#venturecapital

Investing in Startups - 5 Questions and Answers for Investors

Investing in Startups - 5 Questions and Answers for Investors

The following article provides investors and startups with an inside look at who, what, how, and everything you need to know about angel investing in startup companies.

 

Top Predictions of the Next Billion-Dollar Cybersecurity Startups

Lookout Mobile Security.jpg

Lookout Security

Lookout customizes cyber defense for the mobile market by using predictive analysis tools to plan for threats before they become a problem for users.  The company now boasts more than 60 million users, including organizations such as AT&T and Sprint. Mobile security is the next frontier for cyber security expansion.

BlockScore

Blockscore.png

In 2014, Blockscore landed $2.4 million in funding for its identification verification product. Marketed as an anti–fraud and compliance product, Blockscore enters the market at a time when newsworthy hacks have made it obvious that simple password protection is fruitless against modern cyber criminals. While Blockscore is competing with dozens–if not hundreds–of security products, it markets itself as the simple, convenient, and effective option. On its landing page, the brand cleverly shows that users can sign up and use the service in the time it would take to read the competition's contracts.

Sift Science

Sift Science.png

With more than 191 million digital shoppers in the United States alone, e–commerce sites across all niches are seeing growing business. Along with the increasing revenue comes a growing problem: fraud. In 2012, online retailers lost $3.5 billion to fraud, so it's not surprising that companies are cautious about potentially fraudulent orders.  This is where Sift Science comes in.

E–commerce fraud protection services may seem more difficult to brand, and you might not see a bandwagon potential at first. But consider the need to keep up with competition. Eventually, more retailers will have to buy in to the Sift Science product or risk the loss of consumers whose orders have been incorrectly denied.

We also like that Sift Science is integrated within thousands of websites.  Once you’re able to build dependency, similar to CloudFlare, you’re on your way to becoming a billion-dollar company.

True Link Financial

True Link Financial.png

True Link Financial offers monitoring and education tools for older adults and caregivers to help seniors avoid fraud and scams. Few cyber security companies dared to tackle this niche for the older generation Americans.  We are fascinated by the potential here.


You can also sign up for our course and get inside access to the hottest startups and investors in the world. 

We’ll help you find the next billion-dollar startups so you can be part of the future and get an enormous return by angel investing.

How To Use The Berkus Method To Calculate Startup Valuation

We'll cover five different methods for valuing startups, concentrating on valuing early startups and those that are in pre–revenue stages, starting with:

The Berkus Method

This method, which is used and defined by active angel investor David Berkus, involves a lot of estimation. The reason Berkus came up with the method is that he personally found that lengthy revenue forecasts rarely turned out to be accurate. According to Berkus, only 1 in 20 startups hit revenue forecasts, so he opted for an "eyeball" approach using a few key elements. The method applies best to technology companies, but can be applied to other products.

First, Berkus says that investors should believe the company has a potential to hit $20 million or more in revenues by the 5th year of operation. Then, he applies a scale to five components of a startup, rating each at up to $500,000. The components are:

  • The startup has a sound idea–a product that provides a basic value with acceptable product risk
  • There is a prototype, which reduces technology risks
  • The startup has or plans for a quality management team to reduce risks in execution
  • Strategic relationships are already in place, reducing risks for competition and market
  • Product rollout and sales plans exist (not applicable to all pre–revenue startups)

Using the method, the highest valuation would be $2.5 million; a pre–revenue startup could only score $2 million.  This is a very back–of–the–envelope method, but it can be a useful tool for angel investors evaluating startups in the earliest of stages.

Some disadvantages do exist with the Berkus Method, however, illustrating the point that no type of data should be considered in a vacuum. For example, this method doesn't consider market or competitive environment, which may be of importance in many situations.  


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.



Angel Kings Topics: How To Value A Startup

We've all heard the different numbers that investors and startup founders come up with when it comes to their startup valuation.  Sometimes a founder may say they're worth $3 million, while investors may say, they're only worth $1.5 million.  But how do they come up with these numbers?  Why are they different?  

Watch the video below to learn about the valuation methods Ross Blankenship discusses in his book, Kings Over Aces.  Each method will be discussed further in the following posts.


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 at HERE.

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.


