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- How to write a press release to announce funding
Have you raised a round? Congratulations! Now you can write a press release and tell the world about it. Before joining Flyer One Ventures, I had worked as an editor in several media, including Kyiv Post and Forbes Ukraine. I have edited hundreds of news stories based on press releases. At F1V, we have successfully pitched our stories to TechCrunch, Business Insider, Forbes, and VentureBeat. If I were to explain how to write a press release, I'd tell you to focus on three main elements: the first paragraph, the body, and the headline. First paragraph The first paragraph, or lede, should convey key news; the rest provides details. When writing a lede, imagine answering three questions: Who, What, and Why. If the date and location are important, include When and Where. It's also useful to provide a brief company description in your lede. Who? Startup Reface — which created a technology that allows users to “try on” the faces of other people in videos — What? has attracted $5.5 million Why? to continue its exponential growth. Who? Startup People.ai, which develops a program that analyzes how sales specialists work and helps them forecast sales, What? has attracted $100 million, Why (it matters)? bringing its total valuation to $1.1 billion. Who? Startup Let’s Enhance When? on Oct. 29 What? attracted $3 million Why? to develop a tool that automatically improves the quality of digital images (Why in this example also shortly describes the startup). Journalists might rewrite the first paragraph into a more story-driven one, but it's their job. In a press release, it's better to stick to a classical lede, like the one I explained. Body The key to writing a good press release body is to keep it simple, use facts, and stay close to the news you are announcing. Avoid expressing opinions. After your first paragraph is done, write up all other essential details about the news. Here are some questions that will help you do it. ▪️ Who invested in the startup? ▪️ What is the size and stage of the new round? ▪️ What does your startup plan to do with the money? ▪️ What are the target markets and expansion plans? ▪️ How much money has the startup raised to date? Then it’s a good idea to insert a quote. It could be from an investor or a founder. The quote must be about the round: What does this round mean for founders? Why did investors believe in the startup? After that, it’s time to tell more about the company. ▪️ How does your startup work? What customer problem does it solve? (The simplest explanation possible.) ▪️ Who are your rivals? How do you outperform them? ▪️ How do you make money? ▪️ What metrics can you share? (Monthly or daily active users, downloads, annual run rate, monthly or annual growth rate, etc. A press release is always weaker without metrics.) ▪️ How big is your market in numbers? Is there anything in the news about the market that the reader should know? ▪️ Who are your most high-profile customers? (If the names are famous, you may consider adding them to your headline.) Add background information. ▪️ How did the founders create the startup? Who are the founders? (Write several sentences about your founders and their initial idea. Several sentences.) ▪️ Where is the company headquartered? Where are the other offices? ▪️ How big is the team? End your press release with a second quote but use a different source. If you had a quote from a founder in the middle of the press release, now add a quote from a VC. All in all, keep it short and sweet — one Google Doc page is perfect (font: Arial; size: 11). Headline Write your headline last; it's easier when you know how the rest of your story looks. The headline is key for catching attention. It tells readers what your post is about and convinces them to read it. Your headline should be catchy. Use numbers, action words, interesting adjectives, and the active voice. Aim for 10-13 words. In English-language headlines, you should use the present tense and can omit articles. In my view, these are solid headlines for a press release: ▪️ Startup Effa that creates eco-toothbrushes for Netflix, Radisson raises $500,000 ▪️ Ukraine-founded startup People.ai becomes ‘unicorn’ with $1.1B valuation ▪️ Startup Let’s Enhance attracts $3M to edit photos using AI ▪️ Mini hydro company raises $18M to generate power in canals Avoid words like "outstanding," "unique," "amazing," "leading" — they don’t add value. "Solution" is also just no. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash.
- What Y Combinator’s data tells us about tech trends
Y Combinator has invested in over 4,000 startups, including DoorDash, Coinbase, and Airbnb. Their startups have a combined valuation of over $600 billion. On its website, the accelerator has the Startup Directory that shows stats regarding all of YC portfolio companies: their industries, regions, sizes, diversity, and more. This data can tell us a lot about the startup market. Deals Even though Y Combinator has been active since 2005, it has closed half of its investment deals over the last four years. The accelerator was the most active in 2021. This aligns with the global trend: 2021 was a record year for venture funding, but things cooled down in 2022 and plummeted in 2023. For reference: Global venture funding totaled $18.6 billion in July 2023, which is down 38% compared to the $29.8 billion invested during the same month last year, according to Crunchbase data. Industries Y Combinator's top industries for investing include B2B software and services, consumer, fintech, and health care. In recent years, according to the tags in the directory, the number of YC’s deals has been the fastest growing in AI, B2B, SaaS, devtools, and fintech. B2B vs. consumer Most of Y Combinator's early investments were in consumer. However, in 2010-2019, a new leader emerged — B2B. During those years, YC invested at least 1.5 times more often in B2B than in consumer. In 2020–2022, Y Combinator supported up to four times more B2B than consumer companies (nearly 13 times more in 2023!). Currently, 45% of YC's investment deals are with B2B startups, with consumer coming in second place at 17%. The accelerator's preferences seem to align with the global trend: In 2020, 61% of super startups worldwide provided business solutions, according to Statista. Fintech YC invested in its first fintech startup in 2005, during the accelerator's inaugural year. The startup was TextPayMe, a U.S.-based SMS payment service (which was later acquired by Amazon in 2006). The accelerator began to notably expand its fintech portfolio in 2017, consistently investing in a minimum of 20 fintech startups per year. In 2022, they supported 140 fintech startups. Fintech comprises 12.3% of YC's portfolio. Health care YC made its initial investment in a health care company in 2009, with a startup called SSovereign. In 2021, the accelerator achieved a record number of deals with health care startups (106). Health care comprises 12% of YC's portfolio. Edtech Y Combinator made its initial investment in an edtech startup in 2009, supporting Lingt, a U.S. platform for language learning. Today, the edtech sector represents 4.2% of the accelerator's portfolio. However, there was a year when YC invested in as many as 77 edtech startups. In 2016, YC made its first-ever acquisition by absorbing the edtech accelerator Imagine K12 and established a separate program for education startups. During that year, YC closed its highest number of deals with edtech startups within one batch. Since then, YC and Imagine K12 haven't surpassed that record. The global edtech market is projected to grow by 16.5% annually from 2022 to 2030, according to Forbes. AI and machine learning It comes as no surprise that AI-powered startups have been rapidly proliferating and attracting investors' attention lately. In the YC directory, out of all its startups, approximately 735 have an AI- or machine learning-related tag*, accounting for up to 17%. Over 70% of these startups received YC's funding between 2020 and 2023. In 2023, Y Combinator's support for AI companies has doubled compared to 2022; it's four times higher than in 2020. Nearly 50% of all companies from the 2023 batches report using AI (244). Impressive! Y Combinator made its first investment in an AI startup in 2008. This startup was JustSpotted, a Denmark-based real-time search engine (acquired by Google in 2011). Government tech Thus far, Y Combinator has largely avoided government tech, which makes up just 0.5% of its portfolio (about 20 startups). Its initial foray into this sector occurred in 2014 when YC invested in the U.S. company GovPredict. It specializes in offering research, analytics, and actionable intelligence for successful public affairs campaigns. Between 2020 and 2023, YC has only supported three government tech startups. Regions Y Combinator focuses its investments primarily in several key regions: the United States, Europe (with a particular emphasis on the U.K., France, and Germany), South Asia (with a focus on India), and Latin America (with an emphasis on Mexico, Brazil, and Colombia). About two-thirds of YC-backed companies are based in the U.S. European startups make up about 10% of YC's portfolio. The accelerator's initial European investment was in Infogami, a U.K.-based business intelligence platform, in 2005. The first investment in a continental European startup took place in 2006, with Snipshot, a Bulgarian online photo editor**. Both of these companies are no longer active. YC began actively supporting European startups in 2018***. South Asian companies make up around 7% of YC's portfolio. The first startup from this group was Markupwand, an Indian design devtool (now inactive), in 2012. However, it wasn't until 2019 that Y Combinator began actively supporting South Asian companies. Latin American startups make up 5% of YC's portfolio. In 2013, YC invested in its first two LATAM startups: the Brazilian e-commerce platform Glio (now inactive) and the Mexican fintech platform Arcus (acquired by Mastercard in 2021). From 2019 onward, Y Combinator has been more active in backing LATAM startups. About 12% of YC's portfolio consists of startups from Canada, Southeast and East Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Oceania; YC has been more active in these countries/regions since 2016. Diversity Y Combinator’s portfolio isn’t very diverse. There are not many startups with female, Hispanic/Latino, or black founders. But things have improved over the last 10 years. Female-founded startups Up to 15% of Y Combinator's startups have at least one woman founder (about 644 companies). While this percentage may still seem limited, it represents a notable improvement compared to a decade ago. From 2005 to 2010, YC supported only three female-founded companies. In 2019, there was a significant increase in the number of female-founded startups backed by YC, with the accelerator supporting 72 such companies. From 2020 to 2023, among new deals, approximately every sixth YC portfolio startup had a female founder. Hispanic & Latino-founded startups Up to 10% of Y Combinator's startups have at least one founder of Hispanic or Latino origin (about 424 companies). The historical trend in this area shows significant progress. In the period from 2005 to 2010, there were no Hispanic and Latino-founded startups in YC's portfolio. However, starting in 2011 with one deal and continuing with 47 deals in 2019, the situation began to improve. From 2020 to 2023, among new deals, approximately one in every eight YC portfolio startups had a founder of Hispanic or Latino origin. Black-founded startups Up to 6% of Y Combinator's startups have at least one black founder, which totals approximately 246 companies. The historical trend demonstrates gradual improvement in this aspect. From 2005 to 2010, Y Combinator supported only one black-founded startup. However, in 2019, there was a significant increase with 29 new black-founded startups added to the YC portfolio. Between 2020 and 2023, among new deals, one in every 16 YC portfolio startups had a black founder. Failed ventures, exits Approximately 15% of the startups backed by Y Combinator have closed. The accelerator has achieved successful exits with 12% of the startups in its portfolio, comprising 512 acquisitions and 16 initial public offerings. Notable exits from YC's portfolio include Airbnb, Dropbox, Carvana, Reddit, Twitch, and Coinbase. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Disclaimer: I last checked Y Combinator's data on Aug. 31. YC regularly updates its database and alters startup tags. I've cross-verified data with Crunchbase and other sources and rounded figures for clarity. * To count the AI-related startups backed by Y Combinator, we used tags from the accelerator's directory: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, AI, Generative AI, AIOps, AI Assistant, AI-powered drug discovery, AI-Enhanced Learning, and Conversational AI. There is no distinct industry section for AI and ML in the directory. **YC didn’t have a “region” tag in its database for this company. It’s Bulgarian, according to Crunchbase. *** The phrase “more actively supporting” in this story means investing in at least 20 companies. Photo by Mario Gogh on Unsplash.
