A few years ago, people were concerned about the likes of Walmart and Barnes and Noble coming into a town and closing down small businesses.
Then, Amazon came along, and we were suddenly worried about the local Barnes and Noble going under.
Amazon is obviously a giant, selling everything from clothes to books to niche home accessories. They operate on razor thin margins and are constantly expanding and revamping. Now, in our home at least, it’s common to hear, “I’m checking out on Amazon. Need anything?”
Amazon could easily take over the world.
Except, people still love their small, local businesses, too. While Amazon is growing in popularity, so is the local movement, and plenty of people would prefer to shop 100% local. They like supporting small operations. If only shopping at small businesses was as easy as shopping on Amazon…
Based in Austin and Sydney, Bigcommerce has been battling the curse of Amazon since 2009. Small businesses–both brick and mortar and fully virtual–can use the service to set up an online store, and Bigcommerce’s tools will make it as fluid and easy for customers as Amazon. They also have a variety of features that help a small business rank high in search, build apps, and analyze data.
Most small businesses may know very little about running an online business. Bigcommerce helps them out with the Success Squad, a group of employees who train business owners in using the platform. And, their prices cater to the small business crowd with packages starting at $25/month.
On Friday, Bigcommerce announced a series C round: $40 million exclusively from Steve Case’s Revolution Growth VC firm. Case will join the company’s board.
Before this round, the company had already raised $35 million. They weren’t hurting for money, but they have big plans for the extra funds.
“The new funding will help us build out our platform even more quickly, with a focus on empowering mobile commerce, creating a more robust app ecosystem, better serving our clients, and going global,” Bigcommerce said on their blog.
With the explosion of mobile in the US market, the ability to sell through a smartphone is critical. Bigcommerce will soon offer the service to their customers, making them even more competitive with Amazon.
Bigcommerce’s goal is to democratize e-commerce, to make it as easy for the little guy to succeed as the Amazons of the world. With their new investment, the future is looking sunny.
Washington, DC-based Steve Case, founder of AOL, Revolution, and the founding Chairman of Startup America, has made some bold moves over the past few years when it comes to startups. He’s also been a strong advocate for startups everywhere across the nation and on Capitol Hill.
Monday, Case put his money where his mouth is again by announcing through TechCrunch. The AOL-owned website reports that through his venture capital arm, Revolution Ventures, Case and partners are raising another $150 million dollar fund to support early stage startup ventures.
Revolution is calling the fund “Revolution Ventures II,” and like the previous fund, it will back early stage tech companies. Some of their previous portfolio companies include ZipCar, Living Social, and HomeSnap.
TechCrunch also reported that they’ve heard $125 million was already committed.
Two and a half years ago Case launched Startup America, a three-year initiative to spur startups, innovation, and job creation. Two months ago Case, along with several others, announced that Statup America was joining forces with Startup Weekend to take the initiatives global. Now we know that Case wants to continue to do his part directly by launching more companies.
While Nibletz isn’t going to pontificate on the southern border issue in the United States, the recently passed Senate Immigration Bill is solving a huge problem for startups. One that the likes of Steve Case, Scott Case, Marc Nager, Brad Feld, and others have been championing.
In the most basic of laymen’s terms, it’s somewhat easy for a foreigner to come to America, attend an accelerator, get funding for their company, and go home. It gets rocky when they want to stay and build their company in America, one of the reasons Startup America and other organizations are even around.
It’s also somewhat easy for a sharp foreigner to come and work for Google, Microsoft, or Facebook, but when they have that great idea and want to build their startup in the U.S. things get a lot more dicey.
The new immigration legislation includes “startup visas” that according to The Washington Post, will “allow entrepreneurs from around the world to start firms and create jobs.”
Earlier this year at SXSW Steve Case and Scott Case (no relation) spent a lot of time celebrating startups across the country. However at Startup America’s huge SXSW party, Steve Case took to the stage to talk about immigration and how we needed this reform in order to help spur innovation from great minds who, in most cases, have come over to the United States and seen what they can do here.
