Techstars and Starburst Announce Space-Focused Accelerator Program With U.S. Government And Corporate Consortium

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, U.S. Air Force, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) Unite to Disrupt Space Industry

LOS ANGELES and BOULDER, Colo.– Techstars and Starburst announced today their joint effort to help entrepreneurs succeed in aerospace. The Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator, a new Los Angeles-based program, will focus on the next generation of space technology companies and related frontier technologies. Matt Kozlov will be the managing director of the program. Matt previously led the Cedars Sinai Accelerator Powered by Techstars in Los Angeles and has invested in over 30 companies. Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst, will be advising Kozlov and the broader program, applying his experience of accelerating over 300 aerospace startups.

Building on Techstars success running more than 150 accelerator programs around the world with both government entities and Fortune 500 corporations, coupled with Starburst aerospace industry experience and expertise, this new mentorship-driven accelerator has formal sponsorship from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lockheed Martin, Maxar Technologies, SAIC, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), and the U.S. Air Force, with support from The Aerospace Corporation.

With recent technological breakthroughs such as reusable rockets, 3D printing, advanced materials, and miniaturization of satellites (“smallsats”), as well as the introduction and adoption of new business models, the opportunities for entrepreneurs and corporations are unprecedented. New business models will be a focus for the accelerator, and the consortium will be looking to work with startups that have a use case for new space and related technologies in fields such as energy, communications, robotics, and autonomy. Breakthroughs in these industries contribute to why Bank of America Merrill Lynch recently estimated the space economy will be worth more than $3 Trillion by 2045.

“The space industry is massively exciting but also quite complex,” said Matt Kozlov, managing director of the Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator. “We are bringing together vital industry leaders, both public and private, who will help entrepreneurs navigate the industry and provide unprecedented commercial support and mentorship. We will help founders achieve two years of commercial traction in three months. Given the pedigree of our sponsors, I expect this program will very quickly become a vital resource for entrepreneurs building frontier tech.”

“The list of incredible companies just keeps growing,” said Van Espahbodi, co-founder and managing director of Starburst. “The broader aerospace industry has finally embraced the notion of ‘open innovation’ by partnering with entrepreneurs to co-develop products, with a compelling business plan to match. Starburst is excited to advise the program to ensure early-stage businesses have the appropriate tools to compete in this emerging marketplace.”

Applications for Techstars Starburst Space Accelerator open today. The program, Techstars third accelerator program in California, will kick off in July 2019. Startup companies in commercial space or that are developing related technologies are encouraged to apply. Startup companies looking to connect with program staff prior to applying or to get feedback on their companies are welcome to request Office Hours with Techstars staff.

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About Techstars

Techstars is the worldwide network that helps entrepreneurs succeed. Techstars founders connect with other entrepreneurs, experts, mentors, alumni, investors, community leaders, and corporations to grow their companies. Techstars operates three divisions: Techstars Startup Programs, Techstars Mentorship-Driven Accelerator Programs, and Techstars Corporate Innovation Partnerships. Techstars accelerator portfolio includes more than 1,700 companies with a market cap of $18 Billion. www.techstars.com

About Starburst

Starburst is an innovation catalyst in the Aerospace industry. It is the first global Aerospace Accelerator, matching corporates with startups while providing strategic growth consulting for startups and corporations alike. With offices in Los Angeles, Paris, Montreal, Munich, San Francisco and Singapore, the team has built an ecosystem of key players across the Aerospace industry including over 4000+ related startups. Every year Starburst hosts numerous international and national events bringing together Aerospace innovators and puts innovation in the spotlight at international air shows.

www.starburst.aero

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Datadog acquires app testing company Madumbo

Datadog, the popular monitoring and analytics platform, today announced that it has acquired Madumbo, an AI-based application testing platform.

“We’re excited to have the Madumbo team join Datadog,” said Olivier Pomel, Datadog’s CEO. “They’ve built a sophisticated AI platform that can quickly determine if a web application is behaving correctly. We see their core technology strengthening our platform and extending into many new digital experience monitoring capabilities for our customers.”

Paris-based Madumbo, which was incubated at Station F and launched in 2017, offers its users a way to test their web apps without having to write any additional code. It promises to let developers build tests by simply interacting with the site, using the Madumbo test recorder, and to help them build test emails, password and testing data on the fly. The Madumbo system then watches your site and adapts its check to whatever changes you make. This bot also watches for JavaScript errors and other warnings and can be integrated into a deployment script.

The team will join Datadog’s existing Paris office and will work on new products, which Datadog says will be announced later this year. Datadog will phase out the Madumbo platform over the course of the next few months.

“Joining Datadog and bringing Madumbo’s AI-powered testing technology to its platform is an amazing opportunity,” said Gabriel-James Safar, CEO of Madumbo. “We’ve long admired Datadog and its leadership, and are excited to expand the scope of our existing technology by integrating tightly with Datadog’s other offerings.”

Paris sues Airbnb for illegal listings and seeks $14.2 million

The City of Paris first warned Airbnb, and it is now taking action. The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, told the JDD that the city is suing the company for 1,010 illegal listings. The fine could be worth as much as $14.2 million (€12.625 million).

