Cities are wrestling with a potential new exodus in the COVID-19 era, but Urban-X still believes in their future

Embodying the tensions that cities across the world face as they wrestle with controlling a pandemic in dense, urban environments, Urban-X, the accelerator for technology startups focused on the problems cities face, has launched its eighth, fully remote, cohort.

While the accelerator program backed by the BMW-owned Mini Cooper automaker and the venture capital firm Urban Us is based in Brooklyn, it’s conducting its latest program virtually, with participating startups coming from Atlanta, Sydney, San Francisco, Boston, Burlington, and Los Angeles, according to a statement.

“Long term, we are bullish on cities. I think that COVID and climate change share some things in common. If we think that COVID is disruptive, and not only a threat to economic livelihood but human life, climate change, is certainly a much larger threat,” said Micah Kotch, the managing director of Urban-X. “I think that cities have withstood pandemics previously. I think that we will moving forward. The clear things that we need are really good political leadership. We need to heed science and to act quickly based on the best possible science and we need collective action. And that’s where I see a lot of overlap between covid and climate.”

The latest batch of companies that Urban-X will work with includes:

  • Adiona: a machine learning-based service to optimize hourly workforces in logistics and supply chain management. 
  • Aquagenuity: a company providing search information about water quality for consumers
  • Climate Robotics: a manufacturer of robots that produce carbon-sequestering and soil-improving biochar
  • Mobilyze: the developer of a data analytics service for electric vehicle charging station site optimization
  • Resonant Link: the creator of a wireless charging service to power robots and electric vehicles.
  • Xtelligent: a company rethinking traffic signal technology

“Not everyone can afford to move out to the suburbs and not everyone wants to. Cities are going to continue to be the epicenters of creativity and innovation,” said Kotch. “While these last three-and-a-half to four months have been a real challenge, particularly here in the U.S. we are deep believers in the vibrancy and necessity of cities.”

Later stage investors think that the Urban-X thesis can create viable businesses, with about 85 percent of the accelerator’s companies going on to raise additional rounds of funding. Some of the most successful companies (in terms of capital raised) include Bowery Farming, Starcity, Mark43, One Concern, Future Motion, Skycatch, Seamlessdocs, Revivn, BRCK and Rachio.

“Technology, investment and mentorship have the power to advance the low carbon, resilient and high density future we need for our cities,” said Shaun Abrahamson, URBAN-X Investment Committee and Managing Partner at Urban Us. “We are thrilled to have this new group of founders join URBAN-X to build creative solutions that tackle climate change and the biggest issues facing our cities.”

Jane VC, a new fund for female entrepreneurs, wants founders to cold email them

Want to pitch a venture capitalist? You’ll need a “warm introduction” first. At least that’s what most in the business will advise.

Find a person, typically a man, who made the VC you’re interested in pitching a whole bunch of money at some point and have them introduce you. Why? Because VCs love people who’ve made them money; naturally, they’ll be willing to hear you out if you’ve got at least one money maker on your side.

There’s a big problem with that cycle. Not all entrepreneurs are friendly with millionaires and not all entrepreneurs, especially those based outside Silicon Valley or from underrepresented backgrounds, have anyone in their network to provide them that coveted intro.

Jane VC, a new venture fund based out of Cleveland and London wants entrepreneurs to cold email them. Send them your pitch, no wealthy or successful intermediary necessary. The fund, which has so far raised $2 million to invest between $25,000 and $150,000 in early-stage female-founded companies across industries, is scrapping the opaque, inaccessible model of VC that’s been less than favorable toward women.

“We like to say that Jane VC is venture for every woman,” the firm’s co-founder Jennifer Neundorfer told TechCrunch.

Neundorfer, who previously co-founded and led an accelerator for Midwest startups called Flashstarts after stints at 21st Century Fox and YouTube, partnered with her former Stanford business school classmate Maren Bannon, the former chief executive officer and co-founder of LittleLane. So far, they’ve backed insurtech company Proformex and Hatch Apps, an enterprise software startup that makes it easier for companies to create and distribute mobile and web apps.

“We are going to shoot them straight”

Jane VC, like many members of the next generation of venture capital funds, is bucking the idea that the best founders can only be found in Silicon Valley. Instead, the firm is going global and operating under the philosophy that a system of radical transparency and honesty will pay off.

“Let’s be efficient with an entrepreneur’s time and say no if it’s not a hit,” Neundorfer said. “I’ve been on the opposite end of that coaching. So many entrepreneurs think a VC is interested and they aren’t. An entrepreneur’s time is so valuable and we want to protect that. We are going to shoot them straight.”

Though Jane VC plans to invest across the globe, the firm isn’t turning its back on Bay Area founders. Neundorfer and Bannon will leverage their Silicon Valley network and work with an investment committee of nine women based throughout the U.S. to source deals. 

“We are women that have raised money and have been through the ups and downs of raising money in what is a very male-dominated world,” Neundorfer added. “We believe that investing in women is not only the right thing to do but that you can make a lot of money doing it.”

Fintech’s Five Dark-Horse Cities

shutterstock_219786661 With global investment in fintech having tripled in the last five years, the financial sector is without a doubt in the midst of a revolution. The leading cities in the global fintech race are relatively unsurprising: Silicon Valley, New York, London and Hong Kong are the epicentres of the investment blast. But it’s the newcomers that are diversifying the market. Read More