Guest posts wanted, ‘mango’ seed rounds, Expensify’s tech stack – TechCrunch


Story by: Walter Thompson TechCrunch » Startup

Prospective contributors regularly ask us what topics Extra Crunch subscribers want to know more about, and the answer is always the same:

Actionable advice backed by data and / or experience.
Strategic insights that go beyond best practices and offer specific recommendations that readers can try for themselves.
Industry analysis that paints a clear picture of the companies, products and services that characterize individual technology sectors.

Our submission guidelines haven't changed, but Editor-in-Chief Eric Eldon and I wrote a short post that identifies the topics we are currently prioritizing:

How-to articles for early stage founders.
Market analysis of various technology sectors.
Growth marketing strategies.
Alternative fundraising.
Quality of life (personal health, sustainability, proptech, transportation).

If you are a skilled entrepreneur, founder, or investor interested in helping someone else build their business, please read our latest guidelines, then send your ideas to

Thanks for reading; I wish you a nice weekend.

Walter Thompson
Senior Editor, TechCrunch

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Opting for a round of debt can lead you from Series A startup to Series B unicorn

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Debt is a tool, and like any other – be it a hammer or a handsaw – it is extremely valuable when used skillfully, but can be very painful if handled incorrectly. This is a story about how to do it right.

Mario Ciabarra, the founder and CEO of Quantum Metric, describes how his company was on an "enormous growth curve" – ​​and then the pandemic broke out.

"As the weeks passed after the first shelter-in-place orders, the rush for digitization grew exponentially and the opportunities to acquire new customers increased," writes Ciabarra. “Maybe a solution to our money problems? Not so fast – it was a classic case that you had to spend money to do something. "

If companies want to obtain equity, debt capital can be an advantageous choice. This is how Quantum Metric did it.

4 proven approaches to CX strategy that will make customers feel loved

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People have been working on improving the customer experience (CX) since we started selling things to each other.

A famous San Francisco bakery has a street-level exhaust fan; Every morning his neighbors wake up to the smell of orange and cinnamon morning rolls wafting down the block. Likewise, experienced hairdressers know how to greet returning customers by asking if they want a repeat or something new.

Online, CX can encompass everything from recommending the right shoes to an AI that knows when to upgrade a frustrated traveler for a delayed flight.

Given the spin-off and initial public offering of Qualtrics and Sprinklr's most recent S-1, Rebecca Liu-Doyle, director at Insight Partners, describes four key attributes shared by "companies that have improved their CX game."

Twitter Acquisition Strategy: Eat The Public Conversation

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What does a microblogging service that buys a social podcasting company and newsletter tool do while creating a live broadcast sub-app? Is there a strategy at all?

Yes. Twitter is trying to revitalize itself by adding more contexts for discourse to its repertoire. The result, if everything goes right, will be an impact super app that has never been seen before. The alternative is nothing less than the destruction of Twitter into a link forwarding service.

Let's talk about how Twitter tries to eat up the public conversation.

Read the tea leaves of the IPO market

Photo credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

Although it was a shortened holiday week here in the United States, there was a bushel of IPO news. We went through the updates and made a number of sentiment calls on these public offers.

Earlier this week we looked at:

Marqeta's first IPO price class (Fintech).
1st Dibs ‘first IPO price class (e-commerce).
Zeta Global (Martech) IPO prices.
Start of SoFi trading according to SPAC (Fintech).
The latest from BarkBox (e-commerce).

How Expensify found its way into a robust, scalable tech stack

Photo credits: Nigel Sussman

Part 4 of Expensifys EC-1 covers the engineering and technology of the company, with Anna Heim noting that the group of P2P pirates / hackers set out to develop an expense management app by themselves sticks to her gut instinct and draws up her own rules.

They asked questions that few considered, such as: why have a lot of employees when you can find a way to get the job done and get impressive profitability with a few? Why work from an office in San Francisco when you can work anywhere with the internet, even from a sailboat in the Caribbean?

It makes sense in a way: if you're a pirate, to hell with the rules, right?

With this in mind, one might assume that Expensify has decided to ask: Why not build our own, fully bespoke tech stack?

Indeed, Expensify has made several technical decisions that have met with disbelief, but believing in its own decisions has paid off over the years and the company is now ready to go public any day.

What technical advantage Expensify enjoys from such decisions is an open question, but one thing is clear: These decisions are the key to understanding Expensify and its roadmap. Let's take a look.

Etsy asks, "How are you, classmate?" With a $ 1.6 billion purchase of Depop

Photo Credit: Getty Images

News this week that ecommerce marketplace Etsy will buy Depop, a startup offering a second hand ecommerce marketplace, for more than $ 1.6 billion may not have had much of an impact on the acquiring company's share price so far, but it does provide fascinating insight into what brands are willing to pay to enter the Gen-Z market.