- From Canva to Coursera: Meet female founders behind 7 unicorns
Are you ready for some cool stats? The number of unicorns led and founded by women in 2021 quadrupled year over year, reaching 83. Women founded or co-founded many of the greatest unicorns of our time, and I didn’t know this about many of them (much to my regret). Here’s a list of seven female founders who run companies that are changing the way we learn, care about our health, build communities, create, and more. Daphne Koller Company: Coursera. Sector: Online education. Country: United States. Market capitalization: $2.7 billion (Sept. 5, 2023). Daphne Koller, Coursera co-founder. Photo: World Economic Forum / Wikipedia. Coursera, co-founded by Daphne Koller in 2012, is an online learning platform that offers more than 5,800 courses, certificates, and degree programs from top universities and companies worldwide. More than 124 million people have used the service. The co-founders have secured a total of $459 million over 14 funding rounds from VC firms, including New Enterprise Associates, Kleiner Perkins, Learn Capital, and Mindrock Capital. In 2019, the startup became a unicorn and also acquired Rhyme.com, a software for learning. In 2021, Coursera went public, raising $520 million through IPO. Daphne Koller is a computer scientist and serial entrepreneur. She worked as a computer science professor at Stanford University before becoming an entrepreneur. After leaving Coursera, she co-founded an edtech company called Engageli and also founded Insitro, a drug discovery company. “I would like to make it so that education was a right, and not a privilege.” — Daphne Koller. Read more: 3 reasons why Flyer One Ventures invested in Filmustage. Deepika Bodapati Company: Athelas. Sector: Health care. Country: United States. Valuation: $1.5 billion (January 2022). Deepika Bodapati, Athelas co-founder. Photo: Medium / Deepika Bodapati. Athelas, co-founded by Deepika Bodapati in 2016, is developing AI-driven tools for remote monitoring of chronically ill patients. Interesting fact: The company’s name, Athelas, was inspired by the healing herb in “The Lord of the Rings.” Their flagship product is a device for blood testing, which provides real-time analysis of various metrics like blood weight, pressure, and glucose levels. The Athelas blood test can even help diagnose early-stage leukemia, potentially saving lives. This technology allows doctors to track their patients’ health conditions 24/7 and helps reduce hospitalizations; more than 150,000 patients have used the service. The startup has raised $150.1 million over five funding rounds from Tribe Capital, General Catalyst, Sequoia Capital, Y Combinator, Initialized Capital, Human Capital, and several other VC firms. It became a unicorn in 2022. Deepika Bodapati is a research scientist with a background in molecular imaging at Stanford University. In her sophomore year, she teamed up with her childhood friend, Tanay Tandon, who specialized in machine learning at Stanford, to co-found Athelas. “It’s this concept of making tools so cheap, so usable, that people can do it all the time. Only then can you actually get preventive care.” — Deepika Bodapati Read more: ‘We’re growing 30% a month’: Startup Cargofy enters new EU countries, endures 2022. Julia Hartz Company: Eventbrite. Sector: Event management. Country: United States. Market capitalization: $1 billion (Sept. 5, 2023). Julia Hartz, Eventbrite co-founder. Photo: Stefan Wieland / Wikipedia. Eventbrite, co-founded in 2006 by Julia Hartz, is an online platform that lets event organizers create event pages, manage ticketing and registration, and promote their events through integrated marketing tools. The platform also provides its users with analytics. Hartz (and two other founders) started their company at a windowless phone closet located in a warehouse in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill. They bootstrapped it for the first two years. The startup has served as a platform for over five million events in nearly 180 countries. It now has more than 800 employees around the world. Eventbrite has raised $557 million over 11 funding rounds from Tiger Global Management, Sequoia Capital, DAG Ventures, and some other VCs. The company joined the unicorn club in 2014. In 2018, it went public, raising $230 million through IPO. The startup has acquired 10 companies, including ToneDen, Picatic, and Ticketfly. Julia Hartz is an entrepreneur and investor who empowers women in tech. She was featured in the 40 Under 40 list by Fortune magazine, and was named one of Fortune magazine’s most powerful women entrepreneurs in 2013. Hartz became Eventbrite CEO in 2016 and led its initial public offering. “Every day, I work to drive Eventbrite’s mission to bring the world together through live experiences. From our company culture to our experience platform, everything we do is rooted in connection.” — Julia Hartz. Read more: How to lead startup through crisis — Competera CEO Galkin. Melanie Perkins Company: Canva. Sector: Web design. Country: Australia. Valuation: $25 billion (March 2023). Melanie Perkins, Canva co-founder. Photo: Melanie Flickr/ Melanie Perkins. Canva, co-founded by Melanie Perkins in 2013, is an intuitive online design platform that offers easy-to-use tools and templates to create stunning visuals without prior design experience. Recently, the company has also announced an array of AI features dubbed “Magic.” As of March 2023, Canva boasts 125 million monthly users from 190 countries. The startup has raised $573 million over 15 funding rounds from VC firms T. Rowe Price, Franklin Templeton Investments, Bessemer Venture Partners, and others. It acquired 6 other startups, including Flourish, Kaleido, and Pixabay. Guy Kawasaki, a venture capitalist and former Apple chief marketing evangelist, joined Canva as its chief evangelist in 2014. In 2018, the company became a unicorn. In 2023, it was recognized as one of the TIME100 most influential companies worldwide. Canva aims to “be a force for good”: The startup joined the Pledge 1% movement and, to support people who live in extreme poverty, it partnered with GiveDirectly. Melanie Perkins is a businesswoman, investor, philanthropist, and CEO of Canva from its foundation. In 2007, she founded her first company, Fusion Books, which is now the biggest publisher of yearbooks in Australia. At one point, when trying to fundraise for Canva, she got rejected by 100 VCs. In 2022, Fortune magazine wrote Canva was “the world’s most valuable startup founded and led by a woman.” “You have to believe in yourself and your vision for a very long time before anyone else will.” — Melanie Perkins. Whitney Wolfe Herd Company: Bumble. Sector: Social networking. Country: United States. Market capitalization: $3.2 billion (Sept. 5, 2023). Whitney Wolfe Herd, Bumble co-founder. Photo: bumble.com. Bumble, founded by Whitney Wolfe Herd in 2014 and led by her, is a social networking and dating app that prioritizes women’s empowerment and puts them in control of initiating conversations. The platform has grown beyond just romance. It now includes Bumble BFF, a matching service for making friends (just friends), and Bumble Bizz, a platform for connecting with professionals. The startup has secured $314 million over five funding rounds from the investor Priyanka Chopra and VC firms Accel, Able Partners, Headline, and Greycroft. The company went public in 2021, raising $2.2 billion. It has also acquired Fruitz, the dating app, and launched Bumble Fund that invests in female founders. Whitney Wolfe Herd co-founded Tinder. But she later filed a lawsuit against it, alleging sexual harassment and discrimination, and left the company. According to Forbes, Match Group (the owner of Tinder, OkCupid, and Match.com) made two attempts in 2017 to buy out Bumble. Wolfe Herd declined the offers. Later, she led the company’s IPO, becoming the youngest woman to take a company public and the youngest woman to become a billionaire. Herd was named as one of 2017’s and 2018’s Forbes 30 Under 30 and one of America’s Self-Made Women. “I’m so proud of the community we’ve been able to bring together and the notion of women making the first move is no longer taboo, it’s no longer a scarlet letter to have a voice.” — Whitney Wolfe Herd. Cristina Junqueira Company: Nubank. Sector: Digital banking. Country: Brazil. Market capitalization: $33.2 billion (Sept. 5, 2023). Female founder: Cristina Junqueira. Cristina Junqueira, Nubank co-founder. Photo: LinkedIn / Cristina Junqueira. Nubank, co-founded by Cristina Junqueira in 2013, is a digital financial platform “with the mission to fight complexity” in the banking sector and provide user-friendly services. Since June 2021, the number of its customers has more than doubled, reaching over 85 million across Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia. The startup has raised $4 billion over 15 funding rounds from Berkshire Hathaway, Morgan Stanley, International Finance Corporation, Goldman Sachs, and other investors. In 2018, Nubank became the third bank in Brazil to become a unicorn. In 2021, it went public and raised $2.6 billion. Nubank has acquired six startups, including AI financial assistant Olivia and payment platform Spin Pay. Cristina Junqueira, prior to launching Nubank, had worked at several financial firms, including Boston Consulting Group. She is the first Latin American woman to have become a self-made multimillionaire and the first Brazilian executive to be acknowledged by Fortune in their 40 Under 40 list. “Pick a problem that hurts enough for enough people and go solve it — execution is much more important than the perfect idea.” — Cristina Junqueira. Adi Tatarko Company: Houzz. Sector: Home design. Country: United States. Valuation: $4 billion (June 2017). Adi Tatarko, Houzz co-founder. Photo: Facebook / Adi Tatarko. Houzz, co-founded by Adi Tatarko in 2009, is an online platform that connects homeowners with interior design and remodeling professionals. Adi Tatarko and another co-founder Alon Cohen were not “typical” founders: they are husband and wife, Israeli immigrants, who once decided to remodel their four-bedroom ranch house in Palo Alto, California. Having trouble making their dream home, the couple decided to create a website about home remodeling to help others. They were their own first clients. This “side project” turned out to be a great venture: To date, the startup has raised $614 million over eight funding rounds from Sequoia Capital, Kleiner Perkins, New Enterprise Associates, GGV Capital, Comcast Ventures, and other VCs. It became a unicorn in 2014. Over the years, it has acquired three companies: platform for construction contractors ConX, software for interior design business IvyMark, and gardening community GardenWeb. Adi Tatarko had another tech business in the ‘90s in Israel and worked as a financial adviser before Houzz. She was included in Forbes’ list of America's Richest Self-Made Women. “Renovating a home together is much more challenging than running a company together.” — Adi Tatarko. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo: Melanie Perkins / Flickr.
