2016 Year-to-Date Private Equity & Venture Capital Investments

How is 2016 shaping up for private placement? As of the end of August, there have been 7844 private placement deals. Of the 91% of the companies that reported deal amounts, the YTD total is already at $70.3Billion.


Not surprisingly the industry with the most investmestments is Information Technology with a total of 2778 deals. The majority of those deals is in Internet Software and Services with 1610 deals and Application Software with 661 deals. Of the 1393 total healthcare deals most were in Technology, Equipment, Biotech and Services. Restaurants and Packaged Foods both made the list of the top 20 most invested industries. Be sure to check out last week’s post on What’s Cooking in Venture Capital Food & Beverage to see some of the highlighted companies in this area.

CapitalIQ, Bizologie

CapitalIQ, Bizologie

It is difficult to get a good count of the most active firms by deal total, because deals are often made with multiple investors. We can see the most active investors by deal count. Y Combinator and 500 Startups have been involved with the most deals this year. Y Combinator had 208 deals and the median number of deals for the top 10 companies was 31.

CapitalIQ, Bizologie

CapitalIQ, Bizologie

 

A couple of companies we thought were interesting...

SafeTraces received $1.5MM from Maumee Ventures. According to their Press Release “SafeTracersTM enable producers, processors, and retailers to gain an unprecedented level of food source and safety assurance. The company is currently engaged with several national and global pilot customers that are actively using SafeTracersTM in production for tracing produce back to its origin, ensuring that raw materials are sustainably sourced, verifying the purity of olive oil and improving the safety of leafy greens and other fresh produce. These customers intend to use SafeTracersTM to ensure the traceability of their products, reduce foodborne illnesses, minimize food-processing costs, and increase food safety.” You can see how it works in the video below.

DroneDeploy received $20MM from Scale Venture Partners & High Alpha. DroneDeploy develops cloud-based drone software solutions for the agriculture, construction, inspection and mining industries. According to their Press Release “DroneDeploy users have mapped and analyzed over 5 million acres in over 130 countries.”

What’s Cooking in Venture Capital Food & Beverage?

We will have to see what 4Q holds for Food & Beverage investments, but year-to-date the deal numbers are lagging last year and the values are far less than 2015. With a total 644 deals in the overall industry for 2015, the 2016 deal count is only at 58% of those deals for the year as of late August. There has been a real slowdown in the value of deals for all the sub-industries with the most significant drop in value for the Brewers sub-industry deals.

Source: CapitalIQ, Bizologie

Source: CapitalIQ, Bizologie

Restaurants have had the smallest drop in deal value for the year. Of the 239 restaurant deals in 2016, it is a food delivery company that received the largest investment. DoorDash raised $127mm from 6 firms: Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers; Sequoia Capital; Wellcome Trust, Investment Division; Khosla Ventures; and Y Combinator. Not too shabby for a company formed in 2013 in a dorm room at Stanford.

Functional beverages fall in the Soft Drink sub-industry. According to Citi, the functional beverages category consisting of energy drinks and isotonics (sports drinks) is worth $14.8b. Even with soft drink investment values down 79% for the year, BA Sports Nutrition raised the highest amount with $6mm this year from Dr. Pepper Snapple. Their BodyArmor Super Drink has vitamins, electrolytes and all natural flavors and sweeteners.

Interestingly, pet food falls also under the general Food & Beverage industry in the packaged foods sub-industry. According to IBISWorld, Pet Food is a $25b market. The market is dominated by huge brands like Purina (Nestle)  and Cesar (Mars), but little guys are moving in and finding investment. One company to watch is Prairie Dog Pet Products.  The 2 year old, Grand Prairie, Texas company manufactures treats and antler products for pet dogs. The company received almost $10mm this year in private placement.

In addition to the corporate investing, corporate venture capital is growing and you can definitely see the influence in the Food & Beverage industry. Two examples are General Mills 301 Inc. and the newly launched Eighteen94 Capital from Kellogg Company.

