Should I stay away from my potential co-founder?

I researched extensively on a topic for 6-8 months, and came up with an idea. Built a proposal & prototype and sent it to a startup accelerator program. Luckily for me, my idea got accepted.

Since the product is complex, I wanted someone with technical expertise in this field. Basically, a technical co-founder who knew things inside out.

I found a profile fitting my needs. I had messaged him sometime back, but got my reply few weeks back. So, I get on call with him and he speaks about all the things he has done and achieved. Which was fine with me since I love people who are passionate about their work.

So, without thinking much I send my pitch deck to him. Two days later, he texts back saying he likes the idea. And he's eager to work with me. He asked me how the arrangement is going to be. I told him, if we are working it'll 50/50 as I believe trust is fundamental.

He wanted to know me in person, I wanted to as well. We talked over video call, and he kept on telling me about all the things he did. Using complex jargon, while I certainly don't have the same experience as well, I'm more than familiar with everything. Regardless I took it in good taste, except for now.

So, I send over my designs and he said he'll start working on the website now. A simple page to begin with. It's been two weeks since he still hasn't made any progress. He keeps using jargons everytime I ask.

Also, the only questions he asks me mostly are about equity, shares and others. The industry we're working in highly regulated and competitive, I told him about the challenges, problems, competition multiple times. I have also been extremely busy talking with potential partners needed in the business. But rather than giving me an opinion on anything, all he asked me was about company shares in the last 3 calls.

I have been holding back the registration process for sometime. Due to the current situation. He apparently wants to finish the registration asap and move 5000km and start working on it remotely. He said he wanted to freeze things before moving out

Am I asking for too much? I love having someone who is on the same page as or shows interest in the topic. And can point out mistakes if I'm overlooking something.

Should I break the partnership? I'm really young and this is my first time doing something of this scale.

Getting something wrong in this industry can lead to huge problems. Any feedback is appreciated, I feel so lost and confused at this point.

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

LeverEdge wants to get you and your friends a volume discount on student loans

Student loans are both a trillion-dollar debt category and also one of the most popular mini-verticals out there in fintech startup investing right now. There are dozens if not hundreds of companies in the space, and they all mostly do one of two things: either they help students think through their student loan options before choosing one (acting as a financial advisor to avoid mistakes) or they help students after they finish school figure out how to optimize their repayments or acquire loan forgiveness.

And so when I heard the pitch for LeverEdge, I was intrigued, because it really doesn’t fit either bucket.

Rather than approaching each user individually and trying to optimize their own financial decision independently, LeverEdge proposes helping students band together as a group and negotiate reduced student loan rates by essentially acting as a collective bargaining unit with banks.

For founders Chris Abkarians and Nikhil Agarwal, the idea came as they were entering Harvard Business School.

The two connected with some other HBS students through online new admit groups on Facebook and came up with the idea of trying to work together to lower their interest rates. The annual cost of attendance at HBS is $ 111,102 right now (annually!), so multiplied by two for the two-year MBA and you are looking at potentially massive cost savings if you can lower your interest rate.

There was just one problem: Banks loved the idea, but no one knew how to actually negotiate interest rates at individual branches. As Agarwal explained, “So after work we would try to leave at a reasonable time to get to the bank branch before it closes and then pitch the branch manager on this. They were super excited, but then they’d be like, well, I don’t know what to do with this, I can’t change interest rates for you.”

So Abkarians started sending cold emails to bank CEOs with the same proposition, and also got a positive response, but was told that he would need much more volume to make a negotiated deal worthwhile for banks. At the time, the two only had 50 to 70 people working together, but they spread the option around more heavily with their classmates and students at other business schools and eventually got to 700 students with $ 26 million in loan volume over the next 10 days.

With that scale, the two were able to negotiate a competitive rate with a bank that saved each student an average of $ 15,000 in fees over the full life of their loans, according to their calculations.

