July 28, 2015
It’s been roughly two years since we first met the founders of UpCounsel, and like all great startups, they knew what the future could look like before we did. They knew that labor marketplaces had a future not just in task-based enterprise work but in professional verticals. They knew that both lawyers and clients would benefit from a system which added price and quality transparency to the relationship. And they knew that independent lawyers needed a ‘virtual back office’ made of software to communicate and collaborate with their clients.
Now in 2015, UpCounsel is a thriving marketplace community where businesses can connect with rated and reviewed independent lawyers nationwide to have their legal needs met. What started out in one state is now increasingly nationwide. And to fuel that expansion we’re thrilled to participate in UpCounsel’s $10 million Series A financing led by Menlo Ventures, a firm with a strong focus on marketplace businesses. We’re looking forward to many more years of partnership with UpCounsel, and now Menlo, as UpCounsel continues to rethink the legal services market.
July 23, 2015
Do you become a VC when you raise your first fund, make your first investment or see your first exit? Until yesterday, Homebrew could claim progress in two of those three categories. Then Clementine announced its acquisition by Dropbox. Clementine represents not only our first exit, but also our very first investment from Homebrew I. The company was the result of a thesis we were pursuing in the enterprise communications market matching up with a uniquely qualified team. Two and a half years later, working out of the same office, we’ve built quite the relationship with Vinod, Samir and the entire team. As we tell our founders, whether things work out or not with this particular company, our hope is that we’ll be able to work with you for the next few decades. And that is certainly the case with the Clementine team. We couldn’t be happier for them and for Dropbox, which is getting a team and technology that will have a huge impact on its business. And we look forward to working with the team throughout the rest of their careers. Congratulations, Clementine!
June 18, 2015
The lifeblood of any small business is capital. Managing cash flow, working capital, credit and debt can be the difference between survival and bankruptcy. Unfortunately, for well over a decade, the number of banks providing small businesses with access to capital has been declining each year. In addition, since the financial crisis in 2008, regulatory changes, tighter lending standards and depressed collateral value, have made it even harder for businesses to access capital at fair interest rates, if at all. Democratizing access to fairly priced financing is not just good business, it’s an economic imperative. That’s why we’re proud to announce our investment in Bond Street, a company committed to being a financial advocate for small businesses.
WHO: Bond Street was founded by David Haber, CEO, and Peyton Sherwood, CTO. We’d known David through his work at Spark Capital and were impressed by his nuanced understanding of the lending market and how to disrupt it from within. Peyton previously led engineering at Venmo and was a VP at D.E. Shaw, giving him equally unique insight into the financial services industry. When we heard about the small business customer-centric approach that Bond Street was taking and how well it matched our Bottom Up Economy focus, it didn’t take long for us to commit to partnering with David and Peyton.
WHAT: Bond Street provides small businesses with simple, transparent and fair access to capital that can be used to fuel the growth of those businesses. Loans can range from $50,000 to $500,000, with one to three year terms and interest rates starting at 6%. Applications are filed digitally, lending decisions are made quickly and capital is available in just a few days.
HOW: Bond Street has built a technology platform that streamlines the loan application and automatically collects and monitors the data needed to efficiently and accurately make an underwriting decision. But the company’s technology is second to the promise being made to small businesses - simple access to fast, affordable financing to grow their businesses.
WHY: At Homebrew, we believe that technology has become so inexpensive, flexible and accessible that groups and industries that haven’t historically benefited from it, can finally reap its rewards. Bond Street exemplifies this belief perfectly. David and Peyton are using technology to execute their vision of reinventing financial services for small businesses. We are honored to be working with such a stellar team in partnership with the company’s newest supporters, Spark Capital and Jefferies.
June 18, 2015
Cleaning offices isn’t easy, but at Q, everyone cleans. And everyone gets the opportunity to earn a living wage, build a career and contribute meaningfully to the success of the business. It’s this commitment to culture, employees and clients that got us excited when we made our initial seed investment in Q last year. And it’s what has kept us excited as we participated in the company’s $15 million Series A financing, led by RRE Ventures, that Q is announcing today.
Q combines people, process and technology to deliver the operating system for physical office space. Via an iPad installed in your office, Q centralizes stellar office cleaning and other smart services to help office operations run smoothly. Hundreds of offices in New York, Chicago, and as of today, San Francisco, are using Q to clean and manage their offices efficiently and cost effectively.