Some venture capital firms just focus on this industry. CAVU Ventures is an Austin/NY based firm and their partners bring experience from Sweet Leaf Tea & Coca Cola.  Boulder Food Group is looking to partner with Food & Beverage companies that are making positive environmental and social contributions, both locally and globally. 2X Partners in Chicago partners with consumer brands with revenues between $2mm and $25mm.

Want Your Team To Win Super Bowl 50? Two Words: Chicken Wings

While making your bets for this Sunday’s Big Game, you might be tempted to rely on statistics from folks like Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight. Or if you like your stats to be delicious, you could take some advice from The National Chicken Council who reports “during the 2016 NFL playoffs, in cities where chicken wings sold higher than their opponent, the city with higher wing sales won 7 of the 10 playoff games, and 4 of the 5 past Super Bowl games.  If the same holds true for Super Bowl 50, the Panthers will roll over the Broncos – selling wings at nearly a 3 to 1 pace.”

Uh-oh, Denver. You’ve only got a couple of days to start knocking back more chicken wings. The good news is that over 300 wing restaurants opened in 2015, so you’ll have no problem playing catch-up. When in Denver, Bizologie recommends The Cherry Cricket for fantastic wings. They also have great burgers (for more burger business check out our report on Better Burgers) if you’re not superstitious about your football.

Since it’s clear that chicken wings and gaming go together, UBS reports that Buffalo Wild Wings is “testing a Massive Gaming Theater which fits up to 30 people that stand together and play a family friendly game all at once. Games last 7-10 mins and cost $2-5. Currently three locations are testing the platform.”

So no matter how you slice it, wings are about fun and games. Happy Super Bowl Weekend--Go [Insert Your Favorite Team Here]!



Startup FAILS: learning from the mistakes of others

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The great American entrepreneur Henry Ford said “The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.”  All startup founders should be familiar with the sting of making mistakes, but how much attention do we pay to the mistakes of others, those cautionary tales we should all heed to avoid the same pitfalls?

Aside from following the splashy headlines after a public failing – think GigaOm, Twitpic, Gowalla – there are several research tactics you can use to compile important lessons, and learn about your competition. 

CB Insights published this fascinating post-mortem on 146 failed startups. In addition to linking to the details on each company’s end story, there is value in seeing the repeating trends amongst the companies listed.  Business media abounds with Top 10 lists for why startups fail, but this kind of representative sample from CBI is incredibly useful for identifying mistakes amongst companies in your same market niche.

For more information on privately held companies, the local business journals are an invaluable source for interviews with company leaders. These publications are often able to glean valuable details on the growth or missteps of startup darlings which would be otherwise ignored by national media. The Business Journals, Inc. covers over 40 metro US cities.

Look for publicly traded companies in your industry. You'll find regular updates on the health of the company at their investor relations website (Google: Company name investor relations). Here you’ll find a digital copy of the “Glossy” annual report, often containing a SWOT analysis and audio files of the quarterly analysts calls – phone discussions between the C-suite and financial analysts on the current challenges and opportunities facing the company.

Another place to look for competitive clues is in SEC filings, particularly regarding the challenges faced by recent IPO companies. The S1 filing, which can be found on the SEC website includes discussion of executive personnel, management challenges, legal issues, risk factors and regulatory concerns.

Every startup will experience bumps in the road, but how those bumps are handled will ultimately determine whether the company survives intact. Performing a survey of how similarly positioned companies handled their bumps can lend crucial lessons in survival and a roadmap to success.

Holiday Toy Market & Hottest Christmas Toys of 2015

Santa is delivering a lot of toys this holiday season! According to BMO’s December report on Toys, “the National Retail Federation (NRF) expects total 2015 holiday sales to increase by 3.7% to $630.5 billion, with online sales increasing by 7% to represent $108 billion of the total (17%). The 3.7% growth rate is a deceleration from a prior-year increase of 4.1% but is above the 10- year average growth rate of 2.5%.”

