Wij willen met u aan tafel zitten en in een openhartig gesprek uitvinden welke uitdagingen en vragen er bij u spelen om zo, gezamelijk, tot een beste oplossing te komen. Oftewel, hoe kan de techniek u ondersteunen in plaats van dat u de techniek moet ondersteunen.

Serial entrepreneur Rohit Nadhani, who last sold his Newton email app to Essential in 2018— an app so popular it’s been saved from shutting down multiple times — is today launching a new startup, Kubera. The service aims to offer an alternative to using a spreadsheet to keep track of your assets, investments, cryptocurrencies, debts, insurance, and other important documents that would need to be transferred to a loved one in the event of your death.

The founder was inspired to create Kubera — a reference to the Indian “lord of wealth” — due to a traumatic personal experience. While swimming in Costa Rica, he was caught in a riptide and had to be rescued. After coming home, the first thing he did was to start putting together a list of all his assets to share with his wife in the event of his death.

The task was fairly difficult, as it turned out, as that list now included more than just real estate, stocks and bonds, retirement accounts, and insurance.

Nadhani realized he also wanted to list other assets like crypto investments, collectibles, precious metals, private and foreign investments, trademarks and other digital assets, as well as debts owed him — like loans he had made to family and friends.

Plus, he wanted a few more features that a simple spreadsheet could provide — like the ability to automatically update the value of the assets, similar to Intuit’s Mint, and basic reporting. More importantly, he didn’t want to share access to his personal net worth data and accounts unless it was absolutely necessary.

Existing solutions didn’t meet Nadhani’s needs, he said, as they used outdated technology, lacked the features he wanted, or used users’ data to make budgeting or investment recommendations. That, along with feedback from friends who said they were also stuck using spreadsheets for this task, prompted the founder to create his own solution with Kubera.

To do so, he reached out to former colleague Manoj Marathayil, the founding engineer at Nadhani’s two prior companies, CloudMagic (Newton) and Webyog, which exited to IDERA in 2018. Also joining Kubera is the former Head of Product & Design from Newton Mail at CloudMagic, Umesh Gopinath.

Kubera is launching today as a custom-built solution for the task of listing your assets, both traditional and non-traditional alike.

To use the service, you begin by listing your assets in a simple table, then add details like cost, value, or the documents associated with them, if available. You can either opt to update the values in the table as you go, or you can connect assets to your online accounts to update their value automatically.

 

The service uses trusted financial data aggregation services like Plaid and Yodlee to make the connections, which means it has “read-only” access to your financial data — Kubera cannot make transactions on your behalf. This also allows it to support connections to over 10,000 banks across the world.

The service also uses the open standard AES-256 encryption algorithm to encrypt user data, requires HTTPS on all web pages, uses HSTS to require browsers use only secure connections, and supports 2-step verification through Google Sign-in with other 2-step options launching soon.

The company’s business model is a subscription service, which allows it to generate revenue without having to share data with a third-party or advertiser. The basic service is free to use if you don’t want to automatically update your asset values. If you do, it’s $ 10 per month.

Once the initial entry has been done, Kubera will periodically remind you to update asset values and check in. Its “life beat” check will track if you’ve been inactive for a certain number of days (specified by you during setup) and try to reach you.

If you don’t respond to Kubera’s attempts to reach you, it will then try to reach your beneficiary by way of email and text, if provided. The service sends an email with all the information you’ve provided in a downloadable format to your beneficiary. If they don’t respond after several reminders, Kubera will then reach out to your backup contact, a “Trusted Angel.”

Kubera to some extent competes with services like Mint, YNAB and other online budgeting tools. But these services don’t offer the same extensive net worth tracking and have a different focus. It also competes with financial advisor and wealth management companies, like Personal Capital. But instead of pushing you to connect with a financial advisor or other paid services, Kubera isn’t doling out investing advice.

Further down the road, Kubera may expand into estate planning — like helping with wills or trusts, or connecting you to partners who can provide these services. But for the time being, the service is meant to be used in conjunction with users’ existing wills and trusts.

The bootstrapped startup is a five-person team. At launch, Kubera is offering 100-day free trials, allowing you the time to organize assets before making a decision on subscribing to the service.