Wealthfront Review - The Best Lean Startups in America

Wealthfront

Wealthfront delivers on–demand investment advice and services without high account minimums and fees that keep many people from building wealth through investing. One thing that makes Wealthfront a top fintech is that it takes an existing solution–investment services–and makes it available to a new market. We talked before about creating a have situation for the have–nots, and this product does that.  Deeply entrenched companies like Charles Schwab are now copying these auto–investing platforms.  When the big boys copy your clothing, you know you’re onto something big.  


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-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.


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

ouya-startup

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.


Thalmic Labs - Review of the Top Hardware Startups

thalmic-labs

With over $15 million in investments since it launched in 2013, Thalmic Labs is an exciting hardware startup in an earlier stage than the previous three we covered. The company’s first product is an armband, called the Myo, which senses muscle movement in a user's arm and integrates with computers for virtual–reality style control. The armband offers more precise control than some other devices on the market, and Thalmic Labs originally showcased its prerelease product by flying a drone with it. The armband can also be used to control computing functions, including PowerPoint navigation, and some games.

With a release price of $199 each, Thalmic Labs didn't expect its products to hit wide consumer audiences at first. It was relying on early adoption crowds–techies, industry insiders, and gaming and computer developers–to buy its products on first launch in 2015. The startup did make what seems like a smart product launch choice–it launched on Amazon for added exposure and easy distribution.

Myo

Myo

While the Myo isn't going to be an international bestseller right away, the product and the company are exciting for investors because of the promise of future growth. The Myo is one of those rare products that is slightly before its time but is not first to market. There's a platform ready in the space for these types of control devices, and other hardware and computer uses are catching up, positioning Myo and Thalmic Labs to be big players in the next few years as drastic changes are made to the way users interact with computers.


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-investor

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.


littleBits - Review of the Top Hardware Startups

littlebits-review

Launched by Ayah Bdeir in 2009, littleBits won over 20 awards at the MakerFaire Bay Area in the same year. Between then and 2013, the startup garnered over $14 million in funding for its product: kits and components that bring DIY electronic and programing capability to almost anyone. The kits include a variety of small modules, such as sensors, sound and light components, and power, and let users create anything from home security components to a toy Mars Rover. Consumers can buy kits for certain projects, or purchase deluxe kits that contain basic modules needed for multiple electronics products.

Bdeir's product isn't the first in the electronic education space–soldering kits have been around for years. But littleBits are easier to use thanks to snap–together technology, and the small, colorful modules lend to education in a variety of environments. We like littleBits as a hardware startup because of the sheer diversity and market potential of the product. DIY electronics gurus can invest in dozens of kits, including an Arduino coding kit. Schools can use the electronics to teach computer, design, engineering, and basic science lessons, and littleBits even works with other hardware companies to engage consumers and boost awareness of STEM activities and education.

In early 2015, littleBits partnered with 3D printing company Shapeways to host a contest. Entrants had to modify a traditional home object, such as a toothbrush, using littleBits modules and 3D printing to make the object more useful, efficient, or smarter. Such interactive marketing tactics are bringing littleBits slowly into the public eye, which bodes well for the continued success of this hot hardware startup.


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-expert-investor

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.


Ninja Blocks - Review of the Top Hardware Startups

ninjablocks-review

Another startup in fairly early stages, Ninja Blocks has identified what it considers a growing problem in modern homes: everything is connected, but connections are disparate and lead to poor user experience. The company, which is cofounded by Pete Moore, has received $1.7 million in funding so far, but the open–source nature of its product has let it move forward with development and preorder processes.

Pete Moore isn't new to tech startups; he previously founded Cenqua, which was later acquired by Atlassian. He is also an angel investor and startup advisor. For the Ninja Blocks launch, Moore teams up with cofounder Daniel Friedman.

One reason investors should watch this young company is that Ninja Blocks is poised to bring a wide–ranging solution to a growing and hungry market. Right now, it is targeting home automation–a market that is flooded with high–dollar solutions, service companies, and products that require mobile device access. 

Ninja Blocks is looking to provide the same solutions without the excessive expense or mobile requirements. Its open source policy also lets other product developers integrate control access, so the single Ninja Blocks device may be able to control entire homes and more in the future.


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-expert-investor

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.