If you are looking for the hot toys this Christmas, Bizologie has compared the top Christmas toy lists from Good Housekeeping, BMO Capital Markets, and Toys ‘R’ Us. There are lots of robots and smart toys on the lists this year. The View-Master on the list, isn’t the old-school toy you may be thinking of.  This is a new virtual reality viewer based on Google Cardboard and you use it with a smart phone. It isn’t all high-tech though -- Shopkins, those adorable miniature foods and household items, are still a big hit. Check the Good Housekeeping list for more craft toys and the Toys ‘R’ Us lists has a few more things for the young kids.

The character toys are extremely popular as always this year. You can’t lose with Frozen and Minions, PAW Patrol, and, of course, Star Wars. BMO expects Hasbro to sell $400 million of Star Wars-related product in 2015.

If you are playing Santa this year, hope you find just the right gifts to delight.

Good HousekeepingBMO Capital MarketsToys 'R' Us
Wonder Workshop Dash & Dot Wonder PackLEGO DimensionsFisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo
Fisher-Price Imaginext Ultra T-RexSpin Master Air Hogs Millennium FalconFisher-Price Smart Toy Bear/Monkey
Hasbro FurReal Friends StarLily, My Magical UnicornJAKKS Pacific Hulk Smash Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Take Care of Me Lambie
Mega Bloks Minions Castle AdventureSpin Master BunchemsBarbie Saddle 'N Ride Horse
Mattel View-MasterHasbro Star Wars Blade Builder LightsaberLittle Live Pets Clever Keet
Creativity for Kids Make Your Own Holiday Snow GlobesSpin Master PAW PatrolShopkins Fashion Boutique Playset
Crayola Cling CreatorThinkway MinionsStar Wars BladeBuilders Jedi Master Lightsaber
Crayola Creations Thread WrapperHasbro Nerf RivalJourney Girls 2015 Italy Holiday Doll
Faber-Castell Do Art Paint With MarblesSphero Star Wars BB-8 App-enabled DroidPaw Patrol Paw Patroller
Sick Science Solve This Science KitMoose Toys ShopkinsFisher-Price Imaginext Ultra T-Rex
Kidoozie My First Zoomin’ GarageStar Wars R2-D2 Interactive Robotic Droid
New Sprouts Waffle TimeLEGO Dimensions Starter Pack
ThinkFun, Compose YourselfGuitar Hero Live
ImagAbility WedgnetixNERF N-Strike Modulus ECS-10 Blaster
MindWare Pattern Play 3DMeccano MeccaNoid Personal Robot

Created with the HTML Table Generator


Yoga Pants or Jeans--What’s your go-to for Casual Friday?

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As you’ve probably noticed by now, yoga pants are no longer just for yoga. Going shopping? Running errands? Heading to the movies? Yoga pants have seemingly replaced blue jeans as the go-to casual attire. And it’s not just for brands we expect to see like Nike and Under Armour. Even designers like Tory Burch are moving into the athleisure market. And for good reason. Brean Capital reports the athleisure market “grew 7% last year to $35 billion and now comprises roughly 17% of the $206 billion total U.S. apparel market. By comparison, the total clothing market, without activewear, grew only 1%.”

 

According to Citigroup Research, lululemon “almost single-handedly invented the athleisure industry”. By making workout clothes more fashionable and improving the fit, people began wearing their workout clothes everywhere, even to work. Athleisure is now one of the fastest growing sectors of the apparel industry and everyone wants in on the action. Joining the previously mentioned companies are: Athleta, Sweaty Betty and Nordstrom’s Zanella.

Cotton Incorporated’s 2014 Sports Apparel Survey reports that 9 in 10 consumers say they wear athletic apparel for activities other than working out and that non-active consumers spend nearly as much as active consumers on activewear. One of the most interesting aspect of their findings is that “while price ranks as the third most important factor when shoppers purchase clothing in general, price is the sixth most important purchase driver among consumers buying active apparel”.  And it’s probably no surprise that comfort ranks as the most important factor when shopping for athletic wear.

But don’t count out denim just yet. BMO Capital notes that Americans buy 450 million pairs of jeans each year and “despite tremendous strength in athleisure, resurgence in denim drives largely from its newfound ability to keep up with the comfort factor offered by athleisure/legging via fabric technology new to mass market this year. While skinny jeans remain the dominant style, as 2015 vehemently co-opts the 70s decade, we see even more newness in denim on the horizon via silhouette shifts (including from skinny to wide/flare leg and low-rise to mid and high-waist).”