We couldn’t be more excited about the business and the company that Dan, Saman and the Q team are building. And we’re happy to finally be both investors and customers with Q’s launch in San Francisco! Join us and have your office Managed by Q by signing up here.
June 15, 2015
It’s not #TBT but we’re going to take you back to simpler times: when AIM chat ruled online messaging. Remember setting your Green, Yellow, Red status to signal whether you were available, kinda busy or didn’t want to be disturbed? It made tons of sense to indicate your status while you were online but now that we’re always online (thanks to that smartphone in our pocket), shouldn’t we have just as simple a way to tell our friends where were are and if we’re available to hang? Yup. And that’s what Free cofounder Danny Trinh set out to build.
Danny is someone we’ve known for a long time via his innovative design work at Digg and Path. He’s a friend of Homebrew and we were excited when he offered us the chance to play a supporting role in the financing of his newest project, Free. We love the app. TechCrunch loves the app. You should download the app (iOS) and let us know when you’re Free to hang out.
June 15, 2015
Capital follows talent. So we knew when we started Homebrew that we’d be seeking out talent with the attitude and aptitude to build companies of consequence. When we find and invest in that talent, the entire team is typically no more than 2 to 4 people. Not surprisingly, one of the main areas we focus on with Homebrew partner companies is helping them grow their teams and talent base. That help involves working on many different aspects of the talent recruitment process. How to find the best candidates. Knowing the difference between a good and great engineer. The kinds of questions to ask a design candidate. Appropriate compensation for a product manager. Who to involve in making hiring decisions. What constitutes a great candidate experience. How to close a CTO candidate. And so much more.
We are firm believers that people choose companies; companies don’t choose people. Helping the founders we support understand the issues above is critical to their team building. But we wanted to be able to extend our support to anyone we know, helping him or her find the right opportunity, whether within the Homebrew portfolio or outside of it. How could we best utilize Homebrew’s time, resources and relationships to create value for the entrepreneurs we know and work with in the context of Talent? We recently came to an answer - find someone best-in-class to lead those efforts. And after a long and thorough search, we finally have. It’s with extreme pleasure that we announce the addition of Beth Scheer, Head of Talent, to the Homebrew team.
Beth joins us after a dozen years and hugely successful tenures at Salesforce and Google. She has led and done recruiting for every function within those companies, including Engineering, Sales and Leadership. And she has done so with the recognition that the candidate is as much her customer as is her employer. It’s that attitude, along with her world-class aptitude, that convinced us that Beth is the absolute perfect fit for Homebrew. At Homebrew, Beth will be working closely with our companies to help them establish their talent processes and to fill key positions. She’ll also be working with us to build critical infrastructure for managing our relationships and knowledge so that we can be helpful to anyone who seeks our counsel. Finally, she’ll be working to make information and best practices about the talent process more broadly available to all entrepreneurs inside and outside of the Homebrew family of companies.
We couldn’t be more excited to have Beth join our team. Beth is passionate about recruiting, mentoring, and sharing best practices. Don’t be shy about contacting her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Beth, welcome to Homebrew!
April 21, 2015
Today it’s with extreme joy we welcome Kleiner Perkins to the Shyp team and John Doerr to the Shyp Board of Directors. So if you haven’t used Shyp yet, remember Mother’s Day is coming up so send her something special. If you’re in Los Angeles, sign up because Shyp is hitting SoCal very very soon. And of course, they’re hiring.
Kevin Gibbon and the team behind Shyp have made incredible progress in a short amount of time. Now launched in San Francisco, New York City and Miami, Shyp helps consumers and small businesses turn shipping from a time-consuming chore into something often described as “magical.” Whether you’re sending an urgent package to a client, or returning your most recent regretted ecommerce purchase, just Shyp it. Don’t worry about packing it, don’t worry about dropping it off. Take a picture, press a button and a Shyp Hero will be at your home or business to safely whisk away your treasures.
April 2, 2015
Connection to, or empathy for, the problem you’re solving is something we value greatly at Homebrew. While this isn’t always required to build an amazing company, we think the missionary zeal of founders can’t be underestimated when solving big tough problems. That’s why when Seth Sternberg first shared the idea for what would become Honor we were struck by the fact that it didn’t start with stats about market size or a reminder that he previously exited successfully to Google. Rather, it started with a personal story about his aging parents. Today we’re thrilled to share news of our investment in Honor, a company that is reinventing what’s currently considered to be “in-home care” for seniors.