- Entrepreneurs who founded startups at 14-19 years old
Twentysomething startup founders are more of an exception than a rule. Bill Gates and Steve Jobs in their twenties were outliers, yet they ingrained in us the idea that startups are typically founded by young adults. The reality is quite different: According to Harvard Business Review, the average age of a successful startup founder is 45. Here are 7 entrepreneurs who in some way might be as exceptional as Jobs and Gates, as they founded their first (and successful) companies when they were teenagers. Catherine Cook — MeetMe (formerly MyYearbook) Country: United States. Founded company at the age of 16. Now she is 33. Catherine Cook founded MyYearbook (now called MeetMe) when she was 16. (Photo: Courtesy) When Catherine Cook and her brother David saw their high school yearbook, they realized it was a terrible way to meet new people their age. So the siblings decided to create MyYearbook (later renamed MeetMe), a social network for high school students. Catherine and David had been working on the MyYearbook wireframe until 3 a.m. on school nights, but then they decided to outsource the project to a development team in Mumbai. The development was paid for by their older brother, Geoff Cook, who joined the project as CEO. In the first week of the launch in 2005, 400 students signed up for the service. In 9 months, the platform gained 1 million users. In 6 years, the platform had grown to 20 million users and generated nearly $24 million in revenue. In 2011, MyYearbook was acquired by Latino social network Quepasa Corp. for $100 million. Nick D’Aloisio — Summly Country: United Kingdom. Founded company at the age of 15. He is 27 now. Nick D’Aloisio founded Summly when he was 15. (Photo: thestar.com) Young audiences don't like to read longreads — they’re often described as a generation of “skimmers.” British teenager Nick D’Aloisio was one of them. So, in 2011, at the age of 15, he created an app for iPhones called Summly, which summarizes news stories. “It’s not that the younger generation don’t want to read in-depth content, but they want to evaluate what the content is before they commit time. Especially on a mobile phone — you don’t have the phone, or cellular data, or screen size to be reading full-length content,” says D’Aloisio. Summly has attracted more than £1 million in investments throughout its history. The first $250,000 of investment came from Horizons Ventures. At the age of 17, D’Aloisio sold his news-reading app Summly to Yahoo! for $30 million; it’s now part of Yahoo! News Digest. Boyan Slat — The Ocean Cleanup Country: Netherlands. Founded company at the age of 19. He is 29 now. Boyan Slat founded The Ocean Cleanup when he was 19. (Photo: theoceancleanup.com) In 2011, during a diving expedition, Boyan Slat discovered an alarming phenomenon: The quantity of plastic exceeded the count of fish. He decided to focus his high school project on battling ocean plastic pollution. Later, he came up with the idea of a passive plastic catchment system that uses circulating ocean currents to net plastic waste. In 2013, Slat launched The Ocean Cleanup, a non-profit organization aimed at reducing the amount of plastic in the ocean. Through a crowdfunding campaign, he raised $2.2 million. Over time, the organization has raised tens of millions of dollars in donations from entrepreneurs from Europe and Silicon Valley, including Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. The Ocean Cleanup collected more than 153 tons of plastic from the Pacific Ocean in 2022. Nazar Ponochevnyi — Harmix Country: Ukraine. Founded company at the age of 17. Now he is 20. Nazar Ponochevnyi founded Harmix when he was 17. (Photo: dev.ua) In 2018, Nazar Ponochevnyi graduated from music school and developed an interest in neural networks. The combination of these hobbies resulted in him creating a tool that selects music based on what a person sees or feels — he founded Harmix, an AI platform that selects music for videos by analyzing their dynamics, mood, and content. The platform is suitable for anyone working with video: content creators, music producers, sound engineers, game developers, creative agencies, etc. In 2021, Harmix received a $25,000 grant from the Ukrainian Startup Fund and $13,000 from Amazon in the form of AWS credits. In 2023, the startup raised $500,000 from an unnamed Canadian investor. The app currently has more than 30,000 users from 90 countries. Avni Madhani — The Healthy Beat Country: India. Founded company at the age of 16. Now she is 23. Avni Madhani founded The Healthy Beat when she was 16. (Photo: Courtesy) Losing two family members to diabetes, 16-year-old Avni Madhani began to learn more about the disease. She realized that most people in India have no idea how to deal with it. At that time, in 2017, around 62 million Indians suffered from diabetes and, according to predictions, this figure would increase to 100 million by 2030. To aid individuals in disease prevention through proper nutrition and lifestyle, Avni introduced The Healthy Beat in 2017 with financial support from her parents. This platform serves as a personal health advisor, providing nutritional information for various Indian dishes. The platform allows users to track their daily dietary choices by providing accurate information on the calorie, carbohydrate, protein, fat, and dietary fiber content of a variety of food items. Christian Owens — Mac Bundle Box, Paddle Country: United Kingdom. Founded company at the age of 14. Now he is 29. Christian Owens, founder of Mac Bundle Box and Paddle. (Photo: Courtesy) At the age of 14, British schoolboy Christian Owens used his pocket money to launch Mac Bundle Box, which packaged macOS apps at cut prices. In its first two years, by the time Owens was 16, Mac Bundle Box earned close to $1 million. Later Mac Bundle Box was closed, but when he was 15, together with Mark Bao, Owens also founded Branchr, a pay-per-click advertising network. In the first year, it brought a profit of $800,000. In 2016, the startup distributed more than 300 million ads per month, with customers including Pepsi and Virgin. In 2012, Owens also co-founded Paddle, a payment infrastructure provider for software companies. In 2016, Christian Owens was featured in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list under the Consumer Tech category. Sean Belnick — BizChair.com Country: United States. Founded company at the age of 14. Now he is 36. Sean Belnick founded BizChair.com when he was 14. (Photo: Courtesy) Sean Belnick began selling online as early as the age of 12, earning approximately $1,000 per month by selling Pokémon cards. At the age of 14, he founded BizChair.com, a website dedicated to selling office chairs. He received assistance in understanding its operations from his stepfather, Gary Glazier, a seasoned veteran in the office furniture industry. Belnick imported office furniture from China and then advertised and shipped it to customers in the U.S. His competitive advantage lies in using drop-shipping, enabling the startup to offer lower prices and a more extensive range of products compared to traditional retailers. After several years, his profits were tallied at $42 million, with clients including Microsoft, Google, and Abercrombie & Fitch. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo of Boyan Slat, the founder of The Ocean Cleanup, taken from theoceancleanup.com.
