Take your landing page to the next level as a startup founder

Landing pages are a multi-purpose tool that every startup entrepreneur should have in their arsenal. They are excellent for effectively discussing your products, services, and general business to all potential stakeholders. This is vital for all types of businesses, but important for startups because their offerings need to be crystal clear.

Your landing page can make or break your startup as they are an excellent means of determining the viability of your service. A landing page’s objective isn’t always to incentivize a purchase, but rather to promote some form of activity to allow users to subscribe to your content, create leads, and so on.

The standard landing page structure consists of the following sections:

  • Navbar: logo and links
  • Hero section: This is where you need to explain as succinctly as possible what exactly you are offering. What problem you are solving and how?
  • Social proof: Why should the visitor believe you? Present evidence, social evidence being the best kind.
  • Call to action: Ask the users to do what you want them to do.
  • Features: give more details about your offering
  • Call to action: repeat the CTA
  • Footer: miscellaneous links

Read more.


Need a government program to back your startup?

The government provides a wide range of assistance and funding to entrepreneurs who are beginning or expanding their firms. But what does government funding imply for the individual entrepreneur?

Whether you’re seeding money to get started, or looking for capital to scale out a viable firm, receiving funding can be challenging. After all, venture capital (VC) and angel investment are founded on the common shortage of investment money to support the riskier stages of entrepreneurship. Many entrepreneurs regard bootstrapping as a necessity rather than a strategy. This means they must make do with very little – not by choice.

The question for the individual entrepreneur is not whether the money could be put to good use, but is it worth considering a government program for support in your startup? Here are four things to consider:

1. Value
2. Lethargy
3. Cost
4. Independence

Read more.


Brand Storytelling: 5 Essential Tips for Your Startup’s Success

Brand Storytelling: 5 Essential Tips for Your Startup’s Success

There are essential questions to attribute your startup's success. How should Founders tell their brand story? What role does product play in the brand story? What are tactical ways to drive momentum? How should Founders think about their brand message and brand promise? How did your brand story evolve in the first couple of years of building and growing your startup? Sit down with Alexandra Zatarain, Co-Founder of Eight Sleep to learn how to answer these questions.

How Seed Funding Has Exploded In The Past 10 Years

How Seed Funding Has Exploded In The Past 10 Years

Editor’s note: This is the first in a multipart series looking at seed funding trends. Seed-stage funding to startups has exploded in the past decade and become an asset class of its own. If that wasn’t obvious already, consider that in just the past few months, three of Silicon Valley’s largest and best-known venture firms—Andreessen Horowitz, Greylock and Khosla Ventures—all announced large new dedicated seed funds.

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To visualize this dramatic change in the venture ecosystem and understand how much seed investment grew in the past 10 years, we decided to look at the number of U.S. startups that were funded over various five-year time frames and at different stages. Crunchbase data underscores an impressive rise in funding to the smallest startups: Fewer than 3,200 companies received seed funding in the period between 2006 and 2010. A decade later, that had ballooned to more than 23,000 startups.

A Brief History of Seed Funding
One of the biggest catalysts for new startup creation was the launch of Amazon Web Services and cloud computing in the early 2000s—new technologies that drastically reduced the cost and complexity of starting a new tech company. That, in turn, transformed seed funding into its own institutional asset class in the period between 2006 and 2010. Still, startups that raised Series A funding continued to outpace startups raising seed until around 2009—when seed funding took the lead and began to explode, Crunchbase data shows. Seed funding surged again in the period between 2011 and 2015, with 5x the number of companies funded at seed compared to the prior five years. By contrast, Series A-funded companies grew at a much slower pace, showing 42 percent growth. By the 2016-2020 timeframe, there were 23,000 seed-funded companies in the U.S.—up another 30 percent compared to the prior five years. That put seed growth in line with the growth in Series A, where funded startups numbered over 6,800 during that five-year period—up 31 percent over the same period. Rise of the VC Seed Investor In the mid-2000s, venture firms accustomed to investing $3 million to $5 million at Series A and $8 million to $12 million at Series B weren’t all that interested in joining what looked like institutional angel rounds. The Crunchbase numbers bear this out. From 2006 to 2010, multistage venture firms had seed investments in the single digits in total over five years. But these VCs didn’t cede the seed stage for long. From 2011 to 2015, a number of leading multistage venture firms started to grow their seed practices, the most active of which were Andreessen Horowitz, New Enterprise Associates and Greylock. As companies raised multiple seed fundings as well as larger seed rounds in the $1 million to $3 million range, larger venture firms seeking to be the first institutional investors became more invested at seed.

