The TechCrunch crew has worked to keep tabs on this year’s startup accelerator classes. Conventional wisdom in startup land states that great companies are founded during more trying economic times. Well, a recession was declared yesterday by the National Bureau of Economic Research. We should, therefore, see some breakout startups in the next few years.
Which means it’s a good time to see what’s bubbling up. To that end, the TC team has spent time parsing the latest from startup-helpers like Y Combinator (here and here), 500 Startups (more here), Techstars (here and here), and Acceleprise, the group we’re focused on today.
Acceleprise is a startup accelerator — a company that helps groups of startups mature, grow and prepare to raise more capital; most accelerators provide some seed funds and office space — focused on the business-to-business, modern software startups. Or, what is usually called B2B SaaS.
The Acceleprise group has three accelerators: one in San Francisco, one in New York and one in Toronto. It’s the last of the three that is the most interesting; Acceleprise Toronto just went through its first cohort, while the group’s San Francisco and New York branches are on classes 12 and 4, respectively.
TechCrunch caught up with Acceleprise CEO and managing partner Michael Cardamone about the new cohorts and how his program is handling the new, COVID-19 world. After that we have notes on each of the 26 companies in the three cohorts. Let’s go!
That Acceleprise started a branch in Toronto was a bit of a surprise to your humble servant; was there enough startup activity in the city to warrant the investment? Why not Chicago? You get the idea.
So we were first curious about how Cardamone felt that the first batch of Toronto startups performed. According to the executive, the Canadian cohort “massively exceeded [his] expectations.” He went on to say that while the Acceleprise team was confident in the quality of talent in the city, what “they didn’t fully realize is how much of a funding gap there is in Toronto for the pre-seed stage.”
Funding gaps, in case you’re not familiar with the turn of phrase, are bad things. A funding gap occurs when there’s no available capital for one particular stage of a startup’s life. Some ecosystems struggle with later-stage checks, for example. Here Cardamone is saying that what Toronto required was the opposite of that — it needed tiny checks to light first fires.
Cardamone told TechCrunch in an email that the nine companies in the first Toronto cohort graduated with an aggregate $1.5 million in annual recurring revenue (ARR), meaning that the average B2B SaaS company from the group is out hunting for more pre-seed money with six-figure ARR. That feels about right.
TechCrunch asked how many from the Toronto group he expects to reach nine-figure valuations. Cardamone responded that “there are definitely companies in the cohort that are on the trajectory to be significant North America-wide businesses, and certainly have the potential to have nine-figure-plus outcomes.”
But there’s a small obstacle in the way of success for some, so let’s talk about it.
TechCrunch was curious what portion of Acceleprise startups make it to the Series A stage. Or, more simply, what percent actually raise an A? Cardamone responded that Acceleprise considers “a Series A internally as a $4 million+ institutional round.” That seems fair.
The math concerning how many startups from the group make it are not simple, however. Acceleprise is on its third fund, but only its first fund has been in-market long enough to have Series A data. Of that group, per Cardamone, “45% of companies [that Fund 1 invested in] raised a seed round, and 40% of those so far have gone on to a Series A.” That might seem like a lower resulting percentage than you’d imagine, but the calculations discount eight companies from those cohorts that were sold before they raised a Series A, and two other companies that the executive notes have reached ARR of $3 million to $5 million and skipped their A rounds. (One fund powers more than one accelerator cohort, of course.)
So what impact will COVID-19 have on Series A graduation? “While the funding market is a bit tighter right now, we haven’t seen the same level of slowdown that we thought we might when this first hit,” Cardamone said, adding that during his group’s investor week (similar to a demo day) “interest […] was as high as it’s ever been.”
It’s not all good news, however. From his vantage point, Cardamone told TechCrunch that post-seed companies are raising more seed extensions than Series As than before. How that dynamic shakes out isn’t clear yet.
(As an aside, Acceleprise is running its next cohorts virtually, due to COVID-19. This may be the norm for accelerators until there’s a vaccine.)
Acceleprise was founded in 2012, but it was reborn when Cardamone got the name and moved the operation to San Francisco two years later. In 2014 SaaS was a growing slice of the startup market, but not yet the majority it now sometimes feels like it has become. So, the market has come to the company, in a sense.
The market has moved so far toward SaaS that public companies in the space have seen their valuations reach new peaks in recent weeks, even though the United States is now in a recession. TechCrunch was curious what impact the repricing of public SaaS revenues was having on early-stage companies that pursue the business model; was public market enthusiasm for SaaS raising to the prices that early-stage SaaS startups can charge investors for equity?
Not really, it appears. While there is a good connection between later-stage startup valuations and the public markets, it’s less clear amongst the early stages. Here’s Cardamone on the impact of rising public SaaS valuations:
It doesn’t necessarily impact valuations at the early stages but the positive view on SaaS revenue in the public markets leads to more capital allocated to early stage SaaS companies out of generalist funds, which certainly helps even our early-stage companies.
That makes pretty good sense.
Right, enough from me. Here’s the list of startups and how they describe themselves. Enjoy!
Roots Automation: Roots Automation delivers the world’s first zero integration, self-learning Digital Coworkers as a Service. Their Digital Coworkers complete common business tasks – accounts payable, employee onboarding, processing claims, to name a few – and interact with their human teammates to share progress, ask for help, and get smarter as a result.
