- RSS Channel Showcase 5580420
- RSS Channel Showcase 1086533
- RSS Channel Showcase 7083133
- RSS Channel Showcase 6470736
Articles on this Page
- 06/13/18--14:10: _This startup says i...
- 06/28/18--11:20: _This CEO says his h...
- 06/29/18--12:42: _The CEO of the worl...
- 07/01/18--05:00: _I tried StyleBee, t...
- 07/02/18--10:06: _Light, the startup ...
- 07/02/18--14:32: _China created 46 st...
- 07/03/18--05:43: _16 'Shark Tank' hom...
- 07/03/18--10:09: _Why this top Linked...
- 07/03/18--12:56: _Amazon and Walmart ...
- 07/05/18--06:43: _Millennials love th...
- 07/05/18--14:17: _VCs are fleeing ex-...
- 07/07/18--06:30: _The CEO of a startu...
- 07/09/18--04:55: _Most people probabl...
- 07/09/18--13:43: _The cruel truth abo...
- 07/10/18--09:37: _I slept on a memory...
- 07/10/18--11:54: _A flood of hate mai...
- 07/10/18--17:39: _Venture investment ...
- 07/11/18--00:08: _How to build a busi...
- 07/11/18--04:00: _Meet the 30 healthc...
- 07/12/18--05:40: _Allbirds, the start...
- Starsky Robotics, a San Francisco startup that makes self-driving semi-trailer trucks, wants to put driverless big-rigs on the road in 2018.
- That would put the startup well ahead of Tesla's timeline. The electric-car juggernaut predicts its hauler, the Semi, will go into production in 2019.
- Starsky Robotics' CEO says: "I don't think Tesla's in the race."
- After electric scooters descended on San Francisco, city dwellers voiced their outrage over scooters routinely blocking sidewalks and building entrances.
- Parking startup SpotHero says it's in talks with several, unnamed scooter companies to help them move scooters off the sidewalks and into garages.
- The SpotHero CEO said the benefits of doing so are twofold: Scooter users can more easily find the vehicles after parking their cars, while more scooters will find homes in garages instead of taking up street space.
- GOAT is the world's largest resale marketplace for high-end sneakers, and is valued at $250 million.
- Its cofounder and CEO Eddy Lu spent more than 10 years creating and leading failed startups and business projects before achieving success.
- He credits struggles — and even fights — with his cofounder Daishin Sugano in their early days of working together to their current efficient workflow and mutual understanding.
- Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo
- Best-selling author David Sedaris
- Clique Brands CEO Katherine Power
- Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert
- Camera startup Light plans to introduce its first smartphone later this year, according to the Washington Post.
- The Post reports that the phone will have between five and nine rear camera lenses, not unlike Light's L16 camera, which has 16 camera lenses.
- There's no word yet on how much the phone will cost, but the L16 camera retails for $1,950.
- 07/03/18--05:43: 16 'Shark Tank' home products that are actually useful
- Adam Weinstein, a former senior employee at LinkedIn, quit last year to start his own data analytics company, Cursor.
- Cursor lets users inside a company search for data across different departments, databases, and platforms.
- The company launched two months ago, and teams at Apple and Slack already use the program.
- Over the past few months, the long-standing rivalry between Walmart and Amazon has gotten intense, and one demographic in particular appears to be the battleground: the over-65 crowd.
- In June, Amazon acquired pharmacy startup PillPack, beating out Walmart for the deal. Walmart for its part has been partnering with Humana, a health insurer that's focused on Medicare plans.
- The same crowd is clearly a focus for Amazon. PillPack's expertise is great for patients with multiple prescriptions, which tends to be the elderly population. Babak Parviz, a vice president at Amazon, said in February that the elderly was something "we deeply care about."
- In June, President Trump announced that the US planned to levy a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese-imported products.
- There's two rounds of tariffs taking place, the first of which goes into effect on Friday.
- The second round of tariffs doesn't have an implementation date yet, but it could impose a 25% tax on products associated with e-cigarette company Juul and e-bike startup Bird as early as next week.
- Investors are fleeing Social Capital, the young venture firm founded by early Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, to start a fund of their own.
- Ted Maidenberg, a founding partner of Social Capital, is leaving the firm to join former colleagues Arjun Sethi and Jonathan Hsu at the new fund.
- SpotHero, an app that lets drivers find, reserve, and pay for parking spots on their phones, almost didn't make it through the brief era where on-demand parking services were all the rage.
- Hundreds of millions of venture dollars were flowing into SpotHero's competitors, which tried to provide valet service at the push of a button on your smartphone.
- But SpotHero survived the funding wars and is now thriving, while his competitors — including Luxe and Carbon — have shut down or pivoted their business.
- Lawrence said that ultimately, SpotHero had the better business model than the competition: "Whenever you sell a product for less than it costs you, that's a problem."
- FoundersCard is an exclusive membership for startup founders, CEOs, entrepreneurs, and just about anyone with that "innovator" mindset.
- In addition to getting access to private networking events, FoundersCard members get VIP perks, discounts, and extras from retailers and services ranging from airlines and hotels, clothing brands, and gyms to office services.
- Until July 31, FoundersCard is offering a discounted rate exclusively for Business Insider readers, and a waived initiation fee. To get the discount, you'll have to apply through this page.
- Cathay Pacific offers 5-25% off flights, as well as a complimentary upgrade to Silver elite status. That status includes priority check-in, complimentary advance seat reservations, access to business class lounges while traveling on the airline in any class, and an extra baggage allowance. The status is valid for a year, after which you'll need to re-qualify through normal methods.
- British Airways offers FoundersCard members up to 10% off most round-trip fares between the US or Canada and the UK.
- Alaska Airlines offers 5% off fares within the Continental US, Hawaii, and Canada.
- JetBlue features preferred flat fares for Mint (business class) transcontinental flights, plus up to 5% off coach and business class tickets. Mint fares are as low as $800.
- American Airlines offers a changing list of benefits, including extra frequent flyer miles, elite qualifying points, or the opportunity to receive complimentary Platinum status for three months, with the chance to keep it by flying a certain required amount within three months.
- Qantas, the Australian flag carrier, offers a whopping 10–25% off flights from the US to Australia or New Zealand.
- Emirates offers 5–10% off US originating fares. The airline serves more than 125 destinations around the world, and offers particularly useful routing for those traveling from the US to the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
- Singapore Airlines discounts US originating flights up to 5%.
- JetSmarter, a service that helps members find available seats on private and chartered flights as an alternative to flying commercial — but for a much cheaper price tag than flying private normally carries — offers FoundersCard members a free three-month trial.
- Complimentary Preferred Plus membership at Avis, and up to 25% off rentals.
- Platinum membership at 15% off rentals at Sixt Rent a Car.
- 20% off all Silvercar reservations — the founder of Silvercar is a FoundersCard member.
- Credits and discounts with major car services including GroundLink, EmpireCLS, Carey, and Getaround.
- Park Hyatt
- The Standard
- Mandarin Oriental
- Omni Hotels & Resorts, and more.
- Discounts when you buy or lease a new Audi.
- 20% off at John Varvatos.
- Up to $10,000 off when you buy or lease a new BMW.
- A complimentary $100 credit at Trunk Club— the founder and CEO of the company is a FoundersCard member.
- Complimentary Diamond Total Rewards status at Caesars resorts and casinos, plus 20% off most rooms.
- 20% off at 1-800-Flowers.
- 15% off headphones, speakers, and more from Bang & Olufsen.
- Discounts at other retailers including Adidas, Reebok, Indochino, Rent The Runway, Cole Haan, Tommy John, Todd Snyder, and Jonathan Adler, and more.
- Discounts or credits at gyms, fitness studios, and wellness centers, including Equinox, Crunch, SoulCycle, Bliss Spa, Peloton, CorePower Yoga, and more.
- 15% off voice and data plans with AT&T Wireless.
- Up to 47% off UPS.
- Up to 50% off Dell computers.
- 20% off business card and stationary orders from MOO — the company's CEO is a FoundersCard member.
- A free year of service from the Phone.com virtual office service.
- A flat 20% discount off products and services from LegalZoom.
- Loyalty pricing at Apple.
- 40% off Lenovo computers.
- 25% off classes at General Assembly — one of the co-founders is a FoundersCard member.
- Paddy Power Betfair is acquiring fantasy sports company FanDuel.
- FanDuel was valued at $1 billion just three years ago. Now, the company is being sold for less than half that amount.
- According to documents that detail the deal's specifics, FanDuel's original founders might not make any money from the sale.
- There are plenty of beds in boxes to choose from these days, all of which promise to have a unique feature to ensure a better night's sleep.
- While I'm not always a fan of foam mattresses, I was certainly impressed by the Leesa mattress, which was not only comfortable, but cooling as well.
- As a side sleeper, it’s sometimes tough to find mattresses that don’t leave me feeling achy, but the Leesa is certainly doing the trick.
- At $995 for a queen, it’s a very good option for folks who may otherwise be skeptical of foam mattresses, or things that come out of boxes.
- Right now through July 12, you can get $160 off a Leesa Mattress when you apply the exclusive code "JULYINSIDER" at checkout.
- SparkNotes, the book-summary site, is one example of a startup that was so popular in its early days that it couldn't keep up with customer demand.
- Other examples include GOAT, the world's largest resale marketplace for high-end sneakers, and VIPKid, a Chinese education startup.
- At least one entrepreneur says this is the sign that a company has achieved product-market fit.
- The amount of money flowing into venture-backed companies jumped to $57.5 billion in the first half of this year — up 50% from the same period a year earlier, according to a new report from PitchBook and the National Venture Capital Association.
- The lion's share of the dollars flowed into software companies and those based on the West Coast.
- Much of the boom is coming from nontraditional venture investors, such as private equity firms.
- This week, Silicon Valley venture firm Scale Venture Partners closed its sixth fund at $400 million.
