News & Views

 

Celebs Join NFL Star Russell Wilson As He Launches New Video Series About Success On TraceMe

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Once A Startup Runt, Rover Laps Up $155 Million For Tech-fueled Pet Care Marketplace

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Announcing our Investment in Crowd Cow

I am excited to announce our Series A investment in Crowd Cow, a curated online marketplace for high quality craft meats sourced from independent farmers. This is our third collaboration with Joe Heitzeberg and Ethan Lowry, the co-founders of Crowd Cow. Both Joe and Ethan worked on Poppy, their 3D camera startup, as entrepreneurs in residence at Madrona, after which Joe co-led Madrona Venture Labs. We have always respected and admired Joe and Ethan as entrepreneurs, tinkerers and company-builders, and finally found an opportunity to invest in one of their companies.

Crowd Cow was inspired by an engineer’s passion for farm-sourced meat, and Joe and Ethan’s realization that: 1.) farm-sourced meat is significantly better and more flavorful than the meat available at your local grocery store, and 2.) buying a 1/4 ‘cowshare’, the principal way people buy meat directly from the farm, is not a mainstream buying activity (in part because a 1/4 share is about 125 pounds of meat). Instead of selling 1/4 shares, Crowd Cow lets customers pick and choose the cuts they want in any quantity, with orders delivered directly to their front door.

It became clear from early on that consumers love the quality and flavor of meat sourced directly from farms, and that they care where their meat comes from and how the animals are raised, cared for, and fed. As the Crowd Cow team searched the nation (and later the globe) for the best farmers producing the best product, they learned that the diversity of ‘breeds and feeds’ from these independent farms produced a wonderful diversity of textures and flavors; and they found that this is as true with chicken, turkey, and pork, as it is with beef. This great diversity is documented in Craft Beef, Joe and Ethan’s #1 bestselling book on Amazon.

The Crowd Cow team is now on a mission to bring the great quality and diversity of farm-sourced meat, from across the country and the globe, directly to consumers. In doing so, Crowd Cow has become an invaluable resource to independent farmers, enabling them to share their craft and build their brand with consumers through the Crowd Cow platform. In a market controlled by a small number of corporate conglomerates, giving independent producers a more direct path to their customers is a very good thing.

We could not be more enthusiastic about Joe and Ethan’s vision for where they plan to take Crowd Cow, and we welcome the Crowd Cow team to the Madrona family. Whether grass-finished or grain-finished is your cup of tea, or you have a hankering for pasture-raised chicken or heritage pork, Crowd Cow has something for everyone; including super premium A5 Wagyu from Kagoshima, Japan, and the ultra-rare Olive Beef. We look forward to partnering with Joe, Ethan and team to bring the best craft meats sourced from independent producers to consumers across the country and the globe.

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For Madrona Venture Group, Four IPOs In 20 Months And A Brand-new Fund

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Madrona Raises $300M Venture Fund, Reveals Strategy For Investing In Pacific Northwest Startups

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Food Safety Monitoring Tech Startup Wins First Place At Madrona Machine Learning Hackathon

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XNOR.ai Raises $12M And Unveils Self-service Platform To Help Developers Bring AI To Devices

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Innovate.AI – Announcing Our Investment in Envisagenics

Pictured S. Somasegar and Nagraj Kashyap

Today, in partnership with M12 (the newly renamed Microsoft Ventures), we are excited to announce the N. American winner of the Innovate.AI competition, a global startup competition to find the next generation of companies building intelligent applications.

The winning company, Envisagenics, has been awarded a $1M investment from Madrona Venture Group and M12, and we look forward to joining them on their journey to help solve some of the toughest problems in healthcare and biotechnology today.

Envisagenics Team.

We first explored the idea of an AI-focused startup competition with M12 in early 2017. Both Madrona and M12  have made large investments in AI, and we thought M12 would be the best partner to take this idea and help us reach a larger base of startups across North America. M12 was excited to partner with us on this and in addition took it global.

We received 250+ applications from companies in North America.  Startups needed to have built products, achieved some level of customer progress and have raised limited capital to enter.

Working together with the team at M12, we pared this list of 250+ down to 9 finalists, who were working on intelligent applications in the fields of healthcare, financial services, cybersecurity, software development, enterprise sales, computer vision and manufacturing automation.

Each of the final teams were then invited to spend two days in Seattle at the Madrona and Microsoft offices to get to know one another and pitch to a team of VCs from both firms. The final presentations typically involved a presentation, Q&A, and live demo of the products, and we were very impressed with the quality of products that these teams have built.

Envisagenics, our winning company, is in the business of applying AI to RNA splicing. Founded by Maria Pineda and Martin Akerman, the company is using their proprietary data and machine learning models to build a drug discovery platform targeted at the large number of diseases caused by RNA splicing defects.

This is a big problem and an impactful solution. Approximately 15% of all diseases are caused by disrupted splicing, including 50% of rare genetic disorders. Healthcare companies can drastically accelerate their drug discovery processes by using Envisagenics’s data and machine learning models to prioritize drug targets and biomarkers.