 


TechCrunch

Founder Collective, a seed-stage fund formed 11 years ago in Cambridge, Ma., has closed its newest fund with $ 85 million.

Earlier today, we talked with the firm’s general partners — Eric Paley, David Frankel, Micah Rosenbloom — to learn more about it. Among our first questions: whether the three are themselves the largest investors in the new vehicle, as was the case with the firm’s third fund, which closed with $ 75 million in capital commitments four years ago. (The three have long prided themselves on their ability to tell founders who they take the firm’s capital that they truly are taking the investors’ money.)

We also talked exits, geography, and investing through the coronavirus, a time when a lot of personal investors are being more cautious with their dollars.

TC: Eric, you wrote a seed check to Uber and I spied you on the Midas list this year. Still, it’s a scary time to be investing one’s capital aggressively. Are you and David and Micah again the biggest investors in this new fund?

EP:  The three of us were the largest investors in [our third fund] and we’re significantly bigger investors in Fund IV. While we’re fortunate to have some of the best LPs in the world, we believe that being our own largest investor allows us to make decisions that better align with our founders.  We also hope it sends a signal to founders that we’re honest brokers. When we were running our startups, it frustrated us when VCs would add a punitive clause to a term sheet citing “fiduciary responsibilities” to their LPs as the justification. We’re principals and stewards of our capital, not agents of LPs.

TC: How many investors are now involved in the day-to-day of the firm and how has this changed at all in the past years? 

DF: We have ten people full-time with offices in Soho in New York and Harvard Square in Cambridge. There are three partners and a principal on the investment team. We also have a Founder Partner program with some of the best entrepreneurs covering a variety of geographies and domains. [Editor’s note: some of these include Raj DeDatta of Bloomreach, Jack Groetzinger of SeatGeek, Andy Palmer of Tamr, Zach Klein of DIY, James Tamplin of Firebase, Nadia Boujarwah of Dia&Co, Elliot Cohen of PillPack and Noah Glass  of Olo.

Caterina [Fake], who was a Founder Partner with us for 10 years, recently founded Yes.vc, and our first principal, Gaurav Jain, started Afore, a pre-seed VC.

TC: What are some of the most recent exits for the firm?

DF: Over the last couple of years, we’ve been fortunate to see Uber go public and PillPack join Amazon. CoverWallet and Hotel Tonight were another pair of outstanding outcomes. We were fortune to have backed ten companies that have either exited or been valued at more than $ 1 billion in our first two funds, but we’re also proud of $ 100 million M&A events. They often go unreported, but because of our fund size, they make a material impact to us – and, more importantly, the founders.

Have seed-stage check sizes changed? I imagine they were getting bigger and now I’d guess they might get smaller again?

EP: From the beginning of Founder Collective, we’ve done two kinds of investing, $ 1 million to $ 2 million checks, where we lead and take a board seat, and around $ 400,000 investments, where we participate. We’ve seen the average valuations rise over the last five years, but we’ve tried to stay disciplined.

MR: So far in the COVID era, check sizes aren’t that different. It’s been more of a binary situation where startups that are deemed as “on-trend” can still command healthy valuations. The companies that are pre-market, or in an out-of-favor category that might have gotten funded in February are having a hard time getting funded. But we try not to be influenced by thematic trends.

DF: One pleasant surprise has been how quickly most of our companies have responded to the “new normal.” Some have reopened rounds to put a little more capital on the balance sheet, while others have found strategic investors to help tide them over. By and large, they’re acting responsibly.

TC: Remind me of where Founder Collective invests — does it have a focus mostly on the Northeast?

MR: We invest primarily in four geographies: New York, Boston, the Bay Area, and Southern California. That said, we’ve invested in startups as far afield as Nigeria, South Korea, and Israel, and genuinely unusual and fun places like Wisconsin, Winnipeg, and Boise.

EP: The reality is that startup geography is changing. For example, the most valuable software startup in the Western world to launch after Facebook is Shopify, which currently has a $ 90 billion market cap and is based in Ottawa. It would be foolhardy for investors not to broaden their view on where great startups can be built.

