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VP Spotlight Aditya Pandyaram

Written by Indicator Team

Aditya is a machine. He’s dedicated to doing more and it shows. Whether it’s a cross fit workout, a complex product road map or a non-profit for students in need, Aditya is non-stop making things happen. This is just one of the reasons we are lucky to have Aditya as a Venture Partner at Indicator Ventures. Currently he’s the head of Product at Troops, making a whole lot happen.

As the head of product at Troops Aditya runs all things product, design and data. He was their first hire and is an integral part of their executive team. He’s also been an integral part of their fundraising efforts, and having raised ~$10MM in just 18 months between their Seed and Series A round of financing, clearly he’s having a massive impact.

With a mission to make software more human, and easier to use we’re excited to see some seriously cool product launches in the near future. But don’t take our word for it…here’s what Aditya had to say:

 

At Troops, we fundamentally believe that the future of “getting things done” is going to look a lot less like static fields and forms, and more like a conversation with a human being… an intelligent one for that matter! It seemed crazy to us that in a world with self-driving cars, we are still using software for work that looks like it was from the 90’s. We figured, if we can make this software delightful, people might actually use it and dare I say, enjoy it. And how amazing would it be if tens of millions of people around the world doing work, could actually do so with a little more enjoyment? That seemed like a mission and vision worth pursuing.

For modern sales teams who use Salesforce, Slack, and Google Apps, Troops is a Slackbot that makes it easy to use CRM data and configure workflow to do your job. Unlike trudging through CRM directly, Troops lets you instantly push and pull customer and sales information in and out of Slack, making it the sales hub for both you and your team. It’s “Conversational CRM” and it creates more efficiency and workflow for organizations so that they can spend their time focused on the most important functions like closing deals and making their customers happy.

 

Outside of Troops, Aditya is the co-founder and president of Intellection Institution, a NJ based STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Art and Math) non-profit that provides students in need with the resources to succeed.

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News Corp Demo Day

Written by Indicator Team

In late September, Indicator Ventures held its second annual Demo Day in partnership with News Corp. The event was an extension of the relationship built with News Corp and is a prime example of the value generated through our corporate partnerships program.

Held at News Corp’s NYC headquarters, the event included presentations from the founders of five companies, and was attended by over 30 directors and executives from News Corp as well as many of its business units including Dow JonesHarper Collins, and News America Marketing.

Indicator Ventures hand-selected startups building innovative technologies and platforms that have direct applications specific to News Corp business units. Emphasis was placed on digital technologies with the potential to drive efficiencies and new business opportunities across the News Corp ecosystem with a particular focus on Messaging, Artificial Intelligence, and Automation.

Founders showcased their industry knowledge and insights, and spoke about how their companies are providing unique value to their relevant industries. The presentations fostered interactive and thought provoking discussions with the audience. Amanda Greenfield, News Corp’s Vice President of Corporate and Business Development, noted that “it was both educational and inspiring to see founders showcase their companies and talk about the myriad applications relevant to News Corp. We are excited to explore the ideas and opportunities spurred by these presentations.”

We couldn’t be more proud of our founders for the products, services and platforms they have built. Moreover, we are pleased to see our partnership with News Corp continue to flourish in tandem with the growth we are witnessing across the broader Venture Capital ecosystem and within large corporations looking to drive efficiencies through ongoing adoption of emerging technologies. 

 

Featured Companies:

 

Msg.ai: Artificial Intelligence for conversational commerce

Speaker: Puneet Mehta – CEO and Founder

Sector: Messaging, Artificial Intelligence

Relevancy: Mobile messaging is exploding. It’s rapidly becoming the number one communication platform of choice for consumers around the world. In fact, 6 out of the top 10 most used apps globally are messaging apps, with Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger leading the way (combined 1.5b users). Msg.ai will be discussing how you should be thinking about personalized conversations with your customers across various messaging apps and how AI can be leveraged to automate at scale.

 

Quaero: Quaero provides customers with a turnkey automated solution that manages and analyzes audience data to identify pattern behavior and maximize digital advertising revenue.

Speaker: Naras Eechambadi– CEO and President

Sector: Data Management, Automation

Relevancy: With consumers spending increasingly more time across various formats and devices throughout the digital ecosystem granular understanding of the consumer journey is a must. Better understanding of first and third party data enables better targeting, more efficient operations, better campaign results and the opportunity to significantly increase revenues.

