BDC Venture Capital, the leading major investment firm for accelerators in Canada, announced today that it would add its financial and expert support to ongoing Canadian Technology Accelerator programs being run in the U.S. by the Canadian government. The programs, spread across various major tech hubs, including Boston, Philadelphia, New York and San Francisco, give Canadian startups the U.S. face time they need to make connections and product sales.
BDC says that the goal is to get the Canadian startups with the most potential into a high-growth market as effectively as possible and says this is a natural extension of its work with Canadian-based accelerators and incubators, including GrowLab, Extreme Startups, Hyperdrive and Founder Fuel. BDC’s Montreal VP Senia Rapisarda explained that, while while some of the most “venture-ready” startups participating in the CTA program will be eligible for its convertible note options for financial support”, this is more about providing an experience for startups that they might not otherwise have.
“We understand that we can bring companies up to a certain level [with our Canada-based accelerators],” she said. “But then, the U.S. clearly being the first port of entry in terms of customers, it really made a lot of sense to pair up with the CTAs in New York, San Francisco, Boston and Philadelphia who were so close to customers that at that point a company could be seriously accelerated.”
Rapisarda uses an example an enterprise software startup that gained access to Fortune 500 companies located in New York and the Bay area through the program, where they were better able to learn exactly what those companies needed and then tailor their offerings for them. Overall, the whole program is about treating companies not as specifically “American” or “Canadian,” but about going after opportunity where it’s biggest, in order to give them the best start possible.
BDC is sending the “best of the crop” to these CTAs, she said, which is “producing results quite quickly.” The approach they’re taking is akin to how you run a startup, Rapisarda says. BDC is treating each case individually and tailoring its approaches to the vertical or industry of each startup they send in terms of how long they’ll stay in the U.S. and what kind of mentors they need and connections they’ll make. She says it’s about being flexible, and “evaluating” and “pivoting” the same way early stage startups do to properly meet the market’s needs. In other words, BDC Venture is very keen on eating its own dogfood when it comes to running these international accelerator efforts.
One key area to watch in the future is how Canada’s Startup Visa program affects the international dynamics of early stage companies, and of accelerators. “What I think is interesting is to see the impact of the Startup Visa on Canadian companies, which are able now to attract even more talent from different countries,” she said. “And how that will impact the relationship with the United States in terms of markets, because clearly the most promising markets are then South America, India and China.”
For now though, the U.S. remains the major gateway for Canadian businesses, and initiatives like this one hope to help them make sure that companies with the strength to succeed in that market get the chance to prove it.
Today, gaming console and software company OUYA announced that they have closed a $15 million round led by Kleiner Perkins, and with participation from the Mayfield Fund, NVIDIA, Shasta Ventures and Ocean Partners. This marks one of the largest institutional investments to go to a project that had its humble beginnings on Kickstarter.
OUYA is a company that launched back in 2012 on Kickstarter under the guiding hands of Julie Uhrman, a video game industry veteran who believes that gaming should be affordable and enjoyable for everyone. She and the team developed a $99 Android gaming console, which hooks into the TV and comes with automatic access to free-to-try games. It launched on the crowdfunding site to much fanfare, scoring $8.6 million in funding, which ends up being around 9x more than OUYA asked.
Along with the $15 million round, which brings OUYA’s total amount of funding to $23.5 million, the company will also be bringing KPCB General Partner Bing Gordon on to the board of directors. Gordon brings with him years of experience from Electronic Arts.
Here’s what he had to say about the funding:
OUYA’s open source platform creates a new world of opportunity for established and emerging independent game creators and gamers alike. There are some types of games that can only be experienced on a TV, and OUYA is squarely focused on bringing back the living room gaming experience. OUYA will allow game developers to unleash their most creative ideas and satisfy gamers craving a new kind of experience.
The OUYA hardware has proven its spot in the market with the successful Kickstarter project, followed by an institutional investment led by a firm such as KPCB. “The message is clear: people want OUYA,” said Uhrman.
But the same story rings true for software, as the company has seen over 12,000 developers sign up for the platform to build games and monetize them in any way they’d like. This is up from 8,000 developer signups in March.
And if that weren’t enough, OUYA has been picked up by major retailers like GameStop, Best Buy and Amazon, with availability originally intended to begin June 4. OUYA is pushing that back to June 25, however, announcing the delay today as a result of a desire to be able to meet initial demand.
Clearly, the affordable gaming console speaks to people. But is it enough to make OUYA profitable? In an interview with TechCrunch, Uhrman explained that OUYA essentially breaks even on the hardware from the $99 gaming console, and that all games will be free-to-try. Curious if that was sustainable, we asked Uhrman if free-to-try would always be the case with OUYA games.
