How do I raise capital before I have a patent. Can I protect my idea before I have the money? What resources can I use to learn more?

It seems a patent costs upwards of $ 10k, with my new idea I am currently working on prototypes, and would like to do a dry run to find the interest (likely at a lowered price. I have enough capital for either a test for proof of concept (hopefully) OR a patent.

What suggestions do you have? Where can I learn more? Where can I learn more about testing the market (how many I need to reach, etc.).

I’ve read books, none agree, some websites appear to be made by folks who’s only idea was starting the website for advice. I have big hopes but a realistic outlook and need help in these areas

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

Semiconductor Wafer Polishing and Grinding Equipment Market to See Major Growth by 2026 | Applied Materials, Inc., EBARA CORPORATION, Lapmaster, Entrepix, Inc., Revasum., TOKYO SEIMITSU CO., LTD, Logomatic GmbH and More – Surfacing Magazine

Semiconductor Wafer Polishing and Grinding Equipment Market to See Major Growth by 2026 | Applied Materials, Inc., EBARA CORPORATION, Lapmaster, Entrepix, Inc., Revasum., TOKYO SEIMITSU CO., LTD, Logomatic GmbH and More  Surfacing Magazine
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

Thriva raises £4M from Target in an era when at-home blood testing is more crucial than ever

Thriva emerged in 2016 as an at-home blood-testing startup allowing people to check, for instance, cholesterol levels. In the era of a pandemic, however, at-home blood testing is about to become quite a big deal, alongside the general trend toward people proactively taking control of their health.

It has secured a £4 million extension to its Series A funding round from Berlin-based VC Target Global . The investment takes Thriva’s total funding to £11 million. The investment comes from Target Global’s new Early Stage Fund II and will top up the £6 million Series A raised in 2019. Existing investors include Guinness Asset Management and Pembroke VCT.

Thriva has processed more than 115,000 at-home blood tests since 2016. Interestingly, these customers actually use the information to improve their health, with 76% of Thriva users achieving an improvement in at least one of their biomarkers between tests.

The startup has also launched personalized health plans and high-quality supplements, scaling up its partnerships with hospitals and other healthcare providers.

Founded by Hamish Grierson, Eliot Brooks and Tom Livesey, it claims to be growing 100% year-on-year and has expanded its team to 50 members in the company’s London headquarters.

In a statement Grierson said: “As the world faces unprecedented challenges posed by the coronavirus crisis, we have all been forced to view our health, and our mortality, in a new light.”

Speaking to TechCrunch he added: “While there are other at-home testing companies, we don’t see them as directly competitive. Thriva isn’t a testing company. Our at-home blood tests are an important data point but they’re just the beginning of the long-term relationships we’re creating with our customers. To deliver on our mission of putting better health in your hands, we not only help people to keep track of what’s really happening inside their bodies, we actually help them to make positive changes that they can see the effects of over time.”

Dr. Ricardo Schäfer, partner at Target Global said: “When we first met the team behind Thriva, we were immediately hooked by their mission to allow people to take health into their own hands.”

Startups – TechCrunch

Swiss startup Batmaid gets more than €1 million for its home cleaner booking platform

Today Swiss startup Batmaid, the country’s largest cleaner booking platform, has secured additional funding from Baloise and ACE & Company (Swiss-founded global private equity boutique), to fuel its ambitious expansion goals and additional projects. The funding amount has not been disclosed further than being more than €1 million.

Batmaid, created in 2015, is the first platform that allows users to hire preselected home cleaners online and is also the largest cleaning platform in Switzerland, with headquarters in Lausanne and offices in Zurich, Lugano and Luxembourg. Batmaid currently has over 70 employees, serving more than 45,000 clients. For peace of mind, the startup applies a rigorous pre-selection process of professional cleaners on the platform along with offering extensive customer and administrative support.

“We are happy to welcome on board our new investors who will allow us to further strengthen our market position in Switzerland and to improve our service offering for our clients with our partnership with Baloise, while counting on ACE’s entrepreneurial experience internationally as well as locally”, states Andreas Schollin-Borg, co-founder and CEO of Batmaid

The first part of this investment round was closed last December, with additional funding committed last week. This constitutes an important milestone for Batmaid and demonstrates the trust the investors place in the team to pilot the startup during these challenging times.