WHO: We’ve known Honor CEO Seth Sternberg for a quite while, beginning when his prior startup, Meebo, was a fast growing company. Despite a successful acquisition by Google, Seth and team never lost their entrepreneurial fire. So when he got part of the Meebo team back together and combined them with some great talent from Google, we knew we wanted to back Honor.
WHAT: 90% of seniors want to ‘age in place’ - remain in their homes with familiar surroundings. To do this successfully at scale is going to require more technology and a different incentive structure than what incumbents have been employing.
HOW: As Honor details in its blog post, the company is building technology that helps caregivers, seniors and their families all communicate in a meaningful manner. Honor is focused on context, coordination, trust and simplicity. Honor’s dedication to getting a solution out in the field quickly is exemplified by its pilot in California’s Contra Costa County beginning this April.
WHY: At Homebrew we focus on founders solving large, urgent and valuable problems who also have the attitude and aptitude to solve the problem fully. Seth has told us that this is the company he wants to build and run for the rest of his life. Honor sits at the intersection of value and merit - it’s going to be a huge business and one we’re all proud to be associated with.
As an experienced founder with a healthy nine digit exit already notched, Seth had the opportunity to jump straight to an A round. When the first funding is of this size, our model only works if we’re still able to invest enough where a successful outcome can be meaningful for our fund. Seth was welcoming and we’re so very excited to join him, Andreessen Horowitz and a stellar group of angel investors in partnering with Honor.
March 31, 2015
Parents raise kids and they run businesses. They try to get to the gym, and get their kids to practice. They’re just trying to get it all done and sometimes there aren’t enough hours in the day. They need brands and retailers that they can count on, not just for for value and convenience, but even for moments of joy. In few categories is the relationship between parents and brands more broken than in kid’s apparel. Kids apparel brands are typically at two far ends of the spectrum - either high fashion and expensive or ordinary and of poor quality. There is no kids apparel brand that delivers the combination of quality, value and delight. Say hello to Primary.
WHO: When the CEO of Diapers.com, one of the most successful ecommerce businesses of the past decade calls and says that you have to meet two of the stars on his management team, you clear your calendar. And Galyn Bernard and Christina Carbonell didn’t disappoint. As executives at Quidsi, the parent company of Diapers.com, Galyn and Christina built massive brands that delighted parents. But they’re also modern moms just trying to get things done. With Primary, they’re building a brand that they, and other parents, can love ─ with beautiful products, a clear focus on authenticity, a simple buying experience and extraordinary value. And they’re doing it in a way that rethinks the entire kids clothing experience from scratch.
WHAT: Beautiful, simple, everyday clothing that lets kids shine. That’s the core of Primary. But Primary goes beyond elevated basics at an extraordinary value by also providing a simple buying experience that is designed with the lives of busy parents in mind. Oh yeah, and every item is less than $25.
HOW: Ecommerce has moved far past mall store brands with inventory listed online. Brands are being built today that are delivering huge value to consumers by stripping out traditional marketing and distribution costs, by designing and manufacturing their own products and by providing consumers with the excellent value, great service, and brand integrity they want and need. But it’s something that hasn’t been done in kids’ apparel, until now. Primary is building the children’s clothing brand that all parents will love.
WHY: Galyn and Christina are both parents and New York-based entrepreneurs. They very personally saw the need for a kids brand with a strong, authentic relationship with parents. And they had the desire to build a company together that’s a reflection of what they want in a brand that parents like them could love. Gorgeous, high quality basics at affordable prices available via a clear, simple commerce experience with fast, reliable shipping. Seemingly simple, but incredibly powerful.
If you’re a parent, Primary is going to be your new best friend. Visit Primary and use Insider Code “SATYA” or “HUNTER” for free shipping, with no minimums, for an entire year.
February 20, 2015
High five! Now back to work. That was the sequence of events at HQ when we closed Homebrew Fund II earlier today.
Two years ago we spent 100 days raising Homebrew I, a $35 million seed fund. Since that time, we’ve partnered with 17 teams solving large, urgent and valuable problems in support of the Bottom Up Economy. Teams with both the attitude and aptitude to go the distance. Teams with long roadmaps in their heads but a near-term focus on doing one thing really well. With Homebrew II, a $50 million seed fund, we’ll continue to work with teams like these to help them build the companies they envision.