- The firm is focused on what Scale VP partner Ariel Tseitlin describes as 'early in revenue investing,' and focuses on helping companies grow their revenue early on.
- Tseitlin said that to effectively bring in revenue, companies should focus on sales and customer conversion rates.
- Sneaker startup Allbirds became famous for their cloud-like, super comfortable Merino wool sneakers.
- The direct-to-consumer brand has a deep commitment to sustainability, and as such, has released a new line of sneakers made from Eucalyptus pulp — called the Tree collection.
- The collection features two styles, the Runners and the Skippers, and we tried them to see if they're just as comfortable as the originals
- Spoiler alert: They're amazing.
You've probably never heard of Starsky Robotics, the San Francisco startup that wants to put driverless semi-trailer trucks on the road later this year.
The company faces significant competition from transportation juggernauts such as Waymo, Uber, and Tesla, who are also working on big-rigs that drive themselves.
But Stefan Seltz-Axmacher, the 28-year-old cofounder and CEO of Starsky Robotics, says he isn't worried, simply because he doesn't think trucking is a priority for his rivals.
"I don't think Tesla's in the race. Honestly, I think Waymo, Tesla, and Uber all have their leftover people working on trucks, or maybe their up-and-comers who are trying to make a name for themselves on a less important team," Seltz-Axmacher said.
Founded in 2015, Starsky Robotics — named for the trucking slang term for when drivers work in teams, like the title characters of the 1970s TV series "Starsky & Hutch"— aims to have driverless semi-trailer trucks on the road before the end of 2018, Seltz-Axmacher said.
It could be a first, beating all of those rivals.
The system they're building has big-rigs drive themselves in simple highway conditions, and has human drivers take remote control from miles away when the trucks encounter anything weird or complicated. The plan is to eventually hire dozens of drivers, who will each monitor several trucks at once from the safety of a computer screen.
Before the year's end, Seltz-Axmacher says Starsky Robotics will beat Tesla to putting self-driving semi-trucks on the road — without a human in the driver seat.
The company may already be halfway there. Starsky Robotics has been hauling freight for other companies and making money since April 2017, with a small number of self-driving, but manned vehicles operating in southeastern parts of the US.
Starsky Robotics employs seven drivers and its trucks cover about 150 miles every day, according to Seltz-Axmacher.
And while its competitors are focused on ride-hailing, electric vehicles, and self-driving cars, Seltz-Axmacher says Starsky Robotics has eyes on long-haul trucking only.
"Saying that we're better than Tesla is like an average baseball player saying that they're better at baseball than Michael Jordan," Seltz-Axmacher said. "I don't know if we're going to be better at basketball, but I don't really care about basketball in this case."
'Least qualified person in this entire industry'
The entrepreneur describes himself as the "least qualified person in this entire industry" to disrupt long-haul trucking. He became interested in trucking as a college student and intern at a manufacturing company based outside Philadelphia.
One day on the job, he learned that buying a new, diesel semi-trailer Class 8 truck will set you back around $150,000, and that most drivers buy their own vehicles. By comparison, some Lamborghinis start at $200,000.
The cost of getting into the business, combined with poor working conditions, solitude, and life-threatening job hazards, makes long-haul trucking one of the least desirable jobs in America. For these reasons and more, there's a dire shortage of truckers nationwide, pushing up freight costs and, in turn, raising retail prices.
Seltz-Axmacher thinks self-driving semi-trucks can help.
Starsky Robotics employs regular truck drivers, who are familiar with operating these vehicles, to drive using a remote-control steering wheel and pedals from inside a Starsky Robotics office. For now, the company also puts a human in the driver seat.
The goal is not to replace the human behind the wheel, but to relocate them to a driving simulator. Seltz-Axmacher hopes those drivers will spend more time with their families and friends — and avoid the accidents and injuries that befall long-haul truckers all too often.
Starsky isn't the only one working on building this future.
Rival Uber's self-driving trucks have been hauling freight on Arizona highways for several months now. The ride-hailing giant said in March that it's not ready for driverless.
Tesla revealed its hulking hauler, which has electric motors and a 500 mile range, at a splashy unveiling in November 2017. The vehicle made its first cargo trip in March, carrying battery packs from Gigafactory 1 in Nevada to Tesla's Fremont factory in California.
The all-electric truck, called the Semi, isn't supposed to go into production until 2019.
Meanwhile, Tesla has hit something of a rough patch. The electric car juggernaut announced plans to lay off about 9% of its employees on Monday, amid efforts to restructure the organization in order to turn a profit. Tesla has already slashed its Model 3 production targets for the year as it struggles to fill orders.
Even so, Seltz-Axmacher says he has no desire to bad-mouth Tesla's Elon Musk.
"It's all fun to talk about how Goliath sucks when Goliath's doing great, and you're the little David," Seltz-Axmacher said."But when Goliath is like on their knees and can't walk and is using a cane, picking on them — that's not the best use of my time."
The scooter armageddon in San Francisco was over almost as quickly as it began.
After the city received complaints of scooters routinely blocking sidewalks and building entrances, causing people to trip, and making sidewalks less accessible for people with mobility issues, it slapped the three high-profile scooter companies with cease and desist orders. Those startups are now vying for a limited number of permits from the city.
Now, Mark Lawrence, the CEO of parking startup SpotHero, tells Business Insider that his company is very close to a solution for the complaint that largely led to the scooter crackdown in the first place: The fact that because there's no dedicated scooter parking, they tend to get dumped anywhere and everywhere on streets and sidewalks.
Several scooter companies are in talks with SpotHero, an app that makes it fast and convenient to book a parking spot across 49 cities, to dock scooters in parking garages or share data to ensure scooters are located where they will most likely be used.
Lawrence said since the drama around scooter-sharing has unfolded, several companies — which he declined to name — approached SpotHero about working together to find a solution for scooter parking.
One of the most well-funded players in the scooter market, Lime, told Business Insider it's in conversation with several partners that will "allow us to extend access of our scooters to more riders."
"SpotHero is an example of an innovative company that would complement Lime's overall rider experience," a Lime spokesperson said.
The other top two scooter companies, Bird and Spin, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Bird, the most valuable of the three, is said to be valuing itself at $2 billion as it pursues new funding.
SpotHero works by linking drivers with over 5,000 parking lots, garages, and valets across the US and Canada. In the app, a driver can find, reserve, and pay for a spot with just a few clicks. SpotHero takes a commission on every reservation made.
Lawrence said some commuters want to drive into the city, park somewhere, and book a scooter the rest of the way to their destination. Someday, scooter companies might put scooters in SpotHero locations to make their lives easier and rake in their business.
Data could also help scooter companies be smarter. If SpotHero knows there's a big event coming up and lots of parking spots in a certain radius are booked in advance, the startup could tip off scooter companies to deploy their scooters there, Lawrence said.
"We know where millions of people are already going to pay to park and where they're going to be. A percentage of those are going to need a scooter, and so the question is, is that scooter going to be physically available where people need it?" Lawrence said.
The benefits are twofold: Scooter users can more easily find the vehicles, while more scooters will find homes in garages instead of taking up space on sidewalks.
It would be a surprising twist in the scooter saga, because all of these scooter companies market their vehicles as "dockless." People reserve a local scooter on their phone, ride for a small fee, and at the end of the journey, leave the scooter wherever to be claimed by the next rider. Not having docking stations is part of what makes them convenient.
Lawrence said the talks with scooter companies are still early, but he's optimistic that his startup will partner with others to improve the scooter situation for everybody.
"The way we do it isn't so much important as the why, which is, so we can make mobility better, so we can reduce congestion, so we can get people to move in and out of cities," he said.
For more than a decade, Eddy Lu tried to find the next big thing: 99-cent smartphone apps, golf apparel, Japanese desserts. They all flopped, but he wasn't headed back to the Wall Street world he left.
Then he got into high-end sneakers with an online marketplace called GOAT— as in "Greatest of All Time," as they say in sports and rap. And in 2015, on Black Friday, GOAT blew up. It couldn't keep up, and thousands of orders went unfilled. Lu felt sick about it, but he also knew he finally had something worth fighting for.
He told us what that was like, in an episode of Business Insider's podcast, "Success! how I Did It": "We responded to every single customer-service message. I think there were about 4,500 that day. But at that point it was better to be hated than unknown."
Today GOAT is the world's largest sneaker-resale market. It has over $100 million in funding, 7 million users, more than 300 employees, and 400,000 pairs for sale. It raised its latest round of funding at a valuation of $250 million, according to Recode. Earlier this year, it merged with the retail store Flight Club, an iconic reseller in the sneakerhead world, and one that can provide GOAT with the international reach it needs to scale.
Lu's cofounder, Daishin Sugano, has been with him for every failed startup. And Lu says it's thanks to him — and a pair of counterfeit sneakers — that they finally hit the ground running.
Listen to the full episode here:
Subscribe to "Success! How I Did It" on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, or your favorite podcast app. Check out previous episodes with:
Transcript edited for clarity.
Eddy Lu: My cofounder, he's a huge sneaker enthusiast. He started buying sneakers when his dad bought him his first pair of Jordans, the Jordan 5 Grapes, back in the day.
Rich Feloni: Yeah, with the purple in them.
Lu: Yeah. And 23 years later, because Michael Jordan's number is 23, they rereleased the Jordan 5 Grapes. He went on eBay, bought a pair, and he got them, and they just didn't feel right. They turned out to be fake. He tried to ask the seller for his money back; he tried to contact eBay. It's just an onerous process. We were just, like, "We could build a really great app to help clean up this market." So we built GOAT.
Dropping everything to build anything
Feloni: At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Lu: After my aspiring basketball career ended. The Lakers didn't draft me out of college. It's not like I had a network of lemonade stands when I was a kid or anything like that.
Feloni: So you're not falling into that mythology there, no?
