So, you bet your SaaS on IoT!

 

IoT ImageVarious estimates peg the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices deployed in the market to be between 6 to 7 billion, and that number is expected to grow over 8 times in the next 3 years. To illustrate an example of an IoT device, imagine a parking spot with sensors installed. These sensors send data on the availability of that parking spot to a local internet-enabled gateway that ultimately communicates the information to the car drivers (through their navigation systems) in that vicinity – in this case, and in any similar scenario in which sensors enable communication between physical objects and Internet-enabled systems, we are talking about IoT devices.

The market opportunity for SaaS companies within IoT becomes huge once these devices become more pervasive. Today, the primary market opportunity for SaaS companies is centered around enterprise, web, and mobile sectors, with industries more skewed toward modern non-traditional (non brick-and-mortar) sectors. That market is less than $20 billion. With IoT devices, many traditional industries such as energy, utilities in general, construction, transportation, and the environment will be ushered in the 21st century of connectivity. That means stakes are much higher, as these multi-billion dollar industries are much bigger than the modern enterprises. There is a reason GE calls IoT the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Not only that, we anticipate that IoT will bring brand new challenges – which subsequently pave the way for opportunities – for current and next generation SaaS companies to build services and products. For example, current generation solutions might not work as they are to get similar intelligence, data, and analytics for IoT devices such as sensors and actuators.

Similarly, applications for Quality of Service (QoS), Security, Billing, Maintenance and so on all have to be reimagined (or retrofitted) in the world of IoT. As far as data is concerned, what we call “Big Data” today will look like rounding error in 3 years with the amount of data generated by 50 billion IoT devices.

Ford Credit and AutoFi Debut Platform for Faster, Smoother, Simpler Digital Vehicle Buying and Financing

DEARBORN, Mich.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–

There’s a new way for customers to purchase or finance a new Ford vehicle in minutes – right from a dealership website from anywhere, on any device – through a new platform from Ford Motor Credit Company and financial technology company AutoFi.

In addition, Ford Credit has made an investment in AutoFi as Ford Credit continues pursuing technological advances to make the financing experience better.

“By combining our fast and efficient credit-decision process with AutoFi’s online capability, we are making the customer experience faster, smoother and simpler,” said Lee Jelenic, Ford Credit director of mobility. “With its experience in used-vehicle online financing and well-developed platform, AutoFi makes it easier for us to adopt new technology quickly to meet evolving consumer expectations.”

The AutoFi platform can be used now at Ricart Ford in Groveport, Ohio, and will roll out over time to more Ford and Lincoln dealerships across the United States. The introduction comes as 83 percent of Americans say they would like to spend as little time at the dealership as possible when shopping for or buying a car, according to a new survey of more than 1,000 U.S. adults conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of Ford Motor Company. Many of those same people, however, still want to touch and feel their new vehicle before signing on the dotted line. The new platform provides the best of both worlds.

Through the dealer website, customers have a transparent and seamless purchase and finance experience from anywhere on their mobile phone, tablet or computer. Once the online part of the transaction is complete, all customers need to do is sign the paperwork when they collect their new Ford.

Consumers may shop for a new Ford in the showroom or from anywhere via the Ricart Ford website. After selecting a vehicle, they can apply for credit and receive a decision, choose the financing terms that make sense for them, and then review and select optional vehicle protection products – completely online on their own time. Customers then can review a final summary of the financing terms and schedule time to complete the transaction and pick up the vehicle.

“AutoFi’s platform will help cut the time people spend arranging financing and improve the experience dealerships can deliver for their customers, no matter where they are in the car-buying journey,” said Kevin Singerman, CEO of San Francisco-based AutoFi. “We think this will be a game changer for both consumers and dealers, and we are thrilled to work with Ford Credit to make this happen.”

“Technology is transforming just about every type of financed consumer purchase, and this new digital capability will help make that change for automotive purchases and deliver great experiences,” said Rick Ricart, Sales and Marketing vice president at Ricart Ford. “We are excited to be the first Ford dealership in the pilot.”

# # #

About Ford Motor Credit Company

Ford Motor Credit Company is a leading automotive financial services company. It provides dealer and customer financing to support the sale of Ford Motor Company products around the world, including through Lincoln Automotive Financial Services in the United States, Canada and China. Ford Credit is a subsidiary of Ford established in 1959. For more information, visit www.fordcredit.com or www.lincolnafs.com.