When we kicked off fundraising for Homebrew II, we had certain beliefs about how we wanted to approach the development of Homebrew and how that feeds into the fundraising process:
- Fundraising is about choosing the right long-term partners: Our primary question about any potential LP was always “would they be a great partner for us, and us for them?” For Fund II we have a wonderful base of institutional LPs representing university endowments, charitable foundations and funds of funds. We know that at the end of the day we’ll be evaluated on the returns we deliver to them. But to a person, we feel that they’re in our corner, supporting us and our strategy and rooting for us to succeed.
- Strategy first, capital second: We want to invest in hyper-growth companies, not be a hyper-growth fund. Homebrew is committed to being the partner of choice for early stage founders. We want to focus 100% of our attention on the first few years of company building. In this funding environment, for both companies and VCs, there’s a temptation to maximize how much capital you raise. We raised less than we could have, but as much as we wanted, given our strategy and approach. Homebrew II is a $50 million fund. It’s slightly larger than our first fund because we intend to deploy entry capital over a 30-36 month period, whereas we invested the initial fund in 24 months. Our sweet spot is, and will remain, playing a leadership role in first institutional financing rounds. That usually looks like a $500k-$1m check as part of a $1m-$3m fundraising. In addition to raising Homebrew II, we’ve also raised a $35 million fund called Moonshine. Moonshine allows us to extend our support, where appropriate, for Homebrew fund investments in future financings, primarily B rounds and beyond.
- Having money to invest doesn’t make us relevant: Talented entrepreneurs have more options than ever for funding. We never assume that just having money to invest makes us relevant or valuable to the founders we seek to back. Capital is necessary, but it’s insufficient. The ways in which we engage the teams who have chosen to partner with us, in combination with our own product roadmap, are what help us be relevant. With Fund II, we’ll continue to focus on Credibility in the marketplace, Community building amongst our partner companies and Counsel post investment.
- Best VCs are true partnerships, not just collections of partners: We don’t think of Homebrew as Satya’s investments + Hunter’s investments. It’s with 100% unanimity that we make investments, work with companies and stand behind every company we invest in. Our partnership translates directly to how we’ve structured our firm - equal economics, shared vision and definition of success, no bullshit. We’d proudly sign our names to any word written or action taken by each other and the fund.
- We have a lot of work to do: Our first two years have gone very well, but it’s laughably premature to clink any glasses. Seed stage venture capital investing is a long road - we do it because you love working with founders at this early stage. Our goal is to not just be successful (as measured by financial returns) but also impactful (as measured by our broader contributions to the community, not just where we have interests). Our fund name is a nod back to the Homebrew Computer Club of the 1970s. A time when the beginnings of the PC revolution found momentum in a group of enthusiasts and hobbyists. Today, with so much focus on innovation and disruption, we tend to only look ahead. But looking back to acknowledge and appreciate that we all stand on the shoulders of giants is just as important in the technology industry. We don’t want to walk away from Homebrew just having made money. We hope to build something lasting that we and our founders can all say we were proud to have been an important part of.
A new VC fund is kind of like a startup, just one that writes checks instead of code. Raising a first fund is a like a seed round, often built on reputation and potential. Second funds are like A Rounds – momentum with some early data. By the B round, startups need to have proven product/market fit. Similarly, our next fund, several years down the road, will be driven by having backed great teams and delivered great returns - not vanity metrics, not retweets, not personal brands. We feel incredibly fortunate to be working with founders who want us to be part of their success, and with LPs who believe we’re able stewards of their capital. Homebrew II is closed. Now, back to work.
February 3, 2015
Ever call your broadband provider to debug home wifi? Why does every service decision tree start with “Have you tried power cycling the modem?” Increasingly the modern household has numerous devices which rely on strong, consistent internet connectivity. First it was work productivity and entertainment - laptops, streaming music and video - but increasingly it’s our thermostats, kitchen appliances and security cameras. “Smart” devices can’t be smart if they’re offline.
That’s where eero comes in. An integrated hardware and software solution designed to blanket your home in wonderful ubiquitous connectivity. And when something isn’t working, making it simple to diagnose and fix from your smartphone, not from your hands and knees looking for the router. If that wasn’t enough to make you click PREORDER, they’re building a ton of cool enhancements to today’s home network. Want to create a simple username and password for one time access to your wifi so that the babysitter can get online? Done. Want to serve as remote Sys Admin for your parents? No problem. Just install eero at their house and monitor it from 1000 miles away.
