The Best Emerging Funds for Strategic Venture Capital
Emerging Funds have flooded the markets. Thanks to new platforms that make it easier to launch a fund like AngelList’s Rolling Funds product, and the emergence of the Operator-slash-VC, traditional early-stage financing is becoming a lot more diversified.
This has made it easier for tech companies to raise money due to the availability of strategic funding. Funds with unique specializations around particular functions (ie. the LP network is exclusively proven SaaS CROs) can augment the skillsets of a founding team and supercharge companies that hinge on that function.
At SignalFire, we often collaborate or come across a lot of these strategic early-stage-focused firms. So, we wanted to give them a shout-out! Here’s a list of Emerging Funds we’ve seen provide a ton of value in strategic areas that are critical to early-stage success:
Sales & Marketing – GTMfund
- The GTMfund is comprised of an LP base of over 250 GTM leaders who’ve “been there, done that”. They help B2B companies scale revenue and provide knowledge and hiring support to portfolio Sales, Marketing, and Customer Success teams.
- Notable investments: Vanta, Atlan, Census, Mutiny, Writer, CaptivateIQ
Diversity and Inclusion – Overlooked Ventures
- Venture capital is overlooking massive opportunities. In fact, $4 trillion is being left on the table by not investing in diverse founders. Overlooked Ventures is removing barriers for early-stage founders, accepting and assessing all opportunities equally, and investing in untapped talent.
- Notable investments: Pipe, Stagger, West Tenth, Prometeo, Couplet Coffee, Infinite Objects
Marketplaces & Consumer – Moving Capital
- MovingCapital is a venture capital firm backed by early employees of Uber and other decacorn marketplace and consumer startups.
- Notable investments: Unit, Metropolis, Lumos, Lime, JOKR, Fonoa
People & Talent – SemperVirens
- SemperVirens is an early-stage ecosystem fund investing in workforce technology, healthcare technology, and financial technology companies that sell to and through employers. Their network of thought-leading HR advisors provides a critical sounding board for portfolio companies during early growth. These advisors serve as HR, people ops, and talent executives at enterprise and consumer companies like Slack, Cisco, Peloton, and Pinterest.
- Notable investments: Spring Health, Ladder, Cleo, Human Interest, Carrot, ChartHop
Crypto & Web3 – Shima Capital
- Shima Capital is a global early-stage firm focused on supporting cutting-edge blockchain startups. They provide pre-seed companies with in-house resources purpose-built for building in web3 relating to talent, community, research, and tokenomics.
- Notable investments: Algorand, Bitclout, Hedera Hashgraph, KlimaDAO, Polkadot, Synthetix
Product & UX – Chapter One
- Chapter One helps founders build products for their category-defining stories, including newer investments in the Web3 space. They are a group of former product and user experience operators from successful software companies.
- Notable investments: Dapper, Compound, Lolli, Stytch, Alt, Blockfolio
Foundational Infra & Devtools – Essence VC
- Essence is an early-stage VC fund solely focused on infrastructure and dev tools. They help technical founders with storytelling, community building, leadership development, and scaling their engineering teams.
- Notable Investments: Flatfile, Iterative, Datafold, Opstrace, Sardine, Metaphor
How SignalFire Helps
Emerging VCs and institutional funds can complement each other well to pair vertical specialization with broad company-building help. At our own fund SignalFire, we write lead checks across sectors from seed to Series B while working hard to differentiate ourselves through our platform of value-adds. It’s centered around Beacon Talent, our proprietary AI recruiting system that tracks half a trillion data points to rank hundreds of millions of tech workers on skill and hireability. Beacon lets us give portfolio companies reports of the best people for any role that are the most likely to leave their job, and it’s how we make 1000 job candidate intros to our companies each year.
We also offer a network 85+ invested-advisors ranging from the Instagram founders to the head of pricing for Salesforce, a data science team that generates customer lead lists, and 100+ educational events per year where mentors teach our companies any skillset they need. Finally, we staff full-time in-house experts to help our companies including former Stripe CMO Jim Stoneham for go-to-market, former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz for company culture building, former head of Special Project Recruiting at Facebook Mike Mangini for hiring strategy, and former Editor-at-Large of TechCrunch Josh Constine for PR and content marketing.
Put it all together and 85% of our portfolio companies say we’re their most valuable investor, and they give us a Net Promoter Score of 92 when few venture funds even measure NPS. You can learn more about how SignalFire helps in this video. We’d love to hear about what you’re building or what your fund is backing, as our lead checks can be a great complement to amazing emerging funds like those above!
How OneSignal pivoted to power notifications for 1 in 7 apps
After leading its Series A and B, SignalFire backs OneSignal’s new $50M Series C
There’s a grand tradition amongst ambitious gaming startups. When their game proves too heady, before its time, or simply too weird, they pivot to selling the infrastructure they built along the way. Fates Forever became Discord. Glitch became Slack. So too did Go Ninja become OneSignal…and developers around the world better off because of it.
George Deglin and his team had grown frustrated with the weak push notification infrastructure available to his previous company Hiptic games. Without notifications, a once loyal but absentminded player could forget about Go Ninja and churn out. The existing solutions weren’t enterprise-focused, self-serve, performant, or affordable. So they decided to roll their own.
Pretty soon not just gaming companies were demanding access, and the company went all in on the pivot to selling push notification infrastructure. Within a short time, OneSignal wracked up 300,000 registered users by offering a product-led service with a generous free tier where users could sign up and be sending notifications within minutes without having to talk to anyone – exactly what they were once looking for.
The secret sauce was OneSignal’s ability to run their infrastructure very efficiently, reminding me of my days at Google. OneSignal’s technical team used dedicated hardware (no cloud services!) and efficient systems programming languages (Rust) to process billions of push notifications at an extremely low cost.
After we at SignalFire made our initial investment in 2017, we doubled down in 2019. Our cultures aligned – both teams are full of data nerds eager to help their fellow engineers. While they built out push infra, we helped them build up their team with our own homegrown recruiting technology Beacon. It helped them find not just the strongest PMs and engineers, but the ones that were most likely to leave their job for a new challenge.
OneSignal’s torrid growth continued, and today it has 1.7M registered developers and marketers. It processes over 10B notifications per day and has rolled out an omnichannel product, making it a one-stop shop for any company that needs to communicate with its users via mobile push, web push, email, SMS, or in-app messaging. OneSignal processes more notifications than all of its competitors combined, and 1 out of every 7 new mobile apps uses OneSignal.
To power its continued growth and continue its ascent to becoming the default way that developers communicate with customers the company today announced a $50M Series C led by Jamie McGurk at BAM Elevate. Rather than building a few games, George and the team are empowering an entire generation of developers of all stripes. And they seem to be having even more fun doing it.
The need for real-time data monitoring: Leading $34M for Dig Security
If someone breaks into your house but your alarm doesn’t go off until eight hours later, that’s not really “security”. Yet this is how most data cybersecurity systems work today. Most security platforms can’t detect an attacker early enough in the kill chain to actually stop them and prevent further damage. Today, a motivated attacker can breach cloud data in less than three minutes!
This whole problem has only gotten worse as the shift from on-prem to the perimeter-less cloud causes data sprawl. Now businesses don’t even know where all their data is, and you can’t use agents or hardware to intercept all traffic. You need to monitor out-of-band and through APIs, safeguard microservices. Simply put, the old network-centric approaches don’t apply.
What we need is real-time security — where the alarm goes off the moment someone breaks in so the cops show up and catch them in the act before they can escape with your stuff.
That’s how Dig Security works so it can detect incursions in under a minute. Dig indexes and monitors all your cloud data stores and structures. After identifying and minimizing any static risks, Dig helps companies establish policies for approved data access. That lets businesses rapidly discover anomalous use and respond to shut down access and keep attackers from stealing their sensitive user data, payment information, or intellectual property. Finally, Dig provides audit records so businesses can prove to regulators that they’re keeping sensitive data safe.
The need for this modern approach to data is why SignalFire is leading a $34 million Series A for Dig Security. We believe they’re the future of data detection and response for the perimeter-less era. In a post-firewall world, Dig can give tech companies, financial institutions, governments, and others the peace of mind that their data is safe. You can read more about Dig in TechCrunch.
In the on-prem era, data security was essentially a highly secure vault. Anyone who wanted access to sensitive data would need to authenticate themselves and customers were able to put in place firewalls and alarm systems since they owned the real estate. But with the move to the public cloud, customers now face a slew of new problems. These include their data being dispersed across many different environments, not having full control or ownership over the cloud they run on, and needing a real-time alarm system that could cover their fragmented data.
Unfortunately, most cloud security vendors today only focus on helping customers locate their sensitive data in the cloud and build weak checkpoints around it. They don’t have visibility into what’s done with the data, so they never detect anomalous use. Dig changes this by not only finding and protecting the data stores but also offering an actual real-time alerting system so customers get notified of anything suspicious.
Building this fundamental overhaul of how we approach security requires deep experience at high stakes. Luckily, CEO Dan Benjamin was previously running security product strategy for the world’s biggest enterprise cloud — Microsoft Azure. Before that, he was the CTO of Google Cloud for Startups after serving with the Israeli Defense Force’s elite 8200 cybersecurity division. He built the way the world’s top businesses and militaries approach cloud security, and now he’s bringing that depth of protection to every company through Dig. Meanwhile, our Beacon Talent recruiting engine ranks Dig’s engineering team in the 95th percentile of all startups we index.Unfortunately, customers can’t wait and hope for the big enterprise clouds to handle data security properly. In fact, Dan got the idea for Dig after Google Cloud launched an API that let users export their whole production data asset as a CSV…which promptly let a hacker steal everything from one of Google Cloud’s top customers. Dan realized the need for a dedicated data security solution outside of the cloud platforms themselves that are too big to care about the problems their updates cause.
At SignalFire, we love providing our portfolio companies with help they can measure. That’s why founders give us an NPS of 92 when few funds even track that metric. Our go-to-market experts led by ex-Stripe CMO Jim Stoneham are helping Dig reach the customer leads identified by our in-house data science team. Our recruiting leaders are working with Dan to use our Beacon Talent engine to hire the best engineers. And SignalFire’s in-house PR expert Josh Constine, a former editor at TechCrunch, advised them on making a big splash with today’s funding announcement.
“This is an amazing team of second-time entrepreneurs with the scars from paying their dues in the security industry” says SignalFire advisor and Exabeam security founder Nir Polak. “They not only have the right idea that data is the crown jewel that enterprises are trying to protect. They also know how to execute.” Now Dig’s focus is making it easier and easier to integrate while expanding into Data Loss Prevention to protect data in motion, at rest, and at its endpoints.
Every technological shift comes with tradeoffs. All the convenience, collaboration, and flexibility of the cloud are accompanied by increased risks from a fragmented attack surface that firewalls can’t protect. Dig will let organizations safely seize the cloud’s benefits by providing the real-time vigilance they need to catch crooks red-handed.
The WFH FAQ: SignalFire’s Remote Hiring Guide For Startups
Strategies for attracting, onboarding, compensating, and motivating your remote team
Why remote work requires a new strategy
To adapt to the post-COVID “new normal” employers can no longer see work-from-home as an exception. The need to make decisions around how to pay people in different locations, how to legally employ people across many places where local employment laws differ, and how to help avoid the loneliness, disconnection, and Zoom fatigue that comes from working alone at home.
We took a look at the strategies of the best companies operating remote or hybrid, including those who became distributed long before the pandemic. In this remote hiring guide, you’ll learn how to answer questions like:
- What type of remote culture is right for our company?
- How do we compliantly hire talent where we don’t have an international entity?
- What is the right pay and benefits approach for our team’s setup?
- How do we navigate time zones and location complexity?
- How do we build an engaged and high-performing team when we aren’t in the same physical room?
Remote Recruiting And Compliance
What’s right for you: remote, hybrid, or IRL?
To build an intentional strategy around where employees will work and communicate it clearly to your team, leadership needs to crystallize their objectives:
1. Why are you considering any kind of remote work variation?
- Is it primarily due to necessity (e.g. global pandemic) and not desirable?
- Is it to attract and retain top talent in a competitive market?
- Is it to recruit an international team that can connect with customers across multiple global markets?
- Is it because hiring in other countries might lead to cost savings?
Identifying the top 1-2 fundamental reasons for distributing your team will help balance goals and tradeoffs.
2. What biases or concerns do you have about having a remote team?
- Do some leaders worry that people underperform from afar?
- Do finance and people teams worry about the extra tax and compliance work?
- Do you believe that physical in-person time is best for relationship building?
3. Are you planning for an office-centered strategy, a hybrid strategy – partial or full, or an all-remote strategy?
- Office-centered means that you may have a hub and spoke model where there are multiple offices in key locations and employees can live apart from each other but do work in an office.
- Hybrid means that there is an office or multiple offices, but there are also options for employees to work from home in some capacity. Full hybrid means that some people may be fully remote and never commute to an office, but others may choose some mix.
- Partial means that all employees must still be expected to work from the office in some capacity, but it could be as little as a few days a month.
- All remote means that there are no dedicated offices. There might be a coworking desk stipend or membership, but the primary design is around no office hub and everyone works from home or a hotdesk.
4. Is everyone eligible for remote work or is this only afforded to some?
- Does the same working arrangement menu of options apply to any team member or is it restricted to specific tenures, seniority/levels, teams, or locations? This can be a dicey decision, and it’s important to document the choices made and the reasoning for those choices for a perception of fairness and inclusivity. That said, there can be very good reasons for some employees not being eligible for remote work (e.g., a job that requires office duties such as IT) and it’s okay to create limitations so long as they can be communicated properly.
5. Are all locations eligible?
- When you offer remote work, are you offering work from home within a radius of an office location?
- Remote work within specific states, countries, or locations where you have a business entity?
- Any location within a specific set of time zones?
- Or anywhere in the world?
- Are you investing in specific locations for key business or talent market strategies or are you simply hoping to find the best talent wherever they are?
Remember, keeping everyone in a similar working time zone creates better conditions for scheduling meetings and communicating synchronously, but having more time zone coverage can be especially helpful for customer support and engineering coverage in case of downtime.
Will you be a remote-allowed, remote-first, or remote-friendly organization?
- Remote-allowed means that remote work is something that may be approved or permitted, but it is seen as a perk in and of itself and the organization will not go out of its way beyond that permission to enable or empower employees who work remotely.
- Remote-first is the other end of the spectrum, and it means that the company is fully committed to remote work and centers on the remote working experience -vs- the office experience. This might show up as benefits and perks equalized for commuters to an office and remote teams (e.g. food delivery service to match in office lunch) or all-hands meetings with everyone dialed in separately so as to equalize the experience for the remote worker and people in office (e.g. one human, one zoom square).
- Remote-friendly falls in between. Considerations are given to remote employees (e.g. rotating team events between virtual and in-person) and remote employees are provided some perks (e.g. a travel reimbursement for a quarterly trip to the office), but the in-office experience is still at the center.
By aligning on these topline philosophical questions, and documenting your team’s approach, you can start answering second-order questions such as:
- Do we want to create entities in all of our locations, partner with a PEO or EOR, or some mix of strategies?
- Do we want to pay a single rate for all talent regardless of location or adjust to local markets or tier by cost of living?