The Firms Investing in Seed Now
The most active multistage venture firms in seed investing more recently are Greycroft, Founders Fund and Khosla Ventures. Khosla has raised multiple seed funds over time and was a seed investor in Instacart, DoorDash, QuantumScape and GitLab. Just this week, the firm announced the close of a new $400 million seed fund. That follows a $400 million seed fund the firm raised in 2014 and a $300 million seed fund in 2010. Greylock, meanwhile, last month announced what the firm says is the largest pool of venture capital dedicated to seed investing: A new $500 million fund. One of the reasons many venture firms are stockpiling funds to invest into seed startups is that getting in at the earliest stages with a young startup lets those investors have a say in crucial decisions early on. “The ‘decision tree’ of a company has the most range at the beginning, and we want to be there as a partner to founders from the foundation,” Greylock, which has made seed investments in Wag, Instabase and Snorkel AI, said in its fund announcement. Andreessen Horowitz announced a $400 million seed fund in August. The firm has made seed investments in Robinhood, Stripe and Lime over the years. “While having a seed fund is not a shift in strategy—seed has long been a core focus—it underscores our commitment to seed investing as a first class motion for the firm,” Andreessen Horowitz said at the time.

Size of Seed Grows
We also looked at the median and average deal sizes for seed rounds for these 14 multistage funds over the decade, and found the median seed deal has grown from $1.5 million to $4 million, and the average from $1.7 million to $4.6 million. While the size of the typical round has ballooned, there’s still a great deal of variance, however. In 2020, seed fundings from these investors ranged from $700,000 to $22 million. The seed rounds of recent years are sizing up to look more like Series A fundings. “The imbalance between supply and demand has pushed round sizes and valuations to a point where investors are no longer rewarded for the risk they take, and seed rounds are now done at Series A prices and sizes from three years ago,” Jeff Clavier of Uncork Capital told me via email. “The problem,” he added, “is that everyone is pricing deals as if they are a 10s of billions of dollars exit opportunity. The vast majority aren’t.”

Startups The PISLA Beat

The Pill Club is Revolutionizing Women’s Health with $41.9 Million in Funding

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 19 million women living in the United States are in need of publicly funded contraception and live in contraceptive deserts. Of the 19 million, about 1.3 million of these women live in a county without a single health center offering the full range of contraceptive methods- making it even more difficult to gain access to the birth control they need.

To assuage this, The Pill Club was launched in 2016. This online resource offers a prescribing service, medication fulfillment, and free delivery of birth control care packages, according to their website. Today, the company announced that they have raised $41.9 million in Series B funding.

“The idea of creating more choice and flexibility across healthcare is long overdue,” CEO of the Pill Club and former Uber exec, Liz Meyerdirk told TechCrunch.

For our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, the Plug In South LA Beat, we take a look at how The Pill Club plans to use this funding to make women’s healthcare accessible to all:

The Pill Club takes on primary care with $41.9M in fresh funding

Photo Credit: The Pill Club

Startups The PISLA Beat

Inside Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson’s Quest to Solve VC’s Diversity Problem

In an entire venture capital industry worth almost $70 trillion, only 1.3% of assets are managed by women and POC, according to the nonprofit Knight Foundation.

To bridge this gap, Bahiyah Yasmeen Robinson created VC Include with the goal of accelerating investment into diverse managers: women, Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and LGBTQ. Her platform demonstrates that inclusion can promote higher return rates.

“Empowering organizations to utilize diversity as a driver for success needs to become a must-have feature for institutional investors,” Robinson told Forbes recently.

In today’s Plug In South LA Beat, we dive into how this innovative CEO is building a diverse VC ecosystem:

Meet the Female Founder and Impact Investor on a Mission to Expand Investment Opportunities for BIPOC and Female Venture Capital Managers

Startups Urban Tech Connect

UTC 2021 Speakers Share More Thought Leadership

Urban Tech Connect 2021 recently brought us powerful insights and inspiring stories from across the innovation ecosystem. Momentum from the virtual three-day conference hasn’t let up one bit since.

Currently the Plug In South LA team is developing on-demand video, digital swag, discounts, and other unique benefits for attendees. If you haven’t already, join our mailing list and be first to receive updates.

In the meantime, check out our recaps of the live sessions here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.

Plus, our incredible speakers just shared more valuable advice:

Ryan Nece, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Next Play Capital

The best advice you received when starting out?

The only play that matters is the Next Play.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

Seeing a need to provide our community the opportunity to have a seat at the table and to invest alongside the best venture funds and tech companies in the world.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I spend time reminding myself of the previous 100-plus hurdles that I overcame and that the test I am going through today only strengthens my TESTimony of faith.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

I still am obsessed with my camera app…being able to share all those moments in time with the next generation is powerful to me. The most valuable possession I own is a picture of my great-great-grandma, great-grandma, grandma, mom, and me. I only have one and I wish I had more.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I spend time reading blogs, books, and most importantly talking to a diverse group of leaders in the game that I respect consistently.

