💡 Heartcore Consumer Insights

Edition #66

Hi there,

Welcome to the 66th 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!

Digital Kinship: How the Internet Is Reacting to the Loneliness Epidemic - Rex Woodbury (Index)

  • A recent survey found that nearly half of Americans always or sometimes feel alone (46%). Over half feel that no one knows them well. Across the Atlantic, half of Brits over 65 consider the television or a pet to be their main source of company.

  • The pandemic is only the latest notch in the steady march of loneliness. Church membership has sharply declined since 2000, Whether you view the decline of church membership as a positive or negative trend, churches were a community hub.

  • Community arts and recreation centers declined by 18% from 2008 to 2015. Today, people have fewer places to congregate, converse, and find belonging.

  • 3 ways the internet reacts to the loneliness epidemic:

  1. Creators Are Your New Best Friend: OnlyFans added as many as 500k users per day in 2020 and swelled to $400M in revenue. Patreon lets fans support creators, Discord lets fans chat with creators in private servers. Twitch’s fastest-growing category is “Just Chatting”, a mishmash of non-gaming live streams where creators casually hang out with fans. “Just Chatting” grew 300% in the last year and is now bigger than always-popular Twitch live streams for Fortnite, Among Us, and LoL combined. Relatability has become the heart of a creator’s appeal, a far cry from the aspiration and elusiveness desired in celebrities of past eras (Monroe, Angelina Jolie, Kylie Jenner).

  2. Shift from Status to Belonging: there’s an old refrain that every consumer company is built on one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Tinder is “Lust”, Netflix is “Sloth”, Instagram is “Envy”. If the 2010s were about “status” through curated Insta feeds then the 2020s are about people’s need for “belonging”. One of the most interesting companies built around belonging is Bilibili, a $40bn market cap Chinese company that is a hub for interest-based communities. It originated as a place for anime enthusiasts but has since expanded to music, dance, science, and more. In order to join a community, users must pass a 100-question test. Building in friction means that communities are comprised only of superfans, 80% of users retain after 12 months, averaging an incredible 75 minutes of daily engagement (Insta and TikTok are 53 & 52 minutes, respectively). Bilibili is a fascinating case study in how people seek out deep connection with others, and we might end up seeing similar models emerge in the West.

  3. The Socialization of the Economy: (a) Finance has traditionally been a solo pursuit but new companies are making investing more social: CommonStock operates a group chat that lets people share investment knowledge. Public bills itself as “the investment social network”. (b) Education: MOOCs were the first iteration of online education. What MOOCs got wrong was removing camaraderie from education. The next wave of online education emphasizes community. For kids, this could mean taking an Outschool class or connecting with their favorite creator through interactive Hellosaurus content. For adults, this could mean taking a cohort-based Maven course. (c) Healthcare: Real is an example within mental health: Step 4 of Real’s mental health journey is “Find Community”, described as “Connect with other members who know just how you feel.

Cracking International Growth for Consumer Companies - John Egan (Growth Engineer @Pinterest)

  • Three fundamental problems need to be solved to grow internationally:

  1. Localizing the product: at the most basic level, this means setting up a system to translate every line of text in the product. What people sometimes fail to appreciate is how much work it takes to do this well. In user research, Pinterest found that the metaphor of pinning things to corkboards wasn’t as prevalent in some cultures and therefore the entire metaphor of Pinterest as a product didn’t make as much sense. After changing “Pin it” to “Save” they saw significant increases in growth metrics in non-English speaking countries.

  2. Getting to product-market fit, again: just like any new startup needs to reach PMF, you need to revisit your value proposition relevance when you begin to expand globally. Uber had to add a cash payment option in India because many Indians didn’t have credit cards. Facebook added blood type as a profile field in Japan because the Japanese believe that blood type imbues a lot of traits on a person’s character. Pinterest discovered that while the website was properly localized when an international user signed up, their home feed would be full of American pins. For Pinterest, reaching PMF was about updating their algorithms that powered search to ensure that they surfaced locally relevant content.

