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!
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.
- 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.