Based on current legislation, you can’t rent an apartment more than 120 days a year. If you want to rent an apartment on Airbnb in Paris, you first must register your apartment with the city. The city then gives you an ID number so they can track how many nights you’re listing your apartment on Airbnb.

And yet, many listings still don’t have that ID number. The mayor’s office flagged around 1,000 apartments back in December 2017 and said Airbnb was dragging its feet. The company had little incentive to comply, as hosts were responsible for their own listings.

Thanks to a new law, the responsibility is now shared between the hosts and the platform. The City of Paris can now fine Airbnb for all those illegal listings, up to €12,500 per listing.

According to Hidalgo, Airbnb has been putting too much pressure on the housing market. She thinks that 65,000 apartments are now reserved for Airbnb in Paris alone. In some areas, it has become quite hard to find an apartment because of that. Local shops also suffer because tourists have different needs. In addition to better monitoring, Hidalgo is also in favor of restricting listings to 30 nights per year.

Airbnb told the JDD that it has complied with regulations and informed all Airbnb hosts about the new rules. The company also says that regulation in Paris doesn’t comply with European regulation. It’s clear that this fight is not over.

Car rental startup Virtuo picks up €20M Series B

Virtuo, the Paris-headquartered car rentals startup, has raised €20 million in Series B funding. The round is backed by Iris Capital, Balderton Capital and Raise Ventures, and will be used to continue expanding across the U.K. and other European countries.

Originally founded in France and available in 19 French and 2 Belgium locations, Virtuo launched in London last Summer, and says it plans to bring the service to U.K. cities Manchester, Bristol and Edinburgh later this year.

The company will also expand to Spain and Germany in 2019, creating what Virtuo claims will be a “truly pan-European rental option,” for drivers who are seeking an alternative to the big five incumbent car rental companies.

Designed to bring car rentals into the mobile age and in turn improve the user experience, the Virtuo app lets you book and unlock a Mercedes A-Class or GLA “in minutes,” at stations across the various cities the company operates, eradicating long wait times and arduous paperwork often associated with renting a car.

Like a plethora of mobility startups, the idea is to provide more options to a generation of non-car owners and in turn help creative a longer-term alternative to car ownership more generally.

“From the outset, we have been new challengers in an industry that has long-been dominated by 5 key players, whose bricks and mortar approach is deeply ingrained, not just in terms of market coverage, but also consumer rental habits,” Virtuo co-founder Karim Kaddoura tells me.

“We were the first to come into this industry with the fundamental belief that a 100 percent mobile approach is the only way to rebuild and re-think how car rental can be delivered from the ground up… From an operational perspective, by not being tied to bricks and mortar, we are able to launch stations, markets and services at a pace that has not been seen in the industry before”.

Kaddoura says Virtuo is also taking a data-driven and customer centric approach to building out its product, helping the company to innovate and improve every facet of renting a car. This has seen Virtuo garner 500,000 downloads of its app, which is popular with drivers between the age of 25 and 35.

I’m also told the average number of days of each rental is 4, averaging 325 miles per rental. Meanwhile, 80 percent of customers go for the compact A Class, while 20 percent take SUV.

“By continually listening to customer pain-points around booking processes, damage reporting, refuelling, communication and transparency, we can tackle these long-standing issues in new ways with technology as the solution,” he says. “The series B will play a key role in being able to provide greater availability across Europe and our existing markets”.

Adds Bernard Liautaud, managing partner of Balderton Capital: “Technology in cars and other areas of mobility is evolving rapidly, due to concerns over the environment and congestion. Given these shifts, renting a car as and when you need it is becoming a viable alternative to buying, particularly for younger people who have come of age as the sharing economy took off”.

SumUp acquires ‘multi-channel’ e-commerce platform Shoplo

SumUp, the London-based fintech company that enables small businesses to take card payments via its device and online, has acquired “multi-channel” e-commerce platform Shoplo.

Terms of the deal aren’t being disclosed, while SumUp says the acquisition will enable it to expand its product suite to give SumUp merchants access to various online marketplaces, such as Facebook, eBay and Etsy. In addition, Shoplo’s tech will also help SumUp merchants create better-looking online storefronts.

“The acquisition of Warsaw-based company Shoplo, consisting of 30 employees, will provide SumUp with the template, technology, and expertise to expand the e-commerce area of its business, enabling it to offer a scalable solution that will allow its merchants to easily create their own online stores and sell on numerous e-commerce platforms in just a few clicks,” says SumUp.

More broadly, BBVA-backed SumUp started out offering functionality akin to Silicon Valley’s Square, and subsequently merged with Rocket Internet’s Square clone Payleven. However, the full SumUp product suite today encompasses accepting payments on-the-go or online, managing business at the point of sale, invoicing and bookkeeping, third-party integrations of payments, and other services via SDKs and APIs.

