GoSite snags $40M to help SMBs bring their businesses online

There are 12 million small and medium businesses in the U.S., yet they have continued to be one of the most underserved segments of the B2B universe: That volume underscores a lot of fragmentation, and alongside other issues like budget constraints, there are a number of barriers to building for them at scale. Today, however, a startup helping SMBs get online is announcing some significant funding — a sign of how things are changing at a moment when many businesses have realised that being online is no longer an option, but a necessity.

GoSite, a San Diego-based startup that helps small and medium enterprises build websites, and, with a minimum amount of technical know-how, run other functions of their businesses online — like payments, online marketing, appointment booking and accounting — has picked up $ 40 million in funding.

GoSite offers a one-stop shop for users to build and manage everything online, with the ability to feed in up to 80 different third-party services within that. “We want to help our customers be found everywhere,” said Alex Goode, the founder and CEO of GoSite. “We integrate with Facebook and other consumer platforms like Siri, Apple Maps and search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing and more.” It also builds certain features like payments from the ground up.

The Series B comes on the back of a strong year for the company. Driven by COVID-19 circumstances, businesses have increasingly turned to the internet to interact with customers, and GoSite — which has “thousands” of SMB customers — said it doubled its customer base in 2020.

This latest round is being led by Left Lane Capital out of New York, with Longley Capital, Cove Fund, Stage 2, Ankona Capital and Serra Ventures also participating. GoSite is clearly striking while the iron is hot: Longley, also based out of San Diego, led the company’s previous round, which was only in August of this year. It has now raised $ 60 million to date.

GoSite is, in a sense, a play for more inclusivity in tech: Its customers are not companies that it’s “winning” off other providers that provide website building and hosting and other services typically used by SMBs, such as Squarespace and Wix, or GoDaddy, or Shopify.

Rather, they are companies that may have never used any of these: local garages, local landscapers, local hair salons, local accountancy firms, local dentists and so on. Barring the accounting firm, these are not businesses that will ever go fully online, as a retailer might, not least because of the physical aspect of each of those professions. But they will need an online presence and the levers it gives them to communicate in order to survive, especially in times when their old models are being put under strain.

Goode started GoSite after graduating from college in Michigan with a degree in computer science, having previously grown up around and working in small businesses — his parents, grandparents and others in his Michigan town all ran their own stores. (He moved to San Diego “for the weather,” he joked.)

His belief is that while there are and always will be alternatives like Facebook or Yelp to plant a flag, there is nothing that can replace the value and longer-term security and control of building something of your own — a sentiment small business owners would surely grasp.

That is perhaps the most interesting aspect of GoSite as it exists today: It precisely doesn’t see any of what already exists out there as “the competition.” Instead, Goode sees his purpose as building a dashboard that will help business owners manage all that — with up to 80 different services currently available — and more, from a single place, and with minimum need for technical skills and time spent learning the ropes.

“There is definitely huge demand from small businesses for help and something like GoSite can do that,” Goode said. “The space is very fragmented and noisy and they don’t even know where to start.”

This, combined with GoSite’s growth and relevance to the current market, is partly what attracted investors.

“The opportunity we are betting on here is the all-in-one solution,” said Vinny Pujji, partner at Left Lane. “If you are a carpet cleaner or house painter, you don’t have the capacity to understand or work with five or six different pieces of software. We spoke with thousands of SMBs when looking at this, and this was the answer we heard.” He said the other important thing is that GoSite has a customer service team and for SMBs that use it, they like that when they call, “GoSite picks up the phone.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Cofounders want to setup company with only 20K shares authorized

My cofounders seem to agree that we should incorporate in the state that they are living in (not Delaware)(I lived out of state for the moment). While we are in agreement as to filing as a C corporation, they also seem to be of the opinion that we should authorize about 20,000 shares total. They want to do this for 'tax purposes'. Is that a thing? I was part of another startup where we filed as a C corp and issued 10M shares. It didn't seem to have any tax implications. We all signed out 83(b)'s and there were no issues. Why would someone want to only authorize 20K shares? They realize that we will need to raise some capital from investors eventually to scale, so I don't get it.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

Despite everything, Oyo still has $1 billion in cash

India’s Oyo has been one of the worst impacted startups with the coronavirus, but it has enough cash to steer through the pandemic and then look at funding further scale, a top executive says.

