NEW YORK, Jan 12, 2021 – Preeti Krishnan has been promoted to the newly created position of Vice President, Strategic Business Operations for DailyPay, the award-winning, recognized gold standard on-demand pay platform.
Read more here.
Parents with kids stuck learning at home during the pandemic have had to look for alternative activities to promote the hands-on learning experiences kids are missing out on due to attending class virtually. The New York-based educational technology startup Thimble aims to help address this problem by offering a subscription service for STEM-based projects that allow kids to make robotics, electronics and other tech using a combination of kits shipped to the home and live online instruction.
Thimble began back in 2016 as Kickstarter project when it raised $ 300,000 in 45 days to develop its STEM-based robotics and programming kits. The next year, it then began selling its kits to schools, largely in New York, for use in the classroom or in after-school programs. Over the years that followed, Thimble scaled its customer base to include around 250 schools across New York, Pennsylvania, and California, who would buy the kits and gain access to teacher training.
But the COVID-19 pandemic changed the course of Thimble’s business.
“A lot of schools were in panic mode. They were not sure what was happening, and so their spending was frozen for some time,” explains Thimble co-founder and CEO Oscar Pedroso, whose background is in education. “Even our top customers that I would call, they would just give [say], ‘hey, this is not a good time. We think we’re going to be closing schools down.”
Pedroso realized that the company would have to quickly pivot to begin selling directly to parents instead.
Around April, it made the shift — effectively entering the B2C market for the first time.
The company today offers parents a subscription that allows them to receive up to 15 different STEM-focused project kits and a curriculum that includes live instruction from an educator. One kit is shipped out over the course of three months, though an accelerated program is available that ships with more frequency.
The first kit is basic electronics where kids learn how to build simple circuits, like a doorbell, kitchen timer and a music composer, for example. The kit is designed so kids can experience “quick wins” to keep their attention and whet their appetite for more projects. This leads into future kits like those offering a Wi-Fi robot, a little drone, an LED compass that lights up, and a synthesizer that lets kids become their own D.J.
While any family can use the kits to help kids experience hands-on electronics and robotics, Pedroso says that about 70% of subscribers are those where the child already has a knack for doing these sorts of projects. The remaining 30% are those where the parents are looking to introduce the concepts of robotics and programming, to see if the kids show an interest. Around 40% of the students are girls.
The subscription is more expensive than some DIY projects at $ 59.99/per month (or $ 47.99/mo if paid annually), but this is because it includes live instruction in the form of weekly 1-hour Zoom classes. Thimble has part-time employees who are not just able to understand teach the material, but can do so in a way that appeals to children — by being passionate, energetic and capable of jumping in to help if they sense a child is having an issue or getting frustrated. Two of the five teachers are women. One instructor is bilingual and teaches some classes in Spanish.
During class, one teacher instructs while a second helps moderate the chat room and answer the questions that kids ask in there.
The live classes will have around 15-20 students each, but Thimble additionally offers a package for small groups that reduces class size. These could be used by homeschool “pods” or other groups.
“We started hearing from pods and then micro-schools,” notes Pedroso. “Those were parents who were connected to other parents, and wanted their kids to be part of the same class. They generally required a little bit more attention and wanted some things a little more customized,” he added.
These subscriptions are more expensive at $ 250/month, but the cost is shared among the group of parents, which brings the price down on per-household basis. Around 10% of the total customer base is on this plan, as most customers are individual families.
Thimble also works with several community programs and nonprofits in select markets that help to subsidize the cost of the kits to make the subscriptions more affordable. These are announced, as available, through schools, newsletters, and other marketing efforts.
Since pivoting to subscriptions, Thimble has re-established a customer base and now has 1,110 paid customers. Some, however, are grandfathered in to an earlier price point, so Thimble needs to scale the business further.
In addition to the Kickstarter, Thimble has raised funds and worked on the business over the year with the help of multiple accelerators, including LearnLaunch in Boston, Halcyon in D.C., and Telluride Venture Accelerator in Colorado.