The investment in Batmaid is Baloise’s fourth addition to its ‘home’ ecosystem, following the acquisition of stakes in Devis.ch, Bubble Box and MOVU. 

“Cleaning is a core pillar of the ‘Home’ ecosystem that Baloise is seeking to develop, and the equity investment in Batmaid allows us to strengthen our offering in this area. The Batmaid concept gives customers a service that is easy to use and taps into the growing trend towards digitalisation – which is what our Simply Safe strategy is all about,” explains Yannick Hasler, Head of Private Customers at Baloise.

EU-Startups

Spruce is eliminating the drudgery of real estate, and has $29M more from Scale to make sales easy

Real estate is one of those classic industries we always talk about in Silicon Valley: multi-trillion dollars in scale in terms of assets and transaction volume, but still relying on good ole’ pen and paper to get anything actually done. A huge number of companies have launched to digitize all aspects of real estate, from calculating valuations to monitoring operational costs and underwriting mortgages.

 

One of those companies is New York City-based Spruce, which was founded back in 2016 to digitize the prodigious paperwork that must be completed during a real estate transaction, including handling title, ensuring all closing docs are completed, and monitoring compliance in every geographical jurisdiction they operate in. The company raised a cumulative $ 19.1 million in Series A funding across two tranches (my colleague Jon Shieber covered the first tranche back in 2017), and now it is poised for even more growth.

The company is announcing today that it has added $ 29 million in growth capital led by Alex Niehenke at Scale Venture Partners, with Zigg Capital and Bessemer participating. Niehenke has previously funded companies like Root Insurance, which is focused on offering more competitive car insurance based on realistic data from drivers.

That seems to be roughly the same thesis here with Spruce — better data and digitalization can massively improve the quality and efficiency of legacy industries.

“Instead of using local offices with manual communication and manual processes, we provide [our clients] with API’s that allow them to scale effectively and to provide great digital experiences to their customers,” said Patrick Burns, the cofounder and CEO of the company. Burns had previously done product at wealth management startup Betterment, where he also met his cofounder Andrew Weisgall.

It can be bewildering how all the startups in real estate tech fit together, but this one is simple. Spruce wants to be the workflow tool for real estate transactions, which means that they don’t underwrite mortgages or handle valuations themselves directly. Rather, the platforms wants to be the central nervous system between buyers, sellers, lenders, and all the coterie of other services required to get a transaction closed. The company handles all kinds of transactions from new home purchases by families to investor-to-investor sales.

What’s interesting is that they have two streams of revenue according to Burns. First, they take a closing fee, which is customary in real estate transactions. Spruce argues that its efficiency cuts the price of closing a transaction, ultimately saving its clients money. Second, the company earns a premium as the agent of record for the title insurance policy agreed to in the transaction, which provides a continual stream of revenue from its clients. Similar to closing fees, title insurance broker fees are customary in the industry.

It’s a pretty clear value proposition, and that’s helped it grow transaction volume dramatically. According to the company, it has processed $ 1.25 billion of transactions on its platform, and its revenue has grown 400% annually. With roughly five million existing homes sold in the U.S. each month, that’s still an exiguous chunk of the market.

The global pandemic underway right now has taken a massive bite out of real estate transactions, particularly for homes, since buyers mostly can’t attend showings due to social distancing policies. The upshot is that those same social distancing policies have also scrambled the traditional real estate closing, which required passels of attorneys and others to work together to get all documents signed. Spruce — and other digitalization startups in the space — are poised to transition more of that legacy paperwork onto their platforms as industry players look for online approaches.

Burns says the capital will be used to expand Spruce’s product and client partnerships. The company currently has three operations “hubs” in New York, Texas, and California.

Startups – TechCrunch

The Trash app’s new features can create AI-edited music videos and more

The team behind Trash, an app that uses artificial intelligence to edit your video footage, launched a number of new features this week that should make it more useful for anyone — but especially independent musicians.

I wrote about the startup last summer, when CEO Hannah Donovan told me that her work as Vine’s general manager convinced her that most people will never feel like they have the technical skills to edit a good-looking video.

That’s why she and her co-founder Genevieve Patterson (the startup’s chief scientist) created technology that can analyze multiple video clips, identifying the most interesting shots and stitching it all together into a fun video.