The Hottest Hardware Startups in America

A number of hot hardware startups are covered in a few other chapters in this book, and many are mentioned in chapter 6. For angel investors, hardware is a fun and adventurous space, because it covers so many niches. From gaming to home automation, you can find a hardware startup that address needs in almost any industry. Pebble, the Kickstarter darling, brings smartwear to the wrist, and Boosted lets urban dwellers get around quickly on a motorized longboard. Hardware even enters the tobacco market with companies such as Ploom, which used its ties with a Japanese tobacco firm to create sleek vape devices.

Let's look at a few other hot hardware startups and discuss why these companies are catching investor eyes, starting with:

formlabs-hardware-review

FORMLABS

Formlabs, launched in 2011, is an illustration of what happens when founder know–how meets impeccable timing. The company, which received $1.8 million in seed funding in November 2011, further drove its 3D printer product to market with help from a 2012 Kickstarter campaign. The campaign offered rewards ranging from a virtual high five and a file copy of the printer model to a package containing the actual printer plus fun printables.  In its Kickstarter campaign, Formlabs claimed it intended to disrupt the 3D printing market with an affordable, high–quality 3D printer.

The startup was able to garner additional funding in 2013, when a Series A round brought it $19 million for product development and expansion. It's not surprising investors were happy to get in on funding Formlabs. By that time, it had already made good on a number of its Kickstarter promises; by December 2013, Formlabs had fulfilled all the Kickstarter rewards and shipped more than 1,000 of its Form 1 3D printers throughout the globe; this hardware startup had a strong execution plan.

Why all the hype around Formlabs' product? First, Formlabs' Kickstarter project, came at a time when 3D print technology was becoming a household topic. News media was covering the technology, which sounded futuristic and frightening to many–op–eds asked "What if people print guns?" and entrepreneurs bubbled excitedly about manufacturing concepts. For many users, though, the technology was entertaining to consider, but far from daily reach.

Formlabs' Kickstarter campaign meshed with the audience because it made the concept relevant, less frightening, and affordable. For $2,299, a backer received the printer and some supplies. With businesses paying a thousand or more for copy machines, that price for a 3D printer opened the technology to small business users and individual inventors.

That covers product and branding, but for the angel investor, the people behind FormLabs are also an attractive investment. Natan Linder managed Samsung's R&D center in Israel and was a lead designer with a robotics company. Maxim Lobovsky's 3D printer experience dates back to FabLab and Fab@Home projects as does David Cranor's. All three founders also came from a background at MIT Media Labs.

With so many criteria pointing to a high chance at success, we aren't surprised that FormLabs made several expansion announcements in early 2015. This startup is looking to grow rather than seek an IPO. In a single week, the company announced expansions in both Germany and China.*

* Krasserstein, Brian. "Formlabs Heads to Germany, Opens Office in Berlin, Partners with IGo3D." 3DPrintcom. N.p., 16 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. http://3dprint.com/51309/formlabs-germany-igo3d/
 Molitch-Hou, Michael. "Formlabs' SLA 3D Printing to China - 3D Printing Industry." 3D Printing Industry Formlabs Brings LowCost SLA 3D Printing to China Comments. N.p., 10 Mar. 2015. Web. 29 Apr. 2015. http://3dprintingindustry.com/2015/03/10/formlabs-brings-low-cost-sla-3d-printing-to-china.

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-expert-investor

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.

Slack App - Review of the Top Software Startups

Slack-App-Review

SLACK APP

Slack App offers chatting and communication with a business focus. Unlike apps that are more targeted to social media, Slack is about helping employees and businesses communicate with one another. As of March 2015, the company was valued at $2.76 billion, and it continues to grow. In the course of six months, the company has more than doubled its valuation. The explosive growth of the company has come from the addition of an average of $1 million in new contracts every 11 days, and from $12 million in recurring revenue from the previous year.

In just one year, Slack App has grown to hundreds of thousands of daily users. It has been deemed the fastest–growing business app ever. The reason Slack has experienced such phenomenal growth is because it did something the other app companies did not: It worked with the business app as though it was a consumer app. The gap traditionally seen between business and consumer apps has been shrinking, and Slack has taken advantage of this opportunity.

Slack’s timing was impeccable. Many businesses were disenchanted with the options they had for connecting with co–workers on a business level. With the Slack app, smaller teams throughout various companies discovered it in the cloud and started to use it. Quickly, Slack has become many companies’ first line of communication. 

