Posts tagged startups


(via Uber Leads Taxi Industry Disruption Amid Fight for Riders, Drivers - Businessweek)

Disaggregation of a Bank


There are lots of cool charts thrown around the startup/VC world. One of the best is the “Disaggregation of Craiglist,” originally created by Andrew Parker in 2010 and updated by David Haber in 2012 (shown below):

USV has recently invested in a host of internet-enabled financial services,…

Enterprise Technology Catalogue

Check out this great new resource from Work-Bench: a catalogue of enterprise technology startups in NYC.



Calling All Builders

October 18, 2013

At Work-Bench, we’re constantly searching for the next generation of tools that will define the future of work. In this search, we found that there was no central list of companies building better tools. We saw an opportunity to create a catalogue…

The Guide to NYC Tech 2.0


At Lerer Ventures I created the first version of The Guide to NYC Tech after dozens of people asked me the same dozen questions, over and over. What are the best co-working spaces? Which lawyer should I hire? Where are good places to take a meeting? Who are the key investors to know? How do I…

Fantastic resource for NYC’s startup ecosystem!

Startups and Shit: Hey Look, Software Just Ate VC!



Remember when Sacca was buying Twitter stock like a boss because the founders preferred him to VCs? There’s now an app for that.

Recently AngelList quietly started testing Syndicates. Syndicates allow you to raise any amount of money on behalf of a startup and take 20% of the carry.

If you doubt AngelList’s capacity to disrupt VC, this might change your mind.
Enter: Syndicates.

Strong Opinions @marksbirch: What Startups Are Like


Here is a collection of uplifting and heartwarming words of encouragement from the most sage voices in the tech startup world as you begin your own entrepreneurial journey.

  • Throwing yourself off a cliff and assembling an airplane on the way down. - Reif Hoffman
  • Being an entrepreneur is like eating glass and staring into the abyss of death. - Elon Musk
  • Running a start-up is like eating glass. You just start to like the taste of your own blood. - Sean Parker
  • Startups are hell. - Penelope Trunk
  • It’s like we’re married, but we’re not fucking. - Y Combinator founder via Paul Graham
  • I kept busy by thinking about how running that marathon was much like doing a startup. - Dan Martell
  • People say doing a startup is like a marathon. It’s actually a roadtrip at night with no headlights. You think you’re going to Toledo but you’re actually going to Miami and you might not have enough gas so you might need to buy gas from someone who might take you out if you aren’t driving well. - Ben Silbermann via Jason Shen
  • This is what running a startup is like…every day (cue video). - Jason Calacanis
  • Running a startup is like being punched in the face repeatedly. - Paul Graham
  • In my tiredness, my scars, and my strength I have noticed that launching and running a start-up is a lot like war. - Ryan Wood
  • Running a startup is like having all the bad guys from Die Hard attack you, but you’re way more scrawny than Bruce Willis. - Aaron Levie



Spring 2013 Tech Talent Draft
Startups and students, pull out your smartphones and open your calendar app—NYC Tech Talent Draft is back for Spring 2013!
After a successful fall campaign—one that put over 30 NYC startups on display in front of over 450 students from the nation’s top computer science and engineering programs—we are excited to announce dates and locations for upcoming panel and networking events:
Cornell: January 30, 6:30-7:30pm
U Penn: February 21, 3:15-5:15pm
Princeton: February 22, 4:30-6:30pm
Boston citywide event: Date TBD
Carnegie Mellon: Date TBD
New for 2013, NYC Tech Talent Draft will partner with to facilitate recruiting. Seelio makes the static resume a thing of the past by showcasing students’ work and accomplishments on a dynamic online platform. NYC Tech Talent Draft will also soon have its own jobs page for attending startups, open to all students. 
Are you a student or NYC startup interested in participating in NYC Tech Talent Draft? Get more details.


Spring 2013 Tech Talent Draft

Startups and students, pull out your smartphones and open your calendar app—NYC Tech Talent Draft is back for Spring 2013!

After a successful fall campaign—one that put over 30 NYC startups on display in front of over 450 students from the nation’s top computer science and engineering programs—we are excited to announce dates and locations for upcoming panel and networking events:

  • Cornell: January 30, 6:30-7:30pm
  • U Penn: February 21, 3:15-5:15pm
  • Princeton: February 22, 4:30-6:30pm
  • Boston citywide event: Date TBD
  • Carnegie Mellon: Date TBD

New for 2013, NYC Tech Talent Draft will partner with to facilitate recruiting. Seelio makes the static resume a thing of the past by showcasing students’ work and accomplishments on a dynamic online platform. NYC Tech Talent Draft will also soon have its own jobs page for attending startups, open to all students. 