- Do we want our remote team members to commute to the office at some cadence, and what does our travel policy look like?
- Do we expect remote people to work their localized time zone or adjust their working hours to overlap with HQ?
- Can someone move whenever they want to an approved location, or will we require approval?
Next, we’ll help you design strategies and a process for answering the questions above.
How to legally hire abroad: Entity creation, EOR/POR, or contractors?
News stories of companies like Airbnb and Spotfiy letting teams “work from anywhere” fail to detail the iceberg nature of this decision. Turns out compliance isn’t an exciting PR story. Below the surface, large legal, finance, and HR teams have to ensure that the company can legally employ or contract with these team members anywhere. Here’s how to navigate the core decisions.
Working relationship + payroll
In a co-located team, a standard HR platform with payroll integration like Gusto or ADP can typically be used to manage basic working relationships with employees and contractors. However, some of these systems aren’t equipped for international or distributed teams due to complexity around taxation and compliance. Employers can’t simply hire and pay people anywhere in the world without accounting for things like local labor laws, leave laws, payroll taxes, and more.
There are essentially 3 buckets of options when it comes to employment classification globally, and they each come with pros/cons:
Entity creation – Best for growing a large team in a specific country – All companies already have at least one entity in the location where they incorporated. Within the US, teams must register in each new state in order to employ new team members (or they can use a PEO, see below). Internationally, entity creation is also an option but a much more challenging effort. The upside is the flexibility to hire employees and contractors in all countries where there are registered entities. We recommend this path if your company intends to really invest in hiring in a specific location (typically 10+ hires indefinitely). The downside is the team must internally manage adherence to local employment laws, tax laws, and become experts in these nuances. If there are only one or two people in a specific country, especially employees who are likely to be retained no more than a couple years, it’s not a great investment for the company to set up and manage entities at the international level.
Partnering with a global employer of record (EOR) or professional employer organization (PEO) solution – Best for hiring a few people in several countries – This category of vendor has truly exploded over the last few years with lots of companies promising to help startups hire anywhere. (Examples are: Oyster, Papaya, Pilot, Velocity Global, Remote, and others.) Be sure to check that the provider isn’t only offering payroll for contractors, but also allows full-time employees to be hired. These vendors work by setting up entities in all the countries where you want to operate and employing your team through their platform. The upside is that startups can hire internationally faster than waiting to establish an entity of their own, while remaining compliant and reducing risk because these companies are experts in all the countries and manage the administrative complexity. The downside is that they can be very expensive, sometimes costing 20-30% of the salary costs alone. In addition, they provide the knowledge base for managing employees post-hire, but the onus is on the company to follow the local labor laws (e.g. termination of an employee for performance in some countries requires a full year payout if on a fixed contract). That’s why once a company has 10+ people in one country or tax jurisdiction, it is more cost-effective to create an entity.
Classifying hires as contractors – Best for consultants or testing remote work – It’s important to understand the nuance of contractor classification in each country to ensure that the type of work a person is being hired for is aligned with the definition of a contractor, otherwise the company runs the risk of misclassification which can be very costly. Navigating employment classifications is a tightrope walk that can be very limiting, especially in some countries where the classification laws are strict (note: LATAM, Germany, France, Canada are amongst the most restrictive, but the list goes on). Sometimes choosing this will feel antithetical to “remote first” because employers can’t provide contractors medical benefits or promote them into certain job levels without taking on massive risk. The upside of this option is that it serves as a great “waiting room” while determining if the company is best served by an entity vs PEO strategy. It’s the cheapest upfront ($0 beyond any accounts payable software needed) but the risk of a lawsuit could mean fines and back pay and end up as much more expensive than the other options.
Navigating the best option can be complex, especially the more countries a company chooses to operate within. Of course, some companies choose to mix and match all 3 strategies as they grow, which allows for the best of all worlds, though it does add more complexity to workflows navigating different employee and contractor segments.
|Modern Platforms||Legacy Service Providers||Entity Expansion|
|Remote.com||Safeguard Global||Vistra (international)|
|OysterHR||Velocity Global||Mosey (US domestic)|
|Pilot||Globalization Partners||Velocity Global|
A word of caution: engage legal as a partner in these efforts
Everything shared above is general advice on how to think about remote work setup options and does not constitute legal advice. The goal is to think through what options might suit a specific hiring strategy and then engage with a legal partner who can more formally advise on the best way to design, communicate, and execute the best approach.
Most companies will be surprised to find their primary legal counsel can’t advise outside of a few states or domestically. There are law firms that specialize in international employment law. A top law firm that supports everything from setting up entities to granting equity/stock across countries is Baker McKenzie, and Susan Eandi heads this practice. We recommend starting with a localized employment attorney in each location where there is an entity and/or a bulk of team members, and pull in Baker McKenzie for specifically scoped projects or more difficult international questions outside the scope of local counsel.
There are many vendors, both tools and service providers who can support you after you make the above choices. SignalFire has partnership discounts with some of these vendors. SignalFire’s portfolio companies can check out the Founder Portal for details.
Remote Compensation and Onboarding
Remote compensation and rewards strategy
Learn more about designing your core compensation strategy here.
Compensation gets a lot more complicated with a remote team. You need to think about it not only at time-of-hire, but also throughout the individual’s employment and as compared to people in similar positions across the globe. Consider the below questions to help inform an effective compensation strategy:
- Will you offer a single rate of pay regardless of location or a geo-based tier structure?
- What percentile strategy and market location will you build your compensation bands from?
- Will you aim for a total rewards value proposition (e.g. differentiating benefits across countries with a similar total value) or offer the same benefits across the board? (e.g. if employer-sponsored retirement benefits are the most generous in APAC at 10.5%, the US team members will receive the same for 401k matching)
- How will your choice regarding remote work strategy and operations influence your compensation and rewards strategy? (e.g. remote first organizations may strive for a similar value proposition whereas remote allowed may have tangible differences in the overall value proposition)
- Is your chosen strategy scalable considering future growth and investment costs to execute?
- Do you have the internal tools and resources to manage your chosen strategy design? (e.g. if you have a geo-location tiered strategy and need to assess when team members move cities or states, who will monitor, assess and adjust pay changes associated with moves?)
We recommend reviewing SignalFire’s cash compensation strategy guide, but also considering decisions on total rewards, including which holidays to give off depending on the location, how benefits and perks will work when a portion of the team might receive in-office perks, and more.
Remote interviewing process and tips
The benefit of hiring anywhere means that your potential candidate pool is much larger than the traditional confines of a commutable zone around an office space. But companies must be intentional about the candidate experience, since a company’s culture that’s typically a vibe felt when attending an onsite interview now needs to be communicated virtually.
During a remote interview process, candidates are seeking cultural signals through the careers page, Zoom interactions with the interview panel, publicly available information about the employee experience / employer brand [see our guide here] and communications sent by the hiring team throughout the process. Employers should move quickly through the hiring process due to increased competition from other remote companies and need to find creative ways to signal role fit without meeting the candidate in real life. Below are tactical tips from setting up your remote hiring strategy:
The remote interview process:
Remote candidates use the interview process to assess how organized the company is. A disorganized and underprepared hiring team signals to candidates what their employment experience might be like. Successful remote organizations are documentation-heavy in order to create clarity and move fast when working asynchronously.
Key considerations from the process above and how to optimize for remote hiring:
- Employer Brand: Consider a more robust careers page that highlights how you manage a remote team operation and what candidates can expect if they interview with you and if they ultimately join. Also consider other sites like Glassdoor, BuiltIn, and more, where candidates around the world might discover you and/or review for their own research.
- Position launch: Consider timezone overlap requirements for the team (being within 4 hours of the majority of your team is a best practice for collaborative synchronous meetings) as well as geographical location and note these on the job posting (e.g. US-remote, EST timezone to overlap with EMEA-based team). Also, consider legal compliance requirements when posting positions. Some states require compensation ranges and specific language regarding background checks.
- Recruiter screen: Be upfront about your compensation strategy and the range for the position when confirming their location. Also, ensure they have valid working rights for where they plan to work from/if they require sponsorship now or in the future. You will also want to share where they may or may not be able to work from in the future as defined in your remote strategy.
- Work sample: An asynchronous work sample, technical pair coding challenge, or working session with key stakeholders in the team are great ways to understand how the candidate will communicate, collaborate and demonstrate technical competencies expected for the position. It also gives both the candidate and team a glimpse into what it would be like working together
- Panels: When hiring remotely, the time between 1:1 conversations can make the process feel long and drawn out. Where possible, schedule all panel interviews on the same day. This helps the process move quickly and keeps the candidate experience positive/max of 5 distinct steps in the process. The shift from commuting to in-person interviews to Zoom interviews means other employers can swoop in if you’re too slow.
In addition to the process, remember to be considerate of scheduling times that are convenient for the candidate’s timezone, remind interviewers to check their technical connections ahead of the interviews, and don’t be late/no-show without proactive communications to the candidate before the scheduled time of the interview.
- Use any recruiter outreach as an opportunity to share the mission, vision, and employer brand of your company — link blog posts, accolades for culture and employee experience, recordings of executive leadership speaking about the company vision or mission in written communications.
- During the interview process, embed ways for the candidate to learn about what it would be like to work at your company. For example, if they would like to speak with a team member who shares a particular identity (e.g. BIPOC, Women in leadership roles, LGBTQ+, etc.), create inclusive and friendly ways to call in community members internally and create company culture moments.
- Create clarity throughout the process through written expectations and updates — how many steps the interview process typically takes, what type of time commitment is expected, as well as timelines associated with feedback and next steps
Remote onboarding plans
For a deeper dive, check out this webinar by Robert Walters featuring our own Heather Doshay on Remote New Hire Onboarding
Onboarding can be more challenging when employees are remote and not sitting with each other. There’s less human connection and a lot more self-guided learning. The first month can feel lonely, especially if the team member is transitioning from a traditional office setting. In addition to compliance, here are some tips for helping new remote hires ramp up quickly:
- Fly-in or virtual onboarding: For total inclusion on remote-first teams, either fly every remote team member out to the office in person for onboarding so that all employees get the same first-week experience, or create a totally virtual remote experience so that remote employees don’t get a second-rate experience of what the in-office cohort gets.
- Onboarding documentation: Create a companywide onboarding guide that new employees can turn to and access answers to questions without feeling like they are bugging their manager. See our onboarding template here.
- Pass down your culture: Consider implementing a buddy system where employees you think of as culture carriers can be matched to new hires for their first 90 days and be available to answer any questions. Provide the new hire and the buddy with a small stipend to fund a virtual coffee or lunch so they have a chance to connect socially.
- Feedback styles: The manager should ask the new hire about their feedback and recognition preferences — public vs. private, how they are best motivated, etc. and ensure that the manager is aware of the preferences of everyone on their team to balance overall recognition dynamics.
- Surveys: Consider a new hire survey 90 days after each hire starts, to get insights to continually make onboarding stronger and stronger and intercept any new hire issues that could arise but go unnoticed in a virtual setting.
Pro tip: Here’s a manager activity we recommend when a new hire starts. Explicitly share these with the new hire: (1) Why they specifically were hired for this job, (2) why this specific job is critical to the success of the business, and (3) what success looks like after the first 30, 60, 90 days and beyond.
Equipment to do the job at onboarding and beyond
Hardware and remote office setup is a physiological need for most office workers who are working remotely. How much you offer employees as a company depends on your top-level strategy and approach. A remote-first team might provide a remote office setup stipend or membership to a local coworking space on top of shipping equipment to them (or providing reimbursement for a computer purchase).
Be explicit with whatever strategy you choose. Tell employees “We recognize you spend a lot of time sitting at a computer on Zoom calls here, so we’ve purposefully designed a perk to allow new hires to design an ergonomic desk set up to avoid stress injuries as well as an upgraded webcam and microphone to enable more effective meetings.”
Here are a few examples of what remote-friendly and remote first teams might provide their employees, along a spectrum from baseline expected (a company computer) to a more generous approach (home office stipend and monthly perk budget):
There are vendors that can make this easier to manage. For example, FirstBase provides remote office setup as a service, inclusive of both hardware and office furniture. Compt allows companies to set budgets for reimbursement in key categories as one-time or recurring offerings. And of course, there are tools that help people be more effective and productive when working remotely, such as Loom for video messaging, Krisp for noise-canceling, and Motion for task and calendar management.
Remote culture tips: No second-class citizens
The perception of belonging comes down to implicit and explicit factors, so here we’ll review the dynamics that impact whether someone feels truly comfortable at your company. The risk is that a hybrid work strategy can create norms that signal to some employees that they don’t belong or that they are seen as second-class citizens in your culture.
Remote work time zone etiquette
When you’re on a distributed team, not everyone shares the same 9 to 5, and not everyone can attend every meeting unless they are available 24/7 (spoiler alert: we don’t recommend working around the clock – 3am calls will eventually drive away talent). Therefore, it’s important that all team members can access critical information and share information asynchronously.
Many teams miss the documentation and communication step of doing business and find their company in a state of confusion or in an unscalable and exception-based reality, especially if a key knowledge-holder leaves.
Here are a few best practices for communicating effectively in a distributed setting:
- Establish a source of truth where key decisions and processes can be documented and accessed across the organization. This can be as robust as a companywide intranet or an official company Google Drive storage system, or as simple as a single Google Doc that links out to everything else as an archive (the latter won’t scale once you’re over 150 team members, but it’s better than nothing!)
- Build a multi-channel communication strategy for big announcements, as messages can be lost with the low signal-to-noise ratio on Slack or a Zoom all-hands.
- Record company-wide and team-level Zoom meetings and provide links so that people in time zones outside of where the meeting is being held can still access it on their schedule.
- Consider using silent meeting techniques, which give all participants an equal footing and by design capture all feedback and discussion in a doc that can be reviewed at any time.
- Maintain thorough meeting notes via Google Docs, Dropbox Paper, Notion, or whatever you use, both for 1:1s and larger meetings. Establish a single notes document for the meeting that can be referenced back by relevant parties.
- Avoid creating secondary documents beyond the company-wide or team-wide source of truth. You don’t want a culture where people create siloed personal records for their goals, priorities, budget, reporting, etc. Encourage everyone to contribute to the ‘official’ documents that already exist
- Document your documentation norms. Yes, it’s a bit meta, but encourage all team members to follow suit! From e-mail to Zoom chat to Slack to Loom to an old-fashioned phone call, it can be confusing to know which method is right for the time. Receiving messages across a variety of channels can lead to unproductive spin and even burnout amongst distributed teams. See below for some examples of how to make these decisions and guide the team to follow.
Pro-tip: Publish internal guides to which email list or communication medium is for what use case, or how to take a Slack chat headed toward an uncomfortable place to a live conversation. Here’s a few public examples of this done well by Gitlab and Zapier.
Remote-first or remote-friendly time zones?
How rough will it be for employees living across the globe from the core of your team? Explicitly and intentionally decide if you choose to be a remote-first organization that strives for global inclusivity as default, or if you want to anchor to an “HQ timezone as center of gravity” to which everyone adjusts their hours.