Lu: For me, I always liked building things, and that's why I did computer science. I graduated in 2003 when CS wasn't in favor. It was after the dot-com bust, and it was just because I liked building things that I wanted to do computer science. I went into the corporate life. I was a consultant. I was an analyst at Lehman Brothers when that still existed.
Feloni: Why did you get into finance if you got a computer-science degree?
Lu: I never wanted to do hardcore programming. I did like building businesses, and thinking about new problems. But going into corporate life, I realized I'm not a good employee, to be honest. Every night, and this is back to when I worked at Lehman, I became roommates with Daishin. Every night after work we would just talk about what we could build on the side, what we could do, how to create a new business. It wasn't a startup back then, it was just, "Let's create a new business while we're young."
Feloni: Why? What do you think drove you to say that?
Lu: I don't know. Besides the fact that we always wanted more, for some reason. I left my job in consulting to do banking because I was just kind of bored. It just wasn't stimulating, so I thought doing a banking job would be a lot more rewarding and challenging. There was a lot more work, but it still wasn't challenging to me and us. We just kept talking about other ideas on the side. Working corporate jobs like that, demanding corporate jobs, it's really hard to try to do another business on the side. Daishin and I quit cold turkey on the same day in 2007. We were just, like, "Let's just quit and figure it out." Much to the chagrin of our parents. My dad was very happy I had a Lehman Brothers job. But we just didn't feel like it was right. We wanted to try something while we were young, so we just quit and started to do stuff. Thankfully Daishin is a designer; I was a developer. That was when the iPhone just came out, so we built a bunch of those 99-cent apps.
Feloni: Like games and stuff?
Lu: Games. Little apps. Little to-do apps. All those types of things to just start our startup journey. That's where we started, and we just never looked back, thankfully. It's been a long, painful, meandering road to GOAT.
Feloni: Do you think that you and Daishin would have quit your jobs cold turkey had you guys not had these conversations? Would you have done it on your own if he had not been in your life?
Lu: Having a cofounder you can trust is so important. You hear it all the time; it's really hard to start a startup by yourself. I've seen it through the years, and believe me, Daishin and I have worked through our issues. We're an old, married couple now, but in the beginning, we had physical fights, we've thrown each other to the ground, there was this one time at a restaurant, I remember. We had a disagreement about some business term, and we were yelling at each other at the restaurant — people were looking at us. He got up and walked away, and I kept on barking at him, walking out the door. We totally forgot to pay. We just walked out the door all mad at each other. But we knew that, just right after that, we were just like, "OK, let's just focus again. Let's just get to it." And that's what's really built the company. Resilience is another one of our core values, and it's because we were able to bounce back so quickly from setbacks. Thankfully, since we've been together, and worked through all those issues for so long, now that we're doing GOAT it's just so much easier. We know our lanes, we know what each other's good at, and we just can execute.
Feloni: Yeah, and in the early years, when you were learning ... you had a bunch of odd businesses like golf apparel, those phone apps, high-end tea, the Japanese cream puff things. What were you trying to accomplish? Were you just throwing things at the wall and seeing what stuck?
Lu: What's funny about the cream-puff franchise is that we were building startups on the side, iPhone apps, stuff like that. We were just, like, "Hey, this is a cool, single product. Easy to do concept." Because it's just a single product cream-puff concept.
Feloni: When was this?
Lu: This was right about '07, '08, when we decided to do these things. We were just, like, "This could be great passive income, because we could just put some money in, hire some good managers, and they can operate the stores, and we can have passive income while we build our startup dream." Nothing is ever passive, if you know about the food-service industry. It quickly went from a passive income to something that was pretty hands-on. Especially during the '08 downturn when things were going down. We operated the store a lot; we worked the store. A lot of friends are always saying, "Oh, I would love to own a coffee shop or a restaurant someday." For me it's just, like, no, don't ever do that, because the chance for success is so hard, we quickly learned. Thankfully, we did it while we were young. But those things scale linearly. There's no exponential growth, so it's like you just have to put in capital, you might make a little bit of money, chances are you won't. We learned that tough lesson for those few years because we were in it, it was not passive, we were spending probably 80% of our time doing that, and 20% working on a startup. After a few years, we sold some, we dissolved some, and we just moved on because we just had to cut our losses. It was a great learning lesson while we were young.
Feloni: Why do you think you have that resilience?
Lu: Me, personally? I'm pretty stubborn, I guess. Yeah, I don't know. I was pretty independent growing up. My parents didn't pay for college, they didn't pay for my car; I just kind of had to figure things out when I was growing up. We had a middle-class upbringing. I just had to figure things out and couldn't just fall back on anyone. I think just because of that, I've been pretty stubborn and focused on really making sure things work.
Feloni: Was there ever a moment when you questioned what you were doing and wondered, "Do I need to go back to an office job?"
Lu: How many thousands of moments are we talking about? When we were doing the cream-puff franchise, and it was '09 when the economy wasn't good, and we were in debt. Every kind of debt possible. I was in credit-card debt, in debt to my ex-girlfriend, my girlfriend at the time. It was a lot of pain. I would wake up in the middle of the night with just pangs of guilt, and I was scared, yeah. I don't think Daishin and I ever thought we ... To be honest, going back to a big corporate job just was probably worse than that. I dreaded every Sunday afternoon when I was working at a big corporate job. I never felt that ever since we started doing our whole entrepreneurship journey. I just think it was not going be in the cards. I think we were just foolish and stupid, but we just thought we would just figure it out.
Getting to GOAT
Feloni: Before you got to GOAT, when you were building GrubWithUs, you raised $7 million for that, right?
Feloni: By the time that you pivoted to GOAT, didn't you have only a million dollars left?
Lu: Yeah. It was a fun journey. We had investors at that point, and we pivoted a couple of times. A few of our investors were antsy, they wanted us to get acqui-hired, they wanted us to return the money. We tried a few times and we didn't work. We did those acqui-hire meetings. We talked to different companies. But again, we just didn't want to be a middle manager at some random company. To be honest, Daishin will be the first person to tell you, we didn't try too hard when we had those acqui-hire conversations because we knew that we wanted to just keep going. At a certain point, we made a decision, and we told our board, "Hey, we have one last go. We're going to try something."
Feloni: So he pitched it first?
Lu: Daishin complained to me a lot about the fake Grape purchase that he had. We looked into the sneaker market, and we didn't know if it was a big enough opportunity at the time. The recent trend is a lot of kids, and especially males, care a lot more about fashion. They're buying street wear, they're buying sneakers. But back then, we were just like, "Oh, it's kind of a still, a smaller market." So we thought about the idea, we put it on the side, and our board member, Greg, at the time, he used to work at eBay. One day at a board meeting, he was just like, "Hey, do you guys know anything about sneakers?" We were like, "Yeah." And he said sneakers are one of the few categories that's growing. People don't collect baseball cards anymore, Magic cards, stamps, coins. But sneakers were a collectible that was growing. So we decided to look into it even further, in collaboration with Greg. We were just like, "Hey, we could build this and do something." That's how GOAT was born.
Feloni: Was this your last shot?
Lu: I don't think it would've been the last shot. We would've figured out a way to keep going.
Feloni: Daishin started as a sneaker fan, but you didn't personally?
Lu: I've always liked sneakers, but I wasn't as crazy as Daishin, having 400 pairs, stuff like that. He definitely was the enthusiast.
Feloni: When you go into a space like this, where there are so many obsessive fans, when you're just starting out, just entering into it, how are you able to offer an authentic experience for people who take this culture so seriously if you were initially coming in as an outsider?
Lu: Daishin had all the product knowledge, so he's our head of product. He's really been driving it. But it was pretty painful in the beginning still. We launched in July 2015, publicly. There was a day in late September, it was about 6 p.m., we still didn't have a sale that whole day. I went in and bought a pair to tell the team, "Hey, guys. We got a sale." It definitely was not easy going. It's a two-sided marketplace. There's a lot of stuff that has to happen for you to be able to scale. We were just figuring out how to make an impact in this market. If you look at our site today, it looks like a retail-like experience, where you only see stock photos. It's a big deviation from the past sneaker marketplaces, especially places like eBay, where you see the seller photos and all these bad and crappy photos that they take. We decided to make it a retail-like experience, because we wanted people to trust GOAT as the single source of truth for authenticity. You don't have to trust the seller for authenticity. Actually, a lot of people in the sneaker market weren't fans of that. Big sneaker influencers in the industry emailed us and said, "Hey, not sure if this is the best way to go, because we really want see the pictures of these sneakers before we buy." We just had a point of view. We said, "No, this is how the future of the sneaker market's going to be, where you want to trust us so that there's as little friction as possible in the market." We went against some of our friends in the sneaker industry.
Feloni: It was a matter of surrounding yourself with the people in the community, but also knowing when to just stick to your own guns?
Lu: Yeah, and the inflection point happened Black Friday 2015. It was funny: Our head of marketing, Sen, it was a week before Black Friday, and he was just, like, "Hey, why don't we create a Black Friday promo?" And we're like, "Of course, just throw something up." We didn't think anything of it; it was just something else we were going to try for growth. We decided to discount all the hottest styles of the year; it was the first year of the Yeezy Turtle Dove, the Supreme 5s. But we said, "Hey, let's discount the 12 hottest styles of the year to retail prices." We put it out there, and the whole internet thought we had thousands and thousands of pairs. We just had sub-100 pairs, but we gained over 100,000 users because of the promo. Every single influential blog picked it up. Complex, Hypebeast, Highsnobiety. Our servers crashed every single day because we've never had scale before. This was the first time we've had scale. I was one of the back-end developers back then, and we never cached any pages, we never optimized queries. It was just such a painful week up until Black Friday. But on Black Friday, as you can imagine, it was so painful because 100,000 users tried to access our app. It just didn't work, and we got so much hate mail and hate Instagrams. I'll show you it later. A comment per second: "F--- you.""Screw this app." All this stuff, and it was a pretty traumatic experience, because we disappointed 100,000 people, when only a few dozen people got shoes. We had this whole apology tour. We responded to every single customer service message. I think there were about 4,500 that day. We just didn't know what happened. But at that point it was better to be hated than unknown. Even though it was so traumatic, I would've done it a thousand times over, because it was that inflection point in our business where people were upset, but they started to realize our value proposition. It's, "Hey, GOAT is this place where I don't have to worry about getting fakes because they authenticate my sneakers." We turned it from something that was bad into something that was good, because we started to educate them about the market, and us, and the industry. What's funny is that to this day we get some random messages that say, "I haven't forgotten about that Black Friday yet." But also we have a couple employees from that. One of our earliest customer-service managers, she participated in that event, and because of all that commotion, she was, like, "I can probably help these guys with their customer service." So she joined us. She's still with us today.
