.

An investor’s perspective on the current state of the global space startup industry

Investment in space startups is significant and growing, and the opportunities available to commercial players in space exploration, research and industrialization are multiplying. But for non-expert investors and observers, these opportunities can seem obtuse and obscured, buried in technical jargon and a heady amount of hype.

That’s a great time to consult with those already active in space investing — like François Chopard, CEO of global aerospace and defense accelerator Starburst.

Chopard recently presented a deck detailing the current state of the space industry, specifically from the perspective of early-stage startup and investment activity. The Starburst CEO essentially pegs the beginning of the current upturn in space and defense startup investing as getting off the ground in around 2015, right around the time that SpaceX started ramping its launch cadence after more than a decade of development, testing and early commercial launch service.

Notably, Chopard says that Starburst has a database holding more than 6,000 aerospace and defense startups put together by its scouting team, and that while he personally expected some kind of plateau or slow in the rate of growth in the sector to have come into play by now, in fact there has been no such slowdown.

This year alone, there was a total of $5 billion in disclosed funding — and that’s data that doesn’t include the final three months of the year. Taken together, that represents four percent of the overall VC market, per Starburst’s calculations.

Chopard also outlines trending opportunities that Starbust is seeing in terms of the space and defense industry’s development, citing the “ground segment” as the “next bottleneck,” for instance.

Essentially, that means that all these new satellite companies who are able to get their hardware to space thanks to the advent and availability of affordable launch vehicles will need Earth-based infrastructure to handle the data they gather, both in terms of transmission and storage, and that’s going to be a booming opportunity for new and emerging companies.

This deck is a great look at what’s interesting and exciting to investors about aerospace and defense, and why it’s a category that has seen a lot of growth in terms of VC investment in recent years despite seemingly high technology hurdles and perceived long development timelines.

Portag3 Ventures closes $320 million second fund focused on fintech investment

Canadian venture capital firm Portag3 Ventures has closed a second fund focused on investing in fintech startup, with final commitments from institutional and strategic LPs totally $427 million CAD (around $320 million USD). The fund will before costing on early stage investments, and it’ll look to invest in companies globally, but with a particularly focus on Canada, the U.S., Europe and some markets in the Asia-Pacific region.

“We’re on a mission to build global champions from a Canadian base,” Portag3 CEO Adam Felesky told TechCrunch regarding the firm’s base of operations and investment targets. “Canada has the talent, the expertise and one of the biggest markets in the world directly to our south. All the ingredients are there, we just need more success stories – and we are on our way to getting them. Success will breed more success. In order to understand what it takes to succeed globally, you need to invest and work with the best of the best from around the world. Many of the early fintech unicorns are based in Europe on the back of substantive, helpful policy changes. Canada needs to learn from these examples so we get the right ingredients for building a leading, vibrant ecosystem – and we slowly but surely are.”

Contributors to this new fund include Alterna Savings and Credit Union, Aviva France, BDC Capital, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, CNP Assurances, The Co-operators, Eldridge Industries, Green Shield Canada and more. The list includes a lot of strategic investors, including LPs from Portag3’s first $198 million CAD ($149 million USD) close for this fund, which was announced in October 2018.

Portag3’s Fund II has already been making investments prior to this final closing, and has already put money into KOHO, Clark, Integrate.ai and startup-builder Diagram Ventures, along with 13 other startups. Its first fund invested in a number of fintech-related companies including Clearbanc, Drop, League, and Wealthsimple, as well as some companies that have already exited including Wave, Quovo and Zensurance.

Alongside the close of this funding, Portag3 has also recently set up a new group of senior advisors to work with the companies it’s investing in, and those advisors include financial industry heavyweights like Rockefeller Capital Management CEO and president Gregory J. Fleming, as well as former AIG president and CEO Peter Hancock.

 

Why Notion is staying small as its valuation gets bigger

Work tools startup Notion, which recently reached a reported $800 million valuation, isn’t on the verge of a big SoftBank round. In fact, COO Akshay Kothari says the startup has “never felt like if we had more money we could grow faster.”

The company, centered around an app that helps non-developers build collaboration tools, has more than one million users and has scaled its product quickly despite having a team of just 27.