Remote-first time zone management: The goal is to ensure all time zones feel included. Strive to delay decision-making until you’ve heard from everyone who should be involved, rather than finalizing decisions before some stakeholders are even awake. All-hands meetings might rotate times on a quarterly cadence to be equally convenient to all. If you occasionally need to ask a colleague to join a meeting outside of their normal work hours, we recommend skipping video. It’s much easier to join if you’re not expected to be camera-ready.
HQ-centric time zone management: If HQ is in San Francisco, all employees must work at least 4 hours overlapped per day with Pacific Time. Employees in APAC might start their day at their local 7am to overlap in the afternoon, and employees in EMEA might start their day at noon and work into the evening to overlap with the morning. Company meetings might take place at 11am Pacific Time and EMEA employees are expected to tune in at their dinner hour or watch a recorded version of the meeting after the fact.
It’s important to be cognizant of naming conventions for meetings as well as when and how social events happen so everyone feels like it was designed with them in mind. If an SF HQ’d team has a team member in NYC or EMEA and holds a 9am pacific time standup called “morning standup” when it’s noon for NYC and maybe 5 or 6pm for EMEA, that can feel alienating to some. Consider “daily standup” instead to signal consideration and empathy.
Alternatively, if your only virtual social events are 5pm “happy hours” in that same SF HQ, it might make it tough for the EMEA folks to ever attend unless they join at midnight, and happy hour may not feel appropriate for the mid-day cadence of an APAC team member. A shift to “social hour” or going a step further to call it “it’s happy hour somewhere” might help. Moreover, hosting events that aren’t centered only around alcohol is inclusive not only for the team member who joins on their lunch break but also for the team member navigating sobriety or their own religious norms.
Pro-tip: Develop rituals and norms that allow team members to know who’s working vs. OOO both on Slack and in calendars. Ask team members to keep their Slack status up to date so other team members know if they can expect an immediate response. Requiring the team to set “working hours” on apps like Google Calendar is also helpful in scheduling group meetings and setting expectations and boundaries.
Remote work perks and benefits: Building a sense of belonging
Here are some ways to translate culture-building to remote work through incentives beyond compensation:
- Office or location-based perks: Think of this as in-office catered lunch and snacks, a free gym membership only at the location next to the office, or even child care. If you’re “remote-allowed” you might remind people of that specific choice and that you believe remote and flexible work choices are the perk in and of themselves (and a few years ago, people might have nodded their heads in agreement and moved on, but in today’s climate, they might move on… to another job that is remote-friendly or remote first). If you’re “remote-friendly” you might offer your remote employees a more flexible option to reimburse a gym membership near them or offer a monthly virtual lunch where remote employees can expense food delivery but not try to match every single in-office perk.
- Remote-first and -friendly perks: If you’re remote-first, you’re going to design your remote perk strategy in a way that feels equitable to what the office offers. For example, you might offer a monthly DoorDash gift card in the value of the amount you spend on your in-office catering per person or equalize a remote office reimbursement budget for snacks and supplies at the same amount as a commuter benefit dollar. It’s not to say everything should be dollar for dollar, but the key is explicit intentionality.
- Office-first community: Think of this as the big annual company holiday party, the weekly happy hour, or the in-office yoga class at lunchtime. If “remote-allowed”, you might communicate that when it is easy or practical to do so, you’ll create virtual invites to in-office events. If remote-friendly, you might ensure that at least one event each month is specifically designed to be remote (e.g. virtual bingo instead of a happy hour, bring in a virtual yoga instructor, or play a guided meditation). In other words, some programming budget is dedicated to include those remote team members. You might even offer to cover the costs for team members to fly in for the holiday party and build a team offsite around it to align with a business purpose.
- Remote-first or -friendly community: Here you would design a majority of their programming around remote team member needs, and might choose to give every team member up to $300 to take their family to a nice holiday dinner in lieu of a single location holiday party but ask that everyone who utilizes that budget to share a photo of their dinner and how they celebrated in Slack. They might design policies that allow every team member a budget per year to visit one team member in another location and work with them for a day or two to encourage decentralized social time.
Remote employee advancement and internal mobility
Advancement and internal mobility is a powerful way to retain top talent while filling roles in a competitive market. It’s truly a win-win and drives a deeper sense of belonging, though when teams are hybrid, it can get a bit tricky.
While perks and social events can make remote employees feel included, what’s most important is them believing that a bright career future is possible outside of HQ. If you decide the executive team must be in office, does that mean a remote emerging leader can never be promoted beyond a certain level? In a more informal sense, how much water cooler talk turns into mentorship or sponsorship that may result in promotion over someone without those opportunities? Or what about a Zoom meeting that ends, and everyone working remotely logs off, but the manager stays behind in a conference room to chat with the employees physically in the office that later turns into a changed decision or context the remote employee misses? These informal moments create proximity bias.
The first step is to decide what limitations you want to formally construct (if any), and then the second step is to identify all the implicit and explicit ways people may feel held back by being remote and find ways to mitigate those dynamics. These could be documented advancement and internal mobility policies as described below, extra office hours especially for remote teams, or a special rule that no decisions happen after the Zoom meeting turns off if there is even one remote person on the call.
Most small companies don’t (and shouldn’t) start out by over-architecting complex promotion and internal mobility processes (though when you’re ready to think about designing performance management processes, check out this guide and all the templates in this folder!). Typically, when companies are small, all it takes is someone raising their hand and asking for an opportunity, and based on a number of factors (e.g., business need, readiness, how good at influencing they are), a promotion or new role is forged. This is not sustainable with scale and can lead to remote team members feeling like second-hand citizens.
So how do we solve this dynamic with scale?
- Provide equitable opportunities to build social connection: The goal is not to block some relationships or casual connections from forming, but rather to create transparent paths for all to gain access to the same opportunities. How can companies create spaces for those who want virtual sponsor relationships? Can we empower virtual channels through which all can participate in water cooler culture such as a weekly casual coffee chat or using Donut to create more connections between senior leaders and emerging talent?
- Create a written overview of your promotion/internal mobility process: It doesn’t need to be a 40-page legal policy, but can be policy- or process-“lite” where there’s a consistent way internal opportunities for promotion or mobility are advertised inside the company and approvals happen. Here are some helpful templates to get you started: Internal mobility & promotion policy template, promotion request template/form! Consider including content on the following:
- Do employees need to hit tenure (e.g. 12 months in role before being considered, unless business needs justify a move sooner)?
- Will all new role opportunities be posted? Will they be posted internally and externally? If internal only, how many days will it remain open for applications?
- Will all internal moves require an interview process that assesses competencies for role fit?
- How will in-line promotions (e.g. not a new role, but someone moving from X to Senior X) differ in process?
- Will promotions be available to happen anytime? Or at key points in the year (e.g. at the start of each quarter)?
- Will promotions assume an approved backfill? If not, how will backfills be decided?
- Enable your managers with training. Training managers on the processes and making them aware of their biases can help mitigate inequitable internal mobility and promotion decisions. The biases most common in this scenario are:
- Similarity bias – “We work the same way and think the same way, which makes it easy to communicate and work together.”
- Familiarity bias – “I like them and know them on a personal level, so I’ll weigh that higher than attributes required for the role.”
- Halo effect – “They are really nice and well-liked by the team, so they must be good at their job.”
- Horns effect – “They made a mistake on that one project we worked on cross-functionally, so there is no way they would be good for this opportunity.”
Remote work, mental health, and burnout
There are a variety of reasons team members may experience burnout, isolation, and anxiety regardless of how an organization is structured. Not only are remote workers subject to all of the same risks for burnout and other mental health issues as their co-located counterparts, they are physically isolated which may add to these concerns, have to put extra energy into enduring Zoom marathons, and it’s also more challenging for managers and teammates to see what’s really going on.
Research in the Applied Psychology academic journal reveal employee’s ability to align their work and personal responsibilities to avoid some types of common burnout are improved by people managers that demonstrate these four strategies:
|1. Connect: Make employees feel comfortable. Normalize personal life moments in the workplace, from saying hello to a disruptive child to making it clear that the team cares more about results than clocking in at a certain time if something comes up.
2. Respond: Work effectively with employees to creatively solve conflicts between work and personal responsibilities. Be open to listening and helping problem solve, using discretion and not overstepping of course.
3. Rethink: Organize work in their department or group to jointly benefit the employees and the organization. If an employee is feeling burnt out, are there specific buckets of project work that could be reassigned to them to help reinvigorate their excitement in exchange for taking something off their plate that’s causing burnout?
4. Model: Demonstrate effective behaviors on how to juggle work and personal responsibilities. As a manager, model good behaviors like truly taking time off at regular intervals and disclosing that you sometimes feel burnout and then share what you do to manage it effectively.
Burnout isn’t always something that stems from too many competing responsibilities and a consistent state of being overwhelmed. It can also stem from a lack of personal alignment between one’s personal values, the company mission, and the role itself. We recommend managers communicate why each team member’s individual job responsibilities are mission-critical to the company’s success.
Companies should design systems of resources and processes to not only mitigate, but also respond to burnout, isolation, or unproductive job-related stress. Stigmas around mental health in the workplace are diminishing, which is great, but not everyone is open to talking about these experiences. That why it’s vital that help and resources are easily discoverable within a company’s intranet or handbook.
We recommend companies provide resources for team members to confidentially get the help they need as well as train managers on navigating mental health and burnout in the workplace. Here are a few resources that can help, and some can even be positioned as perks for those looking for preventative measures. You’ll also typically find that your benefits broker can provide free EAP programs and you can also share websites for in-network therapy under your benefits plan.
- Spring Health – Certified therapists and counselors
- Modern Health – Certified therapists and counselors
- Better Help – Certified therapists and counselors
- Bravely – Coaches who can help with difficult situations at work including burnout, but not certified counselors
- Empower Work – This is not a paid solution, but rather a non-profit free for employees in need that you can share as a resource for your team if you cannot provide one of the above solutions in a paid partnership
Remote employee recognition: More than virtual high-fives
In the long run, the most important forms of recognition and engagement are internally derived from the self-perception that the work someone does matters and that it matters to acknowledge their contributions. If an employee can’t articulate how they are important to the business or are recognized for their efforts, no amount of high-fives or shout-outs will retain them. However, that alignment and advancement path is a long-term journey. The little props and bits of public praise or the random Starbucks gift card acknowledging someone’s efforts go a long way to keeping one’s recognition and esteem battery charged.
Develop and maintain channels for verbal and written praise for achievements no matter the location or time zone. Also, remember it’s not all on leadership to show appreciation for their direct reports. Whether a company invests in HeyTaco or Bonusly or simply repurposes a slack channel focused on #props or #appreciation, public recognition that’s accessible to all regardless of seniority or location is key.
It’s important to note that especially when navigating a global team, this dynamic of giving props, shoutouts, kudos – whatever the team calls casual and quick praise – there are two challenging layers to navigate:
- Kudos across time zones: When praise only happens as a segment during synchronous meetings, and remote employees tend to watch after the fact, they may feel not only a decrease in belonging but may also receive less praise. Moreover, they have no avenue through which to give others that same praise in kind which may result in less of a flywheel of praise for that person’s work. If coupled with a lack of clear alignment to business goals and path toward advancement, it is likely that the employee will fall prey to low workplace esteem and potentially low engagement or premature attrition.
- Cultures and preferences: While not culturally specific 100% of the time, it is common for some people to feel uncomfortable with excessive praise, especially in public. This can result in awkward feelings or interactions due to preference for a different source of recognition, or a more public team-level imbalance of who receives praise and who doesn’t.
There’s no simple answer for managing these areas, and teams will need to adjust what they can when they can to accommodate the diversity of the team. Three vendors in addition to the ones cited above may be helpful in navigating recognition:
- Blueboard – Helps leaders provide special experiences to recognize employees that can be sent in public or private.
- Compt – Manages distributed benefits and perks broadly, but can also be a platform used for monetary recognition such as a stipend category for work anniversaries, employee appreciation, and more. All perks are 100% customizable and tax-compliant which is a major upside, with the one drawback is they function as reimbursements instead of gift cards.
- Fringe – Similar to Compt except that there are specific categories available for the various recognition types and it’s not customizable, but the benefit of Fringe over Compt is that there are no reimbursements and all recognition gifts are virtual gift cards.
Remote work manager checklist: How to know if employees feel supported
Putting all of these tips together
Gallup’s Q12 Survey
How do all of these strategies work together? Consider Gallup’s Q12 – a set of survey questions that measure employee engagement. Gallup has surveyed more than 2.7M people across 100k+ teams to uncover indicators of engagement that lead to performance and retention outcomes we all strive for.
In remote work, we often make isolated decisions about compensation, tooling, and more, but the employee experiences a holistic and integrated working experience at your company. See how all the pieces we presented throughout the guide work together in a list of quick tips aligned with the Gallup Q12 questions:
- I know what is expected of me at work.
Deploy a single source of truth like an intranet or a company-wide Notion doc that outlines expectations that managers reinforce during onboarding and one-on-ones. Check out Gitlab’s handbook as a model, but something more concise will do as long as it is up to date.
- I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
Provide remote employees with access to communication and productivity tools as well as a remote office stipend to feel fully resourced, healthy, and effective in their jobs. Check out FirstBase, Compt, Loom, Krisp, and Motion to meet a variety of remote employee needs.
- At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
Remote employees work just as hard as anyone else, often logging more hours than their in-office counterparts. Acknowledge their efforts and prime all managers, but especially new managers to build trusting teams where results matter above facetime.
- In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
Consider creating a culture of recognition that extends beyond the in-person high five. Check out Slack plugins like HeyTaco, and feedback features within products like Lattice to help recognition become everyone’s responsibility, not just those in leadership roles.
- My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
One majorly overlooked retention tool is helping employees feel seen as whole people. Managers should normalize and honor extra-office responsibilities in the workplace. It can be as simple as saying a friendly hello to a wayward pet on a Zoom call or asking about the new plant in the remote office background.
- There is someone at work who encourages my development.
Consider the way your team designs learning and development programs, promotion policies, and other career opportunities and how these are or aren’t inclusive of remote employees. Consider rotating career development event times or creating asynchronous opportunities for learning.
- At work, my opinions seem to count.
Zoom can make it challenging to speak up in meetings, especially when a majority of the team is co-located. Try calling on remote team members to share before co-located team members in hybrid meeting environments. Find ways of collecting ideas and opinions of remote team members in a virtual suggestions box. Tools like Ariglad can be helpful for organizing these suggestions.
- The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
The best retention predictor is feeling a sense of purpose in the work being done day in and day out. Especially with the isolated nature of remote work, a connection or tie between the daily grind and the company mission is more important than ever.
- My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
How can your company design virtual spaces for teams to highlight the work they are doing when they can’t see them in action every day? Consider how teams can highlight their work product at virtual all-hands meetings, create newsletters or async company updates that allow individuals to shine, and practice documentation and transparency wherever possible to inspire the team to row together toward greatness.
- I have a best friend at work.
This can be more complicated when there is no coffee station to chat around in the morning or lunch table to enjoy a catered meal with. Consider deploying designated social opportunities for team members to connect as more than coworkers to build real friendships. Try Donut to create virtual hangouts, or create Slack channels that cater to common interests like #parenting, #gardening, #dogs, and more.
- In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
Consider performance management platforms like Lattice with their Grow product or other tools in this space to help managers navigate progression conversations. Alternatively, consider creating lightweight career development plan templates that managers can use or empower every team member to engage with a coach through a platform like Bravely to help them initiate their own progression conversations.
