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Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkofsky just raised another $200 million for his newest company, Tempus

Posted by on May 31, 2019 in Baillie Gifford, Biotech, drug development, eric lefkofsky, Groupon, Recent Funding, Revolution Growth, Science, Startups, TC, Tempus | 0 comments

When serial entrepreneur Eric Lefkofsky grows a company, he puts the pedal to the metal. When in 2011 his last company, the Chicago-based coupons site Groupon, raised $950 million from investors, it was the largest amount raised by a startup ever. It was just over three years old at the time, and it went public later that same year.

Lefkofsky seems to be stealing a page from the same playbook for his newest company, Tempus. The Chicago-based genomic testing and data analysis company was founded a little more than three years ago, yet it has already hired nearly 700 employees and raised more than $500 million — including through a new $200 million round that values the company at $3.1 billion.

According to the Chicago Tribune, that new valuation makes it — as Groupon once was — one of Chicago’s most highly valued privately held companies.

So why all the fuss? As the Tribune explains it, Tempus has built a platform to collect, structure and analyze the clinical data that’s often unorganized in electronic medical record systems. The company also generates genomic data by sequencing patient DNA and other information in its lab.

The goal is to help doctors create customized treatments for each individual patient, Lefkofsky tells the paper.

So far, it has partnered with numerous cancer treatment centers that are apparently giving Tempus human data from which to learn. Tempus is also seemingly generating data “in vitro,” as is another company we featured recently called Insitro, a drug development startup founded by famed AI researcher Daphne Koller. With Insitro, it is working on a liver disease treatment owing to a tie-up with Gilead, which has amassed related human data over the years from which Insitro can use to learn. As a complementary data source, Insitro is trying to learn what the disease does in a “dish,” then determine if it can use what it observes using machine learning to predict what it sees in people.

While’s Tempus genomic testing is centered on cancers for now, Lefkofsky already says that Tempus wants to expand into diabetes and depression, too.

In the meantime, he tells Crain’s Chicago Business that Tempus is already generating “significant” revenue. “Our oldest partners, have, in most cases, now expanded to different subgroups (of cancer). What we’re doing is working.”

Investors in the latest round include Baillie Gifford; Revolution Growth; New Enterprise Associates; funds and accounts managed by T. Rowe Price; Novo Holdings; and the investment management company Franklin Templeton.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Tealium, a big data platform for structuring disparate customer information, raises $55M at $850M valuation

Posted by on May 15, 2019 in big data, Enterprise, Recent Funding, silver lake waterman, Startups, Tealium | 0 comments

The average enterprise today uses about 90 different software packages, with between 30-40 of them touching customers directly or indirectly. The data that comes out of those systems can prove to be very useful — to help other systems and employees work more intelligently, to help companies make better business decisions — but only if it’s put in order: now, a startup called Tealium, which has built a system precisely to do just that and works with the likes of Facebook and IBM to help manage their customer data, has raised a big round of funding to continue building out the services it provides.

Today, it is announcing a $55 million round of funding — a Series F led by Silver Lake Waterman, the firm’s late-stage capital growth fund; with ABN AMRO, Bain Capital, Declaration Partners, Georgian Partners, Industry Ventures, Parkwood and Presidio Ventures also participating.

Jeff Lunsford, Tealium’s CEO, said the company is not disclosing valuation, but he did say that it was “substantially” higher than when the company was last priced three years ago. That valuation was $305 million in 2016, according to PitchBook — a figure Lunsford didn’t dispute when I spoke with him about it, and a source close to the company says it is “more than double” this last valuation, and actually around $850 million.

He added that the company is close to profitability and is projected to make $100 million in revenues this year, and that this is being considered the company’s “final round” — presumably a sign that it will either no longer need external funding and that if it does, the next step might be either getting acquired or going public.

This brings the total raised by Tealium to $160 million.

The company’s rise over the last eight years has dovetailed with the rapid growth of big data. The movement of services to digital platforms has resulted in a sea of information. Much of that largely sits untapped, but those who are able to bring it to order can reap the rewards by gaining better insights into their organizations.

Tealium had its beginnings in amassing and ordering tags from internet traffic to help optimise marketing and so on — a business where it competes with the likes of Google and Adobe.

