StrictlyVC: April 11, 2018

It’s Wednesday! We hope you’re very well. We’re having to rush out the door unexpectedly, so you’re missing some sections, fyi.
Top News
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg emerged mostly unruffled after two grueling days of congressional hearings, reassuring investors with his composure even as lawmakers scoffed at his apologies over failures to protect user privacy and his assurances to do better. 
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Tentrr is Turning Private Land into Glampgrounds, with the help of VCs
If you’ve ever gone camping and found yourself thinking it kind of sucks, likely because you’re too close to other campers, you might be interested in learn about Tentrr, a three-year-old, 47-person company that’s promising to make it “dirt simple” to enjoy the great outdoors. How: by striking deals with private landowners who are willing to host semi-permanent campsites on their property. 

What do these look like? Picture elevated decks with Adirondack chairs, canvas expedition tents, wood picnic tables and sun showers, not to mention a fire pit, lanterns, dry food storage, cookware, a camping toilet and air mattresses that, courtesy of most hosts, will come with fresh linens. 

Venture capitalists certainly appreciate the startup’s pitch. Tentrr — founded by one-time investment banker turned former NYSE managing director Michael D’Agostino —  has raised $13 million to date, including a newly closed $8 million Series A round led by West, a San Francisco-based venture studio that both funds startups and helps them market their goods and services. 

No doubt the investors are looking at the overall market, whose numbers are compelling. According to one trade association, for example, the outdoor recreation industry represents a $887 billion opportunity, with Americans shelling out $24 billion annually on campsites alone. 

Still, it’s easy to wonder how scalable the company will be. Tentrr had 100 campsites up and running in the Northeastern U.S. as of the end of last year. D’Agostino expects it will have 1,000 sites by year end, including on the West Coast, where it will begin installing camps this summer, but this assumes that Tentrr can convince enough families with sufficiently large properties that partnering with the company is worthwhile. 

D’Agostino says its landowner partners need to have 15 acres at least and that the average property on the platform currently is much larger than that. He also says they keep 80 percent of whatever they decide to charge campers to stay on their grounds. 

For what it’s worth, Tentrr doesn’t seem to have much in the way of direct competition if you exclude state campgrounds. Venture-backed Hipcamp, for example, which raised a small amount of seed funding back in 2014, partners with private landowners to help arrange camping experiences, but it mostly acts as search engine. Meanwhile, industry giant Airbnb offers unique experiences that include camping, but Tentrr is largely about offering a standardized experience. The idea is to leave fewer questions about what to expect. In fact, D’Agostino says roughly 40 percent of Tentrr customers are first-time campers. 

We know that if the service makes it way to California, we’re likely to try it, having suffered through some fairly crummy camping experiences. If you’re also interested in learning more, you might check out our conversation with D’Agostino, edited for length. We chatted yesterday. 

More here.
New Fundings
Liberis, an 11-year-old, London-based fintech company that provides capital to small businesses, has raised £57.5 million ($81.5 million) in new, and largely debt, funding. Backers include British Business Investments (the commercial arm of the tax payer-funded British Business Bank), Paragon Bank, and BCI Finance. TechCrunch has more here

Symphony, the four-year-old, Palo Alto, C-based communications platform for the financial services market, raised $67 million in new funding, including fromBarclaysBpifrance and CLSA. Finextra has a bit more here.
New Funds
Chris Paik, a cofounding partner of Thrive Capital in New York is leaving to raise his own fund, reports Axios, which says Paik isn’t sharing any details just yet.
While Spotify‘s public listing last week was novel and successful at generating intrigue, it doesn’t change anything for most companies or the IPO industry at large, according to banking experts interviewed by Business Insider. More here (sub required.)
Palo Alto Networks, the California-based, publicly traded information security firm, announced today that it’s acquiring the Israeli startup firm Secdo. The Israeli media says the price was roughly $100 million. Times of Israel has more here.
Almost exactly three years ago, Patrick Pichette surprised industry observers when he left his powerful job as the CFO of Google to, well, enjoy his life. As he described the decision at the time, he wanted to “enjoy a perfectly fine midlife crisis full of bliss and beauty.” Now, Pichette is back in a role that should afford him both mental stimulation, as well as plenty of time to relax. He’s become a VC. More here. Congress can’t seem to stop asking Mark Zuckerberg about sisters Diamond and Silk. If you’re wondering who they are, read on.
Lyft is looking to hire someone to lead its operations strategy team. The job is in San Francisco.
Essential Reads
The fact that Facebook  probably has a profile of you whether you’re a Facebook user or not might come as a surprise to some users, though today even CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied knowledge of the practice — or at least the term used to describe itMark Zuckerberg’s defense when asked in a Senate hearing yesterday about a lack of competition to Facebook was to cite that the average American uses eight social apps. what he didn’t say: Facebook owns three of the top 10 U.S. iOS apps and it’s aggressively looking to topple the rest.
Why we boil lobsters while they’re still alive.  

Ten vacation ideas for a dreamy June getaway. 

Know how manufacturers insist that consumers will void their warranty if they use unauthorized repair services or third-party parts? Those policies are illegal, the Federal Trade Commission announced today.
Retail Therapy
An Alexa car charger that’s half off today

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