Since then, Trash brought on more creators before opening up to a general audience last fall. Donovan explained that while she’d expected users to create “hyper-polished influencer videos,” the opposite has been true.

“The content on Trash is very personal, very authentic, very real,” she said. “For lack of better words, it’s what you’d see in your [Snapchat or Instagram] Stories.”

Trash is giving users more capabilities this week with the launch of Styles. This allows them to identify the type of video they want to create — whether it’s a recap (vacation recaps are big right now), a narrative video or something more artsy. The results are tailored accordingly, and then the user still has the option to further tweak things, for example by moving clips around.Trash music video style

Image Credits: Okayceci for TrashThere’s also a style for music videos. Many Trash videos already combine videos and music, but Donovan said this style is specifically designed for independent musicians who may not have editing skills, but who still need to create music videos — especially as YouTube has become one of the main ways people discover new music.

“The music video is more important than it’s ever been,” she argued.

Trash can’t give those musicians professional, studio-quality footage, but currently, everyone — no matter how famous — is largely limited to shooting themselves at home on smartphones right now. And even after the pandemic, Donovan expects the trend to continue.

“You’re seeing that in commercial videos as well, incorporating elements like text messaging,” she said. “What we’re seeing now is just this huge blend where it doesn’t matter [and you can mix] real life and virtual life, this hyper-polished, big-budget stuff and a super DIY, shot-on-an-iPhone aesthetic.”

To check it out, you can watch a playlist of some of the initial music videos created on Trash. The startup has also launched Trash for Artists, where musicians can upload their songs to create music videos and promo videos, while also offering them up as a soundtrack for other Trash users.

In addition to launching the new features, Trash also graduated last week from Snap’s Yellow accelerator program. (Other investors include the National Science Foundation, Japan’s Digital Garage and Dream Machine, the fund created by former TechCrunch Editor Alexia Bonatsos.)

Startups – TechCrunch

Two more East African countries to benefit from the 2Africa subsea project. – Ventures Africa

Two more East African countries to benefit from the 2Africa subsea project.  Ventures Africa
“nigeria startups when:7d” – Google News

RapidAPI raises $25M more to expand its API marketplace

Less than a year after raising $ 25M led by Microsoft for its take on building API marketplaces, RapidAPI has rapidly followed that up with another infusion of capital as it reaches 20,000 APIs tracked, integrated, and used across its marketplace by millions of developers. Today the startup is announcing that it raised another $ 25 million from existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, DNS Capital, Green Bay Ventures, M12 (Microsoft’s Venture Fund), and Grove.

This is a second closing of RapidAPI’s Series B, which we first wrote about last year, bringing the total for the round to $ 50 million and $ 62.5 million overall. PitchBook notes that the startup’s previous valuation was $ 80 million, which would put this now at upwards of $ 105 million but likely higher, considering that the company has scaled by quite a bit. Co-founder and CEO Iddo Gino would not disclose the actual amount in an interview this week.

APIs are the building blocks of today’s digital world: developers use them to quickly integrate features, data, services and functions into their own apps, removing the need to build and scale all those elements themselves from scratch. But while the big selling point of using APIs is that they allow developers to integrate using only a few lines of code, that doesn’t tell the whole story. The issue is that a lot of API interfaces are not uniform and so sourcing and using a variety of them can become very time-consuming and on aggregate a lot more difficult than the basic concept of API would have you assume.

“You can’t build everything from scratch, and using APIs makes work a lot more efficient,” co-founder Iddo Gino once said to me. “But each API has a different format and authentication strategy. You have to speak a lot of different languages to use them all.”

RapidAPI’s approach is to create a framework that not only helps you find the API you are looking for, but lets you integrate them more easily by way of a single API key and SDK. It covers both free and paid APIs, and public as well as “private” APIs. When your company is a subscriber — by way of the RapidAPI for Teams product — it can also help keep track of your own organization’s API work.

The formula has been a success. There are now 18,000 teams using the Teams product among more than one million developers using the platform overall.