We believe there is massive potential in the future of intelligent applications, and we are thrilled to be investing in a company that is applying the power of ML and AI to a key pain point in the world of healthcare.

Please join us in welcoming Envisagenics to the Madrona and M12 families!

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Marketo Buys Techstars Seattle Alum Bizible, Adding New Business Marketing Software Tools

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Smartsheet CEO Mark Mader Just Completed a $150M IPO: Here Are The Things He Won’t Be Doing

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Introducing Madrona’s Newest Strategic Director: Betsy Sutter

We are thrilled to have Betsy Sutter, Chief People Officer of VMware, join Madrona as a Strategic Director.

What is a “Strategic Director” at Madrona? Madrona is fortunate to have a select group of senior operational leaders who mentor talented founders and senior executives of Madrona portfolio companies, advise our rapidly growing companies, and help Madrona navigate key strategic decisions. Our Strategic Directors include Madrona founders, Jerry Grinstein and Bill Ruckelshaus, as well as successful technology company CEOs Steve Singh, Sujal Patel and John McAdam.

Betsy Sutter was VMware’s first HR leader, and she helped the company scale from under 150 employees when she joined to over 21,000 today (not to mention FY18 revenue of just under $8B). As Corporate Senior Vice President and Chief People Officer, she has worked with and advised VMware CEOs Diane Greene, Paul Maritz and Pat Gelsinger – three iconic technology leaders. She brings a unique perspective to Madrona and this role, as she has a keen insight and appreciation for building a strong culture, recruiting and retaining top talent and, critically, how this enables and aligns with business strategy and execution. She additionally plays a role as an industry thought leader and has spoken broadly about inclusion, diversity and building high-performance organizations.

We have already been fortunate to engage with Betsy in a number of different ways. She spoke at our CFO Conference in 2017 and has met with many of our portfolio company CEOs and senior leaders. In every case, our own team as well as our portfolio companies have been impressed with Betsy’s business insight, wisdom, infectious enthusiasm, practical advice, and bias for action. These insights will be incredibly helpful to portfolio companies, whether they are already at scale or at the formation stage.

Betsy has this to say on becoming a Strategic Director at Madrona:

A key element to successfully building the next generation of best-in-class companies is to, at the start, set the key culture and value tenants that will enable innovation. I am delighted to be part of Madrona’s incredible team, and I look forward to sharing my passion for helping companies develop strategies that empower their people, build communities, and ultimately thrive and scale.

Betsy, welcome to the Madrona family! We look forward to working and learning together and to helping to build the next generation of technology company success stories in the Pacific NW!

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Suplari Raises $10.3M Series A Round to Bring AI to Procurement

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This Seattle Startup Is Developing AI Technology that Works for Smartphones

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Accolade Raises Another $50M, Total Funding Tops $200M

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Angels Still Helping Entrepreneurs Take Flight, 20 Years After Initial Spark From Tom Alberg, Bill Gates Sr. and Tom Cable

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Welcome Sudip to Madrona

Today we are excited to welcome Sudip Chakrabarti to Madrona as a Partner on the Investment Team.

Sudip is the kind of team member we look for – someone who shares our passion for helping entrepreneurs build their companies from day one. When we first met, Sudip was an investor at Lightspeed Venture Partners in the valley, a team we have worked with for later stage fund raises for Madrona portfolio companies. His focus on cloud and infrastructure technologies means we crossed paths many times and we were impressed by not only his technical and business expertise in this market but also his approach to working with startups. He gets in and does the work to build companies and help founders succeed in realizing their vision. This is how Madrona approaches company building from day one – to day whatever – we are here to help companies succeed and build the greater Seattle ecosystem.

As a partner at Madrona, Sudip will be focused on investments in the enterprise, infrastructure markets including how open source software and technology is changing the enterprise software landscape.

Prior to joining Madrona, Sudip was a partner at Lightspeed Venture Partners where he led or co-led investments in Streamlio, Serverless, Rainnet, Exabeam and, a Madrona portfolio company, Heptio. He started his investing career at Osage University Partners and subsequently was an enterprise investor at Andreessen Horowitz where he was involved with companies such as Actifio, Databricks, Digital Ocean, Forward Networks, Mesosphere and Samsara.

Sudip also brings the experience of being a founder to the table with entrepreneurs and founders – he started two companies early in his career and understands first hand the triumphs and struggles of company building from day one.

Sudip is our second convert from the valley (Maria Karaivanova joined us from Cloudflare last year) and our first from a Valley VC. Please join us in welcoming Sudip to the Pacific Northwest!

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The Riveter – The Time is Now for this Co-Working and Digital Space

Today we are very excited to welcome The Riveter into the Madrona family. Founded by Amy Nelson just 10 months ago, The Riveter has quickly grown into a premier female forward work and community space.

