Tempo CEO Moawia Eldeeb: Homeless to $220M for in-home fitness
Silicon Valley lore is replete with remarkable startup origin stories, but Moawia Eldeeb’s personal journey to founding Tempo stands out.
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.
Tempo’s screen and weights are familiar and durable
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.
Tempo co-founder and CEO Moawia Eldeeb
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 uses machine vision to track an 80,000-point model of your body to automatically give feedback on posture and movement
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.
Why go to the gym when Tempo brings the gym to you?
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.”
Ro co-founder Z Reitano and his dad Dr. Michael Reitano
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.”
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.
MainStreet CEO Doug Ludlow
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.
Vocational schools & CourseKey unlock the American Dream
The traditional 4-year college degree is crumbling as the default gateway to the American dream. Increasingly, students are opting for alternatives such as trade and vocational programs that teach tangible skills and unlock high-paying jobs in a fraction of the time and without crippling debt. The average trade school tuition typically takes half the time and costs a quarter of the price. And the average salary of a graduate is strikingly similar, within a few thousand dollars. It’s no surprise that these vocational programs have surged in popularity for both high school graduates and workers who are re-skilling, especially during periods of high unemployment and economic uncertainty.
And yet vocational schools and their administrators, instructors, and students suffer from a lack of purpose-built software. Student Information Systems and Learning Management Systems are optimized for traditional K-12 schools and university workflow, but vocational schools are stuck relying on pen and paper or trying to shoe-horn in solutions that aren’t built for them.
CourseKey co-founder and CEO Luke Sophinos
That’s why we got so excited when we met CourseKey and its CEO Luke Sophinos. CourseKey is reimagining a completely new education operating system specifically built for experiential, hands-on learning models, which continues to evolve with hybrid/distance learning. Luke and his team are perfectly positioned to help vocational schools vastly improve engagement, retention, and unlock economic mobility for a disadvantaged student population to become welders, nurses, and pilots – mission-critical jobs that form the backbone of the US economy. CourseKey is a fantastic business with a fantastic real-world impact.
Many of these jobs have life or death consequences, whether in healthcare, construction, or transportation. They need proper training. For good reason, vocational schools are highly regulated. Student loan dollars for trade schools can get cut if their administrators aren’t in compliance with various reporting requirements, such as student time and attendance. These metrics are tougher to track with on-site training program than at traditional 4-year higher ed institutions. Compliance hurdles can choke capacity and growth for many trade schools under the specter of audits from the state or federal governments, especially as remote learning adds ambiguity to the process. At the Department of Education level, schools can lose access to federal funding that is necessary for their survival. Not only does CourseKey improve trade school business KPIs, it serves as insurance against this existential risk.
In parallel, students also benefit directly from CourseKey’s software, which dramatically reduces the friction of menial but critical tasks, such as tracking completion of certification pre-requisites and timesheets. CourseKey connects multiple stakeholders, bridges information silos, and creatively applies technology like passive auditory watermarks. That means teachers and registrars no longer need to chase down students for physical timesheets, and students can rest assured they have perfect visibility into how they’re tracking towards graduation.
We at SignalFire are thrilled to lead CourseKey’s $9M Series B financing it announced today. I’ll be joining the board, alongside Builders VC, Dennis Yang, the former CEO of Udemy, and Steve Altman, the former President of Qualcomm. Says Luke Sophinos: “Having previously worked in venture capital and spent a lot of time around various funds, I’ve been incredibly impressed with SignalFire’s unique value-add. Within the first week of the relationship, our team was connected with leaders of industry to help solve looming challenges, improve processes, and recruit world-class talent. I look forward to partnering with Wayne and SignalFire to build CourseKey into an enormous and impactful business” As CourseKey continues inflecting their growth, they’ve leaned on SignalFire’s Beacon platform and the in-house recruiting experts to rapidly scale the team.