Feloni: Why do you think it is that the sneaker industry, the collectible styles, the more exotic ones, why do you think it's been so big in the last several years, 10 years even?
Lu: I just think when I was a kid, and you would go to a Foot Locker and say, "Hey, I want these Jordan 1s." And they'd be like, "Oh, sorry, we don't have your size, but we have these Pippins for you if you want them." It was just like, "Oh, I'm just gonna play basketball. OK, fine. Let me get these Pippins." This day and age, people crave individuality, and people know what they want. Today, if you walk into a retailer, and they don't have the exact thing that you want, you're going to turn away, you're going to look online, you're going to go somewhere else. I just think that, given that people crave individuality, they crave fashion, they want to be unique, they come to us because of that. You don't want to just go to the store and just get whatever they have left.
Feloni: Do you see it as a trend?
Lu: Yeah, I definitely think it's a growing trend, just because guys haven't cared about fashion for so long. There are a bunch of people, the sneaker enthusiast and the fashion enthusiast, who were the self-starters of that trend, first movers. Now guys are just more fashionable now. They care about what they wear, and it's going to be a trend that lasts a long time.
Feloni: You were the first to market with offering this kind of online marketplace for buyers and sellers, get shoes authenticated.
Lu: We weren't exactly the first to market. Flight Club, which has been around for 13 years, started as a brick-and-mortar consignment shop in New York, and they expanded to LA. They have a huge web presence as well, and they really pioneered this industry. Thankfully, we had the opportunity to merge GOAT and Flight Club together earlier this year, to really create the largest marketplace in the world. It's really from their knowledge and tutelage that GOAT even existed, because we saw that there was a demand for this category in this industry, in terms of resale sneakers. For us, we really looked up to them. I think we have a different vision than some of the other people. We are focusing on sneakers right now. Other companies have gone and said, "Handbags, watches, things like that." For us, sneakers first; let's build the best and most recognizable sneaker company. Let's build our brand. It's because when we did GrubWithUs, one lesson that we learned was that we tried to open so many cities at once. We opened in Chicago, Dallas, Austin, LA, New York, and we didn't even get one city right before we tried to expand into all these other cities. We kind of spread ourselves so thin that we just weren't able to execute anything well. For us, we've barely scratched the surface in terms of selling sneakers. We're still a small player in the sneaker space. Our ideal vision is to be the sneaker market for everyone. So it's not just people who are buying Yeezys, but it's people who just wanna buy that pair of runners or that pair of basketball shoes to wear. We want to service the whole market, and since we've barely scratched the surface, we want to focus on sneakers before we even think about going into other categories.
Resilience above all
Feloni: What do you think the biggest challenge of your career has been?
Lu: I think one of the biggest challenges was winding down all the cream-puff shops that we had. It was not fun. We honestly owed a bunch of money, even to the city and the state. Winding down those products, we had investors that we had to, unfortunately say, "Hey, we lost all your money." Yeah, it was just a big learning lesson into the types of businesses we wanted to create in the future. We never wanted to do something where we were restricted in terms of our vision because it was just much better to set our own path. I think, even though it was a really tough lesson, again, it's one of those things, I think, Daishin and I would've done over, even though it was our most challenging thing, because we learned so much from off-roading that franchise.
Feloni: How did you pull yourself out of that?
Lu: It took a long, long time, just slowly repaying people. I repaid that ex I was talking about over the years, and just repaid the state, repaid a bunch of those debts. It took a while to wind out, but thankfully, like I was saying, we were young. We were able to pull ourselves out of it. I'm so glad it wasn't one of those things where you retire and then you're like, "Hey, I want to open up a coffee shop." Then you put all money into it, and it doesn't work, and you have to go back to work because of it. So thankfully we were young and could afford to repay it.
Feloni: How do you personally define success?
Lu: For me, success is really just happiness and freedom. I think with success comes those, naturally. I think as long as you have the freedom to do what you want and you're enjoying every single day, that's pretty successful.
Feloni: Yeah. What's next for you?
Lu: People ask us this a lot, you know, "Oh, are you gonna sell your company?""What are you gonna do?" Daishin and I know that starting a startup's really hard. Getting product-market fit is so difficult. We tried for so many years to do that. As long as we're having fun, as long as we're successful, we're going to keep going. It's not like I have a better idea. I don't have a better idea, I don't want to be a middle manager somewhere, so let's just run this company, run it well, be happy about it, enjoy every single day, and just like build a big business. And that's what's next.
Feloni: What advice would you give to people who want to have a career like yours?
Lu: Definitely be resilient. I mean, GOAT's had extreme success, thankfully, but it took a long time to get there, and it's really easy to give up. It's really easy to burn out being a startup founder. Thankfully Daishin and I like I was saying are pretty foolish and stupid and never gave up and just kept going, but it is … it's probably very unlikely you're going to get it right on the first time. Or the second time. Or the third time. I think, you know, for us and our team, we're just executors. We, for me, my belief is, let's try something, and if it doesn't work, we can always change. I mean, yeah, it's not heart surgery, so I'm always willing to try something as long as there's a good hypothesis around it. I'm not the type of person where you do a ton of research and then you create a 50-page deck to start something. It's really … and the people who thrive on our team, our executive team, are people who just kind of get stuff done. And so it's just, "Hey, we have a hypothesis — it's grounded in some data-driven thought, it's grounded in some gut feeling. Let's try it. If it doesn't work, let's try something else." And that's why we've never given up. Just because there's always something to try. So let's just keep going.
Feloni: It seems like you've already been in a situation where the worst-case scenario came true, right?
Lu: Yeah. And so it's only up from here.
Feloni: Well thank you so much, Eddy.
Lu: Thanks, Rich.
San Francisco-based startup StyleBee allows clients to book appointments with professional cosmeticians and stylists who come to you, not the other way around.
Since it launched four years ago, StyleBee has earned the moniker "Uber for beauty" for its on-demand styling services that can come to you at your office, home, or anywhere you choose.
A slew of these "beauty on-demand" apps have cropped up in the past few years, including New York-based Glamsquad — arguably the most popular — which is now also available in the Bay Area. The salon-less concept is one that's been around for a while, but the on-demand service via an app is relatively new.
A personal need for one such service arose during a workday recently when I learned that a post-work event I was attending was a tad dressier than I had prepared for. I had packed a change of clothes, but had covered up my bedhead with a hat that morning.
So I booked a conference room in the WeWork building where I work to have a StyleBee stylist come and fix the monstrosity that was my hair.
Here's how it went.
Though there's a StyleBee app, I actually ended up using the website for the most part.
Frustratingly, the app crashed multiple times while I was trying to use it. Choose the wrong service and want to go back? Too bad, the app will buffer and you'll have to start all over. The same thing happened when I needed to correct my credit card number.
I was a little surprised that the app of a company founded in 2014 was basically nonfunctional.
When I first logged on to book a 3:45 PM appointment, I fiddled around before securing my spot — and after a few minutes of idling, my 3:45 PM spot had been taken. I chose the 4 PM spot instead.
But it was actually a weird sense of relief that, despite the wishy-washy app performance, the service I'd enlisted to do my hair up was so in-demand, I had lost an appointment slot.
I proceeded to use the website to book my appointment and to upload a headshot and some reference photos of how I'd like my hair to be styled.
For context, I wanted something easy, off-the-face, and geometric, not unlike Daisy Ridley's character in the recent "Star Wars" installments. I wasn't joining an intergalactic resistance that night, but I was on a photo assignment. I needed my hair to behave.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Light, a startup known for its 16-lens camera, is bringing its futuristic technology to a new smartphone.
The company plans to unveil its first smartphone later this year, according to the Washington Post's Geoffrey A. Fowler.
The phone will have somewhere between five and nine camera lenses on the back, will be capable of capturing 64-megapixel images, and will have better low-light performance and "sophisticated depth effects," the Post reports.
And unlike most current smartphones, Light's phone will have a circular camera array on the back:
See this crazy prototype phone with 9 lenses? NINE! @TheLightCo tells me says a smartphone featuring its multi-lens array will be announced later THIS YEAR. https://t.co/uWnMT4k3oXpic.twitter.com/dsMVhALrfW— Geoffrey A. Fowler (@geoffreyfowler) June 29, 2018
While there's not much more to go on than that, the L16 camera hints at how Light's smartphone would work. The L16 works by collecting light information from the 16 different lenses and sensors mounted haphazardly on its back. Then, that information is stitched together by an algorithm to create a high-resolution image that could theoretically rival a photo captured on a DSLR camera.
The idea behind the L16 — and by extension, a smartphone with the same technology — is that you're able to capture professional photos without having to lug around an expensive digital camera.
Light plans to announce its smartphone later this year, according to the Post. There's no word yet on how much it will cost, but Light's L16 camera goes for $1,950.
NOW WATCH: Everything wrong with Android
Silicon Valley is still the global leader in startup creation, but Chinese cities Beijing and Shanghai are leading the pack over in Asia, hot on the heels of their Western counterparts.