The Riveter has their first two locations up and running in Seattle, but they are not stopping there. They are expanding to other cities – Los Angeles is next. An important part of their appeal is that they complement the space with programming for their members, and soon will be launching a digital platform to help connect their members even when they are not in the physical spaces.

When we evaluate companies, we look at the entrepreneur, the business model, and the market. The first time that we met Amy, we were incredibly impressed with The Riveter across all of these dimensions. There is an amazing “founder-product fit” between Amy and her company, as well as all of her early learnings on building a great community-driven business.

Amy is everything we look for in an entrepreneur. She is passionate about her business, her customers, and her team. She has a vision and mission rooted in her own experience, and she is building a product that she would want to use. She has built her own path and is now on a mission to help other women do the same thing.

Amy started her career in the corporate world but eventually decided to depart and quickly saw a market need and opportunity that resonated – building workspaces and community for professional women. The Riveter embodies the cultural movement to actively support women pursing their passions, stepping up, and succeeding in whatever they put their minds to, and it is clear that this is resonating, not just here, but around the country and the world.

That brings us to their market and business model. The Riveter creates workspaces that are female forward and different than other coworking spaces. They have more open space, programming focused on the issues women face in business, and some quiet spaces and mothers’ rooms. They don’t have onsite daycare, they don’t have pink furniture, and they don’t have ping pong tables and kegs. These are inclusive, professional environments for meeting and working designed with women in mind.

Women start businesses at a rate five times that of men, and their businesses often look quite different than the companies that occupy other coworking spaces. Their working patterns are often more flexible, as they fit a lot of competing priorities in their day. The Riveter has been able to hone in on this market and design a business model with great economics focused on professional women by offering things like part-time memberships and locations closer to people’s homes. Because of these different dynamics, The Riveter is maximizing their space differently than other co-working locations.

Our investment in The Riveter comes at an interesting time for Madrona as well. Recognizing the need for more innovation space in our region, we leased the floor below us to build out such a space. In that space we will be hosting early technology oriented companies, enterprises looking to see the latest tech being developed and will have a programming schedule that supports the companies and the community. It is very different from The Riveter in the market and goals and shows that there is space for all kinds of co-working spaces in cities around the country.

As we spoke to members of The Riveter in our diligence process, the theme we heard again and again was “I love this place, and I love this community,” and now we are incredibly excited to support The Riveter in their next phase of growth. Please join us in congratulating Amy and her team on their funding and success!

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Seattle Startup Unearth Lands $3M, Looks To Transform Construction Industry

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Welcome Unearth to Madrona!

Pictured in photo:  From left to right, Nate Miller, S. Somasegar, Brian Saab & Amy Hutchins.

Welcome Unearth to Madrona!

It is always a happy occasion to welcome a family member back into the household.

With Madrona’s investment in Unearth Technologies, we are excited to be working again with Brian Saab (CEO/Co-Founder) who we had previously worked with as the co-founder of buuteeq (a former Madrona portfolio company that was acquired by Booking Holdings, formerly Priceline). Brian co-founded Unearth with two other buuteeq & Booking Holdings employees, Amy Hutchins, Chief Product Officer and Nate Miller, Chief Design Officer. buuteeq spurred a lot of entrepreneurial spirit as we have also backed Pixvana – started by another co-founder of buuteeq, Forest Key.

Brian went back to his family roots as he began thinking of his next company. Brian grew up in a multigenerational construction company – a business he, as a technology executive, noticed hadn’t really changed that much despite cloud technologies, aerial imagery, and the plethora of tablets and laptops.  He and his co-founders did some field testing and realized they could change that with their skills.

The construction industry has long been plagued by both low digitization and low productivity from its workforce. A $1.5T annual industry in the US alone and a $10T opportunity globally, the construction industry is projected to keep growing as new infrastructure is required to keep up with the global economy.

Because of the low productivity, the construction industry suffers from large amounts of waste and lost opportunity. For example, 98% of construction projects face cost overruns or delays with the average project delayed by 20 months and 80% more expensive than planned. In the US, this waste equates to approximately $500B lost per year. This is especially evident in large commercial and civic projects that require large teams and extensive communication between the field and office.  This is the problem that Unearth is tackling.

Unearth has built a cloud-native collaboration and communication platform, called OnePlace, for construction and architecture teams to track the progress of their projects in real time. By giving all parties (including project owners and project managers) access to the Unearth platform, everyone is informed every step of the way of the progress of the construction. OnePlace is specifically built to seamlessly handle different data types aerial imagery, 360 images, traditional pictures, plans, and surveys.These are all integrated into the software platform which creates one view available to both office and field teams. After a year in beta and in use on major civic construction projects, OnePlace is open today for sign up at www.unearthlabs.com.

The construction industry is at an inflection point of digitization and software adoption and Unearth is well-positioned to provide a compelling solution for its customers.

Please join me in welcoming Brian, Amy, Nate and the Unearth team to the Madrona family.

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In Shifting Retail Battle, Nordstrom Acquires Two Tech Startups to Further Boost Its Digital Credibility

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