In the beginning, there was almost no marketing done by Slack. The app sold itself, as people discovered it and word–of–mouth advertising caused more people to start using it. Because it provided employees with exactly what they needed and wanted in a business communication app, they told everyone they knew about it. That meant a more organic adoption of the service, and a higher level of loyalty from the user base. What made Slack so popular, though, was Twitter.

Businesspeople who used and loved the app would make mention of Slack on Twitter, where all their followers would see it. That led many more people to try the app, to see what the buzz was all about. CEO Stewart Butterfield believes that the app may not have seen such a high level of success so quickly if it was not for Twitter and all the people mentioning Slack on the social media platform. That was not the only reason the Slack app became so popular so quickly, though. Another reason was its ease of use, which is important to businesspeople who don't have a lot of time to learn yet another new piece of technology.

The layout of the Slack app is intuitive, and it integrates seamlessly with hundreds of other apps, so the information from them can be pulled into Slack. There is no training needed to start using the app, and the ease of customization makes the app a hit with people in all different types of businesses. If they need communication that's fast, easy, and well–prepared to work with other apps and technology, they need Slack – and thanks to the buzz around the app, they know it.  Will Slack be acquired by LinkedIn, Microsoft, or Google?  Only time will tell.


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-expert-investor

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.

SlideMail - Review of the Best Software Startups

slidemail-software-review

SlideMail

SlideMail is an exciting startup that's newer than the two previously mentioned. The fledgling company managed to land $120,000 in seed investments through Y Combinator in mid–2014. What makes SlideMail hot is the way it takes a space that's been mined by giants such as Yahoo, Gmail, and Hotmail and makes it new again with a little bit of intelligence and one feature that may make SlideMail technology one of the big tech acquisitions of the future.

SlideMail is an app that helps you handle email interactions. The app does what a lot of the browser–based email applications attempt to do, but SlideMail's intuitive programming does it better. Much of the technology is based on natural language programming, which lets SlideMail interpret simple phrases within email as a human does. If an email contains phrasing about dinner tomorrow night, SlideMail makes a note within the app. As times approach, the mail program brings appointment– or time–based emails to the surface, ensuring users don't miss time–based messages in the hustle of daily communications.

SlideMail uses similar logic programming to adapt to user behavior. If you archive email from a certain person to the same folder repeatedly, SlideMail might prompt you to set up automatic archiving. It also suggests email actions in an intelligent fashion, which lets users move through over–burdened inboxes more efficiently.

These functions may sound familiar to users of existing email programs. Outlook and Gmail both have some functionality that can recognize times and dates, for example, and users can set up rule sets in both programs to automatically handle email. With SlideMail, however, the app suggests these things based on actual behavior so users don't have to come up with a list of behaviors on their own. Products that meet existing needs in a more efficient or convenient manner are often successful, which is why SlideMail would score well on Angel Kings' product checklist.

Even more than convenience, SlideMail's privacy option gives it an edge.  With increasing news stories about the eternal nature of online data–and a growing number of scandals involving hacked or leaked emails–users are growing more wary of email use. According to SlideMail, however, all data is stored within your instance of the application rather than on third–party servers. By deleting the app, you delete all information related to your email account. It's not perfect privacy, but it is more than most mobile email users get.

SlideMail hasn't hit its stride with marketing. Users and tech gurus have pointed out a number of branding and marketing options for the startup, however. The convenience and time–management features will resonate with college–aged audiences, particularly those who are always willing to step away from mainstream applications such as Gmail. Another market might be older users, who still rely on Yahoo or other sites for email and would like a robust mobile email program–SlideMail works with existing accounts through POP access.


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 at HERE.

Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

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.

CipherCloud - Review of the Best Software Startups

ciphercloud-software-startup

As of 2015, CipherCloud has around five years and $80 million in investments under its belt, and even the internal team couldn't provide a specific reason for attracting $50 million in Series B funding in an investment round in 2014. We're not surprised this startup has been successful so far–it punches most of the buttons on the Angel Kings investment checklist, including strong people, product, and timing.

The founder behind CipherCloud is Pravin Kothar. Kothar has plenty of experience in the technology and security space, and he's also got a history of launching successful startups. He was the founding Vice President of Engineering for ArcSight, which launched in 2000 and was acquired by Hewlett–Packard in 2010. Kothar was also involved with startup Agiliance, which garnered $24 million in investments from 2005 to 2015 and boasted an impressive growth rate of 4,909 percent from 2007 to 2010.