Most of the "heavyweight hubs"— meaning cities with stable growth startups and a higher concentration of later stage rounds — are in the US, according to a survey conducted by CB Insights, but half of the notably "high growth" cities are located in Asia. The latter is defined by a few characteristics, namely higher dollar investments, and includes big-name cities like Tokyo and New Delhi. However, as this chart from Statista shows, Chinese cities most consistently see the results.
About 80% of the Asian startups that hit the $1 billion milestone (AKA unicorns) between 2012 and 2017 are based out of China, with Shanghai creating 29 and Beijing creating 17. For some perspective: Silicon Valley created 57 in the same period of time, but New York only created 13.
Beijing startups alone brought in $72 billion in funding since 2012, second only to Silicon Valley's $140 billion; New York brought in $36 billion and Shanghai brought in $23 billion.
NOW WATCH: How Apple can fix HomePod and Siri
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Nine seasons in and hundreds of products later, the show "Shark Tank" continues to entertain us as well as the panel of celebrity investors with creative pitches. However, that doesn't always mean the products are actually good. Some end up being a little too creative or out-there and border on plain gimmicky or "Who would even use that?"
We looked through all the "Shark Tank" products available for purchase and came away with a selection of star products for the home that made us curse and ask ourselves, "Why didn't we think of this earlier?"
Many solve for the wasteful design of many common products you already use, while others address the annoying inconveniences that everyone experiences.
Check out the "Shark Tank" home products that are worth buying below.
A spring-loaded laundry hamper
This hamper drops down as you add clothes and rises as you remove them, meaning doing laundry will no longer be that uncomfortable chore you never look forward to. It eases the strain on your lower back, so it's especially great for expecting mothers, people with bad backs, and the elderly.
A self-cleaning dog potty
If you've already tried many indoor potty training systems, your search ends here with the world's first self-cleaning dog potty. You can adjust the timer to automatically change a dirty pad one, two, or three times a day, or manually change it with a push of a button. The machine will wrap and seal the waste, keeping your home clean and odor-free. It's best for dogs under 25 pounds.
Note: Currently only available through third-party sellers
A rapid ramen cooker
Granted ramen is already a pretty convenient meal to make, this tool makes the process even easier. The water line stops you from overfilling the bowl, the bowl doesn't get overly hot, and you don't need to use a pot and stove. It's perfect for anyone who doesn't have access to a kitchen, including students living in dorms and office workers.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Adam Weinstein was a senior employee at LinkedIn when he was asked to teach employees in China about the company's data analytics operation, or how the company uses data to make business decisions.
But the task, he found, was more difficult than he anticipated because there wasn't a unified place to find data across different departments, databases, and platforms.
Weinstein cobbled together a basic tool that could do this, which then became used frequently inside LinkedIn. For analysts, he figured, a system that would allow people to easily cull and keep track of data without bouncing off emails to several departments would make their jobs easier — and it could make for a lucrative business opportunity.
"I talked to lots of folks and I found that the problem we faced at LinkedIn was not unique to us or the technology sector," Weinstein told Business Insider.
After just three years working at LinkedIn, Weinstien quit in March 2017 and founded Cursor, a software company that allows anyone — not just analysts — to search for data across the entire company inside the same program.
Cursor also keeps track of what data people have asked for, thereby reducing duplicate searches.
"Analysts are on one side of the market. They're the ones the produce the content, get asked questions and write the code," Weinstein said. "On the other side are the people that are asking the questions, and those tend to be data driven leaders from anywhere in the organization. Both are using Cursor to interface with each other."
The company launched in March with $2 million in seed funding from Toba Capital and Ride Ventures. Teams at Apple, Slack, and of course LinkedIn already use the product.
'They would write a check for this immediately'
Weinstein started working at LinkedIn in 2014 after Bright, an AI-powered recruiting platform where Weinstien led data analytics, was acquired by the company for $134 million. That wasn't Weinstein's first acquisition, though. He also founded his own greeting-card company in 2009 that was eventually acquired by Designer Greetings.
When Weinstien was mulling whether to officially leave LinkedIn after three years, he first made sure the idea behind Cursor was sound. Weinstien met with several high-ranking data employees at companies around Silicon Valley and asked them if Cursor would be something they could use. The answer, Weinstien found, was a resounding yes.
It was only then that Weinstien decided to quit because he realized that he wasn't the only one running into issues with siloed or fragmented data.
"A lot of them said they would write a check for this immediately," he said. "Even though you have chief data officers and CIOs whose job it is to help deploy technology to help analysts, they haven't done a great job yet on this collaboration problem of how you help people understand what others are doing and capture that in a way they can see it."
Cursor is free for anyone to download because the startup is focusing on "wide adoption" in its early stages. Eventually, the company will start charging large businesses after it starts to take off with analysts.
The US population is aging. By 2050, the number of people over the age of 65 is expected to be double what it was in 2012.
An aging population means we'll see an increase in health concerns and chronic conditions like heart disease, neurodegenerative diseases, and cancer that can be costly to manage. It also offers a business opportunity for those companies best placed to meet the healthcare needs of this growing population.
Rivals Amazon and Walmart both seem to have the elderly on their radar, with Amazon's move into the pharmacy business with its acquisition of PillPack, and Walmart's partnerships with a health insurer focused on Medicare plans.
Indeed, the two had both been interested in buying PillPack. Walmart had offered $700 million for PillPack, but dragged its feet over regulatory concerns, according to CNBC. Amazon stepped in and offered a reported bid of just under $1 billion.
It appears the stage is being set for a battle between Walmart and Amazon for America's elderly.
Shoring up resources for an aging population
Back in March,multiple news outlets reported that Walmart had held early-stage talks with Humana focused primarily on new partnerships, though an acquisition had been brought up.
While you probably think of Walmart as a giant retail business, it's also one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, behind only Walgreens and CVS. It's also long had a focus on affordable prescriptions as well, offering some generic medications for $4.
That was followed by reports that Walmart may be interested in PillPack, a pharmacy startup that mails prescriptions that are packaged together based on when they need to be taken.
Should Walmart and Humana link up on more partnerships, Walmart would become more embedded with Humana's Medicare business, which is the health insurer's main focus.
Amazon's interest in the aging population
While the elderly weren't explicitly cited as the reason for Amazon's acquisition of PillPack, the startup's expertise managing multiple prescriptions could come in handy as Amazon looks to serve that demographic.
PillPack works with Part D and Medicare Advantage plans to provide prescriptions to members. This can be beneficial to the commercial health plans that can get better reimbursements from Medicare based on making sure members don't lapse in picking up their prescriptions.
People over 55 aren't among the biggest users of Amazon Prime, who are often the ones that use the most healthcare.
"We note too that the older demographic still under-indexes toward Prime membership...which speaks to the opportunity for Pharma to help Amazon further penetrate the ~80 million 55+ population in the United States," Morgan Stanley analysts wrote in a note in November speculating on Amazon's entry into healthcare.
Since then, Amazon's ambitions in healthcare have become clearer. The tech giant is teaming up with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway on a nonprofit healthcare initiative, and it already sells over-the-counter medication, including an exclusive line called Basic Care.
And within healthcare, the aging population has been one of the few healthcare topics Amazon executives have addressed. In February, Babak Parviz, a vice president at Amazon, said at Klick Health's Muse event in New York that the elderly was something "we deeply care about."
"We have looked at the older population in the context of health obviously, but we know that this group has a lot of issues, a lot of unmet need, some of them relate to health, but their health and the broader issues that they face are all interrelated," Parviz said.
Electric scooters, e-cigarettes, and e-bikes might be getting more expensive in the near future.
In June, President Trump announced that the US planned to levy a 25% tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese-imported products.
The first round of tariffs, which affects nearly 1,000 products including smart-home devices, electric motors, and navigation devices, comes into effect on Friday.
There's a second round of tariffs in the works, as well — and it might have a punishing effect on some of the hottest startups in venture capital. Currently, there's no implementation date on the second round of tariffs, but the Financial Times speculates that it could go into effect as early as next week.
If the 25% tax is imposed against these products, then prices on products produced by millennial-beloved startups like e-cigarette company Juul, e-scooter company Bird, and electric bike company Jump might skyrocket in the near future.
Social Capital, one of Silicon Valley's most buzzworthy tech investing firms to emerge in recent years, is unraveling amid a wave of departures — and many of the departing team members are regrouping to launch a fund of their own.
Ted Maidenberg, a founding partner of Social Capital, is joining a new firm being launched by Arjun Sethi, who left Social Capital in June, Business Insider has learned.
The move represents another blow to Social Capital, which was founded by early Facebook executive Chamath Palihapitiya, whose tech pedigree and iconoclastic pronouncements about investing made Social Capital one of the most closely-watched VC firms in the industry.
But after a tumultuous first half of 2018, in which Palihapitiya has made a series of abrupt and jarring changes in strategy, top investment partners are jumping ship. And for some, the landing spot looks very familiar.
"It's like Social Capital, but without Chamath," one source told Business Insider about the new firm being launched by Sethi.
Maidenberg is the second Social Capital partner to defect from Palihapitiya's firm for Sethi's offshoot in the past week. Axios reported on Tuesday that Jonathan Hsu, a partner and head of data science, is also leaving to launch the new fund with Sethi.
There may be more shoes to drop
We don't know much about Sethi's new fund. It was rumored to focus on cryptocurrency investments, but another source familiar with the matter tells Business Insider that's incorrect.
The firm will have Sethi, Hsu, and Maidenberg as founding partners.
Maidenberg was a founding partner at Social Capital, but he left in the fall of 2017. Although he is still listed a "board partner" at Social Capital, he did not invest in the last fund — a sign that he was phasing out his involvement, Bloomberg reported.
Maidenberg and Social Capital did not immediately return requests for comment.
His exit brings the number of departures at Social Capital to five partners in less than a month. Multiple sources told Business Insider there may be more to come.
