Startups Weekly: Diamond-encrusted disruption

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the flurry of IPO filings. Before that, I noted the differences between raising cash from angels vs. traditional venture capitalists. Remember, you can send …

Is Knotel poised to turn WeWork from a Unicorn into an Icarus?

The day of reckoning for the “flexible office space as a startup” is coming, and it’s coming up fast. WeWork’s IPO filing has fired the starting gun on the race to become the game-changer both in the future of property and real estate but also the future of how we live and work. As Churchill once said, “we shape our …

India exempts startups from long-standing ‘angel tax’

India today addressed a long-standing challenge that has been affecting the country’s booming startup ecosystem. As part of a raft of measures to boost overall economic growth from a five-year low, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said New Delhi is exempting startups from Section 56(2) — a provision more popularly known as an “angel tax” in the local income tax laws — that …

Verified Expert Growth Marketing Agency: Torch

CEO Jeremy OBriant never intended to create Torch, an agile growth marketing agency based in San Francisco. He started his career as a CPA, but after leading a growth team at Sidecar and running growth projects on his own, forming Torch was the most obvious thing to do. He now leads a team that implements “agile growth,” an iterative approach …

Tastemakers raises $1.4M to sell Africa experiences to the world

New York based startup Tastemakers has raised a $1.4 million seed-round—led Precursor Ventures—for its business that connects Africa adventures to global consumers. Tastemakers’ platform curates, prices, and lists African travel and cultural experiences—from paragliding tours to wine-tasting to concerts. The startup generates revenues by taking a 20% commission on each transaction. Community managers in Africa screen and select experiences that …

Workplace digital assistant startup Capacity raises $13.2M from Midwestern VCs

Solving information scatter inside enterprises seems to be the founding idea behind dozens of enterprise software startups. Capacity, which recently rebranded from Jane.ai, is raising new cash to tackle the issue with its corporate data search platform. The company just closed a $13.2 million Series B was funded entirely by Midwestern private investors and angels. The St. Louis workplace startup …

How do you build a secure startup? Find out at TechCrunch Disrupt SF

Security is everything — more so than ever in startup land. But with the constant pressures to launch and scale, how do you build a secure startup from the ground up without slowing growth? Whether you’re starting out small or you’re a multinational unicorn, your customers and their data will be your greatest asset. We’re excited to announce three cybersecurity …

Compete in Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019

Lasst die Spiele beginnen, startup founders — let the games begin! In case you haven’t heard, the application window for the Startup Battlefield at Disrupt Berlin 2019 is wide open and waiting for you. Don’t miss the chance to launch your early-stage startup on an international stage in front of some of tech’s most influential movers and shakers. Grab this …

ThredUp, whose second-hand goods will start appearing at Macy’s and JCPenney, just raised a bundle

ThredUp, the 10-year-old fashion resale marketplace, has a lot of big news to boast about lately. For starters, the company just closed on $100 million in fresh funding from an investor syndicate that includes Park West Asset Management, Irving Investors and earlier backers Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Upfront Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and Redpoint Ventures. The round brings ThredUP’s total …

Bring your posse to Disrupt SF 2019 with group discounts

Disrupt San Francisco 2019, our flagship event on October 2-4, features three full days of programming, more than 10,000 attendees, over 1,200 exhibiting startups and sponsors — and that’s just for starters. That’s a lot of ground to cover. Here’s a hot tip: take advantage of group discounts, saddle up and bring your whole posse to the show and squeeze …

African incubator MEST has a new MD and 11 fresh startup investments

Pan-African incubator MEST announced investments in 11 startups from its 2019 cohort that will each receive $100,000 in financing. The $1.1 million backing for a graduating class is the largest to date for the Accra-based organization — which operates as a training program and seed fund for African innovators to build successful commercial tech companies. By country presence and membership, …

Here are the 82 startups from day 2 of Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Days

Team TechCrunch was back for Day 2 of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Days where we heard from another massive chunk of startups that are taking disruption very seriously, even if they’re aiming to upend companies that only launched in Y Combinator a few classes ago. The total class of on-record Demo Days launches came to 166 startups, after 82 …

The 11 best startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

Y Combinator, the genesis for many of the companies that have shaped Silicon Valley including Airbnb, PagerDuty and Stripe, has minted another 200 some graduates. Half of those companies made their pitch to investors today during Day 1 of Y Combinator’s Summer 2019 Demo Day event and we’re here to tell you which startups are on the fast-track to the …

All 84 startups from Y Combinator’s S19 Demo Day 1

It’s that time of year, Silicon Valley’s investor technocrati and advice-giving Twitter celebrities descended upon Pier 48 in San Francisco to judge the latest summer batch of Y Combinator startups. TechCrunch was there, as well, and we were tapping away feverishly as co-founders pitched to woo investors. There are 197 companies in total in the summer YC batch, we heard …

