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How to Raise Seed Money

Lindsey Magnano and her firm ‘Smith Shapourian Mignano’ have helped us get Zypp’s legal in order and equip to raise the capital we need to progress forward. During our first consultation at her office in San Francisco I felt a sense of security as her startup knowledge was vast and energy very genuine. I felt like she would get us on the right track so we didn’t look like fools to investors. Lindsey immediately got the paperwork in order and we were able to raise a successful friends and family round of $110,000. There are many unknowns to fundraising but one thing that is consistent is company structure being the foundation of your startup. Having a sound company structure (ie: silicon valley standard) shows potential investors that the founders are sharp and their money seems to be in good hands; assuming they also like the team, product, etc. 

If you’re looking to raise seed or early stage capital, read the article above written by Lindsey where she covers the difference between Convertible Notes vs. SAFE’s, the two ‘main’ investment vehicles that todays startups use to raise money. It’s a quick read and should point you in the right direction, enjoy!

Zypp is Raising a Bridge Round

Hey all, before we get into the weeds of our Bridge Round let’s first dive into what a Bridge Round is and the benefit for a startup to go that route. In an article from MicroVentures they state that a Bridge Round is “a small round of funding to tide a startup over until its next larger round of funding.”  The purpose is to increases a startups runway (the amount of time until a company is out of money and or closes shop) while they build more value (samples below) before raising their next significant round. In our case we’ve raised $110k in a friends and family round and the next major round would be a pre-seed round of which the amounts startups raise at this stage is growing larger and larger every year and not surprising to hear about teams raising $500k – $1Mm in a pre-seed round. 

A Bridge Round is a small round of funding to tide a startup over until its next larger round of funding

Remember, when raising capital, you either have a true valuation based on a 409A valuation (unlikely for early stage startups) OR you set a value cap; both have a direct effect on how much stake your investors take of the company and if the perceived value matches the risk profile of your startup. At Zypp we aren’t ready to bring in a million dollars of investment as we need to gather more data around product market fit and understand how users and what users want to see on the platform. The caveat to getting data and analysis of a product is that you need an actual product (usually an MVP) and you need people to test the product; all of which cost money.

How does a startup increase it’s value between rounds?

– Grow the team (adding a key member that was missing before)
– Adding notable advisors
– Shipping an MVP (minimal viable product)
– RND gain user insight/data on your MVP
– Lock in partnerships that have monetary or brand value
– Increase Sales or start selling in general
– Increase user base
– Press mentions (organic preferably) 
– Win some pitch competitions or startup showcases

Why did we decide to do a Bridge Round?
We’re building more value and gathering data to ensure that when we do execute a pre-seed round we’re already in stride. We currently have an app in the app store (for convenience of private beta users), we have a clear vision of our business model, we’re growing our list of people who want to test the platform and bringing on some key advisors. Our first objective is to build out a web-app which we can take to market quicker while simultaneously beta testing the app with our brand partners. Our brand partners are helping us curate potential integrations that would add value to their workflow and that they wouldn’t mind paying for. We think a bridge round enables us to accomplish all of the above which adds a tremendous amount of value for the company and current investors before entering into our pre-seed round.

Y Combinator Podcast #156: Amber Atherton & Iba Masood

I have a huge affinity for Podcast and get most of my gems for business and entrepreneurship by listening to them. A couple weeks ago I found the Y Combinator Podcast and caught episode #156 with two amazing founders in Amber Atherton who is the CEO of Zyper a platform that connects brands to consumers and Iba Masood, the CEO of Tara AI a platform that helps teams optimize their product development cycle. They were both able to raise significant rounds and below is a snipet from Iba about what helped her close $2.8Mm. 

the opportunity, market segment, team they assembled and traction

The podcast focuses on how the two raised capital and there are lots of GEMS in this hour segment of which I’ll outline a few of my favorite below: 
– Amber says that planning is key when raising money which includes an excel sheet of your prospective investors
– Writing an investment memo (usually done by investment firms) which helped her help investors answer important questions
– Finding memo’s of other companies like youtube helped her team construct theirs 
– Segment time (months) to be head down on your raise and focus on that one thing

State Income Taxes for Remote Workers: A Blog by Early Growth

As an entrepreneur and or startup it is extremely difficult to stay up to date on labor laws, taxes, accounting, HR requirements and all the other important operational duties that you have. If there’s ONE thing you don’t want to mess up it is definitely your corporate taxes especially if you’ve hired contractors and or people that live out of the state that your company operates from. I’ve been working with Early Growth, a CFO consulting service for over a year and it’s really helped me navigate through the esoteric knowledge of corporate finance and the fact that I only pay when I need to expertise is clutch.  

