Ausus / 8 /

Week of April 14, 2020



Venture


Tech News & Trends

How sticky are Podcasts?

I spoke to a friend last week about how both our phone libraries are backed up with unlistened podcasts, despite enjoying them! It’s hard to believe that something we spent hours doing during the week has dwindled to minutes or is completely non-existence. So, how sticky are podcasts? Like me, now that you are not commuting, are your podcasts suffering?

Please participate in this very short, 2 minute, survey and I will share the results next week!

Survey link here.


Startup Spotlight: Workomo

I reached out to Soumitra Sharma, the founder of Workomo, on Twitter the other week for an interview and was fortunate to get a yes! I am very excited about this startup and its mission to empower our careers through better relationship management. They’re based in San Francisco, CA. Enjoy!

BG: What is Workomo in 5 words or less?

SS: System of Intelligence for Professional Relationships

BG: Why does Workomo exist today? Why is now a good time to launch? 

SS: The current COVID-driven economic crisis is underlining the importance of inculcating a meaningful professional network as a potent way to build a career that stays robust across macro-economic cycles. As software eats the world, growth-minded professionals are operating like “mini-enterprises”, leveraging consumerized, light-weight software (eg. Slack, Zoom, Airtable, Superhuman, etc.) to drive their career hustle. Be it for making new connections and personal brand building, or side-gigs like angel investing, advising companies, etc. The gap in the market is that there is no software product out there that helps these professionals go about relationship management in a structured and intelligent way. Essentially, no one has been able to “productize” relationship management. The closest alternative is LinkedIn, but it only works well for the pure "new connections” use case. In our research, users have expressed extreme dissatisfaction with LinkedIn beyond this discovery use case, especially with respect to key missing elements such as intelligence, productivity, and curation.

BG: Who is working on Workomo and why are you (or your team) the one(s) solving this problem?

SS: We have a fully-distributed US-India team (HQ in San Francisco), comprising of 6 full-time members, most of whom are ex-founders. I am the founder and both my founding PM and I are based in SF. 

I have ~12yrs of experience as a full-stack business leader, operator and venture investor across the "US-India-China" tripod. Before founding Workomo, I was the founding member of Alibaba Group's global expansion team, working directly with founders Jack Ma and Joe Tsai to drive cross-market initiatives post IPO. I came into Alibaba via the acquisition of a BABA portfolio company, where I was an early business leader. Before becoming an operator, I was a VC investor with IDG Ventures India, wherein I invested in the first mobile Internet wave of India starting in 2011.

Workomo reflects my journey of global VC -> operator -> founder. During my career, as I proactively worked on deep relationship building, I saw the present set of tools failing me. All the people I have crossed paths with in my career, as well as info about them, were fragmented across many platforms. LinkedIn was too noisy and generic. I created a spreadsheet of my own, with about ~130 people that I felt were important, but this was a static sheet that never got updated due to the sheer effort involved. Basically, I was struggling to structure my relationship management process using existing tools.

When I was thinking about starting-up, I wanted to focus on a problem that I had a deep internal buy-in for, and that I understood better than most founders out there. That’s how the idea of Workomo was born.

BG: How do you measure success today? What metrics are you using?

SS: Right now, the product is in limited private beta. The key metrics we are tracking include 1) overall retention and 2) post login, how many users are repeatedly utilizing core product features of each release.

BG: In a few sentences, who is your customer and what is your value proposition?

SS: Our customer is a new-age, global knowledge professional who has a "growth" mindset and is actively looking to leverage their network to achieve career goals. Our value proposition is: "Workomo analyzes your network, uncovering ways to strengthen relationships and reveal new opportunities.”

BG: How did you acquire your first user? 

SS: We launched our waitlist in mid-2019, which has been steadily growing with professionals from all over the world signing-up to request product access. Our private beta users have been curated from this waitlist, which also includes professionals from our own networks.

BG: What updates can we expect from Workomo in the short term and how do you see it evolving in the long term? 

SS: Workomo's current version is an iOS app that integrates into the calendar, automatically picks-up, analyzes, and prioritizes the user's relationships from it, and surfaces intelligent relationship-actions in front of the user.

In the short term, Workomo will expand integrations into other communication stacks such as contacts, messaging and social. In addition, we are rapidly building-out our intelligence engine at the back-end, to make recommendations even more intelligent, contextual and personalized. We hope to go public on the iOS app store soon.

In the long term, Workomo will become a "relationships fabric" that sits on top of major use cases that professionals leverage to interact and collaborate with their network. It will be like an assistant, capture signals from multiple sources, interacting with the user and learning about their goals and preferences in real-time; in parallel, continuously gathering and building context about their network at the back-end, and recommending the most productive relationship-actions, whenever and wherever a user likes.

BG: Do you have competitors? If so, who are they and why are you different?

SS: Before Workomo, our users were hacking their own relationship management solutions using one or more of the following categories of products: 1) Spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel, Sheets, Airtable and personal CRMs) and 2) Note-taking apps (Evernote, OneNote, native iOS, etc.). In addition, they also use 3) Physical notebooks and 4) Contact management apps, as well as 5) just their "mind" (i.e. cognitively remembering things), in some form as part of this stack.

Essentially, the above categories of products are “Systems of Record” (SOR) whereas Workomo is a “System of Intelligence” that derives insights & generates recommendations by integrating into them.

These SORs address utilitarian “point” use cases that are relatively unintelligent and cognitively-hard and uninteresting to use (e.g. manually updating spreadsheets, writing long-form notes on Evernote, data entry into personal CRMs etc.). 

