Архив метки: Sequoia Capital

Sequoia leads $10M round for home improvement negotiator Setter

You probably don’t know how much it should cost to get your home’s windows washed, yard landscaped or countertops replaced. But Setter does. The startup pairs you with a home improvement concierge familiar with all the vendors, prices and common screwups that plague these jobs. Setter finds the best contractors across handiwork, plumbing, electrical, carpentry and more. It researches options, negotiates a bulk rate and, with its added markup, you pay a competitive price with none of the hassle.
One of the most reliable startup investing strategies is looking at where people spend a ton of money but hate the experience. That makes home improvement a prime target for disruption, and attracted a $10 million Series A round for Setter co-led by Sequoia Capital and NFX. “The main issue is that contractors and homeowners speak different languages,” Setter co-founder and CEO Guillaume Laliberté tells me, “which results in unclear scopes of work, frustrated homeowners who don’t know enough to set up the contractors for success, and frustrated contractors who have to come back multiple times.”

Setter is now available in Toronto and San Francisco, with seven-plus jobs booked per customer per year costing an average of over $500 each, with 70 percent repeat customers. With the fresh cash, it can grow into a household name in those cities, expand to new markets and hire up to build new products for clients and contractors.
I asked Laliberté why he cared to start Setter, and he told me “because human lives are made better when you can make essential human activities invisible.” Growing up, his mom wouldn’t let him buy video games or watch TV so he taught himself to code his own games and build his own toys. “I’d saved money to fix consoles and resell them, make beautiful foam swords for real live-action games, buy and resell headphones — anything that people around me wanted really!” he recalls, teaching him the value of taking the work out of other people’s lives.
Meanwhile, his co-founder David Steckel was building high-end homes for the wealthy when he discovered they often had ‘home managers’ that everyone would want but couldn’t afford. What if a startup let multiple homeowners share a manager? Laliberté says Steckel describes it as “I kid you not, the clouds parted, rays of sunlight began to shine through and angels started to sing.” Four days after getting the pitch from Steckel, Laliberté was moving to Toronto to co-found Setter.
Users fire up the app, browse a list of common services, get connected to a concierge over chat and tell them about their home maintenance needs while sending photos if necessary. The concierge then scours the best vendors and communicates the job in detail so things get done right the first time, on time. They come back in a few minutes with either a full price quote, or a diagnostic quote that gets refined after an in-home visit. Customers can schedule visits through the app, and stay in touch with their concierge to make sure everything is completed to their specifications.
The follow-through is what sets Setter apart from directory-style services like Yelp or Thumbtack . “Other companies either take your request and assign it to the next available contractor or simply share a list of available contractors and you need to complete everything yourself,” a Setter spokesperson tells me. They might start the job quicker, but you don’t always get exactly what you want. Everyone in the space will have to compete to source the best pros.

Though potentially less scalable than Thumbtack’s leaner approach, Setter is hoping for better retention as customers shift off of the Yellow Pages and random web searches. Thumbtack rocketed to a $1.2 billion valuation and had raised $273 million by 2015, some from Sequoia (presenting a curious potential conflict of interest). That same ascent may have lined up the investors behind Setter’s $2 million seed round from Sequoia, Hustle Fund and Avichal Garg last year. Today’s $10 million Series A also included Hustle Fund and Maple VC. 
The toughest challenge for Setter will be changing the status quo for how people shop for home improvement away from ruthless bargain hunting. It will have to educate users about the pitfalls and potential long-term costs of getting slapdash service. If Laliberté wants to fulfill his childhood mission, he’ll have to figure out how to make homeowners value satisfaction over the lowest sticker price.

Sequoia leads $10M round for home improvement negotiator Setter

Аналитик "апп сторов" App Annie получил 15 млн $ инвестиций

Компания App Annie, известная благодаря своему сервису аналитики мобильных приложений, получила 15 млн долларов венчурных инвестиций в раунде финансирования серии C, возглавила который Sequoia Capital.
Аналитик "апп сторов" App Annie получил 15 млн $ инвестиций

Yahoo Mobile Sales Head Paul Cushman Joins Ad Targeting Startup Drawbridge

Paul Cushman

Drawbridge, a cross-device ad targeting startup backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, announced today it has hired Yahoo’s former mobile sales head as its new vice president of sales and business development.

The hire in question is Paul Cushman, whose official title at Yahoo was senior director of mobile sales strategy. Despite the turmoil at the top of Yahoo, and the virtually unending criticism it seems to get in the press, Cushman insists that his departure shouldn’t be read as a sign of dissatisfaction with his old employer.

“I was having a great time at Yahoo,” he says. “It’s an insanely good company and it gets very bad press.”

Nonetheless, Cushman says that when Drawbridge approached him about building up the business side of the startup, he was intrigued. At Yahoo it was relatively easy to connect a person’s activity on desktop and mobile, because users were signing in to Yahoo Mail and Messenger on multiple devices. Because of that, Cushman knew how important that data is for advertisers, yet unlike Yahoo, most companies don’t have it.