The startup, co-founded by Joel Cilli in Pittsburgh, is now around 60% closed on its seed round of $ 1 million, but isn’t announcing details of that at this time.
The rise of distributed teams in response to the coronavirus has led to more video-conferencing meetings for all of us. As offices remain closed, distributed work is forcing companies to figure out a better way than Zoom or Google Hangouts to meet with employees across time zones and teams.
Rewatch wants to make meetings more efficient, and maybe even shorter. Co-founded by Connor Sears and Scott Goldman, Rewatch creates and organizes private video channels for companies to store meetings so employees can sift through them on their own time.
And at its core, Rewatch is a counterintuitive play: The startup thinks it can combat “Zoom fatigue” by giving employees more ways to watch video-conferencing calls.
The product works like this: Companies can record their meetings, over Google Hangouts or Zoom, and then Rewatch archives the meetings into a database. Using tags and notes, the videos become more searchable and easier to find. For example, you can tag a co-worker in a meeting in which they got an unexpected shout-out. Or you can search for the last time a manager brought up the project you’re working on.
The video libraries, which the company describes as “mini-YouTube channels,” also include transcriptions of all meetings. Rewatch is turning synchronous meetings into asynchronous bulletins and documents.
“In the past, the only way to scale a meeting was just to have a longer meeting, or more meetings,” Sears said.
If Rewatch works, the founders hope to see meetings shift from squares of muted floating heads to interactive across various teams and time zones with text and annotations.
Sears first had the idea for Rewatch when he was an employee at GitHub, a space for developers. GitHub, which is fully distributed, created an internal YouTube channel to enable employees across time zones to work with one another. Now, the two co-founders are trying to take one of GitHub’s internally loved features and bring it, and more, to the mainstream.
So far, the startup has been able to land a number of customers, including GitHub, although it wouldn’t disclose total numbers. When it launches, the company will charge a subscription fee, but Sears and Goldman have not disclosed the pricing yet.
One of Rewatch’s competitors is Google Drive, which has lagged in creativity around storing and structuring video content. The startup competes with the tool by adding more search-friendly features for video like live transcriptions. Other competitors include Berlin-based Acapela, which is working on asynchronous meetings, and Storyboard, a podcast company that helps directors publish on-demand audio content to their stakeholders. Both companies have recently raised millions of dollars.
While innovation around how meetings are held certainly feels important, Rewatch and others are betting that employees will turn to these content repositories on a semi-often basis and engage with them in a meaningful way. But how many of us watch the standup we missed while on vacation? The business is contingent on that singular consumer habit.
This reality doesn’t mean innovation isn’t welcome. It just means that a huge shift in consumer habits needs to change in order for this startup, and many others, to be successful. And that too-early-to-know reality makes the fact that investors have put millions into the startup even more compelling.
Rewatch has convinced a number investors on its vision. The startup tells TechCrunch that it has raised a $ 2 million pre-seed round led by Semil Shah at Haystack with participation from Kent Goldman at Upside Partnership. Other investors include Gumroad CEO Sahil Lavingia, GitHub CTO Jason Warner and SVP of Zendesk Jason Smeale.
It’s no surprise that we’re all on the lookout for video conferencing and meeting platforms that can allow us to connect better. Screen fatigue is setting in, and virtual connections are becoming tiring in both professional and personal environments. Throughout the hard lockdown in spring, the word ‘Zoom’ became synonymous with ‘meeting online’, but that’s…
The post 5 European video conference startups on a mission to beat Zoom first appeared on EU-Startups.
Tech companies that go public capture our imagination because they are literal happy endings. An Initial Public Offering is the promised land for startup pilgrims who may wander the desert for years seeking product-market fit. After all, the “I” in “ISO” stands for “incentive.”
A flurry of new S-1s in a single week forced me to rearrange our editorial calendar, but I didn’t mind; our 360-degree coverage let some of the air out of various hype balloons and uncovered several unique angles.