In part, this has been achieved through acquisition, including another recent purchase: Danish company Debitoor, an invoicing software platform originally established for freelancers and SMEs which will be integrated within SumUp’s user offering

Meanwhile, SumUp says these acquisitions are part of SumUp’s ambitious expansion drive as it attempts to create a one-stop-shop for businesses of all sizes. It has also been rumoured that the U.K. fintech has achieved ‘unicorn’ status — a valuation of $1 billion or more — which it also officially conforming today. The company claims its surpassed annual revenue of $200 million.

Adds Marc-Alexander Christ, co-founder of SumUp, in a statement: “From the shop-floor to the online checkout, SumUp is looking to be the first point-of-call to merchants globally. Every decision we make to expand our product suite is made with the consideration and feedback from our 1 million users worldwide”.

Manage the Clock

I used to be chronically late to everything, both personal and professional. In my twenties, before cell phones, I was one of those people that others referred to as having “Brad time” which did not correlate with the actual time in the world. My calendar and schedule was a rough sketch, not even a guide.

My lack of attention to time finally imploded on me around age 35 when Amy said she’d had enough on multiple dimensions of our life. The foundational issue for us was that my actions didn’t match my words, and by being late all the time, I wasn’t honoring my priorities (which I would regularly say was Amy over everything else …) If you ever get us together at a meal and want to hear some epic “Brad was late” stories, ask her about the Postrio dinner of 2000.

Since then, I’ve gotten a lot better at being on-time. I’m not a “five minutes early to everything” person, but I’m rarely more than a few minutes late to anything. I’m very scheduled throughout the week, so it’s often hard to transition between the thing that ends at 2:30 and then be on time to the thing that starts at 2:30 and get it exactly right each time. And, throughout the day, when I end up going until 2:35 for whatever reason, the 2:30 call then goes a little long, and everything backs up a little so that I’m 15 minutes late for the last meeting of the day. And now I know to always say “I’m sorry for being late” whenever I’m late.

Over the years I’ve tried many different approaches to managing the clock. For a while, I tried using Google’s “speedy meeting” option which defaults to 25 minute meetings (instead of 30) and 50 minute meetings (instead of an hour), but no one ever paid any attention to it and it just seemed to create weird openings in my calendar for anyone who had access to it.

Today, I use a different approach. I try manage the clock better during a meeting when I’m in charge, and prompt others when I’m not. That works a little, but it’s annoying.

I find this particularly challenging on calls that are an hour long with multiple people. Or, in three hour-ish board meetings with a lot of people. I don’t control the agenda in those meetings, so clock management is up to someone else. And, most people are painfully bad at it.

There are a few tips for anyone who wants to do this well.

The first is to publish an agenda with times allocated to each section. Then, have an enforcer (not the person running the meeting) who gives a five minute warning on each section. Then, end each section on time. Basically, break up the meeting into smaller chunks (15 – 30 minutes) and adhere to the schedule.

Next, front end load the meetings. Do the stuff you need everyone on the call or at the meeting for up front. Some things need you to build into them, but don’t leave them “for the end” – build deliberately to each deeper discussion or decision you want to have. Leaving the critical discussions and decisions for the end of the meeting is a guaranteed way not to get to them.

Send out materials well in advance (at least 48 hours) and assume everyone can read. If they don’t, that’s their problem, not yours, and they’ll get the hint pretty quickly. Instead of going page by page through your materials, or using the materials as a crutch to “review” things, summarize they key points and focus on discussion and debate, rather than review.

Finally, build in buffer. Almost everyone needs to go to the bathroom during a three hour meeting. At the minimum, it’s good to stand up and stretch your body. All video conferencing systems, no matter how good, continue to have weird friction at the beginning of the meeting, so have a front-end start buffer, rather than anxiety around the inevitable five minute delay. And, when the meeting goes off the rails and you get ten minutes behind because someone (e.g. me) can’t shut up about something and your time enforcer was daydreaming about Dali paintings, use the buffer to catch back up.

This is a problem that has been persistent in my life for over 30 years. If you have magic tricks that have worked for you, I’m all ears.

The post Manage the Clock appeared first on Feld Thoughts.

DoorDash is reportedly raising $500M at a $6B+ valuation

Just days after Postmates filed confidential paperwork for an initial public offering, the latest news in the on-demand delivery space is that competitor DoorDash is in the process of raising a $500 million round, The Wall Street Journal reports. The round would reportedly value DoorDash at more than $6 billion and possibly up to $7 billion.

According to the WSJ, Temasek Holdings Pte., Singapore’s state investment firm, is expected to lead the round.

Last year, DoorDash raised a $250 million round of financing that valued the company at $4 billion. In total, DoorDash has raised nearly $1 billion in funding from investors like SoftBank, Sequoia, DST Global, Kleiner Perkins and others.

Earlier this year, the food-delivery startup became the first startup to operate in all 50 states. Meanwhile, similar to Instacart, DoorDash has also reportedly been subsidizing worker pay with tips from customers, but DoorDash still has yet to respond to TechCrunch regarding the practice.

I’ve reached out to DoorDash and will update this story if I hear back.