Are you a student or NYC startup interested in participating in NYC Tech Talent Draft? Get more details.

m.e.driscoll: data utopian: the fuel of founders: curiosity & impatience


“On a scale of 1-10 of impatience, the best entrepreneurs are an 11.” - Tom Stemberg, Founder of Staples

Curiosity and impatience make for great founder traits, but they often pull in different directions.

Curiosity compels you to sit and study a problem, to voraciously consume every article…

Space as a Service - the other SaaS.

Great overview by Jude Gomila.

Space exploration is going to open itself up for entrepreneurs, engineers and hackers in the next 10 years. With companies like SpaceX leading the way, a new generation of entrepreneurs has been inspired to go into the space sector. With privatization of space budgets and the efficiency that privatization can bring to the space industry, there has never been a better time to take the leap and make a space company. I believe there are many new startups that are going to create the “Space as a Service” movement. Here is a non-exhaustive breakdown of some of the companies and markets that will be built:


There is a ton of useful data that can obtained by analyzing the earth’s surface, e.g. 854 shipping containers in San Francisco seaport or 89 parking spaces open at your local car park. By opening up realtime, high-resolution satellite imagery, one could make an API to open hidden data about the earth’s surface and let developers build applications off the back of it. This is just the start of that idea: opening up more sensor data from space will provide new earth-bound applications:

Nanosatisfi - affordable access to space through a user-programmable imaging and data platform for $250/week. Fundraising right now on Angel List. The prospect of running an experiment in space for $250 is highly exciting. Imagine an AWS for satellites. Check out Skycube as well and ArduSat.

Skybox - developing microsatellites to deliver high-resolution imagery of any spot on earth in realtime. Closed recent funding with Khosla and BVP.

Terminal Velocity Aerospace LLC - basketball-size re-entry capsules for data and payload return for the nanosatellite industry.

Pine Aerospace - seeking to provide high-res imaging and analysis for the oil and gas industries, to help them monitor and clean up spills. The company plans to use microsatellites and unmanned aerial vehicles. These guys are chasing a valuable vertical that Skybox may want as well.


Part of the core problem with successful space commercialization is going to be getting up there. We need to bring the price of getting into orbit down by orders of magnitude. Just in the same way that we crushed the pricing of computation, digital storage, DNA sequencing and DNA synthesis, we will collapse the $/kg ratio of getting matter from the earth’s surface into orbit:

SpaceX - grand visions for making space travel cheaper and widening the exploration of space. These guys are going to drop the price of getting into space and take us to Mars.

Electric Take-Off - low-cost aviation and space launch with tethers. While writing this post, I got a quote from the founder John Carpinelli - “Electric air freight could be cheaper than trucking, and less costly than rail when you consider infrastructure costs. A nation-wide grid of electric launch systems could provide fast clean transport for people and goods without burning fossil fuels. Air taxi flights would only cost a few dollars per passenger. Winches are used today for launching gliders. Electric Takeoff extends the glider tow concept with higher altitudes and speeds. Supersonic and suborbital flights are possibilities as well.”

Liftport - lunar space elevator. They have plans to make it easier to land onto the moon. This might help OffGlobe’s plans to build a datacenter on the moon.

Unreasonable Rocket - developing a commercial nanosatellite launcher.

Space Tourism

One of the best ways of getting funding into the industry is to engage thrill-seeking space tourists.  Prices to get to orbit are falling rapidly and it wont be long before it costs $10k to get into space.

zero2infinity - high-altitude ballooning space tourism. Bookings are open for start of commercial operations in 2014-2015. Ticket price per person: $150,000 for a 2 night stay and a 6 hour flight, with 2 hours at maximum altitude.

Space Adventures - sending private citizens into space since 2010.

Virgin Galactic - Richard Branson’s outfit planning sub-orbital and orbital spaceflights to astrotourists.


Energy storage and generation in space is a fairly open commercial space. Not only do we have to generate energy in space, we also have to store this energy and transfer it between entities. Designers and engineers seeking scalability problems need look no further.

LaserMotive - wireless power-delivery systems using laser beams to transmit electricity without wires.

Digital Solid State Propulsion LLC - solid-state propellants that can be switched on and off using only electrical power.


This area is already thriving with the satellite communication companies. Moving datacenters beyond government controls and taxation jurisdiction. Having a lower latency data transfer between spacecraft. The possibilities are very open. Who will build the first space ISP? Who will own the off-earth datacenters? Who will be the Verizon of Mars?

OffGlobe - building the first commercial data center on the moon. OffGlobe will deploy a solid-state network storage array. Linked with stations on earth, customers will be able to purchase off-planet storage space and have access to the communication network we operate from the surface of the moon.


