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Airfocus Raises $5M To Help Companies Focus On Building A Better Product



Germany-based Airfocus closed a $5 million Series A as it looks to help companies prioritize product and software development — something that has become more difficult as workforces go remote.

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The new round was led by XAnge, with participation from Nauta Capital. Founded in 2018, the company has now raised approximately $8 million.

Airfocus’ product management platform allows product teams to collaborate on strategic initiatives — something that has been a pain point for companies for years, and only worsened as the pandemic forced so many workforces to go remote, said co-founder and CEO Malte Scholz.

“We saw a massive increase last year,” Scholz said. “So much of product development used to be done on the white board, and with everybody being remote that was gone.”

The company was able to triple both its revenue and customer base last year. It now has 700 total customers, including Shopify and The Washington Post.

Growing needs

While several work management platforms such as Jira and Asana allow teams to actually build together, Airfocus plays on the layer above — helping product teams manage and prioritize which features and enhancements to build.

“We are solving a very real problem for companies,” Scholz said. “Getting the product right is the hardest part for any company.”

Arnaud Baraer with XAnge said recent numbers from research firm Gartner show 50 percent of teams struggle to prioritize product development initiatives and 30 percent lack a process to capture feedback.

“We’ve looked at this space for years,” Baraer said. “We knew the pain point was high, but looking further into it the pain was even higher than expected.”

The 28-person company will use the new funding to add to its platform, ramp up marketing, and hire its first salespeople, Scholz said. The company sees about 40 percent to 50 percent of its revenue coming from the U.S., and could open an office there next year — possibly accompanied by a Series B led by an American investor, he added.

In the meantime, the company will battle with other startups in the space like San Francisco-based Productboard, Toronto-based Roadmunk and Menlo Park, California-based Aha. Scholz said he believes the company’s platform is more flexible and adaptable than any other in the market.

While Scholz acknowledged large companies like Atlassian continue to grow their product development line of offerings, he said he does believe the market exists for others.

“This is a massive market,” he said. “I believe it can create new multibillion-dollar companies.”

Illustration: Li-Anne Dias.

Stay up to date with recent funding rounds, acquisitions, and more with the Crunchbase Daily.

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Start Ups

Tiger Global makes its maiden investment in GoMechanic



Car servicing startup GoMechanic announced on Wednesday that it has raised $42 Mn in Series C round. The fresh fund infusion has further consolidated Delhi-based startup’s reputation as one of the most well-funded startups in the car-servicing space.

By the way, Tiger Global has the led the Series C round to continue with its ongoing funding frenzy. Existing investor Sequoia Capital was the second biggest contributor to the funding tranche. Orios Venture and Chiratae Ventures were among other existing investors that pumped capital in the series C round.

GoMechanic did not shed light on the market valuation it commanded in the latest round.

The startup said that it will use the funds for expanding its presence across tier-2 and tier-3 cities. It claims to have over 600 car repair workshops across 35 cities in India and further claims to service over two million cars per year. The company is aiming to on-board nearly 10 Mn by end of 2021.

Car servicing is fundamentally an offline industry and GoMechanic is seeking to overhaul this by trying to digitize it. Besides, like other industries, India’s car servicing industry is also highly unorganized industry.

The on-boarding of a VC giant and high-profile investor like Tiger Global will surely give GoMechanic a decisive advantage in the long run visa via its other competitors. The startup mainly competes with Pitstop and Pit Crew. The former had raised $3.5 Mn in pre-series B funding round led by Ventureeast.

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Why burnout is everyone’s problem



As herd animals, we are usually more creative, joyful and productive working in groups. It also comes with a downside – there’s always conflict. For that same reason, we need to realize that we hold a collective responsibility for each other’s challenges and well-being in an organization.

Often leaders/managers have to show how to behave to set the right tone – not the least to build a well-functioning, harmonious and sustainable team. In order to do so, a good leader, just like any employee, should therefore not carry the burden on her/his shoulders alone but take care of oneself first, find your own balance, before helping others.

Me first, others second

In a work context, several important skills have been ranked by both staff and managers as critical for supporting prevention of burnout: self-awareness, self-control, flexibility, teaming, motivation, interpersonal relationships, time management and the overall atmosphere at work all come back to emotion management.

So what to do if someone, you yourself for that matter, feels emotionally distressed? As a rule of thumb, do it like they instruct you on an airplane: put your own oxygen mask on before helping others. Think “me first, others second”. That’s not egoistic, but crucial to sustain sanity.

Practice emotional intelligence

Now, emotion management does not mean to not have a particular emotion at all. In fact, it is impossible to decide NOT to have a certain emotion – but we can aim to change our reaction to a particular emotion. That is what emotional intelligence is all about: to understand how to manage and learn from our emotions. Effectively. But how?

Regulating an emotion starts with being aware of it. Becoming aware of an emotion means you first recognise it, and then label it. Only then will you be able to act efficiently i.e. to regulate it. If you do not dig into the nature of the emotion you are having, your feelings are leading you to make wrong decisions. If they only protect the vulnerable part of yourself and boost your ego, your feelings may thus not only be useful, but also counterproductive.

