Khan

Entrepreneurs Can See The Future, And Here’s What The Future Looks Like

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/ron-conway-startups-trends-future-2012-1


Ron Conway

SV Angel’s Ron Conway has been an investor since 1994.  In this month’s issue of The Economist, Conway writes his 2012 startup predictions.

First he says the social web has hardly reached maturity. We’ve only seen the beginning of what’s possible via Facebook. “Some 90% of the world’s data have been generated in the past two years,” he writes.

Conway thinks social interactions will be at the heart of most new products moving forward. They’ll influence everything from search results to how mom and pop shops conduct their businesses.

Conway also notes how quickly startups are seeing success at the local level. Groupon built a multi-billion-dollar business in three years. Conway wonders if we’ll see a startup become a true $1 billion business in 12 months in 2012.

The biggest trend Conway sees is something he calls “collaborative  consumption.”  By that he means people area willing to share or rent things instead of buy them. Airbnb and ZipCar are good examples of this.

Conway concludes by saying why he loves startups. “The answer is quite simple: these entrepreneurs share their vision of the future with me. And every so often, their vision becomes the future. What could be more interesting than that?”

To read the full article, head over to The Economist >>

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 news No Comments

OpenSky Hits 1 Million Users And More Than $1.5 Million In Monthly Sales

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/opensky-1-million-users-2012-1


John Caplan OpenSky

Fab and Turntable weren’t the only pivot success stories of 2011. Another e-commerce site, OpenSky, went from struggling to successful in about nine months.

OpenSky was founded in 2009 by John Caplan as an e-commerce arm for bloggers. Influential writers could create storefronts alongside their content, but it wasn’t a fruitful business model for OpenSky.

“Last year we were dead in the water,” says Caplan. “We weren’t selling very much. When people are reading they aren’t buying things; they don’t have their credit cards in hand.”

Caplan decided to pivot his startup. OpenSky relaunched in April as a personalized shopping site.  Now e-commerce isn’t secondary to content on OpenSky; it’s king.

The new OpenSky operates like Twitter. It works with 80 industry influencers and celebrities, like Martha Stewart, Bobby Flay and Alicia Silverstone, to create lists of their favorite items.  Users can follow the influencers and buy the endorsed products.  OpenSky holds all the inventory, ships items to users, and splits the profit 50/50 with influencers. Caplan says none of OpenSky’s influencers are investors. They just really like the product.

“It’s like Twitter but our merchandisers [the celebrities who pick the items OpenSky sells] are making tens of thousands of dollars every month from their followers,” says Caplan. Martha Stewart, for example, has 83,549 followers on OpenSky just waiting to buy a recommended rolling pin or mixing bowl.

So far, OpenSky’s pivot has worked wonders. In April, its first relaunch month, OpenSky generated about $66,000 in sales. Last month it generated well over $1.5 million. “Revenue has been increasing 50% month over month,” says Caplan.

In October the 87-person startup raised $30 million. Today, Caplan told us OpenSky crossed the 1 million user mark. About 68% of users are repeat buyers, purchasing new OpenSky items within eight weeks.

We asked Caplan what his margins are like. Despite the 50/50 split, he says they’re pretty good.

“Brands are excited about OpenSky because they want to be endorsed by celebrities,” says Caplan. While brands can’t pay for distribution on OpenSky, they generate a lot of sales when celebrities decide to post their items. Caplan likens OpenSky to Pinterest.  The brands’ excitement makes it easy for OpenSky to purchase, store and sell celebrity-endorsed items at reasonable prices and margins.

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Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 news No Comments

John Doerr And Reed Hastings Put $11 Million Into Education Startup

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/boonsri-dickinson-dreambox-raises-11m-from-john-doerr-and-reed-hastings-2011-12


john doerr tbi

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and super VC John Doerr just invested in DreamBox Learning, an adaptive math learning platform.

The startup just raised an $11 million round from Hastings (through his Charter School Growth Fund), Doerr (through his private investment fund), not Kleiner Perkins, and others.

The company plans to use the investment round to expand the product and curriculum as well as increase distribution. In the past year, half a million elementary school students used the platform, viewing more than 11 million lessons. An independent study found that students who used DreamBox for four months, improved their test scores by about 5%.

As a nation, the United States is lagging behind in math, but educational startups may soon change that. Another popular startup Khan Academy recently raised $5 million, which uses videos and practice problems to teach a range of courses including physics and computer programming. In October, Founders Fund invested $33 million in education startup Knewton, which has an adaptive learning algorithm that has been used to power a college online math readiness course.

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Wednesday, December 7th, 2011 news No Comments

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