#topstartups

Picooc - Review of the Top Hardware Startups

picooc-startup

Picooc is a Chinese health device maker with some products that are similar to US–based Fitbit, which we covered in chapter 6. Through two investment rounds, Picooc raised a total of $25 million. By its second round of funding, which garnered $21 million of that total, Picooc was already known for its flagship product: a smart body scale that integrates with fitness apps and other devices.

Picooc's scale lets users see metrics such as body water, muscle mass, body mass index, and body fat. Users can tie that data to a fitness tracking application, which integrates the information with user–entered figures and data from wearable fitness devices. The result is comprehensive fitness tracking in a world where users globally are becoming more health conscious and more aware of how data can tell a story about fitness.

Picooc certainly isn't first to market, and its products do bear some similarities to products from Fitbit. Where Picooc wins–and investor interest comes into play–is that it beat Fitbit to the ample Chinese market. And it did so at a lower price point. Picooc's scale retails for around $72 in China; comparable Fitbit scales, which didn't launch in China until June 2014, retailed for $198. Anytime a startup can do something as well as or better than the competition and at a lower price point, angel investors should take notice.


Get a copy of our official guide to venture capital and angel investing by becoming a member of Angel Kings - the Angel Investing Experts,. And learn from the angel investing and venture capital expert, Ross Blankenship.

Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding, angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.


Ouya - Review of the Top Hardware Startups

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Ouya is an interesting hardware startup to consider, because its story isn't one of immediate success. The startup was founded in 2012 and received funding over two years for a total of $23.6 billion. The product was an open–access television gaming console that would bring hundreds of free games to user televisions for a price around $99. Think Roku for the app gaming market.

The product, which launched in 2013, let game and app developers publish their products to Ouya just as they do to social media or mobile apps, but users could easily play the games on televisions. The intent was to open the console gaming market to developers and players outside of the culture of PlayStation or xBox, but the product debut was a mixed bag. The product sold out before launch, due in part to a stunning Kickstarter campaign that raised both $8.5 million and ample awareness about the product. Those with industry knowledge also anticipated the product because it was designed by Yves Behar, a recognized name with ties to UP and Jambox.

Ouya's product kickoff was problematic, however, pointing to possible problems with the startup's execution plan. Early buyers complained about late deliveries, and the product itself had consistency issues. Another issue, which might have muddied branding waters, is that the company managed to get the console into high–end retail locations before it met promised shipping dates for Kickstarter backers. Unlike Formlabs, which used its Kickstarter funders as the first rung in a loyal following, Ouya may have burned some of those bridges. The result of all these issues was that industry publications started to declare the startup dead, which might have you wondering why this hardware company is on our hot list.

We like the Ouya story because it illustrates a point about flexibility for both startups and investors. As we said in our product chapter, angel investors back people and ideas, not perfect products. And the Ouya team demonstrates the ability for startups with good ideas and people to bounce back from poor product launches or performance.

In early 2015, Ouya announced that Chinese Internet company Alibaba was investing in the startup. Both companies held investment details close to the chest, but did talk about why they were teaming up. By 2015, Ouya had developed a gaming library of over 1,000 games. The plan is to integrate those games with Alibaba's existing technology.

Ouya founder Julie Uhrman was asked why the product might see better success in China than it did in the United States. She pointed out the ample opportunity for gaming developers in the global space and stated that many concentrate on the saturated US market because it's what they know–perhaps a mistake that even Ouya itself made. By partnering with the Chinese company, Uhrman's startup not only opens global doors for itself, but for all the app developers that launch via the Ouya platform. That open–market mind set and ability to make execution changes that might be better for the startup and investors is why Ouya makes our list.


Would you like to invest in startups and become a venture capitalist? The VC expert is ready to help you start invest in top startups. See how you can by becoming a qualified member HERE.

Ross-Blankenship-expert-advisor

Ross Blankenship is the "expert on venture capital and angel investing" for startups and investments for venture deals. He is also a proven entrepreneur, and the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com. Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cybersecurity, biotech, mobile, data and financial services. Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments. Ross Blankenship has successfully founded several companies and now manages a Venture Capital fund focused on early stage, high growth startups in sectors such as mobile, cybersecurity, cloud computing and biotechnology. Learn more about Ross Blankenship, and how to become a successful, early investor at http://AngelKings.com.