I wrote about the company’s partnership with some of tech’s top accelerators and venture capital firms last month. People are very curious about this small company and how it is run, so here’s more from my recent interview with COO Akshay Kothari in which we discussed the hyped startup’s philosophy of staying small and some of the challenges it may have ahead with this brand of thinking as competitors are raising massive sums.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Notion COO Akshay Kothari (Photo: Notion)

Notion COO Akshay Kothari (Photo: Notion)

Where does your story begin with Notion? Give me a snapshot of where the team is now.

Akshay Kothari: [Notion co-founders Ivan Zhao and Simon Last] started Notion six years ago and that’s when I invested. I had sold my previous company and I had this newfound money that I didn’t know what to do with. I invested in Notion, so that’s my connection.

We were kind of in research mode for many years trying to uncover what the market needs were. We launched about two years ago; 1.0 was just notes that you could take and a wiki so that you could collaborate with people. And then last year we launched databases and that was the 2.0 version, which kind of seemed like an inflection point, where now you could not only have your notes and your wiki, but also manage your tasks, manage your projects, manage candidates and recruiting, all in a single tool.

Over the last year and a half, the company has grown extremely fast. I joined about a year ago, there were about 10 people at the beginning of this year and now we’re close to 30. It’s still a really small engineering team. We’re 9 engineers, we don’t have any product managers, and we’re 2 designers. So there are about 10 people that are building the product, and 10 people on community and support teams, something that we’ve invested very heavily in. We’re starting to have a sales and marketing team. We have 2 people in marketing and 2 people in sales. That all rounds up to about 27 which is where we are now.

Since you joined do you think the idea has shifted at all?

In terms of the original idea, we were thinking about how people who didn’t know how to code could build things like tools and software that were really useful. I guess the only realization has been that not everyone wakes up wanting to build software, but everyone wakes to solve problems. That was the pivot to focusing on notes, wikis and tasks, because that’s actually something that every team needs.

Are those needs universal for big and small teams?

For the first 100 people you can actually do a lot with Notion. With 30 people, we pretty much run the entire company, except for using Slack for internal communication and Intercom for external communication like talking to customers. Everything else is actually on Notion, like our application tracking system for recruiting inside Notion, our sales CRM is in Notion, our wiki obviously is, our project management as well — no, we don’t use Jira.

For sub-100 businesses, you actually don’t need another tool. When you get to hundreds of people what tends to happens is that some person or some team tends to have a preference for a specific tool. In those situations, Notion plays well with other tools. You can embed things easily. So let’s say Excel or Google Sheets is something that you want to use, you can just embed that inside Notion. So Notion becomes this kind of central nervous system for all of the work that people are doing.

Building on that, one of the things we haven’t done is we don’t do synchronous communication so we’ve stayed away from that because I feel like people like using Slack. On Slack, you can’t actually collaborate on a project… Notion has become a place where you can actually do a lot of your work alongside the synchronous communication.

So, no interest in building a chat or video chat product?

Not in the near term. I think Slack is one of those enterprise tools that people at companies actually like. For a lot of these other tools, we just have to use it, not because we love it but because that that’s what exists.

Notion HQ

Notion’s headquarters (Photo: Notion)

What are the barriers for satisfying the customers with 100+ employees?

Kredivo’s parent firm FinAccel raises $90M to expand its credit lending platform in Southeast Asia

Singapore-headquartered FinAccel has secured $90 million in one of the largest funding rounds for a fintech startup in Southeast Asia as it looks to further grow its credit lending app Kredivo and build more financial services.

The financing round, dubbed Series C, for the three-and-a-half-year-old startup was jointly led by Asia Growth Fund — a joint venture between Mirae Asset and Naver — and Square Peg.

Singtel Innov8, TMI (Telkomsel Indonesia), Cathay Innovation, Kejora-InterVest, Mirae Asset Securities, Reinventure and DST Partners participated in the “oversubscribed” financing round, the startup said.

FinAccel said it has raised more than $200 million in debt and equity this year itself. It has raised $140 million in equity to date.

FinAccel operates credit lending app Kredivo in Indonesia, where it has amassed more than a million customers and is growing by a whopping 300% each year, Akshay Garg, chief executive of FinAccel, told TechCrunch in an interview.