Prophit.ai: Prophit.ai applies advanced machine learning technology to help recover the $30 billion dollars of indirect tax overpaid by US corporations every year. Their platform makes tax decisions in near real-time, with a 98% accuracy and prevents any future tax errors from occurring.
Firstbase: Firstbase is the physical OS for remote teams. Their platform lets companies supply and manage all the physical equipment remote workers need to do great work at home as a monthly subscription. Firstbase handles everything; from the deployment of goods, IT installation, maintenance, and collections.
Touchbase: The quickest way to have team discussions over live video. Chats are timed and support topics, screen sharing, and calendar integration.
Polymer: Polymer is a data platform that secures and permissions data-in-motion across decentralized tech stacks comprised of collaborative tools, data sharing services, and data stores.
Dataships: Dataships helps companies build data relationships with their users in order to build trust and comply with global data privacy laws. The automated solution saves companies time and helps them avoid large fines.
StonePaper: StonePaper is an enterprise company specializing in developing decentralized platforms for secure data management. You can send data securely to people and businesses regardless of platform.
XILO: Lemonade for mom and pop insurance agencies. Agencies build web forms on the XILO platform that help them attract new business, service existing business, and automate their processes like data entry, renewals, proposals, pdf generation and more — ultimately saving the agency 50+ hours per month. They have acquired over 100 agencies since launch in 2019.
Hoolime: Hoolime is a multi-sided marketplace that allows care coordinators to match, schedule, and connect clinicians with patients for home-based care. The company charges a fee on every successful visit or telehealth interaction.
TRYON: TRYON creates augmented reality technology for a virtual jewelry fitting. With TRYON, a jewelry company of any size can reach and attract more clients and enhance customer shopping experience, as well as strengthen its brand engagement, increase online sales and cut down on product returns.
Hubbli: Hubbli is a fast-growing SaaS company that provides private schools with a hands-free enrollment marketing solution, in addition to other business operational services. It’s like Salesforce for private schools. Hubbli empowers school leaders to focus on delivering education and build future generations with passion without the complications of technology and marketing.
StarMetrics: StarMetrics is bringing the next generation of analytics tools to the front lines of the streaming revolution. Using proprietary algorithms, StarMetrics empowers content creators, distributors and advertisers to discover the right creative talent before production to maximize the global value and reach of their content.
CFO2: CFO2 is restaurant software that helps multi-unit operators make more money. CFO2 sits on top of restaurant systems (e.g. POS), captures all the data and tells operators what to do to generate more revenue and cut costs to maximize profit.
The Main Tab: The Main Tab is the first and only highly curated wholesale website serving the $800B wholesale market. We offer a selection of coveted brands and empower ‘Main St’ boutiques to browse, discover, and place orders via our website, at any time from anywhere.
MediSeen: MediSeen is a digital health company that empowers health and wellness providers to create their own virtual practice via simple-to-use HIPAA/PHIPA-compliant software.
JiiWA: jiiWA connects nonprofits to the people they serve for simplified and efficient programming, communications and engagement in a remote environment. Think HubSpot for Social Impact.
VendorPM: Property managers spend $359B on vendors each year and still rely on word of mouth & spreadsheet. VendorPM is a SaaS tool for enterprise property management companies to centralize data and operations. This creates a lock up of supply which we leverage in a marketplace where vendors must pay a premium to access new business.
Debie: Debie is a credit ratings platform for the commercial real estate industry. 80% of commercial tenants are not rated and represent 14% of US GDP. Debie rates these businesses using real-time data, helping property owners maximize values, reduce churn and improve operations.
Equator: Equator is a creative toolkit to access the digital earth and interact, create, and collaborate in 3D space. Think Google Earth, but more, for professionals in the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry.
Hilo: The Hilo platform enables building operators to deliver better tenant experiences and a single point of access to smart building solutions. Rather than silo one building, our network connects people to the Hilo community in buildings, neighbourhoods and cities where they work and live.
Sote: Sote is a digital clearing and freight forwarding company for intra-continental trade in Africa – growing container volumes 100% MOM since going live in December. Flexport for Africa.
LVRG: LVRG is a supplier management and performance rating platform that helps users gain a 360-degree view of supplier performance to drive cost-savings through transparency and accountability.
Basix.ai: Basix.ai helps companies supercharge their sales efforts. Remote or in the office, their platform makes more sales conversations happen. Sales teams can get to the next prospect, follow-up, and close business, while getting smarter along the way. Basix.ai can turn your sales organization into a repeatable revenue machine!
OneBar: OneBar works on the next-generation productivity tools for teams, including a chat-driven knowledge base and Slack-first task management tool.
BurnRate: BurnRate is the capacity planning platform for revenue growth and hiring – helping founders and sales leaders know exactly how to structure their teams under different scenarios. Since COVID, they have been featured by the likes of Microsoft, Emergence Capital, Bowery Capital, and ProfitWell as a must-have tool to stay ahead in the current climate.
Upstock: Upstock.io instantly upgrades your company to the world’s best worker stock plans. Upstock.io uses visual dashboards to show equity in real-time and is backed by the same RSUs that top companies use.