September 23, 2013 via TechCrunch by Ingrid Lunden – Instagram has yet to make a formal push into using its platform for paid advertising and marketing purposes (although its co-founder is certainly putting out some signals for what it might do when it goes there). But in the meantime, Snaps — a startup (formally known […]

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August 22, 2013 via The Wall Street Journal by Ed Zimmerman – The Accelerators asked whether to join a tech accelerator. I’m probably too biased to advise on whether to join accelerators generally because I’ve founded (with some friends) and, for the last several years, have been running one, called First Growth Venture Network . […]

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September 6, 2013 via TechCrunch by Eliza Brooke – The personal shopping site Keaton Row has raised $1.6 million in a second round of seed funding led by Menlo Ventures, an early investor in Fab and Warby Parker, with participation from Rho Ventures and Grape Arbor Ventures. The site, which launched in 2012, previously raised […]

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July 12, 2013 via Fox Business by Victoria Craig – For Hayley Barna and Katia Beauchamp, thinking outside the box is an overused, overrated cliché. The pair met at Harvard Business School where they put their heads together to come up with an idea that would revolutionize the way women look at beauty products. They […]

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June 13, 2013 via PandoDaily by Erin Griffith – The first wave of flash sale fever petered out sometime in 2011, just before daily deal fatigue set in and subscription commerce fever started to spread. As a category, flash sales sites have experienced plenty of growing pains. Gilt Groupe went through some layoffs, belt-tightening, and […]

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June 19, 2013 via CNet by Don Resinger – TripAdivsor has acquired a small mobile startup in the travel industry. The travel company announced on Wednesday that it has acquired GateGuru, a mobile platform that provides a wide range of information for travelers (and First Growth Graduate), including details on itineraries, airports, and rental cars. […]

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May 14, 2013 via Business Journal by Tim Gallen – Phoenix-based Najafi Cos. has invested in a company that digitizes children’s books, continuing its push into digital properties and partnerships. MeeGenius creates apps for Apple iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch, Google Android and other platforms that provide digital libraries of children’s books and classic children’s stories […]

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May 15, 2013 via Bloomberg Businessweek by Deidre Bolton – BaubleBar Jewelry CEO Daniella Yacobovsky talks to Bloomberg Television’s Deidre Bolton about BaubleBar’s customer base and strategy during Venture Crush 2013 in New York City. Watch the video: BaubleBar’s CEO Why Customers Come Back

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Spring 2011 Vintage Spotlight: With $2 Million In Fresh Funding, FanBridge Buys DamnTheRadio

January 18, 2011 Fan “relationship management” service FanBridge recently closed a $2 million Series A financing and already completed its first acquisition of Facebook fan management startup Damntheradio. Super angels Jeff Clavier (SoftTech VC), Chris Sacca (Lowercase Capital Capital), and Dave McClure seeded FanBridge with $350,000 in March, 2009. They are all back in this $2 million round via SoftTech VC, Lowercase Capital, and 500 Startups, respectively. Joining them are First Round Capital, Founder Collective, Grape Arbor VC, and Alex Zubillaga.

FanBridge helps bands, artists, sports teams, and even small businesses and brands manage their fan base through opt-in emails and sophisticated analytics. It manages 90 million fans via email alone… More at TechCrunch

For more on FanBridge, its founders and investors check out their profile on CrunchBase

Fall 2010 Vintage Spotlight: Marketing Makeover – How Birchbox Sells Benefit, Kiehl’s, Marc Jacobs, and More

From Fast Company January 26, 2011: Birchbox aims to help the $52 billion beauty business learn which free trials become full-size sales.

Hayley Barna, 27, and Katia Beauchamp, 28, are getting stronger. “Every 10 new customers, one push-up,” Barna says. Those push-up relays in the duo’s fuchsia-strewn New York office may soon be daunting: Birchbox, their subscription-based e-commerce company, has grown to 5,000 members in four months, and roughly 50 people join each day.