In a town hall with employees last week, Oyo founder Ritesh Agarwal said the budget lodging firm “continued to hold on to close to a billion dollars of cash” across its group companies and joint venture firms and has “tracked to runway very closely.”

“At the same time, we’ve been very disciplined in making sure that we can respond to the crisis in a good way to try and ensure that we can come out of it at the right time,” he said in a fireside chat with Rohit Kapoor, chief executive of Oyo India and SA, and Troy Alstead, a board member who previously served as the chief executive officer of Starbucks.

The revelation will deliver a huge reassurance to employees and hotel partners of Oyo, which eliminated or furloughed more than 5,000 jobs earlier this year and reported in April that the pandemic had cut its revenue and demand by more than 50%.

Oyo also reported a loss of $ 335 million on $ 951 million revenue globally for the financial year ending March 31, 2019, and earlier this year pledged to cut down on its spending.

Agarwal said the startup is recovering from the pandemic as nations relax their lockdowns, and with recent progress with vaccine trials, he is hopeful that the travel and hospitality industries will bounce back strongly.

“Together globally, we were able to get to around 85% of the gross margin dollars of our pre-COVID levels. This I can tell you was extremely hard. But in my view was probably only possible because of the efforts of our teams in each one of the geographies,” he said, adding that Oyo Vacation has proven critical to the business in recent months delivering “packed” hotels and holiday homes.

During the conversation, a transcript of which was shared with employees and obtained by TechCrunch, Agarwal was heard talking about making Oyo — which was privately valued at $ 10 billion last year when it was in the process of raising $ 1.5 billion — ready for IPO. He, however, did not share a timeline on when the SoftBank-backed startup plans to go public and hinted that it’s perhaps not in the immediate future.

“And last but not the least, for me, it is very critical. I want the groups to know that I, our board and our broader management are fully committed to making sure that long-term wealth creation for our OYOpreneurs — beyond that of just the compensation, but the wealth creation by means of your stocks can be substantially grown.”

“At the end of the day, what is the right time to go out is frankly a decision of the board to make and from the management side, we’ll be ready to make sure that we build a company that is ready to go public. And we will look at various things like that of the market situation, opportunities outside and so on, that the board will consider and then potentially help advise on the timeline,” he said.

Alstead echoed Agarwal’s optimism, adding, “I think that OYO is made up of a combination of assets, its hotels, its homes, its vacation homes. That’s unique, I think in the industry in the category, I think it makes it probably a little more challenging sometimes for people externally to measure and compare and benchmark a unique portfolio company like this. But I’d also tell you, I think that makes OYO resilient. It makes OYO balanced for the future. It gives OYO several sorts of vertical opportunities to address both customer needs at any time, whether it be a hotel or a small hotel or a vacation home.”

“And it also gives opportunities and expands that interaction in a good healthy way with the property owners, with the partners, who have an opportunity depending on what asset type they have partnered with OYO in different ways, and also to have the access to a technology platform and a continued investment in that innovative platform for customers. So all those things, I think a balanced portfolio, a technology platform, a heavy focus on putting the customer first, putting the business partner first — all those things, in my view, are what positioned OYO for the future.”

Startups – TechCrunch

In first IPO price range, Airbnb’s valuation recovers to pre-pandemic levels

This morning Airbnb released an S-1/A filing that details its initial IPO price range. The home-sharing unicorn intends to price its shares between $ 44 and $ 50 in its debut.

Per the company’s own accounting, it will have 596,399,007 or 601,399,007 shares outstanding, depending on whether its underwriters exercise their option. That gives the company a valuation range of $ 26.2 billion to $ 30.1 billion at the extremes.

The company’s simple share count does not include a host of other shares that have vested but not yet been exercised. Including those shares, the company’s fully diluted valuation stretches to $ 35 billion, by CNBC’s arithmetic.