So whether you’re full steam ahead with your yoga pants or kickin’ it old school with your jeans and Chucks….it’s good news for the Cotton Industry.



Lemon Theory of Due Dilligence

Last week, Bizologie presented at the SLA Texas Chapter meeting of information professionals in Dallas. It was a great program sponsored by Plunkett Research and IEEE. We had the privilege of hearing Dr. David Croson a professor of strategy, entrepreneurship, and business economics at SMU Cox School of Business. Croson is also an angel investor. His research and his presentation, Cashing In On Superior Research In The Startup Economy, both focus on the value of information in decision-making.

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Because investors need to move money and make investments, time spent trying to pick only the best companies, or the “cherries” as Croson calls them, can be counter productive. Croson posits it is better to focus on filtering out the lemons and then invest in all the other opportunities that come across the desk. His research supports that that theory pays off.

How do you sort out the lemons? When doing due diligence on companies, go in looking for disconfirming evidence. Play the devil’s advocate and try and find every reason this company could or would fail: Is the industry not growing; Are there huge competitors; Are there unfavorable regulations coming? By intentionally looking for the bad news, you won’t miss something or be inclined to skip over something that seems negative.

Also as Croson points out, it is important to remember the value of research is zero if you don’t plan to make any changes with the information you receive. So when you are presented with the research, be sure that you are taking into account your original intentions and objectives for having sought the research in the first place.






I just started my startup so why would I pivot?

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Anyone who has founded a startup can tell you. It’s a roller coaster.  Expect the unexpected.  Make a plan B, and C and probably D too.

One of the most critical skill sets for a startup founder is agility. It can be difficult, especially when you’ve poured your heart and soul and personal savings into your big idea. But often times, the most successful founders are the ones who were willing to make necessary adjustments, either in the product or the business model. This is the pivot.  This is the moment when you acknowledge and act to chart a new course.  So how do you know when it’s time to pivot?

There’s no perfect answer, but conducting a bit of market and competitor research will often reveal important pivot points.  Most pivots arise from gaining a piece of competitive intelligence that invalidates a prior assumption. For example, have you made assumptions about your market size being larger than it really is? Have you made assumptions about the age or habits or disposable income of your buyers? Have you made assumptions about the likelihood of being granted a patent?

Here are three real life examples we’ve seen recently:

1.     The founder made an assumption that her customers would be predominantly Millennial generation because the product would be sold through online channels. After we researched her market segment, we learned that in fact, buyers in this category of ecommerce were almost evenly split between Millennials, GenX-ers and Baby Boomers.  The research opened up two entirely new verticals to market towards and provided more detailed definition to the market size.

2.     The founder made an assumption about the most compatible retail outlet for his product, a “fit food”.  When we researched the market segment, we could see that the grocery market was saturated, but the open opportunity was distribution through sporting goods stores. The likelihood of capturing market share was far greater with the less obvious channel partner.

3.     The founder made an assumption about the adoption of his product by government agencies as the primary sales channel.  However, the research showed the inefficiency of landing contracts with those agencies in relation to the sales pipeline necessary to hit investor growth targets. The decision was made to pivot to private contractors for the initial go-to-market strategy and develop a secondary long play for government agencies.

In each of these cases, the research invalidated an assumption the founder had made regarding his or her market segment or primary buyer.  But by analyzing and accepting the research, each was able to make a critical pivot to their startup and undoubtedly improved their chance of success.

Halloween Spending 2015

According to the National Retail Federation 157 million Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year with spending on Halloween expected to reach $6.9 billion. The average per person spending on candy, costumes, decorations, is down $3.18 from last year to $74.34.  

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Halloween isn’t just for the kids. In fact, of the $2.5 billion spent on store-bought, homemade, large and small costumes, more money is spent on costumes for adults - $1.2 billion. $950 million is spent on costumes for the kiddos. Remarkably, 20 million pet owners will spend $350 million dressing up the furry members of the family. Have you picked your costume yet? The NRF has provided an excellent list of the top costumes for 2015. The popular costumes on everyone’s lists include Batman, Star Wars, and the Minions. 

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Now to the sweetest part of Halloween - the candy! The National Confectioners Association puts the spooky holiday’s candy sales at $2.6 billion, the NRF puts it at $2.1 billion - either way that is a lot of candy. What kind of candy can you expect at the neighbor’s house this year? Even though “70% of people say chocolate is their favorite Halloween treat, followed by candy corn (13%), chewy candy (6%) and gummy candy (5%)...63% say they stock their trick-or-treat candy bowls with a mix of chocolate and non-chocolate, so that they can be sure to have something everyone will like.” And, parents are 24% more likely to handout “creepy candy...shaped like spiders, eyeballs and brains.”

JP Morgan reports on the big retailers and shows that “Party City is the second largest Halloween retailer in the U.S. with over $400M in sales and 315 temporary Halloween City stores in 2014... Spirit Halloween [subsidiary of Spencer’s Gifts], is the largest Halloween retailer with over 1,150 stores across the U.S. and Canada...with an estimated ~$250M in sales. Spirit stores are open for as long as eight weeks in advance of the holiday with an estimated productivity of ~$240K vs ~$244K for Halloween City… Party City derives ~25% of revenues from all things Halloween making it undoubtedly the largest holiday.”

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Get your costume ready, stock up on candy, and enjoy your Halloween Weekend!

Food Trucks: Trends, Costs & Consumers

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The Food Truck trend is still on the rise. The Statistic Brain Research Institute reports that food trucks are a a $1.2B market with 4,130 food trucks operating in the US. And now established restaurants are taking their kitchens to the street. According to the National Restaurant Association, “19% of fast casual restaurants say they are very or somewhat likely to launch one in the next year or two.”  Paste Magazine shows that National Restaurant Association estimates the market will grow to $2.7B by 2017.

If you are thinking of starting your own food truck, the National Restaurant Association has some great suggestions including:

  1. Have a very clear understanding of your city’s regulations

  2. Rent a truck to try it out

  3. Keep the menu simple and easy to serve with limited cooking and staff space.

The association also quoted “Roaming Hunger founder Ross Resnick, whose company connects entrepreneurs with truck builders” and he suggests budgeting $80,000 to $100,000 for a new build. A retrofit will cost less of course or you could buy a trailer for even less. And, be sure to check out  ROAM 2016 the Mobile Food Conference is coming to Las Vegas in March.

The National Grocers Association consumer survey report shows that customers feel “there’s a free-spirited vibe around food trucks. Among respondents who go to food trucks, the reason they cite most often is “fun” (48.7%). An expectation of “tasty” food (42.2%) is the #2 trip driver. This is followed by: “easy way to try something new” (39.2%), “impulse, I saw it on the street” (27.1%), and expectation of a “quick” meal or snack (25.1%).”

For a look at the 101 Best Food Trucks in America, check out the The Daily Meal 2015 report.




The Best of the Better Burgers

According to NPD Group, Americans ordered 9 billion burgers in 2014. Even President Obama loves a good burger. This week Bizologie lunched at Shake Shack, which got us thinking about all the “Better Burger” restaurant choices. According to Morgan Stanley, the better burger category where “fast food and fast casual meet”, is a $3 billion market. Better burger restaurants include Five Guys, In-N-Out, Smashburger, etc. This is a small fraction of the overall US “limited service burger” market which is $72 billion.

While Five Guys has the biggest market share with $1,138MM in sales, our Chief Research Analyst, April points out that they don’t have shakes so they don’t make her top list.

Source: How SHAK Stacks up, Morgan Stanley, February 24, 2015

Source: How SHAK Stacks up, Morgan Stanley, February 24, 2015

Our local Austin favorites include Hopdoddy for their Nutella & Chocolate Pretzel shakes and P. Terry’s who serves oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. You can see that Bizologie puts a little more focus on the dessert portion of the menu.

Morgan Stanley provides a breakdown of the cost for the average cheeseburger meal. BurgerFi breaks the bank at $11.51. Austin’s P. Terry’s cheeseburger combo coming in at just $5.90, makes it one of the least expensive of all the better burger choices along with In-N-Out and Burgerville.

Source: How SHAK Stacks up, Morgan Stanley, February 24, 2015

Source: How SHAK Stacks up, Morgan Stanley, February 24, 2015

According to Custom Culinary’s Top Trends for 2015, consumers are getting creative with their burger toppings, too. Everything from Sriracha to brisket to marmalades and jams. And though it’s not listed here, we’ve seen many local restaurants adding a fried egg on top. Want to further your burger education with some empirical evidence? Eater has a list of The 21 Essential Hamburgers of America.

Source: Top Culinary Trends 2015, Custom Culinary

Source: Top Culinary Trends 2015, Custom Culinary





Bizologie’s Top 5 Takeaways from Denver Startup Week 2015

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1. RTD takes you there. In a city known for cleantech startups, the array of public transport and light rail were the perfect companion for a week of connecting with the tech community. While most events were within walking distance of the Chase BaseCamp, Denver’s excellent transport saved many weary feet throughout the week.

2. Funding is within reach.   An event called VC for Breakfast offered direct access to a large and representative group of venture capital and private equity partners from the Denver area.  Once the panel of 15 VCs were introduced, the individual conversations began in earnest. This was a rare opportunity for entrepreneurs to engage a broad swath of the VC community in one open environment, a real benefit to startup founders who may not otherwise have a proverbial foot in the door.

3. Beer is your business partner. With Startup Week following right on the heels of the Great American Beer Festival, showcasing 154 Colorado craft breweries (and hundreds more from around the country), this plentiful libation lends local flavor and a laid back atmosphere to networking events. Beer is big business in Colorado and the breweries themselves are great examples of entrepreneurship to learn from.

4. Free business advice. Mentor sessions are typically a standard part of these kinds of events – local business leaders, bankers, attorneys, CPAs and seasoned entrepreneurs volunteer their time to meet 1 on 1 with attendees, offering years of collective wisdom and expertise.  I watched as one determined pair of startup cofounders made their way around the room meeting with every single mentor on hand, soaking up invaluable business advice.  With mentor session scheduled throughout the week, a tenacious entrepreneur could gain eight hours of free advice.

5. Social has support.  Social media can be one of the trickiest aspects of growing a startup business, especially if you don’t identify as part of the “digital native” generation.  Denver Startup Week offered several informative sessions with panels of social media, traditional media, marketing and public relations experts. They covered best practices and cautionary tales related to a wide spectrum of online engagement with customers, employees and stakeholders.

After wrapping it’s fourth year, Denver Startup Week attracted a record 11,000 registered attendees, proving this startup ecosystem is thriving and vibrant. If you didn't make it to the event this year, be sure to mark your calendar for 2016!

Bizologie Talks Due Diligence with Dallas Angel Investors

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Last week we were invited to meet with Dallas-Fort Worth area angel investors and present ideas on how angels can take a more active role in performing due diligence prior to making investments.

The event was hosted by Joe Payton, owner/founder of GeniusDen, a Dallas coworking space and business incubator.

The presentation was based around the premise that hearing a startup founder’s impassioned pitch is often compelling enough to inspire an angel to invest, but should be taken as just one part of a multi-step decision process.  While VC firms routinely apply the concept and practice of due diligence to guide and inform their investment decisions, it is not as obvious nor as widely employed as it should be at the angel stage of investing.  Bizologie presented the various parts of the due diligence process one should consider before making an angel investment, from free financial data sources to licensed tools available to advanced investors.  Attendees learned what pieces of information are necessary to create a full portrait of a potential investment before writing the check.

Thanks to GeniusDen for sponsoring such a great event!

Competitive Intelligence FTW at Pipeline Entrepreneurs 2015

Bizologie was honored to be invited to present to the Pipeline Entrepreneurs 2015 Fellows last week in St Louis, MO. The agenda was competitive intelligence for entrepreneurs and the Pipeline Fellows got a deep dive look at the tools and resources used to gather business intelligence. Many of the CEO Fellows will be preparing institutional funding rounds in the coming months, so the timing was perfect to begin accumulating VC funding data in their markets. Others are preparing product launches or physical site openings, and the data tools presented will assist them with the strategic decisions unique to each of their companies. We look forward to watching these Midwest stars grow!

 

Profiling Pinterest: Users & Stats

According to CapIQ, Pinterest has raised more than $1,000,000,000 and is valued at $11B. While there's plenty of buzz about their IPO plans, they've yet to file an S-1. In the meantime, we thought we'd take a look their stats.

Users & Growth

From March 2014 to March 2015, Pinterest's user base climbed 25% year-over-year to 72.8 million monthly active users. Source: Mashable, ComScore 

US Users:

According to new estimates from eMarketer, the social network’s US user base will reach 47.1 million in 2015, up 11.4% year over year.

Source: eMarketer

Total Pins

April 24, 2014  Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann announced that users had contributed more than 30 billion Pins since the service was founded, a number that has grown by nearly 50 percent in the past six months alone. Users have also created more than 750 million boards in that time.

Source: TechCrunch 

Types of Pins

May 2014 RJ Metrics conducted a survey of 50,000 random pinterest users and their pins.

Highlights:

The average active female user has made 158 pins.

Most popular categories on Pinterest. 20% of pins fall in the Food and Drink category, 12% are DIY & Crafts, and 11% are Home Decor.

"Etsy is crushing it. Our first reaction was to wonder what Etsy was doing right on their product pages to encourage pinning, but it turns out the on-site Pin It button only accounts for 8% of total pins. 67% of all Etsy pins come from the Pinterest bookmarklet."

"Etsy is crushing it. Our first reaction was to wonder what Etsy was doing right on their product pages to encourage pinning, but it turns out the on-site Pin It button only accounts for 8% of total pins. 67% of all Etsy pins come from the Pinterest bookmarklet."

Source: RJ Metrics 

Alight has a great infographic entitled "Pinning it Down: A Guide to Consumers' Relationship with Pinterest". You can check it out here.


Understanding Crude Oil Pricing

Oil is the world’s most valuably traded commodity, as well as most actively traded.  There are two types of crude oil pricing – spot pricing and contract pricing.  Spot pricing is priced today with delivery in a day or two, whereas contract pricing is for delivery for a specific period of time.

Not all crudes are created equal.  The benchmark crude for the United States, West Texas intermediate (WTI), has desirable qualities that make it ideal for refining into gasoline and other petroleum-based products and thus trades at a higher price.  The international benchmark is Brent, from the North Sea, and a third benchmark crude, Dubai (also known as Fateh in the United Arab Emirates) is generally used for pricing Persian Gulf crude exports to Asia.  All crude oil is priced in US dollars per barrel (42 gallons) on the international marketplace.

Spot pricing is best used for the daily price of oil, and also for historical pricing.  The Energy Information Administration (EIA), the statistics-keeping arm of the US Department of Energy, has spot pricing for WTI back to 1986 and can be obtained on a daily, weekly, monthly or annual basis.  Current prices are released weekly.  The EIA also has Brent spot pricing from 1987 to the present. Helpful Bloomberg tickers to pull current and historical spot pricing for WIT are USCRWTIC and EUCRBREN for Brent.

Contract pricing is for a specific delivery time.  For example, the contract for March 2015 delivery of WTI started on November 23, 2009 and will end on February 20, 2015, with delivery scheduled for between March 1, 2015 and March 31, 2015.  There are currently at least 77 separate contracts for future delivery, and these constitute the “forward strip”.  Futures pricing can be obtained for both WTI and Brent on Bloomberg by using the forward curve, or CCRV.

7 Ways to Perfect Your Pitch

After attending several Demo Day pitches and tuning in for countless hours of “Shark Tank”, we’ve noted seven ways entrepreneurs can perfect their pitches.

