entrepreneurship

Lessons from building Brex into a billion-dollar startup

Henrique Dubugras Contributor Henrique Dubugras is the founder Brex, the billion-dollar corporate credit provider for startups. When I think about my experience as an immigrant and entrepreneur in Silicon Valley, I remember growing up in Brazil and how we saw tech founders and CEOs as kings. We imagined what it would be like to assume the throne. But these weren’t just any kings. Silicon Valley was the kingdom of nerds and underdogs. We identified with these guys, they were just like us. We were fed the myth of a Silicon Valley meritocracy, and the illusion that all you needed was ambition, determination, and a good idea to meet the right person and get funded. What we didn’t understand was that this myth was not completely rooted in reality. Not everyone has access to the American Dream, ...

Building a great startup requires more than genius and a great invention

Shahin Farshchi Contributor More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies Many entrepreneurs assume that an invention carries intrinsic value, but that assumption is a fallacy. Here, the examples of the 19th and 20th century inventors Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla are instructive. Even as aspiring entrepreneurs and inventors lionize Edison for his myriad inventions and business acumen, they conveniently fail to recognize Tesla, despite having far greater contributions to how we generate, move and harness power. Edison is the exception, with the legendary penniless Tesla as the norm. Universities are the epicenter of pure innovation research. But the reality is that academic res...

Venture capital investment in US companies to hit $100B in 2018

So many new unicorns valued at $1 billion-plus, countless $100 million venture financings, an explosion of giant funds — it’s no surprise 2018 is shaping up to be a banner year for venture capital investment in U.S.-based companies. There are more than 2.5 months remaining in 2018 and already U.S. companies have raised $84.1 billion — more than all of 2017 — across 6,583 VC deals as of Sept. 30, 2018, according to data from PitchBook’s 3Q Venture Monitor. Last year, companies raised $82 billion across more than 9,000 deals in what was similarly an impressive year for the industry. Many questioned whether the trend would — or could — continue this year, and oh, boy has it. VC investment has sprinted past decade-highs and shows no signs of slowing down. Why the uptick? Fewer companies are ra...

Africa Roundup: Paga goes global and 4 startups raise $99M in VC

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Polestar unveils first production EV with aim to overtake Tesla Liquid Telecom goes long on Africa’s startups as future clients Nigerian digital payments startup Paga is gearing up for international expansion with a $10 million round led by the Global Innovation Fund. The company is exploring the release of its payments product in Ethiopia, Mexico, and the Philippines—CEO Tayo Oviosu told TechCrunch. Paga looks to go head to head with regional and global payment players, such as PayPal, Alipay, and Safaricom according to Oviosu. “We are not only in a position to compete with them, we’re going beyond them,” he said of Kenya’s MPesa mobile money product. “Our goal is to build a global payment ecosystem across many emerging markets.” Laun...

VCs say Silicon Valley isn’t the gold mine it used to be

In the days leading up to TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2018, The Economist published the cover story, ‘Why Startups Are Leaving Silicon Valley.’ The author outlined reasons why the Valley has “peaked.” Venture capital investors are deploying capital outside the Bay Area more than ever before. High-profile entrepreneurs and investors, Peter Thiel, for example, have left. Rising rents are making it impossible for new blood to make a living, let alone build businesses. And according to a recent survey, 46 percent of Bay Area residents want to get the hell out, an increase from 34 percent two years ago. Needless to say, the future of Silicon Valley was top of mind on stage at Disrupt. “It’s hard to make a difference in San Francisco as a single entrepreneur,” said J.D. Vance, the author of ‘Hillbilly...

This is how much VCs are paid

Venture capital is known for being an opaque industry, so it’s no surprise most of us have no idea what the average VC earns in a year. I got a closer look at the survey results of J. Thelander Consulting‘s annual venture firm compensation survey and, unsurprisingly, VCs make a lot of money. Just how much? Well, of the 204 VCs surveyed (172 male and 32 female), the average general partner expects to make roughly $634,000 this year, including a bonus for 2017 performance. The averages varied a bit depending on the size of the firm. VCs at firms with less than $250 million assets under management (AUM), for example, earn less than their counterparts at larger firms. GPs, who sit at the top of the ranks at VC firms, have the largest compensation packages. Their yearly bonuses are, on average,...

