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We're back from a whirlwind trip through Portland, Miami, and San Francisco. It was great seeing so many founders, LPs, and friends across the country, and we especially enjoyed diving deep into the booming web3 and crypto communities that congregated around Miami's Art Basel week. Lots of great energy in the sector, and we continue to be excited about finding great projects to support in the web3 ecosystem.
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...


Nearside Nabs $58M for Digital SMB Banking Solutions
This week, San Francisco-based neobank Nearside (fka Hatch) announced a new $58 million series B round of funding as it looks to build the digital banking solution for small businesses. Coming just seven months after the startup raised its Series A, Nearside has now raised a total of $77 million.

Nearside is a digital bank built from the ground up with small business needs in mind. There are no monthly, overdraft, or ATM fees, it features 1% cash back on all purchases, and up to 5% cash back at select merchants like Amazon, Walmart, Shopify, Squarespace and Zero -- which are all common sources of expenses for SMBs. The company makes money like most traditional financial institutions, on the interchange fees. However, the company says that through technology-driven efficiencies, it is able to share more of the interchange fee with customers in the form of cash back than other traditional banks. The company also plans to expand its service offerings into term loans and more as it grows the team and has more data on its customers to help better underwrite risk.

As we have covered at length in the 2-Minute Drill, neobanks (or "challenger banks") have been one of the hottest and most-funded sectors of the startup ecosystem over the past few years. As a refresher, neobanks are mobile-first financial institutions that offer all the services of traditional banks, but without the physical branches. Within this surge, most of the attention and funding has gone toward consumer-focused startups like Chime, Varo, Current, Dave, Acorns, One, and many, many others.

While certainly not without competition, Nearside is squarely targeting small business customers. In addition to delivering a great product and growing its customer base, Nearside will have to carve out space in an increasingly competitive sector that not only includes traditional banks who are rapidly trying to modernize, but also a wave of well-funded competitors like Mercury Bank, Novo, Lili, Oxygen, and many others

(more here)


TrueNorth Keeps on Trucking With $50M in New Funding
For all the talk of autonomous vehicles and the impending demise of commercial drivers, the future of freight transport without human truckers behind the wheel is still many years away. And as we've seen, the impact that recent supply chain breakdowns can have on the economy--of which commercial trucking plays a massive role in getting products from Point A to Point B--can be devastating.

To help leverage software to help today's human independent truckers operate more effectively, this week San Francisco based TrueNorth picked up a fresh load of $50 million in Series B funding. This brings the young company's total funding to just over $60 million.

The US Trucking industry is a nearly $800 billion market, with nearly a million truck drivers employed (which is actually below what is required to meet demand). An estimated 10-20% of this market is comprised of independent truckers who lack many of the tools and infrastructure of their larger counterparts. Here is where TrueNorth comes in. The startup targets these independent truckers and provides tools to help them manage insurance, fuel, and maintenance, as well as coordinate on loads, optimize routes and invoice customers.

For example, independent truckers often can face high insurance rates when seeking quotes on their own. By negotiating on behalf of all of these independent truckers collectively, TrueNorth can help negotiate lower rates. And collecting on payments from clients can be a major hassle for these independent drivers, so TrueNorth steps in and helps them on this front as well.

While still early--and with plenty of competitors in the market--TrueNorth reports hundreds of customers already, a strong referral program, and an economic model that is securing them 15-18% on all loads the company helps truckers move (vs. ~40% charged by larger fleets).

While we may one day see truck drivers go the way of the Dodo, that time looks farther off than originally predicted, and TrueNorth hopes to help make the lives of independent truckers better and more lucrative in the meantime.

(more here)


Fable Tells a $15M Tale of Simplified Motion Design
This week, NYC-based motion design startup Fable sketched out a $15 million Series A round of funding as it looks to make motion design more intuitive and collaborative. This brings the three-year-old startup's funding to $22.4 million.

Motion design is everywhere in today's visually-driven economy. From GIFs to how-to videos, to product demos, and more. The problem is that the tools needed to create these graphics have traditionally be highly technical and expensive, requiring specific training and the downloading of licenses of expensive software. 

Fable is looking to buck this trend, offering a web-based tool that empowers creators to tell stories by making motion more intuitive and collaborative--and cheaper. For beginners, it's designed to be intuitive and help newcomers create their motion graphics step-by-step. Yet at the same time, its tools are powerful enough for pros, making the platform attractive to users on both ends of the skill base spectrum. In addition, the platform has built in collaboration tools and version control, since the design process is often iterative and requires the input of multiple parties. Using Fable, these teams can use one single tool, versus having to hop between various apps.