Over time, it has expanded and capitalised to a much wider set of data sources that range well beyond web and commerce, and one use of the funding will be to continue expanding those data sources, and also how they are used, with an emphasis on using more AI, Lunsford said.

“There are new areas that touch customers like smart home and smart office hardware, and each requires a step up in integration for a company like us,” he said. “Then once you have it all centralised you could feed machine learning algorithms to have tighter predictions.”

That vast potential is one reason for the investor interest.

“Tealium enables enterprises to solve the customer data fragmentation problem by integrating and enriching data across sources, in real-time, to create audiences while providing data governance and fidelity,” said Shawn O’Neill, managing director of Silver Lake Waterman, in a statement. “Jeff and his team have built a great platform and we are excited to support the company’s continued growth and investment in innovation.”

The rapid growth of digital services has already seen the company getting a big boost in terms of the data that is passing through its cloud-based platform: it has had a 300% year-over-year increase in visitor profiles created, with current tech customers including the likes of Facebook, IBM, Visa and others from across a variety of sectors, such as healthcare, finance and more.

“You’d be surprised how many big tech companies use Tealium,” Lunsford said. “Even they have a limited amount of bandwidth when it comes to developing their internal platforms.”

People like to say that “data is the new oil,” but these days that expression has taken on perhaps an unintended meaning: just like the overconsumption of oil and fossil fuels in general is viewed as detrimental to the long-term health of our planet, the overconsumption of data has also become a very problematic spectre in our very pervasive world of tech.

Governments — the European Union being one notable example — are taking up the challenge of that latter issue with new regulations, specifically GDPR. Interestingly, Lunsford says this has been a good thing rather than a bad thing for his company, as it gives a much clearer directive to companies about what they can use, and how it can be used.

“They want to follow the law,” he said of their clients, “and we give them the data freedom and control to do that.” It’s not the only company tackling the business opportunity of being a big-data repository at a time when data misuse is being scrutinised more than ever: InCountry, which launched weeks ago, is also banking on this gap in the market.

I’d argue that this could potentially be one more reason why Tealium is keen on expanding to areas like IoT and other sources of customer information: just like the sea, the pool of data that’s there for the tapping is nearly limitless.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Acting as the data integrator between hospitals and digital health apps brings Redox $33 million

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in 406 ventures, battery ventures, digital services, fitbit, healthcare, healthcare industry, Invitae, Microsoft, Recent Funding, Redox, ResMed, RRE Ventures, Startups, TC, Technology, UCSF, University of Pennsylvania | 0 comments

Investors have forked over $33 million in a new round of funding for Redox, hoping that the company can execute on its bid to serve as the link between healthcare providers and the technology companies bringing new digital services to market.

The financing comes just two months after Redox sealed a deal with Microsoft to act as the integration partner connecting Microsoft’s Teams product to electronic health records through the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard.

Redox sits at a critically important crossroads in the modern healthcare industry. Its founder, a former employee at the electronic health record software provider Epic, knows more than most about the central position that data occupies in U.S. healthcare at the moment.

What we’re doing, we’re building the platform and connector to help health systems integrate with technologies in the cloud,” says chief executive, Luke Bonney. 

Bonney served as a team lead in various divisions at Epic before launching Redox, and the Madison, Wis.-based company was crafted with the challenges other vendors faced when trying to integrate with legacy systems like the health record provider.

“The fundamental problem is helping a large health system use a third-party tool that they want to use,” says Bonney. And the biggest obstacle, he said, is finding a way to organize into a format that application developers can work with the data coming from healthcare providers. 

Investors including RRE Ventures, Intermountain Ventures and .406 Ventures joined new investor Battery Ventures in financing the $33 million round. As part of the deal, Battery Ventures general partner Chelsea Stoner will take a seat on the company’s board.

Application developers pay for the number of integrations they have with a health system, and Redox enables them to connect through a standard application programming interface, according to the company. 

Its approach allows secure messaging across any format associated with an organization’s electronic health record (EHR), the company said. 

Redox works with more than 450 healthcare providers and hundreds of application developers, the company said.

