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🎃Happy Halloween! Hope everyone has a spooky and safe holiday filled with costumes and candy!
Welcome to the 2-Minute Drill -- a curated selection of the week's hottest stories from the world of tech, all in 2 minutes.

As a reminder, join us on Tuesday mornings at 8am PT / 11am ET in the Crossover Club on Clubhouse where we talk through the week's stories in more detail and with a rotating panel of special guests from the worlds of pro sports, entertainment and technology. 

As always, shoot me a note to learn more or if you just want to say 👋.


📱 650.468.9543
📸 @crossovervc 
👋 @ndl / the Crossover Club

On my whistle...


Cover Adds $60M to its Foundation for Building Modular Homes
This week, Los Angeles-based modular home building startup Cover announced a new $60 million in Series B funding as it looks to leverage technology to design, manufacture, and install custom living spaces in backyards. This brings the 7-year-old startup's total funding to north of $70 million.

As opposed to focusing on building primary residences from the ground up, Cover is instead targeting the designing, permitting, and building of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). For the uninitiated, ADUs--also known as "granny units'--are small buildings built on land zoned for single-family-housing, and involve the construction of entirely new units, or the conversion of other outbuildings such as a garage. ADUs have become increasingly popular as the nation faces an affordable housing crisis, and the demand for multi-generational housing options or alternatives to apartments for young singles has spiked. 

While ADUs are nothing new--and certainly are not a cure-all to broader and much-needed housing reform--new regulations in states like California have made it easier for homeowners to build ADUs and even expand the size dwellings that are permitted. 

Cover's unique approach stems from its processes. The company starts with the design phase, quotes the full price, and then handles all required permitting. It manufactures the entire home offsite from walls to floors to roofing, and then assembles it onsite. According to the company, once the foundation is laid, it can be built and installed in as little as 30 days. A 400 square foot studio will cost you around $200k all in, while a larger 1,200 square foot 3-bedroom dwelling can cost you around $500k.

Cover is by no means the only startup leveraging technology to build living spaces more quickly and cost-effectively. In past issues of the 2-Minute Drill we've covered companies such as Cottage (here), Abodu (here), and Blokable (here).

While startups like Cover and its competitors won't solve the housing crisis on their own, they can help meet the growing demand from homeowners looking to squeeze more value out of their most valuable asset, while providing new and better housing options to family and renters alike.

(more here)


YouTube Cofounder's GreenPark Takes on Sports Metaverse
This week, Silicon Valley-based developer of virtual environments for sports and esports fans GreenPark Sports announced a new $31 million Series B round of venture funding. This brings the 3-year-old startup's total funding to more than $50 million. The startup was founded by YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, who knows a thing or two about building a successful startup, having sold the early video platform to Google for $1.65 billion back in 2006 (and by some estimates, YouTube alone is worth northwards of $100 Billion today).

When we last covered GreenPark back in 2019, the startup was still in stealth. Now that it has launched publicly, the company has been focused on going beyond the pure betting and streaming aspects of sports, and instead building a platform that serves as an online destination for the millions of fans of traditional and esports whose allegiances to teams and athletes is a large part of who they are. In many ways, you could argue that GreenPark is making a broader metaverse play, starting with a focus on the sports and esports vertical.

In the GreenPark app, sports fans can deck out their avatar in their favorite sports gear, challenge others to head-to-head competitions using real-time sports data, play mini-games, earn rewards, and socialize with other fans in online communities. And with the new funding, the startup plans to dip its toe into the booming NFT universe, with a focus on enabling players to buy and sell functional collectibles such as officially licensed digital gear that can be worn by avatars. 

With the new funding, GreenPark is positioning itself squarely in the center of the Venn diagram as the metaverse hosting the intersection NFTs, digital sports, and online gaming/betting.

(more here)


Atlys Maps Out $4.25M in Seed Funding to Streamline Visas 
This week, San Francisco-based travel startup Atlys announced a $4.25 million seed round of funding to help simplify international travel. While the rest of the world was shut down from international travel due to Covid, the founders of Atlys were busy working on a better solution to streamline the complex and time-consuming visa process from international travelers.