For a $10 monthly subscription, Birchbox sends consumers a box of deluxe-size samples from brands such as Benefit, Kiehl’s, and Marc Jacobs. Samples — whether given away in department stores or mailed with magazine subscriptions — have long been a staple in the beauty business, mostly because women like to test products before purchase… More at

You can learn about Birchbox’s funding and investors at TechCrunch

Fall 2010 Vintage Spotlight: BaubleBar Raises $1.1 Million From Accel, Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, And Grape Arbor VC

December 03, 2010 via TechCrunch By Eric Schonfeld – Today, Jewelry flash-sale site BaubleBar officially launched. Previously known as Eight1six, BaubleBar offers fashion jewelry at deep discounts for limited periods of time. The company was founded by Daniella Yacobovsky and Amy Jain, two recent Harvard Business School grads who previously worked in investment banking. The New York City startup also raised $1.1 million in a series A financing led by Accel Partners. Founder Collective, Lerer Ventures, and hedge fund “fashion maven” Julie Macklowe. (FGVN editor: Angel fund Grape Arbor VC also participated)

It competes with other flash-sale sites like Gilt, ideeli, and HauteLook, which sell a broader array of apparel and accessories, including jewelry. But by focusing only on jewelry, BaubleBar hopes to distinguish itself. (Last year, Ideeli raised $20 million and HauteLook raised $31 million earlier this year)…  More at TechCrunch

2009 Vintage Spotlight: Legolas Media

Legolas Media offers sellers opportunity to leverage their data in display marketplace says CEO Arnstein in interview: What problem is Legolas Media solving?

YA: We are looking to address two main challenges:

  • The growing publisher concern and friction created by the current methodologies for trading audiences
  • The need for a holistic buy-side audience management platform that will provide both audience auditing and the ability to leverage readily available data assets. These assets include the unique buyer historical campaign data as well as the available 3rd party data in the market.

More on the business model at on Legolas Media

Legolas Media closed a $5M funding round on March 16, 2011 more at The Street.

Checkout their CrunchBase profile for more background information. Legolas Media investors include Greylock Partners, Valhalla Partners, and Blumberg Capital.

2009 Vintage Spotlight: Challenge Post

ChallengePost, a public platform that enables social problem solving, announced in September of 2010 the launch of, a site that gives citizens free access to participate in Federal government challenges and solve them for prizes and recognition. There are over 35 challenges from more than 15 agencies on the new platform.  ChallengePost will work closely with government agencies such as the USDA and HHS to promote and publish more challenges that take on health, science, and design issues, among others.

A USDA challenge Apps For Healthy Kids offered $60,000 in prizes to create innovative, fun and engaging software tools and games that encourage children directly or through their parents to make more nutritious food choices and be more physically active.

Challenge Post was one of the startups in the First Growth Venture Network inaugural 2009 vintage.  More on Challenge Post funding, team, and investors can be found at Venture Beat or browse their latest news.

2009 Vintage Spotlight: Zeevex purchased by Prepaid Payments leader InComm

InComm, the $10 Billion leader in sales and marketing of prepaid products and innovator of transaction processing, has as of March 9, 2010 acquired Zeevex, the first open virtual currency provider and digital content microtransaction thought leader. An integral component of InComm’s digital content strategy, the Zeevex acquisition will enable InComm to leverage the strength of its prepaid gaming vertical with Zeevex’s virtual currency platform creating a powerful tool for consumers of all ages to discover and purchase their favorite digital content.

Zeevex was one of the startups in the First Growth Venture Network inaugural 2009 vintage.  You can learn more about Zeevex including their funding, team info, and investors at CrunchBase.

Fall 2010 Vintage Spotlight: Plizy

Have you ever wanted to just relax and watch some videos, without necessarily knowing what you want to watch? Say there’s nothing interesting ‘on demand’, and none of your favorite TV shows are on. What should you do? You could go online, but there are so many videos and sites, it’s impossible to know where to start. Plizy is the solution to that problem.

Plizy learns who you are and recommends videos based on what you like. Our unique, patent pending recommendation engine builds an “entertainment graph” using your existing graphs (including Facebook and Twitter). We already know what you want to watch, and we find you video content we know you’ll enjoy.

So sit back and relax, with Plizy.

2009 Vintage Spotlight: MeeGenius Brings Children’s Ebooks to Multiple Platforms including Google TV

From By Audrey Watters / April 9, 2011 3:00 PM
Despite the increasing popularity of e-books, children’s literature – particularly picture books – has been slower to go digital. There are a number of obstacles in the way, most obviously the emphasis on colorful illustrations alongside the words. As many e-readers have black-and-white screens and as many formats focus primarily on digitizing the text, you’re unlikely to find a great selection of children’s e-lit in e-bookstores (although that is changing)…
MeeGenius is available across platforms: the web, iPhone, iPad, Google Chrome Web Store, and Google TV. Yes, Google TV. Park, a father of preschool age twins, says that he would often do development on the product on a large screen in the living room, and his children came to see books as just “another channel” on TV.