High-profile healthcare networks that work with the company include AdventHealth, Atrium Health, Brigham & Women’s, Clarify Health, Cleveland Clinic, Geisinger, HCA, Healthgrades, Intermountain Healthcare, Invitae, Fitbit, Memorial Sloan Kettering, Microsoft, Ochsner, OSF HealthCare, PointClickCare, R1, ResMed, Stryker, UCSF, University of Pennsylvania and WellStar.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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NuvoAir raises $3M to help patients monitor respiratory diseases with AI

Posted by on Apr 17, 2019 in Europe, Health, Industrifonden, NuvoAir, Recent Funding, Startups, TC | 0 comments

With air quality not improving any time soon (hello pollution!), respiratory conditions are on the rise. This has created an opportunity for startups to employ smartphones to monitor respiratory diseases with apps and smart devices.

ResApp’s smartphone app, called ResAppDx, diagnoses a wide range of respiratory illnesses accurately by using cough sounds. Healthymize listens for signals of COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) when you make calls.

NuvoAir is a new digital therapeutics startup that is also tackling this problem. It has now closed a financing round of $3 million led by venture capital firm Industrifonden, one of the largest life science and tech investors in the Nordics. The round also saw participation from existing investor Investment AB Spiltan.

Aria, NuvoAir’s digital therapeutics software, sends a patient personalized care suggestions based their condition.

NuvoAir aims to make respiratory diseases measurable and more treatable. Established in 2015, NuvoAir launched a smartphone-connected “spirometer,” making real-time lung function assessment possible at home. It has now collected more than 500,000 spirometry tests in the last three years. These tests power its machine learning algorithms to provide insights to patients, their physicians and pharma companies.

Lorenzo Consoli, CEO of NuvoAir, said, “This investment and partnership can significantly advance our focus on digital therapeutics and bring to market new smart devices to help patients manage their condition while improving physicians’ clinical decisions.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Kindbody raises $15M, will open a ‘Fertility Bus’ with mobile testing & assessments

Posted by on Apr 16, 2019 in articles, Entrepreneur, fertility, Health, infertility, IVF, Kindbody, Los Angeles, manhattan, New York City, Perceptive Advisors, Recent Funding, right, RRE Ventures, San Francisco, social network, Startups, TC, TrailMix Ventures, ultrasound, United States, Venture Capital, winklevoss capital | 0 comments

Kindbody, a startup that lures millennial women into its pop-up fertility clinics with feminist messaging and attractive branding, has raised a $15 million Series A in a round co-led by RRE Ventures and Perceptive Advisors.

The New York-based company was founded last year by Gina Bartasi, a fertility industry vet who previously launched Progyny, a fertility benefit solution for employers, and FertilityAuthority.com, an information platform and social network for people struggling with fertility.

“We want to increase accessibility,” Bartasi told TechCrunch. “For too long, IVF and fertility treatments were for the 1 percent. We want to make fertility treatment affordable and accessible and available to all regardless of ethnicity and social economic status.”

Kindbody operates a fleet of vans — mobile clinics, rather — where women receive a free blood test for the anti-Müllerian hormone (AMH), which helps assess their ovarian egg reserve but cannot conclusively determine a woman’s fertility. Depending on the results of the test, Kindbody advises women to visit its brick-and-mortar clinic in Manhattan, where they can receive a full fertility assessment for $250. Ultimately, the mobile clinics serve as a marketing strategy for Kindbody’s core service: egg freezing.

Kindbody charges patients $6,000 per egg-freezing cycle, a price that doesn’t include the cost of necessary medications but is still significantly less than market averages.

Bartasi said the mobile clinics have been “wildly popular,” attracting hoards of women to its brick-and-mortar clinic. As a result, Kindbody plans to launch a “fertility bus” this spring, where the company will conduct full fertility assessments, including the test for AMH, a pelvic ultrasound and a full consultation with a fertility specialist.

In other words, Kindbody will offer all components of the egg-freezing process on a bus aside from the actual retrieval, which occurs in Kindbody’s lab. The bus will travel around New York City before heading west to San Francisco, where it plans to park on the campuses of large employers, catering to tech employees curious about their fertility.

“Our mission at Kindbody is to bring care directly to the patient instead of asking the patient to come to visit us and inconvenience them,” Bartasi said.