With demand for electronic goods driving metals prices through the roof, we may have to start looking for resources outside of earth.  Likewise, 3D-printed self-building spacecraft will need resources to be mined locally.

Planetary Resources - asteroid mining. May be able to work in partnership with Universal BioMining.

There is going to be a massive array of supporting companies outside of the core areas. From astronaut training to synthetic modification of food, once a company ecosystem develops, many supporting companies will emerge. Here is a random selection of some of the startups:

WayPoint 2 Space - commerical astronaut training. WayPoint 2 Space is the only fully comprehensive spaceflight participant space training program in the United States.
Saber Astronautics - advanced artificial intelligence capabilities with 3D graphics to aid space operations. 
Terapio - mitigate the effects of radiation exposure using bioengineered therapeutics.
ExoCoat - developing bioengineered coatings to clean and disinfect spacecraft interior surfaces, which could safeguard crews by removing toxins or biohazards.
SpaceGroundAmalgam - developing inflatable components — such as reflectors, booms and solar arrays — to reduce satellites’ size and weight.
Nanoly Bioscience - nanoly is developing a nanoparticle-based chemical shield that could allow vaccines and other perishable mission-critical medicines to be stored without refrigeration for long periods.

Investment in space startups is starting to go mainstream. As I said before, Nanosatifi is raising a round on AngelList right now. The appetite for investors to go beyond funding predictable companies is rising.

The Space Angels Networks - an angel network specifically designed for space startups.

Khosla and Bessemer Venture Partners are some of the more space-friendly VCs.


Space is one of the most exciting areas to build a company in right now. The barriers to entry are falling like meteors and the recruitment potential for getting the best engineers working in a space company has never been better. It is possible to build a profitable, high-growth company that can’t be disrupted by trivial platform changes and has the chance to truly change the world. If you are thinking of starting a company don’t forget the biggest platform to build on is not on this earth.

Continuations: Ceci N'Est Pas Un ... (Internet Defies Existing Categories)

Ceci N’Est Pas Un … (Internet Defies Existing Categories) It is fascinating how the Internet is creating new entities and phenomena that defy existing categories. The challenge that arises is that many politicians and regulators still think in these old categories. Here are just a bunch of recent examples. Uber, Hailo, Lyft, Sidecar etc all enable transportation but are not cab companies. AirBnB, VRBO, HomeAway all enable lodging but are not hotels. Skillshare, Udacity, Udemy, Coursera, Khan Academy enable learning but are not schools. Blogs enable publishing of opinion but are not press. I am sure this list could be made much longer if I weren’t running out for a meeting. So if you have other examples please contribute them in the comments.

Synthetic Biology is Heading for the Cloud

Great post by Jude Gomila: 

The field of synthetic biology is simply fascinating. This field has the chance to revolutionize most areas of industry from mining and manufacturing, to clean energy and battery storage, to materials and healthcare.

After having conversations with Sumon Sadhu, Darren Zhu and discovering Y Combinator are investing in synthetic biology,  I  decided to set out to uncover the state of the synthetic biology startup ecosystem in 2012. Outlined are some of the main areas in synthetic biology that I have seen startups emerging from (this is not an exhaustive list).

Desktop Hardware

Biohackers are taking biology to the desktop rather than labs to get experiments going on in their bedroom and garage labs. This is similar to how developers hacked together early computers manually with custom built circuit boards.

openPCR - these guys cut the price down from $5000 to $500 of a crucial step in synthetic biology and are allowing biohackers to take synthetic biology onto their desktop. Then Stacey Kuznetsov and Matt Mancuso (a separate team of bio hackers) cut the price down to $85! I’m hoping that hardware hackers are going to rip the price down of DNA printing machines. The truly cheap machine will be a microfluidics solution to DNA synthesis. Instead of paying $50k for a DNA printer machine, I believe it can be done at a base cost price of $2 on chip bound to a super cheap PCR machine. 

DNA Synthesis 

An essential part of synthetic biology is the ability to create DNA sequences that you can use in experiments. The analogue is being able to print a circuit board using an etching machine. So if you have a cool gene from an organism that you want to plug in to your custom organism, you will want to download the gene, then create it with a DNA synthesis machine. These machines are expensive (around $50k right now) but these companies are slashing the prices and you can just order from them so you don’t need the hardware. This will be like ordering electronic components online. Most DNA synthesis companies currently operate on a service base model with the cost base being on a $/ base pair of DNA. You’re not going to make a resistor in your bedroom, so by analogue DNA Synthesis may remain in the cloud.