Mixpanel - Review of the Top Software Startups in America

Mixpanel-Software-Startup

MIXPANEL

Mixpanel topped CNN's annual list of startups to bet on in 2015, and investors have agreed with that evaluation for about five years. The startup has received a total of $77 million in investments over the course of four rounds and five years. The latest round of investing was a Series B round in December 2014, which landed the startup $65 million of its total–all from a single investor. At the time, Mixpanel cofounder Suhail Doshi stated the startup was valued at $865 million–a huge step up from its Y Combinator roots in 2009.

So, what launched Mixpanel to the top of the hot software list in half a decade? The product, which is a serious analytics program, had a lot to do with the company's success. In fact, the program meets consumer needs so well that all the startups seem to be using it. According to a report in 2012, Andreessen Horowitz found that Mixpanel was a favorite among growing companies, which is why it invested in one of the first rounds. The firm just happened to be the investor that returned two years later for the impressive Series B funding mentioned above.

Doshi credits some of Mixpanel's success with an intelligent early move by the company. While Mixpanel analytics do work on websites, the startup originally concentrated on mobile. Doshi said it was a big bet, but with numerous bigger analytic players slow to respond to growing needs for mobile data, Mixpanel's decision positioned it to become what Doshi calls the "king of mobile analytics." According to numerous industry reporters, it's not posturing or marketing language on Doshi's part–despite being a young company with little more than 100 employees, Mixpanel is the name that comes up most when discussing mobile analytics.

Timing, then, was on Mixpanel's side. The startup also worked from the bottom up within the industry. The majority of the company's clients were startups, too, which made for a lot of turnover, but allowed Mixpanel to build quickly on previous successes and scale to larger clients over time.


Get a copy of our official guide to venture capital and angel investing by becoming a member of Angel Kings - the Angel Investing Experts. And learn from the angel investing and venture capital expert, Ross Blankenship.

Ross-Blankenship-software-review

Ross Blankenship is the "expert on venture capital and angel investing" for startups and investments for venture deals. He is also a proven entrepreneur, and the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com. Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cybersecurity, biotech, mobile, data and financial services. Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments. Ross Blankenship has made more investments in venture capital before the age of 30 than most venture capitalists have made in a lifetime. As a venture capital expert on startup funding, Ross Blankenship continues to advise media outlets on upcoming SEC rules, been a mentor for startups, and helped accredited investors make investments in the highest ranked startups. Ross Blankenship is also an expert who advises the media on the JOBS Act, startups, and angel investments for new regulations and laws passed by the SEC about crowd funding and equity crowd funding. Ross Blankenship has successfully founded several companies and now manages a Venture Capital fund focused on early stage, high growth startups in sectors such as mobile, cybersecurity, cloud computing and biotechnology. Learn more about Ross Blankenship, and how to become a successful, early investor at http://AngelKings.com.

The X Factor: Invest in People Surrounded By Equals Or Those Greater

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Let's discuss the #4 of the Angel Kings' four must have personality factors, otherwise known as our "PASS" formula.  Here's a reminder of what those four personality factors are:

  1. Passionate, but with a purpose.
  2. All-in to their endeavor.
  3. Shows no fear of failure.
  4. Surrounded by equals or those greater.

Surrounded By Equals Or Those Greater

Not one startup founder has created a successful company without being surrounded by amazing talent. 

When we invest in startups through Angel Kings, we don’t just get to know the startup founder, but we also get to know the team.   We also don’t care whether someone went to an Ivy League or state school, or if the team is stacked with previous successes.  Ultimately, we want a founder who has managed to recruit people of equal talent and skill to support her vision and share the same success–driven purpose.

The default question we ask before investing:  Is there more than one person on the team who could step up and take over the CEO role if the CEO died, was replaced, gave up or just didn’t have it in her anymore?  There must be at least one, and preferably two or more, people within a company who could step up to the plate and replace a founder.

Even though an iconic personality ideally should build the startup, someone should be able to take over at a moment’s notice.  Don’t invest in a one–person business, which is often the problem that investors encounter with lifestyle and one–person service companies.