For example: I was familiar with Affirm, the service that lets consumers finance purchases, but I had no idea Peloton accounted for 30% of its total revenue in the last quarter.
“What happens if Peloton puts on the brakes?” I asked Alex Wilhelm as I edited his breakdown of Affirm’s S-1. We decided to use that as the subhead for his analysis.
The stories that follow are an overview of Extra Crunch from the last five days. Full articles are only available to members, but you can use discount code ECFriday to save 20% off a one or two-year subscription. Details here.
Thank you very much for reading Extra Crunch this week; I hope you have a relaxing weekend.
Senior Editor, TechCrunch
What is Roblox worth?
Gaming company Roblox filed to go public yesterday afternoon, so Alex Wilhelm brought out a scalpel and dissected its S-1. Using his patented mathmagic, he analyzed Roblox’s fundraising history and reported revenue to estimate where its valuation might land.
Noting that “the public markets appear to be even more risk-on than the private world in 2020,” Alex pegged the number at “just a hair under $ 10 billion.”
What China’s fintech can teach the world
For all the hype about new forms of payment, the way I transact hasn’t been radically transformed in recent years — even in tech-centric San Francisco.
Sure, I use NFC card readers to tap and pay and tipped a street musician using Venmo last weekend. But my landlord still demands paper checks and there’s a tattered “CASH ONLY” taped to the register at my closest coffee shop.
In China, it’s a different story: Alibaba’s employee cafeteria uses facial recognition and AI to determine which foods a worker has selected and who to charge. Many consumers there use the same app to pay for utility bills, movie tickets and hamburgers.
“Today, nobody except Chinese people outside of China uses Alipay or WeChat Pay to pay for anything,” says finance researcher Martin Chorzempa. “So that’s a big unexplored side that I think is going to come into a lot of geopolitical risks.”
Inside Affirm’s IPO filing: A look at its economics, profits and revenue concentration
Consumer lending service Affirm filed to go public on Wednesday evening, so Alex used Thursday’s column to unpack the company’s financials.
After reviewing Affirm’s profitability, revenue and the impact of COVID-19 on its bottom line, he asked (and answered) three questions:
- What does Affirm’s loss rate on consumer loans look like?
- Are its gross margins improving?
- What does the unicorn have to say about contribution profit from its loans business?
If you didn’t make $ 1B this week, you are not doing VC right
“The only thing more rare than a unicorn is an exited unicorn,” observes Managing Editor Danny Crichton, who looked back at Exitpalooza 2020 to answer “a simple question — who made the money?”
Covering each exit from the perspective of founders and investors, Danny makes it clear who’ll take home the largest slice of each pie. TL;DR? “Some really colossal winners among founders, and several venture firms walking home with billions of dollars in capital.
5 questions from Airbnb’s IPO filing
The S-1 Airbnb released at the start of the week provided insight into the home-rental platform’s core financials, but it also raised several questions about the company’s health and long-term viability, according to Alex Wilhelm:
- How far did Airbnb’s bookings fall during Q1 and Q2?
- How far have Airbnb’s bookings come back since?
- Did local, long-term stays save Airbnb?
- Has Airbnb ever really made money?
- Is the company wealthy despite the pandemic?
Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost explains the strategy behind acquiring Spacemaker
Earlier this week, Autodesk announced its purchase of Spacemaker, a Norwegian firm that develops AI-supported software for urban development.
TechCrunch reporter Steve O’Hear interviewed Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost to learn more about the acquisition and asked why Autodesk paid $ 240 million for Spacemaker’s 115-person team and IP — especially when there were other startups closer to its Bay Area HQ.
“They’ve built a real, practical, usable application that helps a segment of our population use machine learning to really create better outcomes in a critical area, which is urban redevelopment and development,” said Anagnost.
“So it’s totally aligned with what we’re trying to do.”
Unpacking the C3.ai IPO filing
On Monday, Alex dove into the IPO filing for enterprise artificial intelligence company C3.ai.
After poring over its ownership structure, service offerings and its last two years of revenue, he asks and answers the question: “is the business itself any damn good?”
