#A month after $70M, Clearbanc raises $50M fund to front startups ad money https://ift.tt/2Eqazbo

Clearbanc is disrupting startup funding by providing companies cash to buy ads in exchange for a revenue share so they don’t have to sell as much equity to venue capitalists. That idea has proven so appealing that 1000 companies seeking up to $1 billion total hit up Clearbanc since we reported it raised $70 million last month. So to meet the demand of the most eligible startups asking for marketing cash, Clearbanc has just raised a $50 million fund from Seamless co-founder Jason Finger’s new firm Upper90.

If a company’s Facebook ads and Stripe sales metrics show it’s a sure bet, Clearbanc can provide $5,000 to $10 million in funding to pour fuel on the fire. Startups invest that into ad spend, and then split the revenue with Clearbanc from the sales triggered by those ads until it’s paid back plus six percent. Essentially, Clearbanc offers an alternative to selling valuable equity and control to VCs by offering capital based on new data sources traditional banks aren’t looking at.

“In 2018, Clearbanc has funded over $100M into 500 different companies. Our portfolio companies are putting that capital to work and growing at over 100% year over year on average” co-founder and CEO Andrew D’Souza tells us.

Clearbanc co-founder Michele Romanow

To back the investments, Clearbanc raises sub-funds from LPs who earn a return through a slice of the revenue sharing deals. Part of the last $70 million was used to set up the first Clearbanc fund, and the whole $50 million being announced today is the second fund. Clearbanc expects the funds to mature and pay out after just two years, offering LPs a faster but lower-stakes return then typical eight-year VC funds. Upper90’s goal is just those sort of steady gains. “This deal literally came together in 3 weeks from first meeting to close, which was unheard of” D’Souza notes.

He wouldn’t say exactly how much Clearbanc has raised in traditional equity for itself, but revealed most of the $70 million round’s investors were buying standard equity and it has some flexibility in how it applies some of the funding. D’Souza tells me “We have been largely focused on ecommerce companies and subscription ecommerce, but have started doing some deals with enterprise companies.  In 2019 we plan to expand internationally beyond the US and Canada, introduce new verticals, and launch new financial products to help entrepreneurs.”

Previously at McKinsey, D’Souza had raised over $300 million in venture for startups before teaming up on angel investments with Michele Romanow, an investor from Canada’s Shark Tank-style TV show Dragons’ Den. The two have become a romantic couple amidst Clearbanc’s start in 2015. It’s now taken cash from Emergence Capital, Social, Social Capital, CoVenture, Founders Fund, 8VC and others. Groupon co-founder Ranjen Ruparell and Third Point hedge fund partner Keri Findley are now joining Clearbanc’s board. “We may take on more traditional equity in the future but we don’t need it right now” D’Souza reveals. “We will raise an additional 250-300M in LP capital next year to continue to meet demand.”

We are witnessing an evolution of the growth capital business – entrepreneurs do not want to be forced to choose between restrictive equity or debt arrangements to fund their business growth” Cleabanc’s new board member Findley says. “Clearbanc is building a new asset class that is compelling for entrepreneurs as well as investors looking for strong risk-adjusted returns.”

The business model depends on Clearbanc accurately assessing demand for the products for which it’s funding ad buys. If products flop and the startups don’t have much revenue to share, its influx of LPs will dry up. Clearbanc is also vulnerable to changes in the ad market and platforms like Facebook or Google. If ad prices go up or new content formats like Instagram Stories don’t work as well for direct response ecommerce ads, that could also put the squeeze on Clearbanc. “We’re funding customer acquisition across platforms (it just happens to be primarily on Facebook and Google right now)” D’Souza counters. “We’re looking at data across our portfolio and building relationships with emerging platforms to help our companies stay ahead of the curve”

Given the explosion of direct to consumer brands in the wake of successes like Dollar Shave Club’s acquisition for $1 billion, there may be plenty of startups clamoring for Clearbanc’s capital.

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#Atari teams up with some startup to pretend to make blockchain-based games https://ift.tt/2Cln0nz

Animoca Brands will produce and publish blockchain-based versions of RollerCoaster Tycoon and Goon Squad worldwide (excluding China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau); the new titles will feature the integration of non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The term of the Agreement extends through to 31 March 2022.

In honor of this exciting announcement I’d like to propose the following blockchain-based products available for license to those hunting for a quick buck:

Blockchain! The Musical
Blockchain Cereal
Blockchain Brand Kombucha
Blockchain & Me, An Alien Adventure
Blockchain Whiskey
Blockchain Soda
Blockchain The Miniseries
Blockchain Lingerie – Shake His Merkle Tree
Blockchain Brand Firestarters
Blockchain Pessaries For Her
Blockchain French Ticklers
Blockchain Getaway Cars
Blockchain Killer Apps (rumored not to exist)
Blockchain Airlines
Blockchain Margarita Mix
Blockchain Cowboy Hats
Blockchain Burgers
Blockchain Dance Studios
Blockchain Pants

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#Tonsser scores €5.5M Series A to help discover the next soccer star https://ift.tt/2PJNa6Q

Tonsser, the Copenhagen-based startup that offers a “football performance app” aimed at youth soccer players who want to build their own online profile and potentially get discovered by a bigger club, has raised €5.5 million in Series A funding. The round is led by Alven Capital, with participation from existing investors SEED Capital and Wellington Partners

Currently launched in eight European countries — including France, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Norway — and claiming more than 800,000 football players registered on the app, Tonsser could well be described as akin to a LinkedIn for youth soccer players, perhaps with a bit of Instagram thrown in, but actually the company’s mission is a lot more defined than that.

