Linda Jung's living room has been taken over by six noisy, cheering, playful little children — their toys, their books, and their art. Brightly colored geometric shapes cover the walls, and an alphabet rug and train tracks lie where a coffee table or storage taller than three feet might have once been. None of the children are Jung's. Last year, Jung quit her job at a San Francisco Bay Area preschool, where she had been making about $50,000 a year, to launch a preschool out her two-bedroom apartment in the East Bay. Right now, she earns close to $80,000, with room to grow, and has plans to lease a home in the future so she can accommodate more students.
Wonderschool raises $20M to help people start in-home preschools
Educators already don’t get paid enough, and those that work in preschools or daycares often make 48% less. Meanwhile, parents struggle to find great early education programs where kids receive enough attention and there’s space, but they don’t need special connections or to pass grueling admissions interviews to get in. Any time there’s a lousy experience people have an emotional connection to and spend a lot of money on, there’s an opportunity for a startup. Enter ‘Wonderschool‘, a company that lets licensed educators and caretakers launch in-home preschools or daycares. Wonderschool helps candidates get credentialed, set up their programs, launch their websites, boost enrollment, and take payments in exchange for a 10 percent cut of tuition. The startup is now helping run 140 schools in the SF Bay, LA, and NYC where parents are happy to pay to give their kids an advantage.
Allbirds wants to fix your sole
Allbirds‘ newest product, a flip-flop, is deceptively simple. The two-year-old startup–which took Silicon Valley by storm with its wool sneakers–is now releasing a sandal made from a piece of squishy, lightweight foam. The base softly cradles your foot when you slip it on, and a polyester strap with a microsuede lining sits snugly between your toes. There’s no doubt it’s a comfortable piece of footwear. Still, to the untrained eye, it looks like any other flip-flop on the market.
Leonardo DiCaprio Invests in Footwear Brand Allbirds: 'I Am Proud to Join the Company'
Leonardo DiCaprio takes his footwear choices very seriously — so much so that he just invested his money in one of his favorite sneaker brands. The environmentally conscious actor has teamed up with sustainable footwear company Allbirds, news that comes hot on the heels of the brand’s latest launch: a sustainable, eco-friendly sole unveiled on the label’s debut flip-flop. “Creating sustainable consumer products requires a deep commitment from brands that understand the role they have in helping solve our environmental crisis,” DiCaprio said in an exclusive statement. “Allbirds is on the forefront of developing new materials that will serve as a model for the footwear industry. This kind of innovation is crucial for creating a more sustainable future. I am proud to join the company as an investor.”
Interior Define, the custom furniture startup, opens new location in SF
The direct-to-consumer space has some stand-out players, both in newcomers like Brooklinen and old-timers like Warby Parker. But one company, Interior Define, has maintained a low profile over the four years of its existence. The company offers fully customizable furniture, including couches, dining sets and bed frames, to customers through an online showroom. But ID also has guide shops in Chicago (its home market), LA, New York, and Austin.
Swivel Raises $4.75 Million Seed Round Led by First Round Capital
AUSTIN, Texas -- Swivel, a new online service where fast-growing companies can find and design their own plug-and-play workspace and pay for it on flexible terms, has raised a $4.75 Million seed round led by First Round Capital and from other leading firms including Fuel Capital, Correlation Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, Hack VC, Capital Factory and Abstract Ventures. Existing investors Floodgate and Next Coast Ventures also participated in this round.
Acorns co-founder nabs another $5 million for Blast, a startup that saves while you game
“It just started as a grand experiment,” says Walter Cruttenden, the serial fintech entrepreneur, of his latest foray into the world of low finance. “Let’s see if we can reach people through games.” Cruttenden, the founder of Roth Capital Partners, co-founder of the micro-investment application Acorns, and the former head of eTrade’s investment banking arm, has managed to raise another $7 million for his startup, Blast — which wants to give users a way to save money while playing video games.
Meet the 29-year-old who founded a company that's using technology to find treatments for diseases thought to be incurable
The drug development process is laden with problems that make it lengthy and expensive. Right now, it takes 12 years and $2.6 billion to get a single drug to market, with the drug discovery and development process costing $1.4 billion. Verge Genomics, run by 29-year-old Alice Zhang, is trying to address these problems by making drug discovery faster and cheaper. On Monday, the San Francisco-based company announced it had raised $32 million in series A funding, led by Draper Fischer Jurvetson, bringing its total amount raised to $36.5 million.
AI drug discovery startup Verge Genomics raises $32M led by DFJ
Y Combinator graduate Verge Genomics believes that with the help of artificial intelligence, drug discovery can be dramatically accelerated. The Silicon Valley company today announced a $32 million funding round led by DFJ, WuXi AppTec’s Corporate Venture Fund, ALS Investment Fund, Agent Capital, and OS Fund. “We’re looking to take the guesswork out of drug discovery,” Verge Genomics founder Alice Zhang told VentureBeat in a phone interview. “This funding will allow us to advance our most promising drug candidates toward the clinic while continuing to expand our proprietary datasets and therapeutic portfolio.”
Americans invest $1B into Acorns by using spare change
Away raises $50 million in Series C funding
Steph Korey, Away co-founder and CEO, and Jen Rubio, Away co-founder and president, discuss how their company has become one of the fastest-growing female start-ups in the country. To expand they just announced an addtional $50M in funding to help them expand beyond luggage and into the large global travel market.
Luggage Startup Away Raises $50M In Series C And Hits Profitability Within Two Years
Away, a seller of lightweight smart-luggage, has raised $50 million in additional funding from existing investors Forerunner Ventures, Global Founders Capital and Comcast Ventures. The capital will help Away take off into new global markets, widen its product line and open six retail stores in 2018. “It’s really cool to be part of this class of women-founded businesses that are paving the way and proving that anyone should be able to raise money. Not everyone has to look the same as the founders of the past,” says Steph Korey, cofounder and CEO. She and Jen Rubio, both Forbes Under 30 alumnae, launched Away in early 2016 and have announced it reached profitability within its first two years, a feat for a startup that manufactures a high-tech luggage with 100 different parts. “Our luggage is quite complex,” says Korey. “What allows us to invest in high-quality products is the fact that we don’t sell to other retailers.” Without retailers chomping at their profit margins, Away is able to keep their luxury line at “coach prices.”