- This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
Remember that opportunities to learn don’t have to be classroom-based. In fact, only 10% of learning for leadership development works best in a classroom setting. The remainder should come from people connections and on-the-job training opportunities. Managers and leaders should identify opportunities that arise on the job and be extra explicit about their intention so that employees understand that they are being invested in for growth.
- From the SignalFire team
- Content on our SignalFire blog by our own Mike Mangini, including our guides to:
- External content from our own Heather Doshay:
- Lists of lists
- The best compilation of remote work resources we’ve found from Ninan Thampy, a remote work evangelist and people leader
- A great compilation of resources from Buffer
- Another great curated list from Amplify Talent/RedefiningHR
- Holloway Guide to Remote Work
- Harry’s How to Hybrid Guide (downloadable from LI)
How To Make A Startup Careers Page
SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide
Chapter 2: How To Make A Startup Careers Page
By Josh Constine, edited by Heather Doshay and Corey Richard, drafted by Crystal Guerrero
Best practices for building a careers page that attracts top job candidates and reduces your outbound recruiting workload
Just 13% of careers page visitors actually clicked through to apply for a job in 2017. You can do better…with a little help. In this second chapter of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide, we’ll teach you to convince talent that your startup is a rocketship opportunity with an inclusive company culture.
A “careers page” is defined as a page of your website where you show off why people should want to work at your company, and provide your open job listings. The ten essential elements of a careers page are:
- Company Intro – A quick preview of your employer brand
- Mission / Story – How you’ve made a positive impact
- Values – Your morals and philosophy
- Growth – Why you’re a rocketship with valuable equity
- Company Culture – Your work environment and how employees interact
- Benefits – Non-wage compensation and perks
- Diversity and inclusion – How you’re recruiting a team with broad perspective
- Employee reviews – What staff says about working for you
- Job listings – Open positions candidates can apply for
- Stay In Touch / Resources – How to keep close to the company before applying
We’ll give you strategies for each section and example screenshots from the careers pages of top startups. Follow our tips, and you’ll have one link you can send to anyone to get them excited about working with you.
This Careers Page chapter builds on our previous Employer Brand Strategy guide that defines how you represent yourself to job candidates. If you’re not clear on your mission, values, and company culture, start there before learning below to communicate that info through your site.
Why spend time building a deep and vibrant careers page? Sure, you could just have a link in your site’s menu or footer that leads to your job postings, or a dead-simple page with just a brief overview of your company…
…but recruiting is the #1 time-suck for most startup founders. Putting a bit more effort into your careers page could speed up your hiring process by improving applicant quality and quantity. It takes the pressure off your recruiting team so they don’t have to start from scratch when selling candidates on the company. And it makes interviews more efficient by answering obvious questions about your company culture upfront. Done right, a careers page can attract talent that wasn’t even looking for a job, and collect their contact info so you can tell them about future openings.
Show, Don’t Just Tell
If anyone is interested enough to check out your careers page, you want to be sure to reward them with content that’s unique, meaningful, and memorable. That means using lots of visuals. Even if you’re a small team in a smaller office or all work remotely, photography and graphics help job candidates imagine what their day-t0-day will be like, and who they’re building for.
Invest early in imagery. You’ll find yourself reusing it for fundraising, marketing, and PR as well as recruiting. The most useful types of startup visual materials are:
- Founder portraits: Headshots are fine, but magazine-style portraits and shots of them inspiring your team are better
- Candid/plandid team photos: The “everyone standing next to each other” shots are tired. What does it actually look like when you collaborate?
- Product shots: Screenshots are great for clarity, but you’ll want photos of customers using your product in the wild too
- Office pics or looks at employees’ at-home set-ups: Where and how will employees spend their time? If that’s all remote, show off the ergonomic setups and company swag you offer your team
- Flavor imagery: This includes pics the convey your mission and values, charts showing off your growth or impact, and illustrations that make people remember your brand
At the earliest stages, investing in imagery might just mean taking the time to work with a photography-minded friend to adjust lighting and get some artful angles. Once you have some funding, hire a professional to shoot and edit. Later stage, you can hire design agencies to jazz up your branding and build you a comprehensive set of visual materials.
Now, let’s dig into each of the major careers page sections. Here’s a quick description of what should be included, sample text, and some example screenshots.
Careers Page Intro
Use imagery or video to immediately grab job candidates and give them a taste of your purpose or culture. You can also sprinkle in statistics about your customers, growth, funding, or footprint to convince visitors that you’re a rocket ship whose equity will be valuable.
If you’re a scrappy, very early-stage company this intro plus you job listings might make up your whole Careers Page. But adding more of the sections below can widen your funnel, persuade the interested to apply, and get the basics laid out so you don’t waste recruiter or interview time repeating them.
Mission / Story
What do you do and why do you matter to the world? Don’t be afraid to add a little personality. When employees feel good about what they’re building, they work harder, stay longer, and help you recruit.
Sample text: Hi. We’re Company X. We love dogs so much that we decided to open a spa just for dogs. It’s our mission to make our furry friends more comfortable. We’re hiring right now!
We work out of dog-friendly offices in New York, London, and San Francisco. Everyone who works here is paid well, gets a comprehensive benefits package, and enjoys puppy hours every Friday. Want to be a part of a “pawsome” team that’s making a difference for dogs? Come join us!
Job candidates want to feel aligned not only with the mission, but how their companies executes on it. Sharing your company values helps prospective candidates decide whether they’d be a good fit for your company. Consider adding in explanations if any of the values need a little extra context.
Sample text: At Company X, our values drive everything we do. These are our values:
- Be eXcellent to each other
- Treat customers like friends
- Laughter makes everything better
Share some highlights and photos of your work setting and company culture. This can include office pics, offsite events, and online team building activities, as well as
Sample text: We want you to feel empowered to do your best work and excited to show up, whether or not you’re coming to our brand new headquarters. That’s why we offer a remote-friendly, flexible working environment with plenty of in-person and work-from-home social events. Check out these photos to learn more about what it’s like to work at Company X.
Clearly list your benefits and perks, especially anything you offer that’s particularly special or aligned with your values (e.g. giving time off for volunteering or a stipend for travel). This shows candidates that you care about your employees and gets them excited about the prospect of working for you.
Be sure to highlight any wellness benefits that you offer since these are especially important to millennial employees. Try to be as inclusive as possible, considering not just gym memberships but other ways of promoting well-being such as meditation or acupuncture.
Sample text: At Company X, we believe that happy employees are the best employees, which is why we offer a full slate of benefits.
- Financial Benefits at Company X
- Competitive salary & equity packages
- 401(k) plan
- Pre-tax health care, dependent care, and commuter benefits (FSA)
- Health & Wellness Benefits at Company X
- Medical, dental, and vision benefits for you and your family
- Employee assistance programs
- Life insurance & disability
- Maternity & baby-bonding leave
- Fitness discounts
- Perks at Company X
- Mentorship & leadership opportunities
- Unlimited PTO
- Free catered lunches and dinners
- Unlimited in-house snacks & drinks
- Fun quarterly offsite
- Office activities including happy hours and community service outings
- Fully paid parking pass, Clipper card, Caltrain pass [NY: MTA pass]
- $5k internal referral program
- Apple laptop w/ personal retrofitting
- Employee-led activity clubs [Runners’ club, Bakers’ club, etc.]
Diversity & Inclusion
Diversity is critical to building great products for everyone, as well as developing an inviting workplace. Focusing on inclusive recruiting and communicating that priority to candidates will draw a broader range of voices to your company. Use this section to discuss employee resource groups, inclusion initiatives, your diversity progress reports, and how you’re moving towards an ever-more equitable workplace. You can also link from your diversity section to a whole page about your efforts.
Sample text: We want Company X to reflect the world around us and our customers, which means we hire people from a range of talents, experiences, and backgrounds. We’re committed to diversity and inclusion. Click here to learn more about our D&I efforts, and check out or latest diversity report on our progress.
Candidates are much more interested in what your employees have to say than what you do (sorry, but it’s true). Be sure to share social proof, whether it’s in the form of quotes from employees, video testimonials, or links to your Glassdoor site.
One simple way to do this sort of “Meet the Team” feature is to introduce an employee with a photo, their name, job title, and a short quote. Here you can also introduce different departments and share some of their unique challenges and personalities. You can highlight particular values or work styles specific to your engineering, design, or sales squads. Let candidates picture what it’s like to work on different teams at your company.
Sample text: Work in a place that employees are raving about. Check out our awesome reviews on Glassdoor, or see what our employees have to say!
Introducing the engineering team – Want to work with new technology and infrastructure? Love cracking complex challenges? Look no further!
This is what you’ve been building up to with all your careers page content: your open positions. You can either host your job listings on your main page or on a separate page, but either way, be sure to add shortcuts to them throughout your careers page.
You can host job listings directly on your site, or use a platform like Lever or Greenhouse. Some companies even build out whole pages dedicated to the culture or function of particular jobs rather than just jumping directly into the requirements and responsibilities. You’ll want to offer a selection of filters for sorting through your open listings, including:
- Job type (full-time, part-time, etc)
- Search by keyword
We’ll go deeper into the specifics of writing up job listings in a future chapter of SignalFire’s Startup Recruiting Guide. For now, though, here’s our SignalFire Job Description Template outlining what goes in a basic job description for your open roles.
How you write your descriptions and build your careers page will have a big impact on your diversity & inclusion efforts that bring in the breadth of perspectives necessary to build products that work for everyone. You can use anti-bias tools like Textio or the free Gender Decoder to ensure you’re not subtly discriminating in your job descriptions or pushing away certain classes of candidates.
Stay In Touch / Resources
Let candidates connect with you even if they don’t find the job listing or aren’t ready to apply yet. You can offer an email address for general applications, let them sign up for your newsletter (segment this so you can send recruiting-specific emails beyond your general newsletter), and link to your social media accounts (especially if you have recruiting/employer branding dedicated accounts).
This gives prospective candidates the chance to engage with you on the platforms they use the most and stay up to date on your latest news. For many people, it takes multiple touchpoints until they’re ready to fully engage as an applicant, but following you on social media is a relatively low-pressure way to stay informed about your company.
Meanwhile, you want to help those who are applying put their best foot forward. Going the extra mile to provide resources for candidates shows them that you really want them to succeed. You can put together some answers to frequent candidate questions or concerns and link to it from your careers page. Here’s what should go in your job candidate resource guide or FAQ:
- How to get to each of your offices for in-person interviews
- If you cover travel expenses
- What to wear
- Anything candidates should bring or prepare
- What aptitude, potential, and values you hire for
- Your interviewing method, such as the STAR method
- How you remove bias from interviews, such as using a structured set of questions
- The schedule of follow-ups to expect after an interview
- Blog posts or videos that help candidates get to know your product, culture, and philosophy
Sample text: Stay in touch. Check out our presence on these social media platforms to learn the latest about what we’re up to, or join our email newsletter. Interested in candidate FAQs and interview guides? View additional resources here.
Never stop iterating! Once you’ve built your careers page, there are several checkups you can do to make sure it’s reaching the widest possible audience.
- Mobile: Double-check that your careers page looks right on mobile, as it won’t look the same as on desktop where you built it. While more people are likely to apply on desktop where they have access to their resume and it’s easier to type, many will first browse your page from their phone or tablet.
- Links everywhere: Ensure you have a prominent link from your website’s navigation bar to your careers page. Don’t bury it in a minimized menu. And wherever you talk about your team or mission on your website, include a link to where they can apply to become a part of it.
- Competitive benchmarks: Take a look at the careers pages of your competitors and other startups in your vertical. Consider taking…inspiration from any design elements or talking points that make them look more attractive than you.
- Measure traffic: Keep track of your careers page’s conversion rate, which is defined as the percentage of people who visited your career site and then went on to apply. If 5 out of 100 visitors apply, you have a 5% conversion rate and could probably improve your page’s design. Other stats to measure that will inform you about the quality of your careers page, job listings, and inbound candidates include:
- The Click-to-apply rate of what percentage of people who open a specific job listing actually apply
- How many applications you receive for which job listings
- What percentage of applicants via your careers page are invited to interview
- Survey hires: Once your careers page is in use, ask new hires who likely saw it what they liked most and least about it. Was there an exciting piece you should feature more prominently, or something missing they wished you included?
- Refresh content: Beyond keeping your open job listings up to date, be sure to refresh your careers page a few times a year with new photos, values, culture programs, and blog posts so candidates know hiring is a priority.
- Get help: Investigate who is willing to pitch in, whether it’s a social media maven who can manage your company Instagram account, a wannabe writer who’s willing to pen some blog posts, or a company champion who’s open to sharing their story in a video testimonial or interview.
- Access elsewhere: Candidates look for jobs on Facebook and LinkedIn, so make sure you have mirrors of your job listings on those social networks. When people see a great job listing that might be a good fit for a friend, offer a button to let them email it to a friend.
About SignaFire’s Talent Program
Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most hireable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 91 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor.
I was Stripe’s CMO. Here’s why I’m joining VC firm SignalFire
“If you can’t measure it, don’t ship it.” As my cardinal rule, I’ve written this on the whiteboard in every one of my offices. As a founder and CEO of Opsmatic, CEO of Payvment, and more recently as CMO of New Relic and Stripe, I’ve used data to power a more personalized experience for customers with highly targeted messaging and communications. Coaching teams to forge and execute data-driven go-to-market (GTM) programs is my passion.
This is why I’m thrilled to be joining early-stage VC firm SignalFire as an Operating Partner to do more of what I love – helping founders scale their startups by co-creating go-to-market strategies. I enjoy working closely with our portfolio companies to find the right voice and channels that unlock their growth. As with SignalFire’s recruiting, data science, PR, and other programs, our portfolio companies can reach out to me directly for help to solve their operating challenges.
I will also be sharing my best tips and marketing playbooks through the SignalFire newsletter and blog. Subscribe here to receive our newsletter with my guides for topics such as critical GTM metrics, building a data practice, how and when to scale your teams, the role of event marketing, and product-led growth.
Founding a new business with a breakthrough product is only part of the equation – knowing how to reach and retain customers at scale is essential. That’s only getting more challenging as increased startup funding floods the market with more competitors vying for attention and share of wallet. The solution lies in data. I’ve led many teams where data instrumentation of our systems and processes was foundational. This discipline helped us move faster, create deeper customer engagement, deliver email open rates well above industry standards, higher-converting pipelines, and high-confidence sales teams – all at significant scale.
As I contemplated next steps after Stripe, I was compelled to return to my roots of earlier-stage company building, but I wanted to have a broader impact. Joining a venture firm seemed an ideal way to accomplish this goal – but it had to be a firm where assisting founders hands-on was not only a core tenet but a tangible service to be constantly improved with data.
When I met Chris Farmer and the SignalFire team, I knew I’d found “my people.” SignalFire is a venture firm like no other – with a culture that feels more like a startup than any venture firm I’ve met. Nearly a third of the team is focused on technology in the form of Beacon, an AI recruitment and market intelligence data platform that can identify the best job candidates for portfolio companies, create hyper-targeted prospect lists for the fund’s recruiters to warm up, and provide deep market insights across categories and competitors. It’s an incredible resource that I wish I’d had as I built my own startups, and it’s part of the rocket fuel that’s propelling SignalFire’s portfolio successes.