As visual design has played an ever-increasingly important role in business, and as the rise of the creator economy led to greater need for more accessible design tools, we have seen a wave of new startups--and funding--for companies looking to make design more accessible and affordable. We've covered companies like Figma (here), Canva (here), Kapwing (here), and Lightricks (here) who have all made it easier for designers and creators to incorporate design in a simpler and more collaborative way. Fable is the latest in this trend, and we expect to see more investment into sectors that unlock critical tools that were once only accessible to those with an expensive Adobe license and training on how to use it.

(more here)


Deed Raises $10M to Make it Easier to do the (Charitable) Deed
'Tis the season of giving, and this week Brooklyn-based software platform Deed raised a generous $10 million Series A round of funding to make it easy for employees to donate to their favorite charities and volunteer for good causes. This brings the five-year-old startup's total funding to nearly $13 million.

For all the online vitriol and sense that our country is more divided than ever, Americans are incredibly charitable. In 2020, in spite of the pandemic ravaging the globe and global markets. U.S. charitable giving reached a record $471 billion

Workplace charitable giving is a sector that I actually have a fair amount of first-hand experience with. I served on the Board of Directors for the United Way of the Bay Area for nearly a decade, and saw first-hand how one of the largest charities in the world operated. And the United Way relies on workplace-based charitable campaigns perhaps more than any other major charitable organization. Each year there were onsite activations, challenges, games, events, and more that the United Way would organize in collaboration with corporations to help engage their workforces in giving and volunteering. Many, many hours of human labor--and might I add, highly dedicated and exceptional human labor--were necessary to help run these campaigns and capture those philanthropic dollars. 

But as dedicated as these teams are, one of the ongoing challenges for charities of all stripes is helping seamlessly get individuals to give, advocate, and volunteer -- and help close the loop on seeing where their donations went to and the impact they caused. This is where technology can and is playing an increasingly important role.

Deed was designed to make it far easier for HR and social impact teams at corporations to launch and coordinate their charitable giving campaigns. The core pillars of the Deed platform are: Employee Giving, Employee Volunteering, DEIB with Deed Communities, and Employee Engagement. On the giving front, Deed helps corporations plug in and offer employees the option to give to a network of more than 2 million nonprofits worldwide. This flexibility to donate to causes an employee is passionate about helps increase engagement. Additionally, for those looking to volunteer, the platform offers turnkey opportunities and impact tracking--again, helping lower the friction of finding and matching with volunteer activities employees are passionate about.

Selling into the nonprofit sector can be challenging, but with philanthropy and social impact increasingly tied to employe happiness and retention, Deed is hoping it can make good profits while doing good. To-date it has already added some impressive logos to the roster, including Stripe, Box, UTA, Airbnb, and many more. Here's hoping that better software will make it even easier for those looking to give back to do so.

(more here)

Talent in Tech: Topia
While we may not be in a true "metaverse" yet, that hasn't stopped the term from becoming one of the buzziest words in the tech universe over the past year. And this week, Topia became the latest startup vying for metaverse supremacy to raise new capital. The new funding amount was not disclosed, however the startup had previously raised $5 million in venture funding.

As we noted in our past breakdown of metaverse players, Topia is a "social experience platform" where visual creators can offer up digital settings that users can purchase as the backdrop for their meetings or events. Think Little Italy or a Teahouse or Arcade where a company can host a virtual business event, or friends can hang out socially.

Since launching in 2020, the startup reports that it has grown to host hundreds of virtual events in its spaces each week. With the new funding announcement, the startup also shared that it is adding digital profiles to its offerings that users can take with them across different events and virtual worlds within the ecosystem, as well as the launch of verified NFTs. This will enable users to display their NFTs publicly where friends, family and more can view and discuss them.

There's a lot packed into what Topia is doing. Metaverse. Custom social experiences. Virtual world creation. Decentralized chat. NFTs. Like any early-stage startup, what remains to be seen is whether the company can achieve product-market fit with an engaged and growing audience. The concepts are certainly intriguing--what will be interesting to see is whether there is a large enough audience of consumers looking to meet in the metaverse, particularly as more traditional virtual meeting platforms grow rapidly and continue to innovate on the traditional video conferencing model.

Athletes + Entertainers involved include: NBA star Kevin Durant.

(more 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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