They did all this entirely virtually too. Abkarians and Agarwal eventually met for the first time in person at Harvard in the fall, still with a whirl of excitement over what had transpired over the summer. They started asking for feedback from their users about the process, and Agarwal said:

The number one negative feedback we got was you closed the deal on July 26, [but] I couldn’t use it because my tuition due date was before that day. And then every other piece of feedback — even for this haphazardly run group — was incredibly amazing. And that really convinced us [… that] we owe it to our members and really the future generation of classes to make this a thing.

LeverEdge is taking that one-off experience and systemizing it for more students in more contexts. The startup, which was officially founded in May 2018, targets the private student loan market outside of federal programs typical for most undergrads. That loan market typically has higher (and sometimes dramatically higher) interest rates than traditional federal student loans, and lenders also have the flexibility to negotiate interest rates unlike with federal loans.

Today, LeverEdge has more than 15,000 students on its platform and has financed $ 100 million in student loans, according to the startup. It also raised a $ 2.5 million seed round led by NFX along with Global Founders Capital and founders from fintech companies Earnest and SoFi.

The company spends most of the year aggregating students for the next school year, and then “we spend around two months in this auction process between different lenders,” Abkarians said. The company currently has nine employees, and “our staff is focused on partnership building,” he said.

The new version of a startup team photo. LeverEdge Team, photo via LeverEdge

As for business model, LeverEdge takes a pre-set referral fee from lenders upfront for each tranche of loans that they negotiate between students and the lender. That fee is “non-negotiable,” according to Agarwal, and all lenders participating in the auction agree to pay it if they have the winning bid. The company varies the fee based on the loans that are grouped together (Agarwal said that, for example, refinance loans have a lower referral fee than other student loans). He believes this approach ensures that LeverEdge always has the right incentives to get the best prices for students.

Importantly, no student is obligated to take the final loan as negotiated by LeverEdge. But, if the company is doing its job, then the offered loan should be competitive with any alternative loan on the market. “We still encourage people to compare it against other things and if they find anything that is better than what we’ve found to please just let us know. No one has yet,“ said Abkarians.

The big question now is what will happen this coming school year given COVID-19. On one hand, students may avoid campuses knowing that schools are moving heavily toward virtual classes due to social distancing policies. On the other hand, economic recessions and greater concerns around costs may lead more students to seek out cheaper student financing options: exactly the customers that LeverEdge wants to find.

Overall, it’s an interesting play on the student loan space and one of the more interesting fintech startups I have seen in some time.

Startups – TechCrunch

Kentik raises $23.5M for its network intelligence platform

Kentik, the company once known as CloudHelix, today announced that it has raised a $ 23.5 million growth funding round led by Vistara Capital Partners, with existing investors August Capital, Third Point Ventures, DCVC and Tahoma Ventures also participating. With this round, Kentik has now raised a total of $ 61.7 million.

The company’s platform allows enterprises to monitor their networks, no matter whether that’s over the internet, inside their own data centers or in public clouds.

“The world has become even more internet-centric, and we are seeing growth in traffic levels, product engagement and revenue across both our enterprise and service provider customers,” said Avi Freedman, the co-founder and CEO of Kentik when I asked him why he was raising a round now. “We’ve seen an increased pace of adoption of the kind of hybrid and internet-centric architectures that Kentik is built for and thought it was a great time to increase investment, especially in product, as well as go-to-market and partner expansion to support market demand.”

Freedman says the company has been growing 100% compounded year-over-year since it launched in 2015 and now has customers in 25 countries. These include leading enterprises, SaaS companies, content providers, gaming companies, content providers and cloud and communication service providers, he tells me. Current customers include the likes of IBM, Zoom, Dropbox, eBay, Cisco and GoDaddy.

The company says it will use the new funding to invest in its product and for go-to-market investments.