The app enables customers to secure credit between $100 and $2,200. If a customer pays it back in full in a month, FinAccel does not charge them any fee. Otherwise, the service levies an interest rate of 2.95%, he explained.

Kredivo’s payments option is also integrated with a number of e-commerce firms, including Lazada and Shoppe, and food delivery startups in Indonesia, so users can quickly access the credit to purchase things and pay the app later.

Credit lending apps are increasingly gaining popularity across the globe, but especially in Southeast Asian markets, where the penetration of credit cards remains low — hence, there are very few people with a traditional credit score. This has created an opportunity for startups to look at other metrics to determine who should get a loan.

FinAccel’s team poses for a picture

Garg said Kredivo looks at a range of data points, including the kind of smartphone model a customer is using, and the apps they have installed on it. “Basically what we’re doing is almost like creating a user profile about the user using a combination of different data signals that come from the existing credit bureaus, the telcos, the e-commerce accounts, the bank accounts and the users themselves,” he said.

“All of that creates a 360-degree overview of the customer that helps us determine the risk factors and decide whether to issue the credit,” he added. As of today, Kredivo is only approving about one-third of the applications it receives.

Jikwang Chung, managing director of Mirae Asset Capital, the strategic investment arm of Mirae Asset, said in a statement that FinAccel is one of the leading companies in Southeast Asia that is able to “combine a strong technology DNA with top-tier risk management and a bold vision of financial inclusion.”

FinAccel, which works with banks to finance the credit to customers, has evaluated more than 3 million applications to date and disbursed nearly 30 million loans. Garg said the startup is now working to develop more financial services, such as low-interest education and healthcare loans.

In the next three to four years, it aims to grow to 10 million users and expand to other Southeast Asian markets such as the Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam.

A handful of other startups also operate in this space in Indonesia. C88, which also offers credit to customers, last year raised $28 million in a financing round led by Experian.

Finding free money for your social impact startup

Congratulations; you’ve decided to launch a technology-enabled startup with a positive social impact! Nearly every major Silicon Valley venture-capital firm has now invested in a B Corp; maybe you will be one of them!

The bad news: some venture capitalists have a bias against startups with an explicit positive social impact on the grounds that they have a smaller addressable market, and that the founders are not sufficiently focused on creating shareholder wealth. And of course, effectively all venture capitalists are going to require some equity for their investment.

Fortunately, there are a wide range of organizations that specifically want to support you, not just the VC community. I’m now researching non-dilutive funding for Action Tank, a startup I’m gestating to “Make America Functional Again.” I worked with outsourced research firm Wonder* to identify all of the institutions we could who support tech impact startups with cash and community, and in many cases without dilution.  I emphasize my focus here is organizations which are backing for-profit companies and do not take equity. If you think I’ve missed any, please contact me.

I suggest start by looking at the many programs offered by the Fortune 500’s startup networks. In addition, there are many other groups will give you cash, training, and community with few or no strings attached:

Ashoka is a foundation that engages in scouring for and choosing the leading social entrepreneurs across the globe, who it refers to as Ashoka Fellows.

Aspen Tech Policy Hub. “Our program mixes the best of both Washington and Silicon Valley, bringing together stakeholders in policy and technology to train the next generation of policy entrepreneurs. The Aspen Tech Policy Hub is a West Coast policy incubator, training a new generation of tech policy entrepreneurs. We take tech experts, teach them the policy process through an in-residence fellowship program in the Bay Area, and encourage them to develop outside-the-box solutions to society’s problems. We model ourselves after tech incubators like Y Combinator, but train new policy thinkers and focus the impact of their ideas.

Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellowship. Since 2011, the Bluhm/Helfand Social Innovation (BHSI) Fellowship has supported the work of 36 innovators—representing the United States as well as 18 other countries on five continents—who address pressing global issues, from healthcare delivery to college persistence and sustainable construction in developing nations.  From the beginning, the BHSI Fellowship has created meaningful, customized experiences for Fellows with connections to influential business and civic leaders, exposure to a broad audience as a speaker at Chicago Ideas, and over $3 million in financial support and in-kind contributions.”

The Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Fund for Entrepreneurial Studies. “The Clayton, Dubilier & Rice Fund for Entrepreneurial Studies supports entrepreneurs attempting to build something that advances business and society in revolutionary ways. “

Columbia Business School Tamer Fund for Social Ventures. Requires Columbia affiliation.

Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation identifies entrepreneurs that display characteristics of “exceptional social leadership through discretion, influence, vision, ambition, intelligence, and follow-through.” 

DV Hacks, led by BCG Digital Ventures: “A 48-hour hackathon to improve how we live, work, collaborate, and learn.”

Echoing Green is a foundation that distinguishes transformational leaders via its fellowships. Their foci include addressing environmental sustainability, racial and gender equity, economic development concerns, etc.

Future Labs Flash Pitch. “For pre-seed and seed companies based in the U.S. and Israel with a focus on AI for social impact,” 

Google AI for Social Good. “Our 20 selected organizations will receive coaching from Google’s AI experts, Google.org grant funding from a $25 million pool, and credits and consulting from Google Cloud. They will also be offered the opportunity to join a customized 6-month Google Developers Launchpad Accelerator program, including guidance from our nonprofit partner, DataKind, to jumpstart their work. We looked for projects across a range of social impact domains and levels of technical expertise, from organizations that are experienced in AI to those with an idea for how they could put their data to better use. “

Google for Startups Accelerator. “Geared toward social impact startups working to create a healthier and more sustainable future, the accelerator provides access to training, products and technical support. Startup founders will work with Google engineers and receive mentoring from over 20 teams at Google, as well as outside experts and local mentors.  

J.M.Kaplan Innovation Prize. “The J.M.K. Innovation Prize seeks out innovators who are spearheading transformative early-stage projects in the fields of the environment, heritage conservation, and social justice. The J.M.K. Innovation Prize is open to nonprofit and mission-driven for-profit organizations that are tackling America’s most pressing challenges through social innovation. In 2019, we will award up to ten prizes, each including a cash award of $150,000 over three years, plus $25,000 for project expenses, for a total award of $175,000. 

Kairos Fellows. “The Kairos Fellowship is designed to build the next generation of leaders in the field of technology, analytics, digital campaigning, and online organizing.”

MIT Solve initiative. “MIT Solve advances lasting solutions from tech entrepreneurs to address the world’s most pressing problems. Solve is a marketplace for social impact: we find tech entrepreneurs from around the world and broker partnerships across our community to scale their innovative work — driving lasting, transformational change.”

Mulago Foundation Rainer Arnhold Fellowship. “The course brings Fellows and faculty together for an intensive week to work on design for maximum impact and scalability. Held in a retreat center on the coast in Bolinas, California, the course gives Fellows the rare opportunity to focus completely on their ideas and a systematic way to apply them.”

Bloomberg New Economy Forum Solutions. “Mike Bloomberg announces an open call for solutions to global challenges facing the new economy. Entrepreneurs, academics, founders, and big thinkers are invited to submit their solutions to societal problems that need momentum, support, and adoption from the private sector.”

Notley Ventures.Notley is a catalyst for social innovation unlocking opportunities with today’s impact organizations and changing communities.  Our mission is to scale and support businesses, nonprofits, individuals, and programs making positive change in the world.” 

Recurse Center. “The Recurse Center is a self-directed, community-driven educational retreat for people who want to get better at programming.”

Skoll Foundation. “The Skoll Foundation drives large-scale change by investing in, connecting, and celebrating social entrepreneurs and innovators who help them solve the world’s most pressing problems.”

Summit Fellows. “Through a series of invitation-only events, Summit fosters a global community of entrepreneurs, academics, athletes, artists, astronauts, authors, chefs, engineers, explorers, philanthropists, spiritual leaders, scientists, and beyond.”

Thiel Fellowship. “Founded by technology entrepreneur and investor Peter Thiel in 2011, the Thiel Fellowship is a two-year program for young people [under 22] who want to build new things. Thiel Fellows skip or stop out of college to receive a $100,000 grant and support from the Thiel Foundation’s network of founders, investors, and scientists.”

Pioneer.app.Get funding and guidance for your project.  Pioneer is a weekly contest for creative people around the world making their ideas become real.  Winners get $7000, a round-trip ticket to Silicon Valley, access to world-class mentorship, and more.”