Steve Case told The Washington Post: “This important step demonstrates the capacity of our elected leaders in Washington to come together across party lines to advance what is clearly in our nation’s best interest – an immigration system that meets the needs of our 21st century economy. The Senate’s bill will attract the world’s best entrepreneurs and innovators and be a key ingredient to sustaining America’s long-term competitive edge.”
Steve Case, the founder of AOL and Revolution has done some major lobbying on Capitol Hill over the past 4 years to help spur entrepreneurship and innovation across the country. He is the founding chairman of Startup America, which recently merged resources to go global with Startup Weekend as UpGlobal.
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Steve Case (file photo: NMI)
Two of Washington DC’s powerhouse investors, Founder of AOL Steve Case, and owner of the Washington Capitals and Washington Wizards, Ted Leonsis, work side by side on many deals. Both are heavily involved in Case’s investment company Revolution.
Leonsis has been involved with Revolution Growth since it’s founding, however he has no financial stake in Revolution Growth I investments. Leonsis and Case have worked together since the AOL days, where Leonsis was a member of active management for 13 years, retiring in 2006.
They continue to work together today, although both are invested as individuals and separately in daily deal competitors Groupon and LivingSocial.
While many know that Groupon’s typical strategy, at least pre-ipo, was to quickly buy up competitors across the country, Living Social has always been on it’s own and will most likely stay that way.
We’ve seen the turmoil that both companies have been going through as of late. Groupon fired it’s founding CEO poster boy, Andrew Mason and quickly installed Leonsis and Groupon co-founder Eric Lefkosky as Co-CEO’s until a new CEO can be named.
Back in the DC area Living Social has been going through some problems of their own.A little over week ago, the investors in Living Social basically took back the company with an emergency $100 million dollar investment, which according to many sources, including privco.com, rendered all previous stock, even employee stock, worthless.
(PrivCo EXCLUSIVE): LIVINGSOCIAL Receives Emergency $110M Debt (“Equity” In Name Only) Infusion From Existing Investors With Oppressive Terms, JUST DAYS FROM BANKRUPTCY, Effectively Handing Over Distressed Co. to Today’s Financing Participants…Implied Valuation Incl All Req’d Payments: JUST $330M, DOWN 94% FROM $5.7 BILLION In Dec. 2011 V.C. Round…Pure Equity Was NOT Issued Today (As Has Been Widely Misreported)…Instead, A Desperate LIVINGSOCIAL Accepted A COMPLEX Series of Secured-Convertible-Debt-Like Securities With Onerous Terms (PrivCo Has Confirmed Exclusively) Including: (1) Liquidation Preferences of SEVERAL TIMES the $110M In Debt (2) Mandatory Cash Dividends Due (3) “Super-Warrants” And/Or Large Lump-Sum Cash “Elimination” Payment, (4) Secured Against Co. Assets and Stock, (5) Repayment of the $110M “Loan” in 4 Yrs w Add’l Payments, and (6) Re-Pricing of Participating Investors Earlier Rounds…Employees’ and Founders’ Common Stock Now Worthless. (industry trade publication privco said on their site)
A former LivingSocial employee, on condition of anonymity, told nibletz.com that friends of hers in the sales department hadn’t seen a paycheck in nearly two months, before the most recent cash infusion. A current LivingSocial employee, also speaking on the condition of anonymity, told us that the company was right on the cusp of some big ideas with both technology and sales and that no one wanted to see the company shut down.
Case was rater bullish on LivingSocial when speaking at the TechCocktail event at SXSW on Saturday afternoon. He said that despite what’s going on with the company, LivingSocial does have the potential to become the next AOL.
Many may recall how Case was instrumental in the biggest media merger of all time beween Time Warner and AOL. Although he is held highly responsible for the merger, he agreed to step down as CEO after that merger closed. While the outcome was far from the results they were expecting, AOL is still a big player in online media and is again seeing forward momentum.
Groupon has already pivoted since their value began declining shortly after going public. They now offer Groupon Goods, an almost Amazon competitor, that is the backbone to where the company is headed.
