There’s a brand new dance in venture capital, as investors have gone fashion-mad. After watching JustFab and Gilt Groupe explode into billion dollar companies while Warby Parker raised over $100 million to sell stylish eyeglasses, investors are eager to discover the next big hit. Venture investors have spent nearly $800 million in fashion-related deals so far this year, over half of which are seed stage fundings for young startups. 2014 investment totals are on pace to beat last year’s $900 million, with Q2 of this year seeing a record high of over $300 million in venture deals tracked.
Brewster’s Merged Contact Book Now Works With iCloud, Google Accounts And Messaging Apps
The average mobile-carrying consumer today has around 1,600 contacts when apps, email and a phone’s address book are added up. A startup called Brewster wants to make that list easier to use. Launched as a native app in 2012 with a mission to transform your address book by merging your phone and social networking contacts into a single address book, Brewster is today unveiling a new build of the product that turbo-charges that mission. Now it is a web-first, cloud-based product — it’s not even updating its native apps just yet.
Parcel raises $1M to bring personalized home delivery to Manhattan
New York-based Parcel, the company that wants to make sure busy New Yorkers never miss another package delivery, launched on Monday in Manhattan after raising $1 million in venture funding this past summer. The company is just coming out of a beta period today for residents of that borough, and also plans to start beta testing the service in Brooklyn. Parcel’s service costs $5 per delivery, and lets users schedule a delivery window at night or on the weekends. So, no more coming home to a big bag of gluten-free organic cat food that was ordered online sitting in the rain on your doorstep.
The Warby Parker of Furniture
Sweeten, A Match-Making Platform For Homeowners And Renovators, Launches Out Of Beta
We’ve seen services like Angie’s List and Red Beacon provide greater transparency around booking contractors and designers for home renovation and repair work, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement in the space. Sweeten, which just launched out of beta, has already done more than $100 million worth of renovation projects through its marketplace since June. The company allows users to post their renovation, decoration, or repair job to the site and then posts that job to a handful of reviewed and qualified contractors, designers, etc.
The Youngest Entrepreneurs To Raise $20M
Last week FlightCar, a startup that helps you hire out your car from the airport while you’re on vacation announced it raised $13.5 million in Series A financing. Yet another entrant into the so-called sharing economy, FlightCar’s generating a lot of buzz because it’s a clear win-win for car owners and would-be renters. As long as you’re okay with a stranger driving your car all you have to do is drop it off. Rentals cost less that $30 a day, far cheaper than market rate and car owners can earn anywhere between $25-100 per week with free parking and a car wash thrown in. If you live in a city where you don’t use your car much you could earn up to $500 a month with FlightCar, which limits mileage and is fully insured.
Apple Pay Won't Sink Smaller Players -- Here's Why
Apple AAPL +0.05% had long been rumored to make a big play in payments, and on September 9 finally unveiled the first step with Apple Pay. The demo was slick, showing an elegant payment experience – so fast that they had to repeat it “in case you blinked.” Apple CEO Tim Cook was proud to reveal a frictionless reality that makes paying completely seamless. As the Founder of a mobile payments startup, I’ve received dozens of calls and emails from our investors, advisors, customers and partners asking “what now?”
HowGood, Now With $2M In Funding, Releases Apps For More Sustainable Grocery Shopping
New mobile applications from HowGood want to help shoppers become better informed about which food is best to eat – and not just which food is healthiest, as the name suggests, but whether the animals were treated humanely, if the workers were paid fair wages, if the food was produced locally or sustainably, and much more. In addition, the company is announcing that in order to accelerate growth, it has taken in $2 million in outside funding from FirstMark Capital, Highline Ventures, Serious Change LP, Jake Lodwick and Joanne Wilson.
B2B Marketplace Kinnek Raises $10 Million From Matrix To Help SMBs Find And Purchase Supplies
Over the last decade, an increasing number of consumer goods have become available online, leading most users to be able to find more or less anything they could ever want through one website or another. Those goods frequently have detailed product specs, as well as reviews on most frequently purchased items. That’s not the case though, for purchases by small and medium-sized businesses. In many cases, SMBs can’t even find the items they need online, and if they do, all they can access or product descriptions. It’s rare they can actually purchase those items online. Instead, most SMBs were stuck working with local suppliers, which meant they were often not paying the best price or able to shop around before making a purchase. B2B marketplace Kinnek wants to change all that. It’s working to connect SMBs with suppliers that will offer up the goods they need and provide competitive prices for them. Based on its growth in recent months, the company has raised $10 million from Matrix Partners and others to continue expanding its marketplace into new verticals and markets.
Peer-To-Peer Airport Car Rental Startup FlightCar Raises Another $13.5M Led By GGV Capital
FlightCar wants to enable its users to rent out their cars at airports all around the country, and today is announcing that it has raised an additional $13.5 million to help fund that expansion. The new financing comes from GGV Capital, whose managing partner Hans Tung will be joining the company’s board. With FlightCar, travelers leave cars at the company’s lots near various airports around the country and receive free parking for the time that they are out of town. Those cars can then be made available to visitors to that airport, who pay highly discounted daily rates for rentals compared to more traditional car rental agencies.
Uncertain About Hiring, Some Companies Try ‘Test Drives’
Hiring and retaining employees is a struggle for all sorts of companies, but at smaller ones the stakes can be especially high. “One bad seed can really have an impact on your culture,” said Mona Bijoor, founder and chief executive of Joor, a company based in New York that created a wholesale marketplace to connect retailers and brands.