All posts in “Startups”

Maze turns your InVision prototypes into flexible testing tools

Meet Maze, a startup building a user interface testing tool for your app prototypes. Maze is a simple web-based service that lets you turn InVision and Marvel files into UX tests.

While most designers work with InVision and Marvel, it’s hard to turn those designs into a quantitative test. Maze isn’t a video recording tool and doesn’t require you to watch video footage.

It isn’t a new prototyping tool either as the startup wants you to keep using InVision and Marvel. Maze can record a user path from a web browser on desktop or mobile without having to install anything.

After setting up your test, you can share a link with a bunch of users. When you open this link, you get clear instructions telling you what you’re supposed to do (“find the nearest Lebanese restaurant” or “add John as friend” for instance). After each test, Maze automatically shows you the next one so you can keep going.

Developers then get a dashboard with a clear overview of the different tests. You can see the success rate, the time it takes to do something and the screen areas that get a lot of taps. You can also look at individual tests.

You can use Maze for simple A/B tests by sending two different designs to different groups and comparing the results.

Thousands of designers have tried the service so far, including people working for Amazon, Airbnb, Uber and Shopify.

The company has raised a $470,000 pre-seed round with Partech and Seedcamp (£350,000). Maze uses a software-as-a-service approach with a limited free plan and multiple paid subscriptions.

I played with the product for a few minutes and it’s a polished experience. You wouldn’t expect that from such a young startup. While I’m not a designer, I think many designers are probably going to use it regularly.

Announcing the last judges for the TC Startup Battlefield Europe at VivaTech

VivaTech is starting in a couple of days, which means TechCrunch’s Startup Battlefield Europe is also starting on Thursday. So let me introduce you to the last batch of judges that will come to Paris for the event.

If you haven’t been to TechCrunch Disrupt, the Startup Battlefield  is arguably the most interesting part of the show. Before everybody started doing a startup competition, there was the Startup Battlefield. Companies like Dropbox, Fitbit, N26 and Yammer all launched on the TechCrunch stage.

And we’re bringing talented investors and founders to judge the startups. Here’s the third round of judges (see part 1part 2 and part 3).

Roxanne Varza, Director, Station F

Roxanne Varza is the Director of Station F, which is the largest startup campus worldwide, backed by Xavier Niel. She is also involved in the European Commission’s European Innovation Council (EIC) and is on the board of Agence France Presse (AFP).

Prior to her current role, Roxanne was the lead for Microsoft’s start-up activities in France, running both Bizspark and Microsoft Ventures programs for 3 years. She was also Editor of TechCrunch France from 2010-2011 and has written for several publications including Business Insider and The Telegraph.

In April 2013, Business Insider listed her as one of the top 30 women under 30 in tech. She has also been listed in additional rankings by Business Insider, Vanity Fair and Le Figaro, The Evening Standard and more.

Roxanne also co-founded StartHer (ex Girls in Tech Paris) and is the co-organizer of the Failcon Paris conference. More recently, she co-founded Tech.eu, a European tech media backed by Dave McClure, Adeo Ressi, Daniel Waterhouse and more.

Prior to TechCrunch, Roxanne worked for the French government’s foreign direct investment agency helping fast-growing startups develop their activities in France. Roxanne has spoken, moderated, mentored and judged numerous startup events and programs throughout Europe and also helps European startups with content and communications.

Roxanne is trilingual and holds degrees from UCLA, Sciences Po Paris and the London School of Economics. She is also an epilepsy advocate.

Keld van Schreven, Co-Founder, KR1

Keld is co-founder of KR1, UK’s leading crypto investment public company. First investors in Melonport, Funfair, Rocketpool and Etherisc. Keld is advisor to IXLedger and previously co-founder of several web startups since 1995.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Brent Hoberman, Co-Founder, firstminute capital

Brent Hoberman is chairman and co-founder of Founders Factory, an ambitious corporate backed incubator/accelerator based in London, and also of Founders Forum, a series of intimate annual global events for the leading entrepreneurs of today and the rising stars of tomorrow. Brent is a co-founder and was founding chairman of Smartup, Grip & made.com, a leading European direct-from-factory consumer homewares retailer. Most recently, Brent co-founded firstminute capital, a London-based pan-European seed fund, backed by some of the world’s top entrepreneurs. Brent co-founded lastminute.comin April 1998, was CEO from its inception and sold it in 2005 to Sabre for $1.1bn. Technology businesses he has co-founded have raised over $500m.

Brent sits on the Advisory board for LetterOne Technology (a $16bn investment fund), the Oxford Foundry and the UK Government Digital Advisory Board. He is a board member of The Economist, a YGL and one of the Prime Minister’s Business Trade Ambassadors. Brent was awarded a CBE for services to entrepreneurship in the 2015 New Year’s Honour’s List.