- Meet 8 extraordinary female VCs who redefine venture capital
Venture capital largely remains a male-dominated industry with only 15% of general partner positions being held by women. This equality gap results in funding bias, with female-founded startups being often undervalued. The trend, however, seems to be shifting. I’ve made a list of 8 exceptional women in VC who — in my view — are changing the industry for the better. Jess Lee Company: Sequoia Capital. Position: Partner. Notable investments: Embark Trucks (IPO), Pendulum, Wonolo, and Maven. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/jesskah. Former CEO of Polyvore (acquired by Yahoo!) Jess Lee joined Sequoia Capital as an investing partner in 2016. She became the firm’s first senior female U.S. investor in its 44-year-old history. Apart from investing, Lee works closely with the engineering, product, design, and data science teams at Sequoia Capital. Lee also co-founded All Raise, a community that aims to “create a tech culture where women and non-binary voices are leading, shaping, and funding the future.” “I came here [at Sequoia Capital] to be the partner I wish I’d had as a founder, the first person you text with good news and bad.” — Jess Lee. Sonali De Rycker Company: Accel. Position: Partner. Notable investments: Spotify (IPO), Letgo (acquired), Monzo, and BeReal. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/sonaliderycker. Sonali De Rycker has been a fixture on the Midas List Europe since 2017, a ranking of Europe’s top 100 tech venture capitalists put together by Forbes. She is considered one of the most impactful women in British tech; Sifted described her as “Europe’s VC queen.” India-born De Rycker is the former Goldman Sachs banker and Atlas Venture general partner, who joined Accel in 2008. According to her LinkedIn page, she sits on 11 boards, including BeReal, Hopin, and Monzo. “Every night when I go to sleep, I think of everything I could be doing more of.” — Sonali De Rycker. Ophelia Brown Company: Blossom Capital. Position: Founder and managing partner. Notable investments: Checkout.com, Pigment, Dija (acquired), Moonpay. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/opheliabrown. Named “the most ambitious female VC in Europe” by TechCrunch, Ophelia Brown founded Blossom Capital in 2018. At the time, it was one of the few female-backed funds in Europe. Her VC firm makes investments in European startups at the Series A stage and focuses on finance, design, marketplaces, travel, developer-focused tools, infrastructure, and “API-first” companies. In 2022, Blossom Capital raised $432 million in its third fund, which made it the largest fund focused on European startups’ Series A rounds. Brown started her venture capital career at Index Ventures in San Francisco, assisting the firm in investing in companies like Typeform and Robinhood. While at Index, in 2016, Brown made Forbes’s 30 Under 30 list under the finance category. “Ambition is infectious. Seeing someone who really wants to achieve something incredible, or do the impossible. That totally energizes me.” — Ophelia Brown. Gloria Bäuerlein Company: Puzzle Ventures. Position: Solo general partner. Notable investments: Hyperline, Sofia Salud, Datapeople, Pigment, and 22 others (as an angel investor). LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/gloria-baeuerlein. In March 2023, Gloria Bäuerlein closed one of Europe’s first female solo GP funds, Puzzle Ventures. And, as one of the first funds in Europe with a female solo GP, it represents a significant step forward for gender diversity in venture capital. Bäuerlein’s angel-operated, €22-million fund is dedicated to partnering with European pre-seed and seed founders who build “transformational B2B companies.” Her investors include founders and operators from Personio, Kry, Stripe, Coinbase, and WhatsApp. Before launching the VC firm, Bäuerlein was an angel investor focusing on early-stage B2B SaaS and digital health startups across Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. “I think founders want to work with people who have been in the trenches before.” — Gloria Bäuerlein. Irina Haivas Company: Atomico. Position: Partner. Notable investments: Y42, Qatalog, Accurx, NFTPort, Healx, LabGenius, and Kheiron Medical. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/irinahaivas. In March, Sifted listed Irina Haivas as one of European VC’s top 11 female investors. A surgeon-turned-VC, Haivas joined Atomico as a partner in 2018, where she focused on investments in health tech and enterprise software, including data infrastructure and tools, AI/ML-enabled SaaS and digital work. Before Atomico, Haivas had been a late-stage investor at GHO Capital Partners and a vital member of the senior team at Bain & Co. During her tenure at Bain & Co, she worked with over 30 companies in Europe and the U.S. on innovation, product strategy, go to market, and M&A. “Technology is an agent for change. It is one of the most impactful tools we have to build something that matters at a global scale.” — Irina Haivas. Dana Settle Company: Greycroft. Position: Co-founder and managing partner. Notable investments: Bumble (IPO), Maker Studios (acquired by Disney), Pulse (acquired by LinkedIn), The RealReal (IPO), and Trunk Club (acquired by Nordstrom). LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/dana-settle-8b18. Dana Settle is one of the most influential venture capitalists in the world. Period. After years of working with Bay Area startups, being a venture partner at Mayfield and then a partner at VSP Capital, Dana Settle — together with Jan Sigalow and Alan Patricof — started Greycroft. It was 17 years ago. Over the years, Greycroft has made 776 investments, raised 14 funds, and made 127 exits, according to Crunchbase. Just in April, Greycroft closed a combined $1 billion in capital commitments across several new funds. Take a pause here and try to get your head around these numbers. Settle is also a founding member of the non-profit Baby2Baby and female mentorship collective All Raise. Her firm has been known for backing female-founded companies, including Clique, Eloquii, and TheRealReal. “You have to reinvent yourself all the time. You have to be innovative and entrepreneurial even within the companies you work for.” — Dana Settle. Laurel Bowden Company: 83North. Position: Partner. Notable investments: Wolt (acquired by Doordash), iZettle (acquired by PayPal), Celonis, Mirakl, Hybris (acquired by SAP). LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/laurel-bowden-3a869b. Forbes calls Laurel Bowden “a pioneer in a male-dominated industry” and one of Europe’s most respected investors, who “plays venture capital by her rules.” 83North — where Bowden is one of four investing partners — aims to make only one deal a year per partner. Bowden became the first European partner of 83North (previously called Greylock IL), a firm that handles $2.2 billion in assets across Europe and Israel. 83North has invested in 88 startups since 2006. According to her LinkedIn page, Bowden sits on 16 boards, including Mirakl, Paddle, Critizr, and Celonis. She began her professional journey with a leading consulting firm in South Africa and later worked with Jerusalem Venture Partners through the Dotcom boom. “When you start following the masses, that’s problematic.” — Laurel Bowden. Luciana Lixandru Company: Sequoia Capital. Position: Partner. Notable investments: UiPath (IPO), Deliveroo (IPO), Hopin, and Miro. LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/luciana-lixandru-11042875. In 2021, Luciana Lixandru was ranked second on the prestigious Midas List, earning recognition as the second top VC in Europe, Israel, and the Middle East. One year before that, Lixandru became Sequoia’s first partner in Europe, specializing in enterprise and consumer tech startups in Europe. She also plays a key role in overseeing Sequoia’s early-stage investments in the U.S. and European regions. Prior to joining Sequoia, Luciana had served as a partner at Accel for 8 years. There, she made investments in Hopin, Miro, UiPath, Tessian, and Deliveroo. Her true passion lies in empowering founders to realize their full potential and encouraging them to think globally. “I always get asked whether I’d ever start my own company, but I just feel so lucky to be a partner to founders. I hope I'll get to do it for decades to come.” — Luciana Lixandru. This is by no means the most comprehensive list of top female VCs — it's simply my selection. If you're interested in discovering more names — including Sabina Wizander, Leigh Marie Braswell, Annie Case, Arian Simone, Ayana Parsons, and Wendy Xiao — you can explore rankings compiled by Sifted, as well as the Forbes Midas List. 350+ female VC partners in Europe: the complete and updated list The Midas List Europe The Midas List European VC’s top female investors: the list Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo of Irina Haivas taken from atomico.com.