Rami Reyes, Co-Founder and Managing Director, NextEquity Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Figure out what you can do better than anyone else and become a leading expert in those areas.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I wanted to learn from really smart people and was fortunate out of college to work for tech and private equity legends like Avie Tevanian, Fred Anderson, Rajiv Dutta, Roger McNamee, and Bret Pearlman.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I first took time to think and not make an impulsive decision. Then, I thoroughly analyzed all my options and asked for counsel when appropriate.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I am biased as one of their investors, but I am a fan of MasterClass as I am passionate about increasing access to education and love that they’ve figured out a way to make learning fun and cool.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Google Alerts, reputable news sources, and LinkedIn are helpful. I also talk to a lot of entrepreneurs and early-stage investors about what they’re seeing in the market.

Nasir Qadree, Founding Managing Partner, Zeal Capital Partners

The best advice you received when starting out?

Be your authentic self, ensure your story connects w/ your values and investment mandate, and how you think about Zeal as a new franchise.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I recognize multiple missing opportunities, how we have historically sourced, invested, and helped scale early-stage businesses.

Most importantly, recognizing the opportunity it means for economic growth and mobility for the founders we invest in, the communities in which they come from, and for me and my family.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

Hurdles are indicators that you are learning, I love to learn. I typically reverse engineer what took place and depending on what exactly happened, I bounce this hurdle off my mentors and parents, and grandparents.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now?

Discogs, Pitchbook, Shazam, and Affinity.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

I meet with members of the Advisory Board weekly and listen to podcasts during my morning run.

David Hall, Managing Partner, Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund

The best advice you received when starting out?

In venture — and in business in general — always closely follow the money. It’ll help focus on the true customer journey and where there are gaps or weaknesses in the strategy and execution.

What initially drew you to the work you’re doing now?

I love meeting with entrepreneurs and ideating with them on the future of the industry. Nothing is more exciting than to hear how the world will change because of an entrepreneur’s vision.

When you hit a professional hurdle, how did you move forward?

I think professional hurdles are little reminders to focus on the personal side of life. When things are rocky and uncertain at work, I always dive deeper into family and friends to make sure my life is fully in balance. In doing that, the solution to my work struggle is typically revealed.

Which digital tool or app do you love right now and why?

I have a love/hate relationship with Clubhouse. I think its serendipity is amazing — who’s in the room and what they’ll say, but I don’t have the free time to commit to it as much now and worry about its post-pandemic value prop.

How do you stay current on the latest moves in your field?

Lots of reading and first-person conversations. I love asking people what’s the top thing they are excited about now and tracking their answers.

Photo: UTC 2021 co-host Lauryn Nwankpa, head of social impact at Dave. Credit: Plug In South LA

Startups The PISLA Beat

Movement to Rebuild Black Wall Street in Tulsa Gains Momentum

The centennial of the Tulsa race massacre that destroyed “Black Wall Street” is spurring efforts to forge a new entrepreneurship ecosystem in the city.

At the forefront is Build In Tulsa managing director Randolph F. Wiggins, who’s also a venture partner at Atento Capital. “The call from history, the attraction of a powerful and resilient community, and the hope of a brighter and more prosperous future for Black America pulled me to plant roots here,” he wrote in a Blavity op-ed.

In today’s Plug In South LA Beat, our regular curation of must-read tech and innovation articles, let’s find out how Wiggins and his team are catalyzing generational Black wealth creation:

I’m Planting Roots in Tulsa for the Hope of a Brighter and More Prosperous Future for Black America

Photo Credit: Drew Harbour on Unsplash

Startups Urban Tech Connect

Go Time: Urban Tech Connect 2021 Wraps with an Inspiring Look Ahead

Powerful insights, valuable new connections, inspiring stories, transformative workshops, next-level mentorship — Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2021 had it all.

Day 3 of the virtual conference featured office hours powered by Verizon, a networking lunch powered by ChowNow, Expo booths and on-demand videos, a workshop on tightening your pitch, plus a workshop presenting practical CRM tips from SalesForce and the founder of G Photography.

The final day also pulled us right into these live sessions:

Master Class: How I Raised a $1 Million Pre-Seed Round
Beatriz Acevedo‘s platform SUMA Wealth completed a pre-seed round of more than $1 million, all from women and primarily from Latinas. She spoke with Jessica Salinas, VP of investments for New Media Ventures, about how she grew the business from her living room table.

Acevedo offered numerous gems of wisdom from her experience, especially for Latinx entrepreneurs. “Who you take money from or bring on as a co-founder is almost as important as the person you marry,” she advised.

Where Venture Capital Is Headed over the Long Term
TechCrunch reporter Natasha Mascarenhas moderated this fast-paced panel with Precursor Ventures founder and managing partner Charles Hudson, Republic’s head of venture growth and partnerships Cheryl Campos, Next Play Capital co-founder and managing partner Ryan Nece, Vitalize Venture Capital founder and managing partner Gale Wilkinson, and Chanzo Capital managing partner Eric Osiakwan.