A sneak peek of Kindbody’s “fertility bus,” which is still in the works

Kindbody, which has raised $22 million to date from Green D Ventures, Trailmix Ventures, Winklevoss Capital, Chelsea Clinton, Clover Health co-founder Vivek Garipalli and others, also provides women support getting pregnant with in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and intrauterine insemination (IUI). 

With the latest investment, Kindbody will open a second brick-and-mortar clinic in Manhattan and its first permanent clinic in San Francisco. Additionally, Bartasi says they are in the process of closing an acquisition in Los Angeles that will result in Kindbody’s first permanent clinic in the city. Soon, the company will expand to include mental health, nutrition and gynecological services.

In an interview with The Verge last year, Bartasi said she’s taken inspiration from SoulCycle and DryBar, companies whose millennial-focused branding strategies and prolific social media presences have helped them accumulate customers. Kindbody, in that vein, notifies its followers of new pop-up clinics through its Instagram page.

In the article, The Verge called Kindbody “the SoulCycle of fertility” and questioned its branding strategy and its claim that egg freezing “freezes time.” After all, there is limited research confirming the efficacy of egg freezing.

“The technology that allows for egg-freezing has only been widely used in the last five to six years,” Bartasi explained. “The majority of women who froze their eggs haven’t used them yet. It’s not like you freeze your eggs in February and meet Mr. Right in June.”

Though Kindbody touts a mission of providing fertility treatments to the 99 percent, there’s no getting around the sky-high costs of the services, and one might argue that companies like Kindbody are capitalizing off women’s fear of infertility. Providing free AMH tests, which often falsely lead women to believe they aren’t as fertile as they’d hoped, might encourage more women to seek a full-fertility assessment and ultimately, to pay $6,000 to freeze their eggs, when in reality they are just as fertile as the average woman and not the ideal candidate for the difficult and uncomfortable process.

Bartasi said Kindbody makes all the options clear to its patients. She added that when she does hear accusations that services like Kindbody capitalize on fear of infertility, they tend to come from legacy programs and male fertility doctors: “They are a little rattled by some of the new entrants that look like the patients,” she said. “We are women designing for women. For far too long women’s health has been solved for by men.”

Kindbody’s pricing scheme may itself instill fear in incumbent fertility clinics. The startup’s egg-freezing services are much cheaper than market averages; its IVF services, however, are not. Not including the costs of medications necessary to successfully harvest eggs from the ovaries, the average cost of an egg-freezing procedure costs approximately $10,000, compared to Kindbody’s $6,000. Its IVF services are on par with other options in the market, costing $10,000 to $12,000 — not including medications — for one cycle of IVF.

Kindbody is able to charge less for egg freezing because they’ve cut out operational inefficiencies, i.e. they are a tech-enabled platform while many fertility clinics around the U.S. are still handing out hoards of paperwork and using fax machines. Bartasi admits, however, that this means Kindbody is making less money per patient than some of these legacy clinics.

“What is a reasonable profit margin for fertility doctors today?” Bartasi said. “Historically, margins have been very, very high, driven by a high retail price. But are these really high retail prices sustainable long term? If you’re charging 22,000 for IVF, how long is that sustainable? Our profit margins are healthy.”

Bartasi isn’t the only entrepreneur to catch on to the opportunity here, as I’ve noted. A whole bunch of women’s health startups have launched and secured funding recently.

Tia, for example, opened a clinic and launched an app that provides health advice and period tracking for women. Extend Fertility, which like Kindbody, helps women preserve their fertility through egg freezing, banked a $15 million round. And a startup called NextGen Jane, which is trying to detect endometriosis with “smart tampons,” announced a $9 million Series A a few weeks ago.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Linear Labs’ next-gen electric motor attracts $4.5 million in funding

Posted by on Mar 26, 2019 in Automotive, Brad Hunstable, Dynamic Signal, electric vehicle, faraday future, IBM, Kindred Ventures, Lucid Motors, Recent Funding, Russ Fradin, ryan graves, Startups, Transportation, Ustream | 0 comments

Linear Labs, a startup developing an electric motor for cars, scooters, robots, wind turbines and even HVAC systems, has raised $4.5 million in a seed round led by Science Inc. and Kindred Ventures. 

