Leadout Capital: December 2021 Newsletter
Dear Leadout Capital Community,
2021 was a busy year for Leadout! The broader Leadout family expanded as we celebrated with five founders who welcomed new additions to their families (congrats to all of the new parents!). We also expanded the firm at the beginning of 2021 with the addition of Steve Brownlie as a General Partner and Yun-Fang Yuan as a Venture Partner. We feel fortunate that we are able to pursue Leadout’s mission to back underestimated and overlooked founders who are kick-ass customer segment experts whose unique insights paired with access to capital and networks give them an edge to win.
Our investments have continued to be consistent with our strategy and mission of supporting historically underrepresented founders. We added 15 companies to the overall portfolio in 2021. And we’re incredibly proud that over 80% of our founding teams have at least one diverse member (female and / or underrepresented minorities).
Recent Highlights from the Portfolio
Near Space Labs, a disruptive Earth imaging startup whose mission is to provide seamless access to geospatial data in order to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges including urbanization and climate change closed a $13M Series A fundraising round — funded by Crosslink Capital, Leadout Capital, Toyota Ventures, and Wireframe Ventures. The team continues to scale their team and operations across the country while building the next generation of their robotic, zero-emission stratospheric balloon fleet of Swiftys.
Work at Near Space Labs
(Founders L-R: Ignasi, Rema and Albert)
Momentum.io, a deal collaboration platform for companies to operationalize sales motions and drive revenue announced their $5M Series Seed lead by Basis Set Ventures. Coverage here: TechCrunch. We loved that co-founder and CEO Santiago Suarez Ordonez made a point of highlighting highlighting our first principle alignment on his and his team’s focus on diversity —
“We actually have a mandate from the top to drive diversity and inclusion,” Suarez Ordoñez said. “In fact, one of our investors made it a term in their investment and it ended up being what made us go in with them and make room for them in our round as an investor.”
Ordonez added that half the board is female at this early stage and that two of the three investor partners in the round are women.
BlockSpaces, a Tampa, FL based Blockchain infrastructure platform now supports multiple blockchain networks (20+) including Ethereum, Avalanche, Binance, Solana, xDai and Pocket as blockchain, Web3 and DeFi activity continues to explode.
Work at BlockSpaces
BlockSpaces in the news:
- BlockSpaces named one of three finalists in the ‘Emerging Tech Company of the Year’ category for the prestigious 18th annual Tampa Bay Tech awards
- Congratulations to CEO Rosa Shores named as a featured founder in Embarc Collective’s 2021 Glaring Gap Report. The report reflects the 2021 milestones, challenges, and needs of women startup founders across the state of Florida
- Co-founder Gabe Higgins was a featured speaker at the Florida Bitcoin & Blockchain Summit (FBBS) Summit addressing the conference on the future of Web 3.0 infrastructure (coverage here)
theCut, the technology platform that handles back-end operations for barbers, raised $4.5M in new funding. The round was led by new investor NextGen Venture Partners with participation from Leadout, Elevate Ventures and Singh Capital. Round coverage: Washington Business Journal and TechCrunch. In August, theCut ran its second Back to School campaign, organizing free and discounted haircuts to kids living in poverty.
Work at theCut
CoProcure, the marketplace for state and local purchasing has continued growing quickly (35% QoQ), mostly by word of mouth, and is now serving an estimated $500M in annual transaction volume on their government procurement platform. Work at CoProcure
Makomi, which offers a platform featuring a remote education and certification program for property managers, grew properties under management by 3x over the last month and continue to grow the team rapidly by tapping into the diverse global hiring pool (including several work from home moms with toddlers who had to leave previous jobs because of child care commitments)
Kraftful, an enterprise SaaS business that provides user interface and user experience for Internet of Things OEMs. CEO Yana Welinder will be speaking at the State of the Smart Home panel, alongside execs from Samsung, Resideo, and Homebase at the #CES CONNECTIONS Summit this January..
Work at Kraftful
R-Zero, a provider of continuous, automated software driven disinfection systems announced a strategic partnership with the Mayo Clinic to advance the battle against the spread of infectious disease in the Covid-19 era and beyond. Also, congrats to R-Zero co-founder and President Eli Harris, a Forbes 30 under 30 Entrepreneur.