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The top end of Airbnb’s simple valuation places it near its Series F valuation set in 2017. Its fully diluted valuation exceeds that $ 30.5 billion valuation and is far superior to the $ 18 billion, post-money valuation that it raised at during its troubled period early in the COVID-19 pandemic.

For those investors, Silver Lake and Sixth Street, the company’s initial IPO price range is a win. For the company’s preceding investors, to see the company appear ready to at least match its preceding private valuation is a win as well, given how much damage Airbnb’s business sustained early in the pandemic.

But how do those Airbnb valuation numbers match up against its revenues, and will public market investors value the company based on its current results, or expectations for a return-to-form once a vaccine comes to market? And if so, is Airbnb expensive or not?

Expectations, hopes and hype

Shares of Booking Holdings, which owns travel services like Kayak, Priceline, OpenTable and others, have almost doubled in value since its pandemic lows and is within spitting distance of its all-time highs. This despite its revenues falling 48% in its most recent quarter. There’s optimism in the market that travel companies are on the cusp of a return to form, buoyed — we presume — by good news regarding effective coronavirus vaccines.

My expectation is that Airbnb is enjoying a similar bump, as investors intend to buy its shares not to bask in awe of its Q4 2020 results, but instead to enjoy what happens in the back half of 2021 as vaccines roll out and the travel industry recovers.

But what happens if we stack Airbnb’s revenues against its valuation today?

Startups – TechCrunch

Women in Business: StartupNation Radio feat. Jennifer Kluge and Jana Brownell

On today’s episode of StartupNation Radio, Jeff is joined by co-host Norm Pappas, president and CEO of Pappas Financial. Together, they interview two accomplished entrepreneurs: Jennifer Kluge and Jana Brownell.


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First up is Jennifer Kluge, president and CEO of the National Association for Business Resources (NABR) and president and CEO of MichBusiness, a community for Michigan business owners. Jennifer is also the CEO of Corp! Magazine.

Jennifer Kluge

(Jennifer Kluge)

During the interview, Jennifer discusses:

  • How her company, MichBusiness, helps small- and medium-sized businesses to grow and flourish
  • How Corp! Magazine has grown its presence in Michigan, while also expanding out of state
  • How her organizations are helping businesses to pivot during the pandemic (while also making pivots of their own)
  • What led her to join the business community
  • Her advice and life lessons for entrepreneurs
  • Her ongoing goal of helping young entrepreneurs succeed

“Success is a series of failures… there’s about 10 failed attempts before you get it right.”

– Jennifer Kluge

For more information on Jennifer and her organizations, visit The Best and Brightest. You can also click to learn more about MichBusiness and Corp! Magazine.


Related: StartupNation Radio: Kabbage and Bamboo Detroit on COVID-19 Impact

Next up, Jeff and Norm chat with Jana Brownell, president and CEO of the Kirlin Company, a 125 year old family business that is a leader in specification grade commercial and healthcare lighting, headquartered in Detroit.

Jana Brownell

(Jana Brownell)

During the interview, Brownell shares:

  • How she transitioned to working in her family business after working in the healthcare industry
  • Her appreciation of working in the family business with her father
  • How Kirlin has successfully differentiated itself from its competitors as an industry leader
  • Her leadership experience
  • Kirlin’s collaborative work environment, and how they’ve been able to maintain safe interactions during the pandemic

“The purpose of this business is to perpetuate quality lighting, to be an example of a very well-run business and ethical business.”

– Jana Brownell

To learn more about the Kirlin Company, visit the official website.

Tune in to the full interview with Jennifer Kluge and Jana Brownell below:


Sign Up: Receive the StartupNation newsletter!

In addition to weekly StartupNation Radio programming, tune in to News/Talk 760 AM WJR weekday mornings at 7:11 a.m. for the WJR Business Beat. Listeners outside of the Detroit area can listen live HERE.

Do you have a great entrepreneurial success story to share? Tell us your story here and you could be featured on an upcoming episode of StartupNation Radio.