Mamoon Hamid, another founding partner of the firm, left suddenly in August 2017 to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers after the rival VC firm poached him away.
In June, Social Capital lost partners Tony Bates, a longtime tech executive who was most recently president of GoPro, and Marc Mezvinsky, a former hedge fund manager who happens to be Chelsea Clinton's husband. The pair were hired in 2017 to lead a growth-stage fund that's since been cancelled.
Palihapitiya is tough to work with, but what VC isn't?
Business Insider spoke with several people — a mix of entrepreneurs, investors from other firms, and tech industry insiders — who pointed to Palihapitiya as one of the factors driving the exodus.
They described Palihapitiya, 41, as a dynamic but erratic investor who is notoriously difficult to work with. Others however, said he's tough, but what successful VC isn't?
Multiple sources said some partners may be defecting from the firm because they don't agree with the direction that Palihapitiya is taking at Social Capital.
In 2017, Social Capital began building an automated system that uses an algorithm to invest in startups. Companies apply through a glorified Google Form and let the AI decide whether or not they're worth backing. The firm has said it plans to use the system — called CaaS (capital as a service) — to make 1,000 investments in 2018.
Sources familiar with the matter said some partners are leaving because of the pivot to data-driven investing. Others said Sethi left Social Capital on good terms, and he even plans to team up with Social Capital for one of the fund's first investments.
One person in Silicon Valley said the most successful VCs evaluate a company based on its people, not just its metrics. This person worried for Social Capital's future.
"As soon as you move to algorithms and you're just purely data-driven, you're going to lose the sensibility of a company," this person said. "I don't care if you're the founder of a tech startup or a VC. Being disconnected from the touch is damaging."
By the time Mark Lawrence started raising big money for his startup SpotHero — which lets drivers find, reserve, and pay for parking spots on their phones — plenty of investors told him he had "already lost."
Those were the days of the on-demand valet empire.
In 2015, anyone with a car in San Francisco could summon a valet with just a few swipes of an app. People wearing pink blazers or blue running jackets— the signature looks for startups Carbon and Luxe, respectively — zipped around the city on Razor scooters to take your keys, park your car, and return it on demand for a small fee.
Hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars flowed into these valet businesses that hoped to mimic the success of Uber and provide a service at your fingertips.
Even then, Lawrence held onto the belief that letting drivers book a parking spot on an app was the right path to building a billion-dollar on-demand parking company.
That decision ended up saving his company. The four most high-profilevalet services have since shut down or pivoted, leaving SpotHero with the opportunity to take their business. The tale offers a helpful — and somewhat obvious — reminder for any entrepreneur.
"I know why they failed," Lawrence said. "Whenever you sell a product for less than it costs you, that's a problem."
On-demand valet was an incredibly costly business model. Companies like Luxe, Carbon, Zirx, and Valet Anywhere would dispatch a valet at a moment's notice to park a car in the middle of a city. The margins were thin. They made about $2 to $5 per parking job after paying the valet's wages and a monthly fee for the parking spot.
As demand for these services grew, the companies had to buy more parking spots. The parking lot and garage owners often denied giving the companies any meaningful discounts at scale. And so, as demand went up, so did their operating costs.
Lawrence said "every bone in my body" told him the business model was doomed.
Still, their early success made it difficult for Lawrence to raise money for SpotHero. He had already left his job as a financial analyst at Bank of America shortly after the worst of the financial crisis to pursue the SpotHero idea. Yet, some of top firms in the Valley, including Bessemer, Lightspeed, and GV, Google's venture arm, already made their bets in the on-demand parking space, which meant they couldn't put money into competitors like SpotHero.
By 2015, "half of the growth-stage funds in Silicon Valley invested in on-demand valet. And so, imagine, I've only raised $4 million, I'm supposed to go to market, and the pool of people I'm supposed to raise from has shrunk by 50%," Lawrence said.
Investors told him to consider expanding into valet services, which was climbing in popularity in 2015. On visits from Chicago to San Francisco, he saw the rival startups' ads and their valets, who served as walking billboards in their colorful outerwear.
"I had major doubt," Lawrence said of his company's early chances of survival.
SpotHero briefly considering a pivot to on-demand valet. The company launched a pilot program in Chicago, its home base, and New York City. At the end of the trial, SpotHero had blown through tons of cash to pay valets, and validated Lawrence's suspicion.
He presented their results of the experiment at a board meeting.
"After five slides, they were like, 'We're not doing this,'" Lawrence said.
His perseverance paid off. SpotHero spent three years building the Chicago market and fine-tuning the operation, before expanding to 49 other cities. It links drivers with over 5,000 parking lots, garages, and valets across the US and Canada. SpotHero takes a commission on every reservation made, without having to pay for labor.
According to the company, SpotHero will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue this year, up 52% over 2017. It's raised $57 million in funding to date.
Ultimately, Lawrence said SpotHero thrived while his competitors failed, because his business model made sense. Plus, he believes it provides a better customer experience.
He said in most cases, it's faster to walk to your car, sitting in a SpotHero lot or garage, than it is to wait for a valet to get your car, drive through city traffic, and meet you.
"You know what's more on-demand than on-demand valet?" Lawrence said. "SpotHero."
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
If you're an entrepreneur, an innovator, a startup creator — in other words, a founder — there's a unique and exclusive program that you might be interested in joining. Beyond personal benefits, it can provide direct, tangible benefits to the business or project that you're trying to grow.
FoundersCard is a private membership club for — well, founders — designed to provide members with various elite statuses, VIP treatment, and top benefits. In addition, FoundersCard fosters an ambitious, social community of similarly driven people from different industries, helping to facilitate networking opportunities, connections, and more.
Despite its name, the FoundersCard isn't a credit card and doesn't involve transactions, which means that anyone can apply, regardless of what country they're from.
FoundersCard was founded in 2009 by Eric Kuhn, a new Austin-based venture for a veteran entrepreneur of the 1990s and early-2000s. While the card initially grew its network and offerings slowly — and had a few early bumps in the road — it's made leaps and bounds over the past few years as an organization. Since running into a few issues in its early years, it has bolstered its membership, and made connections with a lot of travel, lifestyle, and business services companies.
If FoundersCard sounds like something that could be useful to you, read on to learn more about how it works — and to take advantage of a discounted rate of $395 per year (compared to the normal $595) with a waived initiation fee (usually $95). This rate is a special exclusive for Business Insider readers who apply through this page.
How it works
To join FoundersCard, you have to complete an application — because the organization is designed to be exclusive and especially curated to be useful and enjoyable for members, everyone isn't always accepted. The process is fairly subjective,
You can apply for a preview membership to get a better sense of which benefits are currently active. From there (or right away, if you don't care about the preview), you can fill out the complete application. You have to enter your personal details, including your company name and your title — FoundersCard is open to people other than strictly company founders — as well as your contact and billing information. If you're approved, your payment method will be charged the first year's annual dues — $395, with FoundersCard's exclusive offer for Business Insider readers, or $595 without — and a one-time $95 initiation fee — waived for Business Insider readers.
Benefits of FoundersCard membership
FoundersCard offers a wide range of benefits that can be loosely broken into three categories: savings and discounts, VIP treatment and perks, and exclusive events.
FoundersCard hosts an ongoing series of networking events in cities with high concentrations of members — thanks to business travel, though, there are often different people and new faces at these mixers, even if you go to two in a row in the same city. Usually with 100–200 members, the networking events offer attendees an opportunity to mingle, make connections, and share experience with members from a wide spectrum of industries.
Other benefits tend to change as promotions become active, things become available, or FoundersCard negotiates a new partnership or improvement to an existing one, so it's difficult to share a comprehensive picture of what membership entails. There are also a ton of different benefits — this is a deliberate move to appeal to the widest possible cross-section of member, so that there are appealing things to many different people.
The following are examples of some perks available at the time of publication. FoundersCard provided Business Insider with a temporary active account in order to access the full benefits portal.
Airline discounts and elite/VIP perks, including:
Rental car and chauffeur service discounts and elite statuses, including:
Exclusive FoundersCard rates, elite statuses, and perks at various hotels brands, including:
Lifestyle and retail discounts, including:
Business discounts, including:
This is far from a conclusive list. FoundersCard has hundreds of benefits, discounts, and offers available, and can offer enough value to outweigh the annual fee even if you're a sole proprietor just getting your idea off the ground, or even an individual who can take advantage of the retail and gym discounts.
If your small business has grown a bit, though, you can get tremendous value from discounts on shipping, IT services and gear, travel, and more.
Between that, and the opportunity to network with like-minded and similarly focused entrepreneurs, FoundersCard presents a unique and potentially valuable opportunity — whether it's worth the $395 annual fee (with the Business Insider discount) depends on you.
Selling a company is usually cause for celebration, but for the founders of fantasy sports company FanDuel, the moment is likely to be bittersweet.
The nine-year-old company, which was once one of Britain's most closely watched startups, was said to be valued at over $1 billion just three years ago. Now, it's valued at less than half that amount by the company that's buying it, Dublin-based bookmaker Paddy Power Betfair.
FanDuel's current valuation is about $50 million more than the total amount of funding it's received since 2009: A whopping $416 million from investors including private equity firms Shamrock Capital and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts.
Now, those investors are cutting FanDuel's founders a raw deal: As majority shareholders, they're exercising their "drag along rights," which allow them sell the company, even if the minority shareholders don't want to.
In this case, the minority shareholders are FanDuel's original founders, Nigel and Lesley Eccles, Tom Griffiths, Rob Jones, and Chris Stafford. None of the original co-founders still work at FanDuel, and it doesn't look like their original efforts will be rewarded — according to the deal documents, they're not going to make any money at all off of the company's sale.