An experienced and established founder is one that investors can get behind, but he also needs a marketable product. CipherCloud entered the market at a time when cloud–computing itself was becoming a mainstream service, but users were still anxious about security concerns. With security an ever growing concern–and cloud computing an ever growing requirement among global organizations looking for cost–savings and efficiencies–CipherCloud's service is positioned to meet demands and psychological needs for an enormous market. No company wants to feel vulnerable to hackers, particularly those in sensitive niches. In fact, CipherCloud's first four years netted them 3 million users–including top banks, healthcare organizations, and government agencies.

CipherCloud doesn't offer a new solution; many companies in the second decade of the 21st century are bringing cloud security solutions to market. What CipherCloud does offer is out–of–the–box solutions that integrate with some of the biggest cloud software solutions on the market. The company offers security for Salesforce.com, Office 365, and Box, among others. Like Apttus, this smart startup used the tailcoats of larger organizations to get up to speed. Now that it's caught the eye of investors, CipherCloud intends to develop additional products and move into new markets.


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-expert-investor

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. 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 Top Software Startups in America

In 2014, The Economist noted that software startups were exploding across the world; venture capitalist Marc Andreessen went so far as to say, "Software is eating the world."

Though timing as of 2015 is somewhat favorable for any software startup founder with a strong product and plan, not every fledgling software company makes it. Many don't even make it to the seed stage of investing, partly because the ample competition in the niche makes it more difficult to attract investors. We'll review some recent hot software startups in a variety of stages and discuss some reasons they stand out from the global crowd, starting with:

apptus-software-startup

APPTUS

Product is definitely the deciding factor that's landing this hot software startup millions every time it steps up to the pitching mound. In early 2015, Apptus scored $41 million in funds as part of a Series B investment round, with much of the funding coming from Salesforce Ventures, an investing arm of Salesforce.com.

Apptus provides a number of solutions targeted primarily at e–commerce companies. Its first, and powerhouse, product is Quote–to–Cash, a platform that makes it easier for companies to move efficiently through revenue cycle and drive sustainable cash growth. Interestingly, Quote–to–Cash’s entire product line, as well as other solutions from this startup, is that the entire Apttus product line is based on Salesforce.com. In effect, Apptus piggybacks the extremely successful ERP solution with a number of integrations that improve experience for businesses using Salesforce.com.

Aligning its products with Saleforce.com gives Apptus at least two major benefits as a startup. One thing we like to see with a startup is that its product idea isn't first to market–a product that builds successfully on something else is much more likely to succeed. It's also more likely to see success faster than a ground–up venture, and faster success means faster time to value for an investor. By basing its product on the existing Salesforce platform, Apttus doesn't have to grow an audience from scratch. And, if you're going to tie yourself to another software company, why not pick one of the most successful? Salesforce itself grew 33 percent from 2013 to 2014, and was the fasted growing software company at the time.

The second reason the Salesforce.com connection makes Apptus a strong software startup is that it provides for an excellent chance at a future acquisition. At Angel Kings, we never invest in any startup that doesn't have an exit strategy, and linking arms with a company that is growing massively each year and has a history of generous acquisition purchases is about as good as any strategy we've seen.

Previous companies acquired by Salesforce.com include Buddy Media for $745 million in 2012, Radian6 for $326 million in 2011, and Exact Target for $2.5 billion in June 2013. As of early 2015, however, Salesforce.com appeared happy to invest in a growing Apptus rather than acquire it outright; in fact, according to Apptus, Salesforce.com's contribution to the startup's Series B funding is the highest investment amount from Salesforce.com that wasn't part of an acquisition.

Apptus also began as a traditional bootstrap, which is rare for software startups these days. Lean management during the first seven years meant slow growth, but once the company did come to investors, it had a strong project and a plan with many kinks worked out. Current CEO Kirk Krappe says that primary goals are to continue building a great company, but he acknowledges what many investors seem to be banking on: Apptus is positioned well for an IPO or sale in the future. 


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-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. Ross Blankenship has made more investments in venture capital before the age of 30 than most venture capitalists have made in a lifetime. 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.


