Perhaps they aren’t successful because it works; perhaps it works because they’re successful. Entrepreneurs? This one’s for you.
Hey so recently I launched an alpha version of my startup, recently as in not even a month ago ( however it can be considered more if you count the days I spent researching the potential user base and talking to them ) and I applied to a few accelerator programs and seed funding firms like :
– Axilor Ventures
YC contacted us back saying they wanted to look at our beta ( since I applied on the idea stage to YC and once I finished with the alpha, I sent it to them ) and now apparently over a month later, our application is still in review but I think it's the same for anyone who hasn't been rejected by YC for S21.
Neither TechStars has sent us any updates so far nor has Axilor Ventures. SeedCamp sent us a rejection email.
—– The actual post starts here 🙂 ——–
However, this large VC firm in India ( we are based in India right now too and this VC firm has invested in unicorns, majority of their profile consists of unicorns ) contacted me through LinkedIn yesterday.
Technically, one of the investment analyst at their firm did and he wanted to really talk about my startup on a video conference so I let him schedule a conference with me. The conference is 2 days later and in additional notes, this is what he mentioned :
"Will need 45 mins instead of 15 mins. Want to focus on team, product, GTM and traction."
A little about me in terms of where I'm at, I'm a high school student ( final year tho and about to be done ) so I got these exams coming up and I can't really focus on increasing the traction or the engagement by myself since I don't really have the time to consistently talk to our users and re-iterate but soon enough, I'll be working full-time on this.
Bottom line is, does this really mean that this large VC firm is interested in us? Or is it something else? What's the most probable angle they are taking at us?
These questions might seem noobish to some of you who are experienced with VCs way more than I am but try to understand, I haven't really had any meetings with large VCs before this ( once had a meeting with a loan investor but fuck that guy, he seemed like a doofus anyway running a scam or something fr ).
P.S The 15 minutes part is because I've set default meetings to 15 minutes through that Calendly link.
Tackling the learning curve that comes with building a startup is not for the faint of heart. So many questions, so little time to search out reliable, actionable advice. Enter TechCrunch Early Stage 2021 — two distinct, virtual bootcamps designed specifically for early-stage founders and open to entrepreneurs and startup enthusiasts.
Budget-friendly tips: TC Early Stage part one takes place April 1-2, and you have two weeks left to score the early-bird price and save up to $ 100. Founder passes cost $ 199 and Innovator passes (for investors and other startup fans) cost $ 299. The early-bird deadline ends at 11:59 p.m. (PST) on February 27. Buy a dual-event pass to learn and save even more (TC Early Stage — Marketing and Fundraising runs July 8-9). The TC Early Stage April and July bootcamps feature different speakers, topics and content.
At TC Early Stage, you’ll take part in interactive sessions and learn from the leading experts and investors who span the range of the startup ecosystem — operations, product lifecycle, fundraising and recruiting for starters. Here are just two examples of the people ready to help you move your startup dreams forward.
Learn from folks like Alexa von Tobel as she leads a discussion on Finance for Founders. Got questions about raising Series A funding? Don’t miss Bucky Moore of Kleiner Perkins as he breaks down that complicated topic.
Ready for an awesome plot twist? We’re adding an exciting opportunity on day two of both TC Early Stage bootcamps — the TC Early Stage Pitch-Off. Ten early-stage startups will get to pitch live to a global audience of investors, press and tech industry leaders. That kind of exposure can change a startup’s trajectory in the best possible way.
You’ll find all the Pitch-off details here — how it works, who qualifies to compete, what competitors receive and the prizes in store for the ultimate winner. Or cut to the chase and apply for the April 2 pitch-off here before the clock hits 11:59 p.m. PST on February 21.
Whether you’re competing or watching, Katia Paramonova, founder and CEO of Centrly (who attended Early Stage 2020), says a pitch critique shows you ways to strengthen your pitch deck:
The pitch deck teardown session was great. VCs reviewed my deck and gave specific, actionable advice. Watching them provide comments on other decks was helpful, too. We’re incorporating the feedback and when we start fundraising, the improved slides will make it easier for VCs to understand our value proposition.
TC Early Stage Operations & Fundraising takes place on April 1-2. Don’t miss this opportunity to learn the essentials of building a stronger startup. And don’t miss out on early-bird savings. Buy your pass (remember, you’ll save more and learn twice as much with a dual-event pass) before 11:59 p.m. PST on February 27.
Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Early Stage 2021 — Operations & Fundraising? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.
Today, there are a number of website builders aimed at creators who want to point fans to a dedicated landing page from their social media profile. If you’ve spent any time on TikTok or Instagram, you’ve likely come across one of these simplified “link in bio”-style websites — like those hosted by Linktree, for example. A new startup called Beacons is now entering this market with the goal of making “link in bio” websites even more powerful. Its website builder offers creators an expanded set of tools to monetize their community, including through donations, sales, paid requests, affiliate shopping and more.