The panelists expressed cautious optimism about where venture capital will be 10 years down the road thanks to decentralization, Zoom investing, new types of capital and emerging fund managers. They also anticipate big shifts in VC hubs.

Hudson recounted searching for early-stage startup founders. “My original thought was I’m going to have to go to the ends of the Earth,” he said. “It turns out — and this is the biggest irony — there’s a ton of under-served, un-networked people even in Silicon Valley.”

State of Black Entrepreneurship
Forbes reporter and editorial lead Brianne Garrett moderated this conversation with RareBreed VC investor Amani Phipps, Esusu co-founder Abbey Wemimo, and Arabian Prince, the founder and chief innovator of Inov8 Next as well as the founder and CEO of GGGOAT. Fanbase CEO Isaac Hayes III also stopped by.

Arabian Prince emphasized that Black founders continue to combat stereotypes and bias when seeking VC funding. “Only 5 or 8% of all startups succeed,” he said. “So you’re looking at billions of dollars down the tube just because of perception.”

The panelists delved into how Black entrepreneurs can truly move the needle on moving more Black founders through the pipeline, creating a vibrant, self-sufficient ecosystem.

Call to Action
Urban Tech Connect co-host Lauryn Nwankpa and Plug In South LA founder Derek Smith shared closing thoughts at the end of the conference.

“There are so many South LAs around this country,” Smith said. “That’s why it’s important that we build these relationships, not just locally but regionally and nationally.”

Nwankpa agreed. “We all have a role to play,” she said. “That is my homework for everyone: Keep building the connections, keep building those bridges, and keep after it.”

All the incredible conference content will be available soon. Make sure you’re signed up to receive email updates. Let’s move forward, together.

Startups Urban Tech Connect

Get Set: Urban Tech Connect 2021 Digs Deep on Day 2

Southern California’s premier tech conference, Urban Tech Connect // Forward 2021, continued with lively, insightful, and informative sessions.

Day 2 of the virtual conference featured office hours powered by PledgeLA, a networking lunch powered by ChowNow, an expo with booths and on-demand videos, an investor workshop about uncovering new VC opportunities, and a Lens Studio workshop led by Snap Inc. showing how AR helps you build brand and product awareness.

The second day was also packed with incredible live sessions:

Keynote: The Secret to Spotting a Winner Before Anyone Else
Marlon Nichols, founding managing partner of MaC Venture Capital spoke with RareBreed Ventures managing partner McKeever Conwell about the journey of launching a venture capital firm or joining one. Nichols touched on how Gen Z and people from non-traditional backgrounds can start a career in VC.

“Entrepreneurship, to me, is synonymous with value creation,” he said, adding that when you create value and put points on the board, the reason for your existence becomes undeniable.

Founder Bite: Persist and Move Forward
Ayinde Alakoye, co-founder and CEO of Nēdl, shared his personal experiences raising his first $1 million and offered insights as a Black startup founder. “Tenacity cannot be taught, it must be earned, learned,” he said.

Inside Emerging Funds for Black and Brown Founders
McKeever Conwell, Slauson & Co. co-founder and partner Austin Clements, Chingona Ventures founding partner Samara Hernandez, Zeal Capital Partners founder and managing partner Nasir Qadree, and moderator Stefanie Thomas, investments, Impact America Fund, dove into emerging funding opportunities, lessons learned, and best practices for investors.

Samara Hernandez pointed to a lesson she learned: “Sometimes you only need one person to believe in you,” she said. “You can get a thousand ‘Nos,’ but that one person can be your first check to help catalyze the round.”

Conwell observed that corporations moved faster than imaginable on diversity initiatives in the past year. At the same time, he cautioned that the funding represents a short-term test. Clemens agreed. “There is a lot of pressure on us, but as one of my mentors always says, pressure is a privilege,” he said. “You gave me the ball. I’m running with it.”

Clearing Software Engineering’s ‘Culture Fit’ Landmines
Rhonda Allen, CEO of /dev/color, Google software engineer Anthony Mays, director of product for Salesforce Martie Burris, Kickstarter’s SVP of product, design, and engineering Mamuna Oladipo and moderator Lauryn Nwankpa unpacked this pressing topic.

Their conversation balanced philosophical and tactical elements based on first-hand experiences. Mays recommended being relentless about “keeping your receipts” — tracking every instance where you’ve helped bring in revenue or made a positive difference.

Transparency was a recurring theme. “It’s okay to build bridges. But it’s okay to have boundaries, too,” Burris said.

Join us on the third and final day of the conference for more transformative talks. Check out the full Day 3 lineup. You can register to attend here.