August 30, 2020
With as much innovation as there has been in financial services over the past decade, the reality is that there are core infrastructure components that limit what can be done. One important example is something that all of us have experienced －waiting for money to transfer between accounts. While a solution to this problem would seem to be simple, it’s actually quite complex to solve in a modern way. That’s what led us to lead the $5.2 million seed financing for Orum, along with our friends at Inspired Capital, Acrew Capital, Bain Capital Ventures, Clocktower Ventures and BoxGroup.
WHO: Stephany Kirkpatrick, Ryan Cooke and Christine Hurtubise, co-founders of Orum, bring needed skills in management, sales, product management, engineering and data science to Ourm. Stephany led key business units for LearnVest and then all digital products for Northwestern Mutual. Ryan and Christine are savvy technologists with extensive experience in fintech from companies including N26, Stash and OnDeck. Together, the team has experienced the problem that Orum is addressing firsthand and understands what it will take to solve it for the entire financial industry.
WHAT: Orum uses rich data and machine learning to predict when funds are available and if there is any fraudulent activity. The company’s first product, Foresight, makes it possible for any financial institution to access these data-driven insights via a simple API. By doing so, those institutions can move money immediately without taking any financial risk. Orum helps make it possible for the end customers of these institutions to access funds when they are moved rather than wait days for an antiquated financial system to authorize their transactions.
HOW: Orum’s product combines a sophisticated machine learning platform with an accessible API. The data platform leverages the customer’s internal data and third-party data that Orum accesses itself. That makes it possible for Orum to evaluate every individual financial transaction and to provide its customers with a highly accurate assessment of whether a transaction should be authorized immediately, delayed, or rejected outright. The real-time API allows customers to incorporate this assessment into their normal transaction flow. In total, Orum helps money move immediately.
WHY: Frictionless money movement makes it possible for the entire economy to operate more efficiently. Workers and businesses can all get paid more quickly. Moving money between accounts happens instantly. Sending money to friends and family is completed without delay. Legacy financial industry infrastructure wasn’t designed for the demands of a real-time world. But Orum is helping it meet the needs of a modern economy,
If making money move fast is of interest to you, join the Orum team. You’ll get to be part of a company that will be the infrastructure for all money movement, changing how the world thinks about using money.
August 25, 2020
An all-in-one platform that brings words, data and teams together sounds like a ‘must have’ in 2020. But Shishir Mehrotra started working on Coda in 2014 which means customers are already enjoying the benefits of thoughtful, scalable technology that rethinks documents. So it’s not surprising that investors noticed too, resulting in Coda’s recently announced Series C raise of $80 million. Having worked with Shishir at Google, we were fortunate to support Coda in its initial financing and even though six years have passed since, the journey is still just beginning - they’re hiring.
July 27, 2020
We’ve been investing in financial services infrastructure since Homebrew’s inception, starting with our seed investment in Plaid. Innovation in financial products for consumers and businesses is still often hamstrung by legacy infrastructure and processes. So we’ve consistently been active in identifying opportunities to replace those antiquated systems with modern software and APIs, enabling an entirely new era of financial services innovation that can dramatically benefit end customers.
Our original investment in Hummingbird was based on the idea that financial services companies, new and old, would seek out more efficient and effective strategies to tackle compliance and regulatory requirements. By replacing manual but required processes, they could focus resources on what differentiates them, their products and customer experiences. Hummingbird recently raised a Series A of $8.2 million to continue helping financial institutions fight financial crimes more efficiently and effectively. We’re thrilled to continue investing in a company that is solving a problem that is critical to easing further innovation in the industry. And we’re even more excited to continue supporting a team that uniquely combines product and regulatory expertise to deliver an incredible set of products and services.
Hummingbird is hiring so if you’re keen to unlock financial innovation while maintaining the safety of our financial systems, check out its open positions.
June 30, 2020
The internet was supposed to get rid of middle-men and sometimes it does, but often it just creates new ones. Braintrust brings together talent and serves the gig economy but with a take-rate much lower than previous staffing models. Since Braintrust is built from the ground up to be a low-friction, community-directed platform, it anticipates a world where the job seekers are also co-owners. This is a vision we’re proud to support as investors. Customers like Porsche and Nestle are already staffing from Braintrust, and if you want to hire talent from the platform or join Braintrust yourself, they’re open for business.