So what Drawbridge has done (as founder Kamakshi Sivaramakrishna explained to me before the company launched) is build “probabilistic and statistical inference models” to suggest which PC and mobile users are likely to be the same person using two different devices. Then advertisers can use the data collected about someone on the desktop to target ads on mobile. Cushman sums up his reaction to the Drawbridge pitch: “I’m doing this at Yahoo, and if you can do this for everyone else, then you’ve got game.”

Now he says he’s trying to help the Drawbridge team, which is science- and engineering-driven, work with advertisers. Cushman claims to hate the word “productize,” but he admits that’s basically what he’s trying to do with Drawbridge’s technology.

“We need to take the unique capability of the company and orient the message towards the marketer of women’s underwear and say, ‘This is how we’re going to get women 18-34 buy more push-up bras,’” Cushman says.


Yahoo Mobile Sales Head Paul Cushman Joins Ad Targeting Startup Drawbridge

Yahoo’s Mobile Sales Head Joins Ad Startup Drawbridge

Paul Cushman

Drawbridge, a cross-device ad targeting startup backed by Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital, announced today it has hired Yahoo’s former mobile sales head as its new vice president of sales and business development.

The hire in question is Paul Cushman, whose official title at Yahoo was senior director of mobile sales strategy. Despite the turmoil at the top of Yahoo, and the virtually unending criticism it seems to get in the press, Cushman insists that his departure shouldn’t be read as a sign of dissatisfaction with his old employer.

“I was having a great time at Yahoo,” he says. “It’s an insanely good company and it gets very bad press.”

Nonetheless, Cushman says that when Drawbridge approached him about building up the business side of the startup, he was intrigued. At Yahoo it was relatively easy to connect a person’s activity on desktop and mobile, because users were signing in to Yahoo Mail and Messenger on multiple devices. Because of that, Cushman knew how important that data is for advertisers, yet unlike Yahoo, most companies don’t have it.

So what Drawbridge has done (as founder Kamakshi Sivaramakrishna explained to me before the company launched) is build “probabilistic and statistical inference models” to suggest which PC and mobile users are likely to be the same person using two different devices. Then advertisers can use the data collected about someone on the desktop to target ads on mobile. Cushman sums up his reaction to the Drawbridge pitch: “I’m doing this at Yahoo, and if you can do this for everyone else, then you’ve got game.”

Now he says he’s trying to help the Drawbridge team, which is science- and engineering-driven, work with advertisers. Cushman claims to hate the word “productize,” but he admits that’s basically what he’s trying to do with Drawbridge’s technology.

“We need to take the unique capability of the company and orient the message towards the marketer of women’s underwear and say, ‘This is how we’re going to get women 18-34 buy more push-up bras,’” Cushman says.


Yahoo’s Mobile Sales Head Joins Ad Startup Drawbridge

Kleiner Perkins And Sequoia Fund $6.5M Round For Ad Targeter Drawbridge

drawbridge logo

When two of the biggest names in venture capital (arguably still the biggest) both invest in a startup, you know it’s probably time to take notice. So yes, take notice: A cross-device ad targeting startup called Drawbridge has raised a $6.5 million Series A from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

The company was founded in November 2010 by Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, a scientist at AdMob and then, after the acquisition, at Google. Sivaramakrishnan says she started the company because she saw the proliferation of ad targeting technology on the desktop web, while there was “no significant technology innovation” on the mobile side. So she decided to tackle the problem herself, “outside of the big G.”

Since then, Sivaramakrishnan says her team has built “very heavy-duty technology” to link up ad targeting on desktop and mobile. Drawbridge looks at activity on the desktop Web, and on mobile Web and apps. Then it uses “probabilistic and statistical inference models” to suggest which PC and mobile users are likely to be the same person using two different devices.

“Over time, we get enough confidence on the probability of these two activities belonging to the same user that deem it to be a ‘pair’,” she says.

And once a pair has been made, mobile advertisers have access to user data that’s being collected on the desktop, and can target their ads with much more nuance. In addition to the technology disparity between desktop and mobile, Sivaramakrishnan notes that people are usually using their mobile devices for a relatively narrow range of activity, usually entertainment or content consumption, so it’s only by accessing to their desktop activity that advertisers can determine “commercial-grade intent.”

The model also steers clear of any privacy concerns, Sivaramakrishnan says. There’s no personally identifiable information collected — no phone numbers, no email addresses, no Facebook accounts. In the meantime, Apple has started rejecting apps that access UDIDs to identify their users, which Sivaramakrishnan says makes Drawbridge “even more pertinent and significant now than when UDIDs were being lazily used as mobile cookies.”

“You don’t need a device ID to do advertising,” she adds.

Even though Drawbridge is only coming out of stealth today, Sivaramakrishnan says it has already been running campaigns with major advertisers and has significant revenue. The platform is still in beta testing, with plans for general availability in the second half of this year. Sivaramakrishnan also says the model could be expanded to other connected devices, not just desktop PCs and phones.

Drawbridge previously raised a seed round of undisclosed size from Kleiner and Sequoia.


Kleiner Perkins And Sequoia Fund $6.5M Round For Ad Targeter Drawbridge