Yann de Vries, Partner, Atomico

Yann is a Partner at Atomico, based in London, where he works on the sourcing, evaluation, negotiation and due diligence of new investment opportunities.

Yann focuses on technology in advertising, logistics and transportation, and healthcare, and works with several Atomico portfolio companies including Jobandtalent, Teralytics, GoEuro and Lilium.

Yann joined Atomico from Redpoint e.ventures (RPeV), one of Brazil’s leading venture capital funds in Brazil, where he was a Managing Director and co-founder, leading investments in Farfetch and Gympass. Prior to starting RPeV, he was the head of corporate development for Cisco in EMEA and Latin America, and spent five years in Silicon Valley working in a start-up and venture capital. Yann began his career in engineering and operating roles at large tech companies across Europe and emerging markets, including Hong Kong and Egypt.

Yann holds an MSEE from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH) and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Yann is fluent in English and French, and proficient in German and Portuguese.

Sonali De Rycker, Partner, Accel

Sonali De Rycker focuses on consumer, software and financial services businesses.

She led Accel’s investments in Avito (acquired by Naspers), Lyst, Spotify, Wallapop, KupiVIP, Calastone, Catawiki, JobToday, Wonga, Shift Technology and SilverRail. She is also an independent director of Match Group (public). Prior to Accel, Sonali was with Atlas Ventures.

Sonali grew up in Mumbai and graduated from Bryn Mawr College and Harvard Business School.

Matthew Panzarino, Editor-In-Chief, TechCrunch

Matthew Panzarino has been a retail jockey, founded a professional photography business and a news blog covering the Apple ecosystem. He has served as News Editor and Managing Editor at The Next Web and is now Editor-In-Chief at TechCrunch.

He has made a name for himself in the tech media world as a writer and editor, relentlessly covering Apple and Twitter, in addition to a broad range of startups in the fields of robotics, computer vision, AI, fashion, VR, AR and more.

TheSkimm closes its $12M Series C with big names Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks on board

In March, the female-led media company and newsletter provider theSkimm reported it was raising a $12 million Series C from Google Ventures and Spanx founder Sara Blakely, along with several existing investors. Today, the company is confirming its Series C round has closed with a number of new, mostly female investors joining — including big names like Shonda Rhimes and Tyra Banks.

Variety was the first to report the news of the new investors.

The Series C’s additional investors include former TV journalist Willow Bay, now dean at the USC Anneberg School for Communication and Journalism; Jesse Draper of Halogen Ventures; Shonda Rhimes; founder and CEO of GingerBread Capital, Linnea Roberts; CEO of ELY Capital, Hope Taitz; as well as the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc.; and Michael Karsch of Juice Press.

Earlier Series C investors included GV (formerly Google Ventures); Spanx founder Sara Blakely; plus former lead investors 21st Century Fox, RRE Ventures and Homebrew Ventures.

TheSkimm began its life as an email newsletter, founded by former TV news producers Carly Zakin and Danielle Weisberg. The newsletter targets millennial women who want an easy way to keep up with the key news of the day. What makes the product so appealing is how it’s written in a conversational tone, making it accessible to a wide audience who often finds reading the news a dreary but necessary chore. Mixed in with its highlights from key U.S., political and international news are samplings of stories from pop culture and the entertainment industry, which gives the newsletter a bit of a palate cleanser — something that’s much appreciated these days.

That newsletter has now grown to around 7 million subscribers, the company says. (This is the same number it reported in March.)

The company has also expanded to other products since its launch, including a $2.99 per month subscription-based app for keeping up with upcoming news and televised events, a podcast, as well as original videos for YouTube and Facebook Watch via its production arm, Skimm Studios.

Its video offerings include Skimm’d with…” and “Get Off the Couch” for Facebook, and digital series “Sip n’ Skimm,” which landed an interview with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, followed by a discussion with House Speaker Paul Ryan assessing the proposed GOP tax plan.

Meanwhile, theSkimm’s podcast, “Skimm’d from The Couch,” reached No. 1 on Apple Podcasts hours after its launch.

The company generates revenue from a variety of sources, including its app subscriptions, native ads, affiliate, content licensing and distribution, theSkimm notes in an announcement. The company is not offering revenue details, however.

“As a female led and founded company, we are excited to have the opportunity to bring such an impressive and dynamic group of female investors into theSkimm fold,” co-founders and co-CEOs Zakin and Weisberg, said in a statement. “With a majority of our audience being female, it’s vital to the success of our business to involve women at every single level, and that includes our investors. With their added perspective and resources, we look forward to this next chapter in our company’s history.”

Banks added she had a personal appreciation for the product, in addition to her desire to support female entrepreneurs.

“Going from one business meeting, to the next studio set, and as a new mama, it’s more difficult than ever to stay up to date on the day’s headlines,” the media mogul said. “theSkimm created a media platform that works seamlessly with on-the-go lifestyles. As a fervent supporter of trailblazing female-led businesses, I am thrilled to be a part of the next phase of theSkimm’s development,” Banks said.