That said, there are powerful network effects around startup centers. It’s absolutely possible to build a multi-billion dollar tech business anywhere; it’s orders of magnitude easier when there’s a deep talent pool to hire from, local mentors who have seen scale before, and a broad ecosystem of knowledgeable service providers that can provide guidance.

DF: Also, while we invest globally, we feel the East Coast is an undervalued startup hub. Over the past 20 years, Boston has had more billion-dollar exits than any Western city aside from San Francisco, and New York has produced multiple $ 10 billion-plus startups in spaces as diverse as consumer hardware, SaaS, dev tools, and craft marketplaces.

TC: How has the pandemic changed your outlook for the next year?

EP: Over the years, we’ve written a lot about capital efficiency for entrepreneurs and even made warning labels that we send to founders alerting them to the dangers of too much money, too soon. Historically, we’ve pushed this message because capital was overabundant, and it damaged startups. The principles of capital efficiency are even more critical in a tight capital market. We’ll be increasingly focused on helping founders understand efficient entrepreneurship and how to build models that are tuned to scale without burning capital.

We’ll also put a premium on founders who have demonstrated the flexibility to operate amid unprecedented levels of uncertainty. In this environment, companies need to focus on their customers’ needs as they are now and not fixate on their pre-existing strategy. For instance, our portfolio company Formlabs sells 3D printers mostly to engineers and designers. After they started printing a novel nasal swab design for COVID tests, hospitals became an important new customer category. The world is changing rapidly, and founders need to keep pace.

TC: What are a few of the firm’s most recent bets and what do they say about Founder Collective’s investing style?

MR: A few recent examples are TrueWork [which sells HR-focused software-as-a-service), Trusted Health [a nursing marketplace], Lovevery [which makes learning toys] and ULesson [which makes consumer education software for African students].

On the surface, it’s a diverse group of companies, but the common thread is a founding team that is all over it. The founders were obsessed with the problems they were solving, had spent meaningful time in these industries, and proved out a lot before seeking funding. There’s no way we can be experts in all those fields, but we do think we know how to spot the founders who are.

TC: Presumably, you’ve already sorted your startups into these red, yellow, and green groups that VCs like to talk about. What are happening to the startups in the red group? Are you helping them to unwind their businesses? 

MR: It’s still so early, it’s hard to say what the ultimate impact will be, and the longer it goes, the worse it will likely get. So far, COVID was the nail in the coffin for a few of our startups, and we’ve tried to help the founders find soft landings for the teams and assets. Some of our distance-learning companies and our health-oriented companies have benefited due to the growing need for their products.

Most of our startups are somewhere in the middle. We try to help entrepreneurs on a case-by-case basis, sometimes that means organizing peer discussion groups about cash management in a time of crisis. Other times, it takes the form of making introductions to potential acquirers. When possible, we help to catalyze new rounds of funding.

TC: What’s one new area of interest for founder collective and why?

DF: One of our core beliefs is that the best startups are built by founders approaching weird and wonderful spaces.We’ve backed ad tech for the flooring industry, IoT-based offshore oyster farming robots, crypto, cologne, doggy DNA tests, data management tools. We’re proudly anti-thematic, and historically, that’s led to good outcomes.


TechCrunch

The head of what is arguably private equity’s most successful technology investment firm — Vista Equity Partners — made a rare appearance on Meet The Press to discuss the steps that the country needs to take to help minority-owned businesses recover from the economic collapse caused by the COVID-19 epidemic.

Robert F. Smith is one of the worlds wealthiest private equity investors, a noted philanthropist, and the richest African American in the U.S.  Days after announcing a $ 1.5 billion investment into the Indian telecommunications technology developer Jio Platforms, Smith turned his attention to the U.S. and the growing economic crisis that’s devastating minority businesses and financial institutions even as the COVID-19 epidemic ravages the health of minority communities.

Calling the COVID-19 “a pandemic on top of a series of epidemics”, Smith said that the next round of stimulus needs to support the small businesses that still remain underserved by traditional financial institutions — and that new financial technology software and services can help.

“We need to continue to rally as Americans to come with real, lasting, scalable solutions to enable the communities that are getting hit first, hardest, and probably will take the longest to recover with solutions that will help these communities thrive again,” Smith told NBC’s Chuck Todd.