Within that number, RapidAPI — originally founded in Israel in 2015 and now based also in San Francisco — says that since January, it has added 300,000 new developers, up six-fold monthly compared the the same five months of 2019. The marketplace itself now has 20,000 APIs, doubling in the last year, with 1,000 getting added each month. Contributors to its marketplace include Microsoft, Twilio, SendGrid, Nexmo, Skyscanner and (our former stablemate) Crunchbase.

RapidAPI doesn’t charge people to use APIs that are already free to use. Rather it makes its money from subscriptions to its API management service as well as through serving paid APIs. It says that paid subscriptions have also grown by 30,000, with those using the enterprise tier — where you can develop your own white-label, in-house version of a marketplace for your own staff and customers — are on the rise with financial services, insurance companies, carriers and healthcare companies among those building marketplaces on RapidAPI’s rails.

While a lot of businesses, including even tech startups, have had to make big adjustments to work in our new environment and its focus on social distancing to help manage the spread of COVID-19, the same didn’t go for RapidAPI, noted Gino. The company already had remote teams — a consequence of being founded in one country and now essentially having two gravitational poles — and RapidAPI’s team of 75, and its customers, have in their culture working across different environments including virtualised ones.

What the current climate has pointed to, however, is that RapidAPI is the kind of company that stands to benefit from how other organizations are coping with digital transformation, by helping provide developers with libraries that they can use, wherever they happen to be.

Another interesting thing that has come up in the current climate is the impact it’s had on what APIs are getting the most calls. In addition to the regular roster of most popular APIs that include communications, payments and other financial services, Gino told me that APIs related to COVID-19 data have emerged as some of the most heavily trafficked, in line with how so many are working to make sense of what is going on, and how they might help the rest of us.

These include API calls for datasets and geolocation, as well as other statistics, some of which are free and some of which are paid. RapidAPI says that between March 1 and mid-May, the top five COVID APIs had more than 224 million calls with a peak of almost 4.5 million in a single day.

 

Startups – TechCrunch

Why don’t more VCs care about good tech (yet)?

One of the VC partners in a well-established London firm told me straight out:

Venture capital is money [laughs], it is a risky asset class, perhaps the wildest asset class […] and it has the biggest possible returns.

I have detailed elsewhere how I think caring more beyond the immediate-return mentality often associated with shareholder value capitalism makes sense (financially and ethically). But the arguments I am making are normative and ideological and don’t describe the status quo of VC investing. The more VCs I speak to — so far more than 150 between Berlin and Silicon Valley — the more it becomes clear that most of them couldn’t care less about environmental, social and governance, impact, sustainability, green tech or what Nicholas Colin calls safety net 2.0. Most VC money last year went into fintech; real estate and automation continue to be big, too. Only a tiny portion of businesses in these areas are remotely “impactful.”

Why, then, have the big, supposedly much less progressive asset managers and funds — from KKR to BlackRock to JPMorgan Chase — started to announce that they do (intend to) care?

What are these institutions sitting at the heart of capitalism seeing turning to ESG guidelines, screaming for more regulation and pushing to make portfolios climate-friendly? Why is it that big CEOs want to shift their efforts away from just shareholder value to benefit all stakeholders? Obviously, it must be about money, about a new investment opportunity. Being “good” must be on the verge of becoming profitable. But why are VCs not getting into that in big waves, the investors who are usually ahead of the curve qua their forward-looking business model?

Don’t get me wrong — there is indeed a class of new VCs that has decided to specialize in impact investing and “social good.” Perhaps with the exception of DBL, most of the funds in this new class, however, have only started recently; none of them will be considered top tier funds yet. Exceptions only confirm the rule, however. While Obvious, itself a B-Corp lead among others by Twitter co-founder Ev Williams, is celebrating the Beyond Meat IPO, Greylock is struggling to recruit more than one female into its investment team and is still most keen on blitzscaling marketplaces. While in Germany, Ananda is the only self-fashioned impact investor, sector heavy-hitters such as Holtzbrinck, Earlybird and Point9 are still struggling with the future of e-commerce and SaaS and have discovered gaming as a way of making a 3x return.

Why? Why is dumb money that sits in KKR and is only supposed to strive for the biggest available profit imposing ESG guidelines on itself while hundreds of clever VC general partners are seemingly closing their eyes and path-dependably follow their old-school patterns chasing disruption everywhere but in “the good” and “impact?”