The company didn’t offer many specifics in terms of how it plans to utilize the additional capital, but told us that it plans to “continue evolving the brand” and grow its product offerings — both premium and free. One of its plans involves expanding its No Excuses political-engagement campaign, reports Variety, which registered 110,000 U.S. voters.

New York-based theSkimm has 72 full-time employees and has raised $29 million to date.

Cryptocurrency and a stock market boom pushes TradingView to $37 million in new funding

Fueled by last year’s greed-inducing visions of a cryptocurrency boom and a stock market largely untethered from classical economics, TradingView, a developer of social networking and data analysis tools for financial markets, has raised millions in new venture funding.

The New York-based company just scored $37 million in funding led by the growth-stage investment firm Insight Venture Partners .

TradingView has developed a proprietary, JavaScript-based programming language called PineScript, which lets anyone develop their own customized financial analysis tools. The company “freemium” software as a service model that lets most users connect and exchange trading tips and tricks for free, but begins charging when customers want access to more charts, data and real-time server-side alerts.

There are three payment plans beginning at $15, with a mid-tier at $30 and a high-end $60 per-month premium option.

The company had previously boosted its growth by offering its charting software for free to partner websites like SeekingAlpha, Bitfinex and the Nasdaq. That strategy helped it grow to 8 million monthly active users with around 61 percent coming from direct traffic as of March of this year.

These days the company derives nearly 75 percent of its revenue from those monthly subscription plans to individual traders. TradingView’s executives think the company still has an opportunity to expand its footprint among those retail investors, but it’s also planning to make a push to serve more institutional clients with its toolkit.

For the past seven years the company has enjoyed consistent growth, according to TradingView co-founder and chief operations officer, Stan Bokov.

For Paul Szurek, a vice-president at Insight Venture Partners, the investment in TradingView is building off of broad consumer interest in amateur speculative trading. Looking at RobinHood, Bux and eToro as gateways for new investors who eventually move on to more sophisticated tools, Szurek said that TradingView was often their next step into market investing.

“The rise of cryptocurrencies… and trading those assets… has flywheeled into a broader interest in investing across asset classes,” Szurek said.

While TradingView was never crypto-focused, according to Bokov, the company was supportive from the beginning and it’s been a boon to the broader business. “They came for crypto. They stayed for the other stuff,” Bokov said.

And crypto might just be the gateway drug for younger speculative traders to start investing in financial markets more broadly, according to Szurek. “October to January, during the real core of the crypto boom here, there were a lot of users coming in starting out researching that asset class broadly. Eighty percent move on to research other asset classes,” he said. “As TradingView kind of pushed through the [first quarter], trends in growth really diverged from what we were seeing in purely crypto-focused business and that’s a testament to users leveraging this one-stop-shop component of the platform.”

Additional investors in the new TradingView include DRW Venture Capital and Jump Capital. The company was a graduate of the 2013 Techstars Chicago batch and was seeded by Irish Angels, Techstars, iTech Capital and undisclosed angel investors.

“TradingView was built for non-professional traders, but its accessible trading tools and powerful-yet-intuitive charting capabilities have attracted the attention of institutional investors,” said Kimberly Trautmann, head of DRW Venture Capital, in a statement. “As an investor, we are excited about the diverse cross section of the industry that TradingView has reached and its rapid growth. As a proprietary trading firm on an institutional level, we’re looking forward to leveraging the platform and contributing to its further development.”

Teen monitoring app TeenSafe exposes thousands of passwords

U.K.-based security researcher Robert Wiggins has found two exposed TeenSafe servers, leaking the passwords and information of some users of the monitoring service.

TeenSafe is meant to protect teenagers by letting their parents monitor their texts, phone calls, web history, location and app downloads. The breach was first reported by ZDNet.

According to the report, TeenSafe left two of their servers, which were hosted on AWS, exposed and viewable by anyone. Moreover, the database included information such as the parent’s email address, child’s Apple ID email address, device name, device unique identifier and plaintext passwords for the teenager’s Apple ID.

So… just about everything.

TeenSafe requires that teenagers abstain from using two-factor authentication so parents can keep an eye on their activity, making those teenagers even more vulnerable to malicious actors now that their personal information has been exposed.

TeenSafe claims on its website that it encrypts data so that it wouldn’t be accessible in the case of the breach.

According to ZDNet, the server held at least 10,200 records from the past three months containing customer data. The publication also included that some of those records were duplicates and that one of the servers appeared to store test data.

That said, it’s unclear if there are other leaky servers with exposed data yet to be discovered.

TeenSafe says it has more than 1 million parents using the platform.

“We have taken action to close one of our servers to the public and begun alerting customers that could potentially be impacted,” a TeenSafe spokesperson told ZDNet on Sunday.

We reached out directly to TeenSafe and will update the post if/when we hear back.