Is the internet advertising economy about to implode?
In his new book, “Subprime Attention Crisis,” writer/researcher Tim Hwang attempts to answer a question I’ve wondered about for years: does advertising actually work?
Managing Editor Danny Crichton interviewed Hwang to learn more about his thesis that there are parallels between today’s ad industry and the subprime mortgage crisis that helped spur the Great Recession.
So, are online ads effective?
“I think the companies are very reticent to give up the data that would allow you to find a really definitive answer to that question,” says Hwang.
Will Zoom Apps be the next hot startup platform?
Even after much of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19, we will still be using Zoom’s video-conferencing platform in great numbers.
That’s because Zoom isn’t just an app: it’s also a platform play for startups that add functionality using APIs, an SDK or chatbots that behave like smart assistants.
Enterprise reporter Ron Miller spoke to entrepreneurs and investors who are leveraging Zoom’s platform to build new applications with an eye on the future.
“By offering a platform to build applications that take advantage of the meeting software, it’s possible it could be a valuable new ecosystem for startups,” says Ron.
Will edtech empower or erase the need for higher education?
Without an on-campus experience, many students (and their parents) are wondering how much value there is in attending classes via a laptop in a dormitory.
Even worse: Declining enrollment is leading many institutions to eliminate majors and find other ways to cut costs, like furloughing staff and cutting athletic programs.
Edtech solutions could fill the gap, but there’s no real consensus in higher education over which tools work best. Many colleges and universities are using a number of “third-party solutions to keep operations afloat,” reports Natasha Mascarenhas.
“It’s a stress test that could lead to a reckoning among edtech startups.”
3 growth tactics that helped us surpass Noom and Weight Watchers
I look for guest-written Extra Crunch stories that will help other entrepreneurs be more successful, which is why I routinely turn down submissions that seem overly promotional.
However, Henrik Torstensson (CEO and co-founder of Lifesum) submitted a post about the techniques he’s used to scale his nutrition app over the last three years. “It’s a strategy any startup can use, regardless of size or budget,” he writes.
According to Sensor Tower, Lifesum is growing almost twice as fast as Noon and Weight Watchers, so putting his company at the center of the story made sense.
Send in reviews of your favorite books for TechCrunch!
Every year, we ask TechCrunch reporters, VCs and our Extra Crunch readers to recommend their favorite books.
Have you read a book this year that you want to recommend? Send an email with the title and a brief explanation of why you enjoyed it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ll compile the suggestions and publish the list as we get closer to the holidays. These books don’t have to be published this calendar year — any book you read this year qualifies.
Please share your submissions by November 30.
Dear Sophie: Can an H-1B co-founder own a Delaware C Corp?
My VC partner and I are working with 50/50 co-founders on their startup — let’s call it “NewCo.” We’re exploring pre-seed terms.
One founder is on a green card and already works there. The other founder is from India and is working on an H-1B at a large tech company.
Can the H-1B co-founder lead this company? What’s the timing to get everything squared away? If we make the investment we want them to hit the ground running.
— Diligent in Daly City
When Zoom announced Zapps last month — the name has since been wisely changed to Zoom Apps — VC Twitter immediately began speculating that Zoom could make the leap from successful video conferencing service to becoming a launching pad for startup innovation. It certainly caught the attention of former TechCrunch writer and current investor at Signal Fire Josh Constine, who tweeted that “Zoom’s new ‘Zapps’ app platform will crush or king-make lots of startups.”
As Zoom usage exploded during the pandemic and it became a key tool for business and education, the idea of using a video conferencing platform to build a set of adjacent tooling makes a lot of sense. While the pandemic will come to an end, we have learned enough about remote work that the need for tools like Zoom will remain long after we get the all-clear to return to schools and offices.
We are already seeing promising startups like Mmhmm, Docket and ClassEdu built with Zoom in mind, and these companies are garnering investor attention. In fact, some investors believe Zoom could be the next great startup ecosystem.