- Drag along, ROFR, MFN: Most-used legal terms in VC explained
Venture capital deals come with a lot of unfamiliar terms. Although it's important for founders to hire a good lawyer, it's also helpful to understand the key terms yourself. To help you out, we have gathered and explained the 9 terms that you are likely to encounter during your meetings with investors. Read more: SAFE, PnL and LTV. 21 investment terms you need to know before talking to VCs. Drag along If you own a majority stake in a startup, drag-along rights allow you to compel minority shareholders to sell their shares when you sell yours. It ensures unanimous agreement and prevents obstruction. Drag-along rights grant majority shareholders greater control over the company and make it easier to sell the entire company. Drag-along rights may be perceived as unfair to minority shareholders and can lead to disputes if not properly negotiated. When negotiating drag-along rights, consider the required percentage of shares to activate the provision, and any exceptions or limitations. Protect your interests while maintaining decision-making flexibility. For successful companies, drag-along rights are rarely used. For less successful ones, drag-along can be useful when there’s a less-than-great purchase offer that investors wish to accept, but certain shareholders oppose it. Founders can try to safeguard themselves from a situation where their company is sold without their agreement by requesting specific safeguards, such as setting a minimum price for the sale. Tag along Tag-along rights protect minority shareholders by allowing them to sell their shares alongside the majority shareholder during a sale. This prevents them from being left behind or forced into an unfavorable situation. These rights ensure fairness for minority shareholders who have less influence over company decisions. They ensure that everyone is treated fairly during a sale. Tag-along rights may limit decision-making flexibility and potentially complicate or delay a sale. When negotiating tag-along rights, apply them equally to all shareholders without exceptions and consider setting a minimum price for the sale of shares. In companies with limited liquidity, tag-along rights enable shareholders to sell their proportional share when a significant shareholder sells their shares to a buyer. If she's selling $500,000 worth of shares, other shareholders can tag along and sell their pro-rata portion of that. Right of first refusal (ROFR) ROFR allows shareholders to accept or refuse an offer to purchase shares after the selling shareholder received a third-party offer. This right applies to both new and existing shares. ROFR rights are typically pro-rata, enabling shareholders to buy shares proportionate to their current ownership percentage. If a company issues 1,000 new shares, a ROFR shareholder with a 10% stake can buy 100 shares to maintain their percentage of ownership. ROFR preserves ownership control and can potentially limit dilution, promoting stability. However, it can hinder fundraising and deter new investors due to limited share availability. Right of first offer (ROFO) ROFO is similar to ROFR (right of first refusal), it grants existing shareholders the option to purchase a selling shareholder’s shares. However, contrary to ROFR, it needs to be before the shares are offered to third parties. For example, if a shareholder intends to sell 1,000 shares, a 10% shareholder with ROFO can buy 100 shares before they are offered to other potential buyers. ROFR can lead to lower-priced offers for sellers, as existing holders have the right to purchase the shares. On the other hand, ROFO is more favorable to sellers, as ROFO holders must initiate an offer first, and if the time expires, sellers are free to sell to other parties. Read more: Introductory guide to unit economics for early-stage tech startups. Pro-rata rights Pro-rata rights enable existing shareholders to maintain their proportional ownership stake when new shares are issued. These rights are similar to ROFR/pre-emption rights but apply only to new shares, rather than existing ones. If you own 10% of a company and it issues additional shares, your pro-rata rights let you purchase enough new shares to keep your 10% ownership. Pro-rata rights prevent dilution, ensuring fair opportunities for existing shareholders to participate in future financing rounds and maintain their influence and control. Certain investors might ask for super pro-rata rights, which means they automatically get the option to buy shares above and beyond the amount that accounts for dilution. Founders should refuse this request because it can discourage other investors from participating in future funding rounds. Pre-emption rights Similar to pro-rata rights, pre-emption rights give existing shareholders the first chance to buy new shares in a company before they are offered to others. Pre-emption rights are a specific subset of pro-rata rights that focus on the initial opportunity to purchase new shares, whereas pro-rata rights encompass a wider range of situations where shareholders can maintain their proportional ownership. The distinction lies in the scope and timing of the rights, but the underlying purpose of both is to protect existing shareholders from dilution and maintain their relative ownership. Read more: Classic YCombinator SAFE templates. Liquidation preference Liquidation preference grants priority to preferred shareholders in a company’s liquidation or sale, protecting them from significant losses. Preferred shareholders are typically repaid before common shareholders. Liquidation preferences are relevant when a company’s success is limited and the investor’s exit value is lower than their initial investment. A 1x liquidation preference means that, in the event of an exit, an investor will receive the original sum they invested before other shareholders receive anything. 1x is the standard multiple, and founders should be wary of agreeing to anything above. There are participating and non-participating preferences. Participating preferences entitle shareholders to their liquidation preference amount and a share of the remaining proceeds. Non-participating preferences offer a choice between the two. Pari passu preferences mean equal priority for all preferred shareholders; stacked preferences mean that certain shareholders have priority. Liquidation preferences pose risks for founders and common shareholders if the sale price is lower than the total preference amount — they may receive nothing at all. Founder and employee vesting Vesting is crucial for retaining talent in startups, including founders and employees; it gradually grants them ownership rights over shares or stock options for staying loyal to the company. After founders enter into a vesting agreement, they will be earning their equity stake over a few years. There’s typically a one-year cliff, which means shares don’t vest during the first 12 months. It’s designed to make sure the founders remain in the company for at least this period. The shares are accumulated and vested at the conclusion of this first year; after that, the shares typically vest each month. Vesting terms are negotiable and outlined in agreements or stock option plans. If founders leave the company, they will surrender all unvested shares, which will be returned to the company’s option pool. Similarly, employees, especially key team members, have vesting tied to their continued employment, which promotes loyalty. Most favored nation (MFN) in SAFE agreements The MFN clause is a way to protect an early investor. The idea is simple: if a future investor negotiates better terms, an early one gets them too. When raising capital, startups often use simple agreements for future equity (SAFE) that include a most favored nation (MFN) clause. SAFEs are common financing tools for early-stage startups, providing investors with the option to purchase shares at a discounted price in future rounds. They are not debt and do not accrue interest. With an MFN clause, investors can ensure they receive the same terms as new investors in subsequent funding rounds. Example: A startup raises $100,000 from Investor 1 via a SAFE with no discount rate at a $1 million valuation cap. Later, the startup raises another $100,000 from Investor 2 via a SAFE. This time, there’s a 5% discount rate and a valuation cap of $900,000. Investor 1 uses the MFN clause to receive the same terms. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash
- Research: 79 tools VCs use for deal flows, productivity, networking
As a head of platform at a VC firm, I’ve always been trying to find ways I can improve my work. I’ve decided to compile a comprehensive list of tools VCs use to improve productivity within their funds and connect better with portfolio startups. After dozens of interviews and deep research within the VC community, I’ve put together a list of 79 tools widely used in VC. Its complete version is available in this Google Sheets document. This article covers the 10 of them that I find the most useful (ignoring obvious Zoom, Slack, LinkedIn, and Google Calendar) and includes quotes from VCs that share my opinion. Circle Circle is a community platform that helps bring together engaging courses, discussions, members, live streams, chats, events, and memberships — all in one place. By using it, a VC firm can create a knowledge base for its portfolio that can also host discussions and Q&A sessions within the platform. VC Platform Global Community has used Circle to effectively manage its community, which has over 1,800 members from more than 300 funds. It uses it to further connect people through events, candidate sharing, job postings, new member introductions, local geographic meetups, thematic topic areas, and more. “To me, Circle is a digital co-working space — it is the best way I can manage a membership community that spans 43 countries,” says Joshua Goodfield, executive director at VC Platform Global Community. “It feels like we are all sitting next to each other and can easily tap someone on the shoulder to discuss burning questions.” Anyone managing a community, however, should meet their members where they already are. VC Platform uses Synchronize, a premium add-on for Circle, to integrate the platform across Email and Slack as well for their members. “Don’t force a Slack channel on a group of people that aren’t using Slack. Find out what tools are the norm for the individuals you want to support and meet them where they are. Also, the more you can cross-integrate across other platforms, the more successful you will be in getting high user adoption,” Goodfield says. Subscription: $89–399 per month for Professional, Business and Enterprise pricing plans (if billed annually); the basic subscription costs $49 a month. Website: circle.so. Bridge Bridge is a platform that helps introduce people from your network to each other. It allows your community to see who they know and who can help, initiate meetings and keep track of introductions. While investing in early-stage ventures, Maze uses Bridge to track the intros it is making for its founders and collect feedback about them. “Before Bridge, we never analyzed this kind of data,” says Julian McNamara, product analyst at Maze. According to McNamara, Bridge has streamlined the company’s introductions through its introductions links, which it uses to give self-service access to its network for founders. “We significantly reduce the amount of email and on-call back [when] making intros for our founders,” McNamara says. Before introducing Bridge, McNamara suggests getting team-wide buy-in and running a good onboarding to make sure all team members know how to use the tool. Subscription: $12–29 a month (if billed annually); the basic version is available for free. Website: get.brdg.app. Copper Copper is a CRM platform that can be quickly set up, pulling in your team’s contacts and email conversations. It integrates with Gmail, Mailchimp, Slack, Google Calendar, Google Drive, and more. It also can visualize your team’s sales process and networking efforts. Alter, a global VC firm, uses Copper as a centralized location for its “joint knowledge” to track information in its ecosystem and to access this information without having to wait for a response from a team member (and Alter’s team operates across different timezones). According to Benie Bolohan, funds and operations lead at Alter, Copper helps the VC firm track its connections across the world, identify people based in a certain city or country and, if someone from the team travels to a particular event, quickly set up in-person meetings. “[With Copper], we can also track our LP pipeline and startup deal flow to visually see a dashboard of where various people or entities stand and what our next steps are to help push these relationships along,” says Bolohan. According to Bolohan, those searching for a CRM should find a tool that will