We’re in the early innings of the shift away from traditional universities as the default for higher education. Students are realizing the full range of options that may be a better fit for them in unlocking better-paying, more fulfilling careers without getting trapped in debt. We couldn’t be more excited to be part of this journey as CourseKey powers this growing pathway to the American Dream.
SignalFire funds Commsor’s community management operating system
Building community for an enterprise company requires more than hosting a few meetups and mailing out swag. The consumer world realized that when you foster a passionate fanbase, it’s easier to create brand awareness, organic word-of-mouth growth, and consumer loyalty. Community is a moat! As technology gets commoditized, b2b and b2c companies are realizing that by staying in closer touch with and interconnecting their community, they gain defensibility as customers help spread the word, increase usage, and stick with the product. Digitally native Millennials and Gen Zs are becoming a large percentage of the corporate world. They deserve tools for building community with customers that are as convenient as the apps they use in their consumer lives.
That’s why we got so excited when we met Commsor and its CEO Mac Reddin at the beginning of 2020. His vision is to build Commsor into the operating system for all things community and enable the consumerization of enterprise go-to-market strategies. Commsor goes beyond just building software by living and breathing community with their Community Club for community professionals, education programs for community builders and executives, and extensive resource library for the entire industry.
We are thrilled to have been a part of their journey since pre-seed, and to be participating in today’s $16M Series A financing led by our friends at Felicis Ventures and Seven Seven Six.
It’s now clear that community is the future and an absolutely critical piece of powering customer networks, scaling businesses, and building brands in ways that traditional marketing or advertising channels can’t. Community powers customer acquisition, engagement, retention, and expansion when done correctly, but the problem is that building community is hard. It’s a function that is often wildly understaffed within a company, derided as merely an intern-level position, and fragmented among many channels, including Slack, Meetup, Github, Mailchimp, Discourse, Twitter, and more. That means you’re wrangling spreadsheets, operating off incomplete data, and ultimately not taking a data-driven approach to your community.
Commsor’s platform becomes the command center for community management, pulling in data from all sources and giving professionals the ability to see all community data in a single pane of glass, slice and dice data to run targeted campaigns, and measure ROI on various initiatives. Just as functions like marketing, sales, and customer support have become increasingly data-driven and more important functions in b2b organizations, community will follow suit. Commsor provides a new set of tools for community teams to effectively manage their work. Its software suite will facilitate a shift in other teams’ workflows and KPIs in support of community, just as marketing KPIs are often in support of sales.
As Commsor sprints ahead, they’ve been able to leverage SignalFire’s Beacon platform and the in-house recruiting experts to rapidly scale the team bring in some phenomenal talent such as their new Head of Product. “SignalFire has quite literally been a game changing partner for us” tweeted Reddin. “The entire team are some of the kindest, down to earth, and most helpful people I know”. With the next phase of the business, our Lantern programs will help Commsor spread their thought leadership among industry leaders and bring potential customers around the table.
In the coming years, we believe that winning companies will take a community-first approach, and Commsor is well-positioned to provide all the core infrastructure and services needed to do that successfully. The team’s passion for community and laser-focused vision on educating the market through initiatives like C School — the first-ever career-change program for aspiring community managers — and the Community-Led Declaration that they’ve developed and co-signed with dozens of leading founders will usher in a friendlier age of enterprise marketing.
Freight-pooling from Flock Freight is the future of shipping
What if you could take 9 million cars off the road, speed up deliveries to ecommerce customers, and save small businesses money? That’s the potential of Flock Freight’s shared truckload “freight-pooling”. Rarely are technological advances so win-win-win.
That’s why we’ve been believers in Flock Freight and its founder Oren Zaslansky from its beginnings — with our talent team helping him recruit its first engineering leader and our data science team building their early routing algorithms. Oren’s empathy for merchants and vision for making freight-pooling the status quo are endlessly impressive. We’re proud to have led Flock Freight’s seed, post-seed, and Series B rounds, and are extraordinarily excited for this industry-defining company’s next chapter.
