Extra Crunch Live: Join our Q&A tomorrow at noon PDT with Y Combinator’s Geoff Ralston

From Airbnb to Zapier, and Coinbase to Instacart, many of the tech world’s most valuable companies spent their earliest days in Y Combinator’s …

From Airbnb to Zapier, and Coinbase to Instacart, many of the tech world’s most valuable companies spent their earliest days in Y Combinator’s accelerator program.

Steering the ship at Y Combinator today is its president, Geoff Ralston . We’re excited to share that Ralston will be joining us on Extra Crunch Live tomorrow at noon pacific.

Extra Crunch Live is our virtual speaker series, with each session packed with insight and guidance from the top investors, leaders and founders. This live Q&A is exclusive to Extra Crunch members, so be sure to sign up for a membership here.

Ralston took on the YC President role a little over a year ago shortly after Sam Altman stepped away to focus on OpenAI.

In the months since, Y Combinator has had to reimagine much about the way it operates; as the pandemic spread around the world, YC (like many organizations) has had to figure out how to work together while far apart. In the earliest weeks of the pandemic, this meant quickly shifting their otherwise in-person demo day online; later, it meant adapting the entire accelerator program to be completely remote.

While still relatively new to the president seat, Ralston is by no means new to YC. He joined the accelerator as a partner in 2012, and his edtech-focused accelerator Imagine K12 was fully merged into YC’s operations in 2016.

Forget Silicon Valley VCs, XX accelerator allows anyone to invest in Startups Fighting Coronavirus

Mentors that helped vet and grow these companies include founders of Disqus, Human Interest and Kabam. SAN FRANCISCO, July 28, 2020 …

XX is the first and only accelerator that allows anyone to invest as little as $100 in startups fighting the COVID crisis, starting July 28th. Mentors that helped vet and grow these companies include founders of Disqus, Human Interest and Kabam.

SAN FRANCISCO, July 28, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — XX is the first accelerator that allows anyone to invest in the best early-stage startups through an online demo day, allowing fans and customers to invest as little as $100. After COVID hit, XX chose a batch of 15 companies to be part of its third cohort, investing $50,000 in each startup and pairing them with experienced mentors for 12 weeks. All of these startups shared one thing in common, fighting against the current crisis – some directly by developing vaccines or treatments and others indirectly by rethinking the future of work or access to healthcare. On July 28th, all of these startups will be raising capital and anyone can invest on a virtual Demo day.

About XX

XX believes raw talent exists everywhere, not just in coffee shops in Silicon Valley, and funds startups worldwide by allowing anyone to invest in its companies. The result is building wider access to Silicon Valley, where networks of everyday folks can invest in the next Facebook and Airbnb, and global communities can share in that wealth.

XX is a new startup accelerator co-founded by Jiwon Moon, 29, a Korean immigrant who became frustrated by how few women received VC funding. She’s joined by co-founder Gadi Borovich, 20, a Uruguayan that dropped out of college because he was passionate about this mission.

Many world-class founders join these two young immigrants. Some of these includeDaniel Ha, co-founder of Disqus, the largest commenting platform, touching more than 2 billion users every month. Holly Liu, co-founder of Kabam, a billion-dollar gaming company. Paul Sawaya, co-founder of Human Interest, the finservices 401(k) provider for SMBs that has recently closed a $50M Series C. John Waldeisen, co-founder of Lucira Health, a biotech company that is developing a simple at-home test for COVID-19.

Read more about the team at xx.team/demoday.

What is XX doing now?

As the COVID-19 crisis began, XX quickly mobilized to put together a 3-month program called Fight the Virus that would invest $50,000 in each of the 15 startups helping with this crisis.

The response was overwhelming. XX received over 2,500 applications for only 15 spots in its accelerator program. The batch’s founders are 31% female and 47% PoC. Diversity follows from funding the best founders by actively looking for talent in all communities.

Some of the companies in Fight the Virus include: Stark Therapeutics, which is developing a COVID-19 vaccine by targeting a candidate that the pharmaceutical industry has overlooked. Caria is addressing the underserved health & wellness needs of Gen X women; their platform provides women with personalized care for menopause and a supportive community. Kiwibot is working on a delivery system using sustainable robotics infrastructure to help communities prevent unnecessary interactions and has completed more than 100,000 deliveries. Immersed is exploring the future of work by developing VR technology to help teams collaborate in the same virtual space using Oculus headsets.

Anyone can invest in these startups

XX believes that everyone should have the option to help fight the virus. We partnered with Wefunder so anyone can invest with as little as $100 on a virtual Demo day happening on July 28th. For each startup, there will be a 2-minute pitch video followed by a 10-minute video of founders getting interviewed by Silicon Valley’s best angel investors and founders.

Contact: Gadi Borovich, gadi@xx.team


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Without desks and a demo day, are accelerators worth it?