Moving beyond video conferencing
Salesforce paved the way for Zoom more than a decade ago when it opened up its platform to developers and later launched the AppExchange as a distribution channel. Both were revolutionary ideas at the time. Today we are seeing Zoom building on that.
Jim Scheinman, founding managing partner at Maven Ventures and an early Zoom investor (who is credited with naming the company) says he always saw the service as potentially a platform play. “I’ve been saying publicly, before anyone realized it, that Zoom is the next great open platform on which to build billion-dollar businesses,” Scheinman told me.
He says he talked with Zoom leadership about opening up the platform to external developers several years ago before the IPO. It wasn’t really a priority at that point, but COVID-19 pushed the idea to the forefront. “Post-IPO and COVID, with the massive growth of Zoom on both the enterprise and consumer side, it became very clear that an app marketplace is now a critical growth area for Zoom, which creates a huge opportunity for nascent startups to scale,” he said.
Jason Green, founder and managing director at Emergence Capital (another early investor in Zoom and Salesforce) agreed: “Zoom believes that adding capabilities to the core Zoom platform to make it more functional for specific use cases is an opportunity to build an ecosystem of partners similar to what Salesforce did with AppExchange in the past.”
Building the platform
Before a platform can succeed with developers, it requires a critical mass of users, a bar that Zoom has clearly passed. It also needs a set of developer tools to connect to the various services on the platform. Then the substantial user base acts as a ready market for the startup. Finally, it requires a way to distribute those creations in a marketplace.
Zoom has been working on the developer components and brought in industry veteran Ross Mayfield, who has been part of two collaboration startups in his career, to run the developer program. He says that the Zoom Apps development toolset has been designed with flexibility to allow developers to build applications the way that they want.
For starters, Zoom has created WebViews, a way to embed functionality into an application like Zoom. To build WebViews in Zoom, the company created a JS Kit, which in combination with existing Zoom APIs enables developers to build functionality inside the Zoom experience. “So we’re giving developers a lot of flexibility in what experience they create with WebViews plus using our very rich set of API’s that are part of the existing platform and creating some new API’s to create the experience,” he said.
Stock markets worldwide are soaring on news that a vaccine candidate is 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, and could start coming to market in a matter of months. This is upending the stock market, sending futures shares shooting higher in pre-market trading. But while the euphoria is helping sectors that have taken punishment during COVID-19, not all companies are catching the same updraft.
Indeed, while shares of airlines and cruise companies are coming up like Lazarus, the value of some formerly-favored concerns like Zoom and Peloton are down sharply this morning.
The value of Peloton, which saw its value skyrocket as stuck-at-home exercisers favored its equipment, is off nearly 13%. And the value of Zoom, a popular video chatting service used by companies, is also down 13%. Online retailers are also taking hit including Etsy and Wayfair, which are seeing double digit drops. Even Amazon is down in pre-market trading, off 2.3% its latest close.
The morning is an odd inversion of prior trends. While the summer saw tech shares enjoy investor favor, it now appears that money is leaving tech shares for other, perhaps less-pricey stocks.
While it is too soon to know, it could that software stocks (the SaaS, cloud bucket TechCrunch pays close attention to) are about to see their multiples clipped as investors move their cash to a now-widened set of growth investments. If that happens, the technology industry would have to adapt to less-exuberant valuations for its public companies.
Any such move would impact startups, especially those in the later-stages that see their valuations track the public markets somewhat; late-stage startup investment has been active this year as investors could see liquidity options via IPOs and other mechanisms at high prices. If those prices drop, capital could tighten for tech startups.
Of course, it’s early. Things can, and may change. Investors could be trading too aggressively on what really is news that will take months to impact real economic activity. Today, however, feels like a new chapter in the 2020 markets story.
In today’s episode of Innovating India, we spoke to the Founder & CEO of Zoom Car, Greg Moran.
Read more here.
The post [Zoomcar in The India Today] Innovating India: The Story of Zoom Car appeared first on OurCrowd Blog.