June 29, 2020
We believe humans are amazing and even more so when computers ride alongside to help us do our work. Third Wave Automation shares this vision and recently announced a $15 million Series A to continue development and rollout of its warehousing and logistics machinery, starting with autonomous forklifts. The Third Wave team combines deep technical expertise with a bias towards action -- they want to see their work in industrial settings, not just R&D labs. This was why from the very beginning they worked in and around pilot sites to put product in client hands quickly. If this type of culture appeals to you, they’re hiring.
June 22, 2020
It’s been wonderful to see the team at Even continue to focus on their mission: helping to manage - and hopefully eliminate - financial stress for workers. Since their founding, they’ve been able to bring on great customers, such as Walmart, and are now assisting well over 500,000 monthly active users. Even’s relevance has only increased in 2020, as companies realize the economic impacts of COVID are touching every employee, and so the startup has raised some additional capital from new investors such as PayPal Ventures and Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff. Congratulations to the team on their financing and even more importantly, the work this will allow them to do.
June 22, 2020
June 10, 2020
Sexual harassment training and other forms of corporate training were already largely stale and outdated before the events of the last few months forced many of us into social distancing. But it’s no surprise that the need for modern, effective and virtual training has spiked recently as companies ask questions like “How do we train around inclusion?” and “How do we help our employees understand laws and norms in a world of Zooms and Slack chats?”
We’re proud to be supporting investors in Ethena, an enterprise software company founded by Roxanne Bras Petraeus and Anne Solmssen. They’ve created the absolute best online sexual harassment training on the market and recently announced their seed fundraise. This financing will support their continued growth, and expansion into other behavior change training verticals. You can even visit their website today and sign-up for free training to help your company navigate the pressing topics of inclusivity and WFH.
May 31, 2020
We often tell founders that more startups perish from indigestion than starvation ⎼ by trying to do too much at once, they fail to be excellent at anything and run out of time before finding traction. So when Tia’s CEO, Carolyn Witte, came to us shortly after closing their seed round to share that they were going to enter the physical health clinic business in parallel to building a digital platform we’d just funded, we gasped a bit. But it turns out that Carolyn is no ordinary CEO. Alongside her cofounder, Felicity Yost, and team, Tia launched a New York City-based clinic for women’s health, designing an experience from the floor (and Instagrammable interiors) up, while delivering incredible results. It was “closing of the loop” ⎼ being able to approach women with a promise of connected and complete healthcare, which earned them raves. Well within its first year of operations, the clinic’s care model and financials were working.
With this proof, and an expansive vision for becoming a women-focused health system, the next wave of incredible investors jumped on board, combining consumer and healthcare market expertise. Last week Tia announced its $24m+ Series A, a formidable round befitting the aggressive strategy. “A new and distinctly female model of care” is what Tia calls its goal, and we couldn’t be happier to continue our support of the team’s mission.
If you also believe that women deserve comprehensive, holistic health care, consider joining the NYC and SF-based team.
May 1, 2020
We’re excited to share our seed investment in Walrus.ai, a startup building out a smart, scalable platform to automate QA testing. Already live with customers, the company recently announced its financing and is now officially open for business.
WHO: Maybe it’s because we (Hunter and Satya) had worked together at Google before starting Homebrew, but we always love to see founding teams composed of former colleagues. Walrus.ai’s three cofounders (Scott, Jake, Akshay) met at Wealthfront and then got back together to solve problems they’d first encountered in their product and engineering roles.
WHAT: Software companies have dreamed about being able to catch software bugs without asking their engineering teams to write and maintain cumbersome end to end tests. The benefits would be clear: more time developing, less time fixing, and broader testing coverage than what can be squeezed out of a team. Ultimately, all of that means higher quality products for customers.
HOW: Walrus.ai quickly creates and automates your unit tests. Set them up in seconds and they run ongoing, monitored by Walrus.ai and with trustworthy results published for anyone to review. No need to update the tests as your underlying code changes and complete integration into your CI/CD flow.
WHY: We’re all familiar with the phrase “software eating the world” (or our slight variation “software enabling the world”). The implication is that everything will be touched by software and those programs, devices, platforms will need to be increasingly reliable. Testing and QA will become increasingly essential and the economic impact and risk of software failures will continue growing quickly. This will cause even the CFO to care about quality, not just the VP Engineering. As a result, enormously valuable opportunities exist for startups to help automate and manage these activities.