SignalFire’s investment team is full of former operators who partner with founders to help navigate the many challenges of early-stage company building. They are complemented by experienced operating partners across HR (former Netflix Chief Talent Officer Tawni Cranz), recruiting, (former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini), PR, (former TechCrunch Editor Josh Constine), and with my arrival, go-to-market. We roll up our sleeves to help with organizational growth, key talent acquisition, and sales and marketing success. SignalFire also has an impressive network of advisors from the world’s most successful companies who are also LPs in the fund, incentivized to help founders win.
But what really clinched it for me was that SignalFire actually measures its net promoter score (NPS), currently a stunning 92 amongst portfolio founders – 85% of which say SignalFire is their most valuable investor. Through founder surveys and dashboards that track exactly which of its value-add services the portfolio is using, SignalFire constantly adds to and improves its post-investment services in a constant quest to help founders succeed. I spoke with Forbes about why founders are increasingly demanding tangible value-adds from their VCs
SignalFire aims to be a founder’s first call when things get tough, not just when they’re raising capital. Solving our portfolio’s marketing challenges is my focus, and if you’re a founder, I’d love to work with you! Starting a new company? You owe it to yourself to talk to us at SignalFire.
If you’re interested in connecting, you can find me on Twitter or LinkedIn, and I’d also urge you to follow @SignalFire as we’re always doing something interesting. Plus, join our newsletter to receive my own guides to marketing. I can’t wait to build with you!
Manage Open Source Sprawl with Plural
Why OSS deployment is broken, and SignalFire is funding Plural to fix it
Consuming OSS today is truly painful. Outdated OSS is the norm in the industry. As per OSSRA “85% of the codebases contained open source dependencies that were more than four years out-of-date. Unlike abandoned projects, these outdated open source components have active developer communities that publish updates and security patches. But these patches are not being applied by their downstream commercial consumers.”
Plural is changing the narrative by empowering developers of OSS and the DevOps teams consuming it. Plural provides a single, seamless experience to manage all your open source applications. No more toggling between 30 different vendors and dozens of different management tools that hardly integrate with each other. Plural’s mission is to deliver a great developer experience for consuming OSS software, while rewarding the community that wrote the code.
Today we are pleased to announce SignalFire’s investment in Plural, leading their $6M seed round. We are thrilled to be of service to such an awesome team, providing help from our recruiting engine Beacon Talent, advisor network, and in-house experts on data science, fundraising, PR, and growth.
The managed service approach to open source
Developers have two options: either use a managed service where possible or build and maintain the end-to-end stack themselves. We’ve come to realize there are some underappreciated flaws to the managed service approach to open source. The most well-known is that by taking full control of the application, incentives become misaligned on the part of the cloud provider: they generate undue pricing power which locks developer communities out of the monetization of their products.
But more deeply, the managed service model makes you entirely dependent on the cloud provider’s priorities to use your applications as you’d like. Any feature or configuration is funneled through their bandwidth-constrained team to implement, and if they aren’t willing, you’re out of luck. This often creates a graduation problem, where you eventually outscale the service. This constraint also limits the ability of teams to adopt a lot of the long tail of open source, which will not be fully supported by the likes of AWS, GCP, etc since it won’t meet their hurdle rate for investment.
Further, by creating a service boundary between hundreds of disparate systems in your stack, you end up moving the problem of application maintenance to integration maintenance. Your DevOps team won’t necessarily be manually babying an elasticsearch cluster, but they will be babying the myriad of systems that cluster talks to and all the proprietary tools needed to interact with them.
Automating Away Operational Knowledge Bottlenecks
Today’s codebases are large and only getting more complex. As per SourceGraph, in their Big Code report, over 6 out of 10 developers have noticed an increase in the variety of tools, languages, repositories, devices, and architectures.
The best-performing companies start with a top-tier infrastructure team that has the operational knowledge to run their systems. As the company scales and the complexity increases, even those with amazing infra teams are running into operational knowledge bottlenecks. When they can’t find people to operationalize the OSS software, they oftentimes never adopt the software they want in the first place. The operational knowledge that was trapped in the heads of a few people is no longer saving the day and instead causes an embarrassing mess. Plural converts this tribal knowledge into software and with that software, companies can now consume open source infrastructure without so much pain and cost.
As Plural cofounder and CEO Sam Weaver said in VentureBeat, “As open source software proliferated and fragmented, it became needlessly complex for enterprises to deploy. Miss one of the two hundred integration steps, and your system breaks. That led developers to rely on overpriced managed services as a way to get going fast, without the overhead of setup. Plural fixes this by aggregating the top open source software, and then abstracting away all the deployment and operations complexity.”
Developers do more of what they want instead of writing and maintaining code about code
As companies gain more traction, the infrastructure has to scale to support the volume and serve customers where they are – regardless of geography. But this fortunate trajectory puts stress on the engineering team which is forced to focus on code about code instead of building the actual product that got them excited in the first place. They start compromising on cost, autonomy, and flexibility by using a managed service, but soon realize how limiting it is and how they still have to write and maintain glue code. Once they have to go international, they might realize the managed service vendor does not have a footprint abroad, and that they need more bells and whistles as they get to scale and sophistication.
With Plural, all you need to do is issue two commands and you’re up and running. You have all the observability and logging baked in, integrated with the security stack etc. It’s all k8s, you can deploy it in your cloud or on-prem, and it feels like the cloud. The developers are deriving a ton of value from consuming well-integrated technology while being cheaper and more customizable than a managed service. It feels like a fully managed service, Plural delivers updates for the application, you can always get the latest and greatest without having any effort on your side. Plural untangles your open source into a clean two-step experience.
OSS vendors get rewarded
The relationship between Plural and OSS vendors is designed to be complementary. Plural is not a hosting provider and does not take full ownership of the application, the customer does. Most established OSS vendors often monetize around 10% of their usage. The vast majority of users are managing themselves under the radar. Plural can help the vendors to monetize the long-tail of users or at least capture leads better. And it can do it much quicker, providing all the plumbing in a scalable way by bringing the market to the vendors. Newer OSS vendors can also choose to use Plural to start to monetize early, by utilizing the observability, support, and multi-cloud installation from Plural.
The Plural team, led by Sam and Michael, has extensive experience deploying and managing OSS via k8s and running large-scale production systems, as well as contributing to open source software. We are stoked to put our whole team and data science platform behind them, and support them in building a great platform for DevOps teams and the OSS community, as well as a diverse company culture and a sustainable business. We’re happy to welcome Plural to the SignalFire portfolio!
Investing in Faros, the engineering bottleneck-breaker
Why we’re leading a $16M seed to change the future of engineering operations with Faros
Economics has been called the dismal science, and the same label could be applied to software project management. Despite best efforts by very smart people, many if not most software projects end up with missed deadlines, frustrated engineers, disappointed managers and customers, and plenty of politicking after the fact about who should take the blame. My own introduction to this reality came during my very first job out of college as an engineer on Oracle’s database server team about 20 years ago — it was basically taken for granted that schedules would slip and it was part of the duties of a manager to make sure their group wouldn’t be the first to admit they’re causing the whole release to slip and be the fall guys – so you could hide behind someone else’s slippage while trying to get your own team caught up. They don’t teach you that one in college!
Lots of ink has been spilled on reasons for engineering bottlenecks and what could be done. Fred Brooks’ “The Mythical Man Month” is a classic of the genre originally published in 1975, so the problem was recognized a half-century ago. There have been many purported solutions: waterfall to agile, test-driven development, productivity tracking software, and the list goes on. Still, there hasn’t been a silver bullet, and in fact, many of these solutions had the opposite of the intended effect.
Just one example: when IBM started using lines of code as a measure of output, it encouraged bloated code and the opposite of engineering productivity. Maybe another (can’t resist): engineers tend to dislike JIRA because it focuses them on closing the most recent tickets instead of the big picture of shipping product.
The Faros team has experienced these issues first-hand, so they built something better.
Vitaly, Shubha, and Matthew felt the pains of engineering bottlenecks while they were at Salesforce together helping to lead Salesforce’s Einstein team, and in their prior roles at companies like Linkedin. With Faros, their approach to the problem was to recognize that software engineering projects are inherently complex, and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that can solve the problem of managing them — software engineering is an art AND a science.
What all software engineering projects could benefit from was better visibility into who’s doing what, so that engineers and managers could apply their judgment using the most complete data. Joining data from version control systems, issue trackers, team org charts, CI/CD systems, Faros can give teams a unified map of what’s happening. Additionally, the Faros team had the insight that because no two software development organizations are alike, their platform had to be very flexible and allow for maximum customizability.
By combining a unified data model with the flexibility to customize, Faros puts the most complete data about any software project into the hands of the people running it while leaving value judgments aside. That’s the art Faros leaves to the humans while it takes care of the data part – the science. With Faros, teams ship products faster with fewer resources, and engineers enjoy their jobs more so they stick around longer.
When I first met Vitaly and the team, this vision was just starting to crystallize. Just as Faros helps engineering teams focus on what’s important, SignalFire does the same for our portfolio companies by assisting them with recruiting, growth, and PR. For example, our resident data science PhD Olivia Angiuli helped Faros build customer lead lists to speed up their go-to-market motion.
Fast forward two years, and today we’re thrilled to see Faros announce its $16 million seed fundraise. And more important than the capital are the terrific customers like Box, Coursera, Salesforce, and GoFundMe who are using Faros to ship their software projects on time and on budget. If you’re a software engineer or manager who’s interested in checking them out, please go to https://faros.ai/ or just drop me a line. Break those bottlenecks and get back to building!
Instead of hiring, skill up your employees with Modal
Why SignalFire led a $6.8M seed for Modal‘s data scientist training platform from the ex-CEO of Udemy
The gating factor to software transforming every type of business continues to be talent. You can’t build, grow, analyze, or sell without the right humans. Unfortunately, they’re all quitting. Over 4 million workers left their jobs every month during the second half of 2021. This “Great Resignation” is leaving companies vastly understaffed, spurring a domino effect. If your teammate leaves, their work doesn’t disappear, it gets dumped on you, which makes you want to leave…
Perhaps the biggest talent bottleneck today exists around data scientists. Product, marketing, operations, and sales teams are constantly asking “Can our data scientist look at this?” only to hear back, “maybe next quarter…if ever.” Decision-making velocity is slowed down by a backlog of these requests to a centralized team of data analysts and scientists.
Enabling teams to be self-sufficient in answering their own data questions would be a massive unlock for data-savvy organizations, and one of the reasons we invested in Unsupervised to let business teams perform their own data analysis. But most companies still need dedicated data talent, not just technology. And for all but the best-branded tech giants with tons of cash to burn, recruiting them is remarkably difficult. It’s tough to compete with Google salaries
Training > Recruiting
Luckily, we’re at an inflection point for learning systems. Beyond traditional universities and on-the-job training, we’ve seen an explosion of online courses and free YouTube tutorials on YouTube. It’s never been easier to pick up a new hobby, soft skill, or craft. Yet humans remain mediocre at self-directed learning. With no schedules, tests, grades, classmates, or one-on-one help, it’s no wonder online course completion rates average around 15% for apps like Coursera, and only 20% to 30% for classes offered by Harvard and Stanford. And even those that make it through all the lecture videos won’t necessarily have learned a skill well enough to do it as their job.
If there was a more reliable way to teach skills, companies could shift from unsuccessfully trying to hire expert talent like data scientists to skilling up their tens of thousands of existing technical and IT employees. These staffers want the challenge, career development, and compensation of learning more hardcore skillsets. Training them and giving them a raise is still far cheaper than recruiting. Plus, companies would end up with proven talent that knows where the technical bodies are buried.
Modal turns your team into data scientists
This is exactly why Modal is building a better approach to corporate training for Fortune 500 companies. Modal replaces those boring and ineffective training videos with deep cohort-based courses. Students collaborate directly with coaches, work on group projects with co-workers and colleagues from other companies, practice using real-world scenarios, and complete technical assessments that measure their mastery.
Modal delivers 15X more engagement than traditional corporate training and helped 87% of beta customers’ students meet their learning objectives. Meanwhile, it helps companies save money on recruiting, improves employee retention through career development, and ensures roles get filled so businesses can keep building. Today, Modal’s skill assessments help employers measure progress on skill-building and route talent into the right roles. But soon, its data on employee skills and career pathways could enable Modal to assess an organization’s open technical jobs, and find the right employees who could fill them.
Modal was founded by Dennis Yang and Darren Shimkus, the former CEO and the former enterprise President of $2.2 billion education giant Udemy. Together they scaled Udemy’s enterprise business to 9 figures in revenue, and precisely understand what employers need from education. Dennis and Darren pioneered the last generation of online learning, recognized the opportunities to improve it, and are now the perfect people to launch the definitive corporate edtech business.
SignalFire invests more than money
As a deeply technical firm ourselves, we are hugely bullish on democratizing the power of data science across the Fortune 500 by enabling these companies to train their own. That’s why we’re leading Modal’s $6.8M seed round, and equipping them with our own Beacon recruiting technology and other value-adds. They join our portfolio of startups fighting The Great Resignation including Praisidio’s employee attrition early warning system, Included’s diversity and inclusion data platform, and Candidate Labs’ AI-assisted recruiting firm. We at SignalFire couldn’t be more excited to partner with the Modal team to help more employees skill up for the job of their dreams.
Investing in Superdao, the all-in-one DAO platform
Aligned incentives are the fastest way to build and grow. When everyone gains, everyone contributes. Yet traditional corporate structures divorce private companies from their largest potential source of assistance: their users. Beyond paying for their products and perhaps enjoying the fuzzy benefits of network effects or early adopter prestige, customers gain little if the companies they love succeed. Unless they apply to work for them full-time, or wait around for them to go public, customers are largely locked out of helping build or earning returns.
Web3 erases the line between customers and teammates. With DAOs, or decentralized autonomous organizations, outsiders can quickly become insiders. Tokenomics allow them to be commensurately rewarded for contributing even small denominations of capital or labor. Your cult following can become your collaborators. In an age of COVID isolation, remote work alienation, and secularization, the chance to participate and find a sense of belonging is tantalizing.
That’s why we’ve seen DAOs form to build startups, launch social clubs, invest at scale, create media, and work on philanthropic projects. In the future we expect DAOs to take on many additional forms that we can’t even fathom yet. That includes TAOs, or transformed autonomous organizations, where traditional companies create DAO-like subsidiaries to participate in Web3 alongside their customers or even just pay employees or contractors in crypto. By aligning incentizes with a large crowd of community members, DAOs hold enormous power to direct labor, capital, attention, and impact. They’re the new organizational structure that allows groups to transact with cryptocurrency and provide token rewards to their allies.
But to launch a DAO, fund a treasury, organize a workforce, and vote on governance proposals, it requires piecing together a fragmented set of infrastructure tools built for hardcore blockchain engineers. You have to know what tools exist, which ones work best, and how to stitch them together alongside Web2 components (such as Discord and Google Sheets) that were not meant for this use case, all while hiring hard to find smart contract engineers to handle much of the governance pieces. And that’s before you even get to the sociological challenges of managing a large group of people!