automatically pull from or sync with their email and have customizations that can make data input easier. Also – ask for the team’s input on what they would like to track with the tool and what results they’d like to see. “Any CRM only works if the team actually uses it,” Bolohan says. Subscription: $23–99 per user, per month (if billed annually). Website: copper.com. Softr.io Softr.io is a low-code tool that lets customers build apps atop Airtable or Google Sheets databases. These apps can be portals, project management tools, and lightweight CRMs. To make it easier to create an app, Softr.io offers pre-built and functional blocks like lists, charts, forms, tables, calendars, and maps out of the box. For Seedstars, Softr.io has been a “real game-changer.” It caught the attention of the investment firm because of its broad customization capabilities and no-code approach, which makes it easy to build multiple platforms. According to Mal Filipowska, portfolio and platform manager at Seedstars, Softr.io allowed Seedstars to replace the majority of the other tools it had been using previously. “The ability to build custom web apps with pre-built building blocks saved us countless hours of work and resources and improved our efficiency,” says Filipowska. “The true power of a tool like Softr.io lies in its versatility and adaptability.” Those considering using Softr.io should have a long conversation with the Softr.io team to understand all the possibilities the tool offers, says Filipowska. It’s also worth researching existing solutions on Softr.io, as using ready-made blocks can streamline the process. Subscription: $49-269 a month (if billed annually). Its basic version “for individuals building passion projects” is free. Website: softr.io. Cobalt Cobalt is a self-service portfolio monitoring app; it brings together business intelligence and user-centric design. Its analytics engine runs cash flow calculations and modeling, track record, attribution and peer analysis, PME benchmarking, value concentration analysis, and a host of deal-scoring analytics. In other words, Cobalt helps VCs manage the portfolio company data that goes in and build personalized reporting for internal teams and LPs. Seed fund Accion Venture Lab chose Cobalt to fulfill its needs for fund performance analysis and portfolio monitoring. According to its fund operations associate Jackson Pellegrini, Cobalt has enhanced access to information for the fund’s internal stakeholders, allowing them to view customized firm, fund, and portco performance dashboards. "On the portfolio monitoring side, Cobalt has transitioned our portfolio company operating data collection process from one that was heavily reliant on manual Excel-based KPI tracking to one that is semi-automated and highly consistent across the portfolio," says Pellegrini. Before using this tool, Pellegrini offers to weigh the value-add of the tool against any internal accounting processes and systems already in place; to evaluate portfolio companies’ sensitivity to new process requirements if automating operating data collection is of interest. Subscription: Cobalt offers personalized demos; it doesn’t disclose the prices on its website. Website: cobalt.pe. Affinity VCs can use the Affinity relationship intelligence platform to track their entire deal flow. It will store profiles of startups and their founders, their contact info, the history of how VCs (and who exactly from their team) communicated with founders, and the progress of each deal. One of the reasons why Cavalry started using Affinity was that the tool is tailored toward VC operations. Now it is using it to coordinate and analyze its deal flow and fundraising efforts. “We also structure and track our network [in Affinity] closely to make it as transparent and accessible throughout the team as possible,” says Cavalry platform manager Clara Köster. “Affinity works as our single source of truth.” Köster says a team effort is a key ingredient to make Affinity a game changer. If everyone opens their network and has a sense of urgency when it comes to the care of such tools, it can boost the fund’s performance. Subscription: Affinity offers personalized demos; it doesn’t disclose the prices on its website Website: affinity.co. Zapier Zapier helps build custom workflows and automate them. It can integrate more apps than any other rival platform into these workflows, including Dropbox, Google Sheets, WordPress, Office 365, Zoho CRM, and Microsoft Teams (in total, over 5,000 apps). Zapier also uses AI to help with automation: describe what you’d like to automate, and its AI tools will write the code and build your automations (called Zaps). Cory Bolotsky has used Zapier at a number of firms to automate intro tracking for portfolio companies (it stores and categorizes email-based intros) and post-meeting follows-ups; to streamline event registration forms, calendar invites, and post-event surveys; to set reminders of important dates (such as founder birthdays). These are just some of the uses. “VC Firms are often trying to track and integrate data where there aren’t great software products to help. Since most [VC] firms don’t have in-house software engineers, Zapier has become my number one tool to build nearly anything with no coding needed,” says Cory Bolotsky, a platform consultant for VC firms. “Zapier is quick and easy to learn, natively integrates with almost any tools that firms use, and is relatively inexpensive to use,” Bolotsky says. Those thinking the tool is too complex for them should just give it a try, Bolotsky insists. There’s a ton of resources (including on YouTube) on how to use it; Zapier also runs webinars to help get new users up to speed. Subscription: $20-100 a month (billed annually); it’s free for those who need just the basics of automation. Website: zapier.com. Airtable Airtable helps build apps to unite the company’s data and workflows. Most often, it's used for marketing and product operations, but its flexibility means it can be used for nearly anything — from planning an event to tracking sales leads. Venture fund and community of operators Operator Collective needed a versatile, customizable, and easy-to-adapt tool, which is also scalable. “Airtable provided just that solution,” says Anna Jacobson, ops and data partner at the fund. “Our Airtable bases are our single source of truth for everything we do — from investments to community and internal operations,” says Jacobson. “[It] allows us to model the interconnectedness of our entire ecosystem, giving us real-time visibility into not just individuals and activities, but also how we function as a network.” According to Jacobson, before building a single thing with Airtable, one should do some discovery work, focusing on their company’s vision, data strategy, and data acquisition. Vision. What is your purpose as an organization? Who are your clients? What do you want to do for/with them? What does success look like? Data strategy. Who are your data users? What tasks will they be doing with the data? Who will be responsible for building and maintaining your data tools? Data acquisition. What data do you already have? What data do you want but don’t know how to acquire? What resources do you need? “Once you have your plan, start small. Identify what is mission-critical and build MVPs to help you think through what you really need to have. You can always add nice-to-haves later,” Jacobson adds. Subscription: $10-20 per user, per month (if billed annually); it also has a free version for individuals or small teams (up to 5 creators or editors). Website: airtable.com. Luma Luma’s purpose is simple: it helps set up an event page, invite guests, and sell tickets. Forum Ventures uses Luma for its capabilities, user experience, and integrations. “We love how we can embed Luma on our website to showcase the events we are hosting and allow users to register directly on the site,” says Maggie Bolt, marketing manager at Forum Ventures. “Luma automates messages and follow-ups in the same way that other event management systems do, but the calendar functionality and the direct embedding feature allow us to seamlessly engage with our community,” Bolt says. Subscription: free (takes a 5% commission if you sell tickets); Luma Plus costs $59 a month (if billed annually). Website: lu.ma. Mailchimp Mailchimp is a marketing automation and email marketing platform. Perhaps it is most used for creating email campaigns and newsletters. With Mailchimp, you don't need to have experience in coding or graphic design to produce messages — everything is straightforward. Mailchimp also allows you to create landing pages. Before adopting Mailchimp for its monthly newsletters and various announcements for its community, Flyer One Ventures also considered Hubspot, Sendinblue, Zoho Mail, and SendPulse. Mailchimp proved to be both more flexible and easy to use; it also tracks the basic email campaign metrics such as open rate, bounce rate, and engagement. You have to understand the purpose of the email products you want to launch, how big is the audience, and the level of complexity you expect. If you need a basic solution, I guess it is not necessary to spend a lot of time on research — Mailchimp or Sendpulse are great tools. Subscription: Depending on monthly email sends and other features, its pricing plans start from $0 to $350 a month. Website: mailchimp.com. I’d like to thank Joshua Goodfield (VC Platform Community), Mal Filipowska (Seedstars), Julian McNamara (Maze), Benek Bolohan (Alter Global), Jackson Pellegrini (Accion Venture Lab), Clara Köster (Cavalry), Cory Bolotsky, Anna Jacobson (Operator Collective), and Maggie Bolt (Forum Ventures). These people shared with me their perspectives and tech stacks. Without them, this research would be impossible. If you’ve got any feedback or want to recommend more tools that can help VC industry players reach out to me, Oleh Karizskyi, at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash
- How F1V helps startups with marketing, product analytics — Mate academy case
Collecting data about your startup and analyzing it is an essential part of business planning. Product development, budgeting, expansion planning — there’s no way founders can do any of that simply relying on their intuition. How can founders enter new markets if they aren’t sure how foreigners would react to their product? How can they plan their budget if they can’t predict marketing campaign results? How can they introduce new features if they don’t know how the existing ones are used? The F1V marketing department has a variety of advisors who help startups with product and marketing analytics, design, sales, and growth marketing. Here’s an example of how we have assisted Mate academy with product and marketing analytics. On our side in this case was the senior product analyst for Wise U.K., Liliia Lutsenko. At Wise, she analyzes data on the product with 37.7 million monthly website traffic and 10 million app users. About Mate academy Mate academy is an online coding bootcamp that helps people build their careers in tech. It offers full-time and part-time courses. When students study full-time for 4 months, they don’t pay for courses but will have to transfer part of their salary to Mate academy (for a certain time, if they get hired by a tech firm). When students study part-time, they have a flexible schedule and pay a fixed fee for courses. The Mate academy team asked F1V to help set up course analytics and find ways to improve activation, engagement, and retention rates. Our work with them took a month. As a result, they got a map of metrics in Miro and Amplitude and recommendations on how to improve the product. Activation Measuring and analyzing activation is crucial to understand the level of user adoption and customer relationship initiation. It’s important not only in edtech but also in SaaS platforms, mobile apps, e-commerce, and marketplaces. In Mate academy’s case, activation is the process of students enrolling in courses, creating user accounts, accessing the learning materials for the first time, and completing the first topic. In other words, tracking activation metrics helps count the number of users who have entered the system and started engaging with the platform. To gain the insights and turn them into product growth areas, we used a number of approaches from demographics segmentation to cohort-based analysis. By breaking down feature funnels by topic and customer type, we found that full-time students have higher completion rate of the first topic compared to the part-time ones. The analytics also showed that the highest activation rates have Python, Frontend, and Java courses; users who sign up for courses from a desktop computer activate better than users on mobile devices. We also noticed that the students from English-speaking countries are 10% less likely to complete the first topic than other students. We worked with Mate academy to find ways to