The shift has forced well-known programs like 500 Startups, Y Combinator and Techstars to go fully online, while encouraging existing venture capital …

As a result of the pandemic, accelerators have moved operations fully remote to abide by social distancing. The shift has forced well-known programs like 500 Startups, Y Combinator and Techstars to go fully online, while encouraging existing venture capital firms to launch new digital-only fellowships like Cleo Capital and NextView Ventures.

Before the pandemic, accelerators could advertise their value by lending desk space once used by Airbnb,Twilio and Brex’s co-founders, plus a glitzy demo day. Now, stripped of their in-person element, the actual value of an accelerator program — and the network they provide — is being tested in new ways.

So a question remains for participating founders: Are they getting the benefits of what they thought they signed up for?

In the Zoom where it happened

The last thing Michael Vega-Sanz wanted to do was was join another Zoom get-together for entrepreneurs. But the car-sharing company he co-founded with twin brother Matthew was in the middle of a pivot, so they joined NextView Ventures’ inaugural remote accelerator program.

“I envisioned an accelerator with awkward happy hours, mass Zoom calls,” Vega-Sanz said. Fast-forward one month into the program, he says it “has been quite the opposite.”

Before joining NextView’s accelerator, Vega-Sanz did an in-person incubator at Babson College in Boston, but there’s “a lot less fluff” in being virtual, he told TechCrunch.

“[With in-person] the reality was you’d go to lunch, and by the time you drove over there and had all your side talk, small talk, chit-chat and actually got into the nitty-gritty of the event, there was a lot of time loss,” he said. “You could have been working for your company during that time.”

If possible, Vega-Sanz still recommends that first-time founders attend a physical accelerator instead of a virtual one for the energy it brings, even with the downside of useless events.

AI Startups Find Many Takers – Investments Cross $61.6 billion

Venture capitals firms SOSV and 500 Startups ranked fourth and fifth on this list, with 99 and 83 funding rounds, respectively. Tags :AICrunchBase …

Image source: Analytics Insight

Technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning have transformed global business processes across different industries, changing how companies operate, manage finances, gather and analyze data, and build customer relations.

As the algorithms and data-driven methods continue to develop, venture capitalists are becoming more interested to invest in artificial intelligence startups providing the most beneficial solutions. According to data gathered by BuyShares.co.nz, the total amount of funds AI startups raised over time reached $61.6bn in the second quarter of 2020, a 35% increase in a year.

A Steady Growth

In 2010, artificial intelligence startups worldwide raised a total of $277.3 million in funding rounds, revealed the CrunchBase data. In the next three years, this figure jumped to over $1bn for the first time, says Jastra Ilic, author and researcher in economics and finance, in a post published on BuyShares, a financial education hub based in New Zealand.

With the increasing number of investments in companies providing artificial intelligence solutions, the total funding amount reached $26.6bn in the second quarter of 2018, a tenfold increase in eight years. Statistics show that 2019 has witnessed the most significant rise in the value of investments, with the total figure growing by $19.1bn and reaching $53.6bn at the end of the year.

Funding Spikes in 2020

Increased investments into artificial intelligence companies continued in 2020 with the total amount of raised funds growing by $8.2bn from January to July, despite the slowdown in venture capital funding caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In February 2020, the Chinese autonomous vehicle startup Pony.ai announced it had raised $400 million in a funding round from Toyota Motor Corporation, the most significant investment in 2020. Last year, the two companies allied in testing autonomous vehicles on Chinese public roads using Toyota’s Lexus vehicles piloted by Pony.ai’s self-driving system. The company will use the new funds to deepen the collaboration with Toyota on self-driving technological development, while making a push into mobility services in China.

In March, Chinese big data company MiningLamp raised $300 million in a round led By Tencent and Temasek, the second-largest investment this year.

Statistics show that Berkshire Grey `s $263 million worth funding round led by SoftBank Group represents the third-largest investment in 2020. The Massachusetts-based robotics and AI company delivering retail, eCommerce, and logistics fulfillment automation, raised funds to finance global expansion, acquisitions, and team growth.

North American Leads the Way

Analyzed by geography, North America represents the leading region with a total of $33.7bn worth investments in artificial intelligence startups. The US companies raised more than 95% of that amount, with California, San Francisco, and New York as the main hubs.

Statistics show Asian companies raised a total of $20.3bn in funding, ranking as the second-leading region globally. European AI startups follow with $7.3bn worth investments so far.

The CrunchBase data also revealed that the five most active investors in this industry come from the United States. The Colorado-based global platform for investment and innovation, Techstars, ranked first on this list with 258 funding rounds so far.

Statistics show that startup accelerator Y Combinator, the second most active investor, took part in 198 funding rounds. Another US innovation platform, Plug and Play, follows with 104 funding rounds. Venture capitals firms SOSV and 500 Startups ranked fourth and fifth on this list, with 99 and 83 funding rounds, respectively.

Startups Weekly: Part & Parcel plans plus-sized fashion empire

Part & Parcel, for its part, has raised $4 million in seed funding in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners‘ Jeremy Liew. The startup launched …

Hello and welcome back to Startups Weekly, a weekend newsletter that dives into the week’s noteworthy startups and venture capital news. Before I jump into today’s topic, let’s catch up a bit. Last week, I wrote about Stripe’s grand plans. Before that, I noted Peloton’s secret weapons.

