✌️Heartcore Consumer Insights

Edition #80

Hi there,

Welcome to the 80th edition of Heartcore Consumer Insights. Curated with 🖤 every week by the Heartcore Team.

If you missed the past newsletters, you can catch up here. Now, let’s dive in!

Canva's Five Year Journey to Launch - Olivia Moore (a16z)

  • If you’ve created content online, there’s a good chance you’ve used the design platform Canva. The company has 60M monthly active users and recently raised at a $40B valuation.

  • Three lessons we can learn from Canva’s debut 👇:

  1. Leverage communities for feedback & distribution: while Canva technically launched in fall 2013, it wasn’t immediately available to everyone. Instead, users were asked to reserve a username and join a waitlist - which grew to 50k people before the official public debut. Users enthusiastic enough to tweet at the company were often onboarded immediately, and pro designers could skip the line. This beta allowed the team to iterate on the product with this early audience. While the Lean Startup model was in vogue in the mid-2010s, Canva took a different route. As CEO Melanie Perkins said on How I Built This: “The whole point was that we took all these complex things and made them simple...that took a lot longer than a weekend."

  2. Remove friction - show people how to use the product: in a world of complex design tools like Adobe, Canva’s template structure was desperately needed. Canva’s team reached out to illustrators to feature their work in the template library - at launch, more than 1M photographs, fonts, and graphics were available to “drag and drop” into users’ designs.

  3. Focus on use cases that are inherently viral. Canva’s seed deck provides a view into the initial GTM strategy - target use cases that get the company’s designs in front of as many people as possible. The best channel for this in 2013 was Facebook. Small businesses were flocking to the big blue app. They needed professional-looking graphics like cover photos, flyers, and event banners. Canva provided easy templates that ensured the content would be the right size and shape to render properly - a huge pain point! The Facebook templates spurred referrals, as users invited their colleagues to collaborate on designs. Another example? Christmas cards. For the company’s first holiday season, Canva worked with artists to create 30+ templates for beautiful digital cards. Most were distributed via Facebook and email, which again funneled users back to Canva. Creating content may seem like the kind of thing that doesn’t scale - but when millions of people use the same templates, it actually does!

Mark in the Metaverse - The Verge

  • The metaverse is having a moment. Coined in Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson’s 1992 sci-fi novel, the term refers to a convergence of physical, augmented, and virtual reality in a shared online space.

  • As June came to an end, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees about an ambitious new initiative. He said Facebook would strive to build a maximalist, interconnected set of experiences. “Our overarching goal across all of these initiatives is to help bring the metaverse to life.

  • Zuckerberg and The Verge discussed his vision for an embodied internet.

  • Interesting bits from the conversation:

  • "This is a big topic. You can think about it as the successor to the mobile internet. A lot of people think about the metaverse as just virtual reality - which I think is going to be an important part of that. But the metaverse isn’t just VR. A lot of people also think about the metaverse as primarily something that’s about gaming. And I think entertainment is clearly going to be a big part of it, but I don’t think that this is just gaming. I think that this is a persistent, synchronous environment where we can be together, which is probably going to resemble some kind of a hybrid between the social platforms that we see today, but an environment where you’re properly embodied in."

  • I think '(the metaverse) is about being engaged more naturally. And today, I think about the computing platforms that we have. We have these phones. A lot of the time that we’re spending, we’re basically mediating our lives and our communication through these small, glowing rectangles. I think that that’s not really how people are made to interact. A lot of the meetings that we have today, you’re looking at a grid of faces on a screen. That’s not how we process things either. What VR/AR can do, and what the metaverse broadly is going to help people experience, is a sense of presence that I think is just much more natural."

  • "If you go back 20 or 30 years, a lot of people’s individual opportunities were dictated by their physical proximity. Research shows that the zip code in which you were born and raised is highly correlated with your future mobility and what your income is going to be. I think one of the things that is most magical about the present, and that I think is going to get even more so, is that flattening out distance creates a lot more opportunities for people. The better that this technology for presence gets, the more you can live where you want, be a part of the communities that you want to. Now, obviously, you also have the downsides of that that need to get managed. In order to have a cohesive society, you want to have a shared foundation of values and some understanding of the world and the problems that we all face together."