After signing up for the service, Beacons walks the user through a series of questions, many which can be answered with just a “yes” or “no.” For example, Beacons may ask the user if they want to accept donations or collect followers’ emails, if they make TikTok or YouTube videos, and which category they’re in, in terms of the content they create.
This information is used to set up their Beacons landing page with the right content sections, which Beacons calls “blocks.” At launch, Beacons offers around a dozen of these configurable blocks, like email and SMS collection modules, video embed blocks for TikTok or YouTube creators, music blocks for embedding a track or album, a Twitter block to embed a tweet or Twitter profile, and link blocks, similar to Linktree, among others.
There’s even a “friends” block, which is like a modern-day Myspace Top 8. This lets you link out to your friends on either Beacons, Instagram, Twitter or TikTok.
An area where Beacons differentiates itself from other “link in bio” website builders, however, is with its set of “monetization” blocks. Today, it has four tools for creators who want to generate revenue from their online presence. One of these is similar to Cameo, as it allows the creator to set up a menu of options to take fan requests for personalized content. For instance, fans could ask a fitness influencer to critique their routine, or they could pay to have their burning questions answered by someone they admire. The creator can then send out a personalized response either publicly or privately.
Other monetization blocks allow creators to accept donations or sell digital downloads — like e-books or paid video content, for instance.
The fourth, and perhaps most interesting, monetization block is a TikTok shopping feature. It allows creators to embed their TikTok videos where they recommend products directly on their Beacons website. From here, they can add affiliate links to the products in question, allowing them to directly generate revenue when fans purchase the items they’ve featured.
This particular feature comes at an opportune time. Today, TikTok is only beginning to formalize its plans around e-commerce. In a recent presentation to marketers, TikTok spoke of its plans to launch new online shopping tools that would allow brands to more directly reach TikTok’s younger audience. TikTok has also partnered with Shopify on social commerce, and has experimented with live video shopping, including with a holiday event hosted by Walmart.
But TikTok’s creators have already been driving shopping trends across categories like fashion, beauty, home décor, household items, toys and much more, to the point that “TikTok made me buy it,” has become a common excuse for the impulse purchases prompted by TikTok’s viral content. By allowing creators to now more directly and financially benefit from these trends is the next logical step.
The idea for Beacons comes from co-founders Neal Jean, Jesse Zhang, Greg Luppescu and David Zeng. Neal, Jesse and David met while in the PhD program at Stanford studying different areas of research, like machine learning and AI. Greg, meanwhile, did his Master’s at Stanford, then went on to work at Apple on the Apple Watch team.
Neal, Jesse and David had teamed up on Beacons and went through the Y Combinator Summer 2019 batch, iterating on ideas and pivoting the product several times. Some of those early concepts may eventually return — like a Shopify integration that would connect creators with brands selling on Shopify, for example.
The broader focus, however, had always been on helping creators make money, says Neal.
“Even before our current product, we were really focused on trying to help creators solve monetization,” he explains. “When we kind of made this mini-pivot into the more Linktree-like product, we thought about building features that can help creators actually generate revenue — which I don’t think Linktree or any of the existing incumbents in the space were doing. Even today, you can’t actually make any money through Linktree,” he notes.
Linktree, of course, is only one of many “link in bio” websites on the market today, which means Beacons still faces a lot of competition. Other rivals include Linkin.bio, Lnk.bio, Shorby, Tap.bio, Feedlink.io, Link in Profile, Milkshake, Campsite, bio.fm, url.bio and biolincs.me, for example.
Unlike some of its competitors, Beacons offers its tools for free and instead monetizes through a premium plan ($ 10/mo) that allows creators to use their own custom domain. It also makes money by taking a percentage of sales on the requests and sales blocks, which is either 9% on the free plan or 5% on the paid plan. This rev share doesn’t bring in much money today — only “hundreds” of dollars — but the team believes that will scale as the startup grows and gains a large user base.
“Our strategy is…to continue building out more of these different kinds of revenue streams for creators,” says Neal. “And as we do that, I think, the fraction of transactional revenue will become higher relative to the subscription revenue than it is today.”
Since launching in private beta last September, Beacons has seen 90,000 sign-ups and now has over 20,000 people who are considered active users of the product — most arrived in the last couple of months when the service began to roll out some of its newer features. So far, Beacons hasn’t done any paid marketing, with around 77% of new users coming to Beacons because they saw it on someone else’s profile.
The team raised a small, post-YC angel round of around $ 600,000 but is looking to fundraise in the future.