Cambrian Genomics - this team is building a “DNA laser printer” which will cut the cost down of DNA printing by an order of magnitude.

Halcyon Molecular - the Founders Fund backed company that recently ran out of money and pivoted from DNA Sequencing due to Oxford Nanopore beating them in the cost cutting race. Their next move seems to be currently secret.

Gen 9 - is a synthesis company also in this area. See their paper here.

DNA Sequencing

DNA needs to be read. If you want to identify the genetic code of something you need to sequence it. This is like being able to open the source code other people’s programs to see how things work, debug your experiment and is the analogue of an oscilloscope in electronics.

Oxford Nanopore - this company from Oxford have developed a super elegant way to read DNA. Check out the site for the truly awesome video. They also raised $50m recently, going to show that this field is getting serious investment. Also check out Genia and Genapsys.

Biological Design 

If you’re going to embark on making a new organism that has wild and interesting applications, you will need to design the logic on “bio circuit” creation software.

Genome Complier - this team is building an AutoCAD for bio circuits. I’ve tested the software and the current version is accessible for the amateur. This is a vital part of the stack to allow people design and (in future) test their bio circuits out before they spend money and time on producing the physical product.

ClothoCAD - these guys are hooking up to biological data repositories, have built an app platform for bio design and share designs with others.

Benchling - making it easy to order primers and share plasmid maps with each other. If they play their cards right they might be able to become the github of biology.

Teselagen - are developing biological design automation systems. Worth signing up for their beta trial if your interested.

More design tools and companies to be found here.

Full Stack

Some companies are going for the full stack approach and doing nearly everything in-house. These guys are the equivalent of IBM for computers back in the 1970’s.

Grinko Biotech - who’s slogan of “the organism is the product” can construct custom organisms in 6 months, a cycle time I expect will fall rapidly. You can go to this company and get an organism made for you - full stack. Their customers will be larger companies that have slower timelines and big budgets. Note Grinko Biotech buy their DNA from IDT/Blue Heron and DNA 2.0. Also check out Synthetic Genomics.

Update (10/22/12): Transcriptic is really worth checking out.


The companies mentioned above are mainly horizontal platform plays in this area. However, many of the startups are going for “killer apps” first.

Refactored materials - Using microbes and microfluidics to manufacture spider silk at scale. Imagine the applications in body armor, cars, mobile phone casing and bridges. Nexia Biotechnologies make a similar product called Biosteel.

Universal Biomining - this startup is making bacteria that can precipitate useful metals from water. Imagine vats of bacteria excreting gold and silver! Here is a TED talk on the idea. One could do away with the lofty mines of old and just use the water around us to mine our metals.

Sample 6 tech - pathogen detection platform. There are many applications from their platform e.g. detecting e coli on food surfaces (you could have your food surface glow green with the bioluminescence gene from jellyfish if it detected too many germs) to a condom that would change colour if it detected an STD (on either side).  

Joule, LS9, Genomatica, Sapphire Energy, Solazyme - these firms are all working on synthetically engineered organisms that can produce biofuels.


Some of the experiments in the field require a ton of iteration and testing. Automation and scaling tests is an area ripe for innovation. Seeing biologists use pipettes with their hands pains me.


Community is important to bring together information, people, teams, education and funding:

BioCurious - you can take labs down in Cupertino, get access to equipment and learn more about biohacking. I went down there and learnt a lot in one day, it was well worth it.

iGEM - standardisation of biological parts. I precursor for a github for biology.

Taking Synthetic Biology into the Cloud

Synthetic biology is moving to the cloud and this cloud will have a green lining. Some functions of the bio startup stack beyond in the cloud due to economies of scale and some beyond on the desktop for speed of experimentation and the creativity of being close to your experiment. In the future we will be able to do all of our design, tests and scaling from our desktop machine, laptop or even mobile. We are on the edge of synthetic biology startups becoming mainstream for tech investors and I personally would like this field to advance at rapid speed. If you know other companies in the field please get in contact - I’d love to hear about them and add them to the post. Also if you want to learn more read this first textbook on synthetic biology.

A billion dollar software tech company is founded every 3 months



Ron Conway once said: “There’s a billion company created every 3 months. Now, it is every 2 months”. I finally got the chance compile “The Billion Dollar” list. I tried to limit this list to only software tech companies. I also included a couple of near billion dollar companies (~0.7 B and above).

Very interesting. 


What Success Looks Like

KANYI MAQUBELA: Optimizing for partner, optimizing for price.


Application infrastructure is making everything cheaper to build

Lately, application infrastructure has made it easier than ever to launch a prototype on the internet. Browser-based IDEs are in a race to develop tools that make programming fast, easy, and faster and easier. Guilds, to…