Work at R-Zero
TheVendry — closed a $6.5M Seed round in September to power a new era of events. ⚡️️ The round was led by Peter Boyce II of Stellation Capital. Leadout in this round participated along with Founder Collective, Primary Venture Partners, WGI Group, Operator Partners and others. TheVendry supports the 20K event professionals and continue to unveil new products and features to serve this marketplace.
Work at theVendry
Cloudsmith.io, a fully-managed 24/7 Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for securely storing, scanning, and sharing assets, packages, and containers made key new hires including CRO Mukesh Sharma after announcing it’s Series A round led by Tiger Global.
Work at Cloudsmith
Axiom Cloud, announced its $2.5M seed round with Leadout, Momenta, Vela and Lorimer. Axiom Cloud generates climate and financial value by using software and automation to transform how refrigeration and cooling systems are powered, operated, and maintained.
Work at Axiom Cloud
Centrly, which creates personalized market intelligence research for corporate innovation teams, closed its $1.5M round with Leadout as lead along with angel investors, in October. Congratulations to co-founder and CEO Katia Paramanova and , who is also a Forbes 30 under 30 honoree
Work at Centrly
AtoB — a technology company working on making transportation safer, sustainable, and economical closed it’s Series B Round, led by General Catalyst in early November.
Work at AtoB
Ruby Money which is building product and infrastructure to simplify and automate all the not so sexy (but super important) things independent workers need to operate and prosper financially completed a pre-seed raise of $1.2M including Leadout, Clocktower, CRV’s Disrupt fund and current and fmr operators from successful fintech and SaaS companies
Congrats to the BookSloth Team! — BookSloth an activated community for young adult readers, authors and stories was acquired by BookClub. Leadout invested in the pre-seed round in 2019 of this Puerto Rican based team. Congrats to the amazing founders Lincy Alaya and Xiomara Figureroa! It was our pleasure to be a part of your team!
Walrus joins AirTable — Walrus, which created an end-to-end QA automation solution was acquired by the team at AirTable earlier this fall. Leadout lead the pre-seed in 2018 and co-lead their Series Seed round in early 2020. We wish the founding team — Scott, Akshay and Jake much success in their new roles with the Airtable team.
As Covid variants continue to challenge our ability to plan for in-person connections, we continue to support hybrid remote work (see the Centrly team’s pitch video!), we’re delighted to report that we’ve gotten to spend more in person time with our founders including joining the team at Momentum for a team dinner, broadcasting our AGM from Near Space Labs’ Offices in Brooklyn, meeting the Vendry team at their offices in Brooklyn, and holding an in person board meeting with theCut team at their hq outside of DC, and meeting Katia of Centrly in person in Manhattan for dinner.
Ali had the opportunity to record the Hello Monday Podcast with our friend and “CEO of the Internet” Dave Pell. The podcast is hosted by author, journalist and LinkedIn exec Jessi Hempel. Check out Dave’s new book Please Scream Inside Your Heart here
As we close out 2021, year-over-year venture funding statistics through November (credit to Pitchbook for their work tracking these) show some cause for optimism as well as continued opportunity. Funding to mixed gender teams increased from 12.3% to 15.6%, a positive trend that we hope will continue. Funding to all female teams stayed effectively the same — from 2.2% to 2.1%. Those of you quick with math will already have figured out that all male teams garnered the other 82.3% of the dollars. There remains a ton to do in terms of DEI in investing and in technology. At Leadout, we’ve always believed in finding and amplifying the broader range of voices in our society. The challenges we face today are vital validation that we need a next generation of founders to build the companies that serve overlooked communities and markets.
We finish 2021 more convinced of the need and opportunity for Leadout and firms like ours — to seek out founders that are overlooked based on pattern recognition and subconscious bias about what a founder looks and sounds like.
We are tremendously grateful to our operator network and our LP base for helping us bring expertise and access to opportunity to our companies. It’s the willingness of all of the people involved with Leadout to go the extra mile for our founders that really enables Leadout’s ability to help our companies. We appreciate it tremendously and we know that our founders do as well!
Thank you for all your support and we wish you a happy and healthy 2022.
Ali, Steve and Yun-Fang
For our previous update, click here. To receive these updates in your inbox, subscribe here or follow us on Twitter, Instagram, or LinkedIn for the latest.