Workomo is building a full-stack, relationships-management platform from the ground-up. It has a high degree of automation and intelligence delivered in a personalized experience that reduces inertia for relationship building tasks.

BG: If Workomo were to fail, why will that be? And what are you doing to mitigate this risk right now?

SS: At early stages, the most common reason for startup failure is the inability to make something people actually want - solving a real, deep-enough, must-have pain point for users.

This gap usually results from not talking to users enough, not deeply understanding their pain points and not getting their feedback on what you have built. 

We are mitigating this risk by taking a highly consultative approach to building Workomo, based on continuous user feedback. We operate in a very lean and iterative way, shipping small and often, getting user feedback, and incorporating inputs back into our roadmap - rinse and repeat.

We believe this approach will improve our odds of getting to true product-market fit.

BG: If you weren’t working on Workomo, what would you be doing instead?

SS: The idea behind Workomo - using technology to help professionals in the Internet 3.0, build deeper and value-creating relationships in their careers, has been my long-term conviction. I can’t imagine working on any other mission right now!

BG: Are you raising venture capital? 

SS: We raised a pre-seed round that was jointly led by a Fortune 500 Internet CEO and a top-tier VC firm, alongside several prominent global angels & family offices.

We will be looking to raise a seed round in the coming few quarters.

BG: How can my readers help you? 

SS: We are looking for private beta users who can give us product feedback and actively collaborate as "innovators" to help build the product out. 

If you are looking to leverage your professional network more productively, and are frustrated with LinkedIn, do sign-up for our private beta list at our website here.


Early Stage Funding

Work Stack

The future of work.

  • Counta provider for data analytics and visualization, raised $2.4M in Seed funding led by LocalGlobe. They are joined by Global Founders Capital and angel investor, Charlie Songhurst. Count is headquartered in London, UK.

  • Evereea full-service payroll platform that allows employees to pick their pay dates, raised $10M in a Series A round co-led by Origin Ventures and Signal Peak Ventures. Everee has raised $13.7M to date and is headquartered in Salt Lake City, UT.

  • Learn Ina comprehensive upskilling-as-a-service platform, raised $3.5M in Seed funding led by Firework Ventures, Album VC, GSV Ventures, and Michael Levinthal. Learn In is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

  • Slitea collaboration and organization platform for modern teams and their content, raised $11M in a Series A round led by Spark Capital. Slite has raised $15.4M to date and is headquartered in Paris, France.

Consumer Stack

The future of living.

  • Arkangel AI, a technology company that specializes in detecting viral diseases in 3 seconds with AI, raised $150k in Pre-seed funding by undisclosed investors. Arkangel AI is located in Montreal, Canada and has raised $222K in total funding.

  • Cloosivmobile ordering for coffee shops and cafés, raised $500k in Seed II funding by I2BF Global Ventures, Kenji Niwa, Yleana Venture Partners, and Doug Hirsh. Cloosiv has raised $2.1M to date and is headquartered in Charlotte, NC.

  • Credit Kudosa new credit bureau that uses financial behavior and data through open banking to measure creditworthiness, raised £5M in a Series A round led by AlbionVC. They are joined by Plug and Play, TriplePoint Capital, Entrepreneur First, and other angel investors. Credit Kudos has raised £7.8M to date and is headquartered in London, UK.

  • Mittoa debit card and app designed for “Generation Z” teens, raised an undisclosed amount in Seed funding led by Clout Capital. Mitto has raised €2M+ to date and is headquartered in Barcelona, Spain.

  • Muzea creative messaging app that expands how users can communicate, raised $5.1M in Seed funding led by Sequoia Capital. Muze has raised $6.9M to date and is headquartered in New York, NY.

  • Nifty Gamesa sports experience platform for mobile, raised $12M in a Series A round led by March Capital Partners. They are joined by Vulcan Capital, Courtside Ventures, Defy.vc, Redbird Capital Partners, and others. In addition to securing partnerships with several professional sport leagues. Nifty Games has raised $15M to date and is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

  • Savia student loan and debt management tool, raised $6M in a Series A round led by Nyca Partners. They are joined by [9Yards Capital, Alley Corp, Temerity Capital Partners, and others. Savi has raised $7.75M to date and is headquartered in Washington DC.

  • Set Labsan automated crypto asset management platform, raised an undisclosed amount in Seed funding led by Meyer Equity. Set Labs has raised $2M+ to date and is headquartered in San Francisco, CA.

Data provided by Crunchbase.


Lifestyle


New Music: dsvn / Friends (feat. PARTYNEXTDOOR) /

OVO Sound won’t be stopped 😤. This new track by dvsn featuring PARTYNEXTDOOR has all the feels. Go stream his complete album A Muse In Her Feelings on Apple Music or Spotify.

More New Music:

  • DaBaby / BLAME IT ON BABY /

    • ROCKSTAR (feat. Roddy Ricch)

    • CHAMPION

    • LIGHTSKIN SH*T (feat. Future & JetsonMade)

  • Wiz Khalifa / The Saga of Wiz Khalifa /

    • Y U Mad (feat. Megan Thee Stallion, Ty Dolla $ign & Mustard)

    • High Today (feat. Logic)

    • Contact (feat. Tyga)

Footnote

“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly colored than the day.”

– Vincent Van Gogh, Artist


Housekeeping

Follow me on Twitter @brettgiacco.

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Gratias tibi

– Brett Giacco