This all creates unnecessary barriers blocking participation in a rapidly emerging economy. To empower a more diverse set of builders, we need tools that abstract away the complexity so communities and organizations can focus on what they uniquely add to the world.
When Shopify combined intuitive commerce tools with attractive storefronts, a new generation of merchants emerged. Making something people want to buy was hard enough without having to build or jigsaw together your own software stack. But what if you want to start a movement?
Superdao is building the Shopify of Web3 – an all-in-one, no-code DAO creation and management suite for organizing people to make an impact.
Superdao lets anyone launch a DAO in a few clicks without having to vet and master a mess of siloed point solutions. Meanwhile, it helps sophisticated DAO operators scale their organizations by letting them seamlessly stitch together Superdao’s native features with their favorite existing blockchain infrastructure.
With Superdao you can:
- Legally incorporate while launching your DAO on the blockchain
- Crowdfund a secure treasury for transactions and paying contributors
- Build a member directory with varying roles and permissions
- Communicate through internal feeds for organizing tasks
- Vote on governance proposals using vetted templates and smart contracts
- Monitor activity and tokenomics through your DAO’s dashboard
- Decentralize ownership with tokens, NFTs, and equity options
- Integrate with leading third-party infrastructure apps
- Recruit talent and capital through Superdao’s discovery marketplace
- And a lot more soon – this is just the alpha launch
You can sign up here to get early access!
While Superdao is designed to be dead simple for users, it’s a compound startup that requires building a suite of pioneering tools in parallel. Web3 moves ridiculously fast, so Superdao needs a leader with super-human ability to ship product.
We found that in Yury Lifshits. After earning a PhD in Computer Science from Caltech and teaching cryptography at a leading Russian university in the mid-2000s, he launched one of the country’s first co-working spaces. We met Yury while he spent the past few years building OpenLand, a full-fledged alternative to another essential Web3 tool: Discord. Yury builds and deploys products with insane speed and clarity. He’s an astounding organizational mind that’s able to recruit and apply talent to get things done quick. Yury has already assembled a world-class team creating the building blocks that will power the future of DAOs. We’d never encountered an early-stage founder with such exacting plans for who he wanted to hire, how to structure the teams, what he wanted to build, and how he planned to go-to-market.
Yury’s precision and horsepower convinced he could shoulder the complexity of making DAOs simple. That’s why SignalFire is leading a $10.5 million seed round for Superdao. Yury predicts we could see 1 million DAOs formed by the end of the year, and Superdao will provide their picks-and-shovels. The deal continues SignalFire’s specialization in funding world-changing infrastructure companies like Alchemy for blockchain and NFT infrastructure, Tapcart for mobile ecommerce, Planetscale for databases, and Bubble for no-code app development.
Superdao’s goal is to be the leading B2B infrastructure provider for DAOs. They’ll allow everyone from crypto-native communities to relative novices to operate DAOs as Hollywood, Wall Street, traditional tech, and other sectors get involved. Superdao will bridge the gap between users and builders, letting anyone tap into the power of tokenomics to create a unified community where customers become co-owners and co-conspirators.
DAOs will take a variety of forms including classic blockchain protocols and DeFi projects, groups of strangers looking to do a single transaction (ie purchase an expensive item, plot of land, etc), Web3 companies with their own tokens, Web2 companies looking to pay individuals (employees, contractors, freelancers, etc) in some form of cryptocurrency, and social experiments that will surprise and excite the world. We can’t predict exactly what they’ll do or how they’ll work, but with a team as agile as Superdao, we know they’ll have the tools they need.
Want to build your own DAO? Wish yours ran more smoothly? Sign up for early access to Superdao.
Care-Now-Pay-Later: Why SignalFire is leading $15M for PayZen
79 million Americans have medical debt or bill problems. Sadly, the inability to pay or fear of debt has led 1 in 3 Americans to delay or decline essential medical care.
This has to change. And that’s why we’re leading a $15 million Series A for PayZen, the care-now-pay-later company.
PayZen helps any patient get on a zero-interest, zero-fee custom payment plan so they can receive the care they need immediately without going into debt. How? PayZen’s AI analyzes thousands of data points about their financial situation to ensure they’re on a payback schedule they can afford, instead of the industry-standard one-size-fits-all plan. That’s why 87% of patients offered PayZen enroll, and it increases their payment adherence by 40% within one month. You can learn more about how PayZen works here.
Meanwhile, PayZen helps hospitals increase collections by 52%. Typically, hospitals collect just 15 cents of every dollar they charge while sending people to collection services that destroy their credit score. By integrating PayZen, care providers give their patients a more understanding and affordable approach. They share a portion of the extra payments they receive with PayZen so patients aren’t charged extra fees.
Building a true win-win-win solution like this takes a combination of healthcare veterans, fintech experts, and skilled engineers. That’s the team PayZen assembled. CEO Itzik Cohen, COO Tobias Mezger, and CTO Ariel Rosenthal had previously worked together and seen how legacy approaches had failed providers and patients. They’ve joined forces with Kevin Roberts, the CFO of 3 million patient healthcare group Geisinger, and industry legend Lawrence Leisure who co-founded ADVI Health, Healthspottr, and healthcare investment fund Chicago Pacific Partners.
Together, we see their potential to address the healthcare affordability crisis plaguing our country. Many of our LPs at SignalFire are large health systems, and their leaders told us how badly they need a solution like PayZen. We’re honored to get to support the company with our Beacon Talent recruiting technology, in-house AI experts, and network introductions team.
PayZen is the kind of startup that makes us proud to be investors. When technology is applied with empathy, it can solve some of society’s greatest challenges. We can’t think of a larger or more pressing one than ensuring everyone can afford the healthcare they need.
Funding Praisidio to fight The Great Resignation
In Q2 2021 alone, 11.5 million Americans quit their jobs, the vast majority being mid-career tech and healthcare workers, leaving their employers scrambling to fill rolls and desperate to stop the exodus. This year will be remembered as the beginning of the “Great Resignation”.
Employee attrition was already a $1 trillion annual problem in the US and the pandemic has only made the problem larger. Historically, managers saw their employees in the office on a daily basis and could get a read on how their team was feeling. In a remote work environment, it’s harder than ever to keep talent engaged and happy. Businesses need an employee attrition early warning system. Enterprises only have exit interviews which are backward-looking to help understand why employees leave the company, but in an age where there is more 1st and 3rd party data than ever before, the time seems right to leverage these valuable insights to help solve the problem of employee attrition.
A Personal Mission
When we met Ken Klein and Vahed Qazvinian it was clear from the first meeting that to them, this problem was personal. After watching a key team member’s departure cause seven of his colleagues to resign in quick succession and cause their project to be canceled, Vahed, a PhD and former Google Search Rank Engineer, decided to leave himself. As a former public company CEO, Ken has felt the cultural and financial pain of attrition, despite many attempts at remediation through HRBP meetings, skip-level 1:1s, office hours, surveys, and more. After discussing their shared experiences, this unique and powerful duo decided to partner up on a mission to improve the employee experience and arm HR leaders with the data they need to retain their most important assets. And thus, Praisidio was born.
Combining Data with Human Intelligence
Praisidio uses AI to analyze business and communications metadata in a privacy-centric manner. The company provides an Enterprise Talent Risk Management solution called Procaire to help managers visualize and act on information that is affecting employee satisfaction and retention. Procaire has already helped over 10,000 employees within enterprise customers across the technology, life sciences, and healthcare sectors. Customers are saving $50 on talent attrition for every dollar spent on Praisidio.
At SignalFire, we believe in the power of combining humans and data and when we saw what Vahed and Ken were building at Praisidio, we knew we wanted to be on the journey with them. SignalFire is thrilled to be leading Praisidio’s $4M Seed round and helping them achieve their goal of making employees feel engaged and appreciated while empowering managers and HR teams with the insights they need to be data-driven in their decisions and initiatives around employee retention. To learn more, check out Praisidio.com where you can hear how happy customers are already seeing success with Procaire.
Adobe acquires Frame.io for $1.275B: Future of video collaboration
You absolutely cannot miss this deadline. The director, client, and special effects artists all have urgent feedback that has to make it into the next cut. You’re collecting reshoots from the videographers, juggling versions from your editing team, reviewing marked-up clips from the colorist, and making sure nothing leaks before it airs.
But to make this video truly brilliant, you have to stay in flow. There’s no time to manually move files between storage services, dig suggestions out of email, or trek back to the office to access raw footage. Luckily, you don’t have to. Like Disney, HBO, and Netflix, your team uses Frame.io to collaborate on video production so you can do it all in one app from anywhere.
Building software like this for professional creatives requires the mind of an engineer and the heart of an artist. We found both in Emery Wells when we met in a Palo Alto coffee shop 6 years ago. He beamed with empathy for video producers because he’d spent over a decade doing it himself. That inspired us to invest in Frame.io’s seed round and every raise since.
Hit skip to replay the video above
Frame’s product releases have become favorites amongst our team because each is paired with its own red carpet-worthy launch video. The company puts its own software to use editing these gorgeous trailers, demonstrating their deep respect for the craft.
Now he and his team at Frame.io have the opportunity to help the world’s biggest creative software clients stay in sync so they can create gorgeous video content. Today, Adobe announced it will acquire Frame.io, where Emery will continue to lead his team towards building the future of video production in the cloud.
“Anyone that’s paying attention knows the future of work is real-time, centralized in the cloud, and collaborative. Video has been an industry that has been slower to adopt the cloud but we’re standing at the precipice of the next major step-function change in the way video gets created” Emery says. “It will be as significant as the shift from analog to digital.” He’s ready to lead that shift at Adobe.
Emery started as a production assistant before becoming a compositor, motion graphics artist, executive producer, and eventually the founder of his own post-production agency Katabatic Digital where he created shorts for Saturday Night Live. That meant when he launched Frame.io with Katabatic’s Chief Scientist John Traver, they were building for themselves. The startup saw an opportunity to arm independent producers with even better software than the biggest studios.
They knew video can’t be treated like most static files that move through Box or Dropbox. It’s a rare art form that takes an enormous team to create, and constantly evolves before release. It requires powerful specialty software like Adobe Premiere Pro and AfterEffects to compose, yet there was no ubiquitous product for collaborating around its completion.
Frame.io has built a powerful product to fill that gap, but also a unique company culture where both creatives and engineers can thrive. Creatives often crave flexibility and autonomy, doing things their own way. Engineers are more accustomed to reliable processes. Our operating partner Tawni Cranz had navigated a similar challenge as the Chief Talent Officer of Netflix, and offered ideas on how the company could remain free-spirited while staying on schedule.
“SignalFire was one of our first investors and has been incredible partners throughout our journey” Emery graciously tells us. “I’ll never forget when it came time to hiring our first recruiter. This was a new and unfamiliar role to me at the time. SignalFire flew their Head of Talent Mike Mangini to New York City to personally interview our candidates and make a recommendation. I think it was a great example of their grit and hands-on approach to working with their portfolio companies.”
The Frame.io team was put to the test this past year as cloud collaboration became essential. With offices closed and employees working remotely, studios couldn’t rely on huge editing bays and on-prem software to securely stay in sync. Frame.io picked up the slack as the industry shifted towards the cloud that Emery and his team had been preparing for years.
Adobe saw this inevitable transformation coming too. Reimagining its Creative Suite for the cloud massively expanded accessibility, both in the sense of letting artists work from anywhere as well as creating a monthly pricing structure that made it easier to try. Now Frame.io’s integrations with Adobe’s Creative will get even tighter so creatives can concentrate on what they do best.
Video has become the default communication medium for the next generation. It’s persuasive and emotionally resonant, effortlessly immersing the audience rather than feeling like a chore. With larger phone screens and faster mobile networks, the market for video compounds each day. It’s journalists relaying scenes from the front lines, creators becoming heads of full-fledged studios, brands showing their products in action, and blockbuster filmmakers evoking our wildest dreams. Video tells the story, and the storytellers live on Frame.io. Congrats to Emery, John, and the whole team on reaching the ultimate scale with Adobe.
Funding “Flymachine” to make URL concerts as good as IRL
Music lovers deserve more than sitting by themselves watching single-camera streams from an artist’s basement. The livestreamed music experience should evoke the same excitement of arriving with friends or serendipitously running into them, and the kinetic immersion of a great concert venue’s sound system and stage lights — all while letting you see the best artists anywhere from the comfort of your home.
Musicians tried their best this past year with the limited tools they had, but concert streams felt more like Zoom calls than culture. Bands like Sofi Tukker who streamed every single day did society a great service, but too often, the level of added work didn’t match the compensation.
To give fans a worthy concert-going experience while supporting the music industry, you need to help:
- Artists earn money streaming shows without piling more work upon their already busy schedules
- Venues bring fans the intimate close-ups and entrancing light shows they’d get in-person while paying their staffs
- Fans feel the camaraderie of attending concerts with friends, even when they’re apart
Flymachine’s concert streaming destination brings these elements into harmony. By equipping the world’s iconic venues with top-notch cameras, visual effects, and social streaming technology, Flymachine is pioneering the digital future of live events.
Fans get front-row seats right beside their friends thanks to picture-in-picture video chat overlaid on the best views of the stage. You can start a private room where you can mix the show’s sound with spatial audio from your pals to bounce between focused listening and commentary from your crew. Or, you can explore the rest of the crowd to run into friends or meet fellow fans. All the while, you get to support independent venues while enjoying jaw-dropping special effects and crowd visualizations. You’re in the center of the action awash in superb sound without anyone stepping on your shoes.
Attending events through Flymachine, you’re not limited to the tours coming to your town, or the artists willing to stream for free. Flymachine taps into the endless supply of in-real-life performances coming to iconic concert halls including some of Rolling Stone’s Top 10 Venues In The Country like NYC’s Bowery Ballroom and The Crocodile in Seattle. Artists gain an additional revenue stream by opting in to broadcast via Flymachine, allowing them to play to stadium-sized crowds from the intimate stages they prefer.
We spent the past year exploring the concert streaming space. Too many startups either forced artists to design and play shows just for streaming with no live audience to react to, cut venues out completely leaving performances looking drab and amateur, or ditched fans in asocial isolation. That’s why concert streaming hasn’t reached its full potential until now.
Building a company like Flymachine takes a special team with the experience to balance all the stakeholders in the notoriously complex music industry. You need someone like CEO Andrew Dreskin, the man who pioneered modern concert ticketing. He built TicketWeb, which was acquired by TicketMaster, and then TicketFly which was bought by Pandora. Andrew has spent 30 years in the business, from running the Beserkley Records store to managing the Virgin Mobile Festival to leading music at EventBrite and founding startups. That’s given him the empathy for artists, managers, labels, venues, and promoters that’s necessary to build a streaming destination where everyone wins.
Minutes into watching my first Flymachine show, I fell in love with a new band and ran into an old friend. I laughed with buddies about how much we missed live music, then dragged my little video window away to zone into a beautiful song. Soon I was wishing I could watch ballet or stand-up comedy with a similar experience. Luckily, Andrew and his amazing team have a vision to bring mediums beyond music to Flymachine.
