A Falling Star
By Alan Soclof
3 BIG STORIES
1. A Falling Star
Starry, a company looking to disrupt the broadband industry, announced the completion of a $1.76B SPAC deal with FirstMark Horizon Acquisition Corp. with proceeds of $176M.
The company wants to create an over-the-air internet system (vs. fiber/underground) to give strong internet to the masses. Starry also raised $400M from KKR, FirstMark, and Tiger Global Management before going public.
Will this be the company that turns around SPAC’s fortunes?
I don’t think so. Here’s why:
1. Massive Broadband Incumbents
Off the bat, it’s important to recognize just how competitive and entrenched the broadband market is, including: Frontier, Verizon Fios, Comcast, and Charter. With many seeing the collapse of cable TV revenues due to cord cutting, they are investing heavily into broadband infrastructure.
2. Technology Doubts
There are serious questions regarding the quality of Starry’s technology. Historically, their type of tech has struggled in tough weather conditions like rain, wind, and snow. Imagine it’s a cold, snowy day and you can’t watch your Netflix. Yikes.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.” Investing at any stage is all about valuation. Apple is a great company, but if someone wanted to sell you a share at $10T, you would most definitely pass.
Starry’s 2020 and 2021 revenue was $13M and $22M, respectively, meaning that the company is trading at an 80x Price to sales multiple. The company projects $1.1B in sales by 2026. I’ll believe it when I see it.
4. Questionable Management
Starry CEO Chet Kanojia is the former founder and CEO of Aereo. Aereo was an online TV platform that eventually shuttered. The Supreme Court deemed Starry illegal because it didn’t obtain the proper copyright permission for its content, then it went bankrupt. This does not hold Starry back from claiming that Aereo was “the groundbreaking online TV platform that kicked off the OTT revolution.” An odd claim for a company that collapsed the way Aereo did. Red flag.
Prediction: Starry will share the fortunes of many SPACs before it and will not be a shooting star.
2.To Bee or Not To Bee?
Beewise, a climate tech robotics company, announced an $80M Series C led by Insight Partners to fuel their mission in saving bees.
Climate change is absolutely devastating bees, as 30% of colonies disappear every year – meaning your avocados and coffee are threatened.
Beewise wants to keep our toast covered and caffeine addictions fulfilled by creating a solar-powered robotic beehive for beekeepers that keeps bees in an optimal climate and provides:
- Autonomous swarm prevention
- Climate and humidity control
- Automated honey harvesting
How could I possibly have an angle on this one?
The technology that Beewise has created is breathtaking. In a world seeing rapid climate change, being able to create controlled settings is paramount.
The quality of the tech and significant interest from VCs has me thinking that Beewise could easily translate their IP into other sectors in the field – which could mean some serious dollars.
Beewise is also a reminder to all founders of just how massive niche opportunities can be. The company rents a Beehome for $400 a month (plus $2K delivery fee) and had “thousands of orders” placed stateside over the past few months. Cha-ching!
3. A Poplar Trend
Poplar Homes, a PropTech platform for single family-home renters, announced the raise of a $53M Series B.
The company is focused on creating a platform that allows renters to manage their homes with a tech stack similar to real estate enterprises.
The company has seen great initial success:
- 7,500 homes nationwide
- 5,000 property owners
- In 13 major cities
- 95% of clients use platform for all payment and maintenance transactions
Managing a rental home is a PIA and the trends in PropTech are making it clear.
We’re focusing on a company looking to disrupt legacy PropTech systems in back-to-back newsletters, as last time we discussed Flock Homes—which wants to help landlords exchange their rental properties (and management responsibilities) for shares in a portfolio of homes—that raised a $26M Series A.
Who do I think will win the rental home wars? Both companies. Why?
The more you follow the world of business, the clearer it becomes that many can succeed. Just think about how many insurance companies you can name.
Also, Flock and Poplar are targeting different types of renting professionals. Flock is looking to target people who want to become 100% passive, while Poplar looks to allow renters to stay active yet be more efficient.
PropTech continues to be scorching hot.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“In life, everybody faces choices between doing what’s popular, easy, and wrong versus doing what’s lonely, difficult, and right. These decisions intensify when you run a company, because the consequences get magnified 1,000-fold. As in life, the excuses for CEOs making the wrong choice are always plentiful.”
