Money is the lifeblood of a startup. The product and team are the heart and soul, but without capital, a company can’t pay its employees, rent an office or pay its bills. At the same time, not all sources of capital are created equal and raising too much capital too soon, or working with the wrong investor, can have long-term negative ramifications for your company. This short-term vs. long-term trade-off is a big part of why fundraising is just a complex topic. The key to remember throughout the process is that fundraising isn’t a goal — it’s a means to an end. Building a business you’re proud of, which solves a problem you care about, with people that share your values, is the ideal.
Startups are high-risk ventures and time is always of the essence. Many companies confuse this urgency with a need to get as big as possible, as quickly as possible, but timing is critical. At an early stage, the most important goal isn’t simply growing — it’s learning why you’re growing. This begins with understanding your pain point, building your solution, learning from your customers, and ultimately reaching product-market fit.
If you raise too much money early on, it can ironically become more difficult to reach product-market fit because a team gets less agile the larger it grows. At a small size, you should raise enough capital to build a core team and then iterate relentlessly on building the product and talking to your customers. This is a core message Y Combinator emphasizes to all companies in its program.
Author Ray Bradbury once said that life should be touched, not strangled. That philosophy easily applies to ZenPayroll.The San Francisco-based start-up provides payroll processing software-as-a-service for small business owners, but its goal is to make a complex and time-consuming chore that most entrepreneurs dread, downright pleasant and serene, says ZenPayroll co-founder and chief product officer Tomer London. London and his two co-founders offer the service at a fraction of the price much larger competitors charge.
"We wanted to understand the emotional connection small businesses have to payroll, which is often viewed as just painful and frustrating," London says.
The Easel.io team makes a simple in-browser web design tool that lets you prototype any design quickly and without having to code. They've made a tutorial teaching you the basics of how to use type: how to choose a font, how to select line height, width of text, and padding.
The team had seen its in-game screen recording tech implemented in over 100 games, and gamers have recorded 500 million videos since those very early days, but now the team has been working on a pair of new features they hope will get even more mobile gamers sharing videos of their exploits. Starting today, Kamcord has provided tools to let players trim down their videos on the fly and add their own vocal tracks into the mix.
With more commerce moving online every day, the shipping industry is in need of innovation. And one of the bigger pain points developers face when trying to integrate postage and shipping into their applications involves the antiquated technology major carriers like FedEx, UPS and USPS provide – complex SOAP or XML APIs that most developers would say are a nightmare to work with. San Francisco-based EasyPost is trying to solve that problem by offering a simpler, RESTful JSON API instead. Today, the company is announcing $850,000 in seed funding to help with those efforts.
Investors in the new round, which just now closed, include Y Combinator, SV Angel, Start Fund, CrunchFund*, Mesa+, Andreas Resch, Kevin Barenblat, Lars Kamp, Ullas Naik, Shawn Bercuson, and Rahul Vohra. (* Disclosure: CrunchFund founder Michael Arrington also founded TechCrunch.)
EasyPost co-founder Jarrett Streebin says he came up with the idea for the service based on his own experiences with having to integrate shipping into some of the websites he had worked on in the past. These were generally just weekend projects he played with on the side while analyzing venture deals for a private investment fund at his day job.
Silicon Valley is accustomed to seeing its tech ideas being adopted in other countries and localized for their particular markets, but it doesn’t often happen the other way around. Taro Fukuyama, however, is bucking the trend with a startup called AnyPerk, an employee rewards platform that already has 2,500 customers after just 18 months in business.
Read the full article at Fox Business
Searching for a job online involves scrolling through a lot of black and white text -- the summary of said job, expected qualifications, etc.
The process itself is pretty lackluster. But entrepreneurs Alex Cavoulacos and Kathryn Minshew also think it's out of touch with the high-tech world of today.
"For me, I spent months on job boards in 2010 and was frustrated by the experience. It's antiquated and clunky, and there was nothing about a particular job posting that helped me favor one company over another," said Minshew. "You literally get a list of 5,000 jobs that look the same. It's honestly one of the worst user experiences on the web, and we believed we could build something better."
Building something better is exactly what they believe they've done. Their startup, The Muse, allows potential employers to interact with users through video interviews, giving job hunters a better sense of what it’s like to work at different companies. This web-based job community also offers career advice – helping people answer the age-old question: “What should I do with my life?”
“It’s definitely a huge feat and one of the things we realized is that people have a set number of options in their brain from when the time they are a small child,” said Cavoulacos. “You can be a doctor or a lawyer or maybe a fireman – and as you grow older that option set gets wider and wider but you still don’t know the full picture….We are really passionate about helping people widen their horizons.”
So far the company has 100 hiring partners, including AOL, Facebook, NPR and TED, that pay to be on the site. The founders have raised $1.2 million in revenue and say their company will be profitable within the year.
GinzaMetrics, the Y Combinator graduate and 500 Startups-funded SEO management and content marketing platform, today announced a major update and redesign of its service. With this update, the company is introducing this new design to highlight features like its competitor comparisons, recommendations and a white label solution for its dashboard.
The company, which launched in 2010, also announced that it has named Sean McCullough as its new CTO. McCullough was the technical co-founder and CTO of LaunchRock, the popular service for setting up “launching soon” sites and a co-founder of Ping.fm, which Seesmic acquired in 2010. Previous to joining GinzaMetrics, McCullough was also the CTO of Sodisco. As GinzaMetrics’ COO Erin O’Brien told me, the team believes McCullough is the right fit: “He is a hard-core engineer and entrepreneur with a penchant for death metal and good drinks,” she said. GinzaMetrics’ staff has doubled in size over the last few months and now includes team members in six countries.
E-sports streaming startup Twitch has already seen massive growth in its audience since launching to the public just about two years ago. It has more than 35 million unique viewers a month, which is up from 20 million last September. Now it’s hoping to better monetize that audience, with the creation of an in-house sales team to go after big advertisers in the video game industry.
The Twitch Media Group is the name of the new team, which is being overseen by chief revenue officer Jonathan Simpson-Bint. It includes SVP of sales Kym Nelson, VP of sales Andy Swanson, and senior sales manager Christina Grushkin, all of whom have experience in the gaming trade press prior to joining Twitch.
Airbnb is providing legal support for Nigel Warren, a host who recently was fined $2,400 by an administrative law judge. The company, which provides a peer-to-peer marketplace for people to make their homes available to rent to others, says it is committed to fight the ruling “until justice is done.”
To recap, two weeks ago the judge issued an interpretation of the “shared space” exception to New York’s short-term rental restrictions, which found that Warren was in the wrong for making a room in his apartment available for rent on Airbnb. The law in question was originally aimed at landlords who would buy up property to list spaces as hotels, making it illegal for people to rent out space for less than a month.
There were exceptions to the law to allow for shared spaces and occupancy. But though Warren only rented his room three times while he was out of town and had a roommate present the whole time, the judge issued a fine for violating the city’s hotel law.
It was actually Warren’s landlord who was fined, although he took responsibility for it. And, as a result, Airbnb wasn’t party to the case at the time. Now, however, the company is jumping in with support as Warren and his landlord file an appeal in the case.