Immersive. Social. Built so artists can expand access to their performances while growing their audience and business. That’s why SignalFire could not be more amped to support Flymachine on this audacious endeavor by leading the startup’s Series A financing that brings it to $21 million in funding (read more on TechCrunch). Other music industry legends joining the round include Redlight Management founder Coren Capshaw who manages Dave Matthews Band and Phish, concert promoter Another Planet Entertainment, and musicians like Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett.
Go check out Flymachine’s calendar of upcoming events. Regardless of where you are, we look forward to bumping into you at the next show.
We’re moving towards an experiential culture. People don’t end up on their deathbed lamenting “all those things I could have owned.” It’s “all those things I could have done!” Flymachine lets you do more. When you can experience culture surrounded by friends, you make memories, and URL becomes just as good as IRL.
Ok – curtains up. Break a leg, team Flymachine.
Creators get their own home on the web with site-maker Spore
Websites as a medium will live on longer than most of today’s apps (and humans).
“The web is the one place on the internet you can truly own—no middlemen. You can really tell your story, and it will outlast every channel” Shopify CEO Tobi Lutke told me. That’s why his commerce tools were built to give merchants a place on the web. And that’s why creators deserve the same. Spore’s website maker gives creators a home on the Internet that they truly own. Spore launches today (show them some love on Product Hunt), and SignalFire is honored to lead its pre-seed round.
The concept of “platform risk” is well-known to developers. When you’re dependent on some big tech platform that doesn’t share your priorities or incentives, you’re vulnerable. You live by their rules. If they want to cut you off from your audience, change the functionality you need, or charge you taxes for transactions or growth, you’re at their mercy. Just ask Zynga, the gaming empire built entirely on Facebook that saw its share price drop 85% in 7 months when the social network suddenly decided it didn’t want games in the News Feed. One algorithm tweak, and poof, Zynga’s virality evaporated. 9 years later, its valuation still hasn’t recovered.
The same could happen to creators. Right now, they’re in double jeopardy. Creators rely on social network profiles on Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitch for their internet presence and their connection to fans, which could be severed or locked behind ad spend at any time. They have followers but no direct contact info for their fans. To maintain their ability to reach people who already asked to see their art, creators burn themselves out feeding the fickle and inscrutable algorithms. Opaque and unevenly enforced content moderation policies lead creators to be suspended, shadowbanned, or booted entire, robbing them of their livelihoods and communities. If they try to walk away from the big social apps, creators are left with nothing.
Meanwhile, those social networks are built on iOS and Android, where Apple and Google collect 30% taxes on transactions. These operating systems aren’t helping creators get discovered, produce. Add up the fees from both, and creators often keep well under half of the revenue they earn while the platforms become hundred-billion and trillion-dollar companies. It’s labor exploitation at a grand scale that’s choking a huge new class of small businesses and the best opportunity for creators to turn their passion into a fulfilling profession.
Two trends and two problems for creators
I spent the last year since leaving TechCrunch to be an investor at SignalFire researching the creator economy. We discovered two big trends that beget two big problems:
- Creators are sick of pouring their hearts into building atop someone else’s platform, so they’re trying to move their top fans towards dedicated tools for community and monetization. But most of the tools are just more platforms that put their own brands first instead of the creator’s. It’s a laundry list of “Platform.com/CreatorName” links instead of a single, central “CreatorName.com”
- Creators are becoming founders, cobbling together an array of point-solution software and teams to run them. They need help with analytics, CRMs, ecommerce stores, content distribution, subscription payments, and more. But most creators can’t afford all these tools and teams, and don’t have the time to manage them. They want to make art and connect with their communities, not become web developers manually integrating fragmented APIs and datasets.
Spore lets creators build websites, not just profiles
After reviewing the pitches of tons of single-purpose creator tools, I found the answers to the platform risk and fragmentation problem.
Spore is a free, all-in-one solution for creators that lets them control their own destiny on the open web. With Spore, creators can easily design a self-branded website, collect contact info, send text and email blasts, grow a CRM, run chat rooms, review analytics, and accept one-off payments and subscriptions to content.
Since all of Spore’s tools are seamlessly connected, creators can spend more time making art and less time dealing with web development. It’s free to try, offers custom URLs and text messaging at cost, and creators keep 90% of their revenue since it’s built on the open web. That’s a lot more affordable than paying monthly fees for multiple separate tools, or the 30% to 45% taxes charged by social networks and mobile app stores. Spore only earns money when you earn a lot more.
Spore is launching today, but already combines the functionality of dozens of tools into powerful websites where creators’ brand comes first. Spore offers:
- Website creation: Squarespace, Wix, Weebly, WordPress
- Custom domains: GoDaddy, Namecheap
- Contact info collection: Forms, MailChimp, SurveyMonkey
- Fan CRM and scoring: Zoho
- Content analytics: Sprout Social
- Email newsletters: Mailchimp, Substack, Revue
- SMS blasts: Community
- Link hubs: Linktree, LinkInBio
- Link tracking and shortening: Bit.ly
- Chat and polls: Discord
- Podcast listening pages: PodLink
- Event listings: Eventbrite
- Merchandise (coming soon): TeeSpring
- Tipping/donations: CashApp, Venmo, PayPal
- Paid subscriptions: Patreon
How do these all work together? With Spore, you can choose a URL and instantly populate it with your branding, best content, social links, and color scheme without dealing with domain registrars or CSS. Perhaps the most important feature is the ability to prominently collect email addresses and phone numbers, that are loaded directly into the CRM from which you can send newsletters or automated content drops and event reminders.
When you create something new like a video, you can share it with a custom short-link that asks people to sign up, create a temporary banner promoting on your site, track its performance, and identify your super fans who engage most across all your content. Podcasts have special landing pages where fans can listen directly or get linked out to download on their preferred app. You can run chat rooms with polls where fans give donations or tips, or make your community or content exclusive to paid subscribers. And at any point, you can export all the contact info and upload it somewhere else like a dedicated newsletter service because you own the fan relationships.
Evolving with the creator economy
What’s especially remarkable is that Spore built all this since starting up in December. Co-founder and CEO Austin Hallock is the highest horse-power product developer I’ve ever encountered. He goes from idea for a feature to launch in mere days, which is exactly the superhuman agility you need to keep up with the rapidly-evolving creator economy.
Austin and I met when he pulled a legendary forgiveness-not-permission move. Instead of pitching me his startup, he showed me what it could by voluntarily sending me a website he’d already built for me on Spore called Constine.club. It let me run second-screen chatrooms for my Clubhouse shows while collecting contact info so I could ping people the next time I went live. A few months later, I already had thousands in my Spore community. When I request a feature like a podcast landing page, 48 hours later, he’s got it running on my site. By working directly with his early users, Spore built precisely the tool creators need.
That’s why I’m so excited to be Spore to be my first lead investment since leaving TechCrunch to join SignalFire. The $1 million pre-seed round is joined by some of the top creator-founders, including Twitch co-founder and rising TikTok star Justin Kan’s GOAT, leading Substack author Lenny Rachitsky, and newsletter bundle pioneer Nathan Baschez of Every. We’re also joined by Zynga founder Justin Waldron, Brat TV founder Darren Lachtman, Bleacher Report founder Dave Nemetz, and our friends at Canaan.
Spore’s mission is to help creators overthrow the gatekeepers, escape the taxes and algorithms, and build their own homes on the web. Social networks will come and go, mediums will rise and fall, but creators will always need a place to unify their community. With Spore, everyone can have the tools to turn their passion into their profession.
Data scientist shortage? Replace them with Unsupervised
We are in the midst of a data explosion – almost everything we touch and work with today generates data. Reports estimate that in 2020, each person generated 1.7 MB of data every second through social media, email/other communication, videos, and that number is only increasing. 90% of the world’s data was produced in the last two years alone. The International Data Corporation estimates the global datasphere will grow from 64 zettabytes (1 zettabyte = 1 trillion gigabytes) in 2020 to over 175 by 2025.
And this explosion of data isn’t just in volume. It’s in complexity, all driven by new sources and types of data, new technologies, and changes in how consumers and businesses interact. These shifts came with the promise of unprecedented insights. If companies could stitch together and analyze this data, they could move from gut-based decision-making to being data-driven. This would help them deliver superior consumer experiences, significant top-line revenue growth, and increased bottom-line savings.
To capitalize on this, companies like Amazon, Facebook, and Google built huge, expensive teams to extract meaning from their data. But most organizations on tighter budgets have hit a roadblock: the data scientist shortage.
Had the world foreseen the simultaneous explosion in data volume and complexity as well as its lucrative application, we would have trained enough data scientists to make them readily available and affordable to businesses of all sizes. Instead, the relatively few with the skills necessary are in such high demand that salaries have ballooned and companies can’t hire enough. Turning data into insights is still highly manual today. The result is a problematic bottleneck, where companies waste time waiting for their slim data science teams to analyze new opportunities for improvement or miss them altogether.
The current analytics process often starts with a business user coming up with a hypothesis on what might be a meaningful insight within their data. They must then work with a data scientist to gather and combine that data into a well-structured format. Half of all data science work today is actually spent preparing data, and frequently ends with most of the data ending up pushed aside. After weeks to months of upfront work, data scientists can finally test if there was indeed a statistically significant conclusion in that data. If not, they must restructure the underlying data or start over altogether.
This manual process, combined with the talent shortage, has driven a significant gap between data science supply and demand. QuantHub estimates the 2020 data scientist shortage was 250,000. Businesses can’t wait for education to bridge that gap. They need a way to take data scientists out of the equation.
Enter Unsupervised. Unsupervised’s AI automatically analyzes their customer’s data and discovers the most significant opportunities and problems.
The platform does not require users to have data science backgrounds. It ingests raw data directly from sources, automatically prepares and analyzes the data, identifies any statistically relevant patterns, and ranks them based on impact to business KPIs (sales increases, customer churn, etc.). Business users can then directly review and operationalize those insights. Through this unprecedented volume and velocity of business insights, all business owners can find and respond to new opportunities and risks.
Unsupervised solves the data science crisis through AI, enabling non-technical business users to directly identify and respond to opportunities to optimize top-line growth, customer acquisition, and profitability. Unsupervised, plus a more affordable and plentiful business-team member, can replace the role of a data scientist.
We could not be more excited to be a part of Unsupervised’s $35M Series B and leverage our own AI expertise to support the team as they build an enduring automated analytics franchise.
SignalFire understands the value of data science because it’s what we’re built on. Roughly one-fifth of our team are AI PhDs, data scientists, and engineers. They work on constantly improving our Beacon technology which crunches a half-trillion data points to rank the skill and hireability of hundreds of millions of the most talented workers in technology. This is how we made 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio in just one year. The team also refines our Beacon competitive intelligence engine, which sees about 4% of US credit card transaction data to help our portfolio companies assess macroeconomic trends, monitor competitors’ businesses, and optimize their own pricing.
But most organizations don’t have the resources to hire this kind of talent. With our investment in Unsupervised, we want to help democratize access to data science. We’re proud to support Noah Horton and his team at Unsupervised’s mission to help every company afford to better understand their business.
Tempo CEO Moawia Eldeeb: Homeless to $220M for in-home fitness
After working shifts as a middle schooler at a Queens pizza shop to support his family, Moawia’s home burnt down and his family was homeless. During his time living in a Red Cross shelter, Moawia developed a passion for fitness working out at a free gym while finishing his final two grades of high school in a single year. He then put himself through college – a computer science degree at Columbia – by becoming a physical trainer. There Moawia met fellow computer science student Josh Augustine, and after graduating, the two decided to found Tempo with the mission of making personal training and fitness more accessible.
56 million Americans have a gym membership, and the vast majority aren’t reaching their goals. Even in the best of times, gyms have an incredibly low membership utilization rate. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, as even reasonably physically active people find it hard to drag themselves out of bed and commute to an intimidating gym experience, suffering in front of strangers. To keep motivated, many gym-goers enlist the help of physical trainers, but the service can often cost $100 an hour or more, making it inaccessible to the mass market.
Six years later, our seed investment Tempo is now announcing a $220M Series C round to scale their rapidly-growing in-home fitness studio, bringing greater convenience and a membership fee a tenth of the cost of a personal trainer. Born out of Moawia’s direct experience as a trainer himself, Tempo provides the personalization, equipment, and community to unlock the biggest segment of this gym market – weight and high intensity (HIIT) training. Peloton became a $30B behemoth by bringing cycling workout classes to the home, a 10x smaller segment.
Unlike other in-home workout products, Tempo uses real weights that are tracked by these 3D sensors – a much more familiar workout experience for most gym-goers versus using cable machines, or working out without any equipment at all in the case of app-based streaming services. Tempo also uniquely features 3D infrared sensors that create an 80,000-point model of your body and hones in on 25 key pivot points, enabling elite trainers to remotely track your form, count reps, and provide personalized feedback to fix mistakes. The product further combines this with heart rate data and speed of reps to make suggestions on weights and exercises. In addition, Tempo has a much smaller footprint than other products, and doesn’t require manual installation into walls. That’s often a deal-breaker for on-the-go Gen Zers and millennials that move frequently.
COVID has undoubtedly accelerated the movement to in-home fitness as gyms closures gave fitness buffs no other options. But we’ve had a long-time thesis at SignalFire in the power of AI + human in the loop to transform inefficient industries through a full-stack model. Tempo enables trainers to deliver real-time feedback in a more precise way, compress the cost of personalized training 10x, and bring the full experience of a gym into the home without any sacrifices in the exercises you can do through a seamlessly-integrated hardware/software and computer vision bundle.
Tempo’s company history is a case of startup mirroring life. Other competitors have raised tens of millions before shipping their consumer hardware, historically one of the most capital-intensive products to bring to market. Moawia and team spent 5 years after raising their initial $1.85M seed round co-led by SignalFire and Khosla Ventures to develop an even more compelling in-home fitness experience.
Over that time, Moawia and team explored a number of different approaches partnering with gyms and OEMs/distributors around the world, iterating out of a garage while paying themselves the equivalent of minimum wage, even as the cost of living exploded in Silicon Valley. This second chapter of remarkable resilience allowed Moawia and team to collect the world’s largest dataset of annotated workouts (1M sessions) to train the machine learning models now powering Tempo’s technology.
In the ultimate example of startup mirroring life, Moawia has continued to do more with less. It’s been a privilege to support the growth of Tempo since the first round, recruiting early leadership team members and continuously collaborating with Moawia on the buildout of Tempo’s evolving organization. We couldn’t be any prouder to be part of the journey, and can’t wait for the next phase of the business as it continues to reimagine and democratize physical fitness.
Ro’s patient revolution: $500M for health, not insurance
“When we started, people called us a boner company. They said that to be pejorative, to diminish our efforts. I didn’t find that to be an insult. Addressing erectile dysfunction wasn’t the sole purpose of the company, but we see the moments it unlocks between people. It’s intimacy and love,” says Ro co-founder and CEO Z Reitano. “Take away all the bullsh*t, and what matters is people living a happy, healthy, fulfilled life.”
With today’s $500 million Series D at a $5 billion valuation, the jokes should be replaced with a different kind of name-calling that describes Ro as a unicorn (quintacorn?) charging towards an IPO. The telehealth primary care company now offers diagnosis, prescriptions, medication delivery, and ongoing care. But Reitano, who SignalFire has backed since Ro’s Series A, wasn’t in the mood to celebrate. One thing you’ll notice that’s missing from his quote about what matters in healthcare: Insurance.
