RCL Accelerator / muru-D Founders: Hosted by InTeaHouse in SF (11/16/17)
I wasn’t exactly sure what I was being asked to do when I agreed to Kris Vulgan’s request to meet up with founders from Australia but when she asked, I said yes and thought I’d figure it out when I got there. Kris is Managing Partner/COO of InTeaHouse a ‘global network of innovators and international investors.’ We met at a WSGR founders/investors dinner a few months ago and she’s asked me to participate in a few founder events.
The most recent one was last night in SF where the founders of 10 startups (24 founders) participating in the current cohort of the RCL Accelerator / muru-D out of Brisbane, Australia were in town. (Australia keeps coming up for me so I am thinking that there will be an investor’s trip for me sometime in 2018) They were on day 5 of what I call their ‘field trip’ to the Silicon Valley. I talked with a few of the founders before they left and they were loving the experience. As with the Australians I met from Startup Catalyst a few weeks ago, they were surprised by how helpful everyone has been here.
I fielded questions from the group on everything from investing in Silicon Valley to how I am handling living in alignment with my values under a president who is actively working against them (not well and lots of wine). We talked about the tall poppy syndrome, how I provide pitch feedback with radical candor, and the shifting funding landscape here in the Valley (and how I want to influence it).
Then a few brave souls got up and pitched to me and Gilbert Gong where we had the opportunity to ask questions and then give feedback. Wendy Oxenham of Divvito eagerly volunteered to go first in pitching her communication platform that helps ‘reduce conflict and anxiety between parents globally.’ She co-founded the company with her twin brother and they plan to launch in Australia in January before going global.
Next up was Math Mate. They are creating the Duolingo for math and starting with high school and college students. With a 16 year old son who should be prepping for the SATs and is in AP Calc, this could be a fun way to build and re-enforce math skills.
Ryan from Kapiche was up next and piqued Gilbert’s interest with their SaaS B2B solution to provide ‘a simple, fast analytics tool, giving businesses a greater understanding of their markets’. They are leveraging machine learning to help businesses better understand their NPS survey data.
David from Flyfreely shared his grand plan for providing the ‘end to end risk management for your entire drone operation.’ The drone market is much less mature in Australia than it is here and there are growth opportunities there in this space.
William from Tyrestock was our last victim…err…founder. He wasn’t looking to refine his pitch for investors so we were a bit confused about what he was looking for from us but in the end we had it all squared away. In December, they are launching their aggregated tire purchase/delivery platform for independent tire shops so the tire shops can get their customers’ cars back on the road faster. They are providing tire concierge services. Not sexy but apparently this will help the tire shops increase their revenue as a result of being able to turn the cars around faster.
The group had to race off to another event (I was surprised they were still awake) and I had a chance to talk a to a few of the founders who did not present including Elliot Miller from Games4Hearoes. Elliot created his company based on his lived experience of being hearing challenged. Since this is, in essence, a digital health company I was interested in learning more and while I am Helsinki for Slush at the end of the month, I am going to see what the Nordics have come up with in the auditory rehab space.
As it turns out, Gilbert was headed to Redwood City and I grabbed a ride with him since I’d taken Lyft up to avoid driving in the rain and dealing with parking in SF. Traffic was terrible getting out of SF and Gilbert accidentally got on the Bay Bridge so we took a quick detour around Treasure Island before heading back through SF to get down the Peninsula. Gave us a lot of time to get to know each other. Turns out we know a few of the same folks including Holly Liu of Kabam.
Gemma from RCL Accelerator and meru-D gave us cute thank you notes with a Polaroid picture to commemorate the event and some chocolates from Australia. Once again, it’s great when women are involved in these events because we get great goodies!