While this big raise brings Flock Freight to $184 million in funding, the truly impressive numbers are in its traction:
Revenue up 4X year-over-year
Contribution margin up 11% and gross margin up 15% year-over-year
On-time delivery rate at a stellar 97.5%
An epically low 0.001% damage claim rate
Fuel emissions savings of up to 40%
So how does Flock Freight work? Well, businesses often overpay for partially-empty trailers to dump their goods at a depot before they’re picked up for final delivery. That loading and unloading leads to damaged or stolen goods, delivery delays, late fees, unpredictable ETAs, and bloated carbon footprints.
Flock Freight instead bundles goods from multiple clients into a shared truckload so businesses only pay for the space they need. The trucks are intelligently routed by Flock Freight’s AI directly to the delivery points, removing the middlemen hubs. It’s like carpooling for freight. Merchants get faster, safer, and more reliable deliveries so they can meet the standards of the Amazon Prime era. The world gets shorter ETAs, more availability for high-demand goods, and fewer greenhouse gases. And Flock Freight becomes the connective tissue of the globalized economy.
“SignalFire is the best. Exclamation point. What really caught me was just [SignalFire founder Chris Farmer’s] level of conviction” Oren beamed. “Once he made up his mind that he believed in what we were doing, it made me feel like by associating with him, my probability of success was going to be much higher.”
Before we joined the cap table, Oren recalls how Chris and our co-founder/CTO Ilya Kirnos told him “‘We’re going to show you how we can drive value. We’re going to introduce you to the guy we think is the best product and engineering leader in southern California.’ I understood enough to know it was risky and generous but cool of them to make that intro before a term sheet had been signed. That’s really the right way to do business, having confidence that we’ll just see the value”. That intro led Flock Freight to hire Lu Saenz, who remains their VP of product and engineering.
Flock Freight founder and CEO Oren Zaslansky
It surprises most people to learn that we have a half-dozen programmers and data scientists on staff. They build recruitment tech for our portfolio companies and support their engineering teams. “Yuriy [Groysman, SignalFire’s data science partner] went to work heads down for six months on writing our v2 solvers and optimization engine algorithms. Before, we could compute routing for 20 shipments in 8 hours. Yuriy took us to 150 shipments in a minute — a mind-boggling step function of increased efficiency. We have PhDs on payroll now but didn’t at the time. Yuriy and SignalFire not only saved us a lot of money, but he was part of a Nobel Prize-winning team in particle physics. We were never going to be able to recruit that kind of talent at that stage. He put us at least a year ahead of schedule.”
Rather than ask our community for favors to assist our startups, SignalFire recruited over 50 top entrepreneurs and tech leaders to become equity partners in the firm who have subsequently become over $100M of our funds’ LP base so they’re incentivized to help our portfolio. “The advisory network is extraordinary. Every venture firm says we have a super ninja rockstar network (Ugh, I’ve heard the term ‘rockstar’ used ad nauseam) but they’re not actually accessible. SignalFire introduced me to their advisor Keith Pradhan [formerly head of pricing for Salesforce and now for LinkedIn]. I’ve since connected with him a dozen times. He’s just so on point for us since pricing is viciously hard in what we do.”
When we invest, we run an all-hands onboarding session between our whole team and the startup’s founders to outline their needs and assign them to our experts. “Chris is still my guy, for sure. We talk a lot, sometimes multiple times a week. Often not about work but about life as well as building businesses and trying to change the world in our respective ways. But now it’s a SignalFire – Flock Freight relationship. It’s Mike Mangini [SignalFire’s head of talent, formerly a Facebook executive recruiter]. It’s the entire talent team [which made 1000 job candidate intros to portfolio companies last year]. It’s Yujin Chung [SignalFire’s head of market development and formerly Andreessen Horowitz’s first market development partner] and all the LPs and the advisors. It’s so many people over there making us better. And that’s why SignalFire is the best.”
“If I lived in San Francisco, I’d be in the SignalFire office every week because there are just so many talented folks around there. So many good operators, which I find to be pretty unusual in the venture world” Oren concludes. “Anyone can lead a round. It’s about taking a company from idea to exit. SignalFire has taken us from idea to where we are. We’re not at exit but maybe halfway, right?”