With no shortage of digital travel booking options ranging from brick and mortar travel agencies to their online equivalents (OTAs such as Expedia and Priceline) to aggregators like Kayak to last-minute deals like HotelTonight, Atlys is instead setting its sights on the messy process of understanding what visa requirements exist for traveling from Country A to Country B, and then helping efficiently and inexpensively navigate that process.

So how does Atlys work? Well the best way to think of the company is that it is building software tools that do the heavy lifting behind the scenes of interpreting an archaic mess of rules and requirements across 190+ countries, and automagically providing users with a clean and simple workflow that solidifies their travel plan in about 10 minutes. Just enter the country that issued your passport, then enter the country you are going to, and the app spits out a nice simple plan that you follow to ensure you're all squared away. It also incorporates some slick features like streamlining the passport photo process, getting digital signatures for letters validating employment, and providing updated Covid travel guidelines.

For many of us, international travel is still something we're easing our way back into. But with any luck, as the world of international travel begins to open back up, Atlys will be there to help make the process a bit less painful, so you can spend more time enjoying your vacation, and less time planning it.

(more here)


Ladder Looks to Help Gen Z Professions Get Ahead
This week, San Francisco-based professional community platform Ladder stepped up to a $3.75 million seed round of funding to help democratize career growth for the next generation. This is the first reported round of funding for the year-old startup founded during the height of the pandemic by Stanford students who were sent home for remote study, and left without a sense of community or traditional career development resources.

The idea behind Ladder is to focus on helping younger generations who don't have the resume to fill out a LinkedIn profile by offering a platform that enables Gen Z professionals to join communities that can help them grow their careers together. On Ladder, members join interest-based communities, have access to high-quality career content, engage in discussions with peers and mentors, and can even find and get job referrals. 

Whereas LinkedIn has traditionally felt like a digital resume, Ladder feels a bit more like a professional Discord. The value is the community and the connections, not the bullet points of past job titles and accomplishments. And like an active Discord community, you can build meaningful connections with others based on shared interests and engagement. 

The company is still in its earliest stages, but reports strong user growth and engagement numbers. The key for Ladder's success--like so many other online communities--is how they can continue to scale while maintaining the quality and value of the communities the platform supports. But I for one am a big fan of startups that are building career development tools for the millions of people who don't fit into the LinkedIn box--whether because they are non-traditional professionals (like gig workers or creators) or because they are just entering the workforce for the first time. 

(more here)

Talent in Tech: Daring Foods
This week, Los Angeles-based producer of plant-based chicken products Daring Foods announced a finger-licking good new $65 million Series C round of venture funding as it looks to duke it out in the increasingly competitive faux chicken space. This brings the three-year-old startup's total funding to more than $110 million, and is the third round of funding in just the past 12 months. In fact, when we last covered Daring Foods in the 2-Minute Drill back in May, the startup had just raised its $40 million Series B round of funding.

As a refresher, Daring aims to come as close to the taste and texture of real chicken, but without the animal. It currently offers four options: Original, Lemon & Herb, Cajun and Breaded. All of its products use a soy base, are dairy and gluten free, and avoid the use of GMOs and palm oil. The company also touts that its products use a more simplified recipe of just five ingredients, versus the dozens that can go into the formulas of other competitors.

The fake meat market continues to grow rapidly, with the global market expected to hit $430 billion by 2040. to its credit, Daring has been able to gain impressive initial traction on the distribution front, scoring partnerships with Whole Foods, Sprouts, Erewhon, Gelson's and Bristol Farms. And in addition to the new funding, the startup has big distribution news to share, launching its products into 3,000 Walmart stores nationally.

As the global plant-based protein market continues to grow, competition is getting increasingly fierce (and well-funded).
The startup is already facing a bevvy of challengers coming from all sides--including new brand-forward upstarts like NUGGS (covered by us here), as well as forays into the faux chicken coop from behemoths Beyond Meat and Impossible foods.

Athletes + Entertainers involved include: entertainment mogul Drake, DJs Kygo and Steve Aoki, tennis star Naomi Osaka, and NFL quarterback Cam Newton.

(more here)

Bonus Coverage: Impossible Foods is reportedly eyeing new funding at a $7 billion valuation (here).

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Disclaimer: The content in this newsletter is for informational purposes only and should NOT be taken as legal, business, tax, or investment advice. It also does NOT constitute an offer or solicitation to purchase any investment or a recommendation to buy or sell a security.

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