ErudiFi raises $5 million Series A to give students in Southeast Asia more education financing options

Based in Singapore, ErudiFi wants to help more students in Southeast Asia stay in school by giving them affordable financing options. The startup announced today it has raised a $ 5 million Series A, co-led by Monk’s Hill Ventures and Qualgro.

ErudiFi currently works with more than 50 universities and vocational schools in Indonesia and the Philippines. Co-founder and chief executive officer Naga Tan told TechCrunch that students in those countries have limited financing options, and often rely on friends or family, or informal payday lenders that charge high interest rates.

To provide more accessible financing options, ErudiFi partners with accredited universities and schools to offer subsidized installment plans, using tech to scale up while keeping costs down. Interest rates and repayment terms vary between institutions, but can be as low as 0%, with loans payable in 12 to 24 months.

By providing their students with affordable financing plans, ErudiFi can increase retention rates at schools, helping them keep students who would otherwise be forced to drop out because of financial issues.

Tan said ErudiFi’s value proposition for educational institutions is “being able to offer a data-driven financing solution that helps with student recruitment and retention. Students also greatly benefit because our product is one of the few, if not the only, affordable financing option they have access to.”

In a press statement, Peng T. Ong, co-founder and managing partner of Monk’s Hill Ventures, said, “Access to affordable tertiary education remains a huge pain point in Southeast Asia where the cost is nearly double then the average GDP per capita. ErudiFi is tackling an underserved market that is plagued with high-interest rates by traditional financial institutions and limited reach from peer-to-peer lending companies.”

ErudiFi’s Series A will be used on hiring for its product and engineering teams and to expand in Indonesia and the Philippines.

Startups – TechCrunch

Could anyone give examples of this data business model

Companies that focus on aggregating non-user data and then figuring out new (ideally multiple) paths to monetization later as time goes on (eg from usage and user feedback).

The data itself may or may not be freely provided.

I'm drawing a blank haha

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

Robinhood’s pain is Public’s gain as VCs rush to give it more money

Public.com, a social-focused free stock trading service, is nearing the close of a Series D just two months after raising a $ 65 million Series C, sources familiar with the matter told TechCrunch.

The San Francisco-based fintech aims to give people the ability to invest in companies using any amount of money, with a focus on community activity over active trading. It competes with Robinhood, M1 Finance, and other American fintech companies that offer consumers a way to invest in equities with low or zero fees.

Public.com apparently got a flurry of investor interest over the past couple of weeks after Robinhood found itself in hot water and essentially raised $ 3.4 billion in a matter of days to help get itself out of a mess. 

That new capital came at a challenging time for the unicorn, which could pursue an IPO this year. And some investors reportedly want a piece of rival Public.com’s pie.

One source told TechCrunch that many of those offering term sheets believe there could be “a mass exodus from Robinhood” and want a way to capture that value.

Public recently shook up its business model, moving from generating revenue from order flow payments, a key way that Robinhood monetizes, to collecting tips from users in exchange for executing their orders. Payment for order flow, or PFOF, has become a touchstone in the debate surrounding low-cost trading platforms, and how users may pay for their transactions if not in direct fees.

Investors betting on Public, then, would be placing a wager on not merely future user growth, but the startup’s ability to monetize effectively in the future. 

The sources for this story were granted anonymity due to the sensitivity of the discussions.

Public grew quickly in 2020, expanding its user base by a multiple of 10 since the start of the year.

Co-founder Leif Abraham told TC’s Alex Wilhelm in December that the company’s growth has been consistent instead of lumpy, expanding at around 30% each month. The co-founder also stressed that most of Public’s users find its service organically, implying that the startup’s marketing costs have not been extreme, nor its growth artificially boosted.

We don’t know yet  how much Public is raising in its Series D, or who all is investing. Public has not responded to multiple requests for comment. VC firm Accel – which led its Series A, B and C rounds – also declined to comment. But we’ll definitely report details as we get them.

Startups – TechCrunch

Question About Safe Agreements (Why you shouldn’t give an investor a fixed amount?)

So like a lot of startups, I had a co-founder that didn't work out. He was well-off, which was great because he could actually put in real money, but due to his poor work ethic, incompetence, and the fact that he basically started buying things that weren't valuable at the moment and hanging that over our heads to justify 25% equity, we cut ties. Naturally, he was upset and threatened to sue for his 25% but after calming him down to avoid getting buried in court, we agreed to give him 5% no strings attached equity.