We’re excited to play a supporting role in eero’s financing and are equally thrilled that they’ve announced their preorder today. Get yours here and enjoy constant connectivity with ease.
January 20, 2015
Here’s the scenario: a married couple is traveling for the next month and want to rent their home out. They’ve got a great property in Santa Barbara but with a baby on the way they don’t want to deal with managing the listing or ensuring the guest has a great experience (well, besides the local map they intend to share with their 10 favorite restaurants circled). On the other side of the country is a young man who, with his boyfriend, wants to stay in Santa Barbara for a month this summer while he’s working on an ad campaign. Corporate rentals are so uninspiring and a hotel is so impersonal, but can they rest easy knowing the home they rent will meet all their needs?
What will happen to our two young pairs? Will they ever connect? That answer might have been “no” until Pillow came along, bringing a new layer of hospitality and property management to the short-term rental industry.
WHO: Sean Conway and Justin Miller are no strangers to scaling local marketplaces. They grew their previous startup, Notehall, to 54 campuses before being acquired by Chegg. While recharging their entrepreneurial energies with some international travel, the pair encountered a problem with their own apartments and identified an opportunity they knew they wanted to address: making short-term property rental painless for owners and comfortable for guests. And so was born Pillow.
WHAT: Pillow is a modern, short-term property hospitality company. It offers property owners guaranteed income while managing their listing and handling all the cleaning, amenities and basic on-the-ground services. For guests, Pillow ensures an experience that combines the benefits of staying at a home full of personality with a standard of quality that lets them rest easy.
HOW: Pillow now operates in San Francisco and Los Angeles, with plans to move into other cities this year. In these core markets, Pillow has brought many homes that were previously not being rented on to the short-term rental market by delivering simple software and an income guarantee for owners. These properties give platforms like Airbnb, VRBO and Homeaway exciting new listings for their customers. And when someone rents a Pillow-serviced property, they’re sure to have a clean, well-managed residence for their stay.
WHY: One theme core to Homebrew is our belief that the Bottom Up Economy creates new types of marketplaces, revenue streams and efficiencies. Pillow lives across all three - leveraging the growth of short-term rental marketplaces to create additional revenue streams for property owners and five star hospitality for guests.
We’re excited to have led Pillow’s seed round and to back the team creating the future of hospitality. If you’re a homeowner who wants to be powered by Pillow, check their site out here.
January 13, 2015
Every day we meet amazing founders sharing their ideas for how the future will evolve. In fact, we see about 150 new companies each month. Where do these teams originate from? Roughly 65% are referred to us by other founders or people we know. 25% are introductions via investors - either angels or VCs. The remaining 10% are a combination of cold inbound/outbound sourcing, often based upon a specific area we’re investigating. So recently we asked ourselves a question “is there strategic value in keeping our list of interests to ourselves?” That didn’t seem like a very good idea if our goal is to connect with thoughtful founders or inspire conversation. And thus http://bit.ly/HomebrewWhatIfs
What Ifs will be an dynamic list of ideas, questions and technologies that we are curious about and specifically want to connect with entrepreneurs to discuss and learn. We’ll edit, add and remove items as appropriate and link to our longer blog posts when it makes sense.
If you’re a founder in one of these areas or someone with domain expertise, we hope you’ll reach out. Do we hope to find new investments this way? Sure, but we’re also happy to just learn and hopefully help.
January 5, 2015
You don’t need to be unemployed to face financial uncertainty. Many hourly workers or partially employed Americans deal with the challenges of unpredictable schedules or workloads, causing great swings in their weekly income. This instability prevents or complicates savings, exacerbates emergencies and causes them to face each financial decision with more hesitation than a traditionally salaried employee. Current loan mechanisms to “smooth the curve” range from unsatisfying to predatory. That’s where Even comes in.
Even is building a loan product to help provide income stability to the American hourly worker. At Homebrew we have a voracious appetite for smart teams using technology to deconstruct and evolve trillions of dollars of financial services value. And the transformation to a Bottom Up Economy will require new products for the expanding base of hourly workers. That’s why we are thrilled to play a supporting role in Even’s initial funding. If their work sounds exciting to you as well (and you want to be part of Oakland’s tech heartbeat), Even is hiring.