Smith called for an infusion of cash into community development financial institutions and for a new wave of technology tools to support transparency and facilitate operations among these urban rural communities that aren’t served by large banking institutions. 

In all, the first round of the Congressional stimulus package poured $ 6 trillion into the U.S. economy through authorizations for the Treasury to issue $ 4 trillion in credit and $ 2 billion in cash payouts to various industries. The average size of those initial loans was just under $ 240,000, according to a post-mortem assessment of the Payroll Protection Program written by Lendio chief executive Brock Blake for Forbes

Blake’s assessment of the shortcomings of the PPP echoes Smith’s own criticism of the program. “Many of these small communities — urban, rural — aren’t being banked by the large institutions,” Smith said. Instead they’re working with community development financial institutions that in many instances weren’t approved lenders under the Small Business Administration and so were not able to distribute PPP money and make loans to their customers.

“We have to take this opportunity to reinvest in our business infrastructure in these small to medium businesses. In our banking infrastructure so that we can actually emerge out of this even stronger,” Smith said. “We have to invest in technology and software so that these ‘capillary banking systems’ are more efficient and they have more access to capital so they can engage with these businesses that are underbanked.”

In many instances this would amount to the construction of an entirely new financial infrastructure to support the small businesses that were only just beginning to emerge in minority communities after the 2008 recession.

“We need to get this average loan size to $ 25,000 and $ 15,000,” said Smith. To do that, community banks and development finance institutions are going to need to be able to access new fintech solutions that accelerate their ability to assess the creditworthiness of their customers and think differently about how to allocate capital and make loans. 

In some ways, Smith is echoing the call that fintech executives have been making since the PPP stimulus first started making its way through the financial system and banks began issuing loans.

“We would be remiss if we didn’t take a significant portion of capital to reinvest in the infrastructure of delivering capital back into those businesses and frankly reinvest in those businesses and give them technology and capability so there’s more transparency and visibility so there’s an opportunity to grow [and] scale,” said Smith. “I don’t want to see us go back to the same position where we were so we have these banking deserts.”

The head of Vista Equity Partners has even tasked his own portfolio companies to come up with solutions. As Barron’s reported last week, Smith told the Vista Equity portfolio company Finastra to develop technology that could help small lenders process Paycheck Protection Program loans for small businesses in underserved communities.

“In the process, it became apparent how unbanked these most vulnerable communities are, and we felt it was imperative to help build out permanent infrastructure in those banks so that they can build long-term relationships with the U.S. Small Business Administration beyond PPP,” Smith told Barrons.

As of last week, 800 lenders had processed 75,000 loans using the software that London-based Finastra developed for U.S. small lenders. Those loans generated $ 2.2 million in processing fees for the fintech company, proving that there’s money to be made in the small ticket lending market. And even as Finastra is reaping the rewards of its push into small business lending services, Vista Equity and Smith are donating the same amount to local food banks, according to a spokeswoman for the private equity firm, Barron’s reported.


TechCrunch

Tina Sharkey, the founder and former CEO of the recently closed D2C brand Brandless, has today been appointed to the board of directors of PBS. Sharkey is an independent board member.

Before her time at Brandless, Sharkey spent years in the media world. She scaled Johnson & Johnson’s platform for new and expecting moms, called Baby Center, oversaw AOL’s transition from a closed network to the open web and co-founded iVillage. She also served as president of the Sesame Street Digital Group, the nonprofit behind Sesame Street with a mission of making educational storytelling available to anyone.

PBS, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has more than 300 partner stations and a presence on most digital platforms.

“PBS is so committed to universal access to the arts and educational storytelling,” said Sharkey in an interview with TechCrunch. “You may not know that they invented closed captioning. They still maintain the Public Emergency Broadcast System. They have all kinds of streaming services with distribution on Amazon, Roku, YouTube. They have their own app. But most importantly, they are able to quickly adapt in this moment of COVID-19 to become one of the world’s largest classrooms.”

Sharkey joins a 27-person board that includes Professional Directors (station leaders), General Directors (lay members of the board) and the PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger.