Within the Angel Kings’ Investment Formula, we use the following as metrics before deciding to invest in PEOPLE:

·      Integrity

·      Organic net wealth vs. Age

·      Family background

·      Education

·      Experience

·      Credit and Background check

 Investors need to interview founders in order to trust but verify the credentials and people with whom they plan on investing.  Your intuition is often the best marker for future success. 

For example, someone who claimed to have generated more than $10,000,000 in revenue at a previous cybersecurity startup once pitched to us at Angel Kings.  With such profound success in business development, we knew we might have a hit on our hands.  However, after speaking with the previous CTO and CEO, we learned that the startup had dissolved after three years and that the company had hit no more than $750,000 in total revenue during that time frame.  Be careful with integrity... Trust, but verify.

 Investors need to determine how old a founder is and whether or not she has previously earned a living or made money independent of her family’s wealth.  If a founder has made money by her mid–30s – read: had a liquidity event, IPO’d or sold a previous company – this should catch your eye.  However, if a founder is saddled with debt or still struggling financially in her late 20s while using her parents’ money to pay her bills, stay away.

Most 20, 30 and 40–year–olds should have learned how to manage their money. But another indicator of success in startup founders is their exposure to affluent people, which may be because many founders come from wealthy families themselves.  We believe that it is best to invest in founders who are comfortable having a conversation that deals with large amounts of money, but also do not support themselves using their families’ wealth.  These startup founders tend to have wealthy parents who taught their kids how to invest but also how to live frugally.  As an investor, having a founder who has been taught financial responsibility at a young age yields greater returns.  This doesn’t mean Angel Kings doesn’t invest in some kid who’s only 19 years old and is building the next big thing... rather, we tend to ask enough about a founder’s background and nurturing to get a sense of how he or she handles money.  After all, when we write a $1,000,000 check, this money should be neither overwhelming nor too little for a founder to understand how to manage it.

In fact, look no further than Zuckerberg and Gates.  One’s father was a wealthy dentist and the other’s father ran a bank.  Both kids went to private schools and then matriculated at Harvard University.

 Why does exposure to money matter?  Why are angel investments more successful when the founders come from a family with some means? 

The basic reason is two–fold:  On the one hand, you get someone who won’t spend freely without frugality (a big problem currently in startup investing), and on the other hand, the investors will get someone who’s not going to sell out on their first buy–out offer from a larger company. 

Larry Page and Sergey Brin of Google exemplify the type of founder we’re talking about. They were offered $1,000,000 to sell Google to Yahoo.  To most people, $1,000,000 is a lot of money.  However, both Page and Brin had been among wealthy students at Stanford, and they both come from families who understand worth, value and how to spend money frugally but with calculated risk.  As founders, their backgrounds gave them a far–sighted perspective on what Google would be worth down the road.


If you'd like to learn about startup investing or want to see if you're an accredited investor apply here. Angel Kings are the angel investing and venture capital experts.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - TechCrunch

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TechCrunch is the story of a bootstrapped startup that went from launch to a $30 million acquisition in five years. Founded in 2005 by Keith Teare and Mike Arrington, TechCrunch is a blog and news site that covers the technical industry, which didn't require much in the way of capital. Monetizing through advertisers, the startup experienced a rapid rise among followers and readers. Today, it's one of the most–read websites about the tech industry across the globe.

After about five years, Arrington reportedly owned 85 percent of the company, which had done little to seek funding from investors. Still, AOL found the site to be valuable and bought it for $30 million in 2010.  


Would you like to invest in startups and become a venture capitalist? The VC expert is ready to help you start invest in top startups. See how you can by becoming a qualified member here.

ross-blankenship

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cybersecurity, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - Plenty of Fish

Plenty of Fish

After working for a number of tech startups, Markus Frind decided to launch his own company in 2003. Frind settled on the online dating market and bootstrapped his company from his apartment, where he received the company's first Google AdSense paycheck–for a whopping $1,100.

By 2007, the company was reportedly worth close to $1 billion, and at that point, Frind started hiring people to help him. For the first four years, however, he did most of the work himself and generated a great deal of revenue through a freemium website that was funded by advertisers.

