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FundersClub Weekly Newsletter - August 4, 2016

By Christopher Steiner  •  Aug 4, 2016

FundersClub Portfolio News

FundersClub celebrated its four-year anniversary last week, and published an interactive infographic on its progress and that of its portfolio companies to this point. An Image: Four Years Of Progress

LeadGenius, whose software helps customers find sales leads and reach out to them via automated emails, has raised $10 million in Series B funding. Lumia Capital led the round with Sierra Ventures, a past investor. Previously, the Y Combinator company has drawn investment from Better Ventures, Bee Partners, Kapor Capital, Initialized Capital, Fuel Capital, Scrum Ventures and FundersClub. Sales and marketing startup LeadGenius raises $10M

Replenish is the new name of LivBlends. The company has unveiled a self-cleaning smoothie blender that it aims to land in company kitchens as a healthy alternative to normal snacks. The new business model is similar to that of Keurig, as Replenish seeks to sell the its smoothie ingredient cups for $3 to $5 each. LivBlends renames itself Replenish and gives us a first look at its futuristic smoothie machine

TerrAvion has partnered with CHS Inc., a global agribusiness that will now offer TerrAvion's aerial imaging and real-time data to its customers to help drive higher crop yields. This doubles TerrAvion's weekly acreage to 10 million. TerrAvion Partners With Nation's Largest Farm Coop, CHS Inc., to Help Great Plains Farms Increase Crop Yield Through Imaging and Real-Time Data

Wheelys will soon have a presence in Chattanooga, Tenn., thanks to two local entrepreneurs who want to station a Wheelys mobile café cart near the city's pedestrian-friendly downtown. Wheelys already has more than 400 locations in 68 countries. Entrepreneurs bringing Swedish mobile café concept to Chattanooga

Investor Thoughts

Christopher Steiner of FundersClub writes about the importance of co-founder fit and how to find it. Some things, like each co-founder's concept of success—and failure—should be understood from day one. A Guide to Co-founder Fit

Ben Einstein of Bolt asserts that developing hardware becomes easier every day, which means it might be time to dispel with myths such as: hardware requires more capital; hardware takes longer; hardware is less profitable. Stop Saying “Hardware is Hard”

Scott Kupor of a16z presents his firm's current set of guidance for how startups should structure employee stock options. Kupor details some fixes for the many deficiencies with the standard set of constraints on employee equity compensation, as has been well-documented by Sam Altman. Recommendations for Startup Employee Option Plans

Mark Solon of Techstars writes that the startup-VC ecosystem is not at its nadir, despite many of the reports coming from investors and rebroadcast by the press. We're in the middle of an innovation cycle that will continue to be well funded. This Is What The Apocalypse Looks Like?

Dominika Blackappl of Y Combinator writes that in early stage startups, design serves one purpose: helping founders understand users. To that end, he offers a set of tools to help in the design process. The first one is the User Observation Tool. Practical Design: User Observation

Dana Stalder of Matrix Partners writes that creating a structured interviewing process that relies on data and consistency makes the hiring process simpler for startups, and will lead to better hires. Hacking Interviewing: Collecting the Data You Need

Christopher Steiner of FundersClub explains what kinds of applications make for the best chatbots—and what are the critical concepts that investors should understand about the growing space. Investor's Guide to Chatbots

Paul Arnold of Switch VC writes that the margin between a company that grows 10% a year and 15% a year is even bigger than it appears. It can be the difference between a space-defining unicorn and an also-ran in the space. The Gospel of of Growth

Founder and Operator Thoughts

Peter Kazanjy, formerly of TalentBin, writes that startup founders often undervalue the importance of meetings, thinking they signal an irreversible decline toward the corporate way of doing things. But when a company goes past three people, there is a need for cadenced checkpoints and the sharing of information in person. What meetings should my startup be having?

Jimi Smoot of Vesper writes that abstraction isn't just for software systems. It can be applied to everything in life to give us more control while requiring less time and depth of knowledge. Make your life more abstract

Elad Gil, formerly of Mixer Labs details how less frothy valuations will help accelerate the rate of M&A deals during the next two years. The big year for tech IPOs, he predicts, will be 2018, as companies such as Uber, who have raised piles of capital from all manners of sources, will have nowhere else to go except public markets. It’s M&A Time! (IPOs Return In 2018)

Scott Amenta of Spring talks about his own role as chief of staff, and why the job has become instrumental at high growth startups throughout tech. When a company takes off, CEOs simply don't have enough time. A chief of staff can help bridge that gap and keep the company executing at speed. Chief of Staff, a Critical Role Among High Growth Startups

Sachin Rekhi explains that the best product managers have developed skills that treat their job both as a science and as an art. Developing the right sense of user empathy comes from total immersion in the user experience. Developing User Empathy

In Other News

Facebook could face a $5 billion bill from the IRS based on the transfer of its global operations to Ireland in 2010. The IRS delivered Mark Zuckerberg's company a notice of deficiency last week for $3 billion to $5 billion plus interest and penalties. The IRS says that Ernst & Young LLP undervalued the properties transferred to Ireland when accounting for the move. Facebook plans to fight the IRS's conclusions in federal court.Facebook Tax Bill Over Ireland Move Could Cost $5 Billion

The United States is the center of the venture capital universe, but startups and young small businesses play a smaller role in the U.S. economy than in those of its peer countries. Think We're the Most Entrepreneurial Country In the World? Not So Fast

Stephen Hawking asks 'does wealth make us rich?' Brexit brings the issue to the fore, he says, as that decision by the British people was wrapped up in wealth, among other issues. Even so, the physicist senses more people questioning the meaning of money and the building of wealth, favoring instead the accumulation of knowledge and experiences. But Hawking acknowledges that wealth enables both of the latter, just as it has enabled him to stay alive. Our attitude towards wealth played a crucial role in Brexit. We need a rethink

Uber will sell its business in China to rival Didi, in a deal that will give Uber a 20% stake in the Chinese ride-hailing company. Both CEOs will join the other's board. Uber had been spending $1 billion a year in China to gain share and drivers. Uber to Sell China Business to Rival Didi After Losing Billions

Chinese tech companies have been setting global trends in mobile technology, from the widespread use of QR codes to trigger payment, to in-app ordering of third party services and goods. The normal criticisms of China's tech industry, that it mimics what others have done and simply rolls it out at home, don't apply in mobile. The New York Times: China, Not Silicon Valley, Is Cutting Edge in Mobile Tech

A US District Judge threw out a verdict that ordered Apple to pay a Nevada patent troll, VirnetX, $625 million for infringing on four different patents that VirtnetX claims cover Apple's popular FaceTime application as well as Apple's on-demand VPN feature. VirtnetX has not yet produced a product of any kind, although it says it has plans to do so. Judge wipes out patent troll’s $625M verdict against Apple

Did You Know?

One hundred years after World War I, some of its bloodiest battlefields are still unsafe for humans and remain off-limits to the public. The French Interior Ministry estimates that at least 12 million of the 60 million artillery shells fired at Verdun remain in the ground, unexploded. Since the end of World War II, 630 people people have been killed in operations to clear the old battlefields of munitions, a job that continues today, and will likely continue for another century. The Forbidden Forest