It has been an exciting start to the year here at Upstart Labs. Here's the news:
Expanded Funding, Team & Investments
Earlier this month, we announced a partnership with Rogue Venture Partners and two initial co-investments – Measureful and Juked. We also welcomed Kevin Tate to the team as General Partner, and added Joe Stump as Venture Partner.
You can read more about our announcement at Gigaom, VentureBeat, TNW and GeekWire – as well as the Oregonian and Portland Business Journal. It was great to see such enthusiasm for our hands-on approach to working with early-stage companies and their investors. We've heard from all sides are that we are addressing a legitimate need in the startup funding landscape.
Funding & Launches for our Upstarts
We’ve also seen some excellent momentum already this year from our existing portfolio of Upstarts, which reached 10 total company investments this month:
- Celly received $1.4M in funding for their mobile social networking platform, and launched a new iPhone app, which garnered some nice coverage in TechCrunch & VentureBeat.
- Measureful launched the public beta of their analytics dashboard this week, helping digital marketers quickly analyze multi-channel activity data.
- Chirpify was named one of the “7 Social Networks to Watch in 2013” by CNN Money, received great press around a campaign they powered for Keith Richards, and just this week, confirmed Facebook integration by kicking off a new campaign with Tim McGraw.
- Menuish launched their iPhone App. They were picked as a Gizmodo Daily Deal and quickly became a Top 50 Food & Drink App in the App Store.
- MoPix launched their online distribution platform for independent filmmakers.
Portland’s on a Roll
It has been a blockbuster start to the year for the local tech community, and we’re proud to be a part of the rising tide. The current combination of resources and talent in Portland presents incredible growth opportunities – not just for the tech sector, but the entire region. It’s going to be a great year.
We founded Upstart Labs in October, 2011 with the goal of accelerating new businesses through our team’s expertise in design, development and launch marketing. Our goal as entrepreneurs and investors was to pilot a different sort of incubator – one that provided expertise as the core, not just a bit of cash and a desk.
Our first graduate, Chirpify, is the model of how we see our program succeeding. Chirpify enables businesses and consumers to buy, sell and transact directly on Twitter. Since exiting our program in spring 2012, Chirpify has raised a Series A; been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Billboard, Inc., and Mashable; hired seven employees; and been adopted by celebrities and brands as diverse as Green Day, ProPublica and Taco Bell.
We’ve graduated three more Upstarts this year – MoPix, Taplister and PivotPlanet. All three are live in their markets, and on their way to getting traction with users. We’ve got two more Upstarts that are close to graduation – restaurant menu iPhone app Menuish, and ecommerce analytics dashboard Measureful – look for launch announcements for these companies in the near future.
We’ve also been privileged to deploy our team to projects with local startups such as Favery, Celly, ShopIgniter, and Beeminder. As digital agency veterans, we know that our “lean startup” mentality makes us an ideal development and marketing partner for startups at any stage.
We will end our first year of doing business with six graduates, and the creation of more than 20 new technology jobs in Portland and Los Angeles. We’ve opened a new, larger office but have remained in Portland’s urban core. And we have given back to the local startup community as mentors to the Portland Seed Fund companies; as judges and mentors at Portland Startup Weekend; and as advisors to startups at every stage.
In 2013, our plan is to focus even more tightly on our vision of accelerating Portland’s newest class of new businesses. We plan to announce the opening of our application round in the next few weeks, and we will have even more exciting news about the level of investment we have planned for next year. Stay tuned – there will be new ways to get involved with our portfolio, and we look forward to making an even larger impact on the local economy.
I hate the term "serial entrepreneur," but starting companies is in my blood. Upstart Labs was formed from this passion for new ventures. I've been a part of six startups over the past 15 years. I've seen tough times, but I've also been fortunate to have some wins along the way. At Upstart Labs, I'm combining this experience with a team of incredibly talented, enthusiastic co-founders to help other entrepreneurs turn their ideas into real companies.
We envision Upstart Labs as a new breed of startup accelerator. We're more than investment capital, and more than office space (though we have those things, too). We invest ourselves into the Upstarts with which we partner. Our team has significant experience in the design, development and marketing of web and mobile products, and we are well-versed in building lean, profitable technology businesses. We're looking for passionate entrepreneurs with great ideas – entrepreneurs who are ready to get in the trenches with us and build great products.
I'm proud to announce our first two Upstarts – Sell Simply and Menuish.
First up, Sell Simply (sellsimp.ly) which enables businesses and consumers to buy, sell and transact directly on Twitter. The application enables Twitter commerce, direct payments and fundraising through the first frictionless Twitter transaction service. It's very cool stuff, and we have a lot more in store.
And our second portfolio company, Menuish (menuish.com), helps restaurants quickly build and publish mobile- & social-friendly menus. Designed to work on all mobile devices and for seamless integration with the Yelp, Google Places, and OpenTable mobile applications, the Menuish platform enables every restaurant to have a professional mobile and social web presence.
If you’ve got a great idea or an early stage mobile or web product and you're interested in becoming an Upstart, stay tuned – we’ll be announcing a formal startup application process soon. In the meantime, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @upstartlabs.