Startup Roundup April 1, 2016


SEC fears ‘eye-popping’ start-up values — FT.com

The head of the US market watchdog has warned Silicon Valley that the growing number of highly valued private tech groups — or unicorns — risks harming investors in ways that company managers have a duty to prevent.

Mary Jo White, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, said her agency was concerned about the “eye-popping” valuations of some unlisted start-ups and the consequences for investors — including company employees — of the market overheating. 


Sky taps into start-ups for content and delivery systems | Variety

Pay TV operator Sky is focused on meeting the needs of customers now, as well as anticipating what they will be looking for in the future. With that in mind, it is investing in start-ups that can supply new forms of content and new means to deliver its content to subscribers.

One area that Sky is exploring is short-form video, forging alliances with established digital studios and startups.

One recent example of the latter is its investment in Whistle Sports, which produces youth-focused short-form content around sport. Its content has a very different editorial style to Sky’s own sports coverage — it’s far more irreverent, says Emma Lloyd, director of corporate business development. 


Data crunching start-ups are still getting money

For start-ups in the business of crunching data, there has never been a better time to raise capital, industry watchers say. Companies leveraging and analyzing data to deliver products made up almost half of the top 10 biggest U.S. venture capital deals so far this year, according to PitchBook.

These start-ups are applying data mining and analysis to industries in new ways and thus have the potential to be both substantially disruptive and extremely profitable, said PitchBook Vice President Adley Bowden. 


India’s medical devices startups grabbing the world’s attention with advanced and affordable technologies – The Economic Times

Dr Sheela CN, head of the obstetrics department at St. Johns Medical College Hospital in Bengaluru, seems pleased with a new product she’s testing to detect fetal distress during childbirth. “We are testing this device to see if it can help us (diagnose) high-risk problems during delivery earlier than the existing devices. That will help us intervene and prevent adverse effects on the baby,” she said. 


Managed by Q, an On-Demand Start-Up, Raises $25 Million – The New York Times

Managed by Q began two years ago during a boom in on-demand start-ups, offering a service to clean offices in New York City whenever clients needed it.

But unlike similar start-ups, which typically use contractors to fulfill an on-demand service, Managed by Q decided to do the opposite. The company hired its cleaners as full- and part-time employees, paying them more than the minimum wage and providing health care and other benefits.

Rather than collapse under the weight of those expenses, Managed by Q expanded into three more cities — Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles — and today it has about 400 employees. In addition to cleaning, the company provides services such as maintenance, information technology support, office supplies and security. 


Obamacare: The Gazillion-Dollar Startup Machine | Inc.com

Seth Sternberg was visiting his 65-year-old mother in Connecticut when he got the idea for his home-health-aide business, Honor. She’d picked him up at the airport, and he noticed that she was driving really slowly. He asked why. “And she was like, ‘Well, driving’s just harder than it used to be,’ ” he recalls. This got Sternberg’s mind working. What if his mother were 75 or 85, and tasks like driving or bathing were not just harder but impossible? Would she need to move into assisted living? “If I ever said to my mother, ‘You need to leave your house,’ she might kill me,” he says. 


What startup will try to thaw the tech IPO freeze? – MarketWatch

The tech IPO market is officially frozen. Now, we wait for the thaw.

Data issued by Renaissance Capital earlier this week confirmed that yes, the market for tech IPOs is really as bad as it seems, getting off to a nonexistent start this year. The combination of extreme market volatility and the disconnect between startup valuations and Wall Street expectations have closed the window for tech IPOs, for now.

According to research firm Renaissance Capital in Greenwich, Conn., which also manages IPO-focused ETFs, not a single venture-backed tech company went public in the first quarter, the slowest start of the year since the Great Recession. 


What Startup CEOs Want In A CFO – Forbes

Last week, I spoke with Mike Asher, CFO of HackerRank about the challenges he faces as CFO of a startup. In many ways, startups are changing the rules of business, and there’s been a lot written recently about when a startup should hire a CFO. After speaking with Mike, I also connected with HackerRank’s CEO Vivek Ravisankar to learn more about how he came to this decision, and his expectations for the CFO and finance department. 


Nashville program tunes up music startups

When Chris McMurtry stopped by the Nashville Entrepreneur Center in late 2014, he never suspected that his unannounced visit would lead to intense mentorship that would transform his business.

McMurtry is the founder and CEO of Nashville-based Dart Music, a digital startup that offers a tool to distribute classical music to online platforms. Friends told McMurtry that the NEC could help him grow the his business, but he didn’t know the center was about to launch Project Music, a tech accelerator devoted to companies aiming to disrupt the music industry. 


AutoTech Ventures Sees Itself as Talent Scout for Auto Startups – Bloomberg

AutoTech Ventures LLC wants to be the talent scout for startups reinventing ground transportation.

The venture capital firm, based in Palo Alto, California, has raised about $75 million to bankroll early-stage technologies enabling autonomous driving, improved cybersecurity in cars, entertainment systems and other automotive next big things.

Auto-parts makers and component suppliers, including Denso Corp., Mahle GmbH. and Murata Manufacturing Co. Ltd., were among the investors in the firm, founded last year. As limited partners, they’ll get a share of AutoTech Ventures’ returns.

“We aren’t in it for financial return — it’s all strategic,” said Tony Cannestra, director of corporate venture at Japan-based automotive components company Denso. He said the number of tech startups in transportation has more than doubled since he began investing in such companies almost five years ago, making it harder to hone in on the potential winners.  


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