Frind didn't stop there. Over the years, Plenty of Fish followed the build–measure–learn model we discussed above. It eventually gave up funding by an ad–based, freemium model. By offering paid subscriptions, the startup hoped to better engage users.

Frind also made a timely decision after studying consumer use and the market. He integrated his product onto mobile platforms, which he claims is responsible for a large increase in both user and revenue growth. Between 2013 and early 2015, Plenty of Fish experienced doubled revenues. By early 2015, it had 100 million users and expected annual revenue of $100 million.

Frind once stated that he didn't know anything about SEO, community, venture capital, or advertising when he began his startup experiment. What he did know is how to learn: he stated that, "I spent every waking minute when I wasn't at my day job reading, studying, and learning."


Want to get information on angel investing and venture capital? Get information from the venture capital expert on startups. And find out if you qualify as an accredited investor here.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - Carbonmade

Carbonmade

Carbonmade is a portfolio app that lets creative professionals show their stuff online. The product began as an in–house tool for the startup, which spent its time concentrating on a different product while the portfolio app grew quietly among an audience of friends, friends of friends, and friends of those friends.

The startup was founded by Dave Gorum, Jason Nelson, and Spencer Fry. From the beginning, the three knew they wouldn't seek investors right away due to their experience with previous startups. During the course of founding the company, Gorum developed a product for displaying his own creative work–he and others liked the app so much, they shared it with friends, which is where the growth story began.

In 2007, the three used the app to launch Carbonmade, offering a $12 per month plan for users. The team intended to create a suite of apps aimed at the creative audience, but within a year they realized several things:

·      They had a viable product consumers were demanding

·      They liked working on the product

·      The community surrounding Carbonmade was passionate about the brand

The trio made a decision to drop the other product in development and concentrate on making Carbonmade–the thing customers wanted–better. As of 2015, the company offers three portfolio packages ranging from $6 to $24 per month, and consumers pay for over 880,000 portfolios.

Carbonmade illustrates the validated learning premise from Lean Startup.  By reevaluating its goals and interests - as well as listening to what the customers were saying - Carbomade turned its attention to a proven product.  The result?  Millions in revenue every month.


Would you like to invest in startups and become a venture capitalist? The VC expert is ready to help you start invest in top startups. See how you can by becoming a qualified member here.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments. 


Meet The Top BioTech Startups - PillPack

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Healthcare providers and caregivers have been trying to organize medications for years. When someone is on multiple medications–particularly someone who is elderly–taking the right pills at the right time can be difficult. Taking the wrong pill, however, can be disastrous. PillPack steps in to meet a timeless problem with a clever solution: preprinted, sealed packs that contain one dose of pills. The pack tells users what day and time to take the pills, and lists all the medications enclosed, making life easier for patients, caregivers, and providers.

Watch the video above as Ross Blankenship discusses how PillPack is a biotech startup worth investing in.


Would you like to invest in startups and become a venture capitalist? The VC expert is ready to help you start invest in top startups. See how you can by becoming a qualified member here.

ross-blankenship-angelkings

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Review of the Most Successful Lean Startups - GitHub

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GitHub is another company that started as a private solution. Coders Tom Preston, PJ Hyett, and Chris Wanstrath were all using Github, which is an open source version control software. When they found they had trouble sharing their code with others after creating it, however, they decided to make a solution. The solution–GitHub–began as a simple weekend project for a group of coders. They funded the minimal resource needs–hosting and a domain–and shared the tool with friends.

It wasn't long before GitHub went the way of Carbonmade, with word of mouth spreading the product outside of the founders' social circles. At that point, the trio decided to launch GitHub as a business. Together, they were able to cover initial formation costs, but they didn't have enough cash to support themselves as fulltime employees. Instead of seeking immediate investment and spending cash resources on themselves, they worked other jobs and did consulting work to pay the personal bills while they grew the business.

By 2009, the company boasted 100,000 users and an award as the best bootstrapped startup. By 2012, GitHub was stable and impressive enough to score $100 million in investor funding from SV Angel and Andreessen Horowitz.


If you'd like to learn about startup investing or want to see if you're an accredited investor, apply here. Angel Kings are the angel investing and venture capital experts.

