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MagicBell raises $1.9M to build a plug-and-play notification platform for product teams

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One of the key ingredients in effective product development is receiving timely and relevant notifications about customer use, engagement, potential issues and more. Engineers, developers and product managers rely on that flow of information, but it’s typically delivered either via legacy email tools, or through notification systems built into product management dashboards that devs have to hand-code themselves. MagicBell, a startup that just went through Y Combinator’s most recent Winter cohort, has raised a $1.9 million seed round to deliver a rich notification platform for product teams that’s easy to integrate and use.

The round was led by Cherry Ventures, and includes participation by a number of angel investors including Algolia co-founder Nicolas Dessaigne, Twitter Director of Product Management Marie Outtier, and Wunderlist and Pitch co-founder Christian Reber. This list itself is a great endorsement of the need for what MagicBell’s building, since it’s a storied collection of veteran experts who have ample experience actually building some of the world’s most engaging software products.

“Sofia [Bendz], Partner at Cherry Ventures], of course, worked at Spotify,” explained MagicBell CEO and co-founder Hana Mohan in an interview. “She has built a consumer product, and she has invested in a lot of startups […] we followed YC’s advice in this batch, which was to definitely leave some room in the round for strategic angels.”

MagicBell's Notification inbox

An example of MagicBell’s Notification inbox.

That deep product experience on the cap table should serve MagicBell well as it seeks to grow the team, which currently consists of Mohan and co-founder Josue Montano. She and Montano previously worked on customer support ticketing system startup SupportBee, but found they were spending a lot of their time and effort on just building a notifications system for the platform. The greater opportunity, they realized, was in making that process plug-and-play, and scalable, since it’s something that can be intensely cost- and effort-intensive in setting up a new product, even though it’s also not anyone’s primary focus when building their software.

Basically everyone today is familiar and comfortable with a robust notification system — we use them constantly on our Android and iOS devices. Bu product teams use them, too, and the experience of doing so can add quite a bit of complexity and anxiety if they’re not handled well. MagicBell offers a notification inbox that’s embeddable into existing software via React, Javascript and REST (with additional frameworks in the pipeline), which provides real-time notification delivery, syncing of delivery and read status, individual user preference settings, and delivery across web, email and mobile clients.

Long term, the plan is to build MagicBell into a full-featured notification platform that offers a highly-customizable means of keeping your product team informed and in sync. Accordingly, the startup’s first priority with this initial funding is to hire engineers to help it build, says Mohan, and it’s also being driven by the product roadmaps of some of its initial customers — which coincidentally, includes a number of its investors.

“One of the cool things for us was definitely that three or four of our customers ended up investing,” Mohan said, noting that Reber’s startup Pitch was actually a customer before he decided to invest. “The other great thing about [Pitch] is that they have a pretty extensive roadmap themselves of launching a mobile offering, both on iOS and Android. So they’re really pushing the product forward, which is great for us.”

Mohan is also one of the inaugural guests on our new podcast Found, and you can subscribe now to get our episode with her when it becomes available on Friday. She goes into a lot more detail about YC, and the process of identifying the need for MagicBell in the market, plus plenty more, so be sure to tune in.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/04/29/magicbell-raises-1-9m-to-build-a-plug-and-play-notification-platform-for-product-teams/

Start Ups

Report: Seattle digital remittance startup Remitly hires banks for IPO at around $5B valuation

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(Remitly Photo)

The news: Seattle startup Remitly has hired investment banks to prepare for an initial public offering, according to Reuters. The IPO would value Remitly at around $5 billion, Reuters reported — a sizable spike from its last valuation of $1.5 billion in July. Remitly declined to comment when contacted by GeekWire.

Remitly background: Founded in 2011, Remitly’s mobile technology lets people send and receive money across borders, including immigrants in the U.S. and U.K. who support families back home in countries such as the Philippines, India, El Salvador, and others. The service eliminates forms, codes, agents, and other fees typically associated with the international money transfer process dominated by Western Union, MoneyGram, and other longstanding providers.

Last funding: Remitly raised $85 million in July at a $1.5 billion valuation. Total funding to date, which includes a $220 million cash infusion from July 2019, is nearly $400 million.

Remitly, ranked No. 3 on the GeekWire 200 list of top Pacific Northwest tech startups, has around 1,000 employees across its Seattle HQ and six other offices in Spokane, Wash., London, Cork, Krakow, Manila, and Managua.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/report-seattle-digital-remittance-startup-remitly-hires-banks-ipo-around-5b-valuation/

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To buy time for a failing startup, recreate the engineering process

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In non-aerobatic fixed-wing aviation, spins are an emergency. If you don’t have spin recovery training, you can easily make things worse, dramatically increasing your chances of crashing. Despite the life-and-death consequences, licensed amateur pilots in the United States are not required to train for this. Uncontrolled spins don’t happen often enough to warrant the training.