Accepting difficult emotions can make a huge difference

Sometimes situations can escalate among team members and especially between founders. Esther Perel, one of the most famous relationship experts, suggests that 65% of startups fail because of the relationship with co-founders. The ability to stay calm even when the emotions heat up, is a crucial skill in constructive communication. Accepting your painful emotion instead of rushing into action can make a huge difference in difficult situations.

Practice your emotional muscle

Let’s not turn a blind eye to reality, of course – emotional management is still a comprehensive exercise. It requires constant effort, because our surroundings and our own needs change constantly. Put yourself out there and put these newly learned skills to practice. Be your own guinea pig, really – you will be stunned by your potential.

Stay mindful of your values

Sometimes your feelings are leading you to wrong decisions. Your feelings may not be useful if they are only leading you to instant satisfaction or protecting the vulnerable part of yourself and boosting your ego. If you are clear with your values, on the other hand, you act effectively regarding what really matters in a situation. Being mindful of your goals helps you make decisions that maintain your well-being in the long-term.

Don’t be a perfectionist

In a fast-paced and demanding working environment, it is hard to prevent situations that sometimes escalate among team members. Thus, when it comes to relationships at work, don’t be a perfectionist. Yet the ability to stay constructive even when certain emotions cause you pain is a crucial skill in relationships, at work, home or elsewhere. Key ingredients to turn to the next time you are under emotional distress are therefore:

  1. Practice awareness of your emotions and what is triggering them
  2. Accept even the hardest feelings without reacting straight away
  3. Regulate your difficult feelings as effectively as possible
  4. Communicate and make decisions based on your values and not your feelings
  5. Put your newly learned skills to practice every day

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Former Pivotal Software colleagues raise $4.7M for Seattle code remediation startup Moderne



Moderne co-founders Olga Kundzich and Jonathan Schneider. (Moderne Photos)

New funding: Moderne landed $4.7 million for its software that helps developers save time by automating code migration and fixes. The Seattle-based company was founded by Olga Kundzich and Jonathan Schneider, former colleagues at Pivotal Software, which was acquired by VMware in 2019.

The tech: The software is based on OpenRewrite, a large-scale automated refactoring tool for code that Schneider developed during a stint at Netflix. Refactoring is a term used in software development that describes the process of restructuring code while preserving existing functionality.

Companies use Moderne when they upgrade third-party dependencies, libraries, and frameworks; when scanning code to eliminate CVEs, or Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures; and for maintaining internal APIs.

The idea is to give developers a way to keep up with changes across a codebase at a time when code volume and variety are growing.

Competition: Schneider said there are few products that perform automated fixes in code. There are search-and-report technologies such as Github’s CodeQL, Sourcegraph, and others. Products such as Contrast Security, Rapid7, and Tenable help reduce cybersecurity risk, but none close off attack vectors back at the source in the code itself, according to Schneider.

What’s next? Moderne has been in a restricted beta program, but the new funding will help bring the product to market and grow its team. The company has less than 15 employees.

Investors: True Ventures led the round, which included participation from Mango Capital,, Github CTO Jason Warner, Datadog co-founder and CEO Olivier Pomel, and Coverity co-founder and former CTO Andy Chou.

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6 strategies for running more effective startup board meetings



For many companies in the United States, a board of directors is a fact of doing business. While sole proprietorships and LLCs are not obligated to have one, C and S corporations must. The board’s goal is to ensure the best is done for the company and its shareholders. While many entrepreneurs see board meetings as a chore, they can be a powerful tool if used well.

Communicate often

While board meetings usually happen quarterly, it’s good practice to keep the conversation going in between them. Sending a monthly email update to the board offers multiple advantages:

  • Shorter updates: Business professionals’ attention spans are shrinking. Shorter content is easier to digest, and therefore more likely to be read.
  • Timely feedback: A quarter can be a long time, especially for young startups or during challenging times. The monthly format allows the company to receive help or feedback from the board earlier. In business, speed of iteration is key!
  • Keep them posted: Keeping directors up to date will avoid lengthy updates during board meetings, ensuring focus remains on strategic conversations.

Reach out when in need

When meeting online, founders should pause often and regularly ask if there are questions — even if moments of silence feel awkward at times — to give directors a better opportunity to speak up.

Board members can also be solicited on an ad-hoc basis — founders should keep in mind that board members are here to help the company. If you have doubts about a project decision or want a second, informed opinion, reach out to a board member. This is especially true of directors who have expertise on a specific topic. A quick five-minute call can be a game changer.

Being a founder can be a lonely experience because it can be difficult to discuss sensitive matters with the team. Board members should sign nondisclosure agreements, allowing entrepreneurs to share confidential information and get a different perspective on things.

Discuss goals for the next fundraising event

Founders should make sure to regularly discuss business goals to ensure they reach their next round of funding. Because the industry landscape or economy evolved or the competition stepped up, investors may reconsider their expectations to further fund the company.

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