Ross Blankenship is an expert on startup funding,  angel investing and venture capital.

Ross Blankenship is also the Founder and CEO of AngelKings.com.  Angel Kings is an investing platform that provides accredited angel investors the opportunity to invest in top startups and companies in sectors like cyber security, biotech, mobile, data and financial services.  Angel Kings provides both venture capital funds for startup investing as well as private equity funding for early and middle-stage investments.  

Startup Investing 101: Where should you invest?

If you had an opportunity to invest in the next Facebook, how would you?  We’ve got the answer. 

We want companies who will maintain their success against their competition because they know how to adjust their product or service to fit the needs of the market; they know how to spend their money responsibly; and they know that even when they reach profitability, there still won’t be enough time in the day to get everything done.   We look at four core values:

1.     People

2.     Product

3.     Execution

4.     Timing

* * *

PEOPLE  

Behind every great company is a founder who discovered a better solution to an everyday problem, and who is so dedicated, even obsessed, with delivering her better solution to everyone that she has no choice but to commit everything to the success of her company.  Behind every great company is a founder who knows the value of every dollar that comes in and every dollar that goes out of her company.  We want a founder who knows how to balance being pragmatic and passionate.  She won’t underestimate the value of her company, but she also pays attention whether there is an actual need for her product or service.  We don’t want a founder who is so in love with her company that she fails to pay attention to what the market actually needs.  Founders need to be focused, but they need to be flexible with their products, as well.  At Angel Kings, we also know that founders who are hyper–focused on profit and the marketability of their products only hire people of the same mindset.  Therefore, a driven founder, who is supported by an equally motivated and driven team, has a better chance in leading her company on a positive trajectory.  As an investor, look for founders who are obsessed with winning, but not blinded by illusion. 

PRODUCT

Companies that have withstood the test of time are quite simple in concept.  As we mentioned before, the best companies are the ones that provide solutions for everyday problems.  Some companies may even address the same everyday problem, but take different approaches to appeal to consumers.  Take Apple and Microsoft.  They address the same problem of providing people with a platform that connects them to the Internet, while providing an electronic interface for people to do their daily administrative or creative tasks.  They address the problem of communication and convenience.   

But if we look back at the development of these two giants, which existed before there was Facebook or Google, we can see that Microsoft and Apple products have evolved to fit the needs of their market—both in style and functionality.  At Angel Kings, we invest in companies that have the potential to evolve with the constantly changing market.  We first recognize the problem that the company is trying to solve with its product.  Then, we put ourselves five, 10, even 20 years down the road, and ask ourselves if this company can develop its product to fit the needs of people later on.  It requires more foresight and creativity to ask those types of questions, but they are important in assessing the longevity prospects of a company.  To illustrate, a company that sells protective cases for cellphones may become obsolete 10 years from now if cellphones are replaced by wearable technology, such as Google Glass. 

EXECUTION

Execution is closely tied with the people of the company.  Simply put, we want to invest in the founder who has the vision for the company, and who has an organized, realistic execution plan to launch and market the company.  A founder who does not have an execution plan on how to make her company profitable by a certain time is a founder who will not be financially responsible with her investor’s money.  To quote Robert Herjavec from ABC’s Shark Tank:

“A goal without a timeline is just a dream.”

Let’s face it.  Startups are expensive.  As investors, we don’t have time to invest in dreams.  We need founders who know exactly what they will do with the money we provide.  Will they use the money to meet the demand of their purchase orders?  Will it be used toward a better marketing campaign via Google Adwords?  Will it be used to lower the cost of the technology they’re using?

If the founder in whom you’re investing does not have the answer to execution questions, that’s a big red flag.  Execution plans are a necessity for a founder to show that she has the commitment, the preparedness and the follow–through to make sure her company succeeds.

TIMING

Timing is all about waiting for the right time to hit the market with the company’s product. There must be urgency for a better solution among consumers. This urgency emerges from previous products’ failures to address the needs of consumers.  Make sure that the company in which you’ll invest has a proof of concept and has gone through several iterations to meet the market’s needs.  Sometimes, this may mean that the company will wait for competitors to launch products first, then wait and see how the market will react.