March 12, 2020
Equity and sustainability have never been more important and top-of-mind. It was with those themes in mind that we originally invested in Ride Report. From the beginning, Ride Report’s goal has been to help cities and operators work together to deliver on their goals of providing safe, equitable, and environmentally sustainable transportation options. The company’s comprehensive micromobility management toolset is already used in over 60 cities globally, including Portland, Oregon, Austin, Texas, and Auckland, New Zealand. With the new $10 million financing, led by Unusual Ventures, Ride Report is moving even faster towards a future of mobility where operators and cities increasingly work together to help the industry grow.
We are so proud to continue our partnership with William Henderson and team! They’re hiring in Portland so take a look at their open positions.
March 11, 2020
One of the core ideas that led to the founding of Homebrew was that as technology became cheaper, more accessible and more flexible, it would undoubtedly transform businesses that historically might not be considered “tech companies.” So from the beginning we’ve invested in multi-billion dollar traditional industries like financial services, healthcare, manufacturing and retail, with an eye towards the impact that technology can have on efficiency and access. Our work in construction and real estate technology began with our early investment in Building Connected. Today we’re proud to share that it continues with our investment in Monograph.
WHO: Robert Yuen, Alex Dixon and Moe Amaya are architects turned technologists. As a result, they have a deep understanding of the tools, processes and pain that architects deal with when designing and delivering a building. Based on having experienced that pain firsthand, the Monograph team saw the opportunity to deliver modern software that helps architecture and design firms manage projects and collaborate with the teams that build the physical world around all of us.
WHAT: Monograph offers an elegant SaaS solution for architectural project management and collaboration. Purpose-built for cross-functional teams that need to manage time and costs, the software breaks down information silos, creates complete transparency for the team and ensures that clients get the project they envisioned on time and on budget. More than $125 million of projects have already been managed through Monograph.
HOW: Traditional project management tools aren’t built to manage projects that are time and budget constrained — they focus only on tasks. Monograph is built from the ground up with tasks, time, costs and teams as foundational to projects. The product emphasizes collaboration and transparency inside and outside of the organization, provides robust analytics and uses structured data to automate important communications and process steps.
WHY: On any given architectural project, a network of architects, specialized consultants, and contractors coordinate their work in silos with handoffs brokered through a complex web of FTP sites, email platforms, and Excel spreadsheets. Legacy tools and manual processes also cause cost management, resource management, and project management to be treated as separate activities. An architectural services industry worth more than $350 billion annually deserves better. Monograph unifies all of these activities so that firms can deliver better client service, manage costs and earn more profit.
Monograph is based in San Francisco and is added to its fantastic team and special culture. If you want to have an impact on how the physical world is built, check out the company’s open job listings.
March 11, 2020
It was not that long ago that we announced our investment in Finix, a company in the financial technology market making it possible for any company to become a payments company through a flexible, API-based platform of record. Since our initial seed investment and the Series A financing last year, Finix has built a reputation as the go-to team and solution in the industry. Recently, the company announced both its Series B financing and the subsequent addition of former U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker, to the Board.
We’ve been investing in financial technology startups for many years and when we met Richie and Sean we were convinced they saw a massive market opportunity everyone else was overlooking. More importantly, we saw a founding team that was both intentional and authentic about its values — Open, Honest, and Direct. That type of integrity — in addition to the tremendous business opportunity, product and team — is exactly why we couldn't be more excited to continue our work with the entire Finix team to build the future of payments. If you’re interested in the future of payments as well, consider joining the team!
February 11, 2020
You’ve probably come across the bottle in your social feeds, in your favorite lifestyle newsletter or even (and best) on a table or counter in front of you. Haus launched its low ABV spirit with a low key but high impact strategy - gorgeous creative paired with a quality product. We’d expect nothing less from the cofounders, Helena Price Hambrecht and Woody Hambrecht. They’re the perfect puzzle pieces for a startup like Haus. Helena brings marketing, branding, a photographer’s eye and go-to-market hustle, while Woody’s multigenerational wine roots clearly, in venture-speak, “de-risk the startup’s supply chain.”