As reiterated in a call this week with Peter Holm, the soccer app’s co-founder and CEO, Tonsser wants to make it easier for young soccer talent to become better players by learning and being inspired by each other and through sponsored competitions and soccer skills content. And, perhaps more lofty, the Danish startup wants to make the beautiful game more meritocratic by enabling unsigned talent to be discovered by professional football clubs through the app, and in turn help the soccer industry become more accountable. Impressively, he says this has already started happening.

At the heart of this mission is Tonsser’s increasing emphasis on using technology and data — namely, sporting metrics — to help bubble up undiscovered players. The iOS and Android app’s features include the ability to create your own soccer profile, upload and share photo and videos of match highlights, add various match and team stats, and follow other clubs and players. Tapping into some of this data is Tonsser’s algorithm that gives every player registered on the app a dynamic score.

“After a match the Tonsser algorithm computes a rating for each player based on the individual performance, the performance of the team and ‘Man of the Match’ votes from teammates,” explained Holm in a follow-up email.

“The rating system has been developed and tested over the past 3 years with pro licensed coaches and academies to provide the most accurate calculation for each player. Match after match and season after season the rating becomes the reference point for each player and the gateway for leaderboards, awards like Team of the Week and Player of the Season and also for pro trials, scout reports and the chance of getting discovered by clubs and scouts”.

It’s this data — or discovery engine — along with brand partnerships, and sponsored content, competitions and trials (see video below), that forms Tonsser’s business model. The app is free for players and coaches, but scouts pay for special access. Related to this, I’m told that premier League clubs like Huddersfield are now using Tonsser to identify and scout youth talent.

To enhance this in 2019, Tonsser will add integrations with “automated video recordings” using computer vision, enabling players and teams to catch and share their match highlights in a simple way. It is also working on how to accommodate data from wearables to track physical performance and potentially feed this into the Tonsser score.

Meanwhile, Tonsser says the new investment will be used to support growth and to maintain the startup as the leading community for youth players. Holm says that 86 percent of French youth teams from 15-19 are now using Tonsser,. The app will launch in England in Spring 2019 and is preparing a global roll out that will include the U.S. and beyond.

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#YouGov acquires social analytics company Portent.IO https://ift.tt/2EtQ0Lq

YouGov, the international data and analytics group, has acquired ‘social analytics’ startup Portent.IO, a company that it had previously invested in. Terms of the deal remain undisclosed, although I understand the acquisition includes Portent.IO‘s technology, clients and its team, including its data scientists.

“We’re all staying on and the entire team including myself have 3-year lock-ins,” Portent.IO co-founder and CEO Hamish Brocklebank tells me. “We are also going to be rebranded as ‘YouGov Signal’ and the existing team will continue to run the business — I’ll be MD & founder of YouGov Signal, for example — but with the added operational, administrative and technical support of the broader YouGov family”.

As well as YouGov providing financially backing for Portent.IO, the two firms had also been working together, with Portent.IO utilising YouGov data within its solution, which mainly focussed on the film and television industry. This includes using YouGov’s panel to survey consumers and using YouGov Profiles data to help media teams plan their marketing campaigns by “mining” audiences around movies, programmes, and actors.

Portent.IO’s customer base includes Paramount, Sony, Lionsgate, the BBC, along with other major film studios and a number of TV networks.

“Without trying to be too buzzwordy, we’re a data science-focused social listening and digital media analytics platform,” says Brocklebank. “In short, we track social, news, product reviews and digital data around movies, TV shows, sports teams and now brands across the web and across 40 countries. This data includes text analysis data, view counts of videos, comments, likes, retweets and more”.

Meanwhile, the acquisition is said to enable YouGov to increase the scope of its offering and provide clients with better social monitoring and data science analytics tools. And although Portent.IO’s tech is currently focussed on the entertainment industry, YouGov plans to extend its application across other sectors.

“The platform plugs into YouGov’s wider product suite – complementing its current services, including data products, data services, and custom research – to provide a 360 degree view of marketing campaigns,” says the two companies in a statement.

“Our data science team and advance machine learning NLP tools will be assisting with YouGov’s ongoing data science efforts and a lot of our text classification tools can be applied to their broader market research efforts,” adds Brocklebank. “Our expertise in the film and TV space will [also] help YouGov expand further into that market”.

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