improve their completion rate. Based on the analysis we did, we decided to potentially simplify the content of the first topic and test how reducing the number of quizzes in the first topic would affect the activation rate. We also advised conducting customer interviews to get feedback from students and splitting the first topic into several smaller ones. Engagement Engagement metrics show the quality and depth of user involvement. A high level of engagement indicates that students actively interact with content, peers, and instructors, which leads to better learning outcomes. In the Mate academy case (similarly to other edtech startups), engagement is expressed in terms of time spent on assignments per week, active participation in discussions, contributions to group projects, and overall focus on learning materials. Our analysis showed that, after students complete the first topic, they have a high level of engagement throughout the rest of the learning process. Retention Retention measures the rate at which users stay engaged and continue to use or return to the platform. When analyzing it, you can get insights into users’ interests, commitment levels, and long-time involvement. In an online school, retention can be evaluated by tracking course completion rates on a weekly/monthly basis and ongoing participation in activities or discussions. High retention rates indicate that students remain actively involved in their learning journey. We brainstormed to determine which retention type would be a better fit for the product. In the context of an online school, a weekly learning habit is more preferable. Then, we segmented weekly retention by customer type. The results showed that the rate of weekly completion was higher among full-time students than part-time students. After that, we broke down retention within each customer group by course type and observed that Python has the highest retention rate compared to other courses. We were also surprised when we analyzed retention by country. Despite U.S. students generally having lower retention rates, those who continue beyond the initial topics are more likely to complete the entire course compared to students from other countries. Once we identified the segments with the lowest retention rate, we worked with the team to highlight key recommendations to improve them. *** After making the product and marketing analysis, the main question is: “How can we help students complete their first lessons?” We have provided several recommendations; the Mate Academy team has been brainstorming on how to modify the length, content, and number of dropouts in the first topic. Currently, the startup is testing theories. When we work with startups, our recommendations vary depending on their challenges. We may suggest redesigning their platforms, increasing advertising budgets, testing new creatives, etc. As teams are testing new approaches, we support them and provide additional advice and guidance. We want the Flyer One Ventures portfolio companies to grow and expand. If you have any requests regarding marketing, analytics, scaling, sales, or other areas — feel free to email me at email@example.com or text me on Telegram (t.me/alexnay). If you are a mentor and want to collaborate with some of the most promising startups from Europe and North America — let’s get acquainted. We are looking for talents to help budding entrepreneurs! Cover photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash
- 16 pitch competitions to catapult your early-stage startup’s growth
Competition can be fierce in the startup world, and emerging companies are constantly seeking ways to stand out from the crowd. That's where startup contests come in. Such events offer startups the chance to present their ideas, products, and business models to a panel of judges, which often includes venture capitalists and industry experts. Sometimes, the winner takes home a cash prize, while other times, the recognition from industry experts and VCs, which is priceless. Here’s a list of eight competitions that early-stage startups can try their luck in the coming months, along with eight more — which have already closed applications — to keep on your radar for the future. Read more: Here’s how to win startup pitch competitions: 3 tips from jury member Startup World Cup It is a global startup contest and conference organized by Pegasus Tech Ventures, a VC firm based in Silicon Valley. More than 50,000 people, including 2,500 investors, attend this competition every year. It has featured famous speakers such as Reid Hoffman, the founding CEO of LinkedIn, Steve Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple, and Marc Randolph, the co-founder of Netflix. Prize: The finalists will compete at the Startup World Cup Grand Finale in San Francisco on Dec. 1, 2023. The winner will receive a $1 million investment; it will either be in exchange for a portion of equity related to the most recent round of funding or a convertible note. Requirements: The applicants must be a legal entity. No other restrictions or fees apply — it encourages startups in any domain, at any stage, to apply. Find additional information here. Notable winners: Abivin, Leuko, UniFa. Deadline: From spring to autumn in 2023, Startup World Cup has been holding regional competitions in over 50 cities around the world. Check the deadlines for regional competitions and apply here. Website: startupworldcup.io. Slush 100 Pitching Competition Slush claims to be the world's largest gathering of venture capital. Last year, it brought together 4,600 startup founders and operators, accompanied by 2,600 investors, representing $1 trillion in assets under management. The conference’s Slush 100 is one of Europe’s most popular pitching competitions. Prize: N/A. Last year the prize was a €1 million investment from Accel, General Catalyst, Lightspeed Venture Partners, NEA, and Northzone. Requirements: N/A. In 2022, any startup founded in 2019 or later, with <€500,000 in previous equity funding could apply. Notable participants: NiftPad, zeely, Fungies, beams, bouncel, sociability, Viewalk. Deadline: Applications have not been launched yet. In 2022, the deadline for applications was on Oct. 7, while the finals were held on Nov. 18. Website: slush23.com The Europas The Europas combines an annual conference and Europe’s Hottest Tech Startup Awards. It was founded in 2009 by TechCrunch editor-at-large Mike Butcher to celebrate the successes of Europe’s early tech startups. Prize: N/A. The event promises to give a platform for networking with “all-star VCs” and learning from the experts. Requirements: For startups and investors headquartered in Europe (including Israel and the Mediterranean basin). The awards entry fee is £395 + VAT where applicable. The fee includes your application fee. It also includes for all entrants, and not just the long- and shortlisted startups, your entry to the online conference and in-person awards. Category Sector Awards is open to startups that have raised at least a seed round (and up to Series A). For bootstrapped startups, revenue must be over $500,000. Scaleup of the Year is open to companies that have reached at least Series B (or higher). For bootstrapped startups, revenue must be over $1.5 million. Notable participants: Spotify, Wise, SoundCloud and Babylon Health. Deadline: Apply here until July 11, 2023. The event will take place on Nov. 13 in Lisbon, Portugal. Website: theeuropas.com. Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge This contest is designed for deep-tech startups that solve urgent problems in society, the environment, and various industries. The organizers state that the winners and finalists of the contest have collectively raised over $3 billion since its establishment in 2014. Prize: The top prize is €100,000, it’s €30,000 for the second place, and the third — €20,000 with no strings attached. Requirements: The event is for the companies that are in their early stages (up to Series A) and have a team of at least two people. They should also be built on scientific discovery, incorporate new technology, or use a complex engineering process. Subsidiaries or spin-offs are not eligible. Notable winners: Sweetch Energy, Nanosystems, Agora Energy Technologies, RxAll. Deadline: Apply here until Sept. 22, 2023. Find more info here. The Global Summit (the pitching competition is its part) will take place in Paris on March 21-22, 2024. Website: hello-tomorrow.org. PITCH by Web Summit PITCH is Web Summit’s startup competition that brings together the world’s leading early-stage startups. All applications are recorded and passed on to an independent panel of influential judges for assessment. The top 105 startups will prepare their deck and delivery to battle it out onstage at Web Summit. Prize: N/A. "Our startup programme — ALPHA — shines a spotlight on early-stage startups with outstanding potential, connecting them with the world's most influential people and companies," reads the website. Requirements: PITCH is open to ALPHA and BETA startups exhibiting at Web Summit that have received less than €5 million in funding to date and have not had a discernible change in business model in the last three years. Notable participants: Revolut, Trello, Wise, Uber. Deadline: N/A, but applications for 2023 are open — apply for ALPHA here. The event itself is on Nov. 13-16 in Lisbon, Portugal. Website: websummit.com/startups/pitch. Fifty Founders Battle Fifty Founders Battle is TechChill’s annual pitch competition for early-stage startups. Each semi-finalist will then have the opportunity to present their business idea in front of over 100 investors and other attendees. Prize: €10,000 with no strings attached. Requirements: The competition is for early-stage startups from across Italy and the Southern and Western European regions. It is sector-agnostic. Notable participants: TA-DAAN, deliverart, VADO, hyperjob. Deadline: Aug. 11. Top 50 companies are announced on Aug. 25, while the semi-finals and final showdown are on Sept. 26-27 in Milan, Italy. You can apply here. Website: techchillmilano.co/fifty-founders-battle. WMF Startup Competition The WMF (We Make Future) has been “igniting opportunities and connections within the international innovation ecosystem” for over 10 years. Every year, the biggest startup competition in Southern Europe takes place at the WMF event. It brings together top players in innovation from around the world. Prize: There are three awards: Jury Award, Audience Award, and Special Mention. The first has a potential value of €1 million, as it grants access to the Startup World Cup Final in San Francisco; the Audience Award has a value of €160,000; the Special Mention is worth €15,000 in services provided by Search On Media Group. Requirements: The WMF seeks to highlight projects and solutions that can generate a positive impact on the environment and communities. During the application phase, each startup will be asked to indicate which of the 12 challenges of the future they are addressing, including the future of work, health, food & agriculture, learning & education, finance & insurance. Notable participants: Yalla, Wallife, Cyrkl. Deadline: N/A. In 2024, the event takes place on June 13-15, apply here. Website: en.wemakefuture.it. Focal Demo Day Focal is an annual startup contest usually held around May and October. It was launched by over 100 VC firms and angel investors who wanted to streamline the fundraising process for early-stage companies. Prize. N/A. After the demo day, investors will request intros to finalists through a special platform. And startups that won’t be selected to pitch will still be able to get introductions to more than a hundred VCs. Requirements: Startups from any place that are planning to secure a pre-seed, seed or Series A round in the foreseeable future are eligible to submit their applications. No fees apply. Notable participants: Slipstream, Bonnet, Captur, Honest Mobile. Deadline: The applications will reopen on Sept. 5, apply here. The pitch day is scheduled for Oct. 12, 2023. Website: gofocal.vc. Read more: 8 reasons why startup presentations fail Competitions to have on your radar I have also compiled a list of eight startup competitions that have already closed their applications but can serve as a good opportunity to pitch your startup in the future. Make sure to check their websites and social media for updates. Startup Battlefield at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference. Podim Pitching Competition. Infoshare Startup Contest at the Infoshare conference. Fifty Founders Battle at TechChill Riga. SXSW Pitch at the SXSW conference. Х-pitch at the Puzzle X conference. Global Startup Awards. Startup Competition at South Summit. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo by Kevin Woblick on Unsplash
- Here’s how to win startup pitch competitions: 3 tips from jury member