Because the amount FanDuel is being sold for is hardly more than the amount its investors originally gave, its co-founders are losing out. The deal stipulates that "no part" of the payable offer will go to the "company's ordinary shares," along with no options to purchase the company's ordinary shares. In this case, those shares belong to the startup's minority shareholders, which include its founders.
FanDuel's founders' loss is a classic case of the dangers of a sky-high valuation, in which the founders' original shares are so diluted that their original involvement reaps little compensation when it comes time to sell the company.
The biggest winners of FanDuel's sell? The company's current executives, who are set up to make at least a few million dollars a piece.
NOW WATCH: What people get wrong about superfoods
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships, so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
You’re not just seeing things — in fact, there are an alarming number of mattress stores throughout the United States. In fact, so common a sight is one of these bedding purveyors that there have been severalarticles written about why there seem to be more Mattress Firms than Starbucks in some towns (honestly, looking at you, New York City). And now, there are also a plethora of online mattress stores too — sure, Casper may have been first out of the gate, but it seems as though you can’t go online anymore without receiving an ad for a new bed in a box from a new company.
But if you’re looking to cut through the noise a bit and find a mattress that is actually better than what you might find in a lot of the aforementioned brick-and-mortar stores, and indeed more comfortable than some online options, too, then look no further than Leesa.
Its flagship Leesa mattress promises to redesign your sleep experience, and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by just how positive my experience really was on the mattress.
The Leesa mattress promises to provide you with "the comfort, support, and universal feel everybody needs to sleep better." The company leverages what it calls a "unique combination of performance foam layers" in order to "deliver cooling bounce, contouring pressure relief, and core support for amazing sleep." And frankly, Leesa lived up to its promises.
First things first — before I received my Leesa mattress, I looked up a few existing reviews on Amazon, where the mattress boasts a very respectable 4.1 out of 5 stars from over 900 reviewers. But of course, I wanted to see what folks said the problems were first. I read things about the mattress sleeping too hot, about visible sags, and about problems with the Leesa lying flat.
Luckily, I did not find any of these issues to plague me during my own testing of the Leesa mattress, but I'll address each existing concern to the best of my ability.
First off — the mattress too hot complaint. While I am not necessarily a hot sleeper, I certainly prefer the room to be cooler so that I can snuggle into several layers of blankets, and then move to various parts of the bed as I begin to overheat. When I slept on the Leesa, I found that I did not, in fact, have to move to other parts of the bed at all throughout the night. While the area in which I slept obviously became warmer than other parts of the mattress, I did not experience any sort of overheating, which was quite the surprise. This is likely due to Leesa’s 2-inch Avena foam top layer, which purports to provide airflow for a cooler night’s sleep.
As for the visible sagging issue, this was certainly not the case in my experience. As soon as I unwrapped the mattress, it expanded prettily, and inflated to a very respectable thickness (which was consistent across the entirety of the mattress). And speaking of pretty, one of my favorite things about the Leesa mattress is that it is, indeed, a very attractive piece of furniture. Its grey and white cover almost looks like something you could just sleep on without a fitted sheet, but of course, that wouldn’t be the most sanitary option. That said, whenever you’re doing laundry, this isn’t a mattress that you’d be ashamed of your friends and family seeing naked. The built-in mattress cover is also extremely soft to the touch — in fact, it’s made of the same material as the Leesa Blanket, which I also own, and cannot say enough wonderful things about (but that's a story for another day).
Finally, in my experience, there was no problem with the Leesa lying flat. I unpacked it as the company suggested I do, placing the rolled up mattress on my bed frame, and then unrolling it as it expanded. It worked like a charm, and now sits atop my bed as I would expect it to.
When I first began sleeping on the Leesa, one of the key points I kept in mind was whether or not I would feel any stiffness or pain in my side upon waking. As a dedicated side sleeper, I sometimes feel that my mattresses are a bit too firm, and leave my favored side a bit uncomfortable throughout the night and the next day. Luckily, because the Leesa is a foam mattress and quite supple, I did not have this issue.
Indeed, I felt supported throughout my repose, and woke up without any cricks or aches, which was major. I also found that the Leesa was quite comfortable regardless of what other positions I tried out — the two-inch memory foam layer does seem to mold to the body quite well and relieve pressure whether you’re a back, stomach, or side sleeper. And for extra strength and durability, Leesa also boasts a six-inch base foam layer, for a total thickness of 10-inches. Not bad for a mattress that comes compressed out of a FedEx truck.
You can check out the full cutaway in the below image.
When it comes to cost, the Leesa is quite competitive. Currently, Leesa is running an exclusive promotion for Business Insider readers that involves $160 off a mattress with the code "JULYINSIDER." Shipping is free, and mattresses are built to order, which is another added plus.
Of course, if you receive your Leesa and decide that this particular foam mattress is not for you, don’t fret. There is a 100-day return policy, so if you sleep on it and dislike it, you can always send it back from whence it came. But if you’re anything like me, that probably won't be the case.
Buy the Leesa Memory Foam Mattress from Leesa for $525 (Twin), $695 (Twin XL), $855 (Full), $995 (Queen), $1,195 (King/California King)
Of the many reasons startups fail, being too popular isn't the first that comes to mind.
And yet that's exactly what (almost) happened to a series of now-successful companies.
Take book-summary sites SparkNotes, for example. Sam Yagan was a Harvard undergrad when he cofounded the company along with his roommate; the site went live the spring of their senior year.
As Yagan told Business Insider's Richard Feloni on an episode of the podcast "Success! How I Did It," the immediate response was that "people were pissed." Specifically, because the site didn't have the book they needed yet.
"That's the best kind of hate mail to get, is we need more product," Yagan said. That summer, they hired some editors to put up more SparkNotes, "and the rest is history."
Eddy Lu had a similar experience when he cofounded GOAT, which is now the world's largest resale marketplace for high-end sneakers.
On Black Friday 2015, GOAT blew up and couldn't keep up with customer demand; thousands of orders were left unfilled.
As Lu told Feloni on another episode of the podcast, "We responded to every single customer-service message. I think there were about 4,500 that day. But at that point it was better to be hated than unknown."
Untenable customer demand can be a sign of product-market fit
Unprecedented customer demand nearly put VIPKid out of business. As Business Insider's Harrison Jacobs reported, the Chinese education startup connects native English-speaking teachers with young Chinese students for virtual English lessons.
While the company was in its pilot stage in 2014, a friend of cofounder Cindy Mi tried out the service and posted about it on Weibo (China's version of Twitter).
Within a day, Jacobs reported, the company was receiving calls and messages from people who wanted to try the service for themselves. People started to get angry because the company wasn't able to respond to all their requests.
Mi's team ultimately resolved the problem by putting out a statement that read: "Give us a couple of months and, when we're ready, we'll come back to you."
Mi told Jacobs that the message conveyed to customers that the company was professional instead of sleazy and wasn't simply trying to get money out of them before the product was ready.
This is a phenomenon that Y Combinator CEO Michael Seibel has seen before — and he thinks it's a good thing. In an "Ask me Anything" interview, Seibel said, "My definition of product-market fit is: You are drowning in demand — your product is being used by so many customers that you cannot handle all the new people knocking at your door!"
Seibel acknowledged that not every successful company achieved this milestone. And yet he said, "I don't understand how you can have product-market fit and not a lot of people wanting your product. The two go hand-in-hand."
For entrepreneurs looking to raise money for their tech startups, this year has been the best of times.
Venture capital-backed firms raised a whopping $57.5 billion in the six months ended June 30, according to a new report from Pitchbook and the National Venture Capital Association. To put that in perspective, that's more than was invested in such firms in any full year between 2008 and 2013, and it's 50% more than was invested in the first half of last year.
"For an industry that has been characterized by capital availability over recent years, the first half of 2018 has only exacerbated feelings of excess," Pitchbook and the NVCA said in the report. The report continued: "To say capital availability is high would be putting the true state of the US VC industry lightly."
But if you wanted to get some of that cool venture cash, your best bet was to be in the software business – and to be located on the West Coast. Software startups raked in $23.7 billion in venture investments in the first half of this year. That's about 41% of the total, and about even with the same period last year. They also accounted for about 42% of all venture deals in the first six months of this year.
Some 62% of all the venture capital money invested — and 40% of the deals — in the most recent period went to West Coast based startups. In the same period last year, startups based in San Francisco, Seattle and other West Coast locations accounted for 55% of the money invested and 41% of the deals.
Overall, the number of venture investments ticked up only slightly, from 3,917 in the first half of 2017 to 3,997 this year. But the size of those deals swelled. For example, the median seed-stage investment jumped from $1.6 million in the first half of last year to $2.1 million this year. Meanwhile, the median amount invested in Series B round jumped to $29.3 million from $24.3 million for all of last year.
Interestingly, much of the money flowing into venture-backed startups isn't coming from traditional venture capital firms. In fact, about 63% of the total dollars invested in the first quarter came from private equity and other nontraditional sources.
And it looks like the good times will continue to roll. Venture capitalists raised $20.2 billion in the first half of the year, up from $19.1 billion in the same period last year, putting the industry on track to top $30 billion in funds raised for the fifth year in a row.
"We don’t believe that current trends will subside in the near term," PitchBook and the NVCA said in the report.
The new funds flowing in are "adding dry powder to a market already awash with capital," they continued.
The investment focus at Silicon Valley venture firm Scale VP is what one partner at the firm, Ariel Tseitlin, describes as "mixed stage" investing.
"I cringe when people call the type of investing we do 'late stage investing,'" he said. "We call it 'mid-stage,' or 'early in revenue.'"
A company that's early on in the process of generating revenue doesn't necessarily imply that it's a late stage company, either. Tseitlin says it's ideal that a startup begins making money early on, and this can happen as soon as the first few rounds of investing, as early as a series A.
On its sixth raise, Scale VP has closed a $400 million fund to focus on enterprise tech and turn a number of 'early in revenue' companies into profitable ventures.