About AutoFi

AutoFi is a technology company transforming the way cars are bought and sold. The company’s platform allows auto dealers to sell vehicles completely online by connecting buyers with lenders in a fast, easy and transparent process. AutoFi’s team includes industry leaders from enterprise software, finance, automobile and consumer sectors who previously worked at companies including Lending Club, PayPal, and SunGard. AutoFi’s investors include Ford Motor Credit Company, Crosslink Capital, Lerer Hippeau Ventures, Laconia Capital Group, Basset Investment Group, Eniac Ventures, 500 Startups and Silicon Valley Bank. For more information, visit www.autofi.com.

About the Survey

This study was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of Ford Motor Company between November 28 and December 5, 2016, among a nationally representative sample of 1,217 adults ages 18 years and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

View source version on businesswire.com: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20170122005155/en/

The Dying Art of the Thank You Note

We must see at Laconia a few dozen pitches each week, and what continues to amaze me is the lack of relationship building skills that so many entrepreneurs seem to have.

While Growing up, my parents hammered into me the courteousness and importance of writing thank you notes. During the early days of my career, I was shown how to build a business relationship, and most importantly, how to maintain one. Thank you notes were a cornerstone of relationship maintenance. And this was all before there were emails and texts to make the process so damn fast and easy.

Entrepreneurs work so hard building businesses. They identify opportunities, draft business strategies, hire people, develop technology, raise capital and sell, sell and sell! Yet, through it all, they seem to treat relationship building like a speed bump on the road to success. It seems most people today do not understand how a simple email can leave a door open for future opportunities that might not seem obvious at the time.

I tell my entrepreneurs, and my three children, to try and do the following as religiously as they can:

  1. Send an email to the people you have spoken to or met with by the end of that day. If it is a very important meeting go the extra mile and draft a handwritten thank you note. Yes, write an actual paper thank you note! You would be shocked by someone’s reaction when they actually get a hand written thank you note. Talk about going old school and positively differentiating yourself!
  2. When someone connects you with another person circle back with them and let them know how the new interaction went. So many times I will connect someone to one of my contacts and then feel like the intro fell into a black hole. Follow up with people who make introductions for you and let them know you met with their contacts and how it went. Then thank them again! A consistent follow-up will more likely encourage additional introductions.
  3. Keep your contacts updated on your progress. Why keep news to yourself or only for those who tell you what you want to hear. Share good news.

Relationships might begin during an appropriate request, such as when looking for a new job, funding, customer introductions etc., but it is the post initial communication that builds life long relationships.

Content Raven Sees 3X Revenue Growth, Secures New Investment Round led by Nauta Capital, MassVentures, and Laconia Capital Group

Content Raven LogoHopkinton, Mass – Content Raven, the leader in global secure content engagement, announces a 3x increase in revenue year-over-year, from 2014 to 2015. The growth is fueled by a strong increase in new enterprise customers of its secure content engagement solutions for sales, training and media and intellectual property creation. Nauta Capital, MassVentures, and Laconia Capital Group responded to this increased market interest in Content Raven with new investments in the company. Content Raven will use the funding to rapidly scale its sales and marketing efforts.

“Every enterprise struggles to securely deliver up-to-date content and video around the globe, to any device. Content Raven’s Cloud-based solution solves that challenge universally,” said Joe Moriarty, CEO of Content Raven. “Sales, training and entertainment & media departments in particular create large amounts of high-value content and have a specific need to share it easily and securely. More than 75% of our customer growth has come from these targeted solutions, and we have just skimmed the market opportunity there. We are excited that Nauta Capital, MassVentures, and Laconia Capital Group recognized our successes and provided us with capital to more aggressively target these markets.”

Content Raven offers their secure content engagement platform to solve the challenges of three distinct audiences: sales professionals, corporate training departments, and creators of proprietary media and entertainment content. With Content Raven:

  • Sales executives better manage their pipeline because they know who opens and views which content; securely share proposals to keep them out of competitors’ hands; and track contracts as they await signatures.
  • Corporate trainers can measure engagement, manage access and eliminate print costs by efficiently disseminating information globally to any device, with tight integration to existing LMS solutions.
  • Creatives and producers at entertainment and media companies can effectively collaborate on securely protected and watermarked scripts, contracts and raw footage, reducing risk of leaks and piracy.