-Ben Horowitz, cofounder & GP of Andreesen Horowitz
What They Do: Company creating medical devices to help treat depression
Amount Raised: $10M seed funding
Lead Investors: Lool Ventures
The Rundown: Inner Cosmos advertises their device as a “digital pill for the brain.” It is a small medical device that is “slipped” under the skin, and the least invasive medical device for cognitive disorders to date.
The company recently received an FDA Investigational Device Exemption to conduct studies of their technology on humans. This is definitely a company to keep an eye on as there are sadly over 280M globally who suffer from depression.
What They Do: Peer-to-peer sports betting
Amount Raised: $10M Series A
Lead Investors: Raptor Capital
The Rundown: Lucra is a sports betting app that allows friends to bet against one another on specific player props (performances). The emphasis on betting on players vs. games is a big advantage to Lucra as the company has been able to circumvent some of the regulatory issues.
Some other facts include:
- Live in 37 states
- Take 5% fee from winners
- 87% of users came from referrals
What They Do: Tech-enabled debt collector
Amount Raised: $10M funding round
Lead Investors: Brewer Lane Ventures
The Rundown: It is estimated that around 70M Americans have debt in collections. Debt collection is a nasty process for everyone involved and different types of harassment are not uncommon.
January created a platform that works with creditors and individuals on ways to pay back their debt in a faster, more efficient manner. And they’ve had a lot of success: they 3x revenue and more than doubled headcount to 37 in 2021.
What They Do: Workforce management for industrial job sites
Amount Raised: $3.9M seed round
Lead Investors: LAUNCH, Fairstead, Pearl Fund
The Rundown: Kwant creates a wearable that tracks people who work in relatively high risk jobs—like construction, mining, etc.—to ensure their wellbeing and safety.
One of the most impressive components to Kwant is their ability to function at significant scale. The company has major projects with airports in NYC and EV factories in multiple states, totaling over 10K workers using their tech daily.
Lord of the Trees
What They Do: High-tech ecosystem reforestation company
Amount Raised: $1.25M pre-seed
Lead Investors: Draper Associates
The Rundown: Lord of the Trees uses precision drone planting technology to restore ecosystems. The company’s drones can scatter over 400,000 seed pods in under 12 hours.
The seeds themselves are also complex and ensure that proper nutrients are available to the plant to increase the chances of developing strong roots. The seed pods have a germination success rate of 75%, 2x industry average.
Learn More: Press Release & Company Website
Q: Stripe is massive. What is the company’s valuation and where does that put them on the list of biggest unicorns in the world?
Here are three of my favorite jobs from the startup/VC world today. Click here to post a job on the Just Raised Job Board and get it featured.
Goldcast is poised to be a big winner of the rise in virtual events. The online event hosting platform was created with marketers in mind and allows them to create standout events. After raising a $10M seed round, the company is looking to compete with industry incumbent Hopin. As a Sales Development Representative, you’ll find Goldcast new clients by leading the sales process.
Lemonaid is a telehealth company making a strong push into mental health. The company offers online psychiatry appointments for just $25 for the first month. Lemonaid is already pretty established as they raised a $33M Series B in summer 2020. The coolest part about this gig? They want to hire people with a variety of interests for various roles—so if you’re interested in working for the company, shoot them an email.
Minded is a telehealth company—similar to Lemonaid, but smaller—with a pure focus on psychology. Minded’s platform gives you the ability to have consistent, simple communication with your psychiatrist. With a $25M round completed recently, the company is ready to compete with Lemonaid head on. In this gig, Minded is looking for someone to create beautiful visuals to engage with customers on their platforms and on social media.View More →
- Great reporting by The Information on the happenings at Fast. Will likely break it down next week.
- Shoutout to the US Men’s National Soccer Team for qualifying for the 2022 World Cup! After 8 tough years, we are back!
- Loved the first episode of the new Halo TV show – and I didn’t even play the game! Here’s the link to the first episode, free on YouTube.
- I had my fantasy baseball draft last night and crushed it. Very bullish on Gavin Sheets.
Phenomenal Joke by a Phenomenal CEO
If you don’t get it, check out the Fast article in the Golden Nuggets!