State Income Taxes for Remote Workers

Los Angeles


2.13.20 L.A. Tech Happy Hour Santa Monica

2.6.20 Pitch a room full of investors

San Francisco

2.13.20 Leaders Who Scale 

2.6.20 Harvard in Tech SF: Women in Crypto

New York

2.4.20 VivaTech Tour in NYC: Girls Just Wanna Have Funds

1.30.20 Heading for Extinction and What the NYC Sector Can Do

The conversation around digital privacy has become mainstream and a key indicator of that is when the government joins in. I think user privacy and protection of their data should be at the forefront of every tech company but when selling it is a main revenue driver then it quickly becomes an afterthought. I think we are entering an age within tech where transparency is key to success and realizing that there are other ways to make money other than selling peoples data to the highest bidder and shamelessly placing ads all over sites. NOW, to be fair this is in part because user have become accustom to free software; however I think tech companies can work together and with their patrons to figure out how to best protect user data while creating a great experience and make money. 

In regards to privacy, Europe has set the bar with the roll out of GDPR mid 2018 and now California is leading the way in the US with the CCPA bill. Even though this only pertains to users of a given software/platform that live in California, the bill will affect companies all over the states and world. There are more states coming up with policy around user data but I haven’t heard of anything from the federal level yet. The only problem I have is for a small businesses as following policies and adjusting your business to in compliance can be difficult. If you are a startup or small business I would look into how this will affect you as there are some serious fines if you don’t comply. 


Zypp: Private Beta Update

So, we are off to a slower start than anticipated due to a some development issues but we are bringing on users to test the app. Right off the bat the onboarding process is proving unsustainable so we had to fix the verification email and I’m learning that explainer screens are more important than I took into account. A lot of tech people, especially in the Bay Area will say get a product out there even if it sucks and I’ve always disagreed with that perspective. It’s also odd as something you also hear in business is you have one shot and there’s never been a time in history when that made more sense then in the age of information. 

We have also pivoted a bit in regards to priority of the app. We have concluded that a desktop version would make more sense for enterprise (our target demographic) and to get a ship a sound product quick, gain traction and feedback which will inevitably make our app more complete and superior user experience. That said, we have a lot of demand for people that want to use the app and we are moving forward on a daily basis. We are not accepting individuals at this time as the best feedback we get is from segments of people 10+ that are already interfaced together on a daily basis OR distributed teams.  

If you’re an individual and want to join our private beta, please add yourself to the list by CLICKING HERE.

If you are a company or group of 10+ people and want to join our private beta, please reach out to us on instagram OR linkedin. 

Early Stage/Angel

Otomo App:
Raised $60k
“the financial assistant for a new generation of independent workers”

Seed Stage Raised $1Mm
“empowers both end-users and operators to unleash Wi-Fi’s full potential”

Series A

Shyft: Raised $15Mm 
“transforms the moving and relocation industry by introducing technology, customer service, and lead management solutions.”

Uber and Postmates sue California over gig worker law

If you haven’t noticed by now, this newsletter has covered a lot about policy and raising capital. I haven’t had a chance to read this article; I know – shame on me, but I have been hearing a lot about new policy around the gig economy and seems like starting a company is getting harder and harder. This topic is a slippery slope because it’s really hard to innovate and build ideas as an individual or small company without contractors but for companies like of uber or postmates the impact on society is much more grand for the positive or negative. I think there’s a few elephants in the room around basic economic principles around running a business but we’ll leave that for another conversation. 

Innovative Startup

Unocup: the no-lid foldable paper cup 

1st Year Accelerator – v1accelerator

Ran by

 Rachel Holt leaves Uber for VC

Rachel Holt:
Construct Capital


Beta, Companies to Watch, Innovation, People to watch, Spotlight, Startup, VC, Women In Tech

Investor: Shaun Maguire

shaun maguire sequoia capital

Shaun Maguire has left GV,  a subsidiary/investment arm of the tech giant ‘Alphabet’ to join the legendary Sequoia Capital and head up their seed and early-stage investments.  In his duties with GV he was known for his focus in science based technology and startups. He is also the founder of a cyber-security company called Expanse. In his career he has helped pioneer everything from Quantum computing, autonomous cars and the list goes on. Read more about the talent grab here  

Accelerator: V1 accelerator

V1accelerator is a brand new accelerator out of Los Angeles, CA who focuses on non-technical founders and getting an MVP (minimal viable product) whipped up quick and into beta as fast as possible. The rumor is they can get founders the first version of an app in roughly 30 – 60 days and for a fraction of the cost. This program is also mentoring their cohorts, doing demo days and introducing founders within the program to potential investors. We will be following this one and see what kind of startups graduate from the program. I believe the inaugural group is made up of 20 – 25 companies. 

Startups: IDnow + Octopus Ridesharing Ads

Both of these companies recently closed some pretty significant funding rounds and are a fresh breath of air within both of their industries. IDnow is a digital ID verification plafform and Octopus is putting tablets on the back of Uber and Lyft car seats ushering in a whole new wave of entertainment and ad friendsy. We’ll be keeping an eye on both of these startups especially IDnow as it is in a similar space as Zypp. Read stories about each of their funding rounds below. 