  • "I think sometimes people may be a little idealistic about assuming that this will develop in a certain way. We’ve seen from modern computing that there are different companies that push in different directions. So I think from my perspective, without a doubt, you’re going to have some companies that are trying to build incredibly siloed things, and then some that are trying to build more open and interoperable ones. And I don’t even think it’s a question of, is one going to win over the other? I mean, has open-source won over closed-source? There were just multiple things at different times."

🇪🇺 Notable European early-stage Consumer rounds :

  • Order of Meta, a Finland-based mobile shooter game, raises $1.5M with Play Ventures/Initial Capital - link

  • Unstoppable Finance, a Germany-based start-up on a mission to bring DeFi to mainstream investors, raises  €4.5M with Speedinvest/Inflection/Fabric - link

  • Plum, a UK-based money management app startup, raises €12M with dmg /Ventura - link

  • Mayd, a Germany-based platform that quickly delivers medications to users' doorsteps, raises €13M with 468/Earlybird/Target Global - link

  • StudySmarter, a Germany-based online education startup that turns text into interactive content, raises $16M with Goodwater - link

🇺🇸 Notable US early-stage Consumer rounds :

  • Laguna Games, an S.F-based research and game development studio that specializes in making blockchain tech, raises $5M with Bitkraft/Delphi - link

  • Intro, an L.A-based app for access to on-demand experts through personalized one-on-one video calls, raises $10M with a16z/Seven Seven Six - link

  • Superplastic, a Burlington-based start-up building a global entertainment brand in the age of NFTs, raises $20M with GV/Index/Founders Fund/Craft/Galaxy Digital - link

  • Blank Street, an N.Y.C-based operator of coffee micro-shops, raises $25M with General Catalyst/Tiger - link

  • Element Finance, an S.F-based open-source protocol for fixed and variable yield markets, raises $32M with Polychain/a16z/Placeholder - link

  • Sprinter Health, an S.F-based on-demand health company that sends full-time nurses at home, raises $33M with a16z/General Catalyst/Accel/GV - link

  • Cometeer, a Boston-based frozen coffee company, raises $35M with D1 /Elephant/Tao Capital/Addition/Avenir - link

  • Italic, an L.A-based marketplace that connects consumers with products from highly vetted manufacturers, raises $37M with Canaan & Heartcore 🖤 - link

🔭 Notable later stage Consumer rounds :

  • Zeus Living, an S.F-based flexible furnished housing startup, raises $55 with SIG/Initialized/NFX - link

  • Outschool, an S.F-based marketplace for kid-friendly enrichment classes, raises $110M with Tiger/Bond/Lightspeed – link

  • Tala, an L.A-based emerging markets digital lender, raises $145M with Upstart/Stellar Development Foundation/IVP - link

  • Enpal, a Germany-based solar company that uses AI for provisioning and installing services, raises €150M with  SoftBank - link

  • TradingView, a Westerville-based stock trading, charting platform and social network for traders, raises $298M with Tiger - link

  • Zopa, a UK-based start-up that provides peer-to-peer lending, savings accounts, and other fintech services, raises $300M with Softbank/Chimera/IAG - link

  • Dutchie, a Bend-based cannabis pickup and delivery tech company, raises $350M with D1/Tiger/Dragoneer/DFJ – link

  • Celsius Network, an N.Y.C-based cryptocurrency earning and borrowing startup, raises $400M with WestCap/Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec - link

  • N26, a Germany-based digital bank, raises $900M with Third Point/Coatue/Dragoneer - link

🖤 Heartcore

  • 🎉🖤 Congratulations to Italic on their $37M Series B. Shop high-quality products made by the same manufacturers as top brands for 50-80% less!

  • Our brilliant portfolio company Likeminded is recruiting! If broadening access to mental health support sounds exciting to you, take a look at those exciting job openings: Head of Sales - Head of Marketing - Senior Frontend Engineer. NB: German is required for the above-mentioned roles (except for the Senior Frontend Engineer position)

Heartcore Consumer Insights is a weekly newsletter covering notable consumer rounds and exits and top content in the B2C space.