Roddenberry Foundation Catalyst Fund. “The Catalyst Fund awards small grants for early-stage, innovative, and unconventional ideas that address serious global challenges.“

SEIF Awards Tech for Impact. The SEIF Awards target European impact entrepreneurs who develop or make innovative use of technologies to tackle social and/or environmental challenges and contribute to the UN SDGs [Sustainable Development Goals]. Each Award grants the winners CHF 10’000. Together with our partners UBS and PwC we provide finalists a unique opportunity to increase their international awareness, gain reputation and present themselves to a top-class jury.

Three dot dash. “Powers the most influential social entrepreneurs between the ages of 13 -19, who have found a solution or innovation to address a basic human need.” 

YC120 (part of Y Combinator). “We’d like to find more curious, creative people who are doing exciting work in emerging fields and give them an opportunity to start building their network. “

VentureCrush FG.  Pando Daily wrote: “VentureCrushFG takes no equity, there is no co-working space, and no demo day. The application process is not advertised. Most applicants come from referrals.” “VentureCrushFG[‘s]…stellar reputation among founders and investors is due, in part, to the success of its most high-flying companies.” “If anything, it’s more of a community than an accelerator, a way to keep a strong network of alumni, mentors and investors connected. Between one and two hundred techies are part of the group, including founders, execs, 40 to 50 VCs and a few dozen angel investors.””

We Company Creator Awards. “This global competition is open to entrepreneurs, performers, startups, and nonprofits-anyone who embodies our mantra, Create Your Life’s Work.”

World Summit Awards for Young Innovators. “WSA Young Innovators is a special recognition for young social entrepreneurs under 30 years of age, using ICTs to take action on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs). Together with the WSA winners of each year, they are honored as outstanding digital innovation with social impact.”

You may also want to look at product-based crowdfunding, e.g., Indiegogo*. Other traditional options for non-dilutive financing include grants, loans, SBIR, STTR, vouchers and tax credits, include:

You’re eligible for the many accelerators, as well as specifically the impact accelerators. See Conveners Impact Accelerator Selection Tool. Some specific accelerators:

There are many VCs who have a stated focus on social impact; for full lists see Impact Capital Managers and InvestorFlow. Oliver Libby, Managing Partner, H/L Ventures, notes, “it is important to remember that impact funders occupy the same spectrum of returns as regular investors.  From 100% loss capital (e.g. a grant) to shooting for massive returns (some impact VCs), an entrepreneur can unlock everything in between, including first-loss capital, impact bonds, patient capital from program-related investments and families, and more.  The market is also coming to understand that high impact can sometimes come with high returns too.”   

Rachel Butler, President, Cavendish Impact Foundation (where I’m an advisor), mentioned fiscal sponsorship as an option. “It’s an arrangement where an entity in need of funding (and it can be a for-profit, social enterprise) teams up with a 501(c)(3) that has an aligned mission, and money can be raised through the 501(c)(3) and used to support a specific project being done by the social enterprise.

So, for example, if the 501(c)(3) has in its mission to support improving education, and a for-profit social enterprise is developing an app to help improve access to better education for people in underserved communities, the 501(c)(3) could support that specific project. The 501(c)(3) does have to maintain discretion about how they use the funds (as a safeguard to just having it be an arrangement for funneling philanthropic funds), and there are some other stipulations, but otherwise it’s pretty straightforward.  The ‘Project’ can actually do the fundraising, as an agent of the 501(c)(3), and have the money directed to the 501(c)(3). The project is usually something that has a fairly short timeframe with measurable milestones that indicate progress. The 501(c)(3) also takes an administrative fee for their role in the collaboration.“

Bill Warren, CEO of Peeps Democracy, Inc., wrote, “another type of funding source for a social impact entrepreneur to think about is startup challenges/competitions at her/his alma mater. For example, Duke sponsors a $10,000 annual prize for students, faculty, or alumni working on a startup in the clean energy space. These prizes can be a great source of non-dilutive funding for early-stage ventures and also offer free exposure to academic thought-leaders and other alumni, who might support your startup via mentorship or investment. “

Emily Rasmussen, founder & CEO of Grapevine.org, suggests turning philanthropic donations into for-profit investments using Donor Advised Funds (DAFs), which are like Health Savings Accounts for charitable giving. You make a tax deductible donation into a DAF account, get an immediate tax deduction, and then donate your funds out to charities over time. In the meantime, your funds are invested to help grow your fund, just like an endowment. With some 501(c)(3) DAF sponsors (e.g Impact Assets), after making  a tax-deductible donation into their DAF account, donors can then advise the sponsor to invest their charitable assets into a specific social enterprise deal. These deals are sourced by the donor investor and any future returns go back into the DAF account and are available for future impact investments or charitable donations.

