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Month: March 2019

How To Practice As Well As Preach Being Accountable

Image via Flickr by Cabinet Office It’s easy to say to people on your team that they must be accountable for their actions, but it’s not so easy to tell them how to do it. It’s even harder to give them the mindset of wanting to be accountable. In fact, many business leaders forget that they are the role model for accountability, and don’t audit their own actions to make sure that they always practice what they preach. In a classic book, “The Difference: When Good Enough Isn’t Enough,” Subir Chowdhury shines a bright light on both these issues. Chowdhury is one of the world’s leading management consultants, and he argues that accountability is only one part of a real caring culture that must be built and maintained to achieve a sustainable competitive difference. The other key parts o...

8 Pragmatic Reasons Not To Wait For The Next Bubble

Image via Pixabay  According to The Washington Post and WSJ, the economy has been slowing down around the world, and the US will follow suit before 2019 ends. Yet if you wait for an economy bubble before starting your new business, you will be making a comparable mistake to the people who thought during the dot-com bubble “all I have to do is a startup, and I’ll be rich.” In reality, what matters more is who you are, not when you do it. Like Paul Graham, founder of Y-Combinator, said a long time ago, I see startups succeed or fail every day based primarily on the qualities of the founders. The economy has some effect, but as a predictor of success it’s a rounding error compared to the founders. If you’re worried about threats to the survival of your company, do...

6 Changes To Your Hiring Process To Attract The Best

Image via Max Pixel  Startup investors tell me they invest in a new venture with a higher caliber of people, rather than the product or service, and I agree. In my role as a business advisor, I see successful businesses most often emerging from great teams rather than great products. Yet I find the people building teams are usually product experts, often with no experience in team building. Of course, it’s no surprise that most entrepreneurs don’t have a background in hiring teams, and don’t have a budget for training or human resource consultants. But these days with all the resources on the Internet and elsewhere, there is no excuse for not keeping up on the latest insights, best practices, and technology in the area of hiring, motivating, and training. For example, I just remembere...

6 Actions To Find The Perfect Angel For Your Startup

Image via Max Pixel  Fundraising is brutal. Actually, according to Paul Graham of Y-Combinator fame, “Raising money is the second hardest part of starting a startup. The hardest part is making something people want.” More startups may fail for that reason, but a close second is the difficulty of raising money. A while back, I outlined “The 10 Best Sources of Cash to Start Your Business” for startups, listing angel investors as alternative six. I still get a lot of questions on these mysterious and often invisible investors, so here is another attempt to bring them out of the ether. By definition, an angel investor is not an “institutional investor.” Venture capitalists (VCs) are paid to invest other people’s money, and measured on the rate of return they get. Angels are typically high...

Unicorns aren’t profitable, and Wall Street doesn’t care

In Silicon Valley, investors don’t expect their portfolio companies to be profitable. “Blitzscaling: The Lightning-Fast Path to Building Massively Valuable Companies,” a bible for founders, instead calls for heavy spending on growth to scale in an Amazon -like fashion. As for Wall Street, it’s shown an affinity for stock in Jeff Bezos’ business, despite the many years it spent navigating a path to profitability, as well as other money-losing endeavors. Why? Because it too is far less concerned with profitability than market opportunity. Lyft, a ride-hailing company expected to go public this week, is not profitable. It posted losses of $911 million in 2018, a statistic that will make it the biggest loser amongst U.S. startups to have gone public, according to ...

Linear Labs’ next-gen electric motor attracts $4.5 million in funding

Linear Labs, a startup developing an electric motor for cars, scooters, robots, wind turbines and even HVAC systems, has raised $4.5 million in a seed round led by Science Inc. and Kindred Ventures.  Investors Chris and Crystal Sacca, Ryan Graves of Saltwater Ventures, Dynamic Signal CEO Russ Fradin, Masergy executive chairman and former-CEO Chris MacFarland, as well as Ustream co-founder Gyula Feher also participated in the round.  The four-year-old company was founded by Brad and Fred Hunstable, who say they have invented a lighter, more flexible electric motor. The pair came up with the motor they’ve dubbed the Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET) while working to design a device that could pump clean water and provide power for small communities in underdeveloped regions of the world...

