We hope everyone had an amazing summer and you are settling into autumn. Afore has been busy working with our portfolio and has exciting updates to share below. Be sure to pass this newsletter along to friends and founders who should be in the know. And follow us on Twitter at @AforeVC for more news, insights, and upcoming events.
Portfolio in Focus
Petal’s Credit Card Is Now Available to the General Public
Fintech startup Petal has raised $34 million in a round of funding from investment bank Jefferies and Silicon Valley Bank, as the New York-based startup officially launches its alternative credit card to the public. This is Petal’s third funding round. Most recently, the company raised $13 million in January 2018. Previous investors in the company include Afore Capital, Valar Ventures, Great Oaks Venture Capital, RiverPark Ventures and others. The round brings Petal’s total known funding to about $50 million, according to the company.
Founded in 2016, Petal aims to make financial services more accessible. Petal co-founder and CEO Jason Gross told Crunchbase News a close friend who had moved to the U.S. was unable to achieve basic financial goals — qualifying for a credit card, securing a lease, and getting a cell phone plan — due to his lack of a credit history in the U.S. His friend’s experience motivated Gross to start Petal.
“One of the major financial regulators also started to publish research about access to credit,” Gross explained. “They found that a tremendous number of people in the United States are excluded from the credit system… because they haven’t yet had the opportunity to build credit.”
With that in mind, the mobile-first startup offers a no-fee credit card. Its approval process differs significantly from other providers, not taking into consideration a lack of past credit history. While the company doesn’t discount an applicant because of a lack of credit, credit history does carry weight in the process.
Humble Dot: Zendesk Case Study
Why Humble Dot?
Jennifer Chang once learned from a coach that you can use positive psychology to train optimism and that regular expressions of gratitude can rewire the brain towards positivity.
Although her team was engaged with 1:1’s, staff meetings, and annual engagement surveys, they didn’t have a tool to promote team camaraderie and positivity on a consistent basis.
Additionally, since her team was distributed globally and in different timezones, building a strong team culture was even more challenging.
Evan Weaver of Fauna
Previously at Twitter as employee #15, Evan Weaver has recently raised a $25M Series A to grow Fauna, a cloud-native database.
Davis Baer: What’s your background, and what are you working on?
Evan Weaver: I’m the CEO and Co-Founder of Fauna. My passion for software development started when I was 8 or 9 years old; like many of us, I was trying to make games. I think I still have the QBasic book that I used to write a slot machine program that featured…wait for it…graphics. My father worked for a university so we had early access to the internet as well; you could download shareware from Gopher with Archie and Veronica, which were frankly terrible.At school, I studied poetry writing, philosophy, jazz, and computer science; as you can guess, only one of these things makes money, so here we are.
Along the way, I got interested in open source and Ruby on Rails and got a job at CNET Networks. I worked as a DBA and backend developer on CHOW and UrbanBaby, along with Chris Wanstrath and P. J. Hyett. You may know them from GitHub.
In 2008, I left CNET and joined Twitter as employee #15. I ended up building and managing the backend infrastructure team.
Advice in Venture
Now more than ever, founders and entrepreneurs need insights that will help them make better investor decisions for their companies. These words of wisdom are from Afore’s Pre-Seed Summit earlier this year.
Portfolio News and Updates
Digital star Rachel DeMita signs talent deal with sports-media startup Overtime. Learn about the new partnership in Variety.
Can’t get a credit card? Try these alternative options. Read more about Petal in NerdWallet.
The founder of Winnie discusses equal pay in Silicon Valley. Read the story here.
RSVP now for upcoming events at Bulletin’s flagship NYC store.
Call it the revenge of the frustrated bank customer. Consumers are now using bots to reduce and eliminate bank fees with Cushion. Continue reading in American Banker (fyi this content is paywalled).
Mobile bank Chime picks up credit score improvement service Pinch in all-stock deal. Check out the story now.
Thanks for reading,
Gaurav Jain and Anamitra Banerji
Afore Capital’s portfolio companies are hiring.
Apply at AngelList now.