Lastly, I suggest reviewing these links on fundraising:

* I’m an investor in this company.

Thanks to Emily Campbell, Esq., of The Campbell Firm PLLC for helpful input; she has advised me on some legal matters in the past.

Top Israeli VC talks cybersecurity, diversity and ‘no go’ investments

It’s no secret that Israel is second only to the U.S. for its leading cybersecurity acumen, talent, startups and successful exits.

Israel is a powerhouse in both offensive and defensive cyber operations, with cybersecurity giants CyberArk, Check Point, Radware, and Illusive Networks all founded in the country in recent years. For more than two decades behind the scenes and powering some of the country’s largest cybersecurity startups was Jerusalem Venture Partners (JVP), a major venture capital firm in the region with more than $1.4 billion raised to date.

Now, the firm is pushing further into the early stage cybersecurity space. With a $220 million fund dedicated to early stage and pre-seed companies, the venture capital firm has expanded to New York.

Erel Margalit, JVP’s founder and executive chairman, spoke to Extra Crunch about why New York is a prime location for early-stage cybersecurity startups and how Israel became an incubator for some of the world’s biggest cybersecurity companies.

We also discussed why diversity is critical to his firm, how he separates fact from fiction in the security world, ethical investing, and which kinds of companies he would never invest in.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

TechCrunch: Tell me a little about your firm and your current work on early-stage investments.

Erel Margalit: I established JVP 25 years ago. A lot of what we were doing in the beginning was taking defense-related technologies, like wireless and fiber optics and large data systems, and transforming them through the communications world into the commercial world. Now we have 14 companies — some of which have been very successful. We’re now at a different stage where we’ve partnered with New York City to create the biggest hub in the city for the next generation of companies — the sorts that are scaling up with solutions that are not necessarily the big solution today,

Israel as a cybersecurity powerhouse

You’ve seen three or four really successful exits in the last few years from former startups you’ve helped to build out. What does the formula look like that results in these successful exits?

One of the things that we’re trying to do with second-generation entrepreneurs is we’re saying, instead of building a company to be sold for $250 million, why don’t we build a sales organization that would reach $250 million in a few years and instead build a very significant robust sales and marketing organization?

Israel has big ideas, but we’re small country. That’s why North America — especially the U.S. — is a key first go-to market. But it’s not always easy to get it right when you’re trying to get into the U.S. and scale in a big way. However, if you are successful, a lot of Israeli companies are also able to sell into European countries and Asian countries. And so what you get is what I call a “mini-multinational,” which is a small organization that’s able to get its first customers in a bunch of places around the world. So — go forward, and then build a sales and marketing organization that is just as strong as your research and your development organization.

Israel has a conscripted military — one that invests heavily in both cybersecurity and offensive cyber capabilities. That’s one way Israel got a considerable amount of cyber talent in one place. But what else contributes to Israel’s ability to create so many strong cybersecurity startups?

Israel needs to be as strong as the seven countries around it. And the only way to do it was through technology. Cybersecurity today is one of the main means of technologically understanding what’s going on. There are state-backed cyberattacks happening all the time — they’re attacking utilities, they’re attacking the banks, but what’s going on now is they’re also attacking democracy and the individual’s rights for something that’s becoming a national issue. The British didn’t have a fair election on Brexit. The same thing happened in the United States.

I think that a lot of us understand that from just protecting large organizations and countries. Now we’re moving to protecting individual democracies and our free way of living. Everything is online. Everything now is penetrable. And if you don’t have the next-generation of strategies, you’re not going to not going to be able to continue to operate.

On the New York hub

The cybersecurity hub in New York clearly means a lot to you. Why did you choose to build a hub in New York and not somewhere else in North America?