December 17, 2014
Over 1 million people wake up each day and rely on theSkimm for sharp, witty summaries of the day’s news. What started as a simple daily email newsletter is quickly becoming a lifestyle based on the idea that being smarter about the things you should know shouldn’t be difficult, time-consuming or boring. When we led the seed financing a little over a year ago, theSkimm founders shared their vision of building not just an information service, but a brand and habit. The company is now well on its way to becoming the same vital resource that morning television was for a prior generation. And 2015 will bring theSkimm voice (and snark!) to new platforms and content areas while still delivering what you need to know via theSkimm’s delightful summaries.
Today, the company announces its Series A financing, led by RRE Ventures. We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Carly, Danielle and the entire Skimm team. We encourage you to sign up, stay informed and join the team! After all, would Oprah, Chelsea and SJP steer you wrong?!?
December 12, 2014
A founder once told us that early stage startups are like “pushing a boulder up a hill” and that their job was to get “more hands on the boulder.” Team members who believe in the mission. Customers who vote with their dollars. Press who will magnify the story. And investors who provide cash and assistance.
Homebrew put our hands on UpCounsel’s boulder in 2013, believing the world’s largest law firm could be a virtual marketplace, helping businesses connect with high quality lawyers for projects or ongoing work. And we’re thrilled with the progress they’ve made, including surpassing 1,000 customers and building a healthy multi-million dollar runrate. So when UpCounsel’s founders decided to raise additional funding and accelerate their growth, we were more than supportive.
We’re incredibly excited to welcome Metamorphic Ventures and Crosslink Capital, who led the new round, to the team. We feel very luck to have more hands on the boulder as UpCounsel continues to create a vibrant B2B marketplace that delivers significant value to both lawyers and businesses. On up the mountain, UpCounsel!
November 19, 2014
If you’re a small or medium-sized business, there are more tools than ever to help you manage virtual operations: from payroll and benefits administration to accounting to technical infrastructure. And increasingly, all of those services are available via the cloud, to be monitored and run via PCs or smartphones. Yet somehow managing the physical infrastructure of your office is still a mind-numbing, time-consuming chore. It no longer needs to be. Meet Q. Q provides office cleaning and other smart services to help your office operations run smoothly – all delivered via an iPad that’s installed for free in your office.
WHO: When we met Daniel Teran and Saman Rahmanian, we knew immediately that we had encountered kindred spirits. Product-oriented founders with a vision that embraced the opportunity for business and individuals to benefit from the creation of a service that redefined a painful, existing experience. Daniel and Saman had worked together at Pre-Hype, inventing new products in partnership with larger corporations, before going off on their own. What excited us most about their vision for Q is the belief that blue collar work should provide the same opportunities and benefits as white collar work, making it possible for workers (called Operators at Q) to earn a truly living wage with a liveable life and career. That means giving Operators an exciting career path, predetermined and reasonable work schedules, standard health benefits and more. This perspective has allowed Q to build an incredible early team.
WHAT: Q has built an iPad-based control center that is installed in offices for free. From there, office managers and employees have complete control and visibility over the products and services that make their offices hum. Today, Q provides cleaning services, handymen and basic office supplies. But imagine all of the physical and digital third-party services that an office needs and you can envision the future for Q.
HOW: Since launching early this year in New York, Q already manages over 1 million square feet of office space. Q offers a simple, efficient, cost-effective way to manage the services that are critical for any office environment. Q will be launching in additional markets starting early 2015 and will be adding additional services later in the year.
WHY: Daniel and Saman’s inspiration for Q came from their personal experiences trying to manage cleaning and other services for their apartments. Saman even served on his apartment’s maintenance board and quickly discovered how broken the process is for management of physical space. They both realized that in many ways the process is even more agonizing for commercial offices, and importantly, for Operators. They knew they could build something that was better for everyone – and we couldn’t agree more.
Q lets any business save time and money when it comes to office management, and that’s why it fits squarely within our Bottom Up Economy thesis. We’re proud to have led the seed round financing in Q and support Daniel, Saman and the Q team as they pursue their mission of making office management less expensive, less time-consuming and less unpleasant for everyone involved. Sign up to be notified when Q launched in your city.