Tseitlin says that Scale VP's form of investing puts his firm at a unique advantage: "Because we invest in enterprise software, and, most typically, A, B, and C phase companies, we see what successful companies do right," he said.
Much of SVP's funding model relies on data captured from earlier investments and tried and true benchmarks, said Tseitlin. When it comes to making money, Tseitlin said that it's important to scrutinize the efficiency of each and every function of the business. To successfully turn a profit, there's one particular area of focus to laser in on: Sales.
"There are so many areas to inspect in a new business," said Tseitlin. "How efficient is your ability to generate a new lead? What are your conversion rates?"
Tseitlin offered up the example of Scale VP portfolio company DocuSign, which went public earlier this year, as a company that was laser-focused on operating efficiently from its very beginnings.
"They were focused on growing their business the right way, very early on," said Tseitlin. "They were phenomenal at it."
Tseitlin says the key to DocuSign's success lies in the company's ability to effectively manage the money invested in it, and the components to this are simple: "It's all about sales efficiency," said Tseitlin. "For every dollar you spend, how many dollars does that bring in in new revenue?"
To bring in revenue, Tseitlin suggests that a business should focus on its customer acquisition costs, and the ability to maintain those same customers at every stage of the company. "This is a very important metric of a company's health," said Tseitlin.
The healthcare industry has no shortage of big ideas.
Whether by eliminating the hassle of visiting a brick-and-mortar pharmacy or by changing the way we store and access personal data, young leaders are working to make healthcare a better experience for everyone.
Drawing from nominations that came in from top healthcare executives, entrepreneurs, and investors, Business Insider has come up with 30 leaders under the age of 40 who are shaping the future of medicine.
Here's our list of top young leaders engaged in groundbreaking work in healthcare technology, listed alphabetically.
Tanvi Abbhi, 30, and Dr. Nora Zetsche, 29, are making it easier for doctors and nurses to coordinate care for their patients.
Abbhi and Zetsche first met back in middle school, where they became friends. Their lives and career paths took different turns in the following years as Zetsche served as a radiology resident, while Abbhi worked with entrepreneurs around the world. Zetsche's work in healthcare left her frustrated by how poor she thought the experience was for both doctors and patients. "I felt strongly there are better ways to manage that experience on both sides," she said.
So in 2016, the two came back together to start Veta Health, a New York-based startup that aims to make healthcare more connected both inside and outside the hospital, ideally making the experience better for doctors and patients. The startup develops software intended to make it easier for doctors and nurses to coordinate patient care, and it also communicates with patients to ensure they're hitting their treatment goals.
"The healthcare transformation we see ourselves in is moving from episode-based to extending care delivery to beyond care settings of hospitals," Zetsche said.
Through Veta Health's platform, patients can connect with doctors and nurses to make sure they're on the right treatment track. That way, those caretakers can keep tabs on a patient's progress even when they aren't in the office for an appointment.
Piraye Beim, 39, is bringing precision medicine to women's health.
While getting her Ph.D., Beim was closely tracking a revolution in cancer treatment. Researchers were starting to investigate genetic mutations and their role in driving cancer's growth. Drugs began emerging to target those mutations. But something was missing.
"I didn't see that same playbook coming to reproduction and women's health," she said.
So in 2009 she set up Celmatix, a company meant to do exactly that. Almost a decade later, Beim still serves as CEO for the New York-based company, which makes a genetic test that screens for risk factors associated with female fertility. Celmatix also makes software that collects clinical data for reproductive medical centers and now has 90,000 patients on it. The company has raised $60 million in funding.
Dr. Robin Berzin, 37, is building a doctor's office that could be the future of medicine.
Berzin's interest in wellness dates back to her days training as a doctor at Columbia University and the Mount Sinai Health System in New York. After starting a company that provided a secure messaging platform for hospitals, Berzin began to think about how else the market for primary care, the basic level of healthcare you experience when you get an annual physical, could be disrupted.
"It seemed obvious to me to build a new system for primary care that not only re-operationalized medical care but also that incorporated tracking, and mental health," Berzin said. That’s why she started Parsley Health, a medical practice that has raised $10 million in funding.
Founded in 2016, Parsley Health has centers in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco and is the only medical practice located in WeWork spaces. Parsley is focused on functional medicine, a type of practice that tries to take a more comprehensive, holistic approach at treating the underlying cause of a particular disease. For a monthly fee of $150 you get not just primary-care visits but nutrition plans and supplement regimens along with more in-depth genetics and microbiome testing.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The Insider Picks team writes about stuff we think you'll like. Business Insider has affiliate partnerships so we get a share of the revenue from your purchase.
Chances are you've heard about Allbirds, the internet-famous $95 sneaker made from a soft, almost cashmere-like Merino wool.
Currently, Allbirds makes two styles of shoes — the wool "Runners", and the wool slip-on "Loungers." We've tested both of them before, and our team universally feels that they're pretty much the most comfortable shoes out there (read our review on the wool Loungers here and the Runners here). In fact, a recent Insider Picks survey showed that Allbirds was one of our readers' favorite products that they have purchased as a result of an article we wrote.
There are a lot of reasons people like these shoes beyond just how comfortable they are. They're also relatively affordable at $95 a pair — a low price they're able to maintain as a direct-to-consumer retailer — and they're easy to clean with a simple spin in washing machine. But for some, the biggest draw is the fact that the company maintains a deep, unshakable commitment to sustainability.
Its this commitment that led the brand to develop and introduce a new and even more sustainable set of shoes made from trees — or more specifically, from a textile engineered using Eucalyptus pulp.
According to Allbirds, this new material uses 5% of the water and one-third of the amount of land when compared to traditional footwear materials. The brand also committed to using the "most rigorous sustainable forestry standard, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification, to protect trees, wildlife, and people."
Naturally, considering that Merino wool prices have been steadily climbing, we wondered if the production of these shoes was intended to offset the increased cost of producing their wool line. After all, Allbirds is beloved in part because their shoes have maintained a steady and reasonable price since the very start. But the brand assured us that the idea for new, sustainable textiles had been in the works since before they even launched their original Runners in 2016.
We spoke with the founders of Allbirds, Tim Brown and Joey Zwillinger, who told Business Insider that they've always envisioned Allbirds as a sustainable material innovation company. "For us, it was about creating a brand that challenges the status quo and redefines what it means to make something 'better.'"
The new line, aptly named the "Tree collection," includes two styles — the Runners, which we already know and love, and a pair they call the "Skippers," which are basically a thinner-soled boat sneaker. This new textile has more breathability, which Allbirds says was a response to costumer concern:
We are always listening to our customers, and heard from them that there are moments when they needed a different type of experience than Wool. We developed Tree to address these situations and create a more comfortable warm-weather experience.
The new material creates a cooling effect by wicking moisture away, making them perfect for summer, and the price has stayed consistent at $95 a pair. The makeup of the insoles has stayed consistent, so you can still expect the same comfort level of their classic pairs. The new women's styles come in navy, stone, and rose, and the men's styles come in navy, stone, rose, and cloud (a very light blue).
As long-time fans of the brand, Allbirds gave our team the chance to test out the Tree Runners and Tree Skippers in advance of the launch. Keep reading to find a breakdown of each of our experiences with the new styles (spoiler alert, they're still really, really great).
Read our reviews below:
Mara Leighton, Insider Picks reporter:
"Allbirds is one of my favorite companies to shop from because they have always exceeded expectations on comfort, quality, and style. In other words, they’ve earned my trust as a valuable buy. I don’t feel bad dropping money on a new pair of shoes from them because I know I will wear them until they borderline disintegrate — and I will be glad every time I put them on. It sounds like an exaggeration, but they’re really that comfortable.
I tried the Tree Runner in navy, which is actually a nice dark green-blue in person (less bright than a true teal), and — again — Allbirds has exceeded my expectations. They’re crazy comfortable, the silhouette is flattering and close-fitting, and I love the smooth but texturized upper. The stylistic contrast of the thick laces is a really nice touch, and the semi-muted color means they go with basically anything.
The sole feels familiar (it’s the same structured, wool-lined insole found in my loungers) and supportive, but the upper is even more breathable than my other pairs.
While I wouldn’t buy Allbirds if they weren’t consistently making the most comfortable shoes I own, I also love that they’re using sustainable materials (and encouraging innovation). They feel ridiculously good on, and any conscious consumer can feel great about buying them."
Connie Chen, Insider Picks reporter:
"I wear my wool Runners regularly and am always more than happy to talk about how wonderful and comfortable they are to anyone who’s curious, so I was excited to learn about this new launch from one of my favorite brands. Itching for the feel of summer, I opted for the Stone Skippers, which are a modern twist on the classic boat shoe.
Again, Allbirds’ use of a surprising material has proven to be successful. I never would have guessed that the textile was made from eucalyptus pulp, but it provides an interesting, eye-catching texture that’s more unique than that of a traditional boat shoe. Eucalyptus is known for its cooling properties, so I appreciate that the Skippers offer the ideal casual summer look while also keeping my feet cool in warm weather. The neutral, sandy color of the Stone ones reminded me of the beach and can really match with any color you wear on top.
Like Mara said, slipping my foot in felt soft and familiar since the shoe has the same wool-lined insole and heel cup of Allbirds’ other offerings. I’m also almost certain that these Skippers are more comfortable than the Runners, which is an impressive feat."
David Slotnick, Insider Picks senior reporter:
"I tested out the Tree Skipper in Kauri Stone, and think I’ve found the perfect summer shoe. They feel like a combination of a boat shoe and a sneaker — I’ve never found the former very comfortable, but sneakers can be warm or restrictive during summer. The Tree Skipper is lightweight and breathable, and, to my delight, feels like a nice, properly-supportive shoe that would be equally fitting for walking around a city during vacation, or wearing on the way to the beach or on a boat. I can tie the laces to keep them on as I walk — even if I walk quickly or run — although I can kick them off without untying them if I want to."