Investors Chris and Crystal Sacca, Ryan Graves of Saltwater Ventures, Dynamic Signal CEO Russ Fradin, Masergy executive chairman and former-CEO Chris MacFarland, as well as Ustream co-founder Gyula Feher also participated in the round. 

The four-year-old company was founded by Brad and Fred Hunstable, who say they have invented a lighter, more flexible electric motor. The pair came up with the motor they’ve dubbed the Hunstable Electric Turbine (HET) while working to design a device that could pump clean water and provide power for small communities in underdeveloped regions of the world. 

Linear Labs currently has 50 filed patents, 21 of which are issued, with 29 patents pending.

The founders come with a background in entrepreneurship and electrical engineering. Brad Hunstable is former CEO and founder of Ustream, the live-video-streaming service that sold to IBM in 2016 for $150 million. Fred Hunstable, who comes with a background in electrical engineering and nuclear power, led Ebasco and Walker Engineering’s efforts in designing, upgrading and completing electrical infrastructure, environmental and enterprise projects as well as safety and commercial-grade evaluation programs.

The HET uses multiple rotors that can adapt to varying conditions, according to the company. It also produces twice as much torque density and three times the power density than permanent magnet motors. Linear Labs says its motor produces two times the output per given motor size, and minimum 10 percent more range. 

The HET design makes it ideally suited for mobility applications such as electric vehicles because it produces high levels of torque without the need for a gearbox. This helps cut production cuts, the company contends. 

“The holy grail in electric motors has always been high torque and no gearbox, and the HET achieves both in a smaller, lighter and more efficient package that is more powerful than traditional motors,” Linear Labs CTO Fred Hunstable said in a statement.

The upshot could be electric vehicles with better range and more powerful electric scooters.

The commercialization of the electric motor will result in substantial leaps in terms of energy savings, reliability enhancement, and low-cost manufacturing, according to Babak Fahimi, founding director of the Renewable Energy and Vehicular Technology (REVT) Laboratory at the University of Texas at Dallas. 

The company plans to use the seed funding to market its invention to customers. It’s also hiring talent and recently added new people to its leadership team, including John Curry as their president and Jon Hurry as vice president. Curry comes from KLA-Tencor and NanoPhotonics. Hurry has held positions at Tesla and Faraday Future.


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Zeus raises $24M to make you a living-as-a-service landlord

Posted by on Mar 15, 2019 in 2nd Address, Airbnb, Apps, eCommerce, Finance, funding, Fundings & Exits, garry tan, initialized capital, Personnel, Real Estate, Recent Funding, Sonder, Startups, TC, Venture Capital, zeus | 0 comments

Cookie-cutter corporate housing turns people into worker drones. When an employee needs to move to a new city for a few months, they’re either stuck in bland, giant apartment complexes or Airbnbs meant for shorter stays. But Zeus lets any homeowner get paid to host white-collar transient labor. Through its managed ownership model, Zeus takes on all the furnishing, upkeep, and risk of filling the home while its landlords sit back earning cash.

Zeus has quietly risen to a $45 million revenue run rate from renting out 900 homes in 23 cities. That’s up 5X in a year thanks to Zeus’ 150 employees. With a 90 percent occupancy rate, it’s proven employers and their talent want more unique, trustworthy, well-equipped multi-month residences that actually make them feel at home.

Now while Airbnb is distracted with its upcoming IPO, Zeus has raised $24 million to steal the corporate housing market. That includes a previous $2.5 million seed round from Bowery, the new $11.5 million Series A led by Initialized Capital whose partner Garry Tan has joined Zeus’ board, and $10 million in debt to pay fixed costs like furniture. The plan is to roll up more homes, build better landlord portal software, and hammer out partnerships or in-house divisions for cleaning and furnishing.

“In the first decade out of school people used to have two jobs. Now it’s four jobs and it’s trending to five” says Zeus co-founder and CEO Kulveer Taggar. “We think in 10 years, these people won’t be buying furniture.” He imagines they’ll pay a premium for hand-holding in housing, which judging by the explosion in popularity of zero-friction on-demand services, seems like an accurate assessment of our lazy future. Meanwhile, Zeus aims to be “the quantum leap improvement in the experience of trying to rent out your home” where you just punch in your address plus some details and you’re cashing checks 10 days later.