November 4, 2014
Debit cards, not credit cards, are the dominant mass market choice for American consumers. In fact, nearly 65% of card swipe transactions in the US are completed using debit cards. So why does it cost people money to spend with their debit cards when using credit cards earns people rewards? Sometimes a simple question can lead to powerful idea. And a powerful idea combined with a stellar team is investment gold. That’s what Homebrew encountered when we learned about Chime last year. We met an experienced team building a financial services product for the more than 2/3rds of Americans who use debit cards and get stung by monthly account fees, overdraft fees, ATM fees….you get the point. Today, Chime is announcing its Series A financingled by Crosslink Capital, a firm with deep experience in financial services. Here’s why we invested last year during their previously unannounced seed financing and again in the Series A:
WHO: Chime was co-founded by Chris Britt, CEO, and Ryan King, CTO. Chris knows the debit card business cold from his time at Visa, where he led the General Purpose Prepaid business, and Green Dot, where he held Chief Product Officer and SVP Corporate Development positions. Ryan King is an experienced technologist, having served in various engineering roles at Plaxo, including COO and VP Engineering, before leading Comcast Silicon Valley as CTO. Chris and Ryan each has lead and scaled large organizations and as a pair are uniquely suited to build Chime.
WHAT: Most of us in Silicon Valley use credit cards that earn us points, cash back, miles or any number of other rewards. Yet debit cards are still the preferred form of non-cash payment for most Americans, with over 283 million active debit cards in circulation today and each card used an average of 18 times per month. Unfortunately, debit cards actually cost the people who use them because of the various fees that banks charge. Chime has created a card with all of the advantages of debit combined with the benefits typically associated with credit cards. And it’s tied to a mobile app that puts all of the rewards and account functionality at the user’s fingertips.
HOW: By recognizing and jumping on recent regulatory changes and integrating deeply into the transaction process, Chime has created a more cost effective debit card with a rewards experience that is completely seamless. Just swipe the Chime card at a partner merchant for instant cash back and a mobile notification of savings. In addition, the Chime mobile app allows consumers to manage their accounts, track where and how their money is spent and better understand their financial situation.
WHY: One of the fundamental beliefs we have at Homebrew is that technology will increasingly save people time and money. This belief is core to our Bottom Up Economy thesis. Chris and Ryan founded Chime because they share this belief and know that current debit card products are hindering rather than helping consumers. They saw the opportunity to put a better product in the wallets and on the phones of tens of millions of consumers. People often think of “smart payments cards” as pieces of plastic packed with technological wizardry. But the smartest card is one that solves a real mass market problems - helping consumers get more with their money.
We’re thrilled to partner with Crosslink and our prior co-investors, PivotNorth and Forerunner Ventures, to support Chime as it continues to build financial products that make shopping for yourself and your family less painful. You can get your own Chime card by signing up here or by downloading the iOS or Android mobile apps.
November 3, 2014
Who doesn’t hate expense reports? And after the agony of filling out a report, why does it take weeks to get reimbursed for your expenses? Enter Abacus. Abacus turns the process of expense reimbursement into something as simple as taking a picture and hitting send. And it can be used by businesses and teams of every size without any administrative overhead. A perfect example of a Bottom Up Economy startup enabling individuals and businesses to get more done in less time and with less pain. We got to know Omar Qari, Ted Power and Josh Halickman over the course of a year and during that time they continually impressed us with their insights and execution. When Bessemer and General Catalyst agreed to lead a large seed round it was a no-brainer for us to join the syndicate in a supporting role. We’re really excited to be partnering with one of the up and coming companies in the New York City technology ecosystem.
November 3, 2014
Reserve is a new mobile application that focuses on making every part of the dining experience better for both restaurants and diners. Too many companies in this space exploit one side to service the other. Restaurant margins, already thin, are cut deeper. Or consumers struggle to find the dining experience they desire. Reserve is different. It integrates reservations, loyalty and payment into a single, well-designed system which stops making technology a bitter appetizer for the hospitality industry. At Homebrew, we’re excited to play a supporting role in their recently announced financing. We’ve known Garrett Camp, Joe Marchese and Greg Hong for many years. Along with their incredible team, they blend ideas, design, and hustle into an unstoppable combination. We’re proud to support them as they make the dining experience as memorable as the food. Reserve is available today in New York, Boston and Los Angeles with additional markets coming online shortly. You can download the free Reserve iOS app here.
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