That’s because Ro doesn’t accept it. “It’s clearly not working. Hasn’t been working for 70 years,” Reitano says of health insurance. “The idea of giving insurers more power and control is preposterous. It’s not that capitalism doesn’t work in healthcare. It’s that we’re incentivizing the wrong stakeholders. Insurers aren’t incentivized to reduce the cost because employers pay.” And sadly, we all pay in the form of lower-quality care at higher prices.
$500M for patient-centric healthcare
That’s why Ro is building a new patient-centric healthcare system where it’s the people in need who control where the money goes. “We should have to fight for the right to take care of patients,” Reitano insists.
Here’s a quick history lesson about how things got so broken. America froze wages during World War 2 to prevent inflation, so employers started offering better health insurance to attract talent. Then the IRS made employer-provided health insurance tax-exempt, making it the cheapest way to get it, so most Americans did. Then the government fixed health insurance company margins so they had to spend 80 to 85% of the money from premiums on providing care. That sounded good, but it means that one of the only ways for health insurance companies to grow cumulative profits is to…raise costs.
The result is runaway insurance premiums and worker contributions. Premiums are up 54% just from 2010 to 2020. Medical expenses cause 66.5% of individual bankruptcies in the US. “An MRI costs the same as in 1984 when it came out. That’s bananas! That thing should be running 24 hours a day. It costs $27 in Norway. There should be a Chipotle of MRIs!” Reitano says. We could clearly be doing better. He notes that Singapore pays for 50% of citizens’ healthcare but it only costs 4% of GDP, not 18% like in the US. Meanwhile, 66.5% of individual bankruptcies in the US are caused by medical expenses.
Reitano’s own family was once in hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical debt, in part due to treatment for his heart condition, which had erectile dysfunction as a side effect of his medication. “I was actually one of the luckier ones,” he tells me, simply because none of his immediate family members had died. They lived through heart attacks, neurological disorders, and multiple bouts with cancer. Z says the only reason they survived was that his Dad was a doctor and could help them navigate the complexities of getting great care despite the dysfunctional insurance system. What gave me agency was having a world-leading expert by my side. That shouldn’t be a requirement for what we see as a fundamental right.”
Those experiences led Reitano to build Ro to destigmatize conditions like his and help other families beat the odds. That’s why Ro doesn’t accept insurance. “It exacerbates a system that reduces and limits the agency of patients over time, and I can’t abide by that. I think the insurance companies will drive themselves into oblivion because they’re endlessly greedy, increasing premiums and deductibles. When you remove the administrative burn of insurance and all the stakeholders who need to make money in the process, you can dramatically reduce the cost to patients,” Reitano explains. “People talk about how we’re limited by not accepting insurance, but we are unleashed and unlocked to offer 10X better service!”
That doesn’t make Ro expensive. It sells generic versions of the 500 most common medications for just $5 per month each from its own pharmacy. A virtual doctor’s visit is $15, which is cheaper than most co-pays. For $20 to $40 per month, it offers diagnosis, prescription, and delivery of brand name treatments for men’s and women’s health, hair loss, smoking cessation, dermatology, weight loss, and more. Plus, Ro’s Health Guide site is challenging WebMD with self-serve medical info that’s actually approved by doctors. “We start by building what patients need and then use technology to reduce the friction. It’s the only way we do more with less,” Reitano explains.
Now Ro has the funding to bring its care offline and into the home in-person. The $500 million Series D co-led by our friends at General Catalyst, First Mark, and TQ Ventures is joined by Altimeter, Dragoneer, Baupost, Glen Tullman of Livongo, Box Group, Torch, and us at SignalFire. It’s been a pleasure to equip Reitano and his team with our Beacon recruiting technology, competitive intelligence, sales lead intros, and in-house experts.
“Simply put, they’re not like other VCs,” Reitano wrote to another startup considering SignalFire. “They’re engineers and operators — they’ve built it before. The other thing I love, and this is more personal, is that they are a new VC fund, which means they can’t sit behind a brand name…they have to wake up every single day and work their tail off for their port cos. I first met [SignalFire’s seed fund MD] Wayne Hu on a holiday when no other VC would carve out time. [Venture partner] Tony Huie has been on the phone with me at 2 am helping me work through a strategy question. Their data science team helped our Head of Data solve a complex attribution problem . . . Every VC says they are value-add, but most don’t have to prove it. I’m not kidding when I say SignalFire will always be there.”
COVID vaccines delivered
Ro’s years of building a national telemedicine practice, pharmacy network, in-home care platform culminated this month in one of its most important launches to date: Ro’s COVID-19 Vaccine Drive. Ro is now Ubering healthcare professionals to the homes of the elderly and homebound to administer vaccines to those who’d have trouble traveling to a traditional vaccination site.
The launch comes in response to how difficult it’s been to book vaccine appointments through confusing government websites with unpredictable availability — especially for the less digitally literate. “Everyone felt the system was complicated. It felt rigged. They felt powerless. We’re not sure why our government can’t operate at the same efficiency as Amazon,” Reitano explains. Luckily, Ro acquired in-home healthcare API maker WorkPath in 2020 and had already facilitated 100,000 housecalls. “Because of our unique capability, I think we have a responsibility to help.”
So in December, Ro co-founder Saman Rahmanian got to work partnering with the NY Department Of Health and leading an “all on-hands on deck, 18 hour days for 4 weeks” sprint, Reitano explains. “People don’t talk enough about choosing certain co-founders — why you need shared vision, shared values, shared work ethic. One attribute I’d add is that you’re constantly amazed by what they can will into existence. Saman willed this into existence.”
Here’s how it works. An eligible patient or their guardian can go to https://www.covidvaccinedrive.com and sign up for an appointment. Rather than scrambling for open slots, Ro just puts you in the queue for the next available date and time window. Just like calling an Uber, you’ll get an ETA and visualization of your vaccinated healthcare professional heading to your home. They walk you through the standard protocol, collect any necessary info, administer your dose, and wait 15 minutes to check for adverse reactions. Uber has donated 10,000 rides to the cause, and any leftover doses will go to local fire departments and frontline workers.
Reitano believes this convenience and quality of care would become standard if more of the healthcare system empowered patients to purchase their care directly. If employers or the government just gave patients the cash for routine service and saved insurance for catastrophes, “within 60 days, you’d see cucumber water in the waiting rooms. Hospitals would show prices and readmission rates. They’d compare quality of care versus the hospital down the street. In a world where you had $2 to $3 trillion every year at the discretion of patients, [care would] decrease in price, increase in quality, and increase in satisfaction.”
SignalFire’s “Convenient Health” thesis
We see patient-centric healthcare and finance as the fifth pillar of SignalFire’s “convenient health” investment thesis. We’re seeking startups offering:
- Democratized, destigmatized, more affordable access to care via telehealth
- Continuous, automatic, personalized data collection via wearables and smartphones
- Consumerization of the user experience and a reduction of reliance on pure will power
- Human doctors and experts in the loop, augmented with AI and automation to optimize quality of care
- Patient-centric control of billing to incentivize providers to improve their services
This thesis is why we’ve been long-time believers in Ro. It’s also led SignalFire to invest in telehealth startups like Form Health for weight loss, Bicycle Health for opioid dependency, Apostrophe for skincare, and OrthoFX for teeth alignment. We’ve also backed startups that make staying fit at home less work, like Down Dog for yoga and Tempo for weight lifting. We’re also supporting convenience in genetic testing with Color, surgeon training with Osso VR, and at-home clinical trials with Hawthorne Effect. If you’re building something to advance this vision for patient-centric healthcare, SignalFire would love to hear from you.
“It’s paternalistic saying patients can’t make the right decisions. Similar to the Winston Churchill quote, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others’, a patient might be the worst person to make their health care decisions except for everyone else.”
“We’ve been beat up and punched in the face for decades, and the only thing that the healthcare industry listens to is who controls the money,” Reitano concludes. “We’re eating the edges of primary care. Others will eat the edges of insurance. I want to devote my life to this patient revolution.”
Startup recruiting dossier template & examples
How do you convince people to work for you? By sending them a recruiting dossier — a document highlighting quick facts about your company as well as your purpose, perks, press, and open positions that you can send to job candidates. It’s like an employer brochure packed with reasons why you’re a great place to work.
Here we’ll walk you through each step of building your own recruiting dossier.
Startup recruiting dossier template
Funding: [Series, Total, Lead Investors]
Headquarters: [Neighborhood, City, State]
Team Size: [X] Eng: [Y]
What We Do:
- One-sentence description of your product
- Two- to four-sentence explanation of the customer problem and how you solve it
- One-sentence about how this impacts the world
- Ex. Revenue [if public]…
- Ex. Daily users…
- Ex. Engagement stats…
- Ex. Major partnerships…
- Ex. Awards or inclusion in Best Of lists…
- Ex. Backing from top-tier venture capital firms
- Ex. Hires from top companies and competitors
Reasons To Be Excited:
- Two-sentence description of the major technology, design, and business challenges you’re facing that would create opportunities for accomplishment and career advancement for employees.
- Three-sentence explanation of your progress in solving these technologies to demonstrate your momentum, milestones on the horizon, and your plan to address the remaining challenges where new hires could contribute.
What Differentiates Us From Our Competition:
- A few bullet points on why you’re going to be the winner in your space and why that makes you the best place to work
- A few bullet points on your values such as autonomy, collaboration, work/life balance, diversity, work environment, and career path
- Ex. We’ve got you covered with the basics. We cover _% of insurance premiums for employee & _% for dependents, offer generous parental leave, flexible vacation time, and commuter benefits.
- Ex. Mentorship opportunities & regular guest speakers
- Ex. Daily catered meals & unlimited snacks
- Ex. Wellness & health benefits (gym membership)
- Ex. Paid parking or public transit pass
- Ex. Quarterly outings, frequent team building, and group fitness challenges (cycling club, running club, book group)
- Photo illustrating your great company culture or perks
- “Name [linked to LinkedIn profile] – Title” for each co-founder and/or C-suite member
- Headlines, publication names, and links to your best press coverage
- Optional screenshot of featured article
Careers Page Link /Job Openings List:
Job titles with short descriptions for your open roles, each linked to a job opening on your careers page, or to anchor text/bookmark for that job opening in your dossier with more info on responsibilities and qualifications
- Ex. Backend engineer – Architect, build, and maintain server-side web apps
- Ex. Business development manager – Lead sales strategy for biz dev reps while handling top customers
Once you have all or most of these elements, it’s time to format them into an appealing document.
Typically, recruiting dossiers are around two pages long. You’ll want to include your logo and screenshots or illustrations of your products. You might also add visualizations of your traction, logos of your customers or software stack, and photos showing off your company culture. Be sure to include an email address where candidates can get in touch, and links to your site or careers page.
Recruiting dossier examples: OneSignal
Now that you know what goes into a recruiting dossier, let’s take a look at this example from SignalFire portfolio company OneSignal, which makes push notification infrastructure.
You can see how OneSignal lays out what it does, quick facts about its traction, testimonials from customers, press clippings, what makes its business exciting, and why you’d want to join its engineering team. This dossier from 2020 takes a more visual, product-focused approach. It’d be perfect for sending over in an initial email exchange with a potential hire.
You can contrast that with OneSignal’s 2018 recruiting dossier, which they graciously let us use despite knowing it’s out of date.
Here the startup takes a more text-focused approach, outlining the company, funding, executive team, and blog posts while diving deeper into its engineering challenges and tech stack. By highlight exactly what its staff gets to build and how they work, this dossier appeals to ambitious programmers who want career growth opportunities.
About SignaFire’s Talent Program
Recruiting is SignalFire’s superpower. Our Beacon Talent engine tracks all the top tech talent in the Western world, and can generate reports on the best and most poachable job candidates for any role. SignalFire’s talent program is led by former Facebook executive recruiter Mike Mangini whose team assists our portfolio companies with high-level strategy and on-the-ground recruiting to make sure you score your ideal hires. We helped make over 1000 job candidate intros to our portfolio companies last year — just one of the reasons we receive a net promoter score of 96 from our portfolio founders, over 85% of whom say we’re their most valuable investor. Want to start working with SignalFire’s Talent team? Contact our Director of Talent Operations Crystal Guerrero here: [email protected]
SignalFire leads $60M for MainStreet to get tax credits for businesses
The ability to extend your runway has been hiding in plain sight.
And it’s no one’s fault. Company building has been a maze for individuals and businesses for years. But in a time of crisis, that maze becomes even more paralyzing and disorienting. Do you turn left? When do you speed up? When do you slow down? Questions beget questions, but what if those questions turned into answers? What if there was a map? What if that map held the key to an endless stream of capital — a straight path to that destination…a main street.
Funnily enough, the ability to extend one’s runway is a solved problem. It was solved roughly 40 years ago. In 1981, the Economic Recovery Tax Act introduced research and development tax credits, a non-dilutive form of capital to help catalyze innovation. However, that was 1981 and with time, this great product has gone neglected. It’s in desperate need of a resurfacing, but no one has stepped in to give it the attention and time it needs. In 2020, we got those people and their names are Doug Ludlow and Dan Lindquist. Doug and Dan, along with their team, are building MainStreet, the ultimate advocate for startups and small businesses.
To start, MainStreet taps into those billions of dollars allocated to small businesses and reroutes them right to a company’s bank account. MainStreet automates the process for companies to effortlessly discover, apply for, and receive these allocated dollars — dollars that are commonly stowed away in the form of government stimulus funds, hiring incentives, and tax credits. In other words, Doug and his team work as a company’s advocate to ensure that they surface and give you all of the money that is already set aside for them. Let’s take it a step further…MainStreet gives you free money.
MainStreet is designing the front-end and back-end portal for a company to work with its local and federal government. The government says it has your back, but when information is buried, following through on that promise becomes increasingly difficult. With just a few clicks, MainStreet connects to your payroll provider, ingests your company’s information, and magically discovers all of the government dollars that are readily available to you. As opposed to waiting for that cash to hit your account months later, MainStreet gets it to you faster, and monthly, so that you can use that cash to support your business immediately. And MainStreet doesn’t do this just once. The software works 24/7 to constantly surface and discover new credits. You can read more about how it works in this deep dive on MainStreet from Not Boring, which notes the startup is exceeding the revenue growth pace of the top cloud companies.
Your company is dynamic and evolving, and therefore the credits that you are eligible for are as well. On average, the company is finding more than fifty thousand dollars for each company that applies and over time, we fully anticipate that number to grow. To keep incentives fully aligned, MainStreet does not make any money until you do.
After just a few meetings, we knew we wanted to be involved in this journey. Since meeting Doug, we knew that this man was on a mission to support small businesses however he can. From starting several companies before to then working with small businesses inside Google’s SMB ads team, he has experienced the challenges of growing new and small businesses first hand. That said, the passion does not stop with Doug. Every member of the MainStreet team deeply cares about supporting small business with many having started their own.
This is just the beginning for the company. With huge plans in mind for 2021, MainStreet has been leveraging the team at SignalFire to help with product development, PR & communications, recruiting, and strategy planning. We could not be more excited to be leading MainStreet’s $60M Series A with the goal of assisting them to help every entrepreneur push the world forward.