Buying Mom A House Was Step 1

“When I sold my first startup, I bought a home for my mom in Vancouver” Taggar recalls. It was payback for when she let him remortgage her old house while he was in college to buy a condo in Mumbai he’d rent out to earn money. “Despite not having much growing up, my mom was a travel agent and we got to travel a lot” which Taggar says inspired his goal to live nomadically in homes around the world. Zeus could let other live that dream.

Zeus co-founder and CEO Kulveer Taggar

After Oxford and working as an analyst at Deutsche Bank, Taggar built student marketplace Boso before moving to the United States. There, he co-founded auction tool Auctomatic with his cousin Harjeet Taggar and future Stripe co-founder Patrick Collison, went through Y Combinator, and sold it to Live Current Media for $5 million just 10 months later. That gave him the runway to gift a home to his mom and start tinkering on new ideas.

With Y Combinator’s backing again, Taggar started NFC-triggered task launcher Tagstand, which pivoted into app settings configurer Agent, which pivoted into automatic location sharing app Status. But when his co-founder Joe Wong had to move an hour south from San Francisco to Palo Alto, Taggar was dumbfounded by how distracting the process was. Listing and securing a new tenant was difficult, as was finding a medium-term rental without having to deal with exhorbitant prices or sketchy Cragislist. Having seen his former co-founder go on to great success with Stripe’s dead-simple payments integration, Taggar wanted to combine that vision with OpenDoor’s easy home sales to making renting or renting out a place instantaneous. That spawned Zeus.

Stripe Meets OpenDoor To Beat Airbnb

To become a Zeus landlord, you just type in your address, how many bedrooms and bathrooms, and some aesthetic specs, and you get a monthly price quote for what you’ll be paid. Zeus comes in and does a 250-point quality assessment, collects floor plans, furnishes the property, and handles cleaning and maintenance. It works with partners like Helix mattresses, Parachute sheets, and Simple Human trash cans to get bulk rates. “We raised debt because we had these fixed investments into furniture. It’s not as dilutive as selling pure equity” Taggar explains.

Zeus quickly finds a tenant thanks to listings in Airbnb and relationships with employers like Darktrace and ZS Associates with lots of employees moving around. After passing background checks, tenants get digital lock codes and access to 24/7 support in case something doesn’t look right. The goal is to get someone sleeping there in just 10 days. “Traditional corporate housing is $10,000 a month in SF in the summer or at extended stay hotels. Airbnb isn’t well suited [for multi-month stays]. ” Taggar claims. “We’re about half the price of traditional corporate housing for a better product and a better experience.”

Zeus signs minimum two-year leases with landlords and tries to extend them to five years when possible. It gets one free month of rent as is standard for property managers, but doesn’t charge an additional rate. For example, Zeus might lease your home for $4,000 per month but gets the first month free, and rent it out for $5,000 so it earns $60,000 but pays you $44,000. That’s a tidy margin if Zeus can get homes filled fast and hold down its upkeep costs.

“Zeus has been instrumental for my company to start the process of re-location to the Bay Area and to host our visiting employees from abroad now that we are settled” writes Zeus client Meitre’s Luis Caviglia. “I particularly like the ‘hard truths’ featured in every property, and the support we have received when issues arose during our stays.”

At Home, Anywhere

There’s no shortage of competitors chasing this $18 billion market in the US alone. There are the old-school corporations and chains like Oakwood and Barbary Coast that typically rent out apartments from vast, generic complexes at steep rates. Stays over 30 days made up 15 percent of Airbnb’s business last year, but the platform wasn’t designed for peace-of-mind around long-term stays. There are pure marketplaces like UrbanDoor that don’t always take care of everything for the landlord or provide consistent tenant experiences. And then there are direct competitors like $130 million-funded Sonder, $66 million-funded Domio, recently GV-backed 2nd Address, and European entants like MagicStay, AtHomeHotel, and Homelike.

Zeus’ property unit growth

There’s plenty of pie, though. With 330,000 housing units in SF alone, Zeus has plenty of room to grow. The rise of remote work means companies whose employee typically didn’t relocate may now need to bring in distant workers for a multi-month sprint. A recession could make companies more expense-cautious, leading them to rethink putting up staffers in hotels for months on end. Regulatory red tape and taxes could scare landlords away from short-term rentals and towards coprorate housing. And the need to expand into new businesses could tempt the big vacation rental platforms like Airbnb to make acquisitions in the space — or try to crush Zeus.