Here are six hypotheses and excuses:

1. It isn’t clear what “impact” even is. While GIIN, the OECD the UN and others are publishing new metrics for ESG and impact measures almost on a daily basis (also reinventing the language around it), the people on the ground doing the investing find it hard to keep up. As many dedicated impact investors I have spoken to, as many different ways of interpreting it I have seen. Some of the VCs I interviewed hence find a relatively easy way out: How are you supposed to aim if you don’t know what your target is?

2. In the VC world, there aren’t reliable return numbers for impact investing yet. VCs have a strong instinct for herding; while seemingly new territory should be what they are used to, when it comes to proven financial return patterns, they often turn a blind eye. As long as there are no data points to prove — also with regards to communicating with their LPs — that “good tech” makes financial sense in the VC world, many won’t move.

3. Why change when what has worked continues to work? The VC business model of doing high-risk investments into mostly technology and biotech has worked very well; in fact, the ongoing low-interest rate environment has driven increasing amounts of capital into the asset class that is looking for exactly the kind of above-average returns the traditional VC model has generated. Why change that now?

4. The others are not really investing real money into impact either. It is true — lots of asset managers and PE investors have publicized their intentions about “going ESG” or “doing impact” widely, but not too much capital has yet been deployed concretely. Bain’s Double Impact fund is $ 390 million (versus the approximately $ 30 billion of Bain’s assets under management); KKR’s Global Impact fund is $ 1 billion, versus around $ 300 billion under management.

5. The pressure on other asset managers is much higher. On the one hand, LPs have a bigger influence over big asset managers (and they can often be the ones driving change), and on the other, the KKRs and BlackStones of the world need to overcompensate even more for how bad society thinks they are. Virtue signaling — just like CSR — is a good way of doing that (particularly if there is indeed a financial opportunity).

6. Lots of people in VC self-select to not care. As a former partner in a famous SV firm put it to me recently: young people don’t become VCs today to do good, they do it to make a fortune and wield power. While the tech world might have once been run by utopians like Steve Jobs, the wheel is now in the hands of techno-libertarians building cities in the sea, buying up NZ and (at times) supporting Trump (to then make money off that connection by extending surveillance). You reap what you sow.

But even if some of the above excuses are real — for-profit impact is in fact still a tiny asset class (see latest GIIN numbers) for instance — aren’t VCs usually ahead of the game? Contrarian and looking for the next narrative violation? Isn’t it the VCs’ task to sniff up new investment opportunities and sectors first? Most importantly: How long are VCs going to ignore the massively growing consumer appetite for responsible and impactful business (and investing, as KPMG recently found)?

So, the question remains puzzling for me: When will we see the first Tier 1 VC-firm (after Kleiner Perkins in the 2000s) announce that they’ll start a ‘”good tech” fund?

Startups – TechCrunch

Scribd announces a perks program, giving its subscribers access to Pandora Plus, TuneIn Premium and more

E-book and audiobook subscription service Scribd has been actively embracing and experimenting with bundling over the past couple of years, creating joint offers with The New York Times and with Spotify and Hulu.

Today it announced a slightly different take on the idea with Scribd Perks. These perks give Scribd’s paying subscribers (the service costs $ 8.99 per month) access to a number of additional services at no extra change.

The initial lineup includes Pandora Plus (ad-free music and podcasts), TuneIn Premium (live sports, news, music and podcasts), Peak (brain training), CuriosityStream (documentaries and series), CONtv + Comics (movies and digital comics), FarFaria (illustrated children’s books that are read aloud) and MUBI (hand-picked films).

Many of these services are relatively niche — at least compared to Scribd’s previous bundling partners — but they all normally cost between $ 2.99 and $ 10.99 per month, so there are some real savings here. It’s an extra incentive for someone to sign up for Scribd, and for existing subscribers to stick around. Meanwhile, these partners presumably get new users and additional revenue.

In a statement, Scribd CEO Trip Adler said:

With millions of people around the world continuing to shelter in place, having access to different forms of enrichment is more important than ever before. We’re thrilled to be partnering with leading consumer brands to offer a more accessible way for consumers to easily stay informed, entertained, and connected. Scribd is designed to help people explore the world’s best content, and now, with the launch of our new Scribd Perks platform, there is even more premium content to discover.

 

Startups – TechCrunch