Gawker - The Best Lean Startups in America

gawker-lean-startup

Gawker founder Nick Denton is another example of someone who founded and sold another company before turning to bootstrapping for his next endeavor. Denton launched Gawker, a media and blogging company, in 2002. For many years, he did most of the work himself, bringing on other bloggers as needed in contract or work–at–home positions to keep costs down. Denton slowly expanded Gawker operations outside of his home by renting an inexpensive storefront to house his growing team of bloggers. Six years after he launched, he invested in a more traditional office for the company. Within about ten years, Denton's bootstrapped media company weighed in with valuation estimates around $150 million.


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

Ross-Blankenship-expert-investor

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. 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.


AppSumo - The Best Lean Startups in America

appsumo-lean-startup

As with all great startup stories, AppSumo begins with someone addressing a need. This time, it was Noah Kagan, who was working with a Facebook games company. Through interaction with partners of that company, Kagan discovered that many businesses and users were having a hard time discovering innovative applications and web products.

Kagan realized someone could offer a product that connected those innovative products and services with the market. Using open–source code, Kagan built part of his product and hired an outsourced coder for a total of $60 to do the rest. The same month, he launched AppSumo, which was to offer deals on products Kagan found online. The first deal he offered was a pro account at Imgur for 50 percent off. Advertised on Reddit, which is a clever target audience crossover decision, the deal sold to 200 buyers.

David Cramer then joined Kagan as a cofounder. The two rebooted AppSumo with updated code and a new offer. They sold 500 of the new offer. The pair continued in a rinse and repeat pattern, learning as they went. Within a few years, the startup boasted 200,000 subscribers and a growing network of customers, startups, and advertisers. 


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-investor

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. 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 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.


Indeed.com - The Best Lean Startups in America

INDEED.com

In Kings Over Aces, we discuss the importance of investing in established, experienced people, which describes the cofounders behind the site, Indeed. Paul Forster and Rony Kahn already founded, ran, and sold a company before they began to bootstrap Indeed. It's not surprising that they didn't bootstrap for an extensive amount.  After a beta release of the popular job listing site, the company raised $5 million in funding, which a Union Square Ventures (USV) representative said investors had to convince the cofounders to take.

According to that same USV associate, by the time the investment came, Kahn and Forster had launched the Indeed service and were on the way to success. Forster said a major principle of Indeed was to run efficiently and to remain laser focused on building the product over time. By 2012, that focus had paid off. Indeed generated around $150 million a year and had 550 employees. It was also poised for either a successful IPO or an acquisition. In the end, the company–which was valued at over $750 million–sold for an undisclosed amount. Guesses at the time were that the acquisition price ranged between $750 million and $1 billion.


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-expert-investor

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. 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 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.


SparkFun Review - The Best Lean Startups in America

Nathan Seidle and his startup, SparkFun, are great examples of part of the Lean Startup model. Seidle bootstrapped his startup for a number of years, pumping profits back into the company whenever possible. He also immediately created a learning environment for himself as a business owner when he launched SparkFun.

The company sells electronic parts and is currently a major player in the open source technology market. When Seidle launched the company in 2003, however, he did so because he himself ran into a problem. He burned out some electronic components when working on a project, but couldn't find what he needed for replacement parts easily online. With SparkFun, he wanted to bring necessary parts to individuals and small businesses, but he also wanted to provide education and encourage people to get involved with electronics.

To fund the launch of his fledgling company, Seidle used $2,500 in personal debt to purchase products. Since he wasn't sure which products would hit home with consumers, he started with a random assortment of parts–setting up the experiment environment Ries talked about with Lean Startups. As small trickles of orders began to come through, Seidle tracked the success of each product and learned which items to reinvest in.

In our book, Kings Over Aces, we talk about how companies don't have to be first to market with a solution, and they don't have to be the first to provide a certain type of product. They do have to provide an innovative twist on the solution, or in some way make the solution more convenient for the consumer. SparkFun delivers this innovation by including datasheets and tutorials for all of its products as open source hardware.

In less than a decade, SparkFun grew from a bootstrapped startup–whose founder couldn't afford a new coat because he funneled everything back to the company–to an enterprise worth $10 million. Seidle has over one hundred employees and his company supplies a global Maker community. 


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-expert-investor

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. 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 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.