The post Women in Business: StartupNation Radio feat. Jennifer Kluge and Jana Brownell appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

Novakid’s ESL app for children raises $4.25M Series A led by PortfoLion and LearnStart investors

With the pandemic playing havoc with children’s education, edtech startups have been on a roll. A new fundraising seems to come almost every week at this point.

Today it’s Novakid’s turn. This edtech startup is yet another “learning English as a second language for children” startup. But it at least has a chance among the plethora of solutions out there, having raised a $ 4.25 million Series A financing led by Hungary-based PortfoLion (part of OTP, a leading banking group in Eastern Europe), alongside a prominent edtech-focused U.S. fund, LearnStart. LearnStart is part of the LearnCapital VC which has previously backed VIPKID and Brilliant.org. TMT Investments and Xploration Capital also joined the round. Both seed investors — South Korea-based BonAngels as well as LETA Capital — took part in this financing round in January this year ($ 1.5 million).

Novakid’s teaching method is based around the ideas of language acquisition by Asher, Thornbury, Krashen and Chomsky, and it is specifically suited for children aged 4-12. It is incorporated in the U.S. with development and customer support around Europe.

Max Azarow, co-founder and CEO said: “Novakid is reinventing English learning for kids in countries where English is not a primary spoken language. There, English would usually be taught as an abstract subject, with focus on grammar and with little live practice offered. Novakid on the other hand implements a unique format that combines a highly-interactive digital curriculum with individual live tutor sessions where students and tutor only speak English for a 100% language immersion.”

Aurél Påsztor, partner at PortfoLion, commented: “Novakid attracted investor attention due to its excellent traction, which resulted in over 500% growth year-on-year both in terms of number of students and in terms of revenue. Other attractive points were strong customer retention, international business footprint and a solid monetization via paid subscriptions.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Before you think of hiring someone or building new tech – perfect the manual processes first.

Short background: I'm an early stage tech founder in a B2B startup. Last July, my cofounder and I received two angel investments, immediately we thought we would put it to good use by hiring more people and letting some "smart" friends join the founding team. Our startup went from 2 people to 17 in ~45 days. Yes, clearly a bad idea but it wasn't apparent to us at that time. After all, More people = More work done. Right?

More people ≠ More work ; More work undone = Less feedback ; Less feedback = Confused development

Problems

  • There's value in letting everyone share their opinions but BE CAREFUL not to be too consensus-oriented. Most likely, YOU – the founder(s) – KNOW YOUR PRODUCT BETTER.
  • Someone suggests a "new" framework to do something every week. Someone thinks they can build a better CRM, a better program, a better way to track bugs, etc.

What you ought to do

  1. Employ formal decision-making systems. Have someone be in charge of product, sales, engineering, etc.
  2. Perfect your CRM, your development cycles, your semi-automatic processes that you claim are AI or whatever but haven't built yet since MVP. Don't optimise solutions or build tech to human problems you don't completely understand.
  3. Chant it all with me: build, measure, learn. Everyone knows that but it's much harder to follow than people think. Take your time in perfecting this when you're starting. Have the discipline to properly report your metrics, make sure everyone knows what their tasks are and when they're due. Don't just jump from one great idea to the next every week thinking it'll make you an overnight success.

Perfect the manual processes first.

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Startups – Rapid Growth and Innovation is in Our Very Nature!

SoftBank, Volvo back Flock Freight with $113.5M to help shippers share the load

Everyday thousands of trucks carry freight along U.S. highways, propelling the economy forward as consumer goods, electronics, cars and agriculture make their way to distribution centers, stores and eventually households. It’s inside these trucks — many of which sit half empty — where Flock Freight, a five-year-old startup out of San Diego, believes it can transform the industry.

Now, it has the funds to try and do it.

Flock Freight said Tuesday it has raised $ 113.5 million in a Series C round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2. Existing investors SignalFire, GLP Capital Partners and Google Ventures also participated in the round, in addition to a new minority investment by strategic partner Volvo Group Venture Capital. Ervin Tu, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers, will join Flock Freight’s board. The company, which has raised $ 184 million to date, has post-funding valuation of $ 500 million, according to a source familiar with the deal who confirmed an earlier report by Bloomberg.