  3. Building out your growth playbook, again: nailing international growth requires figuring out how to scale your tried & true growth channels to international markets. When Facebook expanded into Japan. they relied heavily on viral invites, but Japanese users initially didn’t send many invites. After doing some user research, they discovered that Japanese people were much less likely to send an invite to their friends because they were worried their friends would find it rude. However, when FB changed the “invite your friends” feature to “announce you joined FB,” they saw a big uptick in growth.

🇪🇺 Notable European early-stage Consumer rounds :

  • Dalma, a France-based startup that sells D2C insurance for pets, raises $2.4M with Frst/Kima/GFC - link

  • DappRadar, a Lithuania-based global app store for decentralized applications, raises €4.1M with Prosus/Blockchain.com/Nordic Ninja – link

  • Nøie, a Denmark-based skincare startup, raises $12M with Talis/Inventure – link

  • StudySmarter, a Germany-based company that develops a content-agnostic platform for lifelong learning, raises $15M with Owl/Left Lane/DvH– link

  • Metacore, a Finland-based mobile games company, raises $17.7M with Supercell – link

  • Razor Group, a Germany-based company that buys promising Amazon sellers and scales them into bigger, multichannel businesses, raises $25M with Victory Park - link

🇺🇸 Notable US early-stage Consumer rounds :

  • Snipfeed, an L.A-based creator monetization tool, raises $4.2M with CRV/Abstract/ISAI – link

  • BigBrain, an N.Y.C-based trivia game where you can win real money prizes, raises $4.5M with First Round/Golden/BoxGroup/Ludlow – link

  • Expressable, an Austin-based online speech therapy practice, raises 4.5M with Lerer Hippeau/NextView/Amplifyher – link

  • Fortú, a Miami-based digital bank account focused on Latino and Hispanic U.S. residents, raises $5M with Valar - link

  • Metafy, a Pittsburgh-based platform that enables online players to monetize their talent through coaching, raises $5.5M with DCM/Forerunner/Seven Seven Six – link

  • Showtime, an S.F-based NFT Social Network, raises $7.6M with Paradigm - link

  • RTFKT Studios, an L.A-based maker of NFT sneakers and collectibles, raises $8 with a16z/C Ventures/Galaxy Digital - link

  • Pawp, an N.Y.C-based digital clinic for pets, raises $13M with Lux – link

  • Goody, a Miami-based maker of a gift-giving app, raises $13.1M with NEA – link

  • Bitski, an S.F-based NFT platform, raises $19M with a16z – link

  • Nearby, an S.F-based company allowing customers to buy online from small businesses in their towns, raises an undisclosed amount with Redpoint/GV/Obvious/Cowboy - link

  • LoanSnap, an S.F-based company that makes loan recommendations with AI, raises $30M with True Ventures/Baseline - link

🔭 Notable later stage Consumer rounds :

  • Vori Health, a digital musculoskeletal healthcare company, raises $45M with NEA/AlleyCorp/Max – link

  • Genies, an LA-based company that builds avatars for people and communities, raises $65M with Bond/NEA/Breyer – link

  • Headway, an N.Y.C-based software platform that helps patients find therapists, raises with a16z/Thrive/GV/Accel – link

  • ŌURA, a Finland-based wellness ring and app used for sleep improvement, raises $100M with The Chernin Group/Elysian Park – link

  • Vida Health, an S.F-based virtual chronic care platform, raised $110 with General Atlantic/Centene/Axa – link

🍭 Notable Consumer Exits

  • Kahoot acquires Clever. Clever is an S.F-based digital learning platform used widely among K-12 schools in the U.S with backers including YC/Initialized/Bessemer/GV/GSV/Sequoia/Founders Fund/Lightspeed – link

🖤 Heartcore

  • We’re thrilled to release Heartcore’s consumer tech wiki! The ultimate consumer tech bible. A collection of 100+ must-read content pieces, carefully curated by our team. Founders, investors and operators: this is a condensed (and free!) MBA in consumer tech - link

Access Heartcore's Consumer Bible here

  • Find out how portfolio company Taster is redefining what it means to be a restaurant group in the 21st century. Also, they are hiring for multiple roles!

  • Alva is looking for a Head of Growth - link

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