 

Lob: Lob offers a suite of APIs for the enterprise that automates and optimizes direct mail at scale. Lob’s technology generates customized pieces, distributes them based on custom triggers, helps A/B test different variants, and tracks mail as it’s delivered.

Speaker: Harry Zang – Co-founder

Sector: Direct Mail, Automation

Relevancy: Direct mail has one of the highest levels of ROI but the distribution and analytics are antiquated. From customizing recipient fields to running A/B tests on geo-targeted campaigns, there are a number of steps that can be taken to optimize campaign results. Sending physical mail should be as easy as sending email and should have the same level of control, tracking and analytics.

 

Islands:  Islands is a mobile first messaging platform that helps communities to gather, communicate and mange themselves in a modern way.

Speaker: Greg Isenberg – CEO & Founder

Sector: Messaging

Relevancy: There is a fundamental shift happening right now around real time messaging. As one of the largest media companies in the world, NewsCorp should be prepared to understand, adopt and capitalize on the high growth messaging sector.

 

Wade and Wendy: Wade & Wendy is using Artificial Intelligence to make hiring human. Wade and Wendy is developing AI personalities that grow real relationships and facilitate true understanding through chat, wherever you are. Wade works for job seekers and Wendy works for internal recruiting teams.

Speaker: Drew Austin – CEO & Co-Founder

Sector: HR, Artificial Intelligence

Relevancy: As one of the leaders in enterprise AI, Wade and Wendy will discuss how companies should be thinking about and using Artificial Intelligence within a corporate environment. How can AI make internal business processes, including the hiring process, much more efficient?

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IRIS Series A

Written by Jonathan Struhl

 We are pleased to announce that IrisVR, an Indicator Ventures portfolio company, has raised $8M in Series A funding led by Emergence Capital with participation from Pritzker Group and Morningside Group, ahead of the company’s Q4 2016 product launch. Kevin Spain, General Partner at Emergence will be joining the Board of Directors, alongside Indicator Ventures’ General Partner, Jonathan Struhl. IrisVR couldn’t have found a better Series A partner to help accelerate growth given that Emergence Capital is arguably one of the world’s best enterprise software investors with investment such as Salesforce, Box, Yammer, SuccessFactors and Veeva Systems, to name a few.

Indicator co-led IrisVR’s seed round over a year ago and we are pleased with the progress they’ve made since then; their software has been adopted by almost 20,000 users in over 100 countries!

IrisVR intends to use its funding to accelerate the company’s growth, with a particular focus on the recruitment of new talent. IrisVR is currently seeking visionary creators and engineers who look forward to the merging of the digital and physical 3D worlds, love data driven design, and want to put groundbreaking technology to use in an industry that constructs the built environment.

About IrisVR

IrisVR (www.irisvr.com) provides a suite of enterprise software that enables users to visualize and share 3D models in Virtual Reality. With IrisVR, architects and contractors can walk a client through a space before it’s built, communicate effectively with collaborators on site, and win more projects. IrisVR is headquartered in New York City.

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New Investment: VIDA

Written by Jonathan Struhl

We are excited to announce our latest investment, VIDA!

VIDA was founded by Umaimah Mendhro, a brilliant entrepreneur whose vision is to democratize fashion by leveraging digital efficiencies. The inspiration for VIDA came from Umaimah’s personal experience as an artist, and her frustrations with the need for upfront costs and minimum production requirements when creating products. Having grown up in Pakistan, Umaimah was distinctly aware of the waste and inefficiencies in small manufacturing facilities. She wanted to create a solution that would address the barriers to entry for independent designers who wanted to create beautiful products, while also helping workers in manufacturing facilities increase their utilization and improve their livelihoods.

VIDA enables artists and creatives from around the world to seamlessly create beautiful pieces of custom apparel (with other products coming soon), and sell the items on the VIDA marketplace within minutes. VIDA provides each artist with their own digital storefront, which artists and designers can use to sell products directly to their communities. There are tens of thousands of artist already using the platform, uploading thousands of designs each month. VIDA handles the customer transactions, end to end manufacturing and shipping. Umaimah and her team have built streamlined integrated manufacturing capability that leverages the most innovative digital screen-printing technology to produce customized apparel at positive unit economics, even at a single quantity. These aspects ensure an all-around high quality experience for the end user.

VIDA’s process is simple and efficient:

(1) Artists submit designs, showcasing watercolor paintings, photographs, illustrations, sketches, prints and more.

