Ready, Set, Raise is a new accelerator built for women by women

Women in tech are not only significantly under-funded by venture capitalists, but they also often lack access to the early-stage support granted to their male counterparts. To enroll in a startup accelerator like Y Combinator, for example, its expected founders relocate to the Bay Area for three months. Women, who are more often caregivers, might not be able to do that, and even if they can, the program may not cater to their specific needs. Female Founders Alliance (FFA), a relatively new network of female startup founders, has built a free, non-dilutive 5-week accelerator for women by women. Called ‘Ready, Set, Raise,’ its goal is to help more female-founded startups raise VC through workshops, 1-on-1 coaching, legal clinics, communications and speech coaching and more. The accelerator, sponsored by Trilogy Equity Partners, kicked off at the end of August and will culminate with a private demo day with VCs in
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Jack Ma says he isn’t about to retire from Alibaba but is planning a gradual succession

Reports of Jack Ma’s impending retirement are greatly exaggerated, it seems. Ma, the co-founder and executive chairman of Alibaba, has pushed back on claims that he is on the cusp of leaving the $420 billion Chinese e-commerce firm. The New York Times first reported that the entrepreneur plans to announce that he will leave the firm to pursue philanthropy in education, a topic he is passionate about — Ma is a former teacher. But that news was quickly rebutted after Ma gave an interview to the South China Morning Postthe media company that Alibaba bought in 2016 — in which he explained that he plans to gradually phase himself out of the company through a succession plan. When reached for comment, Alibaba pointed TechCrunch to the SCMP report which claims Ma’s strategy will “provide [leadership] transition plans over a significant period of time.” In order words, Ma isn’t abruptly leaving
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Is China’s digital silk road going to pave over Silicon Valley?

Over the past 20 years, China has now grown into one of the largest consumer technology markets, with thousands of startups and funding rivaling Silicon Valley. In 2018, Chinese entrepreneurs are seeking to expand their businesses beyond borders, establish international operations, and become global companies by listing on exchanges including the NASDAQ and NYSE. More than ever Chinese entrepreneurs are confident in their ability to create a unicorn thanks to China’s digital transformation and its leading innovations in international markets.

Digital transformation through new native apps and services make scaling easier

Despite the talent war between China and the U.S. and large growing domestic markets, Chinese chief executives dream of successfully entering the U.S. Market. There is now global competition to attract Chinese startups to list on exchanges around the world. With a growing
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ShipBob brings in $40M to help e-commerce businesses compete with Amazon

Nowadays, those of us who shop for everyday goods online are accustomed to said goods arriving on our doorstep 24 to 48 hours after we click ‘buy.’ That’s because of Amazon; the e-commerce giant’s next-day delivery feature is a sweet, sweet deal, but for smaller e-commerce businesses that are trying to compete with Jeff Bezos it’s, well, tough. ShipBob is here to help. The Chicago-based startup has raised a $40 million Series C to help small e-commerce businesses streamline the fulfillment process and manage inventory. The company was launched through Y Combinator in 2014 by CEO Dhruv Saxena and Divey Gulati, a pair of engineers that met after college. “Once we graduated, we thought up this e-commerce store and we were able to automate basically everything in the operation except for shipping and logistics,” Saxena told TechCrunch. “We realized none of the existing solutions out there worked. So, we
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Canters restaurant royalty raises $9.5 million for Ordermark, a takeout order management service

Alex Canter knows the restaurant business. The scion of Los Angeles’ famous first family of the deli business — the owners of the eponymous Canters restaurant — Canter has been in the food business longer than many seasoned restauranteurs twice his age. While some people had a Bar Mitzvah party, the thirteen year old Canter had section four of his family’s restaurant. But as technology started making its way inside the restaurant business, Canter realized that the delicatessen on Fairfax would need to upgrade to keep up with the times. The younger Canter upgraded the menu, brought in a point of sale system and renovated the bar. “I was the guy in the restaurant to pitch whenever there was a service or product,” Canter says. “All of a sudden online ordering started up. All of these different ordering services began to pop up and each one added more customers and
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Xiaomi backs Indian consumer lending startup ZestMoney in $13.4M deal

Xiaomi has continued its investment in India after it led a $13.4 million round for fintech startup ZestMoney. The newly-public Chinese firm previously said it would invest up to $1 billion in India and Indian startups over a five-year period, and this deal follows its maiden India fintech investment in lending platform KrazyBee. The new capital is an extension to ZestMoney’s recently closed $6.5 million Series A, and it takes the company to $22 million raised to date. Existing backers PayU, Ribbit Capital and Omidyar Network joined Xiaomi in this ‘Series A2’ round. ZestMoney was founded in 2015 by British entrepreneur Lizzie Chapman, who moved to India in 2011 to head up payday loan startup Wonga’s division in the country. Wonga — which is reportedly close to shutting down — didn’t ultimately pursue that opportunity. After a spell consulting, Chapman reunited with her former Wonga India colleagues Ashish Anantharaman and
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Stealthy Singapore VC firm Qualgro is raising a $100M fund