Helena is a longtime friend and we were very early commitments to her company. Listen to her on the Modern Retail pod if you want a sense of the thoughtfulness and intensity she brings to this endeavor. It’s a similar calculation which led her to raise Haus’ $4.5m seed from a broad variety of funds and individuals. While we normally eschew these highly syndicated fundraises we believe that for a consumer brand like Haus, the fundraising is an opportunity to form almost a distributed team, not just amass capital. Haus had the opportunity to close a similar financing from a more concentrated investor base but decided that it takes a village to build a next generation hospitality brand, so they went and got their villagers. And we couldn’t be happier.
February 11, 2020
Before starting Homebrew, we ran product at YouTube and Twitter, so we’re familiar with the problems that Tracy Chou is setting out to solve with Block Party. And now that she’s shared more information about the company and its mission to give you a safer online experience, we’re also proud to share that Homebrew is a supporting investor. This isn’t our first chance to partner with Tracy as she was a Founder Advisor for our firm, working closely with several portfolio startups as they worked through engineering and product questions. So when presented with the opportunity to reestablish the relationship with her in the founder seat it was an easy decision and an eager yes.
If you want early access to the Block Party tools (trolls and haters begone!), they are starting to open the waiting list.
February 1, 2020
A common theme across much of Homebrew’s portfolio is the power of data in helping to introduce intelligence and efficiency to major industries. But one of the growing challenges associated with data is maintaining privacy and security, especially when that data lives in both unstructured forms and in the cloud. That’s why we were excited to partner with Concentric when we co-led their seed round. The company just launched publicly and shared its vision for AI-driven software that does the hard work of automatically identifying sensitive enterprise data and protecting it against misuse. We’re so excited to join the Concentric team on its mission to tackle the largest data challenge of our time.
WHO: Karthik Krishnan, Shankar Subramaniam and Madhu Shashanka are long time security executives, previously having helped build and sell Niara to HPE/Aruba. Their experience in the industry helped them identify a new problem facing companies that are dealing with an ever-growing volume of data. Not only is more and more sensitive data living in unstructured formats, but it is increasingly moving to the cloud, making traditional approaches to data protection ineffective. They started Concentric with the goal of leveraging AI and deep learning to automate data protection regardless of what form data takes or where it resides. By doing so, they hope to make the use of data safer for both companies and consumers.
WHAT: Concentric has built a software-as-a-service suite that uses AI and deep learning to develop a semantic understanding of all of a customer’s data. It then uses that understanding to to shield sensitive business and user information, including in contracts, financial documents, payroll, merger and acquisition plans, product road maps, and source code, while also meeting security, compliance, and privacy requirements.
HOW: Concentric’s product uses powerful deep learning technology to autonomously develop an unparalleled semantic understanding of each document to deliver the industry’s most complete, detailed and accurate risk-oriented view into business-critical information. When the solution finds at-risk files, Concentric’s native remediation capabilities proactively and automatically remediate the document’s risk factors to protect them effectively and efficiently. Legacy systems don’t work autonomously, can’t derive meaning from unstructured data and struggle with data in the cloud.
WHY: Data is the new oil, fueling every industry and making it possible to deliver more effective, less costly and more accessible customer solutions. But without protecting that data against misuse, the very same people who benefit from data are also endangered but it. Concentric is focused on solving the data protection problem so that data can be used safely in every industry regardless of what form that data takes or where it is stored.
Concentric is based in Sunnyvale, CA and is hiring through the Bay Area and in its Bengaluru, India office. If you’re looking for an incredible technical challenge, a special team and culture and the opportunity to have an impact on every industry and individual, take a look at the company’s open roles.
February 1, 2020
The progress in software development toolsets over the past decade has been stunning. Microservices, continuous deployment environments, Git, new IDEs and so on. Now it’s build systems’ time. And Toolchain is here with the first truly cloud-centric build environment.
Who: Toolchain is being built by a spectacular team of brilliant engineers led by Benjy Weinberger and John Sirois. We’ve known Benjy for years across his leadership positions at Google, Twitter and Foursquare. In him we see a CEO who doesn’t just care about his product and his business but his team and culture. John’s history of contributions also spans Google, VMware and Twitter, as well as the open source community, bringing with him an appreciation of the humans behind the software that’s evident in his ongoing mentorship of less experienced engineers.