“Free to try is a core tenet of OUYA,” said Uhrman. “We wanted a gaming experience for the television that’s inexpensive to get into. Developers monetize however they’d like to, which is why we have games with unlockable demos inside a fully paid version, or micro-transactions, and even a donation based game. I’m looking forward to the first episodic, subscription-based game,” she said.
According to Uhrman, the latest round from KPCB and friends will go toward further supporting game developers and development, bringing in exclusive and unique OUYA content, and meeting the demand seen from all parts of the world, including Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain, and Italy.
Here is the original post: OUYA Closes $15 Million In Funding Led By Kleiner Perkins, Boasts 12,000 Game Developer Sign-Ups
Today at Disrupt NY, Ken Lerer and Ben Lerer took the stage to talk about Lerer Ventures and their respective entrepreneur stories. One thing that caught the attention of the audience is when Ken Lerer talked about gun control and a new StopTheNRA.com website.
“We are going to launch StopTheNRA.com,” Ken Lerer said. The site should be up in about two weeks. They already own the domain name and it’s now just a matter of time. It will be a partnership with Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Gabrielle Giffords’ Americans for Responsible Solutions initiatives.
The motivation behind this new site is to be more vocal about gun control. “We are doing something viral,” Ken Lerer said.
A significant gun control bill that would have expanded background checks for gun buyers was brought to a vote in the senate a few weeks ago, but the effort failed, and the government is now back to square one.
When asked about New York politics, Ken Lerer only had good things to say about Mayor Bloomberg. “Spectacular” was the word he used to describe him. “His or her successor may not be as knowledgeable as him,” he continued. That’s why he chose not to express a preference for the front-runners of the upcoming election.
Today at TechCrunch Disrupt NY, Ashton Kutcher took the stage with Guy Oseary to talk about their A-Grade fund. Arrington started right away about a rumor that the fund is raising money at a $100 million valuation. The two partners confirm the rumors, saying that they are raising “enough money.”
It means that financial institutions and companies will invest a certain amount of money in exchange for equity in the A-Grade fund, valuing the existing investments and activities at $100 million. With three partners (Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and Ron Burkle), the fund has been investing for about two and a half years. Until today, the three partners only invested personal money. It is still unclear how much money they put into the fund to date.
Among its portfolio companies, the A-Grade fund has invested in Spotify, Uber, Shazam, Soundcloud, Fab and Airbnb. It mainly takes part in seed and Series A rounds.
When asked whether it is bundling current investments or creating a new fund, Ashton Kutcher answered that it is doing both. “We’re just somewhat formalizing what we’ve been doing,” Kutcher said.
The new fund will keep the A-Grade name. While the new funding is not official yet, Kutcher and Oseary said that it’s mostly a one-time investment. “We are pretty well filled up,” Kutcher said. The partners will make an announcement when the deal finalizes.
Read the original here: Ashton Kutcher’s A-Grade Fund Raising At $100 Million Valuation
One of the common themes that we’re hearing from investors during Disrupt NYC has been that the areas that are ready to be disrupted might not be anywhere close to the sometimes sexier-appearing consumer space. Joe Lonsdale, co-founder of Palantir Technologies and current partner at Formation 8, discussed some of his thoughts on what will be and should be disrupted by way of technology.
The areas of interest for him and his firm are government, finance, healthcare, energy and logistics. Lonsdale’s history is an interesting one: “I think I was really lucky to work as a little kid at PayPal, grew up in the valley as a coder.”
Why aren’t more companies focusing on the areas that Lonsdale mentioned? He says it’s because younger entrepreneurs have no visibility into those verticals: “For example, there’s hundreds of problems in finance, but these kids haven’t worked with multi-million dollar backend security.” However, the need is clearly there, as any space with a lot of data flowing through it needs more tech: “There’s an explosion in information, so upgrading the technology in these industries is the fun thing now.”
Currently, Lonsdale’s Formation 8 firm is seeking out companies that are working on solving hard problems that turn into scalable platforms. The firm has raised a whopping 448M fund and has been heavily involved in the Asian market, a location that Lonsdale says more US-based entrepreneurs are starting to focus on.
Lonsdale even says that there might be more opportunities for smart ideas in Asia, due to a surplus of mobile devices among the population.
With a wider-than-tech worldy vision as a passionate former coder, entrepreneur and current investor and mentor, Lonsdale is very interested in Palantir’s pro-bono work against human trafficking and making sure that we don’t have a Cyber-9/11: “There’s a Cyber battle going on in the background, it’s good that we’re spending a lot of money to make sure that it doesn’t happen.”
Additionally, Lonsdale wants immigration reform immediately so that the US can stay competitive enough to give smart people the support system that they need, rather than sending them through a process that demoralizes them. He called the current system “disgusting.” He’s joined Zuck and crew at
It’s a fun thing, my main job became teaching people how to manage and inspiring them to build teams and mentoring them. Learning to be a manager and being an investor is the same thing.