“Content Raven is a key player in the emerging secure content engagement market and we are excited to add them to our portfolio,” said Dominic Endicott, General Partner at Nauta Capital. “Their tremendous customer list includes many global and Fortune 500 brands in high tech, CPG, financial services and pharmaceuticals. Content Raven has an immediate opportunity to break open this space and we are excited to work with them to do it.”

“Our new investment in Content Raven is a result of the confidence we have in the leadership team and the company’s content engagement platform,” said Nick Pappas, vice president at MassVentures. “No other company has a solution this well-equipped to meet enterprise needs for secure, simple and effective sharing of content and video across multiple devices. We believe the company is well-positioned with its solution-focused strategy to continue its aggressive growth rates in the coming year.”

About Content Raven

Content Raven’s global, secure content engagement solution empowers enterprise sales, marketing, media production and corporate training organizations to safely deliver video, documents, and other content to any device, anywhere. The company’s cloud-based solution helps organizations manage, track, and analyze user engagement with content. Content Raven’s customers are some of the largest companies in the world, including, EMC, Mondelez International, and VMWare. The company is recognized as a SBANE Innovation Award – Rising Star – 2014, and is on the Red Herring Top 100 North America Tech Startups List. The company is headquartered in Hopkinton, MA. See http://www.contentraven.com for more.

About Nauta Capital

Nauta Capital is a Venture Capital firm investing in early stage technology companies. Main areas of interest include B2B Software propositions, disruptive Digital Media companies, and enabling technologies for Mobile and the Internet. Nauta has $260 million under management and invests in Western Europe and the USA. Nauta has presence in London (UK), Boston, MA (USA), and Barcelona (Spain). Nauta has led investments in 30+ companies including Scytl, Eyeview Digital, GreatCall, Brandwatch, Fizzback, Rifiniti, InCrowd, Channelsight, Getapp, ForceManager, Marfeel, Privalia and Social Point. See http://nautacapital.com for more.

About MassVentures

MassVentures is a venture capital firm focused on fueling the Massachusetts innovation economy by funding early-stage, high-growth Massachusetts startups as they move from concept to commercialization. MassVentures focuses on Series A investments and considers occasional and opportunistic seed rounds. For more information, please visit http://www.mass-ventures.com.

About Laconia Capital Group

Laconia Capital Group is a venture capital firm that invests in pre Series-A digital B2B companies that solve highly definable marketing, distribution, or workflow problems primarily in the marketing services, data management, mobile communications, media, sports, and entertainment industries. For more information, please visit http://www.laconiacapitalgroup.com

VALUATION

Too many seed-stage entrepreneurs think carelessly about valuation. They see it as merely a means to protect themselves from dilution or worse as a representation of current achievement. The reality is that valuation represents a commitment to future achievement. Investors don’t care what you did yesterday or today. They care what you are going to do tomorrow.

Entrepreneurs should see current valuations for what they are: a pricing spread based upon a current discount to a future valuation. This is a future valuation they will need to reach. Keep in mind that the goal post continually moves until there is an exit. Fall short of the spread and your financing ability dies along with your company.

A high valuation may feel good and allow an entrepreneur to boast at cocktail parties, but the astute entrepreneur sees its potential to be a gun to the head. Building companies is not a linear curve of progress. Operating flexibility is needed and the higher the valuation, the less flexibility.

Sophisticated VCs understand this. Yes, we don’t want to over pay and potentially hurt our ROI, but we also don’t want to invest in a company that has no wiggle room to adapt. Entrepreneurialism is an iterative process of constant intelligence gathering and execution. Capital structure, including valuation, must accommodate this process.

VCs also know that too much dilution to the entrepreneur kills incentive. No VC wants an unmotivated founder. The simple fact is that entrepreneurs who build great companies in partnership with VCs of integrity get richly rewarded.

A correct valuation should reflect a targeted and achievable operating plan aligned with a strategic capital plan. Valuation must be milestone driven. Successful entrepreneurs ask what milestone needs to be achieved in order to trigger the subsequent financing event after the current round. Capital planning should not be an afterthought to operations.