While LivingSocial hasn’t done anything that drastic just yet, they do have some new technologies in the works.
Case has never been one to turn down the long hall. At 54 he has plenty of time to see some of his investments pay off ten fold. ZipCar, a big investment for Revolution, was just recently sold to Hertz with a huge return to investors. The company was in a position where they didn’t necessarily need to take that deal, but it was right.
While four years may seem like an eternity to a startup, from reading all of the language in various stories about the recent LivingSocial bail out, the investors are giving the team four years to turn things around. Which, may be just enough time.
Meanwhile across the hall at Revolution, Leonsis has taken on much more responsibilities for day to day operations at Groupon. “There is a ton of negative sentiment in the press about this company, and I think people don’t separate the signal from the noise,” Leonsis told The Verge, “We have $1.2 billion in the bank. We have basically zero debt. And this last quarter, we had an operating profit. Yes, with one-time write downs, there was a loss. But the fundamentals of this business are sound.”
With Leonsis balancing Lefkosky’s Yang, and Case and company giving Living Social four years more breathing room, two men from AOL may have just saved daily deals.
Watch this video with Case’s remarks, this past Saturday at SXSW, on Living Social:
Startup America is holding their fourth quarterly “regions summit” in Chicago Illinois at 1871. The summit brings together nearly 150 regional Startup America influencers, commonly known around these parts as “Champions”.
Startup America champions from as far away as Puerto Rico arrived in the windy city last night for this three day conference meant to bring together regional startup leaders to share best practices, triumphs and even failures that each region can learn from.
To kick off the summit attendees were treated with a Case Triple Threat. Startup America CEO (and founding CTO of Priceline.com), Scott Case, kicked off the festivities. Case and Startup America’s Donna Harris have been busy over the last year flying around the country helping to launch Startup America regions. Scott Case (not related to the other two Cases) spoke briefly welcoming everyone to the event.
The first talk of the morning was a fireside chat between Harris and Startup America Chairman, and AOL Founder, Steve Case .Case has been traveling the country on his own talking to startup and entrepreneur communities throughout the United States. At one point Case pointed out, if you make great products no one cares where you’re from.
Case is no stranger to starting a company and raising money outside Silicon Valley. He’s started companies in Detroit Michigan before, but of course he’s most known for his little internet startup that launched out of Tyson’s Corner Virginia (a DC suburb) before anyone even knew what the internet was. Case told the familiar story of how no one really understood the internet back than and how it was just for a “bunch of geeks”.
Steve also brought home the point that Startup America, in it’s current form, is on a SWAT team mission to launch regions across the country over the next three years, and build growth within the organization. However the mission for Startup America is to have the regions function independently during that time. After that, the Startup America national office will function more as a support piece rather than a mouth piece.
The work the team at Startup America has done is nothing short of greatness though. With the addition of Startup Utah, just yesterday there are now 30 Startup America regional partners.
The third case of the morning was just before lunch. That’s when Case Foundation CEO and Steve’s wife, Jean Case came and spoke about her fearless movement within the Case foundation. The foundation just launched an initiative across the country looking for fearless people who will be the cornerstone of startups, and the economy to come.
Check out our video of Steve Case wrapping up his fireside chat with Harris below:
Steve Case, the co-founder of AOL, Revolution, The Case Foundation and the Chairman of the Startup America Partnership, spoke today at the Empact Summit. Empact is an event in Washington DC that promotes youth entrepreneurship and connects innovators of today with future innovators of tomorrow.
Case is currently on a nationwide road trip where he is promoting entrepreneurship and Startups across the country. Case finds different ways to drive home the same mission everywhere he speaks.
We’ve seen first hand countries like Israel, Romania, Greece, the UK, and other countries launching startups, and supporting them with accelerators, incubators and of course cash.
“The United States of America was a startup 200 years ago,” said Case, reports upstart., “We didn’t just wake up and become the leading economy in the world. It was entrepreneurs…who drove enormous economic growth.”
