Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi are investing in toilet paper

A slew of big name entrepreneurs and celebrities are really circling the drain with their latest investment.

Led by Greycroft, a who’s who of celebrity investors, including Mark Cuban, Marc Benioff, Iron Man and Pepper Potts (er… Robert Downey Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow), Uber’s chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi, Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, and Code.org founder Hadi Partovi are investing $ 3 million into the new toilet paper brand Cloud Paper. (Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Ciara, serial-entrepreneur Grant Ries, Muse Capital, and Ashley and Marc Merrill are also backing the company.)

Why? Because they’re hoping to save the environment.

Founded by Ryan Fritsch and Austin Watkins, two former employees of Khosrowshahi’s at Uber who went on to take roles at the logistics startup Convoy, Cloud Paper is one of several companies trying to get consumers to make the switch to bamboo-based toilet paper. But it may be the only one to get such high-profile investors to flush it with wads of cash.

A year-and-a-half in the making, Cloud Paper began when the two colleagues started talking about launching their own business, but one that could have an immediate impact on the climate crisis they saw as the most pressing societal issue.

Image Credit: Cloud Paper

They settled on toilet paper because of its massive contribution to deforestation, a key contributing factor to climate change. According to statistics provided by the company, 15% of deforestation is due to toilet paper production alone, and roughly 40,000 trees per year are cut down for U.S. consumers to wipe up (with toilet paper and paper towels. The company estimates that an average household could save more than 250 trees by switching to bamboo based toilet paper (ideally theirs).

“We wanted Cloud Paper to be a force for good in the world,” said Watkins. “We wanted to find something similar to taxis and trucking in terms of the size of the market and something that could have a really big impact on the community and the environment from day one.”

To ensure that impact, the company is offsetting twice the amount of carbon emissions that are generated from its business operations and has done so since day one, the founders said.

Currently, the company sells directly to businesses, which were its initial market, and has recently launched a direct to consumer service where its sells its bamboo toilet paper at a cost of $ 28 for 24 rolls. A price point roughly in line with the industry’s going rate for rolls.

“We have been investing in several companies over the last five to 10 years that have been in this vein,” said Greycroft venture partner Alison Lange Engel. What compelled the firm to back Fritsch and Watkins was the background in logistics and consumer products and the business-to-business focus that the two entrepreneurs initially went to market with, Engel said.

And the selection of bamboo as the source product was no accident. “Bamboo sequester more carbon and releases more oxygen,” said Fritsch. “It’s a magical plant to keep growing and harvesting… especially when the alternative is an old-growth forest.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Embracing Change During the Pandemic: Mark Manzo and Dr. Bryan Weinstein

This episode of StartupNation Radio is brought to you by Pappas Financial 

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 guests: Mark Manzo, a professional business manager, and Dr. Bryan Weinstein, a psychiatrist and entrepreneur.


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First up is Mark Manzo, president of Ally Financial. Manzo was appointed to his role in 2018, and is responsible for all of Ally’s insurance operations, including consumer products, as well as commercial property and casualty products for dealers.

During the interview, Manzo discusses:

  • His position within a big corporation and how he grew his role with Ally
  • How he is deploying entrepreneurial-like tactics within a big business
  • The challenges that are similar (and different!) between startups and large corporations
  • A day in the life
  • How COVID-19 has altered his company’s operations
  • Changes in company culture and productivity due to the pandemic
  • What he thinks the future of work looks like a year from now

Listen to the interview with Mark Manzo

Part 1

Part 2

“Whether it’s a small business or a large business, you have to be in a company that has the values and ethics that you want to be a part of.”

– Mark Manzo

For more information on Ally, visit the official website.


Related: Download StartupNation’s FREE COVID-19 E-Book!

Next, Jeff and Norm interview Dr. Bryan Weinstein, a psychiatrist with a private practice in Livonia.

During the interview, Dr. Weinstein talks about: 

  • Starting his private medical practice
  • His entrepreneurial pursuits outside of his day job
  • The psychology behind business
  • His lifelong love of learning and aspirations to help others
  • How he prioritizes family time while operating his businesses
  • The importance of delegation
  • How the medical and healthcare fields have been impacted by COVID-19

Listen to the interview with Dr. Bryan Weinstein

Part 1

Part 2

“If you can build something that can help more people and you can leverage yourself, then that’s an amazing opportunity.”

– Dr. Bryan Weinstein

For more information on Dr. Weinstein and his practice, click here.


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The post Embracing Change During the Pandemic: Mark Manzo and Dr. Bryan Weinstein appeared first on StartupNation.

StartupNation

[BioCatch in Business Wire] BioCatch Appoints Mark Elliot Chief Marketing Officer

BioCatch, the global leader in behavioral biometrics, today announced that Mark Elliot has joined the senior leadership team as Chief Marketing Officer. In this role, Mark will lead all marketing efforts and grow the brand globally as BioCatch looks to broaden its product offerings and further support its expanding client base into new verticals following a $ 145 million Series C investment led by Bain Capital Tech Opportunities, the growth investing business of Bain Capital.

Read more here.

The post [BioCatch in Business Wire] BioCatch Appoints Mark Elliot Chief Marketing Officer appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

[MeMed in NoCamels] MeMed Receives CE Mark for Advanced Diagnostic Tech

Israeli medical diagnostics startup MeMed Diagnostics has received CE Mark clearance for its pioneering diagnostic test MeMed BV and point-of-need platform MeMed Key.

Founded in 2009, MeMed has built a diagnostic tool for distinguishing between bacterial and viral infections like the coronavirus. The company is now also developing a diagnostics test for early detection of viruses and the prediction of potential patient deterioration.

