• AngelPad Elbows 13 Young Startups Into the World

    AngelPad Demo DayThe demo days of five-year-old AngelPad — an accelerator program run by married founders Thomas Korte and Carine Magescas – have become a hot ticket both in New York and San Francisco. Yesterday afternoon was no different. In downtown San Francisco, in a crowded co-working office space, 13 companies that had been groomed over the preceding four months pitched select investors, and they appeared to like what they heard.

    No doubt the investors were expecting big things. AngelPad works with two batches of roughly 12 companies twice a year – one on each coast—and nearly all of them have snagged seed funding from investors, with a handful of startups going on to raise tens of millions of dollars, including Vungle, Crittercism, and Postmates.

    AngelPad — which takes a 7 percent stake in each startup in exchange for $50,000 (plus another $4,000 per founder) — has even come close to a billion-dollar exit in MoPub, a mobile advertising startup that Twitter acquired for $350 million in stock in September 2013; the company was worth roughly $800 million when Twitter went public two months later.

    Whether AngelPad’s newest batch — its eighth — will prove as promising remains to be seen. But at least a handful of companies looked like strong contenders for follow-on funding.

    One of our favorites, for example, was CstorePro, a SaaS application that promises to help convenience store owners more easily track their sundry, disparate products, as well as assist them in buying what they need, in the right amounts, from the cheapest wholesalers.

    The company isn’t alone in the space. StoreTender and Retalix are just two other vendors trying to help owners streamline their store operations. The world of convenience stores is also highly fractured — which could be a challenge or an opportunity, depending on your vantage point. According to the research group IBISWorld, roughly 68.2 percent of convenience-store operators employ less than five people. Still, there’s a giant market to pursue here. According to IBIS, as of 2012, the U.S. convenience store and truck stop industry included about 120,000 stores with combined annual revenue of about $355 billion.

    A second company that piqued our interest is Allay, an easy-to-use online HR and benefits platform for the country’s 500,000 insurance brokers — many of whom are getting knocked around by the fast-growing health insurance broker Zenefits. Given those brokers stand to lose $32.5 billion in yearly commissions, you can bet there’s a big opportunity in helping them figure out a better way to pair buyers and sellers of health care, and quickly.

    We also really liked HelloSponsor, an online platform that helps brand advertisers find, buy, and track sponsorships at scale. Roughly $3 billion is spent yearly on consumer events, and anyone who has tried to raise money for one can tell you that it’s a pain in the neck. The big question is whether sponsors will be as eager to scour opportunities on the platform – including by industry and geography – as event organizers will be eager to be found.

    Of course, you’re the investors! If you’d like to form your own opinions about the startups that presented yesterday, you can find the full list on a tear sheet here. AngelPad has also made it simple to meet with any or all of them. Just click here.

  • Demo Day for AngelPad: The Anti Y Combinator

    OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToday, AngelPad, the San Francisco-based incubator, is hosting an invitation-only “demo day” for 150 to 200 angels and VCs, and you can bet these investors are going to bring their checkbooks.

    In four years’ time, AngelPad has become one of the most reliable hit machines in Silicon Valley. And it’s done it largely by operating as a kind of anti-Y Combinator, even while the famed incubator was its inspiration.

    There’s the cosmetic difference, for starters. While Y Combinator is located in sunny Mountain View, Ca., AngelPad, which also has offices in New York, rents out space on a gritty block of San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood. (It’s a little too gritty for its demo day; AngelPad is hosting its event today at an upscale restaurant roughly a mile away.)

    AngelPad isn’t as widely known as Y Combinator, and intentionally so. Founder Thomas Korte, who spent seven years as an international product manager at Google, likes to keep things intimate, stressing the importance of community to the startups that pass through AngelPad as well as the network of investors with which he works. (Even the press who can attend its demo day is tightly restricted.)

    In another departure from Y Combinator’s mode, AngelPad tends to focus on enterprise companies, typically admitting just one or two consumer-facing startups into each of its “cohorts.” For Y Combinator, working with startups that cater to businesses is a much newer development.

    Perhaps the biggest difference, though, is that while Y Combinator looks to grow even bigger, adding ever more partners to work with its startups, AngelPad is, in a sense, shrinking. Korte once relied heavily on former Google colleagues to help mentor startups at AngelPad. Today, he and his wife and AngelPad partner, Carine Magescas, coach all of the startups themselves.

    (Korte does make one notable exception. He still arranges for each startup passing through the program to meet once with one of his trusted advisors — friends like Wesley Chan, currently an entrepreneur-in-residence at Google Ventures. It’s a kind of “reality check. You need outside input once in a while,” says Korte.)

    Clearly, AngelPad’s approach is working. AngelPad startups in the news include Storefront ($7.3 million Series A led by Spark Capital), Crittercism ($30 million Series C), and Boxbee ($2.3 million seed round), and Korte tells me that another AngelPad company, the mobile advertising startup MoPub — acquired by Twitter for $350 million in stock last fall — will be worth roughly one billion dollars when Twitter’s lock-up expires in the next couple of weeks.

    So how does the AngelPad process work? Twice a year, Korte and Magescas stage an open application process that usually attracts about 2,000 applicants who are asked to submit a two-minute video, along with an essay, about their company. The couple then whittles the list down to between 100 and 200 of the most promising teams, interviews each for 25 minutes over a two- to three-month period, then chooses a dozen of them to coach over the following 10 to 12 weeks.

    Each team receives $60,000 in exchange for 6 to 7 percent of their company. (AngelPad uses capped convertible notes.) At the end of the program, a demo day is staged, and Korte and Magescas then spend the next six weeks or so working with the startups to secure seed funding.

    Most of the money is coming from the couple’s bank account. (Korte was among the first couple of hundred of Google employees.) Korte says “several individuals also participate in each cohort,” and that AngelPad also raised a $7 million fund last year to help fund its startups.

    As for what he’s looking for, he mentions numerous things, including “mobile-enhanced” businesses that do things in a way that we’ve always done them but in a more efficient way. (He points to the delivery service PostMates, another AngelPad startup that has gone on to raise significant funding.)

    Korte says he doesn’t rule out applicants that are entering well-covered terrain, either, a lesson he learned at Google. “Apart from self-driving cars, Google has almost never been the first in anything, honestly,” he notes. “What they’ve done is be significantly better at every single one of those,” he adds.

    Seemingly, the same could be said for AngelPad itself.

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