Remember, you can send me tips, suggestions and feedback to kate.clark@techcrunch.com or on Twitter @KateClarkTweets. If you don’t subscribe to Startups Weekly yet, you can do that here.

Startup spotlight

The best companies are built by people who have personally experienced the problem they’re attempting to solve. Lauren Jonas, the founder and chief executive officer of Part & Parcel, is intimately familiar with the struggles faced by the women she’s building for.

San Francisco-based Part & Parcel is a plus-sized clothing and shoe startup providing dimensional sizing to women across the U.S. The company operates a bit differently than your standard direct-to-consumer business by seeking to include the women who wear and evangelize the Part & Parcel designs by giving them a cut of their sales.

Here’s how it works: Ambassadors sign up to receive signature styles from Part & Parcel, which they then share and sell to women in their network. Ultimately, the sellers are eligible to receive up to 30% of the profit per sale. The out-of-the-box model, which might remind you somewhat of Mary Kay or Tupperware’s business strategy, is meant to encourage a sense of community and usher in a new era in which plus-sized women can facilitate other plus-sized women’s access to great clothes.

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“I bought a brown men’s polyester suit and wore it to an interview,” Jonas, an early employee at Poshmark and the long-time author of the popular blog, ‘The Pear Shape,’ tells TechCrunch. “I was that kid wearing a men’s suit.”

Clothing tailored to plus-sized women has long been missing from the retail market. Increasingly, however, new brands are building thriving businesses by catering precisely to the historically forgotten demographic. Dia&Co., for example, raised another $70 million in venture capital funding last fall from Sequoia and USV. And Walmart recently acquired another brand in the space, ELOQUII, for an undisclosed amount. Part & Parcel, for its part, has raised $4 million in seed funding in a round led by Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew.

The startup launched earlier this year in Anchorage, “a clothing desert,” and has since grown its network to include women in several other underserved markets. Given her own history struggling to find a fitted woman’s suit, Jonas launched her line with structured pieces, including suits and blouses — though the startup’s biggest success yet, she says, has been its boots, which come in three different calf width options.

“Seventy percent of women in this country are plus-sized,” Jonas said. “I’m bringing plus out of the dark corner of the department store.”

This week in VC

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Image: Bryce Durbin / TechCrunch

Must read

TechCrunch’s Megan Rose Dickey published a highly anticipated deep dive on the state of sex tech this week. The piece provides new data on funding in sex tech and wellness companies, analysis on sex tech startup’s battle for public advertising and responses from industry leaders on how we can destigmatize sex with technology. Here’s a short passage from the story:

Cindy Gallop sees a market opportunity in every type of business obstacle she encounters. That’s why All The Sky will also seek to invest in startups that tackle the infrastructural tools needed to fuel sextech, like payments, hosting providers and e-commerce sites.

“I want to fund the sextech ecosystem to maintain and sustain a portfolio for All the Skies, to create a bloody huge sextech ecosystem and three, to monopolistically build out the ecosystem to be a multi-trillion-dollar market,” Gallop says.

On my radar

I swung by Contrary Capital‘s Demo Day this week, in which a number of startups gave a 4- to 5-minute pitch. Next on my list is Alchemist‘s Demo Day in Menlo Park. The accelerator welcomes enterprise startups for a six-month program focused on early customer adoption, company development and mentorship.

Also on my radar is Females To The Front. The event began this week in Palm Springs and if I were based in SoCal, I would have swung by. Led by Amy Margolis, the event is said to be the largest gathering of female cannabis founders and funders to date. Here’s how the group describes the event: “Females to the Front Retreat will mix immersive and hands-on workshops, pitch training, investment deck preparation and business skill set education with investor meetings and plenty of shared meals, pool time, yoga, connections, rest and rejuvenation. Every workshop is built to directly engage attendees instead of powerpoint and panels. Be prepared to return home inspired, engaged and with so many more tools in your toolbox.”

For the record, I don’t advertise events in my newsletter just wanted to give props to this one because it’s a great development for the cannabis tech ecosystem.

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Time to Disrupt

We are just weeks away from our flagship conference, TechCrunch Disrupt San Francisco. We have dozens of amazing speakers lined up. In addition to taking in the great line-up of speakers, ticket holders can roam around Startup Alley to catch the more than 1,000 companies showcasing their products and technologies. And, of course, you’ll get the opportunity to watch the Startup Battlefield competition live. Past competitors include Dropbox, Cloudflare and Mint… You never know which future unicorn will compete next.

You can take a look at the full agenda here. And if you still need convincing, here’s five reasons to attend this year’s conference from our COO himself.

And finally… #EquityPod

This week, the lovely Alex Wilhelm, editor-in-chief of Crunchbase News, and I gathered to discuss a number of topics including WeWork’s IPO and Uber’s attempts to bypass a new law meant to protect gig workers. Listen here.