Read more here.

The post [MeMed in NoCamels] MeMed Receives CE Mark for Advanced Diagnostic Tech appeared first on OurCrowd.

OurCrowd

Mark Cuban: ‘Raising money isn’t an accomplishment, it’s an obligation’

Mark Cuban isn’t impressed that you’ve raised money.

“If you think the accomplishment is raising money first, we’re probably not gonna get along,” said Cuban in an Extra Crunch Live interview. “If your orientation is ‘I got to raise the money first,’ you don’t really have a company yet, and you really haven’t accomplished anything yet. […] Sweat equity is the best equity.”

We also got his take on today’s economy, the nation’s direction and his notes on what startups should do to survive in the new world. Happily, as we had an hour to chat, we managed to cover a lot of ground. The full conversation (YouTube) is after the jump, and we’ve excerpted a number of quotes for your perusal.

But up top we wanted to share Cuban’s notes regarding which companies should accept Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) funds from the Small Business Administration. The matter became a hot-button issue in and around Silicon Valley, where initial debate centered around which startups could access the money. After it became clear the first installment of PPP funds wasn’t going to last, whether startups should access to the capital at all became a question. Some venture-backed companies even decided to return their PPP check.

According to Cuban, when PPP was first put together, the market’s “perspective was that there’d be plenty of money for everybody. You know, people didn’t really want to do the math.” Cuban said that if there was $ 350 billion in the pot and one million small businesses, the fund would have worked out to $ 350,000 apiece. “Well guess what,” he said, “there are 30 million companies, [and] like 20 of them are independent contractors.”

Once you did the calculations again with that many companies eligible for PPP funds, you could tell that the money wasn’t going to last. So Cuban told firms that he’s invested in where he has sway to “either not apply or just pay it back immediately.” Why? “For the betterment of the country and the economy,” he said, adding that “if you do have access to capital” or “your business isn’t dramatically impacted [then] let’s leave [the PPP money] for the people who need it the most.”

As noted, the full video is below (you can join Extra Crunch here!), along with Cuban’s notes on startup advice during the pandemic, American 2.0 (and Marc Andreessen’s essay), AI, pre-seed companies, his future in politics and how to pitch him.

Mark Cuban on the record

How he’s advising portfolio companies during the pandemic:

So first and foremost, communicate. Second is be honest. Third is be transparent. And fourth is be authentic. Because everybody is nervous. Everybody is terrified at a certain level. So you just have to recognize that. People are going to need that honesty from you and people are going to want communications from you. That’s been the primary thing around what these companies should do.

Regarding cutting costs: Every business is different. On the smallest ones, they’re already grinding, and it’s typically dependent on the founder. I’ve really tried to encourage people to keep all their employees on if at all possible. That there’s gonna be a lot of change and that’s going to create a lot of opportunity. So, if you can hold on to your employees and push forward in any way, shape, or form, you may have an opportunity.

Startups – TechCrunch

Extra Crunch Live: Join Mark Cuban for a Q&A on April 30 at 11am ET/8am PT

Billionaire. Entrepreneur. Investor. Shark.

Mark Cuban is one of tech’s best-known entrepreneurs, so we are amped to have him join us for an upcoming Extra Crunch Live, our virtual speaker series that connects the brightest minds in tech directly with our Extra Crunch audience.

Starting out as a salesman for one of Dallas’s earliest PC software resellers, Cuban was fired after he ignored his boss’ orders and asked another employee to cover for him while he picked up a check for a $ 10,000 sale. He went on to create his own software reseller/system integrator called MicroSolutions, which he sold in 1990 for $ 6 million to CompuServe, then an H&R Block subsidiary. That marked the beginning of a storied (and, at times, tumultuous) career as an entrepreneur and investor.

Cuban went on to co-found Audionet (later renamed Broadcast.com), which he eventually sold to Yahoo! for $ 5.7 billion in 1999; that same year, he made history when he purchased a Gulfstream V for $ 40 million in the largest single e-commerce transaction ever conducted.

The man’s brain is always 20 years in the future.

The Dallas Mavericks majority owner and “Shark Tank” judge has invested in startups for two decades. His portfolio includes Apptopia, The Zebra, Node, UBeam and many other startups; according to Crunchbase, Cuban has made more than 100 investments since 2004.

We’ll ask how he’s advising his portfolio companies in the midst of a crisis and will get his predictions on the economic outlook over the next 12 to 24 months. We’re also interested to hear how Cuban thinks technology may or may not solve for the current situation around live sports, which have effectively been halted by the pandemic.

And if we have time, we’ll ask a bit about workers, equitable capitalism and his thoughts regarding the gig economy in these turbulent times. Given Cuban’s straightforward speaking style, we’re expecting a candid conversation, and as we’re snagging him in unprecedented times, our chat may help you understand how at least one leading capitalist views the new world.

Hit the jump to add the call details to your calendar via the AddEvent link and access the Zoom information directly. We’ll take audience questions toward the end, so weigh in. If you aren’t an Extra Crunch member yet, join here for just a few bucks to start.

Cuban joins a schedule packed with all-stars, including Charles Hudson, Mitch and Freada Kapor, Hunter Walk, Roelof Botha and Kirsten Green. And if you missed it, check out our Extra Crunch Live episode with Aileen Lee and Ted Wang.

Details

Here’s the information you’ll need:

Startups – TechCrunch

Sandy Hook Parents Decry Facebook’s Weak Moderation In Open Letter To Mark Zuckerberg

The parents of a slain Sandy Hook first-grader are calling on Facebook’s CEO to better regulate his platform after years of being harassed by ‘hoaxers.’
Forbes – Startups