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Month: October 2018

Influencer marketing startup Mavrck raises another $5.8M

Mavrck has raised another $5.8 million in funding, bringing its total raised to $13.8 million. When the company raised its Series A back in 2015, it was focused on helping brands work with “micro-influencers” who were already using their products. Now it describes itself as an “all-in-one” influencer marketing platform, offering a number of tools to automate and measure the process. Last month, Mavrck announced new features for Pinterest, where it’s now an official marketing partner. It also says it’s been doing more to improve measurement and detect fraud — on the fraud side, it promises to analyze a “statistically significant sample” of an Instagram account’s followers, and of the accounts that engage with their content, to determine ...

The tactics behind The Athletic’s breakout success in sports subscriptions

Local newspapers may be shuttering and people may be consuming most news on social media, but don’t tell Alex Mather that a subscription news publication can’t grow like a unicorn startup. His 2-year-old sports publisher The Athletic has gained over 100,000 paid subscribers (60% under age 34) and has a 90% retention rate. Having already raised $30 million in its short life, the company announced a new $40 million Series C yesterday, led by Founders Fund and Bedrock Capital. It reportedly values The Athletic around $200 million. I interviewed Alex Mather (The Athletic’s CEO) and Eric Stomberg (Partner at Bedrock Capital) to understand what’s behind the breakout success and why they think this publishing startup can scale to become a multi-billion dollar company. EP: ...

A look at all the companies participating in 500 Startups’ 24th accelerator program

TechCrunch has an exclusive look at the companies participating in 500 Startups‘ 24th startup accelerator batch, which kicked off last week. Through its four-month seed program, the Silicon Valley seed fund invests $150,000 in exchange for 6 percent equity. The companies below include a mix of industries from cryptocurrency to digital health to e-commerce. 500 Startups says 40 percent of the companies have a female founder, 50 percent have a black, mixed-race or Latinx founder and 31 percent are headquartered outside the U.S. Here’s a closer look at the 22 companies, which will demo their tech to investors on February 28: Alba: A Santiago, Chile-based mobile marketplace for babysitters in emerging markets. Assemble: A Los Angeles-based digital platform for automating video cont...

Happy 10th birthday, Bitcoin!

Bitcoin turned 10 years old, a milestone for a technology that few have used and even fewer understand. Ultimately, the blockchain it wrought could be the biggest change to banking, finance, and politics ever or it could be a dud. The jury is still out, but let’s take a walk down memory lane and see just how the product grew from White Paper to world beater. Source: Tech Feed

Scared to trade stocks? Titan algorithmically invests for you

Titan could put an end to stock market FOMO. The app choose the best 20 stocks by scraping top hedge fund data, adds some shorts based on your personal risk profile, and puts your money to work. No worrying about market fluctuations or constantly rebalancing your portfolio. You don’t have do anything, but can get smarter about stocks thanks to its in-app explanations and research reports. Titan wants to be the easiest way to invest in stocks for a mobile generation who want an affordable coach to guide them through the market themselves. “Our goal is to take things that aren’t accessible [in wealth management] and make them accessible, starting with hedge fund” says Titan co-founder Joe Percoco. That potential to democratize one of the keys to financial mobility has...

Lendix is now called October

French startup Lendix is changing its name to October. The company is using this opportunity to redesign its branding assets and refresh the design of the website for new users. The product remains the same — a lending platform connecting individual and institutional investors with small and medium companies. From what I’ve heard, October had to change its name due to some trademark issue. But the company used this opportunity to move away from its original, pretty boring name. Lendix is a straightforward name that suggests that it’s all about lending money. But there are so many companies with “lend” in their names that it quickly became a disadvantage — Lendopolis, Unilend, Lendosphère, LendingClub… October is easy to understand and to write down in a casual conversation. If the company ...