Lidar and perception startup Innoviz raises $132 million

Innoviz, the Israel-based startup developing solid-state lidar sensors and perception software for autonomous vehicles, has raised $132 million in a Series C funding round that includes major Chinese financial institutions. The round, which makes Innoviz one of the better capitalized lidar startups, includes China Merchants Capital (SINO-BLR Industrial Investment Fund, L.P.), Shenzhen Capital Group and New Alliance Capital. Israeli institutional investors Harel Insurance Investments and Financial Services and Phoenix Insurance Company also participated.  The Series C round will remain open for a second closing to be announced in the coming months, the company said. Lidar measures distance using laser light to generate highly accurate 3D maps of the world around the car. It’s considered by ...

Australian influencer marketing startup Tribe raises $7.5M as it eyes U.S. expansion

Tribe, which helps brands acquire content from so-called “micro-influencers,” has raised $7.5 million in Series A funding. The startup was founded in Australia in 2015 by TV and radio host Jules Lund, who told me he was responding to the growing demand for branded content. “Brands are desperate for content,” Lund said. “When you have a hundred customer profiles and the ability to be hyper personalized and targeted and social, you now need 100 beautiful pieces of content. Creative agencies can’t supply that at the right cost and the right turnaround, and stock image are the antithesis of personalization, because they don’t feature your brand.” As for how Tribe differs from all the other influencer marketing companies out there, Lund noted that it...

Hello Alfred launches new platform to reach more buildings and improve accessibility

Hello Alfred — the startup that assigns in-home assistants to take care of your recurring chores and tasks — has announced the launch of a new service tier that will provide more properties and residents with access to the company’s underlying technology. The company, which won the Startup Battlefield competition at our 2014 Disrupt event, looks to unlock valuable time for users by handling the long list of small routine items that add up over the course of a week and still require human oversight. Hello Alfred<span style=”font-weight: 400″> partners with building owners to provide residents with dedicated home managers that assist with various errands and on-request services such as apartment cleaning, grocery delivery, laundry services, prescription refills and mo...

Vlocity nabs $60M Series C investment on $1B valuation

As we wrote last week in How Salesforce paved the way for the SaaS platform approach, the ability to build extensions, applications and even whole companies on top of the Salesforce platform set the stage and the bar for every SaaS company since. Vlocity certainly recognized that. Targeting five verticals, it built industry-specific CRM solutions on the Salesforce platform, and today it announced a $60 million Series C round on a fat unicorn $1 billion valuation. The round was led by Sutter Hill Ventures and Salesforce Ventures. New investors Bessemer Venture Partners and existing strategic investors Accenture and New York Life also participated. The company has now raised $163 million. Company co-founder Craig Ramsey whose extensive career includes stints with Siebel Systems, Oracle and V...

McDonald’s is acquiring Dynamic Yield to create a more personalized drive-thru

McDonald’s is announcing an agreement to acquire personalization company Dynamic Yield. The announcement does not include a price, but a source with knowledge of the deal said that it’s more than $300 million. Dynamic Yield works with brands across e-commerce, travel, finance and media to create what’s been described as an Amazon-style personalized experience. McDonald’s said it will use this technology to create a drive-thru menu that can be tailored to things like the weather, current restaurant traffic and trending menu items. Once you’ve started ordering, the display can also recommend additional items based on what you’ve already chosen. In fact, the fast food giant said it has been testing this out in several U.S. locations in 2018. The plan is to ...

Tell us who designed your startup’s brand

Before people ever use or buy your product, they’ll interact with your brand. What does your company stand for? How is your product different? Branding is an often overlooked, but essential component of communicating your company’s values, connecting with potential customers and, ultimately, driving conversions.   But finding the right brand designer is hard. Depending on your budget, industry and scope, brand designer and brand agency services can vary widely. It’s a niche community, and brand designers who thrive in chaotic, fast-paced startup environments are rare. We’re demystifying the world of brand design by covering how companies like Intercom approach their brand identity, and asking founders, like you, to nominate a talented brand designer or agency with whom they’ve collaborated...

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