Startups can enter the equivalent of a spin as well. My startup, Kolide, entered a dangerous spin in early 2018, only a year after our Series A fundraise. We had little traction and we were quickly burning through our sizable cash reserves. We were spinning out of control, certain to hit the ground in no time.

Kolide had a lot going for it that enabled me to recover the company, but by far the most important was that we recognized we were in a spin very early, and we had enough cash remaining (and therefore sufficient time) to execute a recovery plan.

All spins start with a stall — a reduction in lift when either the aircraft is flying too slowly or the nose is pointed too high. In Kolide’s case, we were doing both.

First, we raised too much money too fast. In order to justify the post-money valuation that came with the raise, we set unattainable goals. To make matters worse, we lacked the confidence in our product and strategy, so we developed our solution with hesitancy, underspending in critical areas. As a result, we were flying too steep and too slow. We stalled.

If a stall isn’t corrected promptly, a spin can develop. Flat spins are one of the worst. Once the flat spin starts, there are a number of techniques experienced pilots should perform to recover the aircraft. Nearly all of these techniques require a critical resource, altitude — or, put another way, time.

Just like amateur pilots, startup CEOs don’t receive spin recovery training. When Kolide was spinning out of control, the vast majority of the advice I received was to cut our losses and sell the company or return the money to the investors.

At the time, I didn’t find any promising examples of companies with these same problems successfully recovering; I found only smoldering wreckage. By February 2019, my co-founders departed.

Despite this tell-tale sign of imminent demise, I was ultimately able to recover and put us on track for a great fundraise. Here’s how I recreated the engineering process.

Buying time

Kolide had a lot going for it that enabled me to recover the company, but by far the most important was that we recognized we were in a spin very early, and we had enough cash remaining (and therefore sufficient time) to execute a recovery plan. Even waiting just a few more months would have likely changed the outcome.

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Source: https://techcrunch.com/2021/05/07/to-buy-time-for-a-failing-startup-recreate-the-engineering-process/

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Weekly VC Overview: All 80+ European startup funding rounds we tracked this week (3-7 May 2021)

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Previous articleBerlin-based beauty platform Glambook raises €500K to enter UK market 

Anto has a creative and strategic background in Film, Marketing and Communications. With a multicultural perspective from living in different places such as Colombia, Costa Rica, Germany and London, she’s now based in the tech hub that is Barcelona. Passionate about the whys and hows, digital transformation and all that creates a meaningful impact.

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Source: https://www.eu-startups.com/2021/05/weekly-vc-overview-all-80-european-startup-funding-rounds-we-tracked-this-week-3-7-may-2021/

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GeekWire 200 update: GeekWire Awards finalists climb the rankings as others ‘exit’

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The GeekWire Awards are fast approaching on May 20, but the spirit of our annual startup and technology celebration extends beyond a single ceremony.

It is a true community effort. This year, GeekWire received nearly 200 community nominations and looked at each category anew through the lens of an ongoing pandemic. The nomination, selection and voting process spans more than two months.

Over a two week period in April, readers cast more than 6,000 votes across 12 categories. These community votes will be factored in with feedback from this year’s judging panel composed of 21 tech and business leaders.

Voting is now closed but no matter who takes home a robot trophy on May 20, the finalists in each of these categories are making waves in the region’s tech ecosystem. They have been nominated by their peers and recognized for their innovative work.

Finalists on the rise

Below are where some of these finalists rank and how far they’ve moved up on the GeekWire 200, our ranking of privately-held tech companies based in the Pacific Northwest. See all the finalists and categories here.

Making their exits

Companies that go public or get acquired “graduate” from the GeekWire 200 — that includes all finalists in this year’s Deal of the Year: IPOs/Acquisitions category. Here is where each company ranked prior to their exits:

  • Athira Pharma (not ranked)
  • Auth0 (No. 4 in March 2021)
  • Accolade (No. 7 in June 2020)
  • Rover (No. 7 in March 2021)
  • Sana Biotechnology (No. 100 in January 2021)

A number of GeekWire Awards finalists are not currently ranked on the GeekWire 200 — not yet, at least. Be sure to check the list for future updates as these companies make their GeekWire 200 debut.

The GeekWire 200 is derived from our broader list of more than 1,600 startups headquartered in Washington, Oregon, Idaho or British Columbia.

Register for free to watch the winners announced live at this year’s virtual GeekWire Awards on May 20.

About the latest GeekWire 200

You may have noticed a lot of movement in the latest GeekWire 200 rankings. In addition to a number of high ranking companies “graduating” from the list, we recently completed a thorough audit of the top 200 companies. This is an ongoing project to update and improve our Startup List and community resources. Questions? Contact Editorial Operations Director Cara Kuhlman at cara@geekwire.com.

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Source: https://www.geekwire.com/2021/geekwire-200-update-geekwire-awards-finalists-climb-rankings-others-graduate/

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