There are hundreds — if not thousands — of regional and global startup competitions and pitch days held every year. These competitions range from local events organized by universities or business communities to high-profile international contests hosted by renowned industry players. Founders can use these events to showcase their startups and secure a grant or attract venture money. The winner of the Startup Battlefield by TechCrunch, for example, receives a $100,000 equity-free prize; the winner of the Startup World Cup gets $1 million in investment. Having a good idea and a product that sells isn’t enough, though. It’s more about the art of presenting. Recently, I’ve been a judge at the Infoshare Contest, and here are my three tips to increase your chances of winning a pitch competition. Tip #1. Find out details about venue, adjust pitch Find out where exactly you’ll be performing: the size of a venue and the expected number of guests. Ask about the screen that will be used for presentations and other stage arrangements, including lighting and sound equipment. If the venue is small and intimate, you should focus on creating a more conversational and interactive presentation style, whereas in a larger venue, you may need to use more impactful visuals. By aligning your presentation with the technical setup, meanwhile, you can avoid potential glitches or distractions during the pitch. If there’s an opportunity to rehearse in the actual venue, make your team know the space and test the equipment, take it. During the Infoshare Contest, some startups had long presentations overloaded with small-print text. I couldn’t see everything clearly from my seat, and it was hard to read so much while staying focused on the pitch. It’s always better to have a simple presentation with eye-catching visuals, especially if the venue is big and you’re short on time. Also: Please, speak up. Read more: How to prepare for a conference to meet your next business partner Tip #2. Check contest criteria Look through the website of a competition and its social media and talk to organizers. Your goal is to find out the criteria that juries will use to assess startups. The judges will be looking for these specific criteria, and if you don’t tailor the presentation to highlight them, you will just miss your chance to win. Similarly, this will help you identify your potential weaknesses. Perhaps, on paper, you don’t appear to be the ideal winner for the organizers of this particular competition: Your company might not meet one of the criteria. However, you may still prepare an argument that can convince the jury that it isn’t critical in your case. The Infoshare Contest, for example, listed four main criteria on its website: business potential, team, product innovation level, and performance. Participants should have read about them and addressed them in their presentations, both verbally and visually. Unfortunately, not every startup did so. The organizers also said startups would have 3 minutes for a presentation and 2 minutes to answer questions. Some teams failed to complete their pitch within the given time frame, losing the chance to finish their story. So, practice making your pitch fit within a specified time limit. Read more: 8 reasons why startup presentations fail Tip #3. Try to stand out Dozens or sometimes hundreds of teams pitch their startups at contests. That’s why, by the time the last startup presents its pitch, the jury might have already forgotten about the companies that presented at the beginning of the day. One of the most important tasks is to capture the attention of the audience and the jury and do something memorable. I still remember the founders of startup Genotic who came onto the Infoshare Contest stage in chemical protective suits. Their project was related to biology and chemistry, and their attires created the right atmosphere and were memorable. Another startup, upLIFT, produces clothes that support the musculoskeletal system, and its team showcased the wearables using a manikin. Yes, it’s simple, but it helps (Genotic and upLIFT took 1st and 2nd place in the contest). Nazar Halychanskyi is the investment analyst at Flyer One Ventures. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo by Martin Jaroš on Unsplash
- Selected by ChatGPT: Top 7 pre-seed VC funds in Europe
This story has been generated by the artificial intelligence chatbot ChatGPT. It hasn’t been edited by a human being, except for the headline. In the world of venture capital, pre-seed funding is the first step on the path to startup success. It's the funding that helps early-stage companies turn their ideas into a viable product or service. For European startups, finding the right pre-seed VC fund can be the key to securing the resources they need to grow and scale. Here are some of the top pre-seed VC funds in Europe that every early-stage startup should have on their radar. Seedcamp Based in London, Seedcamp has a strong track record of investing in early-stage startups that go on to become industry leaders. Its portfolio includes companies like Wise, Revolut, and Maze. Seedcamp offers a range of support services, including mentorship, office space, and access to its extensive network of industry experts. Point Nine Capital Specializing in pre-seed and seed-stage investments, Point Nine Capital is based in Berlin and focuses on SaaS and B2B startups. Its portfolio includes companies like Delivery Hero, Zendesk, and Loom. In addition to funding, Point Nine Capital offers its portfolio companies access to its vast network of experienced entrepreneurs and industry experts. Connect Ventures Based in London, Connect Ventures invests in early-stage startups in the tech industry. It is known for being one of the most founder-friendly VC funds in Europe, offering mentorship, guidance, and support to its portfolio companies. Its portfolio includes companies like Citymapper, Oyster, and Typeform. Speedinvest Based in Vienna, Speedinvest has invested in some of Europe's most promising early-stage startups. It focuses on a range of industries, including fintech, healthtech, and industrial tech. Its portfolio includes companies like Wefox, Bitpanda, and Twaice. In addition to funding, Speedinvest offers its portfolio companies access to its extensive network of industry experts and entrepreneurs. Cherry Ventures Based in Berlin, Cherry Ventures invests in European pre-seed and seed-stage startups in a variety of sectors, including climate tech, healthtech, and fintech. Its portfolio includes companies like Flixbus, Cazoo, and Infarm. Cherry Ventures offers mentorship, networking opportunities, and operational support to its portfolio companies, with a focus on helping them achieve sustainable growth. Its team of experienced entrepreneurs and investors provides hands-on support to help startups navigate the challenges of scaling their businesses. Kima Ventures Kima Ventures is a Paris-based pre-seed and seed-stage VC fund that invests in startups across Europe and North America. Its portfolio includes companies like Wise, Zenly, and Carta. Kima Ventures offers a wide range of support services, including funding, mentorship, and access to its global network of industry experts. LocalGlobe Based in London, LocalGlobe is a pre-seed and seed-stage VC fund that invests in startups in a variety of sectors, including fintech, healthtech, and proptech. Its portfolio includes companies like Citymapper, Zoopla, and Wise. LocalGlobe provides its portfolio companies with access to its network of experienced entrepreneurs and investors, as well as funding and operational support. The firm is known for its collaborative approach and willingness to work closely with founders to help them achieve their goals. *** Each of these top pre-seed VC funds has a proven track record of supporting early-stage companies and helping them to succeed. Startups looking to take their ideas to the next level should consider partnering with one of these top pre-seed VC funds. Cover photo by Jeong Yejune on Unsplash
- Part of ‘smart money’ approach: How F1V supports portfolio with marketing
More and more VCs are now actively helping their portfolio startups with fundraising, hiring, and marketing — they aren’t simply waiting for exits after making their investments. This approach is usually called the smart money approach: VCs go beyond the traditional check writing and become trusted advisors and active contributors to the success of their portfolio startups. First Round Capital and Andreessen Horowitz pioneered this approach about two decades ago and successfully developed departments within their teams that are called Platforms. Depending on the VC and what it wants to achieve, this department could also be called Community, Portfolio Management, Talent, Portfolio Support, and so on. Platforms typically consist of PR managers, content makers, recruiters, and marketers who help portfolio startups with their expertise. At F1V, the Platform team is larger than the Investment team. We have PR, recruiting, operations, and marketing departments with team leads in each. This tailored support is often the reason for founders to choose F1V as their investor. In this short story, we talk about a few global funds that help their portfolio companies with marketing. We also explain how F1V supports its own portfolio in this area. Read more: Know us better: How does Flyer One Ventures work? Global VCs that go beyond funding At F1V, marketing support is a crucial aspect of our assistance since our startups are primarily in the early stage and often require guidance during their expansion. Among VCs, this type of assistance varies based on the project stage and the specific needs of the startups. Both Breega and Flybridge have full-time marketing specialists on board; some funds like Fuel Capital and Vendep Capital have marketers who work on both the fund’s brand and marketing support to its portfolio companies. The fund A Project has its own agency with specialists of various profiles, including marketing. Certain VCs provide help by tapping into their network and not keeping, say, marketers in house. Most often they have just one staffer responsible for all the areas, he/she talks to portfolio startups and, after understanding what they need, connects them with outside advisors. It can be a top marketing specialist who steps in and helps achieve concrete goals. Funds like The Engine, Chapter One VC, and Headline operate in this manner. Seedstars conducts an internal growth course and takes from participants a portion of the investments in return. Read more: Flyer One Ventures in 2022: $10M invested, 14 startups added to portfolio. Ways F1V can help startups with marketing With over 60 companies in our portfolio, our marketing crew keeps close connections with each company and helps with marketing launches, measuring performance, and hiring marketers. We offer both hands-on and hands-off support, depending on each startup’s needs and resources. Marketing launch. Our hands-on approach involves creating a marketing strategy and testing new channels or funnels for startups, helping their in-house team. If they don’t have enough resources, we run short-term marketing campaigns and then help them hire a permanent marketing specialist. Channel performance audits. We assess the media channels of a startup, including how their campaigns perform on Facebook and Google; it usually takes us a week to provide an audit presentation and come up with recommendations. We stay in sync with startups as they implement our suggestions. Performance mentoring. Through weekly check-ins, we review all marketing campaigns, suggest improvements, and discuss future tests. However, the startup team remains fully in charge of implementing the changes. Knowledge hub. Our internal platform serves as a consolidated knowledge base, offering guides, checklists, memos, and FAQs for startup teams to strengthen their own marketing expertise. We also host lectures, inviting external and internal experts to share insights. Expert consultations. We offer prompt support through discussions or written responses to specific questions. To help answer some of the toughest questions, we tap into our network of advisors. They provide guidance to startups on complex topics outside our scope. Currently, we are testing their involvement in B2B, marketing, and product analytics. Vetted freelancer network. We regularly grow our database of freelancers in fields like SEO, design, acquisition, and copywriting. These specialists have already been assessed for task quality and are available for our projects on an hourly or part-time basis. Marketing community. We have a networking platform for marketers from our portfolio companies to connect and share experiences with each other. Alexandra Naidonova is the head of marketing at Flyer One Ventures. Follow F1V on LinkedIn, where we publish advice, insights, and news about our portfolio companies. Cover photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash