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New Locales Emerging as Venture Hotspots

The Silicon Valley, New England, and the New York metro area aren't the only US hotspots of venture-capital fund-raising. According to research by OpenView Venture Partners, there's also a flurry of VC activity in cities like Los Angeles, Chicago, Seattle, Washington D.C., and Austin.

Los Angeles is one of the most active of the second tier regions, with 31 deals in Q2 2011 for an aggregate value of $174 million, and vibrant e-commerce and media sectors.

“The confluence of the entertainment, gaming, and aerospace industries has created a big talent pool,” said First Round Managing Partner Howard L. Morgan, noting that IdeaLab and other incubators did their part to create plenty of Internet-savvy companies in the first bubble.

With a reported $181 million in expansion stage deals alone through the first two quarters of 2011, the Midwest is another hot spot for growth capital funding. Leading the way is Chicago,
which saw $92 million in Q2 investments over 14 deals. With companies like Groupon and GrubHub paving the way, child care service provider Sittercity continued the Windy City's
dominance of the local space with $23 million in funding during the quarter.

New World Managing Partner Chris Girgenti said the e-commerce, retail, healthcare, and clean tech sectors are all trending well. He cited organizations like the Chicago Entrepreneurial Center (CEC), which works to mentor and support innovative young startups throughout their
early stages of development.

With giants like Amazon and Microsoft, the state of Washington has all the makings of a technology superpower, especially for e-commerce. Local firm Madrona Venture Partners participated in six out of 16 second-quarter deals, adding companies like ExtraHop Networks ($14 million) and ($6 million) to a portfolio that also includes a co-investment with OpenView in SkyTap, a Seattle-based cloud automation solutions provider.

Madrona Managing Director Greg Gottesman said that the presence of Amazon in particular has helped inspire young companies in the e-commerce space. “I think a lot of times, the VC business is mostly about people investing in truly great entrepreneurs and great
teams,” he said. “Naturally, when you have the world’s greatest e-commerce company right in your backyard, you’re going to have a lot of companies like that coming from this region.”

With high-profile services like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure setting the tone, cloud computing has also proved to be a viable target for venture funding.Gottesman cited Madrona investments in Tier 3, Portland’s AppFog, and SkyTap as examples of some of the promising young cloud-based companies in the area.

University of Utah Tops List for Starting New Companies

The University of Utah is No. 1 in the nation at starting companies based on university research for the second year in a row, according to the latest Association of University Technology Managers survey, which ranks US universities and institutions on their commercialization success in 2010.

The U of Utah had 18 startups from July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010, one more than the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Other top schools included Brigham Young University with 13, Columbia and Cornell with 12, Johns Hopkins and Purdue at 11 each, and Caltech, Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Michigan with 10 each.

The U of Utah created the Technology Venture Development office in 2005 to coordinate all commercialization efforts across campus. Since the U of Utah launched its first startup, TerraTek, in 1970, it has followed up with more than 200 other startups based on research. 125 of these were founded in the past six years after the university restructured its commercialization efforts.

According to the university’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research 2010 economic impact study, U of Utah startups directly or indirectly accounted for 15,767 jobs, $754.5 million in personal income and US $76.6 million in tax revenue in 2009.

The University of Utah reported 287 active technology licenses, 208 invention disclosures, and 41 US parents in 2010.

The 2010 AUTM survey collected information from 183 institutions across the U.S. — 155 universities, 27 hospitals and research institutions, and one third-party management company. Those institutions created 651 startup companies, or an average of four startups per institution. The 10-campus University of California system had 75 startups in the latest AUTM survey, and the nine campuses of the University of Texas system had 33. However, those figures were not broken down to show startups per school, and the average per campus is far below Utah’s 18 startups.

Can Entrepreneurship Be Taught?

What is the influence of entrepreneurship education on intentions to become entrepreneurs and becoming full-time entrepreneurs? According to Babson College researchers:

• There is overwhelming evidence that taking two or more core entrepreneurship elective courses positively influenced the intention to become an entrepreneur and becoming an actual entrepreneur both at the time of graduation and long afterward.

• Writing a student business plan also had a significant influence, but it is not a strong as taking two or more core courses.

The findings are based on a sample of 3,755 Babson College alumni who graduated from 1985 to 2009, analyzed by Babson College Professors Julian Lange, Edward Marram, and William Bygrave, and Ajay Solai Jawahar M’11 and Wei Yong M’11.

“It’s time to cast off the prejudiced question, ‘Why teach entrepreneurship?’, because we now have excellent empirical evidence that it makes difference. We think that entrepreneurship should be taught not only for the production and training of entrepreneurs but also to help students decide if they have the right stuff to be entrepreneurs before they embark on careers for which they may be ill-suited,” they write.

Males were more likely than females to intend to become entrepreneurs and actually to become entrepreneurs. There was no difference between undergraduates and MBAs in intentions to become entrepreneurs and actually becoming entrepreneurs either when they were students, at graduation, or later when they were alumni. There was a hint that the higher their income, the less likely that alumni intend to become entrepreneurs. The greater their job dissatisfaction, the more likely that alumni have intentions to become entrepreneurs.

Startup America Gets Financial Partner

Financial-services firm Ernst & Young is join the Startup America Partnership, a private-sector alliance to accelerate the growth of entrepreneurial companies. The company will contribute its previous Entrepreneur of The Year (EOY) award-winners as advisors and mentors, and provide access to relevant thought leadership, webcasts, online resources, and other analytical tools. Winners of the EOY program represent the largest network of high growth entrepreneurs in America.

The Startup America Partnership is an independent, private-sector response to President Obama's Startup America initiative to inspire and accelerate high-growth entrepreneurship throughout the nation.

Nearly 2,000 entrepreneurs were nominated for Ernst and Young's 2011 Entrepreneur of The Year Program in the United States – these companies employed 750,000 people, and during the last two years were responsible for more than 150,000 net-new jobs.

The Startup America Partnership is an alliance of innovative US entrepreneurs, corporations, universities, foundations, and other private-sector leaders working to increase the prevalence and success of high-growth enterprises in the US. AOL co-founder Steve Case chairs the partnership and the Kauffman and Case Foundations are founding partners, providing initial funding and strategic guidance.

Startup Launched to Build Advanced Mobile Products

IAC, which operates 50 Internet brands, has launched a new one: Hatch Labs, "a technology innovation sandbox" for the development of mobile products. The startup was founded in October 2010 by Dinesh Moorjani, formerly the SVP of IAC Mobile and is dedicated to rapidly prototyping new applications, tools and platforms that tackle emerging problems in mobility.

Moorjani, who serves as CEO, manages multiple teams of startup engineers and entrepreneurs in partnership with Xtreme Labs to build the new ventures. Multiple products are currently operating in beta and will be introduced later this year. The first product, Blu Trumpet is a monetization platform for app developers and advertisers to marry mobile users' interests with mobile apps in a self-sustaining ecosystem. Details on the next project, which will improve the intersection of social, web and mobile, will be released in the second quarter.

"Our team has deep mobile expertise building and scaling mobile businesses across IAC. We started Hatch Labs to focus on entirely new products that can serve five billion people globally with access to wireless, as mobile networks and smart devices eclipse fixed broadband and stationary computing, respectively," said Moorjani.

At IAC, Moorjani started the mobile group in 2007 and was responsible for strategy & operations across leading IAC businesses, paving the way for over 40 million app downloads and mobile revenue doubling annually. Previously, he built digital media businesses at Samsung Electronics North America and managed cross-border teams to invent new applications for semiconductors and to turnaround digital media and mobile businesses in Korea and India. He has worked at Goldman Sachs, Mainspring (acquired by IBM) and in strategy consulting while building Saffronart, the leading online marketplace for Indian fine art. He serves as a board director and advisory with several tech companies, and has co-founded an online travel startup.

Greylock Ups Early-Stage Fund to $1 Billion

Greylock Partners, a Silicon Valley venture capital firm, has expanded its early-stage Greylock XIII fund to US $1 billion. The expansion capital was raised entirely with existing limited partners and was oversubscribed. In addition, Greylock announced the formation of Greylock Growth, a fund focused on later-stage financings in breakout consumer Internet and enterprise companies. The firm also operates the Greylock Discovery Fund for angel deals.

Greylock partner David Sze, leader of the growth initiative, said that continuous product innovation is critical to a company’s success. Greylock Growth will invest from US $25 million to $200 million at a time to help companies maintain their dominant positions while they continue to grow and expand.

Since Greylock’s initial Facebook investment in early 2006, about 40 percent of the firm’s dollars have gone toward later-stage companies. Greylock's portfolio includes companies such as Constant Contact, Groupon, Pandora, Redfin, and Zipcar. Pandora and Zipcar are currently in registration with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.

Greylock Partners initially closed $575 million for Greylock XIII in November 2009. The firm is an investor in a number of early-stage companies through this fund, including Airbnb, One Kings Lane, Pure Storage, Rally Software and Shopkick.

Greylock Discovery Fund has completed 20 seed-stage investments since it was launched in September 2010. Investments from this fund range between $25,000 and $500,000.

Have a Cleantech Startup Idea? It May be Worth $100,000

MegaWatt Ventures is hosting its annual clean energy business competition to help develop promising renewable energy technologies. The event, sponsored by the US Department of Energy and several energy corporations, lets Florida college and technology entrepreneurs compete for funding to launch innovative energy ventures that have the potential to create new jobs and help solve global energy issues.

Ten applicants will be selected by a panel of seasoned venture capitalists, technology experts, and industry veterans to compete for the $100,000 grand prize to launch their new company, as well as attend the National Research Energy Laboratory’s Industry Growth Forum in October in Denver, Colorado, with their newly attained investor pitching skill set. The top 10 teams will be announced in mid-April and will begin preparing for the final competition event, scheduled for 2-3 September in Central Florida.

The 10 finalist teams will each receive $10,000, be assigned professional mentors, and gain access to business workshops that will help to develop a commercially viable product prototype and business plan. This includes coaching on business plans and strategy, presenting a technical concept to potential investors and education on additional funding sources available, such as federal SBIR grants.

The teams will have access to a network of business mentors that include corporate executives from companies such as Siemens, Progress Energy, and OUC, as well as nationally recognized venture capitalists from Kleiner Perkins, Arch Ventures, and other firms. To further assist in the success of the company, a technical mentor network of veteran product engineers and developers with 20+ years of experience will advise teams on delivering a working demonstration of their prototypes for the competition.

The deadline to enter the competition is 5 p.m. EST on Friday, 11 March. Teams can apply online at and will be required to upload a three-page executive summary of the proposed energy efficient business idea along with other supporting documents. Teams may consist of a blend of at least one Florida university student, along with entrepreneurs, experienced business professionals, engineers, or scientists.

Intergence Spins Out IT Visualization Startup

Intergence Systems, a Cambridge, UK-based IT optimization consultancy, has spun out Real-Status Ltd., a separate company focused on the IT visualisation sector. This is the first spin-out from Intergence, with the company already working on other collaborative projects with local Cambridge companies and developing more innovative technologies with leading academic institutions.

Real Status’ first product, due to be launched in the second quarter, was developed with Cambridge-based gaming company Geomerics with support from the East of England Development Authority and the Technology Strategy Board.

Real-Status came to life under the guidance of Intergence CEO Peter Job, where the business was incubated for two years. Job said Real-Status is a great example of collaboration between two British companies supported by the Technology Strategy Board, and is expected to create new jobs.

Real-Status will be going to market through value-added resellers that provide consulting, implementation, training, and support services. Intergence Systems is already active as the first VAR and enlisted three clients to test Real Status’ product.

Business Technologies, Energy Drive VC Growth

Venture capital investment was up by 11 percent over 2009, but investors are shying away from information technology and healthcare in favor of business technologies, consumer solutions, and energy companies.

Throughout 2010, a total of 2,799 venture deals raised $26.2 billion, a 6 percent increase in deals and an 11 percent increase in capital invested over 2009, when 2,636 deals raised $23.6 billion, according to Dow Jones VentureSource.

“The healthcare and IT industries accounted for more than half of venture investment in 2010 but are not currently driving the growth,” said Jessica Canning, global research director, Dow Jones VentureSource. “Investment in business technologies, consumer solutions and energy companies gained the most traction in the last year.”

The median deal size for 2010 was $4.4 million, down from the $5 million median in 2009.

Venture investment in healthcare companies fell 7 percent in 2010 to $7.4 billion for 702 deals. As usual, biopharmaceuticals companies claimed the largest proportion of investment in the healthcare industry, with 317 deals raising $3.4 billion. The industry’s smallest sector, healthcare services, saw the strongest growth. Fifty-four healthcare services companies raised $1.2 billion, a 29 percent increase in deal activity and more than triple the capital raised in 2009.

IT companies garnered $7.2 billion for 889 deals in 2010, up from the $6.7 billion put into 858 deals in 2009. Software was the only IT sector to see an increase in both deal activity and capital invested as 608 deals raised $3.8 billion. The communications and networking sector was the hardest hit, as it collected $1.2 billion for 90 deals, a 27 percent drop in deal activity and 21 percent drop in capital invested from the previous year.

The consumer services industry garnered $4.4 billion for 483 deals in 2010, a 67 percent spike in capital invested and a 23 percent jump in deal activity over 2009. The industry, which is driven by investment in the Web-heavy consumer information services sector, benefited from increased investor interest as well as sizable cash infusions for maturing Web companies.

"Venture capitalists are pursuing strategies more akin to growth equity investing than traditional venture capital with some of their maturing Web companies,” said Scott Austin, editor of Dow Jones VentureWire. “Companies like Groupon, Zynga, and Facebook are generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue so VCs don’t need to exit quickly. Instead, they are growing these companies through acquisitions of technology and talent as well as business development, which can require sizable cash infusions.”

In 2010, both investment and deal activity in the business and financial services industry jumped 8 percent as 447 deals raised $3.3 billion. The largest proportion of investment in the industry went to the business support services sector, which raised $2.5 billion for 337 deals and was largely driven by investment in advertising and marketing technologies and services.

Later-stage deals accounted for 40 percent of the year’s deals and 61 percent of total capital raised in 2010, a slight change from 2009 when later-stage deals accounted for 38 percent of deals and 55 percent of capital raised. Seed- and first-rounds accounted for 36 percent of deals and 18 percent of capital invested during 2010, nearly unchanged from 2009 when early-stage rounds claimed 35 percent of deal activity and 19 percent of capital raised.

IBM Boosts Investment to Help Startups

IBM will invest $150 million in 2011 to fund programs that promote entrepreneurs and new business opportunities in the United States. The announcement was made as part of the White House-led Startup America campaign.

"The investment will help us greatly expand the work we're doing to build business skills and provide market opportunities for the most innovative new companies in the country," said James Corgel, general manager, IBM Developer and Academic Relations. "These startups are tackling some of the country's most pressing challenges and opportunities."

Since launching its Global Entrepreneur initiative last year, IBM has helped launch more than 500 new businesses in key areas such as green energy, healthcare, and transportation. The new investment will be used to:

  • Coach and mentor startup businesses throughout the United States;
  • Expand education, build skills and mentorship programs in collaboration with the academic and venture capital communities;
  • Provide skills and business opportunities to the growing community of software developers who collaborate on emerging technologies.

IBM works with more than 8 million developers and nearly 6,000 universities in programs to help develop new technologies and prepare students and developers with the skills to succeed in a global market. Additionally, there are five IBM Innovations Centers in the United States where IBM provides access to technology, education and hands-on assistance to help business partners and startups design, build, market and deliver new technologies and solutions.

Among the new American startups working with IBM are:

  • Streetline: A San Francisco-based company that uses the latest sensor technology to help citizens find inexpensive parking quickly, while helping cities to manage their parking resources more efficiently.
  • Sproxil: A Boston-based company that identifies counterfeit medicine in emerging countries using cell phone technology at point of purchase to validate genuine drugs.
  • CareCloud: A Florida-based cloud computing software and services company that streamlines the financial, administrative and clinical functions of a medical practice.

To help build startup communities and harness the innovation of academic communities, IBM is also launching its 2011 Skills Tour that will visit 15 college and university communities in 10 states. The events bring together students and professors with business, government, venture capital, and nonprofit leaders from the area to discuss the skills needed for leadership jobs in the 21st century.

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