Men’s personal care startup Huron raises $1M

Huron founder and CEO Matt Mullenax is hoping to build a big business around body wash. “For us, the broader mission is A+ personal care for guys everywhere — not just guys in New York or guys in the Bay Area or guys in Los Angeles,” he said. The startup has raised $1 million in seed funding from RXBAR founders …

‘Breaking Into Startups’: Torch CEO and Well Clinic founder Cameron Yarbrough on mental health & coaching

Chad M. Crabtree Contributor There has long been a stigma associated with therapy and mental health coaching, a stigma that is even more pronounced in the business world, despite considerable evidence of the efficacy of these services. One of the organizations that has set out to change this negative association is Torch, a startup that combines the therapeutic benefits of …

Startups Weekly: The mad dash to the public markets

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about the differences between raising cash from angels and traditional venture capitalists. Before that, I summarized DoorDash’s acquisition of Caviar. Remember, you can send …

How ‘ghost work’ in Silicon Valley pressures the workforce, with Mary Gray

The phrase “pull yourself up by your own bootstraps” was originally meant sarcastically. It’s not actually physically possible to do — especially while wearing Allbirds and having just fallen off a Bird scooter in downtown San Francisco, but I should get to my point. This week, Ken Cuccinelli, the acting Director of the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services Office, …

Lumineye helps first responders identify people through walls

Any first responder knows that situational awareness is key. In domestic violence disputes, hostage rescue or human trafficking situations, first responders often need help determining where humans are behind closed doors. That’s why Megan Lacy, Corbin Hennen and Rob Kleffner developed Lumineye, a 3D-printed radar device that uses signal analysis software to differentiate moving and breathing humans from other objects, …

Showcase your startup in Startup Alley at Disrupt SF 2019

What’s the lifeblood of any early-stage startup? Money and media coverage. Opportunities to acquire both abound at Disrupt San Francisco 2019, our flagship tech conference that takes place on October 2-4. It’s all about networking and making the right connections to make your startup dreams come true, and there’s no better networking mecca than Startup Alley. Buy a Startup Alley …

Startup ads are taking over the subway

But is transit still the best place to launch a direct-to-consumer brand? Anthony Ha @anthonyha / 7 hours If you’re a New Yorker, one of the easiest ways to keep up-to-date on the latest consumer products — furniture, beauty products, mobile apps, you name it — is to hop on the subway. Even before you board, you may find yourself …

SmileDirectClub files to go public amid concerns from dental associations

SmileDirectClub, the at-home teeth-straightening service, is on its way to becoming a public company. SmileDirectClub is seeking to raise up to $100 million in its IPO, according to its S-1 filed today. The number of shares and price range for the offering have yet to be determined. Prior to this, SmileDirectClub reached a $3.2 billion valuation following a $380 million …

Y Combinator-backed Holy Grail is using machine learning to build better batteries

For a long, long time, renewable energy proponents have considered advancements in battery technology to be the Holy Grail of the industry. Advancements in energy storage has been among the hardest to achieve economically, thanks to the incredibly tricky chemistry that’s involved in storing power. Now, one company that’s launching from Y Combinator believes it has found the key to …

Y Combinator-backed Narrator wants to become the operating system for data science

Cedric Dussud, Michael Nason, Ahmed Elsamadisi and Matthew Star (pictured above, in order) spent the summer sharing a house in San Francisco, cooking meals together and building Narrator, a startup with ambitions of becoming a universal data model fit for any company. Narrator is one of more than 100 startups graduating next week from Y Combinator, the San Francisco accelerator …

Elysium and the quest to bottle the fountain of youth

Alice Lloyd George Contributor Alice Lloyd George is an early stage investor based in New York and the host of Flux, a series of podcast conversations with leaders in frontier technology. More posts by this contributor One billion 3D views and counting Thomas Reardon and CTRL-Labs are building an API for the brain In the latest episode of Flux podcast, I …

Fitz Frames, with $2.5M in seed funding, wants your kid to have custom glasses

Fitz Frames is today launching out of beta to offer affordable, custom-made glasses for families, and in particular, for children. The company, which has raised $2.5 million in seed funding, was founded by Heidi Hertel is led CEO Gabriel Schlumberger. The company declined to disclose its investors, but shared that it was a mix of angel and institutional investors. Hertel …

YC-backed Eden Farm wants to cut out the middlemen between farmers and restaurants in Indonesia

Eden Farm is a startup with the ambitious goal of building a food distribution network for Indonesia, where many restaurants currently rely on markets for fresh ingredients. But this means high markups and unreliable supplies for restaurant owners and lower profits for farmers, co-founder and CEO David Gunawan tells TechCrunch. The company, part of Y Combinator’s current batch, wants to …

TransferWise’s debit card launches in Australia and New Zealand, with Singapore to follow

International money transfer startup TransferWise’s debit card is now available in Australia and New Zealand, with a Singapore launch expected by the end of this year as the company expands its presence in the Asia-Pacific region. TransferWise’s debit card, which features low, transparent fees and exchange rates, first launched in the United Kingdom and Europe last year before arriving in …