Flock Freight’s second act: The “Prebate”
To get the rest of the way, though, Oren is well aware that Flock Freight needs another innovation beyond the Shared Truckload model of combining Less Than Truckload shipments into freight-pools.
Bigger businesses typically hire entire trucks to do their deliveries, but get stuck paying for unused space if the recipient reduces their order. A truck fits 26 single-stacked pallets of almonds, but Safeway changes their order last minute to only want 20, so the supplier has a fifth of the truck empty. Flock Freight’s new prebate program lets customers strike a deal where if they don’t end up needing the full truck, they’ll pay a discounted rate because Flock Freight can fill the extra space with goods from someone else.
“We can go to the customer and say ‘don’t pay for a whole truck, pay for the truck space you use, and we will turn it into a shared truckload’” Oren explains. Those savings can add up if you’re shipping hundreds of truckloads per year. Suddenly Flock Freight is winning Full Truckload deals as well as Less Than Truckloads because it can combine them like its shipping competitors can’t. “If you’re spending $100 million dollars a year on truckloads, and some of them aren’t full and some of them are but you don’t know which will be which, what are you gonna do? You’re gonna give all $100 million of that to Flock Freight.”
Why SignalFire funded Ledger Investing’s $10M Series A
Sometimes a wall of text isn’t the best way to explain a startup or its potential, so we’re trying something new: a mini slide deck. These four images reveal why we’re so excited about Ledger Investing and its insurance investment marketplace.
Today the company announced its $10 million Series A, led by AllegisNL Capital with participation from prior investors including, MassMutual Ventures, Accel, Crosscut Ventures, and SignalFire! We co-led Ledger Investing’s seed round back in 2017 and they’ve made outstanding progress demystifying risk and expanding access to investment capital for insurers.
Here’s why we found Ledger’s product, team, and go-to-market strategy so compelling:
And if you want an easy way to share the mini-deck, here you go!
Partnering with BluBracket to build security at the speed of code
As Tesla, Symantec and others see their source code stolen and even being sold on the darkweb, there’s a growing awareness of the importance of securing source code. This problem will only grow as every company across industries ranging from industrials to CPG/retail becomes a tech company, with internal source code becoming a core piece of IP. Not only that, as companies move to Git and cloud deployments, visibility on where that source code lives is becoming even more difficult as source code gets shared more often.
BluBracket is the first team that has figured out a way to not only provide this visibility but also give these companies a way to manage access across developers, alert on suspicious behavior, and enforce security policies. We are incredibly excited to participate in their $6.5M Seed round alongside Unusual Ventures, Point72 Ventures, and Firebolt.
The founders Ajay Arora and Prakash Linga are serial security entrepreneurs that previously built Vera into the leading company securing access to documents. When working with clients like GE and Capital One at Vera, they heard frequently about the challenge of securing source code as the company moved to Git.
As employees come and go, we have seen major lawsuits crop up over code theft or even accidental instances of proprietary code ending up in open source repositories. Prior to BluBracket, there has been no way to segment access to sensitive repositories for people like interns, contractors, or others who should only have specific and temporary access.
In the old paradigm, developers would write code and throw it over the fence to ops who were responsible for standing up infrastructure. Now, developers make code changes that affect infrastructure in real time. That means that it is much easier for malicious code to get deployed to production. At the same time, enterprises are moving entirely to Git which has resulted in Morgan Stanley, Citadel, and many other companies having some of their code end up in open source repositories.
BluBracket offers a variety of security features to prevent code from getting into the wild or alerting if there are any breaches. They have developed an incredible offering that will continue to provide value to enterprises and help them protect one of their most valuable and defensible assets. They are already on a roll having recently been named a finalist at the RSAC Innovation Sandbox Contest and having landed impressive customers like Compass. We could not be more excited to partner with BluBracket in their mission to provide a comprehensive solution that makes code safe.