In a market like this where it’s relatively easy to raise capital at higher valuations, it can be tempting to spend big on customer acquisition. This environment has led to recent conversations around high burn rates and the relationship between “Capital and Success.” But some startups are realizing that overspending on customer acquisition may not lead to the return they are looking for and are instead finding different, more cost-effective growth strategies.
Pluto TV Takes $13M for its Free Linear TV Streaming Service
A lot of tech reporting tends to paint traditional (and expensive) cable TV service’s linear video watching experience as awful, but anyone who’s lived alone knows sometimes it’s just nice to have a TV channel on in the background. If that channel is airing content that’s somewhat interesting/entertaining, even better. That’s why streaming video platform Pluto TV is kind of brilliant. It offers free access to over a hundred different video streams (aka channels), which are preprogrammed the way TV channels are. And those channels are filled with things you’d actually want to watch, such as anime, gadget reviews, and original web series. There’s even an entire channel devoted to marijuana. But it also has quite a few “background” channels, such as an endless video feed of adorable puppies, ice cream melting (literally), and trains traveling through the European countryside. (That last one — Slow TV — is my personal favorite to fall asleep to.)
Bellhops Hauls In A $6 million Series A To Expand Moving Help Platform
Roughly 50 million Americans are estimated to move at some point this year, and 75 percent of them are do-it-yourselfers, by U-Haul measures. Aside from pestering all your friends and family to come help you load all your stuff or spending thousands on a moving company the next time you need help in the heavy lifting, there haven’t been a lot of options. College students tend to be the most transient population. They’re also young, healthy and at their strongest physically. This gave Bellhops founder Cameron Doody an idea. Put them to work.
Shift Technologies Raises $23.8 Million to Build Used Car Marketplace
Investors have put more than $23 million into Shift Technologies Inc., a used car marketplace that is racing Beepi Inc. and others to disrupt the multibillion-dollar sector. Founded less than a year ago, Shift co-founders see the same market opportunity that prompted Sherpa Ventures and other Beepi investors to plow $60 million into that startup last month. The premise is that used car shopping–be it via dealerships or direct to sellers–is unpleasant, inefficient and woefully in need of a technological overhaul. “It’s a huge market that we see the ability to rethink and rebuild,” said Draper Fisher Jurvetson Partner Emily Melton, who co-led the company’s Series A round. Ms. Melton said she was most excited about the large opportunity Shift is attacking, which she compared to previous DFJ investments like Redfin for home buying and SpaceX for space travel.
How a Huge Singles Party Saved a Facebook Dating App
Wedding Planning Site Lover.ly Tying the Knot With Series A Investors
The startup behind wedding planning site Lover.ly is closing on a $3.5 million Series A round after seeing a rapid rise in monthly visitors, as VentureWire reported this morning. New York-based Lover.ly, whose incorporated name is Dubblee Media Inc., models itself after companies like Houzz and Thrillist Media Group, but with a matrimonial twist. Its first order of business is to provide interesting news and content in order to get a large audience, and then to move into getting revenue from selling products via the site and even to develop its own brands, said Kellee Khalil, Lover.ly’s chief executive and founder. Montage Ventures led the round, joined by Comcast Ventures, which invested out of its Catalyst Fund for minority and female-run startups, Female Founders Fund, Great Oaks Venture Capital, SoftBank Capital, and angel investors Joanne Wilson, Sonja Perkins and Leslie Blodgett.
Course Hero Raises $15 Million in Series A Funding Led by GSV Capital & IDG Capital
Today, we announce that Course Hero has raised $15 million in Series A financing. The investment was led by GSV Capital Corp. (NASDAQ: GSVC) and IDG Capital, with existing Course Hero investors SV Angel and Maveron also participating. We’ll be using this new funding to accelerate the growth of the Course Hero team—we’re hiring!—and to expand our reach of top-notch content, tools, and services to continue helping more and more students achieve their academic goals.
Rock Health Raises a Third Fund, led by Bessemer
The San Francisco-based digital health accelerator Rock Health has raised a large third round of funding, and says it will boost its investments in new portfolio companies to (up to) $250,000 each. The new funding round was led by Bessemer Venture Partners, and Kaiser Permanente Ventures, with participation from KPCB, Mayo Clinic, Montreux Equity Partners, and Great Oaks Ventures.
Dash and Dine: Simplified Dining Via Mobile App
Going Mobile: a User’s Guide to Investing Apps
In a world where there are mobile apps for shopping, dating and identifying constellations in the night sky, it was inevitable that Wall Street would bring managing money to the smartphone. A growing array of apps makes it possible to track your investments, allocate assets and trade—in real time, anywhere with an Internet connection. Large asset managers and discount brokerages have rolled out app-based services. So have small startup firms, some of which are luring investors with investment competitions or features adapted from social media.
Venture Investors Get Fashion Fever As Early Stage Deals Soar
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.
This App Makes Investing As Easy As Swiping Your Credit Card
Investing is complicated. Acorns is not. The app from California-based father-son team Walter and Jeff Cruttenden aims to take the anxiety, deliberation, and intimidation out of investing by boiling it down to a matter of cents. The company, which just released its app on Android in addition to the existing iPhone version (available in the US only), was founded in 2012 and has raised $9