 

  1. If your idea purports to solve a problem for the consumer, make sure there’s actually a problem to be solved. Remember when Joey Tribbiani filmed an infomercial about pouring milk (“You're the guy who doesn't know how to pour milk!”)? Consumers aren’t going to spend money if they don’t view your product as solving a problem they actually have.

  2. Pick your team’s best presenter to give the pitch. It may well be that your Founder & CEO is the most passionate about your idea, but are they the best speaker? You’ve only got a few seconds before you lose the audience, so pick someone on your team who is comfortable, charismatic, and well spoken in front of a crowd.

  3. Get to the point. About that few seconds you have before you lose the audience, make sure you aren’t being so clever with your open that you forget to tell people what it is your company does.

  4. Don’t let the demo take over. If you are going to demonstrate your product, be careful. Practice in front of folks. Can they see what you’re doing? What about far away in an auditorium. Can you demo with one hand and a mic? Maybe you really just need to tell people about the product in the demo and let them see the product close up later in person or on your website.

  5. Spelling counts. Even if you’ve double and triple checked your presentation, get a few more pairs of eyes to make sure it’s perfect. We recently watched a pitch with a glaring spelling mistake. Not only were there only three words on the slide, the misspelled word was core to their business. Careless errors on a presentation will make investors and customers wonder if you’ll be careless with their money, their privacy, or the quality of your product or service.

  6. Do your research. Make sure you know who your competitors and customers are. Acknowledge your competition and what makes your product or service different. Everyone has a competitor! Make sure you have an understanding of who your customers are and how many of them you can really reach.

  7. Do more research.You also need to know the investors you’re trying to reach. You don’t want to present your idea for the best new e-commerce solution to a firm who typically invests in energy or logistics.

 

If those last two scare you the most, let us help you with research. Bizologie can help you define your Total Addressable Market (TAM), find your competitors, and help you understand your potential investors.


Bizologie Buzz: What’s Trending in the VC/Startup Industry

Each week we round up a few interesting articles, reports and presentations that we believe are of particular interest in the VC/Startup Industry.

THE RANDOM EVENTS THAT SPARKED 8 OF THE WORLD'S BIGGEST STARTUPS, Fast Company. "Light-bulb moments don’t happen on command, and brainstorming sessions rarely produce extraordinary results. More often it’s a random remark, event, or memory that sends an entrepreneur down the rabbit hole of innovation. From Airbnb to Yelp, here are the surprising origin stories to eight of today’s hottest companies."

Brooklyn Bridge Ventures Looks for Seedlings, Eyes Bigger Fund, Venture Capital Dispatch, WSJ. "Mr. O’Donnell’s goal is to make about 30 investments out of his current fund and to start making the first deals out of a potential second fund in 2016. He hopes to raise the second fund next year."

Global Taxi Apps Vie for Unicorn Status, Crunchbase. "Investors have allocated over $2 billion in venture dollars this year to consumer transportation companies, from giants like Uber and Lyft to more narrowly-focused startups like Shuddle, the so-called “Uber for Kids,” and FlightCar, the airport car rental marketplace."

Venture Capital Performance Slips in 2Q, But Longer View Looks Rosier,  Venture Capital Dispatch, WSJ. "Venture capital performance slipped in the second quarter of this year but the 10-year return continued its climb, outperforming public market indexes."

Four ways cities can embrace the sharing economy, World Economic Forum. "The sharing economy is neither a panacea nor a silver bullet. However, it is an extremely useful, effective tool by which to improve life in cities. It is a new lens by which we can unlock value in assets all around us. So the better thing to do – for city leaders, resilient communities and wellbeing – is to lean in."

Venture capital data provider PitchBook says they’re not for sale, GeekWire. "PitchBook, the Seattle startup that collects data on venture capital and private equity financings, is denying a report by PeHubthat it is for sale. According to the report, which cites unnamed private equity sources, PitchBook is being 'shopped around.'"



Bizologie Buzz: What’s Trending in the VC/Startup Industry

Each week we round up a few interesting articles, reports and presentations that we believe are of particular interest in the VC/Startup Industry.