Sharkey is best known in the tech world for her time at Brandless, a D2C brand that sold household supplies, grocery items and pet products for $ 3/item. The company controlled most of the full stack, from manufacturing through to sales, and delivered an interesting alternative to Amazon. Also garnering attention from the tech world: Brandless raised nearly $ 300 million in funding, including $ 240 million from SoftBank’s Vision Fund.

Brandless shuttered in February of this year, but Sharkey says there are lessons that can be carried over from her experience at the D2C startup.

“Brandless tapped into something very powerful around democratizing access to better things,” said Sharkey. “Better should be available to everyone. With Brandless, it was about better stuff. For PBS, it’s about better access and better educational tools and better stories. So it’s a different product, but it’s the same belief system, and that’s that communities want to be convened and be seen and everyone has a story to tell.”

Sharkey added that some of her favorite PBS programming includes FrontLine, News Hour and the shows that offer more democratized access to the arts, such as live performances and Broadway shows.


TechCrunch

There has long been a stigma associated with therapy and mental health coaching, a stigma that is even more pronounced in the business world, despite considerable evidence of the efficacy of these services. One of the organizations that has set out to change this negative association is Torch, a startup that combines the therapeutic benefits of executive coaching with data-driven analytics to track outcomes.

Yet, as Torch co-founder and CEO Cameron Yarbrough explains in this Breaking Into Startups episode, the startup wasn’t initially a tech-oriented enterprise. At first, Yarbrough drew on his years of experience as a marriage and family counselor as he made the transition into executive coaching, even referring to the early iterations of Torch as little more than “a matchmaking service between coaches and professionals.”

In time, Yarbrough identified a virtually untapped market for executive coaching — one that, by his estimate, could amount to a $ 15 billion industry. To demonstrate to investors the great potential of this growing market, he first built up a clientele that provided Torch with sufficient recurring revenue and low churn rate.

Only then was Yarbrough able to raise a $ 2.4 million seed round from Initialized Capital, Y Combinator, and other investors, convincing them that data analytics software could enhance the coaching process — as well as coach recruitment — enough to effectively “productize feedback,” as he puts it.

For Yarbrough and Torch, “productizing feedback” involves certain well-known business strategies that complement traditional coaching methods. For instance, Torch’s coaching procedure includes a “360 review,” a performance review system that incorporates feedback from all angles, including an employee’s manager, peers, and other people within an organization who have knowledge of the employee’s work.

The 360 review is coupled with an OKR platform, which provides HR departments and other interested parties with the metrics and analytics to track employee progress through the program. This combination is designed to promote the development of soft skills, which in turn drive leadership.

Torch has achieved considerable success, landing several influential clients in the tech sector through its B2B approach. But Yarbrough is clear that his goal with the company is to “democratize” access to professional coaching, in hopes of providing the same kind of mental health counseling and support to employees in all levels of an organization.

In this episode, Yarbrough discusses the history and trajectory of Torch, his experience scaling a company many considered unscalable, and the methods he uses to manage his own emotional and mental health as the CEO of an expanding startup. Yarbrough offers insights into the feelings of anxiety and dread common among entrepreneurs and provides a close look at how he has found business and personal success with Torch.


Breaking Into Startups: There’s a difference between a mentor and a coach. Today, I want to talk about that difference and in addition to the intersection between business and psychology, What Cameron Yarbrough, CEO of Torch and Founder of Well Clinic.

If you’re someone that is looking for a mentor or a coach as you break into tech, or if you just want to be surrounded by peers, make sure you download the Career Karma app by going to www.breakingintostartups.com/download.

On today’s episode, you’re going to understand the importance of therapy, mental health and coaches, as well as how historically, it has been inaccessible to people and how Cameron is using his background to democratize this for the world.

If this is your first time listening to the Breaking Startups Podcast, make sure you leave a review on iTunes and tell your friends. Listen to it on Soundcloud and talk about it on Spotify. If you have any feedback for us, positive or negative, please let us know. Without further ado, let’s break-in.

Cameron Yarbrough is the CEO of Torch. He’s one of the best executive coaches in the world. Not only are we going to be talking about coaching and mentoring for executives, but we’ll also be talking about coaching in general for everyone. We’re going to go into how he created his company.


TechCrunch

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