For Labor Day, work harder

Labor Day is a holiday that just doesn’t fit Silicon Valley. It’s purported purpose is to celebrate working men and women and their — our — progress toward better working conditions and fairer workplaces. Yet, few regions in recent times have supposedly done more to “destroy” quality working conditions than the Valley, from the entire creation of the precarious 1099 economy to automation of labor itself. My colleague John Chen offered the received wisdom on this discrepancy this weekend, arguing that Valley entrepreneurs should take the traditional message of Labor Day to heart, encouraging them to create more equitable, fair, and secure workplaces not just for their own employees, but also for all the workers that power the platforms we create and operate every day. It’s a nice sentiment ...

July sets a record for number of $100M+ venture capital rounds

In July 2018, the tech sector’s leisure class — venture capitalists — kicked investments into overdrive, at least when it comes to financing supergiant venture rounds of $100 million or more (in native or as-converted USD values). With 55 deals accounting for just over $15 billion at time of writing, July likely set an all-time record for the number of huge venture deals struck in a single month. The table below has just the top 10 largest rounds from the month. (A full list of all the supergiant venture rounds can be found here.) It’s certainly a record high for the past decade. Earlier this month, we set out to find when the current mega-round trend began. We found that, prior to the tail end of 2013, supergiant VC rounds were relatively rare. In a given month between 2007 and the start ...

A new $124 million for Brazil’s Movile proves that investors still see promise in Latin American tech

Brazil’s macroeconomic picture may be gloomy, but technology investors still see hope in the nation’s burgeoning technology sector — and a recent $124 million financing for the mobile conglomerate Movile is the latest proof that that the pace of investment isn’t slowing down. Brazil was already the hottest spot for technology investment throughout Latin America — with Sao Paulo drawing in the majority of the record-breaking $1 billion in financing that the region’s startups attracted in 2017. And with this latest funding for Movile, led by Naspers, that trend looks likely to continue. Indeed, Naspers investments in Movile (supplemented by co-investors like Innova, which participated in the most recent round) have been one of the driving forces sustaining the Brazilian startup community. In...

Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 accepted into YC, raises $1.2 million

Jake Bright Contributor More posts by this contributor Breaking down France’s new $76M Africa startup fund Africa Roundup: African startup investments turn to fintech this winter season When Nigerian logistics startup Kobo360 interviewed for Y-Combinator’s 2018 cohort a question stood out to founder Obi Ozor. “‘What’s holding you back from becoming a Unicorn?’ they asked. My answer was simple: ‘working capital,’” said Ozor. Kobo360 was accepted into YC’s 2018 class and gained some working capital in the form of $1.2M in pre-seed funding round led by Western Technology Investment announced this week. Lagos based Verod Capital Management also joined to support Kobo360. The startup — with an Uber -like app that connects Nigerian truckers to companies with freight needs — will use the funds to...

Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again

Shahin Farshchi Contributor More posts by this contributor Investing in frontier technology is (and isn’t) cleantech all over again The dos and don’ts of crafting frontier-tech companies I entered the world of venture investing a dozen years ago.  Little did I know that I was embarking on a journey to master the art of balancing contradictions: building up experience and pattern recognition to identify outliers, emphasizing what’s possible over what’s actual, generating comfort and consensus around a maverick founder with a non-consensus view, seeking the comfort of proof points in startups that are still very early, and most importantly, knowing that no single lesson learned can ever be applied directly in the future as every future scenario will certainly be different. I was fortunate to...

Techtonic Group raises $2 million to transform tech hiring through apprenticeships

Where the two companies are using price arbitrage between the costs of developers in emerging markets and coders in the U.S., Techtonic Group is simply offering access to talent. The company’s program pitches itself not just as a development shop, but as a recruitment and training company connecting its clients with skilled entry-level talent. The firm’s clients actually can hire Techtonic Group apprentices at no additional cost after 1,000 hours of work together. The company has fairly typical standards for the skills that its looking for, but it doesn’t require its apprentices to have a degree. Since its inception, more than 30 percent of the participants in the program have been women, half come from underrepresented minority backgrounds, and one quarter are veterans, according to a sta...