Southeast Asia’s venture capital space is booming right now. Openspace Ventures just announced the close of its newest $135 million fund, Golden Gate Ventures hit the first close on its upcoming $100 million vehicle, and a third Singapore-based fund is also raising big right now: Qualgro. Unlike others, Qualgro has operated relatively under the radar to date. That’s been very deliberate, according to managing partner Heang Chhor, who started the firm after leaving McKinsey following a 26-year stint that spanned Europe and Asia. Cambodian by birth, Chhor grew up in France and he rose to become a member of the McKinsey Global Board, whilst also leading the business in Japan. Prior to McKinsey, Chhor started a number of businesses — of which he says he got a modest exit but plenty of experience — and now he is turning his attention to Southeast Asia, where growing internet access among a cumulative base
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Sagewise pitches a service to verify claims and arbitrate disputes over blockchain transactions

Sometimes smart contracts can be pretty dumb.

All of the benefits of a cryptographically secured, publicly verified, anonymized transaction system can be erased by errant code, malicious actors, or poorly defined parameters of an executable agreement. Hoping to beat back the tide of bad contracts, bad code and bad actors, Sagewise, a new Los Angeles-based startup has raised $1.25 million to bring to market a service that basically hits pause on the execution of a contract so it can be arbitrated in the event that something goes wrong. Co-founded by a longtime lawyer, Amy Wan, whose experience runs the gamut from the U.S. Department of Commerce to serving as counsel for a peer-to-peer real estate investment platform in Los Angeles, and Dan Rice, a longtime entrepreneur working with blockchain, Sagewise works with both Ethereum and the Hedera Hashgraph (a newer distributed ledger technology, which purports to solve
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MallforAfrica goes global, Kobo360 and Sokowatch raise VC, France explains its $76M fund

B2B e-commerce company Sokowatch closed a $2 million seed investment led by 4DX Ventures. Others to join the round were Village Global, Lynett Capital, Golden Palm Investments, and Outlierz  Ventures. The Kenya based company aims to shake up the supply chain market for Africa’s informal retailers. Sokowatch’s platform connects Africa’s informal retail stores directly to local and multi-national suppliers—such as Unilever and Proctor and Gamble—by digitizing orders, delivery, and payments with the aim of reducing costs and increasing profit margins. “With both manufacturers and the small shops, we’re becoming the connective layer between them, where previously you had multiple layers of middle-men from distributors, sub-distributors,
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What every startup founder should know about exits

The dream of a startup founder can often be summarized by the following well-intentioned, and mostly delusional, quote: “We’ll raise a few rounds and in a few years we’ll IPO on Nasdaq.”
But a more likely scenario looks something like this: You invest a few years of hard work to build something of value. One day you receive an acquisition offer out of the blue. You’re elated. And you’re not prepared. You drop everything to focus on this opportunity. Exclusive due diligence starts. Your company is a mess (IP, contracts, burn). Days become weeks; weeks become months. You’ve neglected business and fundraising. You’re running out of money. M&A is now your one and only option. The buyer says they found a bunch of cockroaches in the
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Bitcoin price falls but doesn’t flatline

Those not looking at the Bitcoin markets lately will either gasp or smile. Bitcoin, down from its all time high of around $19,000, is now floating at $6,785 as of this writing. To many this means that either the Bitcoin experiment is over or, to many more, that it has just begun. There are plenty of folks who will have been hurt by this crash. I was speaking with a Romanian entrepreneur about his friend who bought BTC on a credit card only to find that he is wildly underwater. The volatility is also frightening to folks who might have gotten in on the last run up only to find themselves back at the start. I pity the poor waiter who a friend saw making Bitcoin trades at $18,000 during his shift. I hope he sold. But there are no signs that the cryptocurrency train is stopping. Startups around the
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The race to build autonomous delivery robots rolls on

It’s been a busy year in delivery robot land.

Starship Technologies sounded the starting gun to bring autonomous delivery vehicles to market with a $17.2 million round led by Daimler back in January 2017. Then in January this year the Mountain View, Calif.-based company Nuro, raised the curtain on its own vision for robo-delivery with a whopping $92 million in funding. Meanwhile, upstart Robomart has its own notion for delivery vehicles that it unveiled at CES. And not to be outdone, everyone’s favorite Chinese retail powerhouse, Alibaba, announced its own self-driving delivery vehicle.

Now, there’s Boxbot, the still-stealthy startup developing autonomous delivery somethings, which has picked up new cash as the race to build delivery bots rolls on.

Boxbot is a latecomer in the field. The Oakland-based company boasts impressive pedigrees from its founders — former Tesla engineer Austin Oehlerking and Mark Godwin, an entrepreneur who was

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Pick up some moving insights into the future of mobility with Gett chief executive Dave Waiser in Tel Aviv

Dave Waiser has been at the forefront of the mobility technology revolution in Israel for the past eight years, ever since he launched Gett in 2010. One of the last companies standing in the ultra-competitive global ride-sharing market, Gett has withstood competition from Didi Chuxing, Grab, Ola, Lyft and Uber and kept pace with those rivals as it claims a share of a worldwide market worth billions. Through direct operations and partnerships with companies like the chauffeur and logistics business Carey International, Gett has managed to achieve a footprint of 1,000 cities that span the globe. It operates directly in 100 cities in four countries (including a competitive position in New York) and has raised some $640 million in venture funding — including a $300 million investment from the Volkswagen Group. For Waiser, Gett’s success is only the latest in a string of endeavors which the enterprising entrepreneur has
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Former Medicare chief Andy Slavitt formally launches Town Hall Ventures to invest in healthcare

Town Hall Ventures launches today as the latest venture investment firm to take a stab at transforming the woefully broken U.S. health care market through technology. What Town Hall has that many other firms trying to invest in healthcare technology don’t is a group of founders who have spent time in the trenches of the American healthcare system. The firm is led by Andy Slavitt, the former Administrator of the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Service and the group executive vice president of Optum . Joining Slavitt are Trevor Price, the founder of Oxeon Holdings, an executive search and investment firm focused on life sciences, and David Whelan, the managing general partner of Oxeon Ventures — the predecessor to Town Hall. Basically, it seems like Oxeon’s sort of spinning out its venture operations into a separate fund and has brought on Slavitt as a new top investor to manage things
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Podcast: A chat with Tony Haile

Tony Haile is the CEO of Scroll, a New York-based company that is helping media outlets build a sustainable pay-to-read strategy. From 2009 to 2016 he worked for Chartbeat, a digital media analytics company. As a result, he thinks a lot about media, economic models and the open web. He talks about it with reporters, on panels and, obviously on podcasts such as this. We have gotten to know over the years — me as a recovering media entrepreneur who thinks the end is near, always get into arguments with Tony, who oddly remains optimistic about the digital medias future. I am obviously right, and we get into this during this podcast. We talk about Tony’s journey into technology, Facebook and big dumb media incumbents. My words, not his. You can listen to the podcast on Soundcloud or download it from the iTunes.

Winning deals as a new venture capital fund

 This is my third time joining a new firm and second time starting one of my own. One would think that I would remember the challenges of building up a new firm, like a type of muscle memory, but I always forget how hard it is to stay relevant and have a seat at the table for top tier deal flow. 2017 could be characterized as the “Year of the new VC,” with an unprecedented number of… Read More

Pioneer Square Labs’ Greg Gottesman on the studio model for high growth startups

Photo courtesy of Flickr/Randy Stewart. You were a Managing Director at Madrona Venture Group for many years but recently left to found Pioneer Square Labs. You employ a different model for building startups i.e. it is neither a venture capital firm nor an accelerator. How is this new model different or better? The traditional way of starting a company will remain the most common, which is you have an idea and bootstrap it or… Read More

AI is for real and intelligent apps is its vehicle according to Madrona Group’s Matt Mcilwain

artificial intelligence Q: You’ve been incredibly successful as a VC—you’ve had numerous major exits and been named to the Forbes Midas list several times. To what do you attribute your success? I think the most important thing about being successful in the venture business is being able to work with these great entrepreneurs. We try to find them at an early stage then roll up our sleeves and help… Read More

All your questions about startup fundraising for KPCB… Asked and answered.

money tub Start-up fundraising is hard. Despite ubiquitous headlines about unicorn valuations and how it’s never been easier to raise money in Silicon Valley, the process of raising capital can be gruelling, unpredictable, and non-transparent. To shed some light on best practices for successful startup fundraising, I sat down with my partners Eric Feng and Randy Komisar to ask and answer the… Read More

A Q&A with DFJ Partner, Bill Bryant, on “unicorn” valuations and startup investing

Adam Jacobs, founder and CEO of Chef (formerly Opscode) Pundits are painting a picture of doom and gloom for startups, saying it will be harder to raise money. What do you think? I think the next several months and possibly years will be challenging for raising capital. There has definitely been a reset. The market was over extended in an unhealthy way and we are seeing the impact across the board. The catalyst for this reset has been the collapse… Read More