Winners will be determined in part by who has the widest and cheapest selection of properties, but also by which makes people most comfortable in a new city. That’s why Taggar is taking a cue from WeWork by trying to arrange more community events for its tenants. Often in need of friends, Zeus could become a favorite by helping people feel part of a neighborhood rather than a faceless inmate in a massive apartment block or hotel. That gives Zeus network effect if it can develop density in top markets.

Taggar says the biggest challenge is that “I feels like I’m running five startups at once. Pricing, supply chain, customer service, B2B. We’ve decided to make everything custom — our own property manager software, our own internal CRM. We think these advantages compound, but I could be wrong and they could be wasted effort.”

The benefits of Zeus‘ success would go beyond the founder’s bank account. “I’ve had friends in New York get great opportuntiies in San Francisco but not take them because of the friction of moving” Taggar says. Routing talent where it belongs could get more things built. And easy housing might make people more apt to live abroad temporarily. Taggar concludes, “I think it’s a great way to build empathy.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Zone7 raises $2.5 million seed round to predict injury risk for athletes

Posted by on Feb 26, 2019 in Recent Funding, Sports, Startups, TC | 0 comments

Zone7, the company using data and analytics to identify the potential for injuries with athletes, has raised $2.5 million in seed funding.

The company monitors athletes’ performance to determine when they need to be rested to avoid the potential for career-threatening injuries.

The company’s technology has managed to attract investors including Resolute Ventures, UpWest, Amicus Capital, Dave Pell, PLG Ventures, along with athletes like National Basketball Association star Kristaps Porzingis.

Teams in the MLB, La Liga, Champions League, MLS, collegiate athletic departments and Olympic teams are all using the company’s technology, according to a statement.

“Getting injured is one of the worst experiences for any athlete,” said Porzingis, in a statement. “The technology behind Zone7 is extremely impressive and has the potential to change the landscape of sports forever.”

Zone7 uses pattern recognition based on an athlete’s past performance and medical history to determine what course of action is best for the player to ensure that they don’t get hurt. So far, the company says it has achieved a 95 percent accuracy rate when it comes to predicting injuries and reduced the potential for injuries by 75 percent, according to a statement.

“Injuries in professional sports cost billions annually, but in the era of big data it doesn’t have to be that way,” said Tal Brown, co-founder and CEO of Zone7. “Professional sports franchises have massive amounts of untapped health and performance data that, when unlocked by AI, can become one of a team’s most valuable assets. By better understanding every athlete’s breaking points and implementing personalized intervention plans to prevent injuries before they occur, teams no longer have to accept injuries as an inevitability.”

Founded by Tal Brown and Eyal Eliakim, two Israelis who served in the military’s elite technology division called the 8200, Zone7’s executive team has years of experience working with Salesforce on the development of its Einstein product and with professional soccer franchises in Israel.

“Professional sports is, for the most part, slow to embrace medical and performance data, and as such, this has historically been a difficult target market to break into. Tal and Eyal have built a compelling product that is making teams stand up and take notice. It’s literally a game changer,” said Raanan Bar-Cohen, general partner at Resolute Ventures, in a statement. “The fact that Zone7 is the first company to show injuries can be avoided by using artificial intelligence, makes us extremely excited to partner with the Zone7 team.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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Polis, the door-to-door marketer, raises another $2.5 million

Posted by on Feb 26, 2019 in Alexis Ohanian, api, boston, Business, digital advertising, distribution, garry tan, initialized capital, Marketing, NRG Energy, polis, Recent Funding, sales, Semil Shah, Startups, targeted advertising, TC, texas | 0 comments

Polis founder Kendall Tucker began her professional life as a campaign organizer in local Democratic politics, but — seeing an opportunity in her one-on-one conversations with everyday folks — has built a business taking that shoe leather approach to political campaigns to the business world.

Now the company she founded to test her thesis that Americans would welcome back the return of the door-to-door salesperson three years ago is $2.5 million richer thanks to a new round of financing from Initialized Capital (the fund founded by Garry Tan and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian) and Semil Shah’s Haystack.vc.

