Q1 Round-up: Portfolio companies in the news
By Angela, April 19, 2016
In the past, we typically wait until the end of the year to recap what’s happened here at V1. But with a group of incredible startups doing great things, we’re determined to provide more frequent updates.
If you’re not already familiar with the startups and founders making up the V1 portfolio, here’s a summary of some of this quarter’s news clippings. Keep in mind that these are just the things that have been announced publicly; there’s been a lot of cool stuff happening behind the scenes too.
Funding and Follow-ons
This past quarter, three of our portfolio companies closed funding rounds (we participated in all three):
First, Booster Fuels raised a $9 million Series A from Maveron, Madrona Venture group, RRE Ventures, and V1. Booster partners with large businesses to offer on-demand gas fill-ups on their corporate parking lots. We don’t always like defining companies as the “Uber for X,” but if you think of Booster as the “Uber for gas,” you’ll get a good sense of what they do.
There’s a lot of hassle involved with stopping at a gas station: looking for a station that’s on the same side of the road, waiting for an open fuel pump, getting out of the car, worrying about safety and cleanliness, etc. That’s why we believe there’s such a strong opportunity here: with Booster, you can park your car at work, request a fill-up on their app, and when you’re done for the day, your car is ready to go with a full tank.
In other funding news, Front Desk raised a $3.5 million round from existing investors: Floodgate, Second Avenue Partners, V1, and Rich Barton. Front Desk is powering the personal services economy, helping providers manage their scheduling, payments, and admin from their mobile device. Whether you’re an owner of a gym or music school, Front Desk offers an easy way to keep track of your weekly appointments and billing. There are around five million businesses in the U.S. that sell personal services, so there’s a lot of potential here.
And, Mattermark closed its Series B round, with $7.3 million from Foundry Group and Jon Hallet, with participation from existing investors. CEO Danielle Morrill wrote a fantastic synopsis of Mattermark’s journey, from shutting down Referly and restarting as Mattermark to launching with a 12-week old prototype, raising their Series A, and evolving into a full sales intelligence platform. She’s always a tough writer to try to follow, so we’ll just point you to her own words and story. There’s a powerful message for any of you who are currently experiencing the lower points in your own journey.
Portfolio companies in the news
Beyond funding announcements, several portfolio companies made the news this quarter. Frank & Oak is opening three different stores: a Surplus store in Quebec City and two new concept boutiques in Laval and Toronto. The Frank & Oak experience will be front and center, for example, a bar and area dedicated to Frank & Oak’s personal styling services, a barbershop, and lounge/coffee area.
Shippo integrated with USPS ePostage, making them one of only a few public APIs for purchasing US postage online. If you’re not familiar with Shippo, they’re a shipping API for ecommerce platforms and stores: stores can check rates across multiple carriers, get discounted shipping labels, track parcels, etc.
In January, HandUp announced a very important milestone: they raised $1 million in donations from 3,375 donors. HandUp launched as a way to give directly to homeless people to meet important needs not covered by the basic system of care. In many cases, these needs are critical to escaping homelessness.
And, Outreach, a sales automation tool for SMB and enterprise organizations, was recognized as the top-ranked sales automation/acceleration software by Ambition Sales.
In February, Talentbuddy was acquired by Udemy, an online learning and teaching marketplace headquartered in San Francisco. This is Udemy’s first acquisition and marks an important milestone toward accelerating the integration of coding exercises and strengthening the experiential learning capabilities for their 10 million+ students. Talentbuddy founders, Octav Druta and Andrei Soare, joined on as Udemy employees.
Our new investments and refined investment thesis
We welcomed two new companies to our portfolio in Q1; both will be announced at a later date but fall into the themes we have been exciting about: AI/ML/bots and vertical social networks.
Earlier this year, we published a more focused investment thesis: we like to invest in businesses with potentially large network effects built around people and/or data.
Network effects can provide a long-lasting competitive advantage and be very capital-efficient. Connecting people and data over the web and mobile also creates something that wasn’t possible before – the end result is new and unique, not just something faster, cheaper, or better.
Moving forward, we’re excited to meet great founders working on interesting ideas that leverage strong network effects – whether that’s on a marketplace, social, SaaS, or big data platform.