Case’s life is filled with startups. Outside of launching the widely used Internet service provider, Case’s Revolution, is a venture capital firm that invests in high growth potential startups like ZipCar, across the country. Case and his wife Jean’s philanthropic foundation, The Case Foundation is a founding partner of the Startup America Partnership.
Just like keynote at Capital Connection/TechBuzz in May, Case was very supportive of startups outside of Silicon Valley. While Case said that the startup activity in Silicon Valley was “awesome” he also said it was “vital to support entrepreneurial centers around the country”.
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AOL co-founder, and current Startup America partnership Chairman Steve Case is heading to Hawaii next week. He’s not going for vacation though, he’s going as the keynote speaker of the “Accelerating Hawaii’s Startup Innovation” event.
Accelerating Hawaii’s Startup Innovation is being held next Thursday August 2nd at the Sheraton Waikiki from 9:00am-4:00pm. The cost is just $35.
Steve Case will be the features speaker with the topic “Igniting A Startup Revolution” which will be hosted by Howard Dicus. Case will discuss his work as Chairman of the Startup America Partnership. He’ll also talk about how the JOBS act will open up more opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs. Finally he’ll discuss how the innovative entrepreneurs that he works with are building disruptive companies.
The other topics for the one day conference include:
Building an Ecosystem: Hawaii’s Support Stories, moderated by HTDC
Short overviews showcasing how local organizations are helping to ignite innovation in Hawaii, featuring Steve Sue, Lemonade Alley; Paul Quintiliani, Kamehameha Schools Endowment; Barry Weinman and Omar Sultan, UPSIDE Fund; Andrew Betz, HiTIP; and Bee Leng Chua, HiBEAM.
Impact of Accelerators on Local Ecosystems, moderated by HSDC
Mainland accelerator managers discuss how startup accelerators can impact a local economy, featuring George Kellerman, 500 Startups; Jennifer Judge, Global Accelerator Network; Amanda Chocko, Start Garden; Sam Teller, Launchpad LA; and Donna Harris, Startup America Partnership.
Startups to Watch: Hawaii’s Next Generation of Businesses, moderated by Startup Hawaii
Short stories highlighting the efforts of Hawaii’s modern crop of game-changing startups, featuring Holland Wood, Ikehu Natural; Ace Lee, NoJuice; Jason Cutinella, Nella Media Group; Hoala Greevy, Undefeated Games; and Ryan Esaki, Ukulele Underground.
Innovation Expo Networking Lunch, sponsored by HiBEAM
Speakers, panel participants, and examples of Hawaii’s startup ecosystem host
conversations on how we can all work to enhance local startup potential.
Corporate Collaboration: Developing Partnerships to Enhance Our Startup Ecosystem, moderated by Donna Harris of Startup America
Steve Case joins a panel of corporate and startup CEOs to discuss how business can help build, grow, and support our local startup economy, featuring:
• Art Ushijima, President, The Queen’s Health System
• Kevin Miyashiro, Founder/President, TeraSys Technologies
• Mark Dunkerley, President & CEO, Hawaiian Airlines
• Tina Fitch, Founder, ezRez Software (now Switchfly.com)
• Richard Rosenblum, President & CEO, Hawaiian Electric Company
• Darius Monsef, Founder & CEO, ColourLovers.com and CreativeMarket
After the speakers there will be a networking event that is sponsored by the Hawaii Angels who are celebrating their 10th year of funding innovation in Hawaii.
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Startup America added their 26th regional partnership on Tuesday with Puerto Rico. Startup Puerto Rico kicked off in true Startup America fashion with a networking party for entrepreneurs across the island held at Universidad Interamericana, Recinto Metropolitano in San Juan.
“Puerto Ricans want to develop their own country on their own terms,” said Startup Puerto Rico representative Richard Vazquez. “Startup America encourages Puerto Ricans to develop the country by creating more jobs and kick-starting our local economy.”