(2) Artists simply self-design with VIDA’s easy to use upload tool and publish their branded site on VIDA. Artists then reach out to their audience to convert them into customers.

(3) VIDA completes the sale and starts the production process with partner factories around the world using the latest digital screen-printing technology. VIDA then handles all shipping, handling and returns.

VIDA’s management team has a breadth of experience at pioneering fashion companies and large technology companies including Microsoft, Square, Stella & Dot, Threadless, Betabrand, Karmaloop and FlipKey.

VIDA also has a very important social mission to help educate workers at its factory partners around the world. They offer a 3 month crash course in basic literacy, specifically basic reading, writing, and math skills to all factory workers. The program is primarily designed for people who’ve never been inside a school. It costs less than $15 to make someone literate for life – it’s truly remarkable! The VIDA story of combining streamed manufacturing for custom made original products with a strong social mission was the main driving factor behind Indicator Ventures’ investment decision.

Current investors include Google Ventures, Universal Music Group, Slow Ventures, and others.

For more information please visit www.shopvida.com

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New Investment: Wade & Wendy

Written by Jonathan Struhl

NY-based Wade & Wendy has announced $4m in seed funding from Indicator Ventures, Slack, Randstad, FFVC, Converge, and a number of other strategic investors.

Wade and Wendy, is building a talent recruiting platform for both candidates and companies that leverages artificial intelligence to streamline and efficiently manage the hiring process, all while capturing valuable data.

Wade is an artificially intelligent career assistant serving as an always on resource that supports an individual throughout their job search and career. Wendy is an artificially intelligent recruiting assistant, leveraging rich data that cross-references with a company’s organizational chart in order to identify the best possible candidates. Additionally, Wendy is trained as a team member, handling or assisting in the many roles and responsibilities of a hiring manager. Since there is no user interface and all data and analysis is done on the backend, the platform fits seamlessly into the users’ normal conversational workflow, such as Gmail and Slack.

Armed with an incredibly talented team and strategic investments from Slack’s Investment Fund and Randstad, the world’s second-largest HR service provider, Wade and Wendy is poised to bring much-needed efficiency to the recruiting industry.

Click here to learn more about Wade and Wendy’s mission from CEO, Drew Austin.

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New Investment: Noble Markets

Written by Geoff Bernstein

We recently invested in NYC-based Noble Markets. Through its platform, Noble provides the next generation of prime brokerage services, including real-time clearing and settlement of FX and other OTC assets for the world’s largest market makers, funds and prime brokerage units.

Indicator Ventures’ core thesis revolves around investing in digital products and services that create efficiencies, and Noble Markets does exactly that. Through its trusted platform of connected market participants, Noble facilitates real-time clearing & settlement, centralized collateral management, and custodial services without the need for ISDA/bilateral agreements, with lower counter-party risk, and materially cheaper transaction costs. In other words, Noble saves both time and money in a massive market (FX is $6 trillion daily).

Noble has taken a unique approach to solving a decades-old workflow, beginning with acquiring a state-chartered bank, and opening up direct accounts with central banks in order to move capital on behalf of clients. The bank charter, core IP and partnerships with major market structure institutions have helped Noble build a unique and highly differentiated business.

Aside from the enormous addressable market and the aforementioned competitive advantages, our investment thesis for Noble was driven by three primary Indicators. First, Noble has assembled an amazing team that includes executives, traders, architects and compliance officers from some of the world’s largest and most reputable financial institutions. The second indicator is their early traction. After going live with a handful of market makers to validate and test the platform, they are launching next month with some of the world’s largest trading participants who view Noble as a platform to more efficiently and profitably trade FX. Lastly, we invested alongside some of the world’s most experienced industry veterans, including former investment banking and global asset manager CEOs and Chairmen, as well as strategic investors with experience as regulatory consultants and lobbyists, early backers of major market infrastructure companies and other exchange platforms, as well as the former CEO and Chairman of CLS.

We have a tremendous amount of conviction in the team and idea, and as they execute to their potential, Noble will unlock more value and upside than anything we have seen before.

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Shibumi Series A

Written by Geoff Bernstein

We are proud to announce that Shibumi has closed their Series A having raised $3.6 million led by Indicator Ventures, with participation from Morningside Technology Ventures and existing strategic angel investors. The deal came together quickly, closing in under 30 days.

Partner lead on the deal for Indicator was Geoff Bernstein continuing his active role working with the company.  Geoff will maintain his board seat and continue to work closely with management helping to advise them on strategy, operations and more as they scale their team and business.

