The Wavelength Highlights - MARCH 2018

We held our first ever PerfectPitch startup competition at SXSW. Five early stage founders pitched in front of an amazing group of judges who included our founding partner Ashton Kutcher; actor and philanthropist Matthew McConaughey; Salesforce Chairman and CEO Marc Benioff; StyleSeat CEO Melody McCloskey; and VaynerMedia CEO Gary Vaynerchuk. Many thanks to Steve Bertoni from Forbes for moderating the event.

Five finalists were chosen from hundreds of applicants: 

  • AI Software, an AI bot built for enterprises
  • Daymaker, a platform that lets kids give to other kids in need
  • IssueVoter, a non-partisan online platform making civic engagement more accessible
  • Omnivirt, an AR/VR advertising platform for brands and publishers
  • LearnLux, a platform that teaches millennials personal finance skills through online learning tools

Rebecca Liebman, CEO of LearnLux, won over the judges with her pitch about financial education and empowerment. Although the initial prize was $100,000, we doubled it to $200,000, and Marc Benioff matched us with another $200,000, bringing LearnLux's total investment to $400,000.

Welcome to the Sound family Rebecca + LearnLux!


THE PARTY

We brought back the Sound Ventures SXSW party this year held at Hotel Van Zandt in Austin. Was fun catching up with our portfolio founders and friends in the tech community who we don't always get to see. 

  Sound portfolio founder Scott Crouch, CEO of Mark43.

Sound portfolio founder Scott Crouch, CEO of Mark43.

Featured coverage of THE PARTY:


PORTFOLIO NEWS

  • Mark43 raises $38 Million to make law enforcement more efficient. Link.
  • Warby Parker raises a new $75 million funding round, led by T. Rowe Price. Link
  • Uber filed patents to allow self-driving car riders to experience VR. Uber’s system would use self-driving car sensor data to generate a unique virtual environment for riders. Link.
  • Airbnb has named Amazon's former head of Prime, Greg Greeley, the new President of Homes. Greeley will oversee the new Airbnb Plus offering, which offers stays in more luxurious homes, among other things. Link
  • Robinhood adds zero-fee cryptocurrency trading and tracking beginning in February. Link.
  • ClassPass introduces credits to allow users to buy as much as they want on a monthly basis, with the option to top up or roll credits over to the next month. Link
  • Softbank leads a $120 million round in Lemonade, a mobile-first digital insurer for homeowners and renters, to accelerate its global expansion. Link
  • Cadre, an online investment platform providing access and insight into institutionally sourced alternative assets, closes on $250MM of commitments from Goldman Sachs' private wealth clients. Link
  • Medinas raises $1 million seed co-led by Sound Ventures and General Catalyst. Link.  

Know someone building something awesome? Recommend a startup for us here

Introducing The Five Finalists for Sound Ventures' PerfectPitch Competition

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SXSW badge holders are invited to join us this Saturday, March 10th (3:30pm - 4:30pm) at Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, to see which one of the five founders will deliver the PerfectPitch and receive a $100,000 investment from Sound Ventures.

 

Jane.ai - Founded by David Karandish, is an AI bot built for enterprises; accesses your company’s ‘brain’ by digesting information from internal documents and interacting with cloud-based apps.

LearnLux - Founded by  Rebecca Liebman, is an educational platform with online tools for financial literacy.

Daymaker - Founded by Thomas Doochin, is a platform for kids to give to other kids in need; building habits of kindness and generosity from a young age.

IssueVoter - Founded by Maria Yuan, positions itself as the Wikipedia for legislation; users select the issues they care most about and IssueVoter will send them brief summaries of relevant legislation going through Congress.

Omnivirt - Founded by Michael Rucker, is an AR/VR advertising platform for brands and publishers.

 

Sound Ventures Announces Guest Judges for PerfectPitch @ SXSW

Sound Ventures co-founders Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary, will be joined by guest judges, actor Matthew McConaughey, Marc Benioff, Chairman and CEO of Salesforce, Melody McCloskey, CEO of StyleSeat and Gary Vaynerchuk, founder of VaynerMedia at SXSW on March 10th for PerfectPitch,  Sound Ventures’ $100,000 pitch competition for early-stage entrepreneurs.

PerfectPitch will be held Saturday, March 10, 3:30-4:30pm at the Hotel Van Zandt in Austin, and is open to anyone with a SXSW pass.

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PerfectPitch @ SXSW: Sound Ventures’ $100,000 pitch competition for early-stage entrepreneurs.

A $100,000 Pitch Competition for early stage entrepreneurs with game-changing and scalable business ideas.


Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and the Sound Ventures team will host the PerfectPitch competition at this year’s SXSW Conference on March 10th in Austin, TX.
Sound Ventures is looking for entrepreneurs who have a strong team with technical talent and a platform/product that is post-launch.                  
Five finalists will be selected to pitch their companies on stage at PerfectPitch.
One winner will be selected and announced at the event and awarded $100,000.  Judges will include Ashton Kutcher, Guy Oseary and others to be announced. 

We are excited to give entrepreneurs the stage and build awareness for their companies during one of the biggest tech events of the year. Our team is eager to invest in the best and brightest minds driving innovation in tech and changing the world for the better.
-Ashton Kutcher
 

Click here to submit your PerfectPitch.

Submissions will be accepted between: January 26 – February 28, 2018

Special thanks to our partners which includes Forbes Media.

Neighborly Raises Series A

Neighborly raised a $25 million Series A round to further our mission of modernizing public finance. The investment was led by Joe Lonsdale at 8VC, Laurene Powell Jobs at Emerson Collective, with follow-on participation from Ashton Kutcher at Sound Ventures, Maven Ventures, Bee Partners, and Stanford University. We welcome newcomers Govtech Fund, Abstract.vc, and Fintech Collective.

Neighborly modernizes access to public finance. We connect borrowing communities with investors of every type, allowing cities to more easily issue debt and allowing community members to invest directly in their communities.

Read the full article on Neighborly.com

Capsule raiseS $20 million

Capsule, a New York-based pharmacy delivery startup, has raised $20 million from Thrive Capital, founder Eric Kinariwala told TechCrunch editor Jordan Crook on stage today at Disrupt NY.

Thrive Capital led the round, with participation from Sound Ventures and Virgin Group.

(via TechCrunch)

SentinelOne raises a $70M C round to tackle multiple-vector cyber attacks

As workforces become increasingly mobile with laptops, smartphones and other handheld devices, the potential for vulnerability increases massively. The sophistication of cyber threats and targeted attacks is constantly evolving. SentinelOne is a cyber security player that has concentrated on this new, multiple-vector, attack method, among others. (via TechCrunch)

Today it announced a $70 million “C” funding round taking its total cash raised to more than $110 million. New investor – and current SentinelOne customer – Redpoint Ventures led the round along with new investment from Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s firm, Sound Ventures. Existing investors include Third Point Ventures, Data Collective, Granite Hill Capital Partners, Westly Group, and SineWave Ventures. Included is private investor Andy Bechtolsheim, Co-Founder of Sun Microsystems. Click here to read the full article.

Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures back Apptopia’s next-gen app intelligence platform

Apptopia, a startup that began its life as a marketplace for reselling apps before morphing into the app intelligence provider that’s now used by Google, Facebook, Pinterest, NBCU, and others, has closed on a second seed round of $2.7 million. The round, which was led by Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures, brings Apptopia’s total raise to date to $5 million. (via TechCrunch)