What: A modern build system for engineering teams! What does this span? Well, as outlined in Toolchain’s Hello World blog post:
The process of transforming the code you write into software that runs correctly involves iterating over many linked steps, such as resolving dependencies, generating code, compiling, type checking, testing, finding errors, bundling, and more.
These processes form the build. The tools that perform them are build systems.
Why: Because build tools have not kept up with the trends in modern software. New programming languages and frameworks, containerization, microservices, the growth of open-source software, and the democratization of software development all have contributed to making current build systems flaky, slow and unreliable.
January 22, 2020
The unifying thread across many of the startups we back at Homebrew is that data transparency, aggregation and analysis are driving change in every industry. When we initially invested in Outlier, the thesis was that organizations would be overwhelmed by all of this data becoming available and thus, unable to make sense of it all in an efficient or timely manner. That’s why we were so excited for Outlier’s creation of automated business analysis.
Since then, Sean Byrnes, Mike Kim and team have gone on to create an entirely new category of software that is being embraced by customers throughout the Fortune 500 such as Capital One and Celebrity Cruises. That clear market pull, combined with a stellar team and a one-of-a-kind product, caused our friends at Emergence Capital to jump at the opportunity to lead Outlier’s next financing. Today, the company announces its $22.1 million Series B financing.
Outlier’s AI-powered platform is deployed in minutes and automatically starts generating key insights about important changes in the business and what may have caused them. It goes well beyond dashboard visualizations, data aggregation and reporting by uncovering relevant insights buried deep in volumes of data without requiring customers to generate hypotheses or know in advance what questions to ask. We’re excited to continue our partnership with Outlier and are looking forward to the evolution in business intelligence it has triggered.
If Outlier’s mission and technology intrigues you, they’re hiring.
January 21, 2020
When we started Homebrew in early 2013, we believed that software was going to enable and democratize access to a next generation of financial services products. But you know what an investor’s “beliefs” are worth? Zero. Unless that investor is fortunate enough to find entrepreneurs who are generating the actual insights, coding the actual products and building the actual team. Thankfully, we got introduced to Plaid cofounders Will Hockey and Zach Perret early on. We squeezed into their seed round and wrote this post. Now six and a half years later, Zach got to write this post. We're thrilled for the Plaid team and have no doubt they're going to continue to have a huge impact on the industry as part of Visa.
December 12, 2019
When we’re considering a new investment, one question we ask ourselves is “do we want to get up every morning and put sweat and reputation behind this team?” because that’s really what we’re committing to do. The capital part of the investment occurs quickly; the relationship portion is built over time. Shortly after meeting the Arthur.ai team we knew our answer (yes!), and now that they’ve announced their company, we’re happy to provide the details which got us to commit.
WHO: Founding DNA matters - you can add skillsets, you can add perspectives, but for quite a while, a startup *is* its founders. And Arthur.ai’s founding team is exactly what we believe is required for their mission to enable Trusted AI. A mix of high quality operational experience, academic grounding and community activism. CEO Adam Wenchel, lays it out pretty clearly in his Hello World blog post:
“Our founding team includes: Liz O’Sullivan, a noted responsible AI advocate with significant industry experience leading commercial adoption of computer vision and NLP; Dr. John Dickerson, a machine learning faculty member at the University of Maryland who completed his PhD studies at Carnegie Mellon and whose work has been funded by Google, Facebook, and DARPA; and Priscilla Alexander who worked with me at Capital One leading the development and deployment of their highest leverage AI projects.”
Combined with Adam’s serial entrepreneurship and experience leading large scale teams within Capital One, it hasn’t surprised us that Arthur.ai has very quickly built a strong technical team in NYC.
WHAT: Trusted AI. That’s Arthur.ai’s promise. What is Trusted AI? It’s AI that’s explainable. That can be easily monitored and measured against test performance. That doesn’t need to be babysat by expensive engineering talent. With Trusted AI, companies can understand their algorithms in order to minimize operational, performance and legal risk.
HOW: That’s the secret sauce here isn’t it? The Arthur.ai team is live with early customers in a variety of industry segments and finding particular interest from financial and health care companies. If you want to speak with them they’re easy to reach.
WHY: At Homebrew we believe that for every company to benefit from new software capabilities, they’ll need to be complemented by infrastructure. We believe Trusted AI is already a business imperative when work is algorithm-driven and potentially a regulatory imperative in the future, when companies might be held liable for algorithm bias or failure.
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