So he basically sent us a safe agreement and after looking it over with our lawyer, he mentioned that the only real issue he's seeing with this is the fact that there isn't a premium attached to this, which is usually the case. From what I read, most safe agreements have a cap and a premium in place for the investor. He said that it's possible not having a premium in place could hurt us if we go after investors but I'm having a very hard time understanding exactly why.

He specifically said that it, "… could hurt you with later investors if the price per share is significantly better than the price you are seeking from later investors."

Does anyone know what that means, exactly? From what I'm reading, a cap and a premium are there to benefit the investor and that it could actually increase their equity holding, which is what we want to avoid because as it stands, he's basically dead equity, so 5% is a bit of a dent, but more could prove detrimental.

I guess I'm confused because I don't exactly know why having a fixed amount for him could hurt us with getting future investments. If anyone is able to clarify this, I would be eternally grateful because I need to give this person an answer soon.

Thank you in advance!

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

Jam collaborative software launches Jam Genies to give small startups access to experts

As the world moves towards remote work, the collaborative tools market continues to expand. Jam, a platform for editing and improving your company’s website, is adding to the trend by introducing a new arm to its product today called Jam Genies.

Jam Genies is a network of highly experienced product experts that Jam users can tap for guidance and advice around their specific issue or challenge.

Cofounder Dani Grant explained to TechCrunch that many small and early-stage companies don’t have the deep pockets to hire a consultant when they run into a challenge, as many charge exorbitant rates and they often have a minimum time requirement. It can be incredibly difficult to get bite-sized advice at a reasonable cost.

That’s where Jam Genies comes in.

Genies hail from a variety of ‘verticals’, such as investors, designers, brand people, and growth hackers. The list includes:

  • Brianne Kimmel – Angel investor and founder of Worklife VC. Investor in Webflow, Hopin & 40+ software companies building the future of work.
  • Erik Torenberg – Partner at Village Global, a fund backed by Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg and others. Founding team at Product Hunt.
  • Sahil Lavingia – Founder & CEO of Gumroad, first engineer at Pinterest, and angel investing $ 10 million a year via shl.vc.
  • Iheanyi Ekechukwu – Engineer turned angel investor, and scout investor for Kleiner Perkins.
  • Soleio – Facebook’s second product designer, former head of design at Dropbox, and advisor at Figma. Invests in design-focused founders at Combine.
  • Dara Oke – Product design lead at Netflix, formerly designed and built products at Microsoft, Twitter, and Intel.
  • Katie Suskin – Designed many products you know and love like Microsoft Calendar, OkCupid, Tia, and … Jam.
  • Julius Tarng – Helped scale design at Webflow and led design tooling at Facebook.
  • Abe Vizcarra – Currently leading brand at Fast, former Global Design Director at Snap Inc.
  • Tiffany Zhong – CEO, Zebra IQ. Recognized by Forbes as one of the Top 10 Gen Z Experts.
  • Nicole Obst – Former Head of Web Growth (B2C) at Dropbox and Head of Growth at Loom
  • James Sherrett – 9th employee at Slack, led the original marketing and sales of Slack.
  • Asher King Abramson – CEO at Got Users, a growth marketing platform widely used by startups around Silicon Valley.

Users on the Jam platform can choose a Genie and set an appointment through Calendly. The sessions last half an hour and cost a flat fee of $ 250, all of which goes to the Genie.

Jam raised $ 3.5 million in October, from firms like Union Square Ventures, Version One Ventures, BoxGroup, Village Global and a variety of angel investors, to fuel growth and further build out the product. Jam Genies is, in many respects, a growth initiative for the company to better acquaint early-stage startups with the platform.

The main Jam product lets groups of developers and designers work collaboratively on a website, leaving comments, discuss changes and create and assign tasks. The platform integrates with all the usual suspects, such as Jira, Trello, Github, Slack, Figma, and more.

Since its launch in October 2020, the company has signed up 4,000 customers for its private beta waitlist, with 14,000 Jam comments created on the platform. The introduction of Jam Genies could add momentum to this growth push.

Startups – TechCrunch

When you realized that you wanted to chose and do startup and give up on your normal job?

It has been a tough time for me to finally chose my startup ahead of everything else. I don't come from a strong financial background but I always wanted to continue working on my idea no matter how hard my financial situations are.

After two years of work I was able to launch my startup and make sales. People always use to come with their old suggestions that i must go back to my job and leave all these new things . It won't work and I will not be able to do it. I kept working and today I am at least making money. When I was in high school i realized that i will do something like this of my own. Please share your time when it an idea hit your head and you chose your career to be a startup. Thanks.

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