A slew of startups have popped up in the past several years all aiming to use technology to transform trucking — the backbone of the U.S. economy that moves more than 70% of all U.S. freight — into a more efficient machine. Most have focused on building digital freight networks that connect truckers with shippers.

Flock Freight has focused instead on the shipments themselves. The company created a software platform that helps pool shipments into a single shared truckload to make carrying freight more efficient. Flock Freight says its software avoids the traditional hub-and-spoke system, which is dominated by trucks with less than a full load, known in the industry as LTL. Flock Freight says that by pooling onto one truck shipments that are going the same direction, freight-related carbon emissions can be reduced by 40%.

The funds will be used to hire more employees; it has 129 employees to date.

“Unlike the digital freight-matching category that uses technology to simply improve efficiency as workflow automation, Flock Freight uses technology to power a new shipping mode (shared truckload) that makes freight transportation more efficient. The impact of Flock Freight’s algorithms is that shippers no longer need to adhere to LTL constraints for freight that measures up to 44 linear feet; instead, they can classify it as ‘shared truckload,’ ” Oren Zaslansky, founder and CEO of Flock Freight said in a statement. “Shippers can use Flock Freight’s efficient shared truckload solution to accommodate high demand and increased urgency.”

Their pitch has been compelling enough to attract a diverse mix of venture firms and corporate investors such as Volvo and SoftBank.

“Flock Freight is improving supply chain efficiency for hundreds of thousands of shippers. Our investment is intended to accelerate the company’s ability to scale its business and capture a greater share of the market,” said Tu, managing partner at SoftBank Investment Advisers.

Startups – TechCrunch

Floww raises $6.7M for its data-driven marketplace matching founders with investors, based on merit

Floww — a data-driven marketplace designed to allow founders to pitch investors, with the whole investment relationship managed online — says it has raised $ 6.7 million (£5 million) to date in seed funding from angels and family offices. Investors include Ramon Mendes De Leon, Duncan Simpson-Craib, Angus Davidson, Stephane Delacote and Pip Baker (Google’s head of Fintech U.K.) and multiple family offices. The cash will be used to build out the platform designed to give startups access to more than 500 VCs, accelerators and angel networks.

The team consists of Martijn De Wever, founder and CEO of London-based VC Force Over Mass; Lee Fasciani, co-founder of Territory Projects (the firm behind film graphics and design including “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “BladeRunner 2049”); and CTO Alex Pilsworth, of various fintech startups.

Having made more than 160 investments himself, De Wever says he recognized the need for a platform connecting investors and startups based on merit, clean data and transparency, rather than a system built on “warm introductions,” which can have inherent cultural and even racial biases.

Floww’s idea is that it showcases startups based on merit only, allowing founders to raise capital by providing investors with data and transparency. Startups are given a suite of tools and materials to get started, from cap table templates to “How To” guides. Founders can then “drag and drop” their investor documents in any format. Floww’s team of accountants then cross-checks the data for errors and processes key performance metrics. A startup’s digital profile includes dynamic charts and tables, allowing prospective investors to see the company’s business potential.

Floww charges a monthly fee to VCs, accelerators, family offices and PE firms. Startups have free access to the platform, and a premium model to contact and send their deal to multiple VCs.

Floww’s pitch is that VCs can, in turn, manage deal-sourcing, CRM, as well as reporting to their investors and LPs. Quite a claim, given all VCs to date handle this kind of thing in-house. However, Floww claims to have processed 3,000 startups and says it is rolling out to more than 500 VCs.

In a statement, De Wever said: “In an age of virtual meetings and connections, the need for coffee meetings on Sand Hill Road or Mayfair is gone. What we need now are global connections, allowing VCs to engage in merit-based investing using data and metrics.” He says the era of the coronavirus pandemic means many deals will have to be sourced remotely now, so “the time for a platform like this is now.”

AngelList is perhaps its closest competitor from the startup perspective. And the VC application incorporates the kind of functionality seen in Affinity, Airtable, Efront and DocSend. But AngeList doesn’t provide data or metrics.

Startups – TechCrunch