Make Yourself A Key Sustainable Competitive Advantage

The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners I know are humble, and they don’t have an inflated sense of self. When you have some success behind you as a manager, executive, founder, or CEO, it’s easy to become less open to the advice and signals around you, and believe you should just continue doing what you are doing to keep climbing. It’s a recipe for disaster. The only “sustainable competitive advantage” in business is self-awareness. I was struck by this assertion in a new book, “The Messy Middle,” by Scott Belsky, who has spent more than a decade leading in the worlds of technology, design, and startups. I come from the same world, with an additional decade advising entrepreneurs, and I enthusiastically confirm his view. We both have found that the “messy middle,” with its u...

Brex has partnered with WeWork, AWS and more for its new rewards program

Brex, the corporate card built for startups, unveiled its new rewards program today. The billion-dollar company, which announced its $125 million Series C three weeks ago, has partnered with Amazon Web Services, WeWork, Instacart, Google Ads, SendGrid, Salesforce Essentials, Twilio, Zendesk, Caviar, HubSpot, Orrick, Snap, Clerky and DoorDash to give entrepreneurs the ability to accrue and spend points on services and products they use regularly. Brex is lead by a pair of 22-year-old serial entrepreneurs who are well aware of the costs associated with building a startup. They’ve been carefully crafting Brex’s list of partners over the last year and say their cardholders will earn roughly 20 percent more rewards on Brex than from any competitor program. “We didn’t wan...

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank, raises £85M Series E at a £1B pre-money valuation

Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank that now boasts more than a million customers, has raised £85 million in Series E funding. The round is led by U.S. venture capital firm General Catalyst, and Accel. Existing backers Passion Capital, Goodwater, Thrive Capital, Orange Digital Ventures, and Stripe also participated. The latest funding was at a pre-money valuation of £1 billion (~$1.27b), meaning that Monzo is now a bonafide member of the U.K. fintech unicorn club, joining recent entrant Revolut. Meanwhile, the bank upstart is also planning to launch a large crowdfunding round later this year. Like a lot of other fintechs — and before it was fashionable — Monzo has historically opened up its fundraising to its passionate community and other armchair investors. In a brief call earlie...

Even Financial acquires Birch Finance, a credit card rewards startup

On the heels of a funding round to the tune of $18.8 million, Even Financial has acquired Birch Finance for an undisclosed sum. Even offers products like a pre-approval API, real-time pricing, machine learning optimization, a product comparison and recommendation engine for consumers and more. Birch Finance, a TC Startup Battlefield alum that raised $1 million earlier this year, aims to help people make the most of the credit cards in their wallets by telling them which cards will earn them the most points. It works by analyzing your transaction history to identify missed rewards opportunities. Even’s plan with this acquisition is for Even to expand its offerings within the credit card space. “The credit card market continues to expand with millions of consumers opening up hund...

ZypMedia raises $5.6M to help traditional media companies embrace online ads

Local advertising startup ZypMedia is announcing that it has raised $5.6 million in Series C funding. That’s relatively small amount of money for a Series C (the company had previously raised $6.9 million total, according to Crunchbase), but co-founder Aman Sareen said, “We had the opportunity to raise a lot more, but we chose not to.” In fact, Sareen said ZypMedia became profitable last year. So the new funding round should allow the company to continue expanding its product lineup and its team — it has plans to double its headcount in the United States and India over the next year — while still leaving room for organic growth. “We didn’t want to be a cautionary tale [like] other previous adtech companies,” Sareen said. “We are buckling down for t...

Emotional wellness startup Aura raises $2.7 million from Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital

Aura, an app for emotional well-being, has raised a $2.7 million seed round co-led by Cowboy Ventures and Reach Capital, with participation from others. When Aura first launched a couple of years ago, its bread and butter was short, three-to-seven-minute meditations based on your current mood — be that stressed, anxious, happy or sad. Since then, co-founders Steve and Daniel Lee say the company has grown to a few million users. “We’ve since grown to become everyone’s emotional wellness assistant,” Steve told me. “We ask how people are feeling right now and then offer content to help them feel better.” Aura works with therapists, coaches and meditation teachers to offer a variety of content to help people get the type of help they’re looking for. In...

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