Etsy buys Gen Z love. Think about it – Gen Z probably isn't the first demographic that comes to mind when you think of Etsy. So you can see why the deal might stand out in the minds of the larger company.

But it's not cheap. The lesson from the Etsy Depop deal seems to be that big e-commerce players are ready to get involved in youth-approved marketplaces. This is good news for companies that are still private and popular with the next generation.

Confluent's IPO brings a high-growth, high-calorific SaaS model to the public markets

Credit: Andriy Onufriyenko / Getty Images

Confluent was the latest company to announce its intention to take the IPO route and officially filed its S-1 papers this week.

The company, which has raised over $ 455 million since its inception in 2014, was last valued at just over $ 4.5 billion when it raised $ 250 million last April.

What does Confluent do? It built a streaming data platform on top of the open source Apache Kafka project. In addition to its open source roots, Confluent has a free tier of its commercial cloud offering to complement its paid products and help generate top-of-funnel inflows that it converts into sales.

What we can see in Confluent is almost an old school high burn SaaS business. It has raised vast amounts of capital and used it in an increasingly expensive sales model.

How to win advisory, board and deal roles with PE and VC funds

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Would you like to work with private equity and venture capital funds?

There are relatively few direct jobs in private equity and venture capital funds, and these jobs are very competitive.

However, there are many other ways to work and make money in the industry – as a consultant, interim executive, board member, deal executive partner when buying a company, as executive in residence or as a resident entrepreneur.

Let's take a look at the different ways you can work with the investment community.

The existential cost of slowing growth

Photo credits: Nigel Sussman (opens in a new window)

Even in the most valuable tech shops, shareholder return is focused on share price increases and buybacks, which to some extent is the same.

Slowly growing technology companies in the single-digit billion range cannot play the buyback game to the same extent as the majors. And they grow more slowly, so that even a similar buy-back program would be less enthusiastic on a relative scale.

Grow or die, in other words. Or at least grow or come under heavy attack from external investors who oust the founder-CEO and "reform" the company. But if you can grow quickly, welcome to the land of milk and honey.

Even in the most valuable tech shops, shareholder return is focused on share price increases and buybacks, which to some extent is the same.

Slowly growing technology companies in the single-digit billion range cannot play the buyback game to the same extent as the majors. And they grow more slowly, so that even a similar buy-back program would be less enthusiastic on a relative scale.

Grow or die, in other words. Or at least grow or come under strong attack from external investors who oust the founder-CEO and "reform" the company. But if you can grow quickly, welcome to the land of milk and honey.

Hormonal Health Is A Big Opportunity: Where Are The Unicorns?

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There is a growing group of entrepreneurs who bet that hormonal health is key to the digital health boom.

Hormones are fluctuating, constantly evolving, and varied – but these founders say they are also the key to solving many health conditions that disproportionately affect women, from diabetes to infertility to mental health problems.

Many believe that it is this complexity that underscores the opportunity. Hormonal health is at the heart of the personalized medicine and women's health talks: by 2025, women's health could be a $ 50 billion industry, and by 2026, digital health in general will grow to $ 221 billion.

But while funding for women's health startups is falling and the stigma continues to affect where the venture dollars go, it's unclear whether the sector is still in its infancy or is at a real tipping point.

3 Lessons We Learned After Raising $ 6.3 million from 50 investors

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Two years ago, the founders of the Reclaim calendar assistant platform were looking for a “mango” seed round – a pile of money big enough to help them transition from the prototype phase to recruiting for a public launch.

Though the team received offers, co-founder Henry Shapiro says the few that did arise were poor options, in part because Reclaim was still an intermediate product.

“One summer morning, my co-founder and I sat in his garage – where we had prototyped, pitched and iterated last year – and realized that, hard as it was, we had to go away completely and do a complete one Reset our fundraising strategy, ”he writes.

Shapiro shares what he has learned from accepting failure and offers three conclusions: "Every founder should think twice before deciding to present investors."

For SaaS startups, differentiation is an iterative process

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Although Software as a Service has been thriving as a sector for years, it has been boosted last year as companies responded to the pandemic by accelerating the migration of key functions to the cloud, ActiveCampaign Founder and CEO Jason VandeBoom writes in a guest column.

“We have all seen the news of SaaS startups raising large rounds of funding, with deal sizes and valuations steadily increasing. But as observers of the tech industry know only too well, large rounds of financing and valuations are not foolproof indicators of sustainable growth and longevity. ”

VandeBoom notes that SaaS startups “need to stand out from the herd at every stage of development in order to scale sustainably. If this is not done, this means a bad result for founders and investors. "

"As a founder who switched from on-premise to SaaS in 2016, I focused on scaling my company (most recently over 145,000 customers) and learned a lot about how to make a name for myself," writes VandeBoom. "Here is some advice on differentiating the different phases in the life of a SaaS startup."


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Source References: TechCrunch » Startup