One notable fact about this new round is that it is a combination of equity and growth debt. Why growth debt? “Growth debt is an attractive option for startups with the right scale and strong unit economics, especially with the changes to capital markets in response to current economic conditions,” said Freedman. “Another element that makes long-term debt attractive is that unlike equity financing, long-term debt limits dilution for everyone, but especially benefits our employees who hold common stock.” That, it’s worth noting, is also something that lead investor Vistara Capital has made one of the core tenets of its investment philosophy. “Since Kentik is now at a scale where we have enough data on the business fundamentals to be able to make growth investments using debt while still being able to repay it over time, it made sense to us and our investors,” noted Freedman.

Startups – TechCrunch

Census raises $4.3M seed to put product info in cloud data warehouses to work

Companies spend inordinate amounts of time and money building data warehouses and moving data from enterprise applications. But once they get the data in, how do they get specific information like product data back out and distribute it to business operations, which can use it to better understand customers? That’s where Census comes in. It builds a layer on top of the data warehouse that makes it easy for the data team to distribute product data where it’s needed.

The company announced a $ 4.3 million seed today, although it closed last year while they were still building the product. That round was led by Andreessen Horowitz with help from SV Angel and a number of angel investors.

Census CEO Boris Jabes says the company was founded to solve this problem of data distribution from a cloud data warehouse. He says for starters they are concentrating on product data.

“The product is designed to sync data directly from cloud data warehouses like Snowflake, BigQuery and Redshift […] and the main reason we did that was people really needed to get access to this kind of product data and all this data that’s locked in all their systems and take advantage of it,” Jabes explained.

He says that the first step is to make the product data sitting in the data warehouse actionable for the organization. They are working with data teams at early customers to remove the complexity of getting that data out of the warehouse and putting it to work in a more automated fashion.

They do this by creating a unified schema that sits on top of the data in the warehouse and makes it easier to distribute it to the teams that need it inside the organization. It essentially acts as a middleware layer on top of the warehouse that you can take advantage of without having to write code to decide where data might be most useful.

David Ulevitch, who led the investment at a16z, says that removing this manual part of the process is highly valuable. “For years, organizations have had to do the frustrating task of manually syncing data between dozens of apps. This friction is especially painful now that data has become critical to every team in a business, from product to sales. Census sets a new standard for how product-led SaaS companies can operationalize data,” he said in a statement.

Jabes understands these are difficult times for every business, and especially an early-stage startup, but he says they are focusing on an aspect of the business that potential customers need.

“We’ve seen companies actually spending time trying to tackle some of these data problems […] so I’m still optimistic,” he says.

Startups – TechCrunch

Hospital Acquired Disease Testing Market Global Research Report 2020 | Cantel Medical Corporation Meridian Biosciences, Qiagen GmbH, Nordion, Roche – Surfacing Magazine

Hospital Acquired Disease Testing Market Global Research Report 2020 | Cantel Medical Corporation Meridian Biosciences, Qiagen GmbH, Nordion, Roche  Surfacing Magazine
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

[Arbe Robotics in PR Newswire] Arbe Named a Cool Vendor by Gartner in the May 2020 Cool Vendors in Autonomous Vehicle Systems

TEL AVIV, Israel, May 26, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Arbe, a leading provider of next-generation Imaging Radar Chipset Solution, enabling high-resolution sensing for ADAS and autonomous vehicles, today announced that it has been recognized as a Cool Vendor, in the Cool Vendors in Autonomous Vehicle Systems1 report by Gartner.

Read more here.

The post [Arbe Robotics in PR Newswire] Arbe Named a Cool Vendor by Gartner in the May 2020 Cool Vendors in Autonomous Vehicle Systems appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

Non-business books

I've read many of the popular business books. No doubt, there is a lot of great information in there.
But sometimes I like to get a broader perspective since business isn't everything.

Things like Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and even Fight Club have helped shape my world view and probably my view of running a startup.

Are there any books you would recommend? Looking for "not business" books that you find yourself referring back to a lot in your day to day. Movies/blogs/etc might be acceptable too, but that's kind of cheating.

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

An hourly home-sharing startup in San Francisco finds itself in the city’s crosshairs

Emmanuel Bamfo is used to fighting uphill battles. Still, his latest fight, with the city of San Francisco, may well destroy his business if he doesn’t win it, and quickly.

Bamfo is the co-founder and CEO of Globe, a year-old, six-person startup that connects customers with rooms in people’s mostly urban homes. Think Airbnb, except that Globe isn’t for users looking for days- or months-long stays, but instead for a day break.

Globe evolved from an earlier company called Recharge that tried convincing hotels to let its customers rent their rooms by the hour and even minute, and had raised around $ 10 million in funding. When hotels pushed back on the idea of cleaning their rooms so frequently, the nascent outfit entered into the popular accelerator program Y Combinator last summer and came out as a company that connects customers to home owners instead.

Growth at Globe had been slow but steady since, with more than 10,000 hosts around the world signing up to rent out rooms in their homes. Then came COVID-19.

Some hosts kept providing space to guests. One tech worker, Abe Disu, recently told The New York Times that he rented out his San Francisco apartment through Globe about 70 times between August and April, earning about $ 50 per hour after cleaning costs.

Many others expressed concerns about germs. “I thought we were dead,” says Bamfo.

Instead of giving up, Bamfo began to position Globe as a platform for people needing an escape from home quarantines. Globe can help individuals find that quiet place to make calls, away from roommates and children. It offers a reprieve from loved ones for a much-needed hour or two. It can even help those in desperate straights find better bandwidth. (You get the idea.)

It’s an appealing proposition on some levels. Who doesn’t long for a change in scenery at his point? Still, there is a pandemic, and safety is concern. Indeed, though Bamfo says Globe has layered in policies specific to COVID-19 — its cleaning checklist for hosts has grown longer and customers now have to send in pictures of thermometer readings — the city of San Francisco, at least, doesn’t think they go far enough.

The city sent Globe a letter last week noting that the company’s hourly rental business appears to violate the shelter-in-place order it instituted in March and that it extended indefinitely last week with some modifications that do not apply to Globe’s business. It says it’s prepared to take action, too. If has warned Globe that if it doesn’t immediately halt its business, the startup — and its founders, Bamfo and Erix Xu, who is a former senior engineering director at Reddit — risk “fine, imprisonment or both, pursuant to San Francisco Administrative Code section 7.17(b) and California Penal Code section 148.”

It adds that the “California Penal Code section 409.5 also authorizes the City to close down properties constituting a menace to public health. Likewise, failure to abide by the San Francisco Planning Code is a nuisance and is punishable by fines of up to $ 1,000 per day. Likewise, failure to abide by Chapter 41A of the Administrative Code is punishable by fines of up to $ 484 per day.”

It’s a bitter if somewhat unsurprising development for Globe, which is based in San Francisco, and counts the city as its biggest market. Bamfo and Xu have limited resources, and a drawn-out shut-down could very easily become permanent. Still, it’s hard to see how the company avoids a bigger blow-up if it doesn’t comply very soon — or the city doesn’t instead begin to relax some of its policies.

Right now, Bamfo seems to be counting on the latter, and perhaps for good reason. Yesterday, for example, California Governor Gavin Newsom said that barbershops and hair salons can begin accepting customers again in many California counties. San Francisco and neighboring counties are maintaining more sweeping restrictions for now, but that could change in a matter of weeks.

In the meantime, Bamfo — who says he was “shocked” by the city’s letter — is engaging in a game of chicken. He says that while Globe works on an official response, one that it will send by Tuesday of next week, the company is continuing to make its service available in its hometown.

Noting that neither Airbnb nor hotels have received the same feedback from the city, he says that Globe “doesn’t want to focus on regulations, fines, and threats of jail time. We want instead to elevate this discourse around solutions.”

 

Globe Living Receives Unwelcome News from San Francisco by TechCrunch on Scribd

Startups – TechCrunch