The partnership between Startup Puerto Rico and Startup America will give entrepreneurs and startups on the island access to the same benefits that Startup America members have on the mainland. In addition, Startup America membership is free, and you didn’t have to attend the launch event to sign up, you can simply click the link below.
Startup America offers free educational webinars, free benefits from partners including indiegogo, American Express, Intuit and plenty of others. The member portal on the Startup America website shows every member what the current benefits are.
They also regularly hold contests which have included a trip to attend the Super Bowl with Startup America CEO Scott Case and a trip to the Kentucky Derby.
Startup America is chaired by AOL co-founer Steve Case (no relation to Scott Case) and with Puerto Rico, now has 26 regional partnerships.
Capital Connection TechBUZZ ’12 Had Steve Case as the Keynote speaker at the end of the two days. In 1985 Steve Case founded AOL. It was the first internet company to go public, it was the largest media acquisition of its time.
When crowdfunding was brought up he spoke about the ability to raise funds for projects via indiegogo or kickstarter Recently he has been spending a lot of time in Washington DC convincing the US Government to deal with entrepreneurial issues and American jobs. When asked how he feels about crowdfunding (JOBS Act) he mentioned the fact that it has been passed and is waiting for the SEC to finish their part. The law had previously stated that it was illegal to sell private equity to investors online. “You can sell the whole business – 100% but you will go to jail if you sell 1%” Case stated “for the first 6 years it was illegal for us to connect to the internet.” The JOBS act focuses on modernizing an extremely old system.
In this short clip he discusses the benefits he sees in crowdfunding for startups and where it will may have the biggest benefit. As we are well aware, if you are in North Dakota, Philly, St Louis, Chicago, or Everywhere Else – it is very difficult to get covered by media outlets or to raise seed or angel capital. This is where we come in. We are planning on driving across the country for just over a year meeting with startups, incubators, accelerators, and their towns. While we cannot directly assist in helping you raise capital, we are sneaker strapped ourselves, we can help get your names out. We will come to your city and spend time with you. We don’t discriminate against a lack of funds being raised or lack of angels in your region. We only care about meeting startups who are making a go at something new.
We do need some help though, which explains the title of the article, our case has been made by Steve Case himself. Take a look below:
Thursday (May 24) Is a day of two cases first Steve Case (L) then Scott Case (R) (not related)
This week on the nibletz startup road trip we will be in New York for Disrupt and DC for Capital Connection and an event with TechCocktail.
Capital Connection is a one and a half day convention/conference being held in Washington DC Wednesday May 23rd and Thursday May 24th. It’s one of the nation’s most respected industry conferences and showcases emerging, growing companies (startups).
“For 25 years, Capital Connection and now TechBUZZ, have brought together a high-powered cross section of the nation’s technology-based, high-growth ecosystem. Attendees include senior players from across the industry – investors across the continuum of capital, professional advisors, technology product and service firms, and, at the center of it all, innovative entrepreneurs.” source
The conference is divided into two tracks one on Wednesday afternoon and the other on Thursday. Wednesday afternoon is “TechBuzz” and features early stage startup companies. The TechBuzz companies will square off in a familiar quick pitch setting. Each company will have 4 minutes to present and two companies will present simultaneously, according to their website.
Later on Wednesday afternoon the best of the TechBuzz presenters will square off again in a “semi final” type round called “Best of the Buzz”.
The Capital Connection presentations involve early, expansion and growth companies that have been vigorously vetted prior to their presentation. During the application process, the companies presenting in the Capital Connection presentations are scrubbed for “the soundness of their financial model as well as the innovation and potential of their ideas”.
Over the 25 years of the Capital Connection conference it’s been a virtual who’s who of the best tech in the region has to offer.
The Thursday afternoon festivities will be capped with a keynote by AOL founder and Chairman and CEO of Revolution, Steve Case.
Later on Thursday evening we’ll move over to the TechCocktail sessions event with Startup America CEO and Priceline Founding CTO T. Scott Case. The other case (Scott) gives great, almost guy next door presentations on startups, the startup ecosystem and Startup America.