IDnow closes $40 million in funding

Octopus closes $10 million in funding


Investment, Startup, Technology, VC

Recent Investments

Grafiti closes a pre-seed round with $1.6 million lead by FirstMark. Grafiti is a search engine for graphs, charts, facts, info-graphics, data, and insights.


Domio closes $100 million in their series B. Domio is building branded apartment-hotels with a focus on group travelers. I’m not sure what apartment-hotels are but it sounds a lot like another play and hybrid of airbnb which could be very interesting. To read more about the round and their plans moving forward, click here.

Tusk Ventures

The legendary Bradley Tusk does it again by closing $70 million for his latest fund. An integral part in Ubers success negotiating with governments and cities to scale their ridesharing platform, Bradley is now an OG in the tech/VC world and I’m sure Tusk Ventures has their eyes on some promising startups. Read more about the new fund here.

Beta, LA, Mobile, Startup, Technology, Trends
Zypp is A Dashboard for your Digital Life. The App has a plugin store where users can add features to enhance their page. The first plugins we’re introducing are for contact information like (phone numbers, emails, chat apps, social handles and websites) but will soon have plugins available for things like a (blog, portfolio, event, eCommerce and more.) Imagine Zypp at the cross sector of a stripped down website and a beefed up social media platform and without all the weird stuff  << (very subjective but social media does have some features I wish I could delete or remove.) 

 Zypp App Profile Excerpt


Unfortunately this event is SOLD OUT but seems pretty cool and great for the LA tech scene that seems to be catching a lot of attention as of late. I don’t know if I’m more excited about the fireside chat with Shaun Maguire from Sequoia Capital OR that the event is at the building that was also used as Hooli’s HQ in the classic HBO series ‘Silicon Valley’. The event should be a nice cap to 2019 and send the emerging startups into the new year inspired and ready to work on the innovative and breakthrough ideas and innovation. 

Here are the categories that will be awarded to companies the night of the event: 
  • VC Firm of the Year
  • Founder of the Year
  • Angel Investor of the Year
  • App or Tech Company of the Year
  • Hottest New Startup (Launched in 2019)
  • Social Impact Award
  • Ecosystem Leader

TechFire's Tech Awards & Holiday Party

Let’s pivot from the event real quick to highlight the fireside speaker ‘Shaun Maquire’. Shaun is an entrepreneur, investor, and scientist with a broad and eclectic background. As an investor and adviser, Shaun has worked with companies building everything from quantum computers to self-driving cars. Prior to GV, Shaun co-founded two companies: Qadium and Escape Dynamics. Qadium is a San Francisco-based cybersecurity company that creates and organizes information about the world’s networked devices.

This fireside chat should be interesting and will probably entail a bunch of terminology I have no clue about BUT if nothing else will be thought provoking. 

Tis the season folks and there’s not much better then some fun holiday parties especially if they revolve around business because as an entrepreneur you have to constantly be in the scene hitting the circuit BUT also have to make some fun of it. We’ll try to keep you all posted on the companies who win an award via twitter or facebook.

Advertising, Investment, Marketing, Mobile, Rideshare, Technology

I will keep this short and sweet but want to say that I mentioned this idea to a friend of mine when I first moved to the Bay Area in 2016 at a coffee shop. His name is Mo and told him “what if we could put tablets on the back of seats in ubers, create an app where riders can either control the media they are interacting with and then split the revenue with the drivers?”. covered this story and I am personally looking forward to the read. 

He loved the idea but we quickly shifted to planning the concert series he was helping me put together and the idea was left in the dust. I’m not mad that I wasn’t the one who pursued the idea but I am glad that someone else had this vision and is bringing it to reality. I hope that Octopus is planning on doing rev-share with the drivers and creating an additional source of income in the ever growing yet low wage sector of the ‘Gig-economy’.


Data, Investment, Startup, Technology, Trends

ID verification and management is a big and important market as we shift into the digital age at hyper speed. IDnow seems to be in good condition after executing a funding round of $40 Million to grow it’s Identity Verification-as-a-service platform. You may be asking yourself what the hell is ID verification? Here are a few use cases for Identity Verification (government issued ID in a digital format, financial services, travel, driving, and the list goes on) to prep you for the article below written by Who knows what the future holds but we don’t have to carry that stupid piece of plastic with our picture (that most of us don’t like) anymore then I’m all for it. 

We featured this article because if you didn’t know, data has become the leading and most valuable commodity in the world shoving oil further down the list as stated in this article by The Economist that you can read HERE

We featured this article because Zypp is in a similar space definitely sees an opportunity in the future of data. However our philosophy is people first and we are on a mission to give people the ownership of their data as much as possible and put the user in the driver’s seat of how their personal/digital data is used. We think that if personal data is going to be sold to a company for a marketing campaign, solicit new products or a research initiative, the users themselves should have a seat at the table and get a piece of the pie aka transaction.