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In the blink of an eye, millennials, moms, and grandparents alike have abandoned the decades-old practice of wandering dusty grocery aisles for the convenient and novel use of online grocery. While Instacart, Amazon Fresh, and others have been offering an alternative to brick and mortar grocery for years, it is the global pandemic that has classified them as essential businesses and more than ever afforded them a clear competitive advantage.

But these past couple months have seen not only drastic changes in consumer behavior, but also fundamental shifts in the business models adopted by grocers worldwide. …


Expanding our team, our investment focus, and our geography…

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We are excited to announce our $85 million Signia Venture Partners III early-stage fund that closed during 2018. We want to take this opportunity to reflect on our past two funds and tell you a bit about transition into our third fund.

Signia Fund I

Since launching Signia Venture Partners in 2012, our SVP I fund has hit some great milestones. We were the largest seed investor in Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle tech company that recently achieved a $19 billion valuation after spinning out of General Motors following a 2016 acquisition. …


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Animated characters are as old as human storytelling itself, dating back thousands of years to cave drawings that depict animals in motion. It was really in the last century, however — a period bookended by the first animated short film in 1908 and Pixar’s success with computer animation with Toy Story from 1995 onward — that animation leapt forward. Fundamentally, this period of great innovation sought to make it easier to create an animated story for an audience to passively consume in a curated medium, such as a feature-length film.

Our current century could be set for even greater advances in the art and science of bringing characters to life. Digital influencers — virtual or animated humans that live natively on social media — will be central to that undertaking. Digital influencers don’t merely represent the penetration of cartoon characters into yet another medium, much as they sprang from newspaper strips to TV and the multiplex. Rather, digital humans on social media represent the first instance in which fictional entities act in the same plane of communication as you and I — regular people — do. Imagine if stories about Mickey Mouse were told over a telephone or in personalized letters to fans. …


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The last ten years have seen a sea change in the world of consumer packaged goods, as nimble digital-native brands have built empires off the maturation of e-commerce infrastructure and the proliferation of social content channels (e.g. Instagram, Snap, etc.). Changing consumer values in younger buyers and the opportunities afforded by those content channels have transformed the meaning of consumer branding.

But this revolution in commerce and marketing has left behind brands that excelled at selling to older consumers through the traditional media channels of print and TV. They’ve been doubly disadvantaged: as incumbents they’re also reluctant to leave behind their tried-and-true practices; and their core customers were not early adopters of social media, so there was little incentive to experiment and get better. …


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The last ten years have seen a sea change in the world of consumer packaged goods, as nimble digital-native brands have built empires off the maturation of e-commerce infrastructure and the proliferation of social content channels (e.g. Instagram, Snap, etc.). Changing consumer values in younger buyers and the opportunities afforded by those content channels have transformed the meaning of consumer branding.

But this revolution in commerce and marketing has left behind brands that excelled at selling to older consumers through the traditional media channels of print and TV. They’ve been doubly disadvantaged: as incumbents they’re also reluctant to leave behind their tried-and-true practices; and their core customers were not early adopters of social media, so there was little incentive to experiment and get better. …


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While cryptocurrencies have generated the lion’s share of investment and attention to date, I’m more excited about the potential for another blockchain-based digital asset: security tokens.

Security tokens are defined as “any blockchain-based representation of value that is subject to regulation under security laws.” In other words, they represent ownership in a real-world asset, whether that is equity, debt or even real estate. (They also encompass certain pre-launch utility tokens.)

With $256 trillion of real-world assets in the world, the opportunity for crypto-securities is truly massive, especially with regards to asset classes like real estate and fine art that have historically suffered from limited commerce and liquidity. As I’ve written previously, imagine if real estate was tokenized into security tokens that you could trade as safely and easily as you do stocks. …


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There’s more to early-stage investor value than just money. Credit: Shutterstock

With investors deploying record amounts of capital, founders and executive in search of cash don’t have to look too hard for it these days. But it’s important to remember that not all investment dollars are created equal. The right investors add value to their portfolio companies in a number of ways, bending the long odds of startup success in the founder’s favor.

Here are three different ways early-stage investors can bring value to their portfolio companies.


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Investing in blockchain companies over the past couple of years, I’ve realized how little I know and how new the category is for venture investors. For fear of becoming dumb money, I went back to ‘school’ with a cryptography friend last week who schooled me in some basics on BTC, Byzantine Fault Tolerance, and distributed consensus protocols such as Paxos and Raft (employed on DLT such as Tendermint). We discussed everything in layman’s terms, and I’ll be publishing the key takeaways from our crypto tech meetups on Medium. We’re ambitiously hoping for once a month right now. …


Not long ago, the top concern for founder teams was, “Will we be able to raise?”

Today, that is no longer the case. Thanks to an unprecedented flow of capital, talented entrepreneurs have no shortage of suitors eager to support their visions. Crunchbase estimates that investors put $214 billion into 22,700 ventures in 2017. To put that into context, deal volume last year was up just shy of 4 percent over 2016, but dollar volume increased by nearly a quarter — in other words, more money is chasing fewer deals.

The same macro trends are also pronounced in seed and early-stage investing. Between Q4 2016 and Q4 2017, the average round size of seed-angel deals increased from $890,000 to $1.45 million. During the same period, average early-stage round sizes skyrocketed from $9.3 million to $13 million. It goes without saying that it’s a great time to be raising money as a founder! …


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The news that Instagram will be offering longer-form content

Earlier this week, Instagram sent the worlds of entertainment, content, and social media into a collective fit with its announcement of IGTV, a longer-form vertical video service. The announcement shows the clear intentions of Facebook’s wunderkind photo-sharing network to march onto the turf of YouTube and capture a greater share of digital ad world. First the target was on Snapchat Stories, now it’s squarely on YouTube (and other vertical OTT apps’) back. Because Facebook really wanted to send a shiver down the spines of the competitors, they also shared that Instagram had crossed the 1-billion-users threshold.

To begin with, IGTV will be ad-free. This makes all the sense in the world: Instagram can provide a high-quality, ad-free video experience to entice creators and users into the app, subsidizing it through Facebook’s corporate ad dollars. Later, as IGTV content becomes higher-end, the company can introduce a paid version with content otherwise unaccessible before. …

About

Sunny Dhillon

Founding Partner @SigniaVC ; Love tech & all things nerd; Sneaker and hip hop head; Londoner in California

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