Laconia Capital Group L.P. Announces Late Seed-Stage B2B Venture Capital Fund

NEW YORK, New York – January 25, 2016 – Laconia Capital Group L.P. announces the launch of a new Business-to-Business Venture Capital Fund.

The new fund utilizes an investment approach described as “Inflection Capital Investing,” through which Laconia will invest in late seed-stage companies that have reached an inflection point in their business development that strongly suggests continued growth, attractive future funding rounds, and current tangible value.

Companies reaching Laconia’s inflection point have an in-market product, existing primary revenue stream, relatively light future capital requirements, and a valuation that reflects the current asset value rather than a hockey stick projection.

These companies typically need late seed-stage financing to further build out their product features set, and refine their market value proposition and sales structure.

Inflection Capital Investing allows Laconia to target companies that have solid fundamentals, but which have not yet achieved the full demonstrated scalability needed to attract a Series-A round of financing.

Laconia has identified a large pool of pre Series-A companies that have been created over the past 24 months from a record influx of Angel and institutional seed stage capital. “This is an excellent time to discover quality companies on the cusp of scalability, especially now that valuations are stabilizing, and may be falling”, says David Arcara, Laconia’s Co-Founder and Managing Director.

Entrepreneurs and independent investors David Arcara and Jeffrey Silverman founded Laconia. Amongst their past investments are Localytics, LeagueApps, TripleLift, LocalVox, Alice, and Wymsee.

Laconia plans to complete 8-10 investments over the next 18 months with an average investment size between $250,000-$750,000.

Laconia Capital Group L.P. is headquartered in New York City and was founded in 2014. Laconia is a fund investing at the Late Seed and Series-A stage of B-to-B SaaS companies solving immediate market, product, and legacy work flow problems in the marketing services, data management, mobile communications, publishing, media, sports, and entertainment industries.

Contact:
Jeffrey Silverman
Jeffrey@laconiacapitalgroup.com
475 Park Avenue South
23rd Floor
New York, NY 10128

###

Treat your first investor meeting like a first date

A friend has made the introduction. You have wanted to meet this person for sometime. Thanks to the Internet you search all about them, wanting to learn anything that can give you insight into who they are, what they like, and what gets them excited. You visit their LinkedIn Page, Facebook page, check out their latest tweets, see if they have written any blogs, and find any news articles about them. The information can be overwhelming and take the excitement out of the unknown, but being prepared is so important.

No matter your gender or sexual preference, everyone gets nervous about a first date. It starts with what to wear. You want to look respectful and dress appropriate for the occasion. There is no worse feeling then being the most over dressed or under dressed person in a room.

As you head towards your date so much is running through your mind. How do I start the conversation? Do I really open up about the weather? Should I talk about the big sports game last night? What happens if they are not a sports fan or a fan of that team? Breaking the ice is tough and both sides know why they are there.

Your mind drifts to chemistry. Will you connect with this person? Will they like you? Will they get who you are or will they see you as someone totally different? How do you come off confident, but not cocky? How do they learn about you without you monopolizing the conversation?

Oh boy – the conversation. You sit across from them and have so much you want to say. You try to sit up straight and not fidget with your hands. This is not their first date, nor yours, but they seem to have all the control as to whether or not there will be a second date. You want to tell them just enough that they will want to see you again, but you also do not want to scare them away or overwhelm them. What will be enough information to peak their interest for a second date? You want to open the door wide enough for them to see how great you are, but at the same time demonstrate that you’re able to listen. Yet you’d like to learn more about them than what you discovered from your Internet search. You ask yourself, would they be a good partner? Is our thinking in unison? Would they help balance out your weaknesses?

The date comes to an end. Did you get across to them what was needed in order to secure that second date? How do you follow up but not look desperate. Is a thank you email appropriate? A phone call? Do you go old school and write a handwritten note? You remind yourself that if this does not work out there are many fish in the sea.

Each date is a learning opportunity to becoming a Casa Nova entrepreneur. Learn from past dates and incorporate that learning into future ones.

You can laugh about the analogy but it is 100% true. A first meeting with a VC is just like a first date. Treat it that way. From how you dress, to how much you would say and listen. Do not go for the close. A VC will not write a check after a first meeting. As in dating, each side must get to know each other and see if there is a real future there or is it just a one and done.