This deal is a prime example of the early-stage investing model Indicator Ventures set out to create – invest early on and work closely with the company to bridge them from fragility to stability. In the case of Shibumi, we increased our position along the way as the company hit key milestones and proof points, starting with a small position (originally an angel investment by the GPs), and growing it gradually through the Series A. Like all early-stage businesses, Shibumi struggled at times to accurately convey their value proposition and gain customer traction. This is why investing in rock star founders is so critical, as Shibumi’s management team was able to reposition the business and adapt to feedback and market signals to get to where they are today.

Shibumi is landing and expanding contracts at a rapid pace, (with some of the biggest companies on the planet) and they continue to exhibit some of the most impressive growth metrics (300% QoQ ARR growth) and unit economics (7x ratio sales & marketing spend to revenue) of any SaaS business we have seen.  Needless to say, we could not be more proud of what this team has accomplished.

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VP Insights: Introducing Islands 🌴

Written by Indicator Team

Here at Indicator Ventures we pride ourselves on our team.  Therefore, whenever we have an opportunity to showcase their amazing work we do so, proudly.

Greg Isenberg joined Indicator Ventures as an early Venture Partner (literally from day one).  Greg is a savvy marketer, growth hacker and accomplished entrepreneur.  Greg was the founder of 5by – a video discovery platform that was acquired by StubleUpon less than a year after they launched.

Greg left StumbleUpon in 2015 to begin pursuing more entrepreneurial endeavors once again.  While we don’t exactly know what Greg has up his sleeve this time around, we do know one thing for sure.  Whatever Greg builds will be an exceptional product delivering true value to its end users.  Either way, we can’t wait to see it unfold!

But don’t take our word for it, read what Greg had to say himself, here.

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Acquisition: Bond

Written by Ben Luntz

We are happy to report that Bond has been acquired! This comes only 14 months after our first investment into Bond’s seed round and only 6 months following our investment leading Bond’s Series A. While we value all exits, this one is particularly sweet given the quick realization and the fact that Indicator Ventures was the sole venture institution backing the company on a meaningful level. We took a risk on a brilliantly creative and visionary founder in Sonny Caberwal and on an idea that truly embodied Indicator Ventures’ mandate for digital efficiencies. We are proud to see that thesis substantiated by a successful acquisition.

Bond set out on a mission to make personalized communication easier, at scale. They did so by creating a technology to enable real handwritten notes using both hardware and software that learns and recreates human gestures. From self-service to secure API + CRM integrations, Bond integrates into any workflow – enterprise and consumer – to send handwritten notes on personalized stationery, in seconds, on demand.

Therefore, it is no surprise that Bond found their home with Newell Rubbermaid, now Newell Brands (NYSE: NWL) following the $15B merger with Jarden Corporation (NYSE: JAH). Bond will continue to grow their team, product, and customer experience from their current NYC office. Additionally, because Newell sells $2B+ of writing instruments via brands like Sharpie and Paper Mate, Bond will be investing more in exploring how technology, writing, and creative expression come together in the future.

I’m extremely proud to have been on this journey with Bond and its diverse team of 70+ engineers, designers, and dreamers. Together we’ve overcome tremendous odds to build an amazing product and service that enables people to be more thoughtful.

 

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VP Spotlight: John Brennan

Written by Indicator Team

 

John and Indicator go way back – back to before Indicator’s formation in fact.  John was the CTO and co-founder of Buzz Table, one of the first investments made by Indicator Ventures General Partners Ben Luntz and Geoff Bernstein, (Ben was also an advisor to the company).  It was a phenomenal experience working with John and his other co-founders.  We learned a ton and at the end of the day, we also generated a fantastic return when we sold the business to Sysco (NYSE: SYY).

We enjoyed working with John and his team so much so that when we started Indicator Ventures we asked John to join as our CTO in residence.  John helps us to evaluate new investments from a technical perspective and he also helps to advise companies that we’ve already invested in.  What we love about John, among other things, is his practicality.  For someone who understands tech on such a granular level, John also has a real business sense.

While we could go on about John’s great qualities we might be better served simply by letting John’s work (and life lessons) speak for themselves.  Following the sale of Buzz Table to Sysco John took some time to document many ‘business and life lessons’ he learned in his early 20s.  While this is in some ways old news, life lessons never really get old.

Here’s to never stopping to learn; thanks for the pointers John!