The Boston-based company currently straddles the line between political organizing tool and new marketing platform — a situation that even its founder admits is tenuous at the moment.

That tension is only exacerbated by the fact that the company is coming off one of its biggest political campaign seasons. Helping to power the get-out-the-vote initiative for Senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Polis’ software managed the campaign’s outreach effort to 3 million voters across the state.

However, politically focused software and services businesses are risky. Earlier this year the Sean Parker-backed Brigade shut down and there are rumblings that other startups targeting political action may follow suit.

“Essentially, we got really excited about going into the corporate space because online has gotten so nasty,” says Tucker. “And, at the end of the day, digital advertising isn’t as effective as it once was.”

Customer acquisition costs in the digital ad space are rising. For companies like NRG Energy and Inspire Energy (both Polis clients), the cost of acquisitions online can be as much as $300 per person.

Polis helps identify which doors for salespeople to target and works with companies to identify the scripts that are most persuasive for consumers, according to Tucker. The company also monitors for sales success and helps manage the process so customers aren’t getting too many house calls from persistent sales people.

“We do everything through the conversation at the door,” says Tucker. “We do targeting and we do script curation (everything from what script do you use and when do you branch out of scripts) and we have an open API so they can push that out and they run with it through the rest of their marketing.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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With a $3.5 million haul, Dray Alliance joins a booming logistics startup scene in LA

Posted by on Feb 25, 2019 in cargo, Craft Ventures, Dray Alliance, Logistics, long beach, Los Angeles, mattel, Recent Funding, Startups, TC, transport, Uber | 0 comments

With an angle on a long-neglected part of the shipping industry — the short-haul movement of cargo from docks to logistics centers — Dray Alliance is joining a growing startup scene for logistics businesses based in Los Angeles.

With some of the nation’s largest ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Southern California region is now fertile ground for businesses hoping to tackle what amounts to a trillion-dollar industry.

Companies like Shippabo, a provider of shipping tracking and logistics for international small cargo transport, and NEXT Trucking, which handles long-haul and short-haul trucking, have both launched in the Los Angeles area to tackle different areas of the shipping industry. And now Dray Alliance is joining them, trying to take a piece of the market transporting cargo from the docks to logistics centers.

The company has raised $3.5 million in seed funding from David Sacks’ Craft Ventures and has already signed contracts with the toy company Mattel and CMA CGM Group.

“Drayage is currently the most neglected area of the transit supply chain. The nuances of drayage create distinct challenges and opportunities that are quite different from other trucking segments such as FTL and LTL,” said Jeff Fluhr, general partner at Craft Ventures, in a statement. “Focus on drayage is what sets Dray Alliance apart. That focus, combined with deep industry expertise, technical skills, and entrepreneurial grit is why we believe this team will emerge as the leader in the sector.”

Founded by middle school friends Steve Wen, Hank Cui and Jason Yu, Dray Alliance leverages years of work that Yu and Wen had done as founders of their own trucking company. Cui was brought on board to start developing the technology product — which Wen says is exactly like an Uber for trucking.

Wen says the company has thousands of truckers who have signed up for the service — most of whom are now on a wait list as the company builds up supply before opening the floodgates on the demand side.

For every successful shipment, Dray Alliance takes 15 percent to 30 percent of the total cost of the shipment, which Wen acknowledged was a bit higher than the industry norm. The reason for that, he said, was because of the massive savings that shippers can realize.

Fines for late pickup on cargo can range from $100 to $1,000 per day. Working with Mattel, for instance, Dray Alliance was able to save the toy manufacturer nearly a quarter of a million dollars through its service.

“The drayage trucking industry still depends on emails and spreadsheets for its daily operations — leading to massive inefficiencies that result in lower earnings for truckers, less predictability in delivery times and 20-50 pefrcent increases in the drayage trucking cost of freight deliveries for shippers. This is not in the best interest of anyone involved,” said Steve Wen, CEO of Dray Alliance. “Dray Alliance wants to bring Uber-like airport pickup efficiency to the drayage